“Do you feel that you’ll keep within the appropriation by making enemies who deliberately blow up our masonry?” glared Mr. Bascomb.
“I doubt if there will be any more expense in that line, sir. I intend to have such a watch kept over the wall as to prevent any further mischief of the kind.”
“Watchmen are an item of expense, aren’t they?” snorted the president.
“Yes, sir; but next to nothing at all as compared with the mischief they can prevent.”
“I have already told you how to prevent the mischief, Reade. Stop all of your foolish nonsense and let the men have their old-time pastimes.”
“I can’t do it, sir.”
“Have you paper, pen and ink here?” thundered Mr. Bascomb. “If so, bring them.”
Tom quietly obeyed.
“Reade,” again thundered the president of the Melliston Company, “I have had as much of your nonsense as I intend to stand. You are out of here, from this minute. Take that pen and sign your resignation!”
TOM ISN’T AS EASY AS HE LOOKS
“I don’t believe I’ll do that, sir,” murmured Tom, putting down the pen.
“You don’t, eh?”
“Oh, then you’d rather wait and be forced out?”
“How about the contract, sir, between your company and Reade & Hazelton? Contracts can’t be broken as lightly as your words imply.”
“I’ll break that contract, if I set out to,” declared Mr. Bascomb, purpling with half-suppressed rage. “I’ve every ground for breaking the contract. You’re running things with a high hand here, and disorganizing all our efforts. No contract will stand on presentation of any such evidence as that before a court.”
“I am quite willing to leave that to a court, if I have to,” Reade rejoined. His tones were decidedly cold. “Mr. Bascomb, even if I were inclined to forfeit the contract I would have no legal right to do so without the approval of my partner, Hazelton.”
“Humph! He’s dead,” snorted the president.
“That yet remains to be proved, sir,” Tom answered huskily, his voice breaking slightly at thought of Harry.
“How on earth do you think you could defend a contract against a wealthy company like ours? Why, we could swamp you under our loose change alone. How much money have you in the world? Two or three thousand dollars, perhaps.”
“I’ve a little more than that,” Tom Reade smiled. “For one thing, I’m a third owner in the Ambition mine, on Indian Smoke Range, Nevada, and the Ambition has been a dividend payer almost from the start. Hazelton owns another third of the mine.”
“Eh?” gasped Mr. Bascomb, plainly taken aback.
“Oh, we’re not millionaires,” Tom laughed easily. “Yet I fancy Hazelton and I could raise enough money to fight any breach-of-contract case in court. With a steady-paying mine, you know, we could even discount to some extent the earnings of future years.”