During the flush times in Cripple Creek, I was invited one evening by a writer on a Denver newspaper to visit with him some of the gambling halls in which it was his habit to spend an hour or two in search of the latest news of "strikes," "sales," and "leases," and in one of the largest of the many saloons we stood for some time studying the men engaged in games of chance. On one side of the room were several card tables, roulette wheels, and other "layouts," and in the midst of these, in a high chair (which my friend called the lookout) , sat a man who attracted and held my attention to the exclusion of all others. He was a large man of an Irish type familiar to me, a bold and handsome individual of about forty years of age, dressed in a frock coat of the Prince Albert cut. He looked like a priest, but he was in fact owner and manager of the place.
With dreamy impassivity he sat tossing from hand to hand two or three poker chips, a look of singular abstraction on his face. In a subconscious way he was on guard, but to my mind he seemed to be remembering something secret and far off and sad. He made a sharp appeal to my imagination and when I left the room his face and figure remained with me as the dominant center of the throng. Who was he? What was he dreaming about?
The answer to these questions I put into a story which I called "Mart Haney's Mate" and which was (in part) serialized under that title. Later, when the time came to publish in book form, I submitted six other titles to my editors. Out of this list they voted for Money Magic.
They now see, as I do, that this is not a good title, that it does not suggest the source of the story nor the fact that it is in effect a character study; therefore, in bringing out this new and uniform edition I am asking them to restore as much of the original title as will bring into it the chief personage of the action. We have decided to call it Mart Haney's Mate, for Bertha, his young wife, is second only to the gambler himself; her problem is the theme of the book.
If the reader is curious to know whether she, too, is taken from life, I will confide the fact that she was suggested by a girl I saw in a small eating house at a junction station in Colorado, on my way to Salt Lake City. I did not speak to her, did not even hear the sound of her voice, but something in her dignity, her sweetly serious eyes, her ability to keep the rough men at their distance, appealed to me strongly. I began to wonder what would happen if that powerful Cripple Creek gambler were to become interested in her. From this mustard seed of fact the novel grew. Whatever of seeming actuality the remainder of the book may appear to have, the reader is assured that it is all of the texture of things imagined.
March 7, 1922.