內容簡介 To those who do not know the desert, the word usually conjures a picture of hot, waterless wastes of sand made desolate by sparse, withered gray sage more depressing than no growth at all; blighted by rattlesnakes and scorpions and the bleached bones of men from which lean coyotes go skulking away in the brazen heat that comes with the dawn; a place where men go mad with thirst and die horribly, babbling the while of mountain brooks and the cool blur of lakes shining blue in the distance, painted treacherously there by the desert mirage.Sometimes the desert is like that in certain places and at certain seasons of the year, but the men who know it best forgive the desert its trespasses, and love it for its magnificent distances, always beautiful, always changing their panorama of lights and shadows on uptilted mesas and deep, gray-green valleys. Such men yield to the thrall of desert sorcery that paints wonderful, translucent tints of blue, violet and purple on all the mountains there against the sky. They love the desert nights when the stars come down in friendly fashion to gaze tranquilly upon them as they sit beside their camp fires and smoke and dream, and see rapturous visions of great wealth born of that mental mirage which is but another bit of desert enchantment.Bill Dale was such a man. Hopeful Bill, men called him, with the corners of their mouths tipped down. Bill loved the desert, loved to wander over it with his two burros waddling under full packs of grub and mining tools and dynamite. He loved to pry and peck into some mineral outcropping in a far canyon where no prospector had been before him. And though he sometimes cursed the heat and the wind and brackish water, where he expected a clear, cold spring, he loved the desert, nevertheless, and called it home.Men jibed at his unquenchable optimism and mistook the man behind his twinkling eyes for a rainbow chaser, mirage-mad in a mild way. For even in Nevada, where the hills have made many a man a millionaire, they laugh at the seeker and call failure after him until he has found what he seeks. Then they want his friendship and a share in his good fortune; and this merely because Nevada is peopled-very thinly-with human beings and not by gods or saints.5Occasionally, when Bill Dale came to town for fresh supplies and mail, some one would wonder why a great, strapping fellow like Hopeful didn't go to work. Perhaps that was because Hopeful carried a safety razor in his pack, and had the knack of looking well-groomed on a pint of water, a clean shirt, an aluminum comb and six inches of mirror. Your orthodox prospector (at least in fiction) promises himself a bath and a clean shave when he strikes it rich, and frequently is made to forego the luxury for years.