“Pump her up, Harry,” nodded the young chief engineer.
“You watch me, and see just how I run this magneto,” Hazelton said to one of their men who stood near by. “This will be your job after we’ve fired a few charges. I want you to get the hang of the trick.”
Harry worked the handle of the magneto up and down.
Bang! Over where the drilling had been done a mass of dirt and rock was shot up into the air.
“What are you running so fast for, Harry?” laughed Tom, as he pursued his chum back to the scene of the blast.
“I want to see if we stirred up any real ore. I want to know if our claim is worth the grub it takes to feed the men,” was Hazelton’s almost breathless response.
THE COOK LEARNS A LESSEN
Arrived on the spot it took Tom only a moment to estimate that considerably less than a quarter of a ton of ore had been loosened from the rock bed by the blast.
“We’ll drill six inches deeper next time, and put in fifty per cent. more dynamite,” Reade decided.
The men brought up the drill and set it, after which the engineer was signaled.
Harry, in the meantime, was down on his hands and knees, curiously turning over the small, loose bits of rock.
“Stung, if this stuff proves anything,” sighed Hazelton.
“You can’t judge by one handful, Harry,” Tom told him. “Besides, we may have to get down twenty, or even fifty feet below surface before we strike any pay-stuff. Don’t look for dividends in the first hour. I’ve been told that gold-mining calls for more sporting blood than any other way in which wealth can be pursued.”
“But I don’t find a bit of color in this stuff,” Harry muttered. “If we’re on the top of a vein of gold it seems to me that we ought to find a small speck of yellow here and there.”
A dozen blasts were made that morning. When the men knocked off at noon Harry Hazelton’s face bore a very serious expression.
“Tom,” he murmured to his partner, “I’m afraid we have a gold brick of a gold mine.”
“It’s an even chance,” nodded Reade.
“And think of all the money—–out of our savings—–we’ve sunk in this thing.”
“I hope you’re not going to get scared as early as this,” protested Tom. “Why, before we even get in sight of pay-rock we may have to sink every dollar of our savings.”
“Then hadn’t we better get out of it early, and go to work for some one who pays wages?” questioned Hazelton.
“Yes,” Tom shot out, quickly, “if that’s the way you feel about it.”
“But do you feel differently, Tom?”
“I’m willing to risk something, for the sake of drawing what may possibly turn out to be the big prize in the mining lottery.”
“But all our savings,” cried Harry, aghast. “That seems like a foolish risk, doesn’t it?”