- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- Chapter 6
- Chapter 7
- Chapter 8
- Chapter 9
- Chapter 10
- Chapter 11
- Chapter 12
- Chapter 13
- Chapter 14
- Chapter 15
- Chapter 16
- Chapter 17
- Chapter 18
- Chapter 19
- Chapter 20
- Chapter 21
- Chapter 22
- Chapter 23
- Chapter 24
- Chapter 25
- Chapter 26
- Chapter 27
- Chapter 28
- Chapter 29
- Chapter 30
- Chapter 31
- Chapter 32
- Chapter 33
- Chapter 34
- Chapter 35
- Chapter 36
- Chapter 37
- Chapter 38
- Chapter 39
- Chapter 40
- Chapter 41
- Chapter 42
- Chapter 43
Chapter Three — Brother Bill
My name is Joe Parker and I am a miner. I am thirty years old, five foot-ten and weigh about one hundred eighty pounds.
I have a brother Bill. Bill, like myself, started out to be a miner. Now he is a mine promoter and a good one — at least he does all right.
I don’t know how the stockholders feel, but I think Bill is the best guy in the world. He lives in a big house on the hill above Reno, Nevada. He has a new Cadillac, a Corvair, a Jeep and an airplane — beautiful job — yellow and black with two engines. Also, he has a pretty wife; little Nellie.
In the eyes of little Nellie, Bill can do nothing wrong, and I guess I always felt the same way about him.
For several years I had been working in a gold mine about fifty miles from Reno. Each year the scale of wages had gone up but the price of gold had remained the same — thirty-five dollars an ounce. And like many other gold mines it closed down, and I was out of a job. So until I could find something else to do I moved in with brother Bill.
Bill is a couple of years older and a lot bigger than I; standing well over six feet, and weighs about two hundred twenty pounds. He is a very convincing talker and always busy.
One morning when breakfast was over he took me into his private den. “Joe,” he said, “I’ve got something I want to show you. Just take a look at this.”
I took the book from his hand and opened it. It was printed in Spanish. “What the devil is it, Bill? You know I don’t read Spanish.”
His grin widened. “I know you don’t, but I do. Now listen carefully. I was down in Mexico a while back and got a hold of this old book. It’s several hundred years old and is a history of the early days of Mexico and Central America. The Spaniards were after only one thing when they invaded Central America and that was gold.”
“I studied about that in school, Bill.”
“Sure, we all did but this old book here tells us where they found it. In some places they found so much gold that they made gold horseshoes for their horses. Just think of that Joe — golden horse shoes! Also it tells of a city built of solid gold. Can you imagine that? A city made of solid gold!”
He was really excited, so for about an hour he read parts of the book to me translating to English. Then he produced a map and spread it out on his desk. It was a map of Central America. As he pointed to it his eyes were sparkling.
“Joe, there must be a heck of a lot of gold left down there. I’ve been reading a lot about Central America lately and do you know something? Those people in those countries are still using oxcarts, living like they did a hundred years ago. I’ll bet they are still mining gold with a gold pan and I’ll bet they have never heard of a gold dredge.”
“What makes you think so?”
“Because” said Bill, “up until now there has been no way of getting one in there. You, of course, know of the Pan-American Highway?”
“Yes, I’ve read a little and heard a little about it.”
“It is just being completed through Central America now, and do you know what that means?”
I shook my head. He was planning too fast for me.
“It means,” he said, “that those countries are just now being opened up to the machine age. You know yourself that without modern equipment they can’t mine those river bottoms.”
“You are right.” I said.
“You bet I’m right! And do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to fly to Dallas, Texas, tomorrow. I know a couple of old boys there that are worth millions — made it in oil. And they’ll gamble on most anything. I’m going to take this old history book here and a bunch of other propaganda that I have gotten together, and go down there to make them a proposition.”
“What kind of proposition can you make to them?”
“I don’t exactly know yet, I’ll just have to play it by ear until I find out how hot I can get them.”
I knew Bill would convince them that there was a lot of gold left in Central America.
“And I have another ace in the hole,” Bill went on, “and that’s you.”
“Joe, you are one of the best mining men in the United States. If I can talk those old boys into financing an expedition down there you are going down to see what you can find.”
The following morning I drove Bill to the airport. His plane was ready with the engines running. He gripped my hand hard. “Hold down the fort Joe. I don’t know how long I’ll be gone but I want you to be ready to take off when I get back.”
Just before he climbed into the plane he reached in his pocket and drew out an envelope and handed it to me. “Take a little vacation while I’m gone.”
He grinned, and before I could get the envelope open, the big plane took off. I tore open the flap and inside were five crisp one hundred dollar bills.