On the day announced, at about eleven in the morning, two automobiles reached Don Luis’s home. Besides the mine owner the cars contained nine other travelers, all Americans.
These were the investors who were expected to buy El Sombrero at a price of two and a half million dollars.
Over at the camp Tom and Harry saw the party arrive. They could see the travelers being served with refreshments on the veranda.
“There’s the crowd, Harry. And here’s a car, coming this way, undoubtedly for us. Now, we’ve got to go over there for our first practice as bunco men.”
Harry Hazelton made an unpleasant grimace. “I feel like a scoundrel of the worst sort, but it can’t be helped,” he muttered.
The car was soon at hand. Tom and Harry were dressed and ready. Though their clothing suggested the field engineer, they were none the less dressed with a good deal of care. They entered the tonneau of the automobile and started on their way to help put the mine swindle through.
“Here are my engineers, gentlemen,” smiled Don Luis, “and at least three of your number, I believe, are well acquainted with Messrs. Reade and Hazelton.”
Tom ascended the steps, feeling rather weak in the knees. Then the young engineers received one of the severest jolts of their lives.
Three of the gentlemen in that group, both young men knew well. They were President Haynes, General Manager Ellsworth and Director Hippen of the A.G.& N.M. Railroad. These gentlemen Tom and Harry had served in railroad work in Arizona, as told in “The Young Engineers in Arizona.”
Now, in a flash, it was plain to both young Americans why Don Luis had wanted them, especially, to report favorably concerning El Sombrero Mine. President Haynes and his associates in the A.G.& N.M. R.R. had every reason in the world to trust the young engineers, who had served them so faithfully on another occasion. These gentlemen would believe in anything that Reade and Hazelton backed with their judgment.
“You?” cried Tom, with a start, as President Haynes held out his hand. Then, by a mighty effort, Reade recovered himself and laughed easily.
“This is a pleasant surprise, Mr. Haynes! And you, Mr. Ellsworth, and you, Mr. Hippen.”
“And we’re equally surprised to find you here, Reade, and you, Hazelton,” rejoined President Haynes. “But we feel more at home, already. You know, Reade, we’re quite accustomed to looking upon anything as an assured success when you’re connected with it.”
“And, in its way, this mine is the biggest success we’ve backed yet,” Tom declared readily.
Don Luis Montez, though he was keenly watchful, was delighted so far.
“What do you really think of this mine, Reade?” broke in Mr. Ellsworth. “Is it all that a careful investor would want?”
“If you’re getting what I think you are,” Tom answered, “you’re getting a lot more, even, than you might be led to expect. El Sombrero, if it includes the limits that I suppose the tract does, will be worth a great deal more than you are paying for it.”