“Mr. Bascomb,” put in Tom, “while I must have control of the men and their camp I don’t wish to do anything to cast reflection on yourself as the head of the company. May I therefore ask, sir, if there is any especial reason why Evarts should be allowed in this camp?”
President Bascomb fidgeted in the porch chair on which he was sitting.
“I—–I don’t know of any reason, Mr. Reade, why Evarts should be allowed in camp if his presence prevents you from keeping order as you wish.”
“Then you approve, sir, of my intention to keep him out?”
“I—–I won’t question your right to handle the matter as you wish, Mr. Reade,” was the president’s evasive reply.
“Thank you, sir.”
Peters was soon back with the six men—–two each of the negroes, Italians and Portuguese. All of them understood English.
Harry described the negro who had attacked him on the retaining wall, after which Tom asked:
“Have any of you men ever seen that negro? Have you any idea who he is, and where he can be found?”
None of the six admitted any knowledge of the mysterious black man.
“Then I want you to keep his description in mind,” continued Tom. “Keep your eyes open, at all times, for any chance glimpse of him. The man who brings me information leading to the capture of that big negro will receive a reward of one hundred dollars in gold.” “Keep your eyes open, won’t you? You may find him prowling around the wall at any time. He may walk out on the wall, or he may be found hiding near in a boat. Watch for him.”
All promised eagerly that they would do all in their power to earn the hundred dollars.
“That’s what I call good business!” cried Mr. Prenter approvingly, as soon as the foreman and the men had gone.
“Does the hundred dollars come out of the company treasury, Reade, or from your own pocket?” inquired President Bascomb.
“Really I hadn’t thought of the matter,” answered Tom.
“The company can afford to pay its own bills,” broke in Mr. Prenter, rather gruffly.
“It’s about time to turn in, isn’t it?” asked Mr. Bascomb, striking a match and glancing at his watch.
“I’m going to stay up a little longer, and talk with Reade about the dread mystery of our million dollar breakwater, if he’ll let me,” hinted Mr. Prenter.
Mr. Bascomb rose as though to go into the house.
“While we’re talking about the matter, sir,” suggested Tom, “wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to stroll down to the beach and look out along the wall to see how Foreman Corbett and his gang are guarding the breakwater to-night?”
“Fine idea,” nodded the treasurer of the company.
“Then, if you’re all going away, and intend to leave the house alone, I think I may as well go with you,” grunted Mr. Bascomb. “I don’t exactly like the idea of staying here alone in such troublesome times.”