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The Black Pearl   By: (1870-1935)

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Author of "Sally Salt," "The New Missioner," Etc.


[Illustration: "'I'm feelin' particularly good right now.'" (Page 181)]

New York and London D. Appleton and Company 1912 Copyright, 1912, by D. Appleton and Company Published August, 1912 Printed in the United States of America


"'I'm feelin' particularly good right now'" (Frontispiece)

"I'll show you what I'll do'" 102

"There stood the Black Pearl alone" 244

"Holding cautiously to a little branch, she bent over him" 302



It was just at sunset that the train which had crawled across the desert drew up, puffing and panting, before the village of Paloma, not many miles from the Salton Sea. After a moment's delay, one lone passenger descended. Paloma was not an important station.

Rudolf Hanson, the one passenger, whom either curiosity or business had brought thither, stood on the platform of the little station looking about him. To the right of him, beyond the village, blooming like an oasis from the irrigation afforded by the artesian wells, rose the mountains, the foothills green and dimpled, the slopes with their massed shadows of pines and oaks climbing upward and gashed with deep purple caƱons, and above them the great white, solemn peaks, austere and stately guardians of the desert which stretched away and away, its illimitable distances lost at last in the horizon line.

Hanson, of the far west, was used to magnificent scenic effects, but the desert that sparkled like the gold of man's eternal quest, that lay with its sentinel hills enfolded and encompassed in color, colors that seemed as if some spinner of the sunset courts wove forever fresh combinations and sent these ethereal tapestries out to float over the wide spaces of the wilderness this caused him to catch his breath and exclaim.

It was truly a sight to take any man's breath away; but even such a view could only arrest Hanson's interest temporarily. He was hungry, and the station agent, a weedy youth, was making a noisy closing up. Intentionally noisy, for when one is the agent of a small desert station, the occasional visitor is apt to whet one's curiosity to razor edge.

Roused by these sounds, and by his growing hunger, which the cool purity of the air only augmented, Hanson turned to the boy.

"Where's a place to stay?" he asked.

"There ain't but one," replied the youth; "the San Gorgonio hotel. You walk right up this street until you come to it, on the left side. It's got a sign out, electric," he added with some pride. He looked curiously at Hanson, standing tall and straight with his ruddy, good looking face, keen, quick, gray eyes and curling light hair. "Going to be here long?" he asked tentatively.

"I don't know," returned Hanson idly. "Guess not. No string on me, though, even if I'd choose to put in a month or so here. This way, you say?" He lifted his suit case and began to walk in the direction the station agent had indicated.

"Say," the latter called after him, "you don't want to miss the show to night."

"What show?" Hanson turned, interest amounting almost to eagerness in his tone.

"Benefit." The boy rolled the word unctuously under his tongue. "I guess maybe you saw why in the papers. The river got on a tear and cut into a nice little town here on the desert, drowned some of the folks and did a lot of damage generally, so we're raising some money to send to 'em."

The stranger's interest had increased perceptibly. "Sounds good to me," he said heartily. "What's your features?"

"Just one," the other answered impressively. "We don't need no more in this part of the world, if we got her."

"Her!" cried Hanson, and now his cold eyes were alight. "Who the hell is her?"

"Why, the Black Pearl!" as if surprised that anyone should be unaware of the fact... Continue reading book >>

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