“O, Ham, I’m so happy to-day, and still—” He paused and the smile faded from his face. “Still, why should I be happy? Do these plans and that gold mine up there give me back my dear old dad?”
“Not really,” replied Ham, “but perhaps those things he left you will make it possible for you to accomplish in this world the things he had hoped to do, and perhaps better things.” The little smile came back again to Willis’s face.
“Ham, you’re really a philosopher. I’ll do my very best, I’ll tell you that. Now, let’s hurry.”
In Which Fate Takes a Hand
Four days later Tad and Ben sat before the log-fire at the inn talking over plans for the future development of the mine in Buffalo Park. Tad was telling Ben of his visit with Mrs. Thornton and what her wishes were in regard to the matter. It seemed that Mr. Williams was out of the city and had been gone for several days. Just where he was no one seemed to know, but as he had taken several such trips since the death of his wife, Mrs. Thornton did not think much of it. It had been decided that they would wait until Mr. Williams returned, at which time he would be given the opportunity to buy the entire mine at a fair price. But if he did not care to buy, the property was to be turned over to Tad for disposal or development, as he saw fit.
The cold weather had continued, and there had been no visitors at the inn for nearly a week. Tad and Ben were making some crude tests before the fire with the pieces of gold quartz Ben had brought from the tunnel. They were just in the middle of their crude assay when suddenly there was a loud knock on the outside door, accompanied by a series of low growls from Ben’s dog. The door was unceremoniously thrown open and a very much excited man stepped in. He made no apologies, but went directly to the point. He spoke between great breaths, and had evidently come from some distance at a good speed. He was completely exhausted, and as he spoke his eyes wandered aimlessly about the room.
“We’ve a devil of a mess,” he panted. “I don’t know how many hurt, but some of ’em are broken all to pieces. Come right away and bring what bandages you have. O, it’s a devil of a mess.”
Old Ben looked at the stranger bewilderedly. Tad jumped to his feet, alert in a second. “Devil of a mess where, man? What’s wrong? Who’s hurt?” The stranger’s voice failed him, and all he could do was to point his finger in the direction of the canyon and make signs for them to hurry. Ben pushed him into a chair by the fire, and in a little while they had his story:
The new tunnel on the old Iron Dyke had caved in without a moment’s notice. There were seven men locked in by a wall of fallen rock. Whether they had been crushed or not was hard to tell. The stranger had not been in the tunnel at the time of the accident, but had gone to the stream for water. Upon returning, he discovered the cave-in. He had come at once for help, realizing that a single man would be useless at the mine.