“I’ve already told you the whole story, Black.”
“Why am I discharged?”
“I am not obliged to give you my reasons.”
“You’ll find you’ll have to do so!” stormed ’Gene Black.
“Well, then,” Tom answered, “you get through here because you kicked one of the tripod legs of your leveling instrument the other day, and left a mark on the wood.”
“Don’t you try to be funny with me, you young hound!” hissed Black, stepping so close that Tom gently pushed him back. “You young idiot! Do you think you can fire me—–and get away with it?”
“We won’t talk about it any more,” Tom answered. “Your time will be all your own until the paymaster arrives. After you’ve received your money you will leave camp.”
“Are any of the others going?”
“Then you’re discharging me for personal reasons!” snarled ’Gene Black. “However, you can’t do it! I’ll wire the president of the road, at New York.”
“He won’t receive your wire,” Tom assured the irate one. “President Newnham is on his way here. Probably he’ll arrive here before the paymaster does. You may take your case to President Newnham in person if you wish.”
“That’s what I’ll do, then!” breathed ’Gene Black fiercely. “And I’ll take your place in charge here, cub! If I don’t, you shall never finish the S.B. & L!”
BAD PETE MIXES IN SOME
Forty-Eight hours later Professor Coles arrived in camp with thirty healthy, joyous young students of engineering.
It didn’t take Tom half an hour to discover that he had some excellent material here. As for the professor himself, that gentleman was a civil engineer of the widest experience.
“I shall need you to advise me, professor,” Tom explained. “While I had the nerve to take command here, I’m only a boy, after all, and you’ll be surprised when you find out how much there is that I don’t know.”
“It’s very evident, Mr. Reade,” smiled the professor, “that you know the art of management, and that’s the important part in any line of great work.”
The student party had brought their own tents and field equipment with them. Their arrival had been a total surprise in camp, as none of the other engineers, save Harry, had known what was in the wind.
“If these boys don’t make mistakes by wholesale,” declared Jack Butter, “we’ll just boost the work along after this. I wonder why Mr. Thurston never hit upon the idea of adding such a force?”
“It’s very likely he has been thinking of it all along,” Tom rejoined. “The main point, however, is that we seem to have a bully field force.”
Four of the students had been selected to serve as map-making force under Harry Hazelton. The rest were going out into the field, some of them as engineers in embryo, the rest as chainmen and rodmen.