Flowing Gold

Flowing Gold
Catalog # SKU3716
Publisher Texas National Press
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Rex Beach
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Flowing Gold

A Texas Tale

Rex Beach

This was not the first time he had been broke. On the contrary, during his younger days he had more than once found himself in that condition and had looked upon it as an exciting experience, as a not unpleasant form of adventure. To be strapped in a mining camp, for instance, was no more than a mild embarrassment. But to find oneself thirty-eight years old, friendless and without funds in a city the size of Dallas-well, that was more than an adventure, and it afforded a sort of excitement that he believed he could very well do without.

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Dallas was no open-handed frontier town; it was a small New York, where life is settled, where men are suspicious, and where fortunes are slow in the making. He wondered now if hard, fast living had robbed him of the punch to make a new beginning; he wondered, too, if the vague plans at the back of his mind had anything to them or if they were entirely impracticable. Here was opportunity, definite, concrete, and spelled with a capital O, here was a deliberate invitation to avail himself of a short cut out of his embarrassment. A mere scratch of a pen and he would have money enough to move on to some other Dallas, and there gain the start he needed-enough, at least, so that he could tip his waiter and pay cash for his Coronas. Business men are too gullible, any how; it would be a good lesson to Roswell and Haviland. Why not-?

Calvin Gray started, he recoiled slightly, the abstracted stare was wiped from his face, for an officer in uniform had brushed past him and entered the bank. That damned khaki again! Those service stripes! They were forever obtruding themselves, it seemed. Was there no place where one could escape the hateful sight of them? His chain of thought had been snapped, and he realized that there could be no short cut for him. He had climbed through the ropes, taken his corner, and the gong had rung; it was now a fight to a finish, with no quarter given. He squared his shoulders and set out for the hotel, where he felt sure he would find a reporter awaiting him.

The representative of the Dallas Post had anticipated some difficulty in interviewing the elusive Calvin Gray-whoever he might be-but luck appeared to be with him, for shortly after his arrival at the hotel the object of his quest appeared. Mr. Gray was annoyed at being discovered; he was, in fact, loath to acknowledge his identity. Having just returned from an important conference with some of the leading financiers of the city, his mind was burdened with affairs of weight, and then, too, the mayor was expecting him-luncheon probably-hence he was in no mood to be interviewed. Usually Mr. Gray's secretary saw interviewers. However, now that his identity was known, he had not the heart to be discourteous to a fellow journalist. Yes! He had once owned a newspaper-in Alaska. Incidentally, it was the farthest-north publication in the world.

Alaska! The reporter pricked up his ears. He managed to elicit the fact that Mr. Gray had operated mines and built railroads there; that he had been forced into the newspaper game merely to protect his interests from the depredations of a gang of political grafters, and that it had been a sensational fight while it lasted. This item was duly jotted down in the reportorial memory.

Alaska was a hard country, quite so, but nothing like Mexico during the revolution. Mexican sugar and mahogany, it transpired, had occupied Mr. Gray's attention for a time, as had Argentine cattle, Yucatan hennequin, and an engineering enterprise in Bolivia, not to mention other investments closer to home.

Once the speaker had become reconciled to the distasteful necessity of talking about himself, he suggested an adjournment to his rooms, where he would perhaps suffer less embarrassment by reason of his unavoidable use of the personal pronoun.

Gray noted the effect upon his visitor of the Governor's suite and soon had the young man at ease, with a Corona between his teeth. Then followed a full three-quarters of an hour, during which the visitor discoursed in his very best style and his caller sat spellbound, making occasional hieroglyphic hen tracks upon his note paper and congratulating himself upon his good luck in striking a man like this in one of his rare, talkative moods. Gray had set himself deliberately to the task of selling himself to this gentleman of the press, and, having succeeded, he was enough of a salesman to avoid the fatal error of overselling.

Alone at last, a sardonic grin crept over his features. So far, so good. Now for the rest of those bankers and the mayor. Gray was working rapidly, but he knew no other way of working, and speed was essential. It seemed to him not unlikely that delay of the slightest might force him to turn in desperation to a length of lead pipe and a mask, for-a man must live. As yet he had no very definite plans, he had merely undertaken to establish himself in a position to profit by the first opportunity, whatever it might be. And opportunity of some sort would surely come. It always did. What is more, it had an agreeable way of turning up just when he was most in need of it.

Gray called at several other banks that morning. He strode in swiftly, introduced himself with quick incisiveness, and tarried only long enough to fix himself indelibly in the minds of those he had come to see, then he left. There are right and wrong ways of closing a deal or of ending an interview, and Gray flattered himself that he possessed "terminal facilities." He was very busy, always a bit pressed for time, always a moment late; his theory of constant forward motion never permitted an awkward pause in conversation. On the street, his long legs covered the ground at something less than a run, his eyes were keenly alert, his face set in purposeful lines. Pedestrians turned to look after him.

At the mayor's office he was denied admission to the chief executive, but insisted so peremptorily as to gain his end. Once inside, he conveyed his compliments with such a graceful flourish that his intrusion assumed the importance of a ceremony and the People's Choice was flattered. He inferred that this Calvin Gray made a practice of presenting his formal respects to the dignitaries of all the large cities he visited and deemed it a favor to them. No doubt it was, if he so considered it, for he appeared to be fully aware of his own importance. After all, it was an agreeable practice. Since no man in public life can risk offending people of importance, His Honor unbent. Gray turned a current jest upon Texas politics into a neat compliment to the city's executive; they laughed; formality vanished; personal magnetism made itself felt. The call ended by the two men lunching together at the City Club, as Gray had assumed it would, and he took pains that the bankers upon whom he had called earlier in the morning should see him in company with the mayor.

He returned to his hotel that afternoon pretty well satisfied with his efforts and hopeful that some of the seed he had sown broadcast would be ripe for the reaping ere-long. But he received an electric shock as he approached the desk, for the bell captain addressed him, saying:

"Mr. Haviland wishes to see you at once, in his office."

"Indeed? Anything important?"

"Very important, sir. I've been waiting for you to come in." There was something ominous about this unexpected summons, or perhaps about the manner of its delivery. At any rate, suspicion leaped into Gray's mind.

So! Haviland was wise! Quick work that. Evidently he had investigated, through those mysterious sources of information available to great hotels. Or perhaps some one had seen and recognized him. Well, that was the way his luck had run, lately-every break against him.

Now-Gray's shoulders lifted in a shrug of resignation-there was nothing to do except wave aside the blindfold and face the firing squad like an officer and a gentleman. But it was a pity that the crash had come so soon; fortune might have given him at least a short interval of grace. Haviland was probably in a cold rage at the discovery of the fraud, and Gray could only hope that he wouldn't get noisy over it, for scenes were always annoying and sometimes they ran to unfortunate lengths.

360 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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