“Have you any telegraph blanks here?”
Tom went inside, coming out with a pad of blanks. Mr. Prenter addressed a dispatch to the head of a detective agency in Mobile.
“We’ll get the ’bus driver to take this over to town,” said Mr. Prenter, as he signed the dispatch.
“You had better send your dispatch by Nicolas, who is so faithful that he can’t be pumped, and he never talks about things that he shouldn’t.”
The Mexican was accordingly sent away in the stage. When he returned Nicolas busied himself with getting supper and setting it on the table. Superintendent Renshaw returned from the work in time to join the others at table.
“Mr. Reade, how are you going to protect the works to-night?” inquired the superintendent.
“I’m going to order Foreman Corbett and twenty men to night duty,” Tom answered. “The motor boat will also be out to-night. We’ll have every bit of the wall watched by men with lanterns.”
“What you ought to do,” suggested Treasurer Prenter, “is to light the breakwater up with electric lights. You have steam power enough here, and with a dynamo you could supply current to the lights.”
“There’s the expense to be considered,” mildly observed President Bascomb.
“The expense is a good deal less than having the wall damaged by more explosions,” said Prenter, rather sharply. “Reade, how long would it take you to get an electric light service going?”
“It ought not to take more than three or four days, sir, if we can pick up a suitable dynamo in Mobile. But there’s another point to be considered. We very likely would have to obtain the permission of the Washington authorities before we could run a line of lights out into the Gulf of Mexico. You see, sir, so many uncharted lights might confuse the navigators of passing ships.”
“Write Washington, then, and find out where you stand in the matter,” directed the treasurer.
“Yes, sir; I’ll do that,” Reade agreed.
“But don’t order any electrical supplies until you’ve got an estimate of the cost and have it approved by me,” hinted President Bascomb. This cautious direction made Mr. Prenter shrug his shoulders.
Dinner finished, all hands went out to sit on the porch. Mr. Bascomb soon began to ask questions about the camp, the housing of the men, and about other details of the camp.
“Although it is dark it’s still early. Wouldn’t you like to go over through the camp with us?” proposed Tom.
Mr. Bascomb agreeing, the whole party set out, only Nicolas remaining behind to keep an eye over the house.
Though he did not then suspect it Tom was on the threshold of more trouble in the camp.
INVITED TO LEAVE CAMP
Lanterns hung here and there on poles lighted the camp. Men who toil hard all day do not usually want a long evening. Many of the men were already inside their tents or shacks, preparing for bed.