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The Grafters   By: (1856-1930)

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First Page:

[Illustration: "DO YOU BEGIN TO SUSPECT THINGS?" SHE ASKED.]

THE GRAFTERS

BY FRANCIS LYNDE

ILLUSTRATED BY ARTHUR I. KELLER

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I ASHES OF EMPIRE II A MAN OF THE PEOPLE III THE BOSTONIANS IV THE FLESH POTS OF EGYPT V JOURNEYS END VI OF THE MAKING OF LAWS VII THE SENTIMENTALISTS VIII THE HAYMAKERS IX THE SHOCKING OF HUNNICOTT X WITHOUT BENEFIT OF CLERGY XI THE LAST DITCH XII THE MAN IN POSSESSION XIII THE WRECKERS XIV THE GERRYMANDER XV THE JUNKETERS XVI SHARPENING THE SWORD XVII THE CONSPIRATORS XVIII DOWN, BRUNO! XIX DEEP SEA SOUNDINGS XX THE WINNING LOSER XXI A WOMAN INTERVENES XXII A BORROWED CONSCIENCE XXIII THE INSURRECTIONARIES XXIV INTO THE PRIMITIVE XXV DEAD WATER AND QUICK XXVI ON THE HIGH PLAINS XXVII BY ORDER OF THE COURT XXVIII THE NIGHT OF ALARMS XXIX THE RELENTLESS WHEELS XXX SUBHI SADIK

TO MY GOOD FRIEND MR. EDWARD YOUNG CHAPIN

THE GRAFTERS

I

ASHES OF EMPIRE

In point of age, Gaston the strenuous was still no more than a lusty infant among the cities of the brown plain when the boom broke and the junto was born, though its beginnings as a halt camp ran back to the days of the later Mormon migrations across the thirsty plain; to that day when the advanced guard of Zophar Smith's ox train dug wells in the damp sands of Dry Creek and called them the Waters of Merom.

Later, one Jethro Simsby, a Mormon deserter, set up his rod and staff on the banks of the creek, home steaded a quarter section of the sage brush plain, and in due time came to be known as the Dry Creek cattle king. And the cow camp was still Simsby's when the locating engineers of the Western Pacific, searching for tank stations in a land where water was scarce and hard to come by, drove their stakes along the north line of the quarter section; and having named their last station Alphonse, christened this one Gaston.

From the stake driving of the engineers to the spike driving of the track layers was a full decade. For hard times overtook the Western Pacific at Midland City, eighty miles to the eastward; while the State capital, two days' bronco jolting west of Dry Creek, had railroad outlets in plenty and no inducements to offer a new comer.

But, with the breaking of the cloud of financial depression, the Western Pacific succeeded in placing its extension bonds, and a little later the earth began to fly on the grade of the new line to the west. Within a Sundayless month the electric lights of the night shift could be seen, and, when the wind was right, the shriek of the locomotive whistle could be heard at Dry Creek; and in this interval between dawn and daylight Jethro Simsby sold his quarter section for the nominal sum of two thousand dollars, spot cash, to two men who buck boarded in ahead of the track layers.

This purchase of the "J lazy S" ranch by Hawk and Guilford marked the modest beginning of Gaston the marvelous. By the time the temporary sidings were down and the tank well was dug in the damp sands, it was heralded far and wide that the Western Pacific would make the city on the banks of Dry Creek a city consisting as yet only of the Simsby ranch shacks its western terminus. Thereupon followed one of the senseless rushes that populate the waste places of the earth and give the professional city builder his reason for being. In a fortnight after the driving of the silver spike the dusty plain was dotted with the black roofed shelters of the Argonauts; and by the following spring the plow was furrowing the cattle ranges in ever widening circles, and Gaston had voted a bond loan of three hundred thousand dollars to pave its streets.

Then under the forced draft of skilful exploitation, three years of high pressure passed quickly; years named by the promoters the period of development. In the Year One the very heavens smiled and the rainfall broke the record of the oldest inhabitant. Thus the region round about lost the word "arid" as a qualifying adjective, and the picturesque fictions of the prospectus makers were miraculously justified... Continue reading book >>




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