“But not for dynamite,” declared Tom.
“No; for a doctor, I suppose.”
“A physician’s visit is the only thing I’m interested in now,” Tom declared, glancing at the bunk. “I’d give up any mine on earth to be able to pull poor old Harry through.”
On the fifth day, while the weather still remained too warm for the forming of a snow-crust, Harry began to show signs of improvement. He was gaunt and thin, but his skin felt less hot to the touch. His eyes had lost some of the fever brightness, and he spoke of the pain in his chest as being less severe than it had been.
“I’ve been an awful nuisance here,” he whispered, weakly, as his chum bent over him.
“Stow all that kind of talk,” Reade ordered. “Just get your strength back as fast as you can. Sleep all you can, too. Get a nap, now, and maybe when you wake up you’ll be hungry enough to want a little something to eat.”
“I don’t want anything,” Harry replied.
“He’s a goner, sure!” gasped Tom Reade, inwardly, feeling a great chill of fear creep up and down his spine. “It’s the first time in his life that I ever knew Harry to refuse to eat.”
“The weather is coming on cold,” Jim Ferrers reported that evening, when he came back from the coon shack with Tom’s supper.
“Is it going to be cold enough to put a crust on the snow?” Reade eagerly demanded.
“If it keeps on growing cold we ought to have a good crust by the day after tomorrow.”
“I’ll pray for it,” said Tom fervently.
Next day the weather continued intensely cold. Jim Ferrers went to another shack to construct a pair of skis. These are long, wooden runners on which Norwegians travel with great speed over hard snow. Jim was positive that he could make the skis and that he could use them successfully.
Harry still remained weak and ill, caring nothing for food, though his refusals to eat drove Reads well-nigh frantic.
The morning after the skis were made, Jim Ferrers, who had relieved worn-out Tom at three in the morning, stepped to the young engineer’s bunk and shook him lightly.
“All right,” said Reade, sitting up in bed. “I’ll get up.”
He was out of the bunk almost instantly.
“I’m going to send Tim Walsh in to help you a bit,” Jim whispered. “The crust is right this morning, and I’m off for Dugout. Before we forget it give me that nugget.”
Tom passed it over, saying solemnly:
“Remember, Jim, you’ve got to bring a doctor back with you—–if you have to do it at the point of a gun!”
“I’ll bring one back with me, if there’s one left in Dugout,” Ferrers promised, fervently.
Fifteen minutes later Jim was on his way. Tim Walsh came in on tip-toe, and seemed afraid to stir lest he make some slight sound to disturb the sleeping sick lad.
“A day or two more will tell the tale, Tim,” Tom whispered in the big miner’s ear.