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ROBBIES GUSHER A STORY OF THE OILFIELDS ARTHUR L. PRICE HEY were quite alone on the deaort, the man and the boy, with their light buckboard and team of quick little mustangs. There was nothing' like a road near them, only the soft bljie of the sagebrush and the tremen dous expanse" of sand, which seemed to roll away, through mirages of Imagin ary lakes, on to the snowtopped Sierra on the east and the rugged Tohachapi range to the southeast. The mustangs had Jerked the bounding buckboard through" the low growth of feathery flocked brush, flowering as daintily as; if thq, shrubs had caught the down of a generous bluebird. Overhead-there was a great,' white sun, set in the' blue heavens, 1 but from" the distant' snow 'fields a cool breeze ' tempered the spring air. T, */ " For miles the man and'boy;had trav eled, the "boy ""driving, the man"' gazing'" on the ground, occa'slonaily sweeping - the desert with his glass, but chiefly looking downward. •; , . "To the right, Robbie," said the man, * when they had come nearer to the edge Offthe desert and the toe' of tfieffwJt^ WHS., .-%. : *-y- ' \u0084 /\u25a0-:\u25a0:; .' % .. .. "-' •\u25a0/; Suddenly, Jb>ef ore Rob could check the"!-' horses, the v ma» had jumped over the wheel ,and w was running: toward -the dark spot on the sand. . '. . ' : ,."An : outcropping, Rob, sure, an out cropping; of oil." .' , \u25a0. ; ' :' ' -iThe boy checked the horses and drove them I toward";, the "• place 'where the man was now, kneeling, scanning, the ground, ;-. sniffing the dark that oozed through ? the? porous soil: ;;v:. : ,"' m Satisfledv that he | had found oil. the man'busily traced his position'on maps | :whlch' he carried: in ; the -wagon. 7 ' | \ "My^. son,"? he cried, „ his; search 'com pleted, .'.'my boy, . we are all, here. This, is still government | land." "Now for szK ;tlement.".--,:.;_-:": : j v :r . \u25a0 \- ,/- ','\u25a0:, ':' \u25a0. \u25a0, ,;"; 1 i\ The^f ather | and his , son collected : a ' few rocks;and 'piledrthem -.up near the * dark oore on the sand, the father' wrote V out^-ia^ notice -of settlement :;and pre--: emptlon.andjßob took -a ;flne American | flag: and-; stuck "itv ln the^pile of stones of "monumerit/'*^- \u25a0;\u25a0' r .\u25a0 \u25a0''".!' i-\ v;* Now»" said Rob's father, "we own this;iand." • ... } : i'\:'^-\ "•\u25a0\u25a0.:\u25a0 : :\u25a0 \Three months later there was an oil derrick : on • the ' nronertv r anil .the drill H T "was .biting. .Its way Into .the dearth,' f \u25a0 through 'gravel and , clay.*: Dowi^ down* , It; went,; but y for all the 'surface mdl- v cations,"-; as, the; oil men say, Ino oil was found; %The' monotonous panting of. the , gasoline engine -that 'worked; the/drlll;'} \u25a0'\u25a0' ;,the deadly hot sun of summer beating I down on , the s camp, : scanty- supply > of .water froni \u25a0 a nearbyl; spring, all , contributed to make the situation In- • tolerable. \u25a0 '\u25a0\u25a0' : . -\u25a0\u25a0; . <\u25a0*" •'\u25a0.- ' ". l \u25a0 Rob had, to do the teaming, drivings ' to the; railroad at McKittrick, 30 miles V away across the burning 1 desert.. for all;, .'\u25a0•. that , was needed at the . camp. ' The boy of 14 waß> brave], and -willing, j but the.; heat .was cruel torture to him and! the • loneliness o f ; : the r; desert wore v. on his \u25a0;, heart ;till*it } .lost" thati buoyancy \u25a0'. It! had . known. he could see that dally; his father> was growing more dls- • couraged over the prospects. ,' # The money: in the Bakersfleld bank was running-low 'and credit at the Mc- Kittrick stores was as difficult for Rob to secure when he would go In with orders from'hls father. It became known . in the oil fields that Allen's money was . giving out, and the well borers 1 began \u0084 to ask for their pay in advance. . "You see, Mr. Allen, the point \ is, while wo know you area good man, yet . this; business is uncertain and we can't think a lot of your prospect, now that we're down 748 feet and no more oil "\u25a0"' indications . than' a Jackrabblt. You'll, pay us at tho end, we know that, but ' the boys are grumbling and want to know if there Is to be any end." At the time Mr. Allen was working on his reservoir, where he would store the oil when ..the well produced. "I have every confidence . in thll project, Jim," replied Mr. Alien, "and I Intend to stick It out if, Robbie and I have to run the drills ourselres. And . you'll have , your money. I- don't be lieve much in paying in advance— in fact, I won't— but I know how the boys are, with jobs, waiting for them near the towns and they 'realizing the lone- . ltness of this place. I want to feel -sure that they will get their money. Now, it la isn't the safest thing in the world to leave money around a camp like this, but I will draw out at the THE SAN FRANCISCO CALL, SUNDAY, JULY 24, 1910.— THE JUNIOR CALL beginning, of each, week the wages' that will ; be due on' the following Saturday. *.You^will see the money and know; that I have it. Of co'uxse, < the boys can rely on your word that the nioney will be;, ready for them. -T I'll: write to: the .Bakersfield bank today r and have.' the money forwarded to McKittrick bY ex press. , Rob 'can brlng,it- out Monday." The boss of the oil borers was satis fled. The work would go on. ' When Robbie left j McKittrick on , the following Monday to begin his 30 mile teaming over the desert he had in the wagon $500, which was the last money .that : his father could raise. If. oil was not struck -before It was gone then the work would* be a failure. ; .Rob was a healthyj boy; 14 years old, ri6t' given to brooding over any hard ships he might have to undergo, but the desert , Is a lonely place and six mules driven by a "jerk lino" are not the best company In the world. > 1 Through the clouds of , stifling sand the boy drove on. He had the arid landscape to himself until late in the afternoon. When still a short distance from the camp he looked back and saw three men, following him on horseback. They -had'guns in their hands, and the boy, thinking they were cowboy*, from the great ranches In the hills back of the well, paid no particular attention to them until they were abreast of him. He turned to give them a friendly greeting, and found that three rifles were pointed at him. It: is not pleasant for any one to be in the focus of three guns, particularly when they are handled by three des perate looking men with loud voices and dangerous gestures. The men wanted the money — the $500 which Rob was taking out to the well to enable his father to complete the work. [ -Without it the" boy- knew that his father's task was hopeless. 1 . "I won't give It to you," he declared stoutly. The oldest man In the crowd lowered his rifle, and .grabbed the long .whip which the boy. was holding. He cracked it in the air. "Come through now!" he shouted. .'.:• "Say,; : Bill," said another one of. the three, "that ain't necessary at* alL.The kidihas 'the ,moneyf in his ; wagon; I'll hold him while. you fellows go through the ; truck and jflnd 'It. ' Come on, kid, gifdown off there." '\u25a0- Robbie couldnot move. He saw that he had '„ no chance to make 'a flght, but he could' not bear.tamely to submit to the .robbery. He did-not have to make a decision. "The young man suddenly rode up to the seat, grabbed him by the leg and; threw him off into the: soft desert sand. There he was held while the wagon -was ransacked and the money! discovered and divided. .\u25a0 ' ' ' Thatpart'of the work done, the three robbers unharnessed,; the mules and drove each ono away. Then they rode away swiftly, leaving* Robbie bruised and heartsick iiv the desert,' miles' from town-and miles' from camp— with* only the ithought that through him . his father had been, ruined/ lie was stupe fied by -the seriousness of his plight. Ho felt utterly alone under the sun, and, turning on his face, he broke into hysterical sobs, his tears falling hot on the sanJ. \u25a0 , • _As he lay there on his face and, grew calmer he wondered how he was to get word his father of the predicament. He. had seen the desperadoes drive off the mules. He could not walk over the hot desert sands In the July sunshine. He must wait until later in the after noon and then hurry «on through tho twilight. . But as he lay thero with his head burled in his arms he heard an animal's step near him and felt the hot breath of a mule on-hlg neck. The faithful animal, driven away by the whip of a wicked man, had returned to its master. Rob sprung ,to his feat. Before the astonished mule knew what was in store for him Rob had flung on a bridle and jumped on the creature's back. Hot over the desort sands they went toward the camp. His father and the men must know of the robbery. The ambling old mule, which seldom had gone faster than a walk in Its. old life, realized the need of speed and carried the boy cheerfully, though its shoulders and Hanks became white with sweat and its nostrils named under the effort. Aa the lad carno within sight of the camp he met the accustomed sight. There was his father busily construc lng a reservoir all around the derrick to hold, the oil if it should burst forth suddenly as a "gusher." •"Mri Allen noticed the speeding horse man and wondered at his swiftness. When he recognized one of his own mules and then Robbie on its back he hurried down the road. The' boy told his father «the story of the three robbers and the loss of the money. 1 In the excitement the well borers stopped their work and hurried over to hear the story. "Lost nil your money, Mr. Allen; may be you have; but you haven't lost all your friends. The boys and I are going to help you catch those fellows right now. _ Leave the well for a while, boys. Here is r * better 'fun, for you." 'Robbie' described the men who had robbed him.' He'; was too \u25a0'worn out by his experience^ and the terrific^ ride' to go on the " chase," but, he .his -father and the six '..well* b'qrers star.t off . ,on horseback, riding in a'"' wide . line through the sagebrush? ' \u25a0. Left alone, the boy was broken again. "He realized what'the loss meant to his . father, that.the. work must stop, that , there' probably 'would' not-, be another . revolution [of/the drill in the'deepwell, which' had now 1 gone down nearly I*ooo feet.- He wenf to the derrick. ". There was the oil "drill hanging in the cas ing, covered with heavy clay. The boy 'rattled'; it. '.Suddenly there was - thej noise *6f: the snapping :V of*,a -pin, ' and down,', through' his .arms -into ' the ' casing^tind -the depth of the well fell the drill;" .' li; \u25a0 • \u25a0\u25a0';\u25a0 : ; '"•-'•. - ! '; '\u25a0' ' : '•';." / "\u25a0 i ' , --\u25a0•• Rob; was dumb: with this*disaster.-He< \u25a0 knew... enough'^'of oil " wells- t^o :realize V ; I that ;the 'well with a broken* drill in it ! • was considered^ i.ruined) unless- tliere , .weTe.,;nne_ prospects, for. it^ cost much, , labor and; nioney, to recover the "drill « and. proceed /with the boring/again. ..All; these thoughts \went; through his mind v as he listened to the falling drill dur- . ; ing the seconds it took it to drop into the well. It struck. ' . '; " ,'[ .'.'\u25a0 .- ' ; .'>.Then,there.came..a new sound. up. tho '• casings— a sound Rob had t never heard before, like- the.' murmur of an earth | -quake/and up shot a column \u25a0 of black liquid]; thick and. heavy, • oily ; \u25a0and odorous,"; .which struck the top, of the derrick and knocked the timbers aside as, if were 'shingles before a fireman's hoserr;/ ' ' ; '. .•..'.;..' \u25a0-'••'. ;'•\u25a0;: \u25a0 ; Rob Tan .from this -uncanny; geyser. \u25a0\u25a0''\u0084" He wondered -for an .instant what' new 'calamity had overcome his father. But i only for'an instant. Then' he knew the „ .truth. ;.;•,'. ;-y^ : r : "[\' ..:.'\u25a0\u25a0. . ;>."f, '\ -, \u25a0..''\u25a0. . : v *"!; The ..well .was a 'gusher, an oil% well /which throws hundreds »' of dollars worth of oil out a day for _the harvest of its owner. ;; : •; **"\u25a0\u25a0 AJieavy black. rain was falling, over, i the boy. He, rushed" to the edge of the ft reservoir his father' had been so busy ..'• . making. It was beginning: rapidly to fill" with 'the ;oil. . which was falling in all directions. ; Robbie rushed around the'top of the. dike. It seemed to be ': holding^ in -all places under -the strain. , /But no, in ot\e place the heavy current , of oil .was biting into the bank; at a , place where a sand sack ..had been , ' taken away. The wall was : crumbling. ...''. It would break like a dike : before a flood.and then all the oil would be lost. \u25a0 There was but one chance for saving the -bank. Robbie had no time to fill another sand saGk, He must be a sand sack. ' \u25a0':\u25a0' . "/; "'••.\u25a0\u25a0..\u25a0.'\u25a0\u25a0\u25a0_. \u25a0''\u25a0 \u25a0\u25a0 \u25a0'• :..;;.;.? 'He jumped Into the weak place and i snuggled in tight between the other \u25a0 sacks. The oil piled up around him, .flowing up to ills waist. Still he stayed. 'The sun set nnd the' stars came out. and the oil flowed up to his , ,\u25a0, \u25a0 breast. His" body was numb, but he , , held ,. his, place.' It was dark and the , '•', .'flowing,, heavy oil Foseito his neck, but i the lad stayed In his place, saving the i bank and thousands of barrels of oil, •;! . It was midnight when his father and the woll borers returned. Their trip had been long and their return was alow, for they had carefully to guard three sullen prisoners. As they neared the well they heard a great roar. "A gushert" the boss had cried. -Ai "No, mo," replied Mr, Allen, i "Don't I say that. There Is nothing but bad < luck for me." . i But the riders quickened their gait ' and in the light of a belated moon saw the wor\derful flow of oil. * "Robbie, Robbie!" cried Mr. Allen, his joy atthe success of his well being forgotten in his anxiety over his boy, "Here I am, dad," came a weak voice from almost .under tho Father's feet; "here I am, and I'll have to get out In " . a. minute, for jthe oil's up to my. mouth now, but before you get me out get some sacks ready* to put in place of . me or you'll lose all our bully oil."