“I doan’ beliebe so, sah.”
Tom and Dick strolled through the camp, but all was quiet there. Many of the men were outside their shacks or tents, smoking and waiting for turning-in time to come.
“Looks as orderly as a camp-meeting,” declared Lieutenant Prescott. “I’m glad to see, Tom, that you’re for the decent camp every time.”
“The decent camp is the only kind that contains efficient workmen for engineering jobs,” Reade answered dryly.
Presently they strolled out of camp, on the farther side. This was what the young engineer really wanted to do—–to vanish suddenly, in a fashion that would not be likely to be noted by hostile eyes. Now Reade and his army chum proceeded softly, and without words. Through the deep woods Tom was heading for the spot where he had found the magneto.
Sambo Ebony was at large, and Tom believed that other things than the magneto had been concealed at this spot. If Sambo intended any further assaults on the retaining wall he would be quite likely to come this way. So here Tom Reade was resolved to remain and watch, even if he had to put in most of the night there.
Behind some bushes he and Dick found a hiding place looking out upon the scene of the late conflict with “Mr. Ebony.”
Without even whispered conversation time dragged slowly. More than an hour dragged by, and both watchers were beginning to feel decidedly bored.
At last, however, footsteps came that way. Both watchers crouched lower and waited.
The new-comer approached the place rather uncertainly. At last, however, he stood revealed. Tom Reade felt like yelling in his utter astonishment.
For President Bascomb, of the Melliston Company, now stood before them. After a glance about Mr. Bascomb walked slowly up and down, as though he were waiting for some one.
Dick, of course, did not know Mr. Bascomb. However, as Tom kept silent the young soldier did the same.
“What on earth can Bascomb be doing here?” Tom wondered. “Is he, too, one of the conspirators? It is unbelievable! Yet with what speed he obeyed Evarts’s summons to come and bail him out! It makes me feel like a sneak to be here spying on the president of the company that employs me—–and yet there’s something here that certainly must be looked into!”
Fifteen minutes more dragged by, with Mr. Bascomb walking impatiently back and forth, occasionally heaving a deep sigh or catching at his breath.
“Our worthy president is much excited, at any rate,” Reade said to himself.
Finally steps were heard, both by Bascomb and by the pair who watched him. Then another man came upon the scene.
“Evarts, why on earth did you send for me?” demanded Mr. Bascomb, as the discharged foreman came up.
“Because I knew you’d be here—–you don’t dare do otherwise,” was the sneering reply.
“Try not to be impudent about it,” advised Mr. Bascomb mildly. “As you may remember, I’ve had to stand a lot from you.”