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The Fifth Ace   By: (1883-1924)

Book cover

First Page:

THE FIFTH ACE

by

DOUGLAS GRANT

Frontispiece by George W. Gage

[Frontispiece: "Peach of a town," he repeated with added conviction]

Grosset & Dunlap Publishers New York

Copyright, 1918, by W. J. Watt & Company

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. GENTLEMAN GEOFF'S BILLIE II. A SUPERFLUOUS KNIGHT ERRANT III. THE COMING OF EL NEGRITO IV. GENTLEMAN GEOFF PASSES THE DEAL V. A GRINGO CINDERELLA VI. TIA JUANA'S CAULDRON COOLS VII. ALIEN KIN VIII. WILLA SITS IN IX. BIRDS OF A FEATHER X. AN ACE IN THE HOLE XI. A CHANGE OF FRONT XII. COALS OF FIRE XIII. THE CHALLENGE XIV. THE KNIGHT ERRANT ONCE MORE XV. GONE XVI. THE POOL OF THE LOST SOULS XVII. ANGIE SCORES XVIII. MIDNIGHT FOR CINDERELLA XIX. THE VENDER OF TOMALES XX. WINNIE MASON STANDS BY XXI. THE RETURN OF TIA JUANA XXII. WHERE TRAILS MEET XXIII. THE SLIPPER OF CINDERELLA XXIV. THE LOST SOULS' TREASURE XXV. INTO HER OWN

THE FIFTH ACE

CHAPTER I

GENTLEMAN GEOFF'S BILLIE

Kearn Thode mounted his pinto and rode out of the courtyard of the Baggott Hotel and down the Calle Rivera under a seething tropic sun. Limasito's principal street was well nigh deserted in the lethargy of the noon day siesta, but the flower market was a riotous blaze of color in the glistening white plaza, from which radiated broad vistas of fantastically painted adobe and soberer concrete, ending in a soft green blur.

The young petroleum engineer had pictured a ten year old boom town in the Mexican oil belt as a wilderness of rough shacks and board sidewalks, with possibly a dancehall or two and an open air movie as the only attractions, and the thriving little city had proved a welcome surprise.

"Limasito," he mused. "That means 'Little Lemon.' Wonder who tacked that name to this burg? Peach of a town, I call it."

A long, low adobe house, tinted a screaming blue which rivaled the skies, faced the southern end of the plaza, covering nearly an entire block. As Thode jogged past, a door in the side wall opened, and a girl appeared. She was tall with a lithe slenderness that betokened well poised strength rather than fragility. Masses of sloe black hair waved beneath the broad brim of her sombrero, but her skin was unbelievably fair and the eyes she lifted to his in frank scrutiny were the deep blue of a wood violet.

The young man caught his breath as she turned and started across the plaza, walking with long, free, swinging strides.

"Peach of a town," he repeated, with added conviction. "All to the good!"

The Calle Rivera dwindled into a dusty, white, winding road, straggling, flower choked gardens replaced the city blocks and gave way in turn to haciendas whose flat fertile acres teemed with the luscious harvest. The pinto covered the ground at an easy lope which ate up the miles, and Thode sat his high Mexican saddle, as easy as a rocking chair, scanning each turn of the road for landmarks.

The sun was well upon its western course when he reined in at a low stout gateway. A peon, lazily hoeing in the ditch, straightened his bent back and eyed the stranger in mild curiosity.

"This Hallock's ranch?" Thode asked, laconically.

The peon nodded and waved a brown hand toward the house half hidden among the trees.

"Señor Hallo', si, Señor."

The engineer wheeled and cantered up the winding driveway, with the serried rows of grapefruit trees spreading out endlessly on either side of the little rising where the square white ranch house squatted, its broad wings outstretched like those of a brooding hen.

In the shade of a mahogany tree, an excessively fat, excessively bald person sprawled in a low chair by a rustic table, alternately sipping from the tall glass at his elbow and mopping his ruddy glabrous brow with a vivid bandanna.

He rose to his short legs as Thode swung himself from the saddle and advanced.

"Mr. Hallock?"

"That's me, Stranger. Howdy!" He held out a pudgy hand, and noting the fresh coat of sunburn on his visitor, he added: "Just come over the border?"

"Further than that, Sir; from New York... Continue reading book >>




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