The Stroud Democrat (Stroud, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 38, Ed. 1 Friday, June 27, 1919 Page: 2 of 8
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THE STROUD DEMOCRAT
Copyright. Bobbs-Merrill Company
Wlien the Colorado Burst Its Banks and
Flooded the Imperial Valley pf California
EDNA H AIKEN
Marshall's voice halted them. "XI
of the vii11«'v." The andlMM> twayed
nguin, listened. "Ileiir me. The riv-
er's running away again down yonder.
'This Is a message from Ulekard. It's
broken through the levee. It's started
for the valley. Now, who's suing to
stop It? Can you? Where's your
force, your equipment? Who can rush
to that cull hut the company you are
hounding? I gave you Faraday's mes-
■age. Ills hand's on the table. Not
another cent from him unless you
withdraw those suits. You say you
tiuve given me your answer, Black's
answer. Now the river plays a trick.
It calls your bluff. Shall we stop the
river, men of the valley? We can.
Will you withdraw your suits? You
can. Wlmt Is your answer now, Im-
The scene broke Into bedlam. Men
Jumped to their chairs, to the velvet
rim of the boxes, all talking, scream-
ing, gesticulating at once. The Yellow
Dragon was never so fearfully visual-
ized. Our of the chaos of men's voices
(came a woman's shriek. "For God's
pake, save our homes." It pitched the
panic note. "Save the valley 1 Stop
Marshall's Indian eyes were reading
that mass of scared faces as though it
were a sheet of typed paper. "Barton,"
he tailed through the din. "Where's
Two men lifted Barton's puny fig-
nre upon their shoulders. Ills vibrant
voice rolled above the shouting. "The
valley withdraws Its suits against the
"Then the company," yelled Mar-
shall's oratory, "the company with-
draws the river from the valley 1"
Pandemonium was loose. There were
cheers, and the sound of women sob-
bing. Burton was carried out on the
shoulders of his henchmen. Black led
n crowd out, haranguing to the street.
On the street, Marshall fell back to
MacLean. "That was a neat trick the
river threw in our hands." His voice
bed dropped from oratory; the de-
Gerty Welcomed Her Stiffly
Cialmlng fire was gone from the black
eyes. "It's only a break In the levee
It'rkan) says he can control It; esti-
mates two weeks or so. It may cost
the O. P. a few thousand dollars, but
It saved them half a million. Now
we'll have that game of poker, Mue-
In the balcony, llurdln was staring
"If that wasn't the devil's own
A Soft Nook.
Innes traveled, gleefully, In a ca-
t-nose, from Hamlin Junction to the
Heading. She could not stay away a
dny longer! Never before hud Los
Angeles been a discipline. Why had It
fretted her. made her restless, home-
sick? Then she had ills nered the
reason; history wus going on down
yonder. Going on. without her. She
knew that that was what was pulling
her; that only!
The exodus of engineers had started
tiverward in July. Gerty went with
Tom, and she hud made It distinctly
clear that It was not necessary for In-
nes to follow them. Bldlculous fur two
women to coddle a Tom Hardin! Un-
less lnnes had a special interest!
Her pride had kept her awuj. But
Tom did not write; Gerty's letters were
social and unsatisfactory; the newspa-
per reports Inflamed her. The day be-
fore she hnd wired Tom that she wus
coming. She had to be there at the
Gerty welcomed her stiffly. Assum-
ing a conscientious hostess-ship, she
taught lire at her waning enthusiasms.
Gerty looked younger and prettier.
Sler Hush accentuated her childish fea-
tures which were smiling down her an-
■itiyuiicc o>or this uninvited visit.
'We have all the home comforts,
haven't we? Why shouldn't we he com-
fortable when we ure to he here for
months? I'm going to brave It out—to
the bitter end, even if I bulio. It Is my
duty-—" She would make her Intention
perfectly clear! "There ought to he at
'ust one cozy place, one soft nook
that suggests a woman's presence. We
have tea here In the afternoon, some-
times. Mr. Rlckard drops In." The
ust was a delicate stroke.
Afternoon tea? At the Front? Is
this modern warfare?" The girl draped
her Irony with a smile.
Gerty was stealing a pleased survey
In the mirror through the rough door
that opened Into the dlvlstan called
bedroom. The sunburned, uncon-
scious profile of Innes was close to her
own. Pink and golden the head by the
dark one. She looked younger even
than lnnes! Good humor returned to
We are going to dine on the Delta
tonight." She pinned up a "scolding
lock," an ugly misnomer for her sunny
clinging curls! The mirror was requi-
sitioned again. "That's the name of
the new dredge. It was christened
three weeks ago, In champagne
brought from Yuma."
You said dine on the Delta. Do you
mean they have meals there?"
"You should see It," cooed Gerty.
'It's simply elegant. It's a flouting
hotel, has every convenience. The
camp cook, Ling, has his hands full."
'Going to wear that?" They were
standing now by the door of Gerty's
dressing tent. Over the bed u white
lingerie gown was spread.
I live in them. It's so hot," shrugged
I'll look like your maid. Gerty!" In-
nes' exclamation was rueful. "I didn't
bring anything but kbnkls. Oh, yes! I
remember throwing In, the last minute,
two piques to fill up space
Why, we have dances on the Delta,
and Sunday evening concerts. You
knew the work at Lngunn dam Is being
held up? The government men of the
Reclamation Service are down here all
the time. But It's time to be getting
Later, Tom flatly refused to accom-
"1 thought as much." Gerty shrugged
an airy Irresponsibility. Innes could
detect no regret.
They passed n cot outside the tent.
"Who sleeps there?"
"Tom." The eyes of the two women
did not meet.
Innes made no comment.
"He finds the tent stuffy." Gerty's
lips were prim with reserve. They
walked toward the river In silence. As
they reached the encampment, Cierty
recovered her vivacity.
"That's Mr. Itlckard's olfice, that
rnmada. Isn't it quaint? And that's
his tent; no, the other one. MucLeun's
Is next; there's Junior, now."
But Ills eyes were too full of Innes to
see Gerty's dimples. The difference In
the quality of his greetings smote Gerty
like a blow. And she hud never con-
sidered Tom's sister attractive, as a
possible rival. Yet, after a handshake,
she law that to MucLean, Jr., she did
Gerty was deeply piqued. Until now,
the field had been hers. She might per-
haps have to change her opinion of
Tom's sister. Boys, she had to con-
cede, the younger men, might find her
attractive, boyishly congenial; older
men would fall to see a charm !
The arrangement at table annoyed
Gerty. The boss, MacLean explained
gaily, would not be there for dinner.
He might come in later. Two men from
the Reclamation Service tried to enter-
tain Mrs. Hardin.
"It Isn't a battle." Innes looked
around the gay rectangle. "It's play!"
The thought followed her that eve-
ning. Outside, where the moonlight
was silvering the deck, and the quiet
river lapped the sides of the dredge
Jose's strings, and his "omlgo's" throb
blng from a dark corner, made the Il-
lusion of peace convincing. This was
no battle. It was easy to believe her-
self again ut Mare island—the Deltu a
Later, Gerty passed her. two-step-
ping divinely. Before her partner
turned his head. Innes recognized the
stiff back and straight poised bead and
dancing step of Rickurd. She admit-
ted he had distinction, grudgingly. She
could not think of him except compara-
tively; nlwax s antithetically, balanced
against her Tom.
"I'm tired; let's rest here." Innes
drew into the shadow of the great arm
of the dredge, 'f hey watched the
lancers as they passed, MacLean play-
ing the woman In "Pete's" arms, Gerty
with Rlcknrd. two other masculine cou-
ples. The Hurdlns were the only wom-
It was because of Tom that Innes
felt resentment when the uplifted ap-
pealing chin, the lace ruffles fluttered
by. Tom, lying outside ua unfriendly
It was easy. In that uncertain light,
to avoid Itlckard's glance of recogni-
tion. Estrada, who had come aboard
with the manager, sought her out, and
then Crothers of the O P. Again, she
suw Rlckard dancing with the lingerie
gown. There seemed to be no attempt
to cover Gerty's preference; for Rlck-
nrd, she was the only woman there!
Iteeausi she was Tom's sister, she had
a right to resent it, to refuse to meet
his eye. Small wonder Tom did not
coine to the Delta !
Going in with MacLean, Jr., to the
messroom for a glass of water, she met
Rlckard, on his way out. She man-
aged to avoid shaking hands with him.
She wondered why she hud consented
to give him the next waltz.
"He'll not find me," she determined.
MacLean followed her gladly to the
dark corner of the deck where's Jose's
guitar was then syncopating an accom-
paniment to his "umlgo's" voice.
To her surprise, Rlckard penetrated
her curtain of shadows.
"Our dance, Miss Hardin? Give us
'Sobr' Las Olas,' again, Jose."
The hand that barely touched his j
nrm wus stiff with antagonism. She I
told herself that he had to dance with 1
her—politeness, conventionality, de-
manded It. But, Instantly, she for ;
her resentment, and forgot their awk-
ward relation. It was his dancing, not
Gerty's, then, that was "superb." Any-
body could find skill under the leader-
ship of that Irresistible step. And then
the motion claimed her. She thought
of nothing; they moved us one to the
liquid falling bent.
The music diopped them suddenly,
solntlng them 'it the stern of the deck.
The silence was complete. Rlcknrd
broke It to ask her what she thought of
Her resentments were recalled. She
blundered through her Impression of
the lightness, the guyety.
"A work camp does not have to be
solemn. You'll find all the grlmness
you want If you look beneath the sur-
The guitars were tuning up. "Shall
I take you back? I have this dunce
with your sister."
She thought of Tom—on his lonely
cot outside his tent. She forgot that
she had been asked a question, lie
was dancing again with Gerty ! If that
•~llly little woman had no scruples, no
fine feeling, tills man should at least
guard her. If he had been her lover,
he should be careful; he must see that
people were talking of them. She hnd
seen the glances that evening! The
business relation between the two men
should suggest tact. If not decency I It
Itlckurd stood waiting to be dis-
missed ; puzzled. Through the uncer-
tain light, her anger came to him. She
looked tnller, older; there was u flame
of accusing passion in her eyes.
It was his minute of revelation. So
that was what the camp thought! The
wife of Hardin—llurdln! Why, he'd
been only polite to her—they were old
friends. What bad he said to cull down
tills sudden scorn? "Dancing—again—"
Had he been all kinds of 1111 ass?
"My turn, Miss Innes!" demanded
"Oh, yes," she cried, relief in her
Rlcknrd did not claim his dunce
with Mrs. Hardin. He stood where
the girl had left him, thinking. A few
minutes later, Gerty swept by In the
urms of Breck. Later, came lnnes
with Junior; the two, thinking them-
selves unseen, romping through a two-
step like two young children. He was
never shown that side of her. Gay ns
n young kitten, chuttlng merrily with
MacLean! Should her eyes discover
him, she would be again tile huughty
He'd gone out of his way to be po-
lite to the wife of Hardin. What did
he cure what they thought? He'd lin-
lsh Ills Job, and get out.
A minute later, he was being rowed
back to camp.
A Complete Camp.
"Complete, Isn't It?" Estrada wus
leading Innes Hardin through the en-
"Yes, It'ft complete !"
Her Brother hud told her at break-
fast that morning how grandly they
had been w asting time! She would
not let herself ndmlre the precis 11 of
the arrangements, the showers bu 1; of
the white men's quarters, the niesqult-
shnded kitchen. Gerty's elaborate set-
tling was of a piece, it would seem,
with the new management. House-
keeping, not fighting, then, the new
order of things!
Tom was afire to get his gat<' : •tie.
She knew what It meant to him; to
the vulley. The flood waters had to
be controlled. That depended. Tom
hnd proved to her, on the gate. And
the men dance and play house, as If
they were children, und every day
She thought she wns keeping her ac-
cusations to herself, but Estrada was
watching her face.
"We ure here, you know, for a siege.
There are months of work ahead, hot
months, hard months. The men have
got to be kept well and contented We
can't lose any time by sickness—" lie
wnnted to add "and dissensions." The
split camp wns painful to him, an Es-
trada. "Even after we finish the gate,
If we do finish It—"
She wheeled on him, her eyPR gleam
Ing like deep yellow Jewels. "You've
never thought we could finish It!"
INtrudu hesitated (Tver bis answer.
"You ure u friend of Tom's, Mr. Es-
Surely 1 But I am also an admirer
of .Mr. Rlckard, I mean of his methods.
I cuu never forget the levee."
She had to acknowledge that Rlck-
nrd had scored there. And the burn-
ing of the machinery hud left u wound
thut she still must sulve.
"You liuve no confidence In the
"The conditions hnve changed."
urged Estrada. "You've seen the mess.
She Waved Her Hand Gayly.
tent? As It was planned, it wus oil
right, a hurry-up defense. Marshall
all along Intended the concrete gate
for the permanent Intake. Have you
seen the gup the Ilnrdin gate Is to
close? Have you heard what the lost
Hoods did to it? It's now twenty-six
hundred feet, and Disnster islond,
which your brother planned to anchor
to, swept nway! If It can be dene. It
will, you can rest assured, with Rlck-
nrd—" he saw the llurdln mouth then
—"and your brother's zeal, und the
strength of the railroad back of them."
The camp formed a hollow trape-
zium ; the Hardins' tents, and Mrs.
Dowker's, were isolnted on the short
parallel. Rlckard's ramadu nnd his
tent were huddled with the engineers'.
Across, toward the river, behind Ling's
mesquites, begun another polygon, the
camp of foremen und white labor.
Some of these tents were empty.
'Is this Mexico, or the States?"
Mexico." She wondered why he
halted so abruptly. She did not see,
for the glare In her eyes, a woman's
skirt in the rnmada they approached.
Estradu murched on.
Outside the ramada, the two women
met. Gerty's step carried her past
like a high-bred horse. Her high heels
cut Into the hard sand. There was a
suggestion of prance In her mien. She
waved her hand gayly nt the two,
cried, "How hot It Is!" und passed on.
Innes saw Rlcknrd at his long pine
table used for a desk.
"I can see It all from here." Not for
money would tlio sister of Tom liar-
din go ill!
At table, that evening, her family
heard with surprise Gerty's announce-
ment that they were to ent in the mess
tent with the men. It was too hot to
cook any longer; tills had been one of
the hottest days In the year.
She expected to hear a protest to
the new arrangement from Tom. She
was to see u new development—sullen
resignation. If he would accept It. she
must not argue. Both sister and broth-
er knew why it was too warm to cook
A Visit to Maldonado.
Mrs. Hardin's descent on the office
that afternoon was successful, but not
satisfactory. She had found the man-
ager brief to curtness. She wus given
no excuse to linger. She traced Rlck-
ard's manner to the presence of Mac-
Lean. and snatched at her cue. She,
too, could be businesslike and brief.
Her errand was of business; her man-
uer should recommend her!
Rlcknrd had seen her making
straight toward the rnmndu. It was
not the first time; her efforts to line
her nest hnd involved them all and
often. But today, he was in a bad
"For the Lord's sake," he pronned
to MacLean as she approached.
MacLean's grin covered relief. He had
never heard Rlckard express himself
on the subject befcre. "The dead-set
Hardin's wife wns making nt Casey,"
was the choice gossip and speculation
of the young engineers on the Delta.
MacLean hnd a bet up on the outcome.
He grinned more securely.
"I am not going to spare any more
carpenters," growled Rlckard. It was
an Inauspicious day for Mrs. Hardin's
visit. Tilings hnd gone wrong. Vex-
ations were piling up. A tilt with llur-
dln that morning, a telegram from
Marshall; he wus feeling sore. Des-
perately they needed lnbor. Wooster
hud Just reported, venomously, It ap-
peared to Rlckard's spleen, Increasing
drunkenness among the Indians.
Gerty's ruffles swept In. Her dress,
the blue inuli with the lace medallions,
accented the hue of her eyes, and
looked deliclously cool that glaring
desert day. Her parusol, of pongee,
wus lined with the same baby hue.
Her dainty fairness nnd childish af-
fability should have tnude an oasis in
I that strenuous day, but Rlckard's dis-
integration of temper was too corn-
| plete. He rose stiffly to meet her, and
Ills manner demanded her errand.
She told it to him, plaintively. Her
I eyes were appealing, Infantile. Would
It be too much to ask, would Mr.
Rlckard mind In the least, he must he
perfectly frank nnd tell her If they
would be In the way at all, but while
this hot spell lusted, could they, the
three of them, eat in the mess tent
with the men?
"Surely!" Rlckard met It heartily.
| She would find It rough, but If she
could stand It, yes. he thought It u
And then there wns nothing for her
to do but go. Her retreut was grace-
ful, without hnste, dignified. She
smiled n farewell at MacLean. who
wns watching the approach of Innes
Hardin nnd ICstrnda. Rlckard did not
see the aborted entrance of Hardin's
sister and the young Mexican. lie
wns Itching to be ut his work.
He let out n growl when Mrs. liar-
din wns out of enrshot.
"Shucks! What in Halifax do wom-
en come to a plnce like tills for?
There's Hardin—brings In two women
to cook for him, and now. please may
they all eat with the men?"
nis secretary subdued a chuckle.
He was visualizing n procession of
boxes of choice Havanas—from Bode-
feldt, Hamlin and the rest of the
gang. lie need not buy a smoke for
Rlcknrd threw himself hack In his
chulr. "Take this letter, MacLean. To
Marshall." Then his worry diverted
him. "Who In thunder is selling liquor
to my Indians?"
"Hold on; that letter enn wnlt. You
get the horses up, MacLean, und we'll
ride down to Mnldonudo's. It's his
place to stop this liquor business, not
A few hours Inter they were ap-
pronchlng the ndobe wulls of Maldo-
nado. They found the gnte locked. A
womnn, whose benuty hud fuded Into
a trnglc whisper, a ghastly twilight of
suggestion, came to their knock, nnd
unbnrred the gnte for the white
strangers. Mystery hung over the In-
closure like n pnll.
Rlcknrd told his errand. Mnldonndo
sputtered und swore. By the mother
of Mury the Virgin, thnt thing would
be stopped. He showed to the senors,
with pride, Ills bndge. He wns a ru-
rale; he was there to uphold the law.
He hnd cnuglit some of those drunken
Indtnns on the road. He hud brought
Maldonado showed three men In a
locked shed, deep in drunken stupor.
He thought the liquor wns obtained
somewhere bnck in the sandhills. He
would find the np> e. But the senor
must be patient; his hands were so
Both men were glad to get nway
from th plnce nnd Mnldonndo. Ob-
viously he wus a brute; undoubtedly
he was a liur.
Pink wns too hot. blue too definite, A
parusol of pastel green, nnd she looketi
like a sprig of fragrant mignonette.
She found the open space of the
trapezium swarming with struus*
dark fnces. So silent their coining she
had not henrd the arrival of the tribes.
She Isolated the Cocopnhs, stately as
bronze statues, their long hair stream-
ing, or wound mud-caked under the
brilliant hendcloths. Foregathering
with them were men of other tribes;
these must be the Yumns and Degul-
nos, the men needed on the river.
These were the men who were to work
on the rafts, weave the great mat-
tresses. A squad of short-haired Pi-
mas with their squaws und hublei
nnd their gaudy bundles, gaped at the
fair-haired womnn ns she passed. The
central space was filling up with PI-
mas nnd Mnricopas, I'npngoes, too"
she knew them collectively hy their
show hair. These were brush cutters.
This, then, nieunt the beginning ol
real uctivlty. Tom would nt Inst bo
satisfied. He would no longer sulk
and rage alternately at the hold-up ot
Before she reached Rlckard's ra-
madu she saw that another woman
was there. She caught an Impassioned
gesture. Her only surmise rested on
Innes. Gerty saw that she was dark;
she looked the hulfbreed. The brown
womnn drew buck 11s the white womnn
entered. Gerty smiled an airy reas-
surance. She herself would wnlt. She
did not wnnt to be hurried. She told
Rlckard that she hud plenty of time.
"Thsre Is something you want to tell
me?" Rlckard's patience was cour-
teous but firm. He would hear her er-
rand first. Gerty, remembering the
imploring attitude of the stranger, de-
termined that she would not be sen!
"Will you excuse me, senora? II
will be only n minute."
She was to tell her errund, nnd
briefly I Gerty swept pust the Intruder.
"Sit down, Mrs. llurdln."
Resenting the Inflection, she snid
she would stnnd. Iler voice wus a
little hard, her eyes were veiled, as
she told her mission. Her usuul flu-
ency drugged; she felt a lack of sym-
pathy. In short, she proposed a com-
inissnry department, herself In charge.
"I'd like to feel I was of some use,"
urged Gerty. "My heart Is bound up
In this undertaking; if I'm allowed tc
stay, I'd like to help along. This Is
the only way I can, the woman's way."
"Aren't you taking n good deal on
yourself, Mrs. Hardin?"
Then she forgave his hesitation
quite, as It was of her he wus think-
ing. "Not if It helps." Her voice was
low nnd soft, as if this were a secret
"Why, of course, anything you wnnt,
XIrs. Hardin." And, remembering her
former position, he added, "The camp's
yours ns much as mine."
A glad smile rewarded htm. She
went out, reluctantly. There was a
new significance in MacLean's absence
from the rnmada. What could thai
womnn hnve to say thnt MacLean
must not hear? For the first time
the wenk tenure on her old lover dime
to her. Not n sign hnd he yet given
of their understanding, of the piquant
situation. Themselves old sweethearts,
thrown together In tills wilderness,
Whnt hnd she liullt her hopes on? A
word here, u translated phrnse, or
magnified glance. She would not hnr-
bor the new worry. Why, it would b«
nl! right. In the meantime she would
show them all whnt n woman wttb
executive ability could do.
"Sit down, senora," snld Rlcknrd tc
the brown womnn, Muldonndo's wife
"Don't be frightened. Wo won't let
him hurt you." Rlckard vnlgarlzeo
his Custllian to the reach of her rudt
dialect. Familiar ns wns Rlcknrd with
the peons' speech In tlielr own coun-
A White Woman and a Brown.
For a few weeks Mrs. Hardin found
the mess tent diverting. Before the
Delta hnd expnnded the capacity of i
the camp her soft nook bad been over-
taxed, her hospitality strained. The
men of the reclamation service, thrown
into temporary Inactivity, were eager
to nccept the opportunity created for
another. Failing thnt other, her zen!
hnd flagged. Events were moving
quickly nt the break; Rickard was ab-
sorbed. XIrs. Hardin told herself that ]
it was the heat she wished to escape; I
not to her own enr did she whisper
thut she wns following Rlcknrd, nor (rv ll(1 rml](]
that the percolator and chafing dish.
her shelves nnd toy kitchen were a
wasted effort. She kept on good terms
with herself by ignoring self-confi-
Rlcknrd, the discovery unfolded
slowly, took his meals Irregularly. His
brenkfnst wns gulped down before the
women nppenred; his dinners where
he found them.
"No wonder!" reflected Gerty Ilnr-
din. "Ling's cooking Is so bud." Small
wonder the mnnnger foraged for his
She worked out a mission ns she
lay ncross her bed thnt hot afternoon.
Her duty became so clear that she
could no longer He still. Immediately
she must retrieve her weeks of Idle-
ness; what must Rlcknrd llilnk of her?
She I tied herself thoughtfully Into
n frock uf pale colored muslin, cream
slipping toward canary. White was
too glaring on a red-hot day Uke this.
A Woman Unbarred the Gate.
not keep up with her
story. Lurid words ran past his ears.
Out of the Jumble of abuse, of shame
and misery he caught n new note.
"Y'ou sny -Maldonado himself sells
liquor to the Indians?"
"Ssh, senor!" Someone might hear
him! She looked over a terrified
shoulder. That had slipped out, tbfl
selling of the liquor. She could have
told her story without that; she want-
ed to deny It. Relentlessly Rlckard
mnde her repeat 11, acknowledging the
"What makes vou tell me now?"
Rickard hunted for the ulcer n
knew there v.is n personal wrong.
"Whnt has Maldonado lien dolug to
you? Has he left you?"
(to de co.VTINUSD.)
The consumption of newsprint pa-
per by the dally < -ekly and monthly
publications of a utrclia runs uboiit
4,1)00 tons u Uioi.iU
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Whitmore, R. J. The Stroud Democrat (Stroud, Okla.), Vol. 9, No. 38, Ed. 1 Friday, June 27, 1919, newspaper, June 27, 1919; Stroud, Oklahoma. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc120548/m1/2/: accessed September 20, 2017), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.