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Authors: Rex Beach

The Spoilers

BOOK: The Spoilers
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[See p. 32]

“WHAT I WANT—I TAKE,” AND THEN, TURNING, HE KISSED HER SOFTLY, FIERCELY, FULL UPON THE LIPS

THE
SPOILERS
A Klondike
Gold Rush Adventure
Rex Beach
Illustrated by
Clarence F. Underwood
Dover Publications, Inc.
Mineola, New York

Bibliographical Note

    
The Spoilers: A Klondike Gold Rush Adventure
, first published by Dover Publications, Inc., in 2014, is an unabridged republication of
The Spoilers
, originally published in 1906 by Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York.

International Standard Book Number

eISBN-13: 978-0-486-79896-7

Manufactured in the United States by Courier Corporation
78506801   2014
www.doverpublications.com

THIS BOOK
IS LOVINGLY DEDICATED TO
MY MOTHER

CONTENTS
I.
T
HE
E
NCOUNTER
II.
T
HE
S
TOWAWAY
III.
I
N
W
HICH
G
LENISTER
E
RRS
IV.
T
HE
K
ILLING
V.
W
HEREIN A
M
AN
A
PPEARS
VI.
A
ND A
M
INE IS
J
UMPED
VII.
T
HE
“B
RONCO
K
ID'S
” E
AVESDROPPING
VIII.
D
EXTRY
M
AKES A
C
ALL
IX.
S
LUICE
R
OBBERS
X.
T
HE
W
IT OF AN
A
DVENTURESS
XI.
W
HEREIN A
W
RIT AND A
R
IOT
F
AIL
XII.
C
OUNTERPLOTS
XIII.
I
N
W
HICH A
M
AN IS
P
OSSESSED OF A
D
EVIL
XIV.
A M
IDNIGHT
M
ESSENGER
XV.
V
IGILANTES
XVI.
I
N
W
HICH THE
T
RUTH
B
EGINS TO
B
ARE
I
TSELF
XVII.
T
HE
D
RIP OF
W
ATER IN THE
D
ARK
XVIII.
W
HEREIN A
T
RAP IS
B
AITED
XIX.
D
YNAMITE
XX.
I
N
W
HICH
T
HREE
G
O TO THE
S
IGN OF THE
S
LED AND BUT
T
WO
R
ETURN
XXI.
T
HE
H
AMMER
-L
OCK
XXII.
T
HE
P
ROMISE OF
D
REAMS
THE SPOILERS
CHAPTER I
THE ENCOUNTER

G
LENISTER gazed out over the harbor, agleam with the lights of anchored ships, then up at the crenelated mountains, black against the sky. He drank the cool air burdened with its taints of the sea, while the blood of his boyhood leaped within him.

“Oh, it's fine—fine,” he murmured, “and this is my country—my country, after all, Dex. It's in my veins, this hunger for the North. I grow. I expand.”

“Careful you don't bust,” warned Dextry. “I've seen men get plumb drunk on mountain air. Don't expand too strong in one spot.” He went back abruptly to his pipe, its villanous fumes promptly averting any danger of the air's too tonic quality.

“Gad! What a smudge!” sniffed the younger man. “You ought to be in quarantine.”

“I'd ruther smell like a man than talk like a kid. You desecrate the hour of meditation with rhapsodies on nature when your aesthetics ain't honed up to the beauties of good tobacco.”

The other laughed, inflating his deep chest. In the gloom he stretched his muscles restlessly, as though an excess of vigor filled him.

They were lounging upon the dock, while before them lay the
Santa Maria
ready for her midnight sailing. Behind slept Unalaska, quaint, antique, and Russian, rusting amid the fogs of Bering Sea. Where, a week before, mild-eyed natives had dried their cod among the old bronze cannon, now a frenzied horde of gold-seekers paused in their rush to the new El Dorado. They had come like a locust cloud, thousands strong, settling on the edge of the Smoky Sea, waiting the going of the ice that barred them from their Golden Fleece—from Nome the new, where men found fortune in a night.

The mossy hills back of the village were ridged with graves of those who had died on the out-trip the fall before, when a plague had gripped the land—but what of that? Gold glittered in the sands, so said the survivors; therefore men came in armies. Glenister and Dextry had left Nome the autumn previous, the young man raving with fever. Now they returned to their own land.

“This air whets every animal instinct in me,” Glenister broke out again. “Away from the cities I turn savage. I feel the old primitive passions—the fret for fighting.”

“Mebbe you'll have a chance.”

“How so?”

“Well, it's this way. I met Mexico Mullins this mornin'. You mind old Mexico, don't you? The feller that relocated Discovery Claim on Anvil Creek last summer?”

“You don't mean that ‘tin-horn' the boys were going to lynch for claim-jumping?”

“Identical! Remember me tellin' you about a good turn I done him once down Guadalupe way?”

“Greaser shooting-scrape, wasn't it?”

“Yep! Well, I noticed first off that he's gettin' fat; high-livin' fat, too, all in one spot, like he was playin' both ends ag'in the centre. Also he wore di'mon's fit to handle with ice-tongs.

“Says I, lookin' at his side elevation, ‘What's accented your middle syllable so strong, Mexico?'

“‘Prosperity, politics, an' the Waldorf-Astorier,' says he. It seems Mex hadn't forgot old days. He claws me into a comer an' says, ‘Bill, I'm goin' to pay you back for that Moralez deal.'

“‘It ain't comin' to me,' says I. ‘That's a bygone!'

“‘ Listen here,' says he, an', seein' he was in earnest, I let him run on.

“‘How much do you value that claim o' yourn at?'

“‘Hard tellin',' says I. ‘If she holds out like she run last fall, there'd ought to be a million clear in her.'

“‘How much 'll you clean up this summer?'

“‘' Bout four hundred thousand, with luck.'

“‘Bill,' says he, ‘there's hell a-poppin' an' you've got to watch that ground like you'd watch a rattlesnake. Don't never leave 'em get a grip on it or you're down an' out.'

“He was so plumb in earnest it scared me up, 'cause Mexico ain't a gabby man.

“‘What do you mean?' says I.

“‘I can't tell you nothin' more. I'm puttin' a string on my own neck, sayin'
this
much. You're a square man, Bill, an' I'm a gambler, but you saved my life oncet, an' I wouldn't steer you wrong. For God's sake, don't let 'em jump your ground, that's all.'

“‘Let who jump it? Congress has give us judges an' courts an' marshals—' I begins.

“‘That's just it. How you goin' to buck that hand? Them's the best cards in the deck. There's a man comin' by the name of McNamara. Watch him clost. I can't tell you no more. But don't never let 'em get a grip on your ground.' That's all he'd say.”

“Bah! He's crazy! I wish somebody would try to jump the Midas; we'd enjoy the exercise.”

The siren of the
Santa Maria
interrupted, its hoarse warning throbbing up the mountain.

“We'll have to get aboard,” said Dextry.

“Sh-h! What's that?” the other whispered.

At first the only sound they heard was a stir from the deck of the steamer. Then from the water below them came the rattle of rowlocks and a voice cautiously muffled.

“Stop! Stop there!”

A skiff burst from the darkness, grounding on the beach beneath. A figure scrambled out and up the ladder leading to the wharf. Immediately a second boat, plainly in pursuit of the first one, struck on the beach behind it.

As the escaping figure mounted to their level the watchers perceived with amazement that it was a young woman. Breath sobbed from her lungs, and, stumbling, she would have fallen but for Glenister, who ran forward and helped her to her feet.

“Don't let them get me,” she panted.

He turned to his partner in puzzled inquiry, but found that the old man had crossed to the head of the landing ladder up which the pursuers were climbing.

“Just a minute—you there! Back up or I'll kick your face in.” Dextry's voice was sharp and unexpected, and in the darkness he loomed tall and menacing to those below.

“Get out of the way. That woman's a runaway,” came from the one highest on the ladder.

“So I jedge.”

“She broke qu—”

“Shut up!” broke in another. “Do you want to advertise it? Get out of the way, there, ye damn fool! Climb up, Thorsen.” He spoke like a bucko mate, and his words stirred the bile of Dextry.

Thorsen grasped the dock floor, trying to climb up, but the old miner stamped on his fingers and the sailor loosened his hold with a yell, carrying the under men with him to the beach in his fall.

“This way! Follow me!” shouted the mate, making up the bank for the shore end of the wharf.

“You'd better pull your freight, miss,” Dextry remarked; “they'll be here in a minute.”

“Yes, yes! Let us go! I must get aboard the
Santa Maria.
She's leaving now. Come, come!”

Glenister laughed, as though there were a humorous touch in her remark, but did not stir.

“I'm gettin' awful old an' stiff to run,” said Dextry, removing his mackinaw, “but I allow I ain't too old for a little diversion in the way of a rough-house when it comes nosin' around.” He moved lightly, though the girl could see in the half-darkness that his hair was silvery.

“What do you mean?” she questioned, sharply.

“You hurry along, miss; we'll toy with 'em till you're aboard.” They stepped across to the dock-house, backing against it. The girl followed.

Again came the warning blast from the steamer, and the voice of an officer:

“Clear away that stem line!”

“Oh, we'll be left!” she breathed, and somehow it struck Glenister that she feared this more than the men whose approaching feet he heard.


You
can make it all right,” he urged her, roughly. “You'll get hurt if you stay here. Run along and don't mind us. We've been thirty days on shipboard, and were praying for something to happen.” His voice was boyishly glad, as if he exulted in the fray that was to come; and no sooner had he spoken than the sailors came out of the darkness upon them.

During the space of a few heart-beats there was only a tangle of whirling forms with the sound of fist on flesh, then the blot split up and forms plunged outward, falling heavily. Again the sailors rushed, attempting to clinch. They massed upon Dextry only to grasp empty air, for he shifted with remarkable agility, striking bitterly, as an old wolf snaps. It was baffling work, however, for in the darkness his blows fell short or overreached.

BOOK: The Spoilers
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