THE FRANKLIN PRESS mi THE HIGHLANDS MACON IAN
THURSDAY, OCTOBER it, IMS
Fine Serial Fiction in
IN FOUR INSTALMENTS
SYNOPSIS: Ben Furlong, a
young but practical oil man and
driller from the Pennsylvania field,
drifted into the Texas oil country,
broke arid looking for work. Fin
ally he fetched up at the Durham
home where lived an elderly aunt,
shortly widowed by the explosion
of a powder wagon, and her neice,
pretty Betty Durham. . . . Per
haps because of his smile, Betty
cooks some food for Ben and while
he eats he learns the aunt, in town
on business, has an oil man, Tiller
Maddox, sinking an oil well for
her. ... A short 6 inch bolt
worked loose from the rigging and
is in the bottom of the well. Work
has been suspended for days as the
crew "fish" for the bolt and op
erating funds dwindle away. . .
Furlong offers to give a hand but
Maddox objects. . . . Betty in
sists and overrules Maddox so
Furlong fashions a tool which he
has just lowered into the well, hop
ing to fish out the bolt. . . .
NOW GO ON WITH THE STORY.
Furlong himself handled the rig
during this operation, and even
Maddox could find no fault with
the way he did it. When, after
what seemed an interminable time,
the wire cable began to stream
up out of the depths and wind it
self in smooth, black layers upon
the drum, the two women pressed
in upon the derrick floor.
Out of the well-mouth finally
slid the fishing tdol; it stopped,
hung motionless with the lower
end at the level of their eyes.
The teeth had been bent inward,
jaihmed together by the blows from
above; inside the basket thus
formed and tightly bitten between
two of those prongs was a batter
ed six-inch piece of steel.
When Furlong had finished wash
ing up he found Betty Durham
waiting for him.
"Come over to the house," she
said. "You must be tired."
"I told you I was lucky," the
young man declared, with a grin.
"Lucky, nothing. You've got
"Simple, wasn't it? I wonder
Maddox never thought of it."
Betty stirred; impatiently she ex
claimed: "Oh, he's too busy think
ing about something ! Say ! We've
got an extra room, but Aunt Mary
says it wouldn't look right for you
to sleep there. Don't that make
"How about the barn?"
"That's what she proposed. Come
on. We'll fix it somehow."
It was dark; the trail through
the cactus and the mesquite was
dim, but Betty knew it by heart,
and where its meanderings were in
distinguishable she took Furlong's
hand and guided him
"I suppose you think Aunt Mary's
crazy, risking all her money like
this," she said.
"I sure do," the man admitted.
"This thing will show you the
chances she's taking. Suppose that
bolt had been something else,
something we couldn't get hold of?
There's a thousand things can
happen to a well."
"I know. But she's greedy. She
always was. Tiller talked her into
it after Uncle Joe died, and she
wouldn't listen to me."
"It's a lot safer to let the big
companies do the drilling, and be
satisfied with a royalty."
"Some people can't be satisfied,"
the girl said, quietly. Then after
a moment. "Uncle Joe never in
tended to leave the whole farm to
her. They didn't hitch very well.
He said he was going to leave part
of it to me, but I guess he never
got around to it. I'll bet Aunt
Mary's sorry by this time that she
listened to Tiller; there's so many
things a driller can do to a well."
"Pshaw! Js he that kind of a
"What kind of a man? Men are
all alike, aren't they when they've
got reason to be?"
"She better fire him."
"I guess she can't, or dassent.
. . . Funny my talking this way
to you and not knowing you only
a few hours. I'd better mind my
own business. Here we are. You
wait while 1 get a light."
They had arrived at the house,
a new form Three Prize Short Stone (of four instalments
each) by a matter itory-teller. .... They're Re Reach at hla b t tbtWUif
and the girl left her companion
outside. She reappeared in a few
minutes with a lantern and a
couple of patchwork comforters.
These latter she surrendered to'
Ben, then led the way to the barn.
Like most farms in the oil coun
try, this one had been allowed to
run down, and with the exception
of some chickens and a few dis
pirited cattle there was no live
stock left upon it. There still re
mained, however, some old fodder;
it was dusty and musty, but suit
able enough for a bed, and Fur
long announced that he was de
lighted with these sleeping arrange
ments. He set the lantern down
Before he knew whet he was doing
and walked to the door with Bet
ty. There he said:
"You've been mighty nice to me.
I wish that fishing job had been
"It would have taken longer."
The girl's face was dimly illumin
ated as she smiled up at Furlong.
She was the prettiest girl he had
ever known and he felt a great
liking, a great sympathy for her.
The clasp of her warm hand as
she had guided him along the
dark trail had affected him in an
unaccountable manner, and now it
affected him again in the same
way when she laid it in his. A
sudden recklessness overwhelmed
him and before he knew what he
was doing he had bent forward
and kissed her. The girl was
startled, but she did not recoil.
Curiously she inquired: "Why did
you do that?"
"I don't know. I I couldn't, help
it, I guess. I didn't intend to,
but" Ben floundered; he felt his
face burning hotly.
"Tiller tried that and I slapped
him. I've known him a long time,
too!" Miss Durham shook her
head, apparently more perplexed at
her own lack of resentment than
surprised at Furlong's boldness.
"I must like you pretty well."
"I wish you would did. I think
"Queer!" Betty turfled to go. A
moment later she called back
through the gloom, "I'll call you
when breakfast is ready."
Furlong was not altogether sur
prised when, on the following
morning, Tiller Maddox offered
him a job. Maddox, it was plain,
was acting upon orders, and he
took no pains to conceal his dislike
for the new hand; nevertheless,
Ben accepted the proffer. Aside
from the fact that he needed work,
his interest in Betty Durham was
now sufficient to make almost any
sacrifice worth while.
In the days thereafter he tried
to fathom the peculiar relation
ship existing between Maddox and
the two women, but he did not
succeed very well. The driller, it
was evident, had his heart set up
on Betty, and in his attempt to
win her Mrs. Durham was his ally;
nevertheless, for some unknown
reason the aunt disliked and dis
trusted the man. About all that
Ben could make sure of was the
fact that in some manner not read
ily apparent the oil well was be
ing used by Maddox as a weapon;
that somehow it had become the
stake in a three-cornered game.
Furlong and Betty meanwhile
managed to see a good deal of
each other, but they met clandes
tinely. Neither of them openly
referred to this fact, and, although
the girl pretended that it was her
aunt whom she feared, Ben very
well knew that it was Maddox.
No longer, by the way, did he
apologize when he kissed her, and
their stolen moments together had
become very sweet.
Work on the well progressed as
rapidly as could be expected. Inch
he had bent forward and kUsed her
by inch, foot by foot, the heavy
steel bits cut through the rock;
length after length was added to
the casing, and as it neared the
level of the oil-bearing structure
"indications" became evident; oc
casional sighs and gurgles issued
from the well mouth as gas gather
ed and released itself. Its odor
was at times quite strong.
It was at this time that Maddox
and Furlong clashed.
Some new tackle was being slung
and Ben had been sent up aloft
while the foreman issued directions
from below. It was heavy work.
Ben was forced to cling to the
derrick timbers or to balance him
self upon a narrow plank, and his
progress at times did not suit the
elder man. Maddox was in a sur
ly mood, anyhow, and he became
profane. Furlong was hot and ir-'
ritable. He answered back, where
upon the man below flared out
"You do like I tell you an' don't
argue, or I'll come up there an'
give you a dam' good beating!"
The rigging was finally secured
in place and Maddox was occupy
ing himself with something else
when he felt a hand upon his
shoulder. He turned to find Fur
long at his side. The tatter's eyes
were blazing. In a voice ominous
ly harsh and vibrant with fury he
"I came down to get that beat
ing. I want it now."
The other members of the crew
froze in various attitudes of startl
ed suspense. The two men stared
at earn other.
Furlong was a burly, thick-necked
youth: he was as hard as iron
and in his gaze at this moment
was an evil quality quite unex
pected. His enmity for the drill
er had finally foamed over. In
proximity to this flaming passion
Maddox's smoldering dislike gave
off no heat; nor at short notice
could he fan its embers into a
blaze. After a brief survey, preg
nant with possibilities, he turned
his head and winked at the other
men. In a feeble effort at joc
ularity he said:
"I told you I'd come up there
and give it to you. I never ast
you to come down here an' get it."
He guffawed loudly at his own
humor and walked away. Furlong
stood shaking in his tracks.
That evening Maddox went over
to the farmhouse. Evenings in this
WASHINGTON ... The after
math of the meeting of Republican
party leaders held here hut week,
is that the " strong -man " today
in directing party affairs is Hani
sob E. Spangler (above), of Iowa,
recent grass-roots conference chair
man Some observers are of the
opinion that he may be the next
Chairman of the National Republican
thirsty land, like evenings upon
the desert, were cool, refreshing,
beautiful. The brazen sky cooled,
a blessed breeze played through
the scrubby bush and brought faint
fragrances unnoticed at other
hours; the harsh outlines of un
lovely objects were softened; birds
twittered; Nature filled her lungs
and took on new vigor.
Mrs. Durham was rocking upon
the little front porch, and of her
the man inquired:
"Her and Ben have gone to
. Maddox scowled. "I allowed they
"He's gone in to buy himself
some clothes and she took the
"He won't need no more clothes
than he's got, on this job," as
serted the driller. "He's all through
an' washed up."
"What's happened, Tiller?"
"We had a row. I was a fool
to put him on, in the first place,
but his week's up Friday."
Mrs. Durham ceased rocking;
her sallow face became more yel
low. With an effort she said:
"He's a right smart hand, Tiller.
I'd ruther you didn't fire him."
"The hell you'd ruther!" Maddox
exclaimed angrily. "What you got
to say about it?"
"Why, it's my prop'ty, my well "
"Y You know what I mean.
He's smart, 1 tell you. Didn't he
fish that bolt?"
"Sure! An' didn't you hire him
straight off, so's to spy on me?"
'Tiller ! It's no such thing. Why
should I spy on you? What you
been doin' that you need spyin' ?"
"Shut up an' listen to me. He's
fired Friday night an' he gets off
this place the next mornin'. tSo
that's that! Saturday, sometime,
the powder wagon'U be here an'
early Monday the men are comin'
to shoot the well. We got a big
one; I'll bet my life on that. I
can tell! Why, she's makin' gas
an' trying her best to let go, but"
the speaker paused, then finished
slowly, distinctly "there ain't
agoin' to be no well whatever until
I'm took care of."
The widow's colorless eyes fixed
themselves hypnotiically upon the
swarthy face of the man before
her. He continued:
"I wasn't gettin' along any too
good with Betty before this feller
showed up, but since he came she
won't have nothin to do with me."
"I did the best I could," Mrs.
Durham declared, nervously, "but
she says she won't marry you. She
goes hog wild every time I talk
"There's ways to make a girl
ewA jjJeov n
marry. You got to make her mar
ry me before that well comes in,
or it's just like I said it ain't
comin' in !"
'Tiller!" gasped the woman.
"You dassent do anything to it.
"Oh, dassent I? Who'll stop
me? You won't. That little old.
bolt made a lot of trouble, didn't
it? Well, that's nothin.' It just
shows how easy it is to."
Continued next week)
Out of the Picture
'Wonder what causes indigesr
"The inability of a round stom
ach to adjust itself tova -square
Proud Father I want our Wil
lie to be a politician.
Father He's so big and strong
I'd hate to have him ruin his
physique by working.
Lawyer All right. I'll take your
case. I feel sure that I can get
Client Why, you little nitwit, it
ain't justice I want. You've got
to get me off.
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