Immediately after supper Tom ordered one of the chainmen to saddle a pony and be ready to take a message back to the telegraph service that was rapidly overtaking them.
“I want you to be sure to get a receipt for the message from the operator,” Tom explained. “Direct the operator to get the message through to New York at once.”
“What’s the use?” demanded the chainman. “It’s night in New York, the same as it is here. If the message goes through at any time tonight it will do.”
“I didn’t ask you that,” Tom replied quietly. “I told you to instruct the operator, from me, to send the message at once. Then, if there is any delay on the way, the message will still be in New York in the morning when the company’s offices open.”
Then Tom Reade went to the new headquarters’ tent, seated himself at the desk and picked up a pen.
“Whew!” he muttered suddenly. “This message is going to be harder to write than I thought! When the president of the S.B. & L. gets my telegram, informing him that a cub is in command here, he’ll blow up! If he recovers he’ll wire me that he’s sending a grown man for the job!”
BLACK TURNS OTHER COLORS
Through the night Tom Reade managed to get some sound sleep.
Had he been less exhausted physically the excitement caused by his sudden and dizzying promotion might have interfered with his rest. As it was, he slept like a log, though, by his own orders, he was called twice in the night to be informed as to the condition of the two sick men.
In the morning a male nurse for whom Dr. Gitney had arranged arrived in camp. Thereafter the physician had a little opportunity for rest.
Mr. Thurston reached the delirium stage in his illness that forenoon.
“Reade, I don’t feel like going out this morning,” announced ’Gene Black, approaching the young head of the camp after early breakfast.
“What’s the matter?” Tom asked pleasantly.
“I have rather a bad headache,” complained Black.
“That’s a woman’s complaint,” smiled Tom.
“Just the same, I’m not fit for duty,” retorted Black rather testily. “I hope I’m not going to come down with the fever, but I can’t be sure.”
“You’d better stay in camp, then,” nodded Reade. “Don’t go out into the field again until you feel like work.”
“Humph! He takes it easily enough,” grunted Black to himself as the young chief strode away to confer with Butter. “I wonder if the cub suspects the game I’m playing here? Oh, pshaw! Of course he doesn’t suspect. Why should he? The truth is that Cub Reade doesn’t realize how much every man is needed in the field. Reade doesn’t understand the big need for hustle here. Well, that all helps to make my task the easier.”
Within five minutes Rutter and the other engineers had their full instructions. As they started away Tom called after them: