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FAIR PLAY, STE. GENEVIEVE. MISSOURI.
When the Colorado- Burst Its Banks and
Flooded the Imperial Valley sf California
By EDNAH AIKEN
Copyright, Bobbs-Merrlll Company
RICKARD "GOES IN," AND AS HE GOES HE BEGINS TO
APPRECIATE THE DIFFICULTIES OF HIS POSITION.
Synopsis. K. C. Rickard, nn engineer of the Overland Pacific rail
road, is called to the olllce of President Marshall In Tuscon, Ariz. While
waiting Rlcknrd reads n report on the ravages of the Colorado river,
despite the efforts of Thomas Hardin, head of the Desert Reclamation
company. Hardin hud been a student under Rickard in nn eastern col
lege and had married Gerty Holmes, with whom Rickard had fancied ho
was in love. Marshall tells Rickard the Overland Pacific must step In to
save the Imperial valley and wishes to send Rickard to tnke charge.
Rickard declines because ho foresees embarrassment in supplanting
Hardin, but is won over.
CHAPTER III. I
The Blessing of Aridity.
When Rickard left the main lino at
Imperial Junction the nest nfternoon
Ala eyes followed the train ho was
desortlng rather than the one that
was to carry him to his new labors.
He felt again the thrill of detachment
that Invariably preceded his entrance
into a new country. With the pulling
up of the porter's green-carpeted stool,
the slamming of the train gates, the
curtain fell on the Tucson set scene.
The long lino of cars was pushing
off with its linen-covered Pullmans
and diners, steaming down grade
toward the Sink, the depression which
lind been primeval sea, and then des
crt, and was now sea again. Old
Beach, rcchrlstened Imperial Junction
for railroad convenience, wns Itself
lower than the ancient sea line where
once the gulf had reached. Rickard
knew he could find shells at that des
ert station should ho look for them.
He picked up his bag that the porter
had thrown on the ground and faced
the rung-down curtain.
Its painted scene was a yellow sta
tion housq broiling under a desert
eun; a large water tank beyond, nnd
in the distance the Inevitable card
board mountains, like property scene
shifts, flat and thin In their unreal
hues of burnished pink and purple. A
dusty accommodation train wns back
lug and switching, picking up the
empty refrigerator cars to carry Into
ilie valley for the early melon growers.
Already the valley had asserted Its
Industrial Importance; the late ram
page of the Colorado had made it
spectacular. Those who would pay ,
illttle attention to the opening of a
mew agricultural district In the heart
of a dreaded desert opened their cars
ito the vagary of the river which had
sportively made of a part of that des
ert an inland sea. Scientists were
rushing their speculations Into print;
would the sea dwindle by evaporation,
as it had done before? Or would the
overflow maintain the paradoxical
'The flood signs were apparent.
There cracks had split the- desert
sand; hero water fissures had men
aced the track; nnd to the south a
fringe of young willows hid the path
of the Colorado's debouch.
The men crowding the platform
-wore the motley of the new country.
In Tucson the uniform of tin; mule
citizens, with the exception of those
reckless ones who found Inevitably
that lotus Is a liquid, was the wilted
pretense of n gentle civilization; de
spondent ducks and khakis ami limp
collars. Imperial Junction marked the
downfall of the collar. The rest of
the composite costume was Irregular,
badly laundered and torn, faded nnd
sunburned; the clothes of the desert
soldier. Rlckii t saw buttoiilehS
r-Jilrts, faded ovwtls, shabby hats
the sombrero of Mexico. The faces
under the broad-brimmed hats made a
Jcaplng Impression v "Hi him of youth
and eagerness. lie nuietl a significant
average of intelligence nnd alertness.
This was not the indolent group of
men which makes a pretense of occu
pation whenever a train comes In'.
"Going in?" nsked a voico at hla ear.
.tV pair of faded eyes set in a young
old face, whether early withered or
well preserved he had not time to de
itcrnilne, was staring at bint.
He assured his Interlocutor that he
was going in. Ills mood Isolated the
phrase; its significance vastly differ
ent from "going on."
"'I think not."
"It is a good time to buy." Rickard
suspected a real estate agent. "For
land is low rock bottom prices on
account of the uneasiness about the
river. Peoplo are afraid. They want
to see the company redeem some of
Its promises before they come in ; and
the company isn't la much or a
Rickard asked what company ho re
The young-old face with tho faded
eyes looked at him in surprise. "The
D. It. company, Desert Reclamation,
which brought us all here."
"Scsunps?" The newcomer's survey
oE tho long line of naked mountains
nd lean lands that formed tie neck
f the volley cava a snub of casual
jBess',tO' the question.
"SJo. Fools p" Xho answci was, as
witt"asr ai ballet. -"Though fiomo
oeonlo think them worse flmn that.
don't co so for; I'm xVUoxi to soy
they've tried. I'll say that much. Rut
they haven't the know-how."
The window seats, Rlcknrd could
see, were filled before the cars halted.
by tho experienced ones who had not
wnlted for. the train to be made up.
In tho scramble ho spied a vacant
window on the sunny side nnd made
for It. A stranger dropped into tho
seat beside him.
Every window In the car was open.
Each red velvcted, dusty seat Avas
filled. A strong desert wind was blow
ing sand into their faces, discoloring
the scats and covering the floor.
The engineer turned to hk? compan
ion, who wns coughing.
"Do you mind this window being
"I'd mind if it were not. It's always
bad at the Junction. When we get
Into the cultivated country you will
see what the valley will be like when
It Is all planted. Tho wind Is not
bad when it blows over grain or al
falfa. It Is tho desert dust thnt nags
one." He coughed again. "Going in?"
Rickard said he was going In.
"Are you going to settle in the val
ley?" Tho Inquisitor was a man of
about fifty, Rickard decided, with a
desert tan of apparent health. His
face was clear cut and intelligent.
"I don't know."
"Just looklug the country over?"
"You might call It that."
"Go slow," admonished his compan
ion. "Don't let yourself be carried
away. It Is a wonderful country. But
go slow. It's the ones who expect to
make millions tho first year that be
come the worst knockers. Go slow,
I always toll them. Go slow."
"It's not a good time to buy, then?"
"Not so good as It was ten years
ago ! But lanil Is cheaper than It was
a year back. In s-ome districts you
can buy a good farm for a ticket back
home, the farmers are so discouraged.
Cold feet." The slang sounded oddly
somehow. The man's voice had the
cultivated precision of the purist.
"Cold feet. The river's chilled them.
The valley's losing faith In the company-"
"What company?" inquired Rickard
"There's but one company to the
valley, tho one thnt brought them
here, the D. R. They don't call the
railroad the company. They won't rec
ognize that problem ! It's had hard
luck from the first, the D. R. At tho
very start the wrong man got hold of
He Was "Going In."
It. Sather, tho first promoter, was n
fnker a pretty thorough faker. The
company reorganized, but It's been In
bad odor with tho public ever since."
Rlckard's eyes left the deep cuts In
tho land made by the ravening waters
and looked at his companion.
"I thought Estrada was tho original
promoter?" ho Inquired. ,
"Estrada's n recent comer oh, you
meon the general. He started tho ball
rplllng; that was nil. Bad health, fol
lowing the Bliss complication, tied his
Tho man In tho scat abend was lis
tening. Ills head wns leonine, hi
body shriveled. Rickard could see on
tho neck tho ancient burns that hnd
spared tho magnificent head. Tho rest
of the ninn had been shriveled nnd
twisted Into terrible deformity. Rick
nrd found himself puzzling over tho
Incident with Us accompanying uilr
nclc. There was not n scar on tho
"Estrada's business methods were
then not different from Snther's and
Hardin's!" It was a deep, rich organ.
"Oh, you can't class Hardin with
Sather," protested Rlckard's compan
ion. "Sather used Hardin. Hardin's
honesty cannot be questioned. It's not
money's he's after. His whole heart
is In this reclamation scheme."
"Hardin's a false nlarui," growled
tho owner of the mosslve bend. "Ho
makes promises. He never keeps
The older man's smile was tolerant.
"Barton," he Indicated, "Is the presi
dent of tho wntcr companies. And If
you wnnt to hear about n rogue and n
scoundrel ask the water companies
their opinion of Hnrdln."
"Well, what sort of a hole has he
got us Into?" demnuded the other with
"Hnrdln's In n hole himself.
"No one seems to remember that he
crucified himself to save tho valley.
I've u great respect for Thomas Har
din." "Yes?" returned Rlcknrd, whoso lik
ing had been captured by the speaker.
The Impression of distinction sharp
ened. The stranger wore a laundered
pongee silk shirt, open at tho neck but
restricted by a brown silk tie; and It
was trimly belteil. There were but
two neckties In tho entire car, and
they occupied, Rickard observed, the
"The beginning of tho canal sys
tem." Rickard looked out upon n flat, one
toned country, marked off in rec
tangles by plows and scrapers. Fur
ther south these rectangles were edged
by young willows, lie fancied he
could see, even at that distance, the
gleam of water. ,
It was tho passing of the desert. A
few miles back he had seen tho desert
In its primitive nakedness, which not
oven cactus relieved. He was passing
over the land which man and horses
were preparing for water. And he
could see the laud where water was.
"That was the way Riverside looked
when I first saw It," commented the
other man who wore a tie. "Come out
on tho rear platform. We can see bet
ter." Rickard followed to tho back of the
dust-swept, stifling car. The glare on
the platform was intense. Ho stood
watching tho newly made checkerboard
of a country slip past him. Receding
were the two linos of gloaming steel
rails which connected and separated
him from the world outside, lie was
"going In." Not in Mexico even hud
ho such n feeling of ultimate remote
ness. The mountains, converging per
sp?ctlvely toward the throat of the
valley, looked elusive and unreal in
their gauze draperies of rose and vio
let. The tender hour of day was cloth
ing them with mystery, softening their
sharp outlines. They curtained the
world beyond. Rickard felt the sus
pense of tho next act.
It was a torpid Imagination, he
thought, which would not quicken over
this conquest of the desert. East of
the tract men and teams were prepar
ing the newly furrowed ground for the
eed. The curved land knives wen
breaking up the rich mold into ridges
of soft soil as uncoheslve and feathery
as pulverized chocolate. It was the
dark color tsi the chocolate of com
merce, this Silt which had been pil
fered from the ntutes through whic !i
the vagrant river wundercd. The smell
of the upturned earth, sweetly dump
struck against his nostrils. Rickard
indulged n minute of whimsical fancy;
this was California territory over
which his train was passing, but the
-oil, that dark earth those blades were
rumbling, was It not the tribute of
)tner states, or despoiling Wyoming,
of ravishing Colorado and Arizona?
To the west now squares were being
leveled and outlined. Shrubby rec
tangles were being cleared of their cre-
sote bush and tough mesqulte. Com
pared with other countries, the prepn-
ntion for planting was tho simplest.
Horses were dragging over the ground
a railroad rail bent Into n V angle,
which pulled the bushes by the roots
and dragged them out of the way. Be
ond, farther west, could be seen the
untouched desert. Tho surface for
many miles was cracked by water
lines, broken nnd baked Into lrregulnr
sand cakes; the mark of sand which
has been Imprisoned by water i.nd
branded by swift heat.
Close by men were putting In with
cure tho seed that was to quicken the
river silt. They were passing a square
where tho green tips of the grain
wcro piercing the ground. Now they
were abreast of n field of matured nl
falfa over which tho wind raced grate
fully. Desert and grain field; deatl
and llfel Tho panorama embraced the
They went back to their seats. After
n few minutes tho other leoncd over
Ids shoulder, his bund waving toward
the passing mountulns. "Those are the
Superstition mountains you can see
over yonilnr. An unusually apt name.1
"Why Is It good, you mean? That
pile of dark rock stands as a raonu
went to an effete superstition. It Is
the gravestone for n gigantic mistake.
Why, It was only the grossest Igno
rance thnt gave to tho desert the label
of 'bad lands.' The desert Is n con
dition, not n fact. Il6re you see the
passing of the condition, the burial of
tho superstition. Are you interested In
Rlcknrd was not given to explain
the degree of Interest his profession
Involved, for tho stranger drew a pain
ful breath, nnd went on.
"Of course you nre. If you arc a
western man. You are, I think?"
Tho engineer said ho wus, by choice.
"Irrigation Is the creed of tho West.
Gold brought people to this country;
wntcr, scientifically applied, will keep
thera here. Look nt Riverside, And
we are at tho primer stage only. We
nre way behind tho nncients In infor
mation on that subject. I learned nt
school, so did you, that some of the
most glorious civilizations flourished
In spite of the desert which surround
ed them. That was only half a truth.
They were great because of it I Why
did the Incas choose the desert when
their strength gave them the choice of
tho continent of South America? Why
did the Aztecs settle In the desert
when they might easily have pre
empted the wntercd regions? Then
there nre tho Carthaginians, the Tol
tecs, the Moors. And one never for
"For protection," Rickard gave the
slighted question nn Interested recog
nition. "Was that not what we were
taught nt school? Tho forest held
foes, animal and human. Those na
tions grew to their strength and
power in the desert by virtue of its
"Superstition!" retorted tho man
with the tie. "Wo are babes nt the
breast measured by the wisdom of the
men who settled Damascus, or com
pared with the Toltecs, or those an
cient tribes who settled In northern
India. They recognized tho value of
aridity. They knew its threefold
An Inherent value?" demanded tho
college-bred man, turning from the
An Inherent value," declared the
exponent of aridity.
"Will you tell me just what you
Not in one session 1 Look yonder,
That's Brawley. When I came through
here ten years ago I could have had
my pick of this land at 25 cents nn
acre. They were working at this
scheme then on paper. I wns not
alive to the possibilities then; I had
not yet lived in Utnh!"
The train was slowing up by n brand
new yellow-painted station. There
were several dusty automobiles wait
ing by the track, a few faded surreys
and the Inevitable country hotel bus.
The platform was swarming with
alert, vigorous faces, distinctly of the
The man In the sent beside him
asked Rickard if ho observed tho gen
oral average of Intelligence In tho
faces of the crowd below. Rickard ne
know-lodged that he had been struck
by that, not only hero but at Imperial
Junction, where he hud waited for the
"There is a club in the valley, lately
started, a university club which admits
as members those who have had at
least two years of college training
Tho list numbers three hundred nl
ready. Tho first meeting was held last
week In an empty new store in Impe
rial. If It had not been for tho set
ting wo might have been nt Ann Arbor
r Palo Alto. The costumes were
little motley, but the talk sounded llko
Tho dust blowing In through the enr
doors brought on another fit of stran
ilng. Rickard turned again to the
window, to the active scene which do
nled the presence of desert beyond
i he doctors say it will have to be
tho desert always for me." The stran
ger tapped his chest significantly
But It Is exile no longer not in nn
Irrigated country. For tho ren3on of
Irrigation! It is the progressive mnn
the man with Ideas, or the man who is
willing to take them, who comes Into
this desert country. If he has not had
education It Is forced upon him. I saw
it worked out In Utah. I was there
several years. Irrigation means co
operation. That Is, to me, the chief
value of aridity."
Tho wind, though still blowing
through tho ear and ruffling tho train
dust, was carrying less of grit nnd
sand. To the nostrils of Rlcknrd and
his new nequalntnnco It brought tho
pleasing suggestion of grassy mend-
ows, of willow-lined streams und fra
"It is tho accepted Idea that this
valley Is attracting n superior class
of men because of Its temperance
stnnd. It Is the other way round. The
vnlley stood for temperance becausu
of the sort of men who had settled
here, Iho men of the Irrigation type."
Th" nglneer'a ear criticized "Irriga
tion type." Ho began to suspect that
he had picked up a crank.
"The desert offers n man special ad
vantnges, social, Industrial nnd agricul
tural. It Is no accident that you find
a certain sort of man here."
"I supposo you meuu that the
struggle necessary to develop such a
country, under such stern conditions,
develops of necessity strong men?"
evolved Rlcknrd. "Oh, yes, I believe
"Oh, more than that. It is not so
much the struggle as tho necessity for
co-operation. Tho mutual dependence
Is one of the blessings of nrldlty."
"One of tho blessings of nrldlty!"
echoed his listener. "You uro n philos
opher." He had not yet touched the
other's thought nt the spring.
"You might as well call me n soclnl
lst becnuso I praise Irrigation in that
it stands for the small farm unit,"
retorted tho valley man. "That is one
of Its flats; the small unit. It Is the
small farm that pays. That fact brings
mnny advantages. What Is tho charm
of Riverside? It comes to me always
like the unreal dream of the socialist
come true. It Is n city of farms, of
smnll farms, where n man may make
his living off Ills ten ncres of oranges
or lemons; nnd with all the comforts
ind conveniences of a city within
reach, his neighbors not ten miles off I
A farmer in Riverside or In any Irri
gated community docs not have to
postpone living for himself or his fam
ily until ho can sell the farm! He
can go to church, can walk there; the
trolley enr which passes his door
takes him to a public library or tho
opera house. His children ride to
school. Ills wife does not need to be
n drudge. Tho bread wagon and the
steam laundry wagon stop at her
Rickard observed that perhaps he
did not know anything nbout Irrigation
nfter all! He had not thought of It
before In Its sociological relntlon but
merely as It touched his profession,
"Not going Into soil values, for that
Is n long story," began the older man,
"Irrigation Is the answer which sci
ence gives to the agriculturist who Is
Impatient of haphazard methods. Irrl
gation Is not a compromise, as 'so many
believe who know nothing about it. It
Is a distinct advantage over tho old
I am one of those who nlwnys
thought it a compromise," admitted
"Better call rain n compromise," re
tortcd the lrrlgationlst. "The mnn
who Irrigates gives water to the tree
which needs It; rain nourishes one
tree nnd drowns out another. Irriga
tion is an Insurance policy against
drought, a guarantee against floods
The farmer who has once operated an
irrigated farm would bo as Impatient
were ho again subjected to the caprice
of rain as a housewife would bo were
she compelled to wait for rain to fill
her washtub. There Is no Irregularity
or caprice about irrigation."
"Wonder how the old fellow picked
It nil up?" mused Rickard with dls
respect. Aloud he saiu, "You were
speaking of the value of the soil?"
"Look at the earth those plows are
turning over. See how rich nnd friable
It Is, how it crumbles? You can dig
for hundreds of feet nnd still find that
sort of soil, eight hundred feet down
It is disintegrated rock and leaf mold
brought In here In the making of a
delta. Heavy rainfalls are rare here,
though we have had them, in spite of
popular opinion. Were we to have
frequent rains tho chemical properties
which rain farmers must nuy to enrich
their worn-out soils would bo leached
out, drained from the soil. I can't
make this comprehensive, but I've a
monograph on desert soil. If you are
Interested I'll send It to you."
"I should like it Immensely," as
sented tho engineer, still amused.
"It explains the choice of the Aztecs,
of tho Incas, of Carthaginians, the
Moors," observed tho stranger. "They
choso the desert, not In spite of the
soil but becnuso of It. I doubt If they
were awake to the social advantages
of tho system, but it was their co
operative brotherhood that helped
them to their glory. We are centuries
behind them. I'm getting out here
Imperial. If you come up to Imperial
look me up. Brandon's my name. I've
no card these duys!"
"There aro several things I wnnt to
hear from you," answered Rlcknrd,
following brown necktlo nnd pointed
beard to the platform. "I'll be sure
to look you up. Mine's Rlcknrd."
Tho breezo which was now entering
tho enr windows had blown over the
clover-lcufcd fields. Its message was
sweet and fresh. Rickard could see
tho canals lending off llko silver
thrends to tho homes nnd farms of the
future; "tho socialists' dream come
true 1" Willows of two or threo years'
growth outlined the banks. Hero and
thcro a tent or n rnmada sot up n
bravo definnco against the hard con
ditions of tho land It was Invading.
Rickard leaned out of tho window and
looked back up tho vnlley whlrh was
dominated by tho rnngo now wrapping
nround Itself gauzy, iridescent drap
"The monument to nn effete super
stition 1" ho repeated. "That wasu't
a bud Idea."
hnd expected to see a Mextu-u town,
or nt least r. Mexican Influence, us,
tho towns hUKgcd tho border, but It!
was ns vividly Amcrlcnn ns wns Im.
perlnl or Brawley. Thcro was the yel-,
low-palntcd station of the Ovcrlnnd
Pacific lines, tho wntcr tank, the eager
American crowd. Railroad sheds an
nounced the terminal of the road.
Backed toward tho station was the In
evitable hotel bus of the country town,
n painted sign hnnglng over Its sldo
advertising tho Desert hotel. Before
he reached the step the vohlclo was
"Walt, gen'lemen, I'm coming back
for n second load," called the durky
who was holding the reins.
'If you wnlt for tho second trip you
won't get a room," suggested n friend
ly voice from the seat above.
Rickard threw his bog to tho grin
ning negro and swung onto tho crowd
Leaving the railroad sheds ho ob
served n building which he assumed
was the hotel. It looked promising,
nttractlve with Its wide encircling ve
randa and tho patch of green which
distance gave tho dignity of a lawn.
But the darky whipped up his stolid
horses. Rlckard's eyes followed tho
patch of green.
Tho friendly voico from above told
him thnt that wns the office of tho
Desert Reclamation company. Ills
next survey wns more personal. Ho
saw himself entering the play ns tho
reprcscntntlvo of a company that was
distrusted if not indeed actively hated
by tho valley folk. It amused him that
his entrance wns so quiet as to be sur-
' "Brandon's My Name."
roptltious. It would have been quieter
had Marshall had his way. But ho
himself had , stipulated that Hardin
should bo told of his coming. He had
seen the telegram before It left tho
Tucson olllce. He might bo assuming
an unfamiliar role in this complicated
drama of river and desert, but it was
not to be ns an eavesdropper.
The heavy bus was plowing slowly
through the dust of the street. Rick
ard was given ample time to note tho
limitations of tho new town. They
pnssed two brick stores of general
merchandise, lemons nnd woolen
goods, stockings and crackers disport
ing fraternally in their windows: A
board sign swinging from tho over
hanging porch of the most pretentious
building nnnounced the post olllce.
From a small adobe hung n brass
plate advising the stranger of tho
Bank of Culexlco. The 'dobo pressed
close to another two-storied structure
of the desert type. The upper floor,
supported by posts, extended over tho
sidewalk. Netted wire screened nwny
the desert mosquito nnd gave tho over
hanging gnllery the grotesque appear
ance of a huge fencing mask. From
the street could be seen rows of beds,
as In hospital wards. Calexlco, it was
seen, slept out of doors.
"Desert hotel," bawled the darky,
reining In his placid team.
".Yes, sab, I'll look out for your hag.
Got your room? Tho hotel's mighty
sure to be full. Not many women yit
down this a-way. . . . All the men
mostly lives right heah at the hotel."
Rickard made a dlvo from a swirl of
dust Into the hotel. The long line ho
anticipated at the desk was not there.
He stopped to tnke In a valley Innova
tion. One end of the long counter had
been converted Into a soda-water bar.
The high swivel stools In front of tho
white marbled stand, with Its towering
silver fixtures, were crowded with dust
parched occupants of tho bus. A white
conted youth was pouring colored
sirups into tull glasses; there was a
clinking of Ice; n sizzling of siphons.
"That's a new one on me," grinned
Rlcknrd, turning toward the desk
whero a complncent proprietor stood
waiting to annouueo that there was but
one room left.
The Desert Hotel,
no left tho dusty car with relief
when tho twin towns wero called. Ho
How will Hardin receive the,
man who comes to supplant him
and how will Hardin's wljo re
ceive the man who once had told
her of his love and then, torn by
doubts, had run away from her
expectant eyes? These are ques
tions that worry Rickard, but ho
la not left long In doubt Get
the answer, with Rickard, In the
(TO BR CONTINUED,)
Always tarry a llttlo philosophy
about with you. A glided oearchllshtt
Is of llttlo uccount to tho big auta
stuck la tho mod.