“Are you fellows going to sleep until pay days” Slim demanded jovially.
Tom hustled into his clothes, reached the doorway of the tent and found the sun already well up in the skies.
“The boys are sitting down to breakfast,” called Slim over his shoulder. “Want any?”
“Do I want any?” mocked Tom. He had laid out his khaki clothing the night before, and was now in it, save for his khaki jacket, which he caught up on his arm as he raced along toward the wash bench.
Nor had he gone very far with the soap and water when Harry Hazelton was beside him.
“Tom, Tom!” breathed Harry in ecstacy. “Do you blame people for loving the Rocky Mountains? This grand old mountain air is food and drink—–almost.”
“It may be for you. I want some of the real old camp chuck—–plenty of it,” retorted Reade, drawing a pocket comb out and running it through his damp locks while he gazed into the foot-square camp mirror hanging from a tree.
“May we come in?” inquired Tom, pausing in the doorway of the engineers’ mess tent.
“Not if you’re in doubt about it,” replied Mr. Blaisdell, who was already eating with great relish. The boys slid into their seats, while Bob rapidly started things their way.
How good it all tasted! Bacon and fried eggs, corn bread and potatoes, coffee and a big dish of that time-honored standby in engineers’ camp—–baked beans. Then, just as Tom and Harry, despite their appetites, sat back filled, Bob appeared with a plate of flapjacks and a pitcher of molasses.
“Ten minutes of six,” observed Mr. Blaisdell, consulting his watch as he finished. “Not much more time, gentlemen.”
Tom and Harry followed the assistant engineer out into the open.
“Can you tell us now, Mr. Blaisdell, what we’re to do today?” Reade inquired eagerly.
“See those transits?” inquired Blaisdell, pointing to two of the telescoped and compassed instruments used by surveyors in running courses. “One for each of you. Take your choice. You’ll go out today under charge of Jack Rutter. Of course it will be a little bit slow to you the first two or three days, but between you, I hope to see you do more than Rutter could do alone. You’ll each have two chainmen. Rutter will give you blank form books for your field notes. He’ll work back and forth between the two of you, seeing that you each do your work right. Boys, don’t make any mistakes today, will you, So much depends, you know, upon the way you start in at a new job.”
“We’ll do the best that’s in us,” breathed Tom ardently.
“Engineer Rutter,” called Blaisdell, “your two assistants are ready. Get your two sets of chainmen and make a flying start.”
Animated by the spirit of activity that pervaded the camp, Tom and Harry ran to select their instruments, while Rutter hastened after his chainmen.
Bad Pete had not appeared at either mess this morning. He had small need to, for, in the still watches of the night, he had burglarized the cook’s stores so successfully that not even that argus-eyed individual had noticed the loss.