He passed his left hand over his eyes, wondering if he were dreaming.
“I—–I can’t believe it!” he stammered. “Look, boys, and tell me what you see!”
“It’s the gleam of the real metal in the rock, sir—–what’s what it is,” gasped one of the miners, as he held up a lantern to aid him in his quest.
It lay there, in streaks and rifts, a dull gleaming here and there. To be sure, it was nothing at all like a solid golden wall, but Tom Reade could be contented with less than Golconda.
In spots the precious metal showed in darkish streaks, instead of yellow. But these dark streaks showed admixtures of silver.
“Run and get me a hammer, one of you,” cried Tom, breathing fast.
When the miner returned with the chisel-nosed hammer he found the young engineer eagerly exploring the whole length of the new wall thus laid bare.
“I knew that a real vein lay here,” Tom went on, as he took the hammer. “The only trouble with us, men, was that we were working eight or ten feet south of where the true vein lay. Now, by the great Custer, we’ve hit it—–thanks to the enemy!”
Eagerly Tom chipped off specimens of the rich gold and silver bearing rock. He loaded down two men and carried more himself. Every piece of rock was a specimen of rich ore.
Up the shaft they went, emerging into the sunlight.
“I’d like to know who the scamps were that fired the blasts in the mine,” Tom muttered joyously. “I’d like to reward them.”
“Party coming, sir,” reported a miner, pointing to the southward.
Over the snow came a cutter, drawn by two horses, slipping fast over the snow. From one side of the cutter a pair of skis hung outward.
“That’s Jim Ferrers and the doctor from Dugout,” Tom breathed. “But who can the other lot of people be.”
A pung, drawn also by a pair of horses, contained five men.
Jim was quickly on hand to explain matters.
“I’ve brought Dr. Scott. He’ll have to see Hazelton quickly, and then get back to Dugout,” Jim declared. “The doctor is afraid the crust may melt, and then he’ll be stalled here with his outfit.
“Those men over there?” inquired Reade, as the pung stopped, and the five men got out “Two of them look familiar to me.”
“I reckon,” nodded Jim Ferrers. “They’re officers—–all of ’em. They’ve come over here to hunt the rocks to the south of here. Up at the jail the keepers worried out of Eb some information about a cave where Dolph Gage hangs out. It seems that Gage and his pals have been stealing supplies at the Bright Hope Mine.”
Jim introduced Dr. Scott, who said:
“I must see my patient and be away in an hour. I don’t want to get stalled here by a thaw.”