“And you’re leaving the coast clear for that purpose?” Hazelton gasped in high dudgeon.
“Now, Harry, is that all you know about me?” questioned his partner, reproachfully. “Listen. Around here you’ll find plenty of stones of a throwing size. Just fill your pockets, your hands—–your hat. Creep in close to camp and hide. If you see ‘Mr. Sulky’ poking his nose into anything in our camp—–the furnace, for instance, or the assay balance, then just drop a stone so near to him that it will make him jump. Be careful that you don’t drop a stone on that balance. You used to be a pretty fair pitcher, and I believe you can drop a stone where you want.”
“And what will you be doing?” asked Harry curiously.
“Oh, I’ll be keeping out of harm’s way, I promise you,” laughed Tom Reade.
“Humph! Yes, it would be like you to put me into danger and to leave yourself out of it, wouldn’t it?” mocked Harry Hazelton, unbelievingly.
“Well, I’ll try to make good use of my time, Harry, old fellow. For one thing, if you haunt camp and keep Gage’s crowd busy, then you’ll keep them from following or watching me. Don’t you see?”
“No; I don’t see,” grunted Hazelton. “But what I do suspect is that you have something up your sleeve that I may not find out for two or three days to come. Yet, whatever it is, it will be for our mutual good. I can depend upon you, Tom Reade! Go ahead; go as far as you like.”
“Get the stones gathered up, then, and get back to camp,” counseled Reade. “Don’t lose too much time about it, for Gage’s rascal may be able to do a lot of harm in the two or three minutes that you might be late in getting back.”
Harry industriously picked up stones. Hardly had he started when Tom Reade silently vanished.
“Well, I’m glad, anyway, that Tom doesn’t want us both away from camp while he’s doing something,” reflected Hazelton, as he began to move cautiously back. “There wouldn’t be any camp by noon if we were both away.”
Even before he secured his first glimpse of camp, Harry heard some one moving about there.
“The rascal must feel pretty sure that we’re both fools enough to be away,” quivered Hazelton indignantly. “What on earth is he doing, anyway?”
Then the young engineer crawled in close enough to get an excellent view of what was going on.
“Well, of all the impudence!” choked Harry, balancing a stone nicely in his right hand.
First of all the visitor had rounded up all the firewood into one heap. Now, to this combustible material the fellow was bringing a side of bacon and a small bag of flour. These he dropped on the firewood, then went back for more of the camp’s food supply.
“Just wait,” scowled Hazelton. “Oh, my fine fellow, I’ll make your hands too hot for holding other people’s property!”
Over the brush arched a stone. Hazelton had been a pitcher in his high school days, and no mistake. The descending stone fell smack across the back of the fellow’s right hand.