HARRY DOES SOME PITCHING
As Tom had surmised, Dolph Gage was anxious to become friends with the young engineers.
“They’re only kids,” Dolph explained to his comrades, “but I’ve heard that they know their business. If we can get their help for a month, then when they hand in their bill we can give them a wooden check on a cloud bank.”
“Their bill would be a claim against our mine wouldn’t it?” asked one of the other men.
“Maybe,” Dolph assented. “But, if they try to press it, we can pay it with lead coin.”
The morning after Jim had gone, one of Gage’s companions stalked into camp.
“The boss wants to see you,” said this messenger.
“Whose boss?” Tom inquired.
“Well, maybe he’s yours,” scowled the messenger. “And maybe you’ll be sorry if you fool with him.”
“I? Fool with Gage?” inquired Reade, opening his eyes in pretended astonishment. “My dear fellow, I’ve no intention of doing anything of the sort.”
“Then you’ll come over to our camp, right away?”
“Nothing like it,” Tom replied. “Kindly present my compliments to your boss, and tell him that I have another appointment for today.”
“You’d better come over,” warned the fellow.
“You heard what I said, didn’t you?” Reade inquired.
“There’ll sure be trouble,” insisted the fellow, scowling darkly.
“There’s always trouble for those who are looking for it,” Tom rejoined smilingly. “Is Dolph Gage hunting it?”
“You’ll find out, if you don’t come over!”
“Really,” argued Reade, “we’ve disposed of that subject, my dear fellow. Have you any other business here! If not, you’ll excuse us. Mr. Hazelton and I are to be gone for the day.”
“We’re going minding,” smiled Reade.
“Mining?” repeated the visitor. “Mining what?”
“We are going off to mind our own business,” Tom drawled. “Good morning.”
“Then you’re not coming over to our place?”
“No!” shouted Harry Hazelton, losing patience. “What do you want?”
“As you will observe, friend,” suggested Tom, smiling at the messenger, “my partner has well mastered the lesson that a soft answer is a soother.”
“Are you going to leave our camp?” Harry demanded, as the visitor squatted on the ground.
“If you two are going away,” scowled the other, “you’ll need some one to stay and watch the camp. I’ll stay for you.”
“Come on, Harry!” Tom called, starting away under the trees. Alf Drew had already gone. Breakfast being over the young cigarette fiend had no notion of staying in camp for a share in any trouble that might be brewing.
“Why on earth are you leaving the camp at that fellow’s mercy?” quivered Harry indignantly, as he and Tom got just out of earshot of the visitor.
“Because I suspect,” Reade returned, “that he and his crowd want to steal our assaying outfit.”