“Then, suppose that Mr. Thurston has been misled into making a certain estimate as to the number of thousand cubic yards of stuff that must be taken out of the outs that are to be made. After he gets his laborers here, and at work, he finds that he has at least three times as much rock and dirt to get out-----”
“I see,” cried Hazelton. “Before the chief could get men and wagons, and make all necessary changes in the work, the time would have slipped by so far that the finishing of the road would be blocked.”
“And the S.B. & L. would lose its charter,” finished Tom grimly.
“It’s mighty lucky that we came out here today, then,” exclaimed Hazelton, now fully alive to the danger that menaced their employers. “Come, we must hustle back to camp and show Mr. Thurston how he has been imposed on. There can’t be a doubt that ’Gene Black has been deliberately crooked.”
“Go slowly,” advised Tom. “Don’t be in a rush to call any other man a crook. Mr. Thurston can hear our report. Then he can look into it himself and form his own opinion. That’s as far as we have any right to go in the matter.”
“Thurston is at fault in not having come out here himself,” Harry continued. “The chief engineer in charge of a job should know every foot of the way.”
“Thurston, from the nature of his own work, is obliged to leave much of the detail to his assistant, Mr. Blaisdell,” Tom explained.
“Then why doesn’t Blaisdell look out that no such treacherous work is done by any member of the engineer corps?” flared Harry.
“’Gene Black is plainly a very competent man,” Reade argued. “The work has had to be rushed of late, and, on so simple a matter as leveling, I don’t suppose Blaisdell has thought it at all necessary to dig into Black’s field notes.”
“I hope Black is fired out of this outfit, neck and crop!” finished Hazelton.
“That’s something with which we have nothing to do,” Reade retorted. “Harry, we’ll confine ourselves to doing our work well and reporting our results. Mr. Thurston is intelligent enough to form all his own conclusions when he has our report. Come, it’s high time for us to be putting the ponies to real speed on the trail back.”
Not long afterwards the young engineers rode into the engineer camp. Harry dismounted, seating himself on the ground, while Tom hurried toward the chief’s big tent.
It was Blaisdell who sat in the chief’s chair when Tom entered.
“Oh, hello, Reade,” was the assistant’s pleasant greeting.
“Where’s the chief?”
“Gone back to the track builders. You know, they’re within fourteen miles of us now.”
“When will Mr. Thurston be back?”
“I don’t know,” Blaisdell answered. “In the meantime, Reade, you know, I’m acting chief here.”
“I beg your pardon,” Tom murmured hastily.
“The chief told me, just before leaving, that you thought some of Black’s sights on Section Nineteen are wrong,” Blaisdell pursued.