“If the yellow rook holds out,” Tom urged.
“Don’t say anything more in that strain, just now, Reade,” whispered Jim. “If you do, and things go badly, the boys will think you’ve been the camp’s Jonah.”
Tom went back to work in the partners’ shack. Jim came in at ten and went to bed. It was midnight when Tom shook Harry by the shoulder.
“Time to get up, young man, and give me a rest,” Tom announced.
Harry got drowsily out of his bunk.
“Why didn’t you call me before, Tom?”
“Well, to tell the truth, I was too busy. But now you may have a few hours’ work all by yourself, while I turn in,” drawled Reade.
“Tom, old fellow, there’s something up,” discovered Hazelton, now studying his chum’s face keenly. “Out with it.”
Then Tom told of the day’s luck, though he cautioned Harry against too soon growing elated.
“We’ll just wait and hope,” Reade finished. “Now I’ll show you the work that’s on the bench.”
The gold news had waked up Hazelton. He examined eagerly the assay reports that Tom had filled out, then turned to the specimens that awaited his attention.
At six in the morning Reade was up again, nor did Harry turn in. Both were present to inspect the first tub-lot of ore that came up the shaft. The yellow streak was continuing.
By the middle of the afternoon, however, the streak played out. Though the men worked an hour overtime they did not succeed in sending up any more ore.
“Just one pocket?” wondered Tom. “Or does our vein run in scattered pockets?”
“Oh, we’ll find more pockets soon,” predicted Harry cheerily. “Our luck has turned again. It’s running in the old channels.”
A feverish week passed. Towards its end the first big snow of the winter came, and the ridge was shut off from the rest of the world. It would have been all but impossible to get over even to the Bright Hope Mine.
The week of brisk work was using up the stock of dynamite, while the rock was too hard to work much with picks. Moreover, the money of the partners was gone. To seek credit at Dugout would be a dangerous proceeding, for those who granted the accommodation of credit would be sure to want a high price for it, even to a goodly share in the output of the mine. More than one mine has been taken over by creditors, and the original owners have gone out into the world again, poor men.
Saturday morning of this week Tom and Harry descended the shaft together. Jim was already there with the men.
“I thought we had two more boxes of dynamite, Reade,” explained Ferrers. “I find that we have just six sticks left.”
“Then may the Fates favor us with some lucky blasts!”, muttered Tom.
“We can borrow money on our ore dump,” suggested Harry.
“How about that?” asked Tom, looking intently at Ferrers.