Tom fairly got behind the men and pushed them outside. They would have liked to complain, but they didn’t. Some of them were larger and heavier than the chief engineer, but they knew quite well that, at sign of any trifling mutiny to-night, Reade would thrash them all.
“If any one is trying to blow up the wall, Mr. Reade, it’s all your fault, anyway,” ventured Evarts, as the little party started at a brisk walk for the beach. “When you’ve got a mixed crowd of men working for you, you shouldn’t interfere too much with their amusements. Yet you would have the gamblers run out of camp just when our boys were getting ready to have some pleasant evenings.”
“I’ll run out any one else who attempts to bring disorderly doings into this camp,” Tom retorted quietly.
“Then there’ll be some more of your seawalls blown up,” Evarts warned him gloomily.
“If such a thing happens again there’ll be some men hurt, and some others breaking into prison,” Tom answered with spirit. “Any evildoers that try to set themselves up in business around here will soon wish they had kept away—–that’s all.”
“It’s a bad business,” insisted Evarts, wagging his head. “When you have a mixed crowd of workmen—–”
“I think you’ve said that before,” Tom broke in coolly. “To-night we’re in too much of a hurry to listen to the same thing twice. Come on, men. You can go a little faster than a walk. Jog a bit—–I’ll show you how.”
“This is pretty hard on men in the middle of the night,” hinted Evarts, after the jogging had gone on for a full minute. “It ain’t right to-----”
“Stop it, Evarts!” Tom cut in crisply. “I don’t mind a little grumbling at the right time, and I often do a bit myself, but not when I’m as rushed as I am to-night. There’s the dock ahead, men—–a little faster spurt now!”
Tom urged his men along to the dock. With no loss of time they tumbled aboard the “Morton,” a broad, somewhat shallow, forty-foot motor boat of open construction.
“Get up and take the wheel, Evarts,” Tom. directed. “Get at work on your spark, Conlon, and I’ll throw the drive-wheel over for you. Some of you men cast, off!”
In a very short time the “Morton” was going “put-put-put” away from the dock.
Tom, after seeing that everything was moving satisfactorily, turned around to look at the four men huddled astern.
“Don’t any of you go to sleep,” he urged. “A good part of our success depends on how well you all keep awake and use your eyes and ears.”
That said, Tom Reade hastened forward, stationing himself close to Evarts, who had the steering wheel.
Some of the men astern began to talk.
“Silence, if you please,” Tom called softly. “Don’t talk except on matters of business. We want to be able to use our ears. Conlon, make your engine a little less noisy if you can.”
Now Reade had leisure to wonder how matters had gone with Harry Hazelton.