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Loaded Dice
written by "Cootes, F. Graham"
...don from the first showed a most kindly interest. Not only did he fit him out with a suit of clothes, a cartridge belt and revolver, but further he did what he could to arouse the drunkard's self-respect, smoothing out occasional dissensions between Mason and Hinckley, and sometimes even, when bound towards the mine, taking Hinckley's lunch pail down to him, and stopping for a pipe and a friendly chat. Small wonder that he soon numbered Hinckley, along with most of the rest of the township, among his devoted admirers. With high and low alike, indeed, throughout the county, Gordon, as time went on, had reinforced his first good impression, gained by force of arms, by showing equal aptitude for the gentler arts of peace. Alike in the town of Seneca, among the scattered mountain claims, and in Jim Mason's little cabin itself, he was soon a welcome visitor, honestly liked, respected and looked up to. And all this time, for all his different activities, for all the seeming aimlessness of many of his expeditions and conversations, Gordon, far underneath the surface, was working ceaselessly, steadily, relentlessly, toward one desired end; with Jim Mason's cabin as the scene, and the members of Jim Mason's household as the involuntary actors, in the drama whose final act he was seeking to hasten to its end. With honest, open-minded Jack Harrison he had been on the best terms from the first; with Jim Mason progress had been slower, but progress it had been, for all that. And while the old man's grunts and occasional dry chuckles meant to Gordon little in the way of cordiality or good-will, to Ethel Mason and to Harrison they were a source of constant wonderment, revealing, as they did, depths of good-humor in the crusty old man of which they had never even dreamed. With the girl herself Gordon found his wits kept busy in a spirited warfare of words, for apparently to Ethel Mason his every action was a subject for criticism, his every word...

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