“What does he want us for, then? He spoke of engineering problems.”
“Don Luis’s engineering problem,” uttered Tom Reade, with deep scorn, “is simply to find two clean and honest engineers who’ll sign a lying report and enable him to swindle some man or group of men out of a fortune.”
“Then Don Luis is a swindler, and we’ll throw up the job,” returned Harry Hazelton, vehemently. “We’ll quit.”
“We won’t help him swindle any one,” Tom rejoined. “We won’t quit just yet, but we’ll stick just long enough to see whether we can’t expose the scoundrel as he deserves! Harry, we’ll have to be crafty, too. We must not let him see, too soon, that we are aware of his trickery.”
DANGLING THE GOLDEN BAIT
Creeping closer to the mine, Tom and Harry saw the ore dumped from a train of forty mules. They also heard the fellow in charge of the train say that he would be back with two more loads that night.
“We don’t need to wait to see the rest of the ore brought,” Tom whispered to his chum. “We know enough now.”
“Look over there,” urged Hazelton. “There goes the rest of the trick. Men are shoveling the borrowed ore into the ore hoists.”
“Of course,” nodded Tom, disgustedly. “The ore is going below, to be piled in the tunnels. It will be ‘salted’ there all right for us to inspect in the morning. Oh, this trickery makes me sick!”
“What are you going to do now?” Hazelton asked.
“We may as well go back to the house and get some sleep.”
“I’m strong for getting out of here in the morning,” Harry muttered.
“Fine!” Tom agreed. “So am I. But what I want to do is to find out who is marked out for the victim of this gigantic swindle. I want to put the victim wise. I’d be wild if I failed to find Don Luis’s intended dupe and tell him just what he’s in for.”
“Do you imagine that Montez will ever allow us to get face to face with the man who’s to be fleeced?”
“He won’t do it intentionally, Harry. But we may have a way of locating the victim in time to save him from being robbed.”
“Anyway, I should think the victim would have every chance in the world to sue and get his money back,” Harry mused.
“How is one to get back the money that he has put into a gold mine?” Tom demanded. “Everyone knows that the most honest mine is a gamble. It may stop turning out paying ore at any hour. Besides, what show would a stranger have in the courts in this part of Mexico? You have heard Don Luis boast that he practically owns the governor of Bonista. No, sir! The only way to stop a swindle will be to stop it before it takes place.”
Tom rose from his hiding place, back in the dark away from the lights at the mine shaft. He nudged his chum, then started to creep away. Presently they rose and moved forward on foot. Ere long they had left the mine well behind.