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A Lady in Boomtown: Miners and Manners on the Nevada Frontier - Page 51

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the handsomest and most authentic westerner I ever saw, perhaps because of the streak of drama in his nature. One incident convinced me that I was not a born gambler. As we passed Tex Rickard’s “ Northern,” I poked my head through an open window level with the street. The roulette wheel was directly inside, the dealer standing in shirt sleeves and vest. From my vantage point I could see the faces of the men at the table, many unshaven, others as well groomed as any man anywhere. Mr. Patrick threw a twenty- dollar gold piece onto his favorite number. Someone tossed a ten- dollar gold piece. It landed on the black, and was allowed to stay there. Others followed suit. A turn of the little wheel, and a good- sized sum of money was swept out of the hands of my friends, people who had just stopped at a window to get a glimpse of what was going on inside. No one seemed to think anything of the fact that all that money had been wiped out on one turn of a little wheel, just to give a girl a thrill. Hugh and I both played the stock market and won and lost heavily. But I never lost my secret fear of gaming tables induced by that walk downtown one night in Goldfield in 1904. Judge Kenneth Jackson, a fellow- traveler on our first trip to Tonopah, was with us that night. As he walked beside me, shielding me from the crowd with quiet southern courtesy, he talked about our future, Hugh’s and mine. He always treated us with a fatherly benevolence. Hugh and I had a great in Nevada, he thought. We should set ourselves to make a hundred thousand dollars and clear out. That was enough to make anyone comfortable but not enough to be a burden. “ A hundred thousand?” I said. “ We’ll make three times that amount before we leave. Why not?” He looked at me indulgently. “ Well,” he said, “ when you set your sights too high, you’re likely to miss your objective.” But I laughed at his admonition. At that moment Goldfield was at the height of its boom, and Tonopah had settled down to steady production of a million dollars a month. Anything was possible. Why not for us? After our tour of the town we sat over a cold drink in the Patricks’ dining room, and “ L. L.,” as Hugh called him, told us how he had secured the claims that became part of the Mohawk. Mr. Patrick had been commissioned by a group of Chicago capitalists to look over the Tonopah discovery. He had come too late for the Tonopah strike, but his arrival was exactly timed to acquire ground in Goldfield. He talked Charlie Taylor into a $ 75,000 option on three claims. Five thousand dollars was to be paid in ten days, the rest in three months.



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