“First of all, eight thousand dollars’ damage has been done to the retaining wall of the breakwater,” replied Mr. Bascomb. “That is, according to Mr. Reade’s figures, which very likely may prove to be too low. Also, Mr. Hazelton has been murdered.”
“Hazelton—–killed?” gasped Mr. Prenter showing genuine concern. “Of course I know that the telegram to the office said that Hazelton was missing, but I didn’t suppose it was anything as tragic as a killing.”
“Well, Hazelton can’t be found, so I haven’t a doubt he was killed as part of a general plan of mutiny and revenge on the part of the mixed crews of men working here,” declared Mr. Bascomb.
“Oh, I sincerely hope that Hazelton hasn’t lost his life here!” cried Mr. Prenter. “Reade, aren’t you going to take us down to the water front and show us the extent of the damage?”
“I shall be only too glad to do so, sir,” Tom agreed.
Even Mr. Bascomb consented at last to go. As
they gained the porch
Nicolas rushed up with the cigars for which the president had sent him.
While Mr. Bascomb paused to light one, Mr. Prenter thrust an arm through
Tom’s and led that youth down the road.
“Now, Mr. Reade,” murmured the treasurer, earnestly, “Mr. Bascomb, of course, is our president, and I don’t want you to treat him with the slightest disrespect. But Bascomb isn’t the majority stockholder nor the whole board of directors, so I’ll just drop this hint: When Bascomb talks of resignations don’t attach too serious importance to it until you receive a resolution endorsing the same view and passed by the board of directors of the company.”
“Thank you. I have no intention of resigning,” smiled Tom.
“Now, let’s go on,” continued Mr. Prenter.
Mr. Bascomb, having his cigar lighted, seemed to prefer strolling in the rear by himself.
“Now, I don’t want to give you any wrong impressions, Mr. Reade,” went on Mr. Prenter. “Mr. Bascomb is the head of our company, but other directors represent more of the stock of the company than he does. I am one of them. Sometimes Mr. Bascomb gets a bit hard-headed, and he is inclined to give orders that others of us wouldn’t approve. I judge that you and he were having some dispute when I happened along.”
“I didn’t regard it as a dispute, sir,” Reade rejoined. “In the first place, I had discharged, for incompetency and faithlessness, a foreman named Evarts.
“And Evarts is a pet of Mr. Bascomb’s,” smiled Mr. Prenter. “I imagine that Evarts is even some sort of family connection who has to be looked after and kept in a good job.”
“Anyway,” Tom continued, “I explained that Evarts was worse than useless here and that I couldn’t have him in the camp or on the job.”
“Quite right, I fancy,” nodded Mr. Prenter. “In the second place, Mr. Bascomb ordered me to stop my crusade against the gamblers who had tried to invade the camp and rob the men of their earnings. Hazelton and I had that sort of row once out in Arizona—–and we won out.”