The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a adventure novel by bilingual German author B. Traven, whose identity remains unknown. In the book, two destitute. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre book. Read reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A CULT MASTERPIECE—THE ADVENTURE NOVEL. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: A Novel [B. Traven] on lagemahgunste.ml *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A CULT MASTERPIECE―THE ADVENTURE.
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The treasure of the Sierra Madre, ([Modern Library books, ]) [B Traven] on lagemahgunste.ml *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. New York: Modern Library. The Treasure of Sierra Madre is the literary masterpiece for America's pop mythology of the Wild West. A savagely ironic novel, it follows the rugged adventure of. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a novel by the mysterious German- English bilingual author B. Traven, in which two penurious Americans of the s.
Sailors could take these animals home and tell the girls how they fought and killed the tiger to catch the tiger kitten as a present for the girl back home.
The air bit into your lungs because it was filled with poisonous gas escaping from the refineries. That sting in the air which made breathing so hard and unpleasant and choked your throat constantly meant that people were making money--much money. Unskilled labor was getting fifteen pesos a day, and Americans and Mexicans alike were spending five thousand dollars a night without giving a thought to where it went.
Tomorrow there will be heaps more money. No doubt this will go on for a couple of hundred years. So why worry? Let's spend it all while the spending is easy and pleasant. Farther down the river were the saloons, the cabarets, and long rows of shacks where girls, gayly dressed and more gayly painted, were waiting for their sailor friends, officers and crew.
All was love, song, and oceans of liquor wherever you cast a look. Mother cannot always go with the sailor boy to watch out for him. Certain trips are better made alone. Seeing so many jolly sailors hanging around because their ships had hoisted the red flag which indicated that they were taking in oil, Moulton had an idea. He said: What say? Let's hop on this tanker here. Maybe there's some dinner coming. I could take it, buddy.
There were two men with no shirts or caps on standing before a fruit-seller and trying to make him understand that they wanted bananas and asking the price. How about some eats? So you guys'd better come across with a good man-sized meal, or, hell, I'll sure tell your grandmothers back home that you meant to let two Ams starve out here, and in foreign country, too.
It makes me sick hearing you. Come up, you two beachers, and we'll stuff your bellies until they bust.
The treasure of the Sierra Madre - B. Traven
We throw it away anyhow. Who the funking devil can eat a bite in this blistering heat? Gee, I wish I was back in that ol' Los An, damn it. When they left the tanker, they couldn't walk very far. They lay down under the first tree they reached. I'm out for the next two hours. And we better get a rest.
They snored so loudly that people passing by and not seeing them under the tree got frightened and hurried away thinking a lion had overeaten and was taking a nap. Moulton woke up first. He pushed Dobbs in the shoulders and hollered: And what about us going to Tuxpam? Let's hustle before it gets dark. They went up the river on the right shore. The whole road, an ugly dirt road at that, was covered with crude oil, it seemed to break through cracks and holes in the ground.
There were even pools and ponds of oil. It came mostly through leaks in the pipes and from overflowing tanks which were lined up on the hills along the shore. Brooks of crude oil ran down like water into the river. Nobody seemed to care about the loss of these thousands and thousands of barrels of oil, which soaked the soil and polluted the river. So rich in oil was this part of the world then that the company managers and directors seemed not to mind when a well which brought in twenty thousand barrels a day caught fire and burned down to its last drop.
Who would care about three or four hundred thousand barrels of oil running away every week and being lost owing to busted pipe lines, to filling tanks carelessly, or to not notifying the pumpman that while he has been pumping for days, sections of the pipe lines have been taken out, to be replaced by new ones.
The more oil is lost, the higher the price.
Three cheers, then, for broken pipes and drunken pumpmen and tank-attendants! Even the sky appeared to be covered with oil. Thick clouds darkened the bright tropical sun.
Poisonous clouds coming from the refineries wrapped the whole landscape in a mist that stung your lungs like thin needles. After a walk of a mile the view to the left became friendlier. Set against the slopes of the high river-bank were the bungalows in which engineers and other officials of the oil companies were living with their families.
They had tried to make their residences as near as possible like those they had been used to in Texas. Yet everything had been in vain. The nearness of oil prevented people from living as they wished. The outcome was exactly what it is when a Negress with the help of powder and paint tries to look like a Swedish gentlewoman.
Soon the two men reached Villa Cuauhtemoc. This little town, situated on the shores of a large lagoon, and connected with the river and the port by a picturesque channel, on which a lively traffic of boats and launches is carried on, is in fact the ancient Indian principal town of this region. The Spaniards, after they had conquered this region, preferred to build their town on the other side of the river, as more convenient for shipping.
The new town, the port, became more and more important and left the old town so far behind that the inhabitants of the port forgot its existence entirely; when they heard of it, they thought it located in the depths of the jungle and peopled by primitive Indians. On reaching the last huts of the town opposite the lagoon, Dobbs and Moulton saw an Indian squatted by the road on the top of the hill.
The Indian wore rather good cotton pants, and he had on, furthermore, a clean blue shirt, a high pointed palm hat, and on his feet huaraches--that is, sandals. On the ground before him was a bast bag filled with a few things which perhaps were all he owned in this world. After a while Dobbs turned his head and said: He's been trailing us for the last halfhour. Wonder what he is after. They went on their way. Then, turning their heads, they noticed once more that the Indian was still on their heels.
I don't think he's a bandit. He looks rather decent to me," Dobbs said. They marched on. Yet whenever they looked back, they saw the Indian following them, always keeping at a distance of about fifty feet. Whenever they stopped to catch their breath, the Indian stopped too. They began to get nervous. There seemed no reason for being afraid of a poor Indian, but they began to feel sure that this single native was only the spy for a whole horde of bandits who were eager to rob the two strangers of the little they possessed.
I'm cracking up. I can't bear it any longer to have that brown devil on our heels waiting for his chance. I wonder if we could catch him and tie him to a tree and leave him there. But I admit if we could get rid of him some way, it might be safer.
They stopped under a tree and looked up as if they saw something very interesting in its branches--a strange bird or fruit. The Indian, however, the moment he noticed that the two Americans had halted, stopped also, watching them from a safe distance. Dobbs played a trick to get the Indian to come near.
He showed a growing excitement about what he pretended to see in the branches of the tree. He and Moulton pointed into the dense foliage and gesticulated like madmen. The Indian, as they expected, fell for it. His inborn curiosity got the better of him. Step by step he came nearer, his eyes fixed on the upper branches of the tree. When he finally stood beside the two, Dobbs made an exaggerated gesture and, pointing into the dense bush, yelled: At the same moment he turned round and held the Indian by his arm so tightly that he could not escape.
Why are you trailing us? That's the same place I am going. Perhaps I can find some work there too. I have worked in the oil-camps before. Dobbs and Moulton smiled at each other, each silently accusing the other of being the bigger jackass and coward. No doubt what the native said was true. He looked like a camp worker and might well be after honest work exactly as they two were.
Looked at closely, there was not a trace in his face or anywhere about him to remind one of a bandit. To make absolutely sure, Dobbs asked: Why do you follow us all the time? But the trouble with me is soy un gran cobarde, I am a big coward. I am afraid of going alone through the jungle. There are huge tigers, and snakes huger still. That's the reason why I was waiting for whites going the same way. Tigers and lions of our country don't attack Americans; they attack only us, because we belong to the same country, we are sort of compatriots, and that's why our tigers and lions prefer us and never bother an American.
What is more, along the road to the camps there are also sometimes a lot of bandits sitting and waiting for someone to come along to rob. The shores of the Tamihua Lagoon is infested with these murderers. From now on the Indian went along with them, hardly speaking a word, walking by their side or behind them, just as the road would permit.
The treasure of the Sierra Madre
Shortly before sunset they reached a little Indian village which consisted of only a few huts. The inhabitants, hospitable as they are at heart, were afraid of the strangers, owing to the many tales about bandits in the neighborhood. So with kind words and many excuses they persuaded the three men to go on and try to reach the next village, which, they stated, was bigger and had better accommodations--even a fonda, a little inn--and since the sun had not completely disappeared yet, they might reach that big village still with the last rays of daylight.
There was nothing else to do but go on. One mile they covered and there was no sign of a village. They marched another mile and there was still no village in sight. By now it had become pitch-dark and they could no longer see the road. If they went on, they might easily get lost in the jungle.
Dobbs, not being in any better mood than his partner, said: They let you stay with them for the night and even give you part of the little food they have. It seems to me they were too much afraid of us. There are three of us, and they may have figured we might easily overpower them if they offered us hospitality. They must have had bad experiences of this sort, and I can easily imagine a good many bums in port, whites and natives, who wouldn't mind robbing or even killing a couple of villagers if they couldn't get what they wanted otherwise.
Anyway, there's no use arguing this point. Here we are now in the open road surrounded by jungle and we have to make the best of it. I can't even see a stone at my feet any longer. Nothing else to do but stop right where we are. We must be near.
Perhaps we ought to try once more. I don't take any chances of being lost in the middle of the jungle. Here we are still on the road and by all means safer than inside the jungle. With lighted matches they looked around on the ground for the best place to rest in for the night.
It looked bad enough. The road was not at all clean. It was just a dirt road, rarely used, covered with small cactuses and low thorny bushes.
Whole armies of huge red ants were running about, and a multitude of other insects were crawling and creeping in all directions, leaving practically not a square inch of soil uncovered in their search for food or safety or the pleasures of love. He turned to the native, who stood near by, seemingly without the slightest interest in what his companions were doing or saying.
He was waiting for the two Americans to decide where and how to spend the night, and whatever they might decide, he would accept their decision and spend the night as near them as he could. Where an American could sleep and feel safe, an Indian could sleep still better and safer. Hay muchos, muchisimo tigres aqui.
There are so many tigers here in this jungle that whenever an American goes out hunting for a day, he never returns at night without at least four big tigers loaded on his car. Well, I think there's nothing left now but to pray to the Lord, who is the King of all men and beasts. From talking and thinking and standing around they became sleepy. It was impossible to stand on their feet for the whole night, so they lay down on the ground, forgetting all about ants and beetles and reptiles.
Hardly had they settled themselves, when the Indian squeezed himself between the two like a dog. He did this very slowly, trying to disturb them as little as possible, but none the less with all the firm determination that he could muster.
The two Americans might push him, kick him, try to pull him away; no sooner did they cease than he was snugly in between them once more. He felt safe only between the two. They had to give up and leave him where he wanted to sleep. He preferred their kicks and beatings to the claws of the tiger. Moulton was awakened by a small reptile creeping over his face. He shook it off and sat up. While he was trying to realize where he was and listening to the eternal singing of the tropical jungle, he was stricken as by a shock.
His breath stopped, and he could now hear very distinctly steps slowly approaching. Very soft steps they were, but heavy. No doubt they were the steps of a huge animal.
Only very huge animals would make such heavy steps, and since they were at the same time very soft, they could only be those of a great cat. A tiger. A huge tiger, a tigre real, one of the biggest in those jungles he must be.
Moulton didn't want to be afraid. He wanted not to wake the others until he was sure. So he listened again. The steps had halted. The great beast was obviously feeling his way and looking for the best place from which to jump at his victim. After half a minute Moulton heard the steps again, more slow and more cautious than before, and step by step coming closer.
They were heavier now and each time he heard them set more firmly on the soft ground. When he thought a suppressed growl reached his ears, he jerked Dobbs awake. Dobbs listened into the night. Then he said: I think it must be a tiger. A human being wouldn't sneak through the bush this way. It can only be a tiger or a lion. It was not clear whether the Indian had been awake for some time already or whether he had been aroused by the excited talk of the two.
But at the same moment the two partners stood up, he was up too, keeping as close to them as he could. There he is, hardly twenty feet away. I can see the green glow of his eyes. Dobbs shook him off. Then he hid close to Moulton. The terror-stricken Indian, who certainly knew a tiger when he smelled one, deprived Dobbs and Moulton of the last bit of courage they had kept so far.
All three now held close together. They listened again into the darkness to find out whether the animal was still near or had disappeared. For many minutes they could hear nothing but the never ceasing singing of the jungle insects. Then they heard the steps again, very distinctly. They Seemed to be at the same distance as before. Dobbs was of a different opinion.
It's the safest thing we can do. Even if that beast tries to climb the tree, if we are high enough we can defend ourselves with a stick, maybe. Cautiously feeling around, they succeeded in finding an ebony tree.
Dobbs was the first to climb up. No sooner had the Indian taken note of what Dobbs was doing than he was right after him, climbing close behind him and pushing Moulton, who wanted to be next, away from the tree. He keenly wanted not to be the last and so nearest to the ground. He considered the safest place of all exactly between the two Americans, Dobbs above him, and Moulton beneath him. He was ready to sacrifice either of them as long as he could be safe from the claws of the tiger.
Anxious as he had been to climb the tree, he had nevertheless not forgotten to take along his bast bag. Not even this bag did he wish to leave to the mercy of the jungle beast. Moulton had no choice but to climb after the Indian and be so near the ground that the tiger could easily reach his legs with one jump.
He consoled himself for his precarious position by calling up to Dobbs: But bad as it looks, I am still safer here than on the ground. On the ground I could be carried away by that cat, while here I can hold on for quite a while and I may lose only one leg. Listen, Dobbs, can't you climb up a few feet higher so that I can have a better chance? After clinging there for a quarter of an hour, they began to feel easier. They now breathed more freely and began to think of more safety.
The night had still long to go. It could hardly be ten o'clock. And hanging in the tree like untrained monkeys, they were afraid of falling asleep. Then they might let go and drop to the ground, perhaps right into the open mouth of the tiger, who would surely be waiting under the tree for such a welcome accident.
To avoid this they took off their belts and fastened their bodies firmly to the trunk. This done, they felt safe enough to try how one could sleep in this position. It was a long night; it seemed to them that it would never end. The little sleep they got was frequently interrupted by ugly dreams and by all kinds of hallucinations which tortured their minds. Whole herds of hungry tigers and armies of savage Indians seemed to be after them. At last morning came with rosy cheeks.
In the bright light of the early day everything around them looked absolutely natural-- not so very different, it seemed to them, from an abandoned orchard in Alabama. Even the ground beneath them looked not at all so gruesome as at night, when the flickering light of matches gave it such a ghastly impression. Hardly fifty feet away a green pasture was seen through the trees. It spread out under the morning sun almost like a lawn in the home town.
All the imaginings and visions they had had during the night appeared ridiculous by daylight. The three sat down and had a smoke. The Indian opened his bast bag and produced half a dozen dry tortillas, which he in brotherly fashion divided with the Americans for breakfast.
While sitting there chewing the tortillas, which under these conditions tasted none too good, the three suddenly stopped, held their breath, stiffened their bodies, and listened.
Clearly, without any doubt, they heard again the curious steps and the suppressed growling or mumbling they had heard during the night. These peculiar and unmistakable noises had settled in their memory so firmly that for the rest of their lives they would never forget them; they would recognize these sounds anywhere and any time.
These were the same steps and sounds they had heard during the night.
It was strange that a tiger should come out of his lair in bright daylight to attack men. On hearing the sounds again, they jumped up together. They Stared between the trees in the direction from which these steps and sounds came now, as they had also come during the night.
Their glance fell upon the green pasture. And there was the tiger. The tiger was stepping lazily around and eating grass, at times letting off a sort of a grunt out of sheer content. The tiger was a very harmless one; he was a burro, in fact, an ordinary ass tied to a tree by a long lasso, the property, doubtless, of a peasant in the next village, which certainly could not be far away.
Where a simple burro could pass the night and survive, there surely could be no tiger near; otherwise the peasants would not leave their animals overnight in the bush. Dobbs looked at Moulton, and Moulton at Dobbs. Just as Moulton started to open his lips for a hearty laugh, Dobbs said to him harshly: What's more, if you ever tell anybody one word about this night and make both of us the joke of the port, I-- bigawd, I'll murder you in cold blood and throw your carcass to the pigs.
But I think it's the best joke I ever heard. Dobbs looked at him and said: Don't play any tricks on me. Even the faintest smile will cost you a smashed nose. It was at this moment that the Indian thought it proper to speak up. He did not accept defeat. So he said: But around us last night was un tigre real y muy grande, it was a royal tiger of the biggest sort.
But I know mi tierra, my country where I was born, and I know well what is a tiger and what is not. I can smell it. Besides I saw his glowing greenish eyes glaring at us. And they were not the eyes of a burro. They say it is one hour away, but they don't tell you if they mean an hour run by a Tarnhumare, or walked or crawled, or an hour's ride on a good horse. That's what you have to figure out when an Indian peasant tells you how far away the next town is. You can't blame those Indians of last night.
They told us the truth in their own way, and that makes all the difference. In this village the three found fine hospitality.
They had breakfast, consisting of tortillas, black beans, and tea brewed from lemon leaves. The manager told them that they might stay there a day or two and have their meals, but more he could not do for them. Tell you a secret, believe it or not, but I'm an old-timer and I know a cat when I see one, and I tell you I've got the feeling oil is going on the rocks hereabouts, maybe in the whole god-damned republic.
Guess we'll have to go back home to good old Oklahoma and grow beans once more. It's slacking down in all the camps and with all the companies.
Good times are over, so it seems. The war came to its god-damned end too early, that's the trouble; that's what I think. There's more oil than the world will ever need in the next ten thousand years. Nobody wants to download oil any more, and if anybody downloads, damn knock me cold, he offers you flat two bits for the barrel, take it or go to hell.
I know oil and I know when the fat is gone. All right, sit down and push your spoon between your teeth. Don't worry, the boys will stand for what you eat today, and tomorrow too, if you want to stay.
The Indian went to his own people, to the peons of the camp, where he stuffed his belly full. The peons had their own kitchen, managed by one whom they seemed to trust better than the two Chinese who were in charge of the catering for the Americans.
Next morning Dobbs and Moulton left to try another camp. The Indian was again with them. They could not shake him off. His excuse was: But these terrible beasts won't do anything to me if I am with gringos. Tigers are horribly afraid of gringos, but un pobre Mexicano is eaten by them just like nothing, going alone through the jungle. Dobbs and Moulton threw stones at him to show him that he was not welcome. It looked somewhat awkward for two Americans looking for work and a free meal to bring along an Indian with them.
Rough as they might treat that poor man to induce him to stay behind, he was stoical. He followed them like a dog, not minding stones thrown at him nor the promise of a sound beating. He would even have taken the beating if he could have gained by it the right to walk behind them. The two finally let him have his way. So he was the winner after all. They reached another camp.
It was the same story there. No work, and the outlook far from promising. The field manager had also the feeling that oil was no longer easy money, only he had another explanation to offer--that the new oil laws of the republic were to blame for the dying of the business.
Why, for devil's sake, didn't they think of that fifty years ago when we had no money stuck in it? The whole world goes Bolshevik, and I don't care a worn-out step-in either.
I'll go Bolshevik too, first thing when I see it coming; that's what I'm going to do, blaze my time. Sit down and fill up the ol' tank to the rim. I got word from H. Likely next week I can go along with you, pushing camps for a meal.
Having made five camps and swallowed five different stories about the lack of work and the causes of the oil business breathing its last, both Moulton and Dobbs decided that it would be a waste of time and hard work to go any farther. In two camps they had already met men coming back from other camps who had lost jobs which they had held for years.
In town there's a better chance than here to get work and to meet somebody who is looking for men for rigging a new camp. Around here are the old established fields. There's no chance here. Better look for new fields. Guess you're right. Let's hoof back. So one day, late in the afternoon, they arrived in the port again. Moulton said: Now everybody for himself once more. While they had been away, no change had taken place in town.
The same fellows were hanging around the curbstones and pushing every man that came to town from the fields for a drink, a good steak, a gamble, and a girl. Not one of these curbstonepolishers had left for better places. And exactly the same boys that held the corner of the Southern Hotel and the entrance to the bank on the ground floor were doing exactly the same as they had done last week, last month, last year perhaps.
That is to say, waiting to be taken to the Madrid Bar or the Louisiana to help somebody with money to get drunk. They all knew the prayers to say at the right time and in the right way and to the right gods.
So they spent life, strength, and will-power. Dobbs did not feel sorry for having gone out to the camps to look for work. It was worth the trouble to know that out of town jobs were just as rare as in town. He had no longer to worry about having missed his chances in life or having overlooked opportunity knocking at the back door. One morning, strolling along the freight depot, he was hailed by the manager of an American agency for agricultural machinery. They were unloading machinery and he was asked if he would like to lend a hand for a day or two.
He accepted and was offered four pesos a day. The natives who worked at the same job got only two pesos. The work was hard and his knuckles peeled off ten times a day. Anyway the four pesos were welcome money. After five days the job was finished and he had to go. One of the men, square-shouldered and rather bulky, caught a glimpse of Dobbs, stopped, and yelled: Hurry, the ferry is making off. I've got a job for you if you want to go. Hard work, but good pay. Ever worked at rigging up a camp?
The hell of it is I'm short a hand; one dirty son of a bitch has kicked out and left me flat. Maybe malaria, or what the hell do I know, or perhaps it's a goddamned skirt that's holding him. I can't wait for that guy to show up. All right, you're hired. Grub goes off on your expense. Figure the Chinese cook will charge one dollar eighty a day. You make six bucks a day clean. Hell, don't stand and guffaw; come along. Only ten minutes ago Dobbs would have run after a job for two dollars a day like a hungry cat after a fat cockroach.
Now he looked as though he expected an embrace of gratitude for taking the job offered.
The ferry doesn't wait, nor the train either. And if we don't go right this minute we can't make the train. Pat McCormick, the contractor, was an old-timer. Before he had come down here, he had worked in Texas fields and afterwards in Oklahoma. He had come down here before the war, before there was anything that looked like a coming boom.
There wasn't a job connected with oil at which he had not tried his hand. He had been teamster, truck-driver, time-keeper, driller, tool-dresser, pumpman, storeman--anything that had come his way he had tackled. In recent years he had found out that there is more money in rigging up camps by contract--so much for the camp ready to start drilling.
He had acquired an excellent eye for judging the job. He could look over a lot in the jungle and name his price for the job in such a well-calculated way that the company thought they were downloading cheap when in fact he made a large profit on every contract. His trick was to get good and efficient labor cheap, cheaper than any company could get it.
A company cannot hire workers with backpattings and cajoling, making them believe they are being taken on out of pity. Pat knew how to play the good fellow, even the Bolshevik comrade, to catch his men cheap.
He could curse the big capitalist companies and their unscrupulous shareholders better than a Communist speaker when he wanted to soft-soap good workers. According to him, he never came out of his contract with any profit; he always lost his good money, so hard-earned in better times, and he took contracts, he said, only because he could not see men who wanted to work suffer from unemployment and starvation.
In camp he played the good fellow-worker, joking and - friendly. He told how excellent Communism is; if he had his way, the United States and all South America would become a paradise for the Communists tomorrow. American boys he couldn't catch so easily with these ideas. Americans knew this sort of Pat too well to fall for his cooperative contracts. He took on Americans only when he could procure no others. Most welcome were the newly arrived Hunks, Czechs, Poles, Germans, Italians, fellows who had heard back home the stories of men working in the Mexican oil-fields and earning from thirty to fifty dollars a day almost without bending a finger.
Having arrived in the republic, they learned during the first week that such fantastic wages were as rare as are the wages a bricklayer gets in Chicago, according to the fairy-tales circulating in Europe.
After these men are here two months or so they kneel down before any contractor who offers them five dollars a day, and if he offers them eight, they worship him as they never worship the Almighty, and the contractor may do with them what he likes.
After six months without a job they are ready to accept whatever is offered. Dobbs would not have fallen for the doctrines of Pat McCormick had he tried them on him. His economic condition left him no choice. He was in his way as glad at landing this job as were the Hunks. The co-operative arrangement made it obligatory for all hands to work eighteen hours out of twenty--four, every day as long as the contract lasted.
There was no extra pay. Eight dollars was the pay for the working-day, and the length of the working-day was decided by Pat. There was no rest on Sunday.
The Mexican hands were protected by their law. They could not be worked a minute longer than eight hours or Pat would have landed in jail and been kept there until he paid ten thousand pesos for breaking the labor law.
A sort of road had been cut out of the jungle so that in very dry weather the trucks could come right on the lot where the camp was to be rigged up. Mexican peons, having been sent a few weeks ahead by Pat, had the camp-site cleared when the rigbuilders arrived. Eight dollars a day looked like a lot of money when Dobbs had nothing in his stomach, but he learned that eight dollars a day may be meager pay for certain jobs.
The heat was never less than one hundred degrees in the open, where all the work had to be done, surrounded by jungle. He was pestered by the ten thousand sorts of insects and reptiles the jungle breeds. He thought a hundred times a day that his eyes would burn away from the heat above and around him.
No breeze could reach the men at work here. Carrying lumber, hoisting it high up for the derrick to be built, and hanging often for minutes like monkeys with only one hand on a beam, or holding on with one leg snake-fashion around a rope and grasping heavy boards swinging out that had to be hauled in to be riveted or bolted, he risked his life twenty times every day, and all for eight dollars.
Pat allowed no rest except for a few hours' sleep. Until eleven at night they worked by the light of gas-lanterns, and at five in the morning they were already hard at work again.
No sooner had they gulped down their coffee at meal-time and settled to pick their teeth leisurely than Pat would get restless and hustle them up: I know. We're in the tropics. It's hot in Texas sometimes too. Hell knows it's not my fault. I have to finish that god-damn contract. The sooner we're through, the sooner we'll be out of this hell here, and we'll go back to town and have cold drinks. Hi, Harry, get the Mexicans, those damn lazy rascals, to unload the steamengine, and start to adjust the parts.
Jump at it. And, Slick, you and Dobbs get the drum up the derrick and have it anchored. I'll see after the cabins. Hurry, hurry up and get busy. Pat McCormick sure made a pile with these contracts. He was paid well by the companies for the rigging contracts.
The companies allowed fair wages and decent working-hours for all, but the sooner Pat could finish the job, the more was left over to go into his pockets, for he had no other expenses than the wages he paid out. To drain the last ounce of work out of his men he promised them a bonus if inside of a certain number of days the job were finished.
This promise of a bonus was his whip, since he knew that a real slave-driver's whip would not do with workers today.
He won; he won always. He rigged up two camps in the same time other contractors would have rigged barely one. You'll be with me again on my next contract. I've already got three almost for sure coming my way. Get going. When the camp was rigged, the gang went back to town. The Mexican peons returned to their near-by villages.
You'll get your dough all right, don't you worry a bit. I won't run away with it. You're again on my next contract I have with the Mex Gulf. Sure you are. I look like the worst bum. I'll let you have thirty per cent of your pay. That's all I can do for you. And don't you tell the others. Dobbs learned that none of the other boys had received his wages in full.
Two who were eager to be with Pat on the next contract again had asked very humbly "at least a little, please, Mr. Pat," and they were awarded five per cent, so that they could have a few meals; they had not eaten since they had returned to town.
Within a few days Dobbs had heard many tales about Pat McCormick. Pat was known not to pay cash to his men if he could avoid it. This was one of the reasons that he seldom had an American with him on a contract. Only foreigners and halfbaked Americans fell for him. Most of them were glad to go with him any time he hollered. They had their meals because Pat paid the Chinese cook for catering as advance on the wages for the boys.
And usually he paid something in cash when the boys he owed were running after him and crying that they had no money for eats and for beds. Often they are short of ready cash, since the funds they have here in the republic are all taken up for drilling-expenses or for paying out options unexpectedly acquired. Could just as well have been for an outsider, a private party that wants to try his luck in oil. What do I know?
For a whole week Dobbs and Curtin had been running after Pat. He could not be found anywhere. At the Bristol Hotel, where he usually lived, the clerk knew nothing about him.
So he waits for the moment that we take another job; then he comes out of his hole. Dobbs, after another gulp of coffee, said: He's got tips all the way to the Alamo and to the Ebano sections. This idea made Curtin hot. Just let me catch him. At that very instant Pat McCormick strolled across the plaza, with a Mexican dame at his side who was flashing a new dress, elegant shoes, and a new colorful silk umbrella.
Then he noticed that these two men were deadly serious, so he said to the dame: You wait there for me a while, honey. He steered her to the colonnades of the Light and Power building, ordered a sundae for her, patted her on the back, and said: Pat came strolling down the few steps and down the street along the plaza as though he were alone.
Seeing that the two fellows did not leave him, but kept close by his side, he halted before the W. But you understand that's not why we're after you. When the drinks were before them Pat asked: Sure, I take you on my next contract. Don't you worry. You won't get away this time, I can tell you that. We worked harder than nigger slaves, you know that.
Now we've waited three weeks for our pay. Let's have it, and right here and now and no mebbe. Playing the miser, mister? Won't do," Dobbs sneered. But he shot in the drink just the same.
If I had the money, I'd pay you the first thing. You know that. I'll take you both on my next contract, you can count on that. Sure shot. It'll go through by Monday and we can set out Friday.
Glad to have you boys with me again. Well, here's mud in your eyes. Curtin was not impressed by this soaping. But don't you get the idea you can honey-smear us with this likker and with your oiled tongue. We know those speeches of yours by heart. They don't work any more.
Come across with the smackers, and no stalling either.
Get me? Geecries, I am sick of that swashing of yours! He didn't mean it. He just wanted to show that he had something to say and that, should anything serious happen, he could claim that he had tried his best to calm the men.
He took up a rag and wiped the bar clean. Then he broke in: Pat could easily have licked Dobbs, and also Cumin, one at a time. To try to lick both of them at the same time would have been too costly for him. Since he had a new contract waiting for him, he couldn't afford anything beyond two black eyes and a few bruises.
He could see that Dobbs and Curtin were in a state of mind which would make them forget to fight it out in a decent way, and that he had every chance to land in the hospital and stay there for weeks, while the contract would go to someone else. Realizing that it was the cheapest way out for him to pay them their money, he said: I gave you thirty per cent. I'll give you another thirty now, or I reckon I can make it forty. The balance let's say the middle of next week. At least not alive. Pat drew up his lips in an ugly manner.
I should have known this before. I wouldn't trust you to sleep in the same cabin with me, or I might wake up in the morning and find myself murdered and robbed. Take you again On one of my jobs? Not on your knees. If I saw you dying in the street, I wouldn't even kick you to give you the last grace. Here, take your dough and get out of my sight.
Get the money and be quick about it. While Pat was talking he must have counted the money in his pocket very accurately because now with one jerk he brought out a bunch of dollar bills, crumpled them in his fist, and banged them upon the bar. Then he winked at the bartender, threw a handful of pesos on the bar, and bellowed: I don't accept drinks paid for by skunks. Keep the damn change and download you a hotel. Bet you. Right now I could afford to stop in any swell joint for a while.
But I learned my lesson. I keep my little buckies together. Who knows in which of the next four centuries another job'll come along. It's getting worse every day here.
Say, four, five, or six years back you were begged to accept a job and make your price. It's different now. To me it doesn't look a bit as if it would change for the better during the next few years. Believe it or not, I'm still going to the Chink for my eats, fifty centavos each meal. I don't mind. Nobody gives me anything when I haven't got a dime.
They had reached the corner of the plaza where the great jewelry house, La Perla, had its store. In the four huge windows was a display of diamonds and gold which could hardly be equaled on Broadway. There was a diadem on display priced at twenty-four thousand pesos.
Never could there be any occasion in this port for a lady to wear such a costly diadem. It was not meant for wear in this town, as whoever bought it would know.
A few hundred men in this town made such heaps of money and made it so quickly and with so little sweat that they simply did not know what to do with it. Luxurious cars were out, because there were no roads for them.
And the streets were mostly still in such a condition that only the flivver could go everywhere. These men could invest their money, and they did. But the more they invested, the more money they made, and then they were faced with the same question again, only this time more urgently.
It's a scenario that's been played out in scores of heist stories before and since, but Traven does a remarkable job of depicting the prospectors' collective slide into distrust and then outright paranoia. Meanwhile, the real action is playing out in each character's head. Should I kill my partners? Are they planning on knocking me off?
Should I act in self-defense and fire the first shot? The camp becomes one big game theory in which every man has his own pistol. Traven deftly plays the wide open, majestic setting of the Sierra Madre against the increasingly claustrophobic relationships. Early on, the Mexican bush seems impossibly expansive and limitless; by the time the partners dissemble their mine, reading the novel feels like being trapped in a phone booth with three well-armed maniacs. It's a nightmarishly uneasy scenario, and Traven executes it brilliantly.
What lies beneath this basic plot is what makes Treasure so revolutionary, even subversive. In addition to its suspense, he novel has something else that most Westerns lack: a subtext that scathingly rebukes capitalism and greed. In the standard romantic Western, striking gold is the best thing that can happen to a character; the payoff at the end of a long journey. In Traven's work, it's the worst imaginable outcome.
The prospectors don't just grow more paranoid as they get richer; they also begin to lose any recognizable traces of humanity. In the novel's early pages the destitute men are both the recipients and the sources of kindness, but any lingering altruism gives way to visceral, short-tempered reactions. Dobbs, Curtin, and Howard intermittently become scared, greedy animals whose only thoughts are of saving their gold. But Traven never sacrifices the adventure for searing commentary.
He still manages to sneak in traditional Western tropes Bandits! Traven blasts Americans for coming to Mexico only to exploit the country's natural resources -without even paying taxes on the gold they find!
If anything, the locals are even worse than the gringos. The roving gangs of bandits that terrorize the prospectors engage in the most nihilistic violence this side of Cormac McCarthy, and they do it all while claiming to have the Church's support. In Traven's world, everyone is out to get one another; the bandits are simply more open about it.
Treasure broke new ground -and sales records in Germany. But it took eight years for the translated novel to make it into U. Traven had long refused to grant American rights to his books, purportedly because he felt publicity tactics would cheapen his works and, no doubt, set more curious sleuths out looking for him.
He finally relented, and Alfred A. Knopf published Treasure in These boys carried small boxes with them, and a little bench, hardly bigger than a hand, to sit on while they worked. Dobbs did not feel sorry for having gone out to the camps to look for work. More information about this seller Contact this seller 4. The only class distinction here was indicated by the answer to the question: He consoled himself for his precarious position by calling up to Dobbs: By now it had become pitch-dark and they could no longer see the road.
This part of the river-bank was a lively spot. He steered her to the colonnades of the Light and Power building, ordered a sundae for her, patted her on the back, and said: Having grown up in a hustling industrial American city, he hadn't a bit of the patience so essential for crab-fishing.
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