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by Rex Beach
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Rex Beach (1877-1949) was an American novelist and playwright. Beach was born to a prominent family and pursued a career as a lawyer before being drawn to Alaska at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush. After five years of unsuccessful prospecting, he turned to writing. His first novel, The Spoilers (1906) was based on a true story of corrupt government officials stealing gold mines from prospectors, which he witnessed. The Spoilers became one of the best selling novels of 1906. His adventure novels were immensely popular throughout the early 1900s. After success in literature, many of his works were adapted into successful films; The Spoilers became a stage play, then was adapted to the silver screen five times from 1914 to 1955. Beach occasionally produced his films and wrote a number of plays to varying success. Amongst his other works are: The Barrier (1908), The Silver Horde (1909), The Iron Trail (1913) and Flowing Gold (1922).
He rapidly rehearsed his signals in a jargon which to a layman would have been unintelligible, illustrating them by certain almost imperceptible shiftings of the fingers or changes in the position of his hand, so slight as to thwart discovery. Through it all the girl stood by and followed his every word and motion with eager attention. She needed no explanation of the terms they used. She knew them all, knew that the "hearse-driver" was the man who kept the cases, knew all the code of the "inside life." To her it was all as an open page, and she memorized more quickly than did Toby the signs by which the Bronco Kid proposed to signal what card he had smuggled from the box or held back.
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