“Say!” put in Ikey Rosenmeyer hotly, “you fellows won’t get no advance in rating at all, and you may get blown up any time. We’ve got something to work for, we have!”
“We’ve got money to work for,” declared one of the munition workers.
“Oi, oi!” sneered Ikey. “What’s money yet?” A sneer which vastly amused his chums, for Ikey’s inborn love for the root of all evil was well known.
As the group stood talking, along came a man, walking briskly from the direction the Seacove boys had come in their automobile. Two or three of the munition workers spoke to the man, who was broad-shouldered, walked with a brisk military step, and was heavily bewhiskered.
Whistler stopped talking to a possible candidate for the blue uniform of the Navy, and looked after this stranger.
“Who is he?” he asked.
“That’s Blake. Works in our laboratory. Nice fellow,” was the reply.
“Oh! I didn’t know but he was one of the men guarding the dam,” Whistler murmured.
“Shucks! there aren’t any guards up there. There are soldiers here at the factories, though.”
“Is that so?” questioned Whistler. “Where’s he been, do you suppose?”
“That man,” said young Morgan grimly.
“Oh, he’s a bug on natural history, or the like. Always tapping rocks with a hammer, or hunting specimens, or botanizing. Great chap. Hasn’t been here in Elmvale long. But everybody likes him.”
Phil made no further comment aloud, but to himself he said:
“He wasn’t botanizing through that field-glass; or knocking specimens off of rocks. His interest was centered on the face of the dam. I wonder why?”
For the military looking man, called Blake, was the individual he and his friends had seen in the bushes as they drove along the Upper Road, and who had seemed desirous of being unobserved by the passers-by.
THE WATER WHEEL
Phil Morgan was no more suspicious by nature than his chums. Merely a thought had come into his mind that had not come into theirs; and he disliked to be annoyed by anything in the nature of an unsolved problem. He always wanted to know why.
In this particular case he wished to know why the man called Blake had tried to hide himself in the clump of bushes beside the Upper Road when the automobile load of boys had come along and caught him examining the face of the Elmvale Dam through a field-glass.
It was through a break in the trees that partly masked the dam the man had been looking, and Whistler knew that the spot in which he was interested must be directly beside the overflow of the dam—where the water splashed down into the rocky river bed.
Whistler did not lose interest in the attempt to inspire some of the factory workers to enlist in the Navy, and he worked just as hard as his mates all through the noon hour. But the puzzle connected with the man named Blake continued to peck at his mind like an insistent chick trying to get out of its shell.