“Here’s gold in this bit of rock!” cried Harry, turning, his eyes sparkling.
“Yes; but not enough to look promising,” replied Mr. Dunlop, after examining the specimen. “But we’ll look through the rest of the stuff that’s loose.”
The two men who had hung back soon joined them.
“I wouldn’t care about filing a claim to it,” Mr. Dunlop, shaking his head after some further exploration. “This rock wouldn’t yield enough to the ton to make the work profitable.”
“Just a little, outcropping streak, possibly from the claim that I have below,” was Mr. Dunlop’s conclusion “By the way, Reade, how did you explode the mine?”
“With a magneto,” Tom explained, then ran and took the battery from behind the tree from which he had fired it. “I buried the wire, of course, so that no one would trip over it,” he added. “Just after I got it attended to Alf Drew happened along, looked forlorn, and wanted a job. So I had almost forgotten the mine, until I realized that the thing was planted right in front of where Dolph Gage’s crew were hidden. By the way, Jim, where is Alf?”
“All the information I’ve got wouldn’t send you two feet in the right direction,” the guide reported gruffly.
“And where are our tents and the other stuff?” Harry demanded. “Gage’s crew couldn’t get far with them in the time they’ve had. Shall we hustle after our property?”
“Yes,” nodded Tom.
“At the momentary risk of being shot to pieces,” added Mr. Dunlop, dryly.
“Those little chances go with being involved in a Nevada mining dispute, don’t they?” queried Reade.
“Where can we begin to look?” Harry pressed. “Let’s scurry about a bit. Surely men can’t get away with tents without leaving some trail.”
Within two minutes they had the trail. Marks were discovered that plainly had been made by dragging canvas and guy-ropes along over the ground.
“We’ll find our stuff soon,” predicted Tom, striding along over a rough trail. “The scoundrels didn’t have a team, and they wouldn’t take the stuff far without other transportation than their own backs. Hello! What’s in there?”
Tom had detected some motions in a clump of brush.
“Look out!” warned Jim Ferrers, bringing his rifle to “ready.”
But Tom darted straight into the brush.
“Then this is where you are?” demanded Tom dryly. He glanced down at the cowering form of Alf Drew.
“So you’ve got the ‘makings,’ have you?” Reade demanded, seizing Alf by the collar and yanking him up to his feet.
Paper and tobacco fell from young Drew’s nerveless grasp to the ground.
“You made me drop the makings of a good one,” whined Alf resentfully.
“You didn’t have that stuff two hours ago. Where did you get it?” Reade demanded.
“Found it,” half whimpered Drew.
“Do you expect me to believe any such fairy tales as that?” insisted Tom Reade.