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The creek at Pinal was one of those vagrant Western streams that appear anddisappear at will. Where its course was sandy it sank from sight, creeping alongon the bed-rock below; but where as at Pinal the bed-rock came to the surface,then the creek, perforce, rushed and gurgled. From the dark and windy depths ofQueen Creek Canyon it came rioting down over the rocks and where the trailcrossed there was a mighty sycamore that almost dammed its course. With itsgnarled and swollen roots half dug from their crevices by the tumultuousviolence of cloudbursts, it clung like 24an octopus to a shattered reef of rocks and sucked upits nourishment from the water. In the pool formed by its roots the minnowsleapt and darted, solemn bull-frogs stared forth from dark holes, and in anatural seat against the huge tree trunk Big Boy sat cooling his feet. He lookedyounger now, with the blood washed off his face and the hard lines of hungerironed out, and as Bunker Hill made some friendly crack he showed his whiteteeth in a smile.

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Great rents had been formed, igneous rocks had boiled up through them; andthen in a grand, titanic effort the fire had forced its way up. For centuries63this extinct volcanohad belched forth its lava, building up the frowning heights of Apache Leap; andthen once more the earth had subsided and the waters of the ocean had rushed in.The edge of the rim-rock had been sheered by torrential floods, erosion hadfashioned the far heights; until once more, with infinite groanings, the earthhad risen from the depths. There it stayed, cracking and trembling, as the innerfires cooled down and the fury of the conflict died away; and boiling watersbearing ores in solution burst like geysers from every crack. And there atom byatom, combined with quartz and acids, the metals of the earth were brought tothe surface and deposited on the sides of the cracks. Copper and gold and silverand lead, and many a rarer metal, all spewed up from the molten heart of theworld to be sought out and used by man.

The stars had come out in the velvety black sky, the hot stillness of eveninghad come, and from the valley below no sound came up but the eerie, eh,eh, eh, of tree toads. They were sitting by the stream and incracks among the rocks, puffing out their pouched throats like toy balloons andraising, a shrill, haunting chorus. Their thin voices intermingled in aninsistent, unearthly refrain as if the spirits of the dead had come again togibber by the pool. Even the scales and trills of Drusilla had ceased, so hotand close was the night.

He was down on his knees, a single-jack in his right hand a pile of quartziteat his left, and as she came to the forks he went on cracking rocks without somuch as a stare. She glanced at him furtively, looked back towards the town,then turned off and came up his trail.

Denver smiled again dreamily as he dwelt upon her beauty, her hair likefine-spun gold, her eyes that mirrored every thought; and with it all, asomething he could not name that made his heart leap and choke him. He could notspeak when she first addressed him, his brain had gone into a whirl; and so hehad sat there, like a great oaf of a miner, and refused to give her anything. Itwas rough, yet the Cornish seeress had required it; and doubtless, being a womanherself, she understood the feminine heart. At the end of his long reverieDenver sighed again, for the ways of astrologers were beyond him.

As the poisonous smoke was drifting slowly out of the tunnel mouth Denverfired up his forge and re-sharpened his drills; and then, along towards evening,when the fumes had become diffused, he went in to see what he had uncovered.Sometimes the vein widened or developed rich lenses, and sometimes it pincheddown until the walls enclosed nothing but a narrow streak of talc; but always itdipped down, and that was a good sign, a prophecy of the 123true fissure vein to come. The ore thathe mined now was a mere excrescence of the great ore-body he hoped to find, buteach day the blanket-vein turned and dipped on itself until at last it foldedover and led down. In a huge mass of rocks, stuck together by crystals of silicaand stained by the action of acids, the silver and copper came together andintermingled at the fissure vent which had produced them both. Denver stared atit through the powder smoke, then he grabbed up some samples and went to seeBunker Hill.

There was music that evening in the Bunker Hill mansion but Denver Russellsat sulking in his cave with no company but an inquisitive pack-rat. Heregretted now his curt refusal to join the Hills at supper, for Drusilla wassinging gloriously; but a man without pride is a despicable creature and OldBunk had tried to insult him. So he went to bed and early in the morning, whilethe shadow of Apache Leap still lay like a blanket across the plain, he set outto fulfill his contract. Across one shoulder he hung a huge canteen of water, onthe other a sack of powder and fuse; and, to top off his burden, he carried along steel churn-drill and a spoon for scooping out the muck.

157He worked on fora week, trying to set his mind at rest, and then a prompting came over himsuddenly to go back and see Drusilla. If death must come, if some friend mustkill him, in whose hands would he rather entrust his life than in those of thewoman he loved? Perhaps it was all false, like the rest of the prophecy, thegold and silver treasures and the rest; and if he was brave he might win her atlast and have her for more than a friend. But how could he face her, after allhe had said, after boasting as he had of his fortune? And he had refused herfriendship, when she had endeavored to comfort him and to exorcise thisfear-devil that pursued him. He went back to work, determined to forget it all,but that evening he drew his time. It came to ninety dollars, for seven shiftsand over-time, and they offered him double to stay; but the desire to seeDrusilla had taken possession of him and he turned his face towards Pinal.

There was a long, tense silence and then the muzzle of a gun stirred uneasilyand revealed the hiding place of Dave. He was crouched behind the rocks which hehad piled up across the cut where it entered the slope of the hill, and his longbarrelled six-shooter was thrust out through a crack just wide enough to servefor a loop-hole.

Drusilla had greeted him cordially when he had returned from Globe and hadinvited him to dinner that same night, but he had refused because he needed thesleep and begrudged the daylight to take it. And the next day he had worked evenharder than before and had forgotten her invitation entirely. She was to singjust for him and, after 220the singing, she would have told him all her plans;and then perhaps they might have spoken of other things and parted as loversshould. But no, he had spoiled it by his senseless hurry in getting his ore offwith McGraw; and now, with all the time in the world on his hands, the valleybelow was silent. Not a scale, not a trill, not a run or roulade; only silenceand the frogs with their devilish insistence, their ceaseless eh,eh, eh. He rose up and heaved a stone into the creek-bed below,then went in and turned on his phonograph.


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