However, another spectre had settled down over the camp. The truth was that the young engineers were now using up the last thousand dollars of their combined savings.
By way of income, less than fifty dollars’ worth of gold and silver had been mined. Every few days some promising-looking ore was turned out, but it never came in sufficient quantities. None of this ore had yet been moved toward Dugout City. There wasn’t enough of it to insure good results. Brilliant in streaks, still the mine looked like a commercial fizzle.
“Hang it, the gold is down there!” grunted Tom, staring gloomily at the big cut that had been blasted and dug out along the top of the ridge.
“I’ll be tremendously happy when you show me a little more of it,” smiled Hazelton weakly.
“It’s lower down,” argued Tom. “We’ve got to dig deeper—–and then a lot deeper.”
“On the capital that we have left?” ventured Harry.
“Oh, we may strike enough, any day, to stake us for a few weeks longer,” urged Tom.
“We’ll soon have to be working in covered outs, where the frost won’t put up trouble for us, you know,” Hazelton hinted.
“Yes; I know that, of course. What we must begin to do, soon, is to sink the shaft deeper and then tunnel.”
“That will cost a few thousand dollars, Tom.”
“I know it. Come on, Harry. Get a shovel.”
Tom himself snatched up a pick.
“What are you going to do, Tom?”
“Work. You and I are strong and enduring. We can save the wages of two workmen.”
Both young engineers worked furiously that afternoon. Yet, when knocking-off time came, they had to admit that they had no better basis for hope.
“I wonder, Tom, if we’d better get out and hustle for Jobs?” Harry asked.
“You might, Harry. I’m going to stick.”
Mr. Dunlop dropped in at camp, that evening, after dark.
“You young men are doing nothing,” said the mine promoter. “I can use you a couple of months, if you’ll stop this foolishness here and come over to me.”
“Why, I suppose Hazelton could go over and work for you, Mr. Dunlop,” Tom suggested.
“That would be of no use. I need you both, but you, Reade, most of all.”
“I can’t go to you now, Mr. Dunlop,” Tom replied regretfully. “I’m committed to the development of this piece of property, which is only a third my property.”
“Bosh! A decent farm would be worth more to you than this claim,” argued Mr. Dunlop derisively.
“Perhaps. But neither of my partners has quit, Mr. Dunlop, and I’m not going to quit, either.”
“This is the last chance I can give you, Reade. You’d better take it.”
“No; though I beg you to accept my best thanks, Mr. Dunlop. However, Hazelton can go over and help you.”
“Both, or neither,” returned Mr. Dunlop firmly.