MR. BASCOMB IS PEEVISH
At the first blush of dawn Tom despatched the tireless Nicolas to Blixton to notify the police of the explosions and of the disappearance of Harry Hazelton.
Two men in blue, wearing stars on their coats, came over within an hour, walked about and looked wise until noon. They discovered nothing whatever, and their theories did not strike Reade as being worthy of attention.
As soon as possible the divers were sent down at the two wrecked parts of the retaining wall. These men reported that the breaches extended ten feet beneath the surface at some points; only eight feet at other points. The foundations of the walls were reported as being secure. Then Tom, under the directions of two divers, put on a diver’s suit and went down himself, for the first time in his life. After some two hours, with frequent ascents to the surface, the young chief engineer had satisfied himself that the foundations were secure. Then he did some rapid figuring.
“The loss will not exceed eight thousand dollars—–the cost of rebuilding the missing parts of the walls,” Reade informed Superintendent Renshaw.
“Only eight thousand dollars!” whistled the superintendent.
“Well, that figure isn’t anywhere nearly as high as I feared it might be,” Tom pursued.
“But it will strike the directors of the Melliston Company as being pretty big for an extra bill,” muttered Renshaw. “Especially, since—–”
The superintendent paused.
“You were going to say,” smiled Tom, wanly, “since the loss wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t kicked the gamblers out of camp.”
“That’s about the size of it, Mr. Reade,” nodded Renshaw. “Directors of big companies are less interested in moral reforms than in dividends. They’re likely to make a big kick over what your crusade has cost them already, even if it costs them no more.”
“We’ll see to it that it doesn’t cost them any more,” Tom retorted. “Every night we’ll watch that sea wall the way a mother does a sick baby. There’ll be no more explosions. As to the directors kicking over the present expense, they’ll have a prompt chance to do it. As soon as the telegraph office in Blixton was open this morning I wired the president of the company. Now, I’m going ashore. I can’t do anything out here to help you, can I?”
“Nothing,” replied Renshaw. “If I didn’t know how foolish the advice would sound, Mr. Reade, I’d urge you to take a nap.”
“I’ll take a nap when I find it impossible to keep my eyes open any longer,” Tom compromised. “For the next few hours—–work and lots of it.”
As yet no effort had been made to repair the breaches in the wall. The different gangs were working that day in nearer shore. The divers, gathered on a scow, were now waiting for the “Morton” to convey them back to shore. Reade decided to go with them.