“I’ll show you, some time,” nodded Tom Reade.
With that promise Harry had to be content, and so must the reader, for the present.
Hazelton went out to stand first watch with Joe Timmins. Alf Drew, finding that the Dunlop party had no room for him under the shelter they had rigged from the rear of the automobile, curled himself on the ground under a tree and fitfully wooed sleep. By daylight the little fellow was fretfully awake, his “nerves” refusing him further rest until he had rolled and smoked two cigarettes. By the time the smoke was over Jim Ferrers called to him to help start the breakfast.
Nothing had been seen of the four intruders through the night.
“I think we shall try to get safely through to Dugout City this morning,” suggested Mr. Dunlop.
“You’ll make it all right, if you have gasoline enough,” remarked Ferrers, who hovered close at hand with a frying pan filled with crisp bacon.
“You don’t believe Gage will try to attack us on the way?”
“He has no call to,” replied Ferrers. “You’re obeying him by leaving the claim, aren’t you?”
“Then probably Gage and his companions will settle down on the claim after we leave,” suggested Mr. Dunlop.
“If Gage tries to jump the claim in your absence,” proposed Ferrers, “your course is easy. If you have the legal right to the claim you’ll have to bring back force enough to drive those hyenas off.”
“Will you people try to keep an eye over the claim while I’m gone?” asked Mr. Dunlop.
“That would be a little out of our line,” Tom made reply. “Besides, Mr. Dunlop, I’m not at all sure that we shall be here until you return.”
“But we haven’t settled, Reade, whether you and your partner are to be our engineers at the Bright Hope Mine.”
“Quite true, sir,” nodded Tom. “On the other hand, you haven’t engaged us, either”
“Won’t you keep the matter open until our return?”
“That would be hardly good business, Mr. Dunlop.”
“Yet suppose I had engaged you,”
“Then we’d be going back to Dugout City with you.”
“So that we might get in touch with the world and find out whether you are financially responsible. We wouldn’t take an engagement without being reasonably sure of our money.”
“You’re a sharp one,” laughed Mr. Dunlop.
Yet he made no further reference to engaging the two young engineers, a fact that Reade was keen enough to note.
Within an hour after breakfast the Dunlop ear pulled out, leaving Tom Reade with only his own party.
“What our friend wants,” smiled Harry, “is a pair of mining engineers at the salary of one mere surveyor.”
“He won’t pay any more than he has to,” rejoined Reade.
“Do you really want to work for Dunlop?”
“I really don’t care a straw whether I do or not,” was Tom’s answer. “Harry, we’re in the very heart of the gold country and we don’t need to work for copper pennies.”