“Whoop!” yelled the college boys. They pushed and crowded about the wooden cases that were now unloaded.
“See here,” boomed in the deep voice of Professor Coles, “I wasn’t sworn in, and I now insist that I, too, be sworn.”
“Mr. Newnham, tell the professor that fighting is a boy’s business, and that there isn’t any call for him to risk himself,” appealed Tom. “There are plenty of youngsters here to do the fighting and to take the chances.”
“Surely, there appear to be enough men,” chuckled President Newnham, who, since he realized that rifles and ammunition were at hand, appeared to be wonderfully relieved. “Professor, don’t think of running yourself into any danger. Look on, with me.”
“Rifles are all given out, now, anyway,” called Dave Fulsbee coolly. “Now, youngsters, I’m going to show you where to station yourselves. Mr. Reade, have you seen anything through the glasses that looks interesting?”
“By Jove,” Tom admitted, flushing guiltily, “I quite forgot to keep the lenses turned on the hills to the west.”
He now made good for his omission, while Fulsbee led his young men away, stationing them in hiding places along the westward edge of the camp. Each man with a rifle was ordered not to rise from the ground, or to show himself in any way, and not to fire unless orders were given. Then Dave hurried back to the wagon. Something else was lifted out, all canvas covered, and rushed forward to a point just behind a dense clump of bushes.
“Reade, I want to apologize to you,” cried the man from Broadway, moving quickly over to where Tom stood surveying the hills beyond through his glass. “I thought, for a few minutes, that you had suspected some such rascally work afoot, and that you had failed to take proper precautions.”
“If I had failed, sir,” murmured Tom, without removing the glass from before his eyes, “you would have arrived just in time, sir, to turn out of the camp a man who wasn’t fit to be in charge. Yet it was only accident, sir, that led me to suspect what might be in the air.”
Thereupon Tom hastily recounted to the president of the company the story of how he had accidentally overheard fragments of talk between ’Gene Black and Bad Pete.
“That gave me a hint of how the wind was blowing,” Tom continued, “though I couldn’t make out enough of their talk, on either occasion, to learn just what was happening. I telegraphed to the nearest town that had a sheriff in it, and that put me in touch with Fulsbee. Then Dave, over the wire, offered to bring arms here and to help us to defend our camp.”
“Mr. Reade,” exclaimed President Newnham hoarsely, “you are a wonderful young man! While seeming to be idle yourself, you have rushed the work through in splendid shape.” Even when our enemies plot in the dark, and plan incredible outrages against us, you fully inform yourself of their plans. When the cowards strike you are ready to meet them, force for force. You may be only a cub engineer, but you have an amazing genius for the work in which chance has placed you out here.”