“Now, look here. Do you fellows know that we have got to get this whole job done by the first of October? That’s a lot of work, and maybe you boys know it. It is up to you four fellows as much as it is up to anybody to see that the work is done. You’ve got to get every inch done every day that you can. You’ve got to drive your men all they’ll stand for. You know what will happen if you make a mistake and try to get too much out of them?”
“Dead easy, Mr. Conniston,” grinned the Lark. “They’ll quit. They say there is lots of easy graft up in the mountains with a guy named Swinnerton.”
“Then,” went on Conniston, quietly, “you’ve got to be careful not to drive them too hard. Keep your men good-natured. If you see any signs of balking let me know. I haven’t any kick to make about the way you have been working, but I want you to work harder! Get me? And I am going to pay you four dollars a day instead of three. Wait. I am going to make you another proposition: over and above your wages I’ll pay each man of you for every day between the day we get water on the land and the first of October. And for that time I’ll pay each man of you at the rate of twenty dollars a day!”
“Gee!” exclaimed the Lark. “You ain’t stringing us, are you?”
“No. Understand what I mean: in case we get the work done five days before the first each man of you draws down one hundred dollars above his wages. Drive your men as hard as you can; but don’t forget what will happen if you try to do too much. What wages are your men getting?”
“Two dollars and a half.”
“Go back and offer them two-seventy-five. And tell them that for every day between the first of October and the day we get water on the land each and every man of them will draw down an extra five dollars. Now get to work. I want to see what you can get done by quitting-time.”
That afternoon Conniston left everything in the hands of his foremen. He did not once go to the ditch to see what they were doing. Instead he took Truxton’s note-book from the table in the tent—Truxton was still in a deep stupor—and from one o’clock until dark worked over it, seeking desperately to grasp every detail which he must know later and to plan for the morrow and the morrows to come.
When he heard the men coming in from work he got his horse and saddled it, and then waited for the foremen with their daily reports.
“I beat my record by twenty feet to-day,” the Lark told him, with a cheerful grin, as he handed Conniston a soiled bit of paper. “I’m hot on the trail of my bonus, take it from me.”
That evening Conniston spent with Tommy Garton. He did not even take the time to call on Argyl. He told the little fellow what had happened, received a hearty grip of the hand which meant more to him than a wordy congratulation, laid what few plans he had had time to outline before him, and asked his advice upon them.