It was almost dark on an early Spring evening when Bill spied upon a man, in a "tailored overcoat and a derby hat", staggering along the canon road. Bill placed the water, that he had just hauled over from the spring, inside the stamped metal canvas home, alerted Jack and went over to greet the out-of-place visitor.
The man's name was Mr. White and his car had broken down several miles back in the canon.
White, while driving, had diverted his attention to where his wife was pointing. The road happen to curve at that very moment and off the road the car went, striking a rock and breaking the front wheel off in the process.
Lucky for him, the road the car broke down on led to Jack and Bill's humble dwelling. Darkness and the cold mountain air had been quick on the man's heels.
Learning that the weary man had left his wife and partner back in the car, Bill told Mr. White he would go up the canon and fetch them. Jack invited Mr. White inside and offered him a cup a coffee while he prepared supper for his new guests.
Jack's interest was soon piqued when he learned that Mr. White had no idea where the road he was on went. And more curiously, why did they not have any maps.
That's a bit odd, thought Jack.
White's simple answer that his partner, Thomason, knew this country very well, wasn't nearly convincing enough. His guest was holding something back. That he was sure of. What it was didn't matter. It wasn't his business.
With Bill now back, Mrs. White and Fred Thomason strolled in. Hungry, thirsty and tired, Jack attended to their needs. With their bellies full, they set about the task to figure out how they were going to get the parts to repair their car.
With no telegraph or phone for at least forty miles, the unannounced visitors were in a fix. The car needed parts that they could only get in Los Angeles and it would take about four to five days. The question of the moment was who was going to go get them.
Bill offered to drive them all to town but it would take two trips since his coupe couldn't fit four. Fred said no. He would be the one to go. And now was when he was ready to leave. Bill obliged and they soon hopped in the old coupe and off they went.
Jack was more than happy to board his new guests for a few days while they waited for Fred's return. This of course meant sleeping on the floor. That didn't bother Jack in the least.
Bill returned in less than an hour.
He had run into the road supervisor who was on his way to Darwin and agreed to take Fred with him. They would be in either Darwin or Lone Pine within two hours where Fred can stay the night. In the morning, he would be able to use a phone and should be back in a couple of days.
In the meantime, Bill and Jack told their guests they were happy to have them.
A few days went by and nothing was heard of Fred Thomason. Each day Bill and Jack went off to mine and when they returned, Mrs. White would have a nice dinner waiting for them.
With almost a week passed by, Bill and Jack took on a wager among themselves on whether Fred, who took all the party's money, would return. Whoever was wrong will do all the mucking for two weeks.
The winner of the bet, Jack, was soon revealed as Fred Thomason reappeared at the end of the week, as a passenger in a rented car. Jack watched as Fred pulled out a fat roll of green bills and promptly paid his fare.
Thomason encountered a few delays while in Los Angeles, causing his belated return. But he was back now, along with the parts for the broken down car.
Yet, two more days went by and Jack and Bill's guests had not even attempted to fix their car.
Although they enjoyed the company of their guests, Jack and Bill felt it was time to send them on their way, so they went up the canon themselves to fix the car.
They soon returned home with their guest's car fully repaired. Bill poked his head in through the homes doorway to find his guests in one of their mysterious conferences that had occurred numerous times over the last week.
He said the car needed a little grease and they would be all set, hinting it was just about time to go.
The three went outside to see the car and reconvened their secret huddle. Bill went inside to hunt for his can of grease while Jack went to attend to the stove.
Jack asked Bill if he had seen the roll of bills Fred had. They had only seen Scotty carry that much. They both wondered if Fred had robbed a bank.
Supper was ready and everyone came in to eat. They all sat at the table unusually quiet.
Jack and Bill could sense that their guests were "bursting with conversation" but for some reason were holding back. The air was thick, full of tension, which began to make Jack and Bill very uncomfortable.
Luckily, it was not too long before Fred Thomason spoke up.
Fred proceeded to tell them that since they had been so good to them, asking for nothing in return, that they decided to let Jack and Bill in on their little secret.
They explained that they were scientists like Jack, except not Geologists, but those that search for ancient cities, Archaeologists.
And with that, the tension in the air was released.
"What brought us here to Death Valley was millions and millions of dollars! Uncounted millions of dollars," Thomason snorted.
Thomason and White had been in and out of Death Valley for the last twenty years because they had stumbled upon a place of lost treasure.
"A lost mine?" asked Bill.
"No, not a lost mine, but a lost city of gold!" said Thomason.
"It's bigger than the United States Mint," said White. "It's a city thousands of years old and worth billions of dollars! Billions of dollars! Billions! Not millions."
Next: The underground city of gold revealed and it's location hinted at.