“It’s pretty late to call men out of their beds, sir,” mildly objected the foreman.
“No—–it’s early, but it can’t be helped,” Tom Reade retorted. “Hustle ’em out!”
“Black or white?” sleepily inquired Evarts.
“White, and Americans at that,” Tom retorted. “Put none but Americans on guard tonight, Evarts! What do you suppose has happened?”
“No! You’re still too sleepy. Evarts, some scoundrels have blown out a good part of our wall yonder.”
“Are you joking, Mr. Reade?”
“No, sir; I am not. Dynamite must have been used. Hazelton and I heard the noise of the blast, but of course we got out there too late to catch any miscreant at the job.”
Evarts, at first, was inclined to regard the news with mild disbelief, but he soon realized that something must have happened very nearly as the young chief engineer had described.
“Well, what are you standing there for?” Tom demanded, impatiently. “Are you going to wait for daylight? Get the four men out—–all Americans, mind you. Hustle, man!”
Evarts started away; toward the camp over to the left of them. As he did so Tom darted in another direction. Two minutes later Tom was back, piloting by one arm a man who was still engaged in rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. This was Conlon, engineer of the motor boat, “Morton.”
“Where’s Evarts?” Reade queried, impatiently. “Oh, Evarts! Where are you, and what are you doing?”
“Trying to get four men awake,” bawled back the voice of the foreman, from the distance. “As soon as I get one man on his feet the other three have sunk back to sleep.”
“Wait until I get over there then!” called Tom, striding forward. “Come along, Conlon! Don’t you lag on me.”
“There! Do you fellows reckon you want Mr. Reade to bump in here and shake you out?” sounded the warning voice of Evarts.
As Tom and the motor boat’s engine tender reached the little, box-like shack from which Evarts’s tones proceeded, four men, seated on the floor, were seen to be lacing their shoes by the dim light of a lantern.
“A nice lot you are!” called Tom crisply. “How many hours does it take you to get awake when you’re called in the middle of the night?”
“This overtime warn’t in the agreement,” sleepily retorted one of the men.
“You’re wrong there,” Reade informed him, vehemently. “Overtime is in the agreement for every man in this camp when it’s wanted of him—–from the chief engineer all along the line. Now, you men oblige me by hustling. I don’t want to wait more than sixty seconds for the last man of you.”
“I’ve a good mind to crawl back into my bunk,” growled another of the men.
“All right,” retorted Tom Reade, with suspicious cheerfulness. “Try it and see what kind of fireworks I carry concealed on my person. Or, just lag a little bit on me, and you’ll see the same thing. Men, do you realize that there’s foul play afoot out on the retaining wall? We’ve got to go out there in time to stop anything more happening. Now, you’ve got your shoes on; grab the rest of your clothing and hustle it on as we make for the beach. Come along!”