“I’ll confess I’m mystified,” muttered Tom, watching the scene of the latest explosion for some minutes after the engine had been stopped. “When daylight comes and we can use the divers we ought to know a bit more about how such a big blast is worked in the dead of night when the scoundrels ought to make noise enough to be heard. It must have been a series of connected blasts, all touched off at the same moment, Mr. Renshaw, but even such a series is by no means easy to lay. And then the blasts have to be drilled for, and then tamped.”
“As you say, sir,” replied the superintendent, “a much clearer idea can be formed when we have daylight and the divers.”
Tom held his watch to one side of the searchlight.
“Nearly two hours yet until daylight, Mr. Renshaw,” he announced. “And, of course, it will be two or three hours after daylight before we can get the divers at work. A fearful length of time to wait!”
“You’d better go back to the shore, sir,” urged the superintendent.
“Not while this boat needs to be run,” objected Reade. “For the rest of the night I want a man here whom I can trust.”
“Will you trust me with the boat?” proposed the superintendent.
“Why, of course!”
“Then let me run back to the dock and put you ashore, Mr. Reade. After that I’ll come out here and patrol along the wall until broad daylight.”
That was accordingly done. The “Morton” lay alongside the dock, and Nicolas instantly busied himself with casting off the rowboat and making her fast to the pier instead.
Evarts sullenly remained in the boat.
“Come on, Evarts,” spoke Tom quietly.
“Mr. Reade,” expostulated the late foreman, “I’m not going to be thrown out of my job like this.”
“Which especial way of being thrown out do you prefer then?” Tom queried, dryly.
“I’m not going to be put out of my job until I’ve had at least one good talk with you,” insisted the foreman.
“I’m afraid the time has passed for talking with you,” Reade responded, turning toward the shore. “You lost a great chance, to-night, to serve the company with distinction, and your negligence cost the company a lot of money through the second explosion. Are you coming out of that boat—–or shall I come back after you?”
Evarts rose, with a surly air. He stepped slowly ashore, after which one of the crew cast off. The engine began to move, and the “Morton” started back to her post.
“Oh, you feel fine and important, just at this minute!” grumbled the discharged foreman, under his breath, glaring wickedly at the broad back of the young chief engineer. “But I’ll do something to take the importance out of you before very long, Tom Reade!”
Truth to tell, Tom, though he was still alert to the interests of his employers, felt anything but important. The thought of Harry Hazelton’s unknown fate caused a great, choking lump in his throat as Reade stepped from the pier to land.