“That’s just as it turns out,” Reade went on, with a vehemence that astonished his chum. “Harry, what’s our office address? Where are our assistant engineers—–where our draftsmen? Where are our foremen that we could summon to great undertakings? Where is the costly equipment that we would need as a firm of really great engineers? You know that we must these things before we can climb to the top of our profession. The gold that’s hidden somewhere under that ridge would give us the offices, the assistants, the draftsmen, the equipment and the bank account that we need before we can launch ourselves into first class engineering feats of the great civilization that rules the world today. Harry, I’ve firm faith in our claim, and I can go on working on a meal every third day.”
“Then now, as always, you can count on me to stand by you without limit or complaint,” said Harry generously.
“But, just the same, you haven’t my faith in the mine, have you?” Tom queried half-disappointedly.
“Out with it, chum!”
“So far I have been disappointed in the claim. But I am well aware that I may be wrong. Listen, Tom, old fellow. This isn’t a matter of faith in the mine; it’s one of faith in you. Go as far as you like, and, whichever way it turns out, remember that I regard your judgment as being many times as good as my own.”
“Yet you’d drop out if the decision rested solely with you, wouldn’t you, Harry,”
“You’ll never again get my opinion of this claim of ours,” laughed Hazelton. “You’ll have to be contented with my good opinion of you and your judgment.”
“But see here, Harry, I wish you’d get out of here for a while. Go back into the world; take a position that will support you and provide the luxuries and savings as well. I’ll work here faithfully and work for both of us at the same time.”
“You must have a mighty small opinion of me, Tom Reade, to think I’d leave you in the lurch like that.”
“But I ask it as a favor, Harry.”
“If you ever ask that sort of a favor again, Tom Reade, you and I will be nearer to fighting than we’ve ever been yet in our lives!”
It was plain that Hazelton intended to stick to the mine, even to the starving point, if Reade did. After some further talk the two went back to their tent and lay down on their cots.
Five minutes later Harry’s quiet, regular breathing betrayed the fact that he was asleep. With a stealthy movement, Tom Reade threw down the blankets, reached for his shoes, his coat and hat and stole out into the quiet and darkness.
From other tents and shacks nearby came snores that showed how soundly miners could sleep.
“I believe this is the first night that I ever failed to sleep on account of business worries,” muttered Reade grimly, as he strode away. “This may be a fine start toward becoming a nervous wreck. In time I may become as shattered as poor little Alf Drew. I wonder if I shall ever fall so low as to smoke cigarettes!”