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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 264 pages of information about Under Handicap.

Conniston called the Lark to him.

“I am going to put two hundred more men to work right here and right now,” he said, swiftly.  “You get double salary to act as general foreman over the two hundred and fifty.  Divide your old gang of fifty into five parts, ten each.  Break up the new gang of two hundred into five sections, forty men to a section.  Then put ten of our old men to work with each section of forty, making, when that is done, five gangs, fifty men to the gang.  Understand?”

The Lark nodded, his eyes bright.

“Then pick out from your old gang the five best men you have.  No favoritism—­understand me?  The five best men!  You know them better than I do.  I want them to do the sort of thing you have been doing, each of them to act as section boss, under you, over fifty men.  Send them to me.  And get a move on!”

The Lark shot away, losing no time in question or answer.  A moment later five big, strapping fellows stood before Conniston, eying him curiously.

“You fellows,” Conniston told them, bluntly, “are to act as section bosses.  You are to get the wages the Lark here has been getting.  You are to get the same money I offered him for every day between the first of October and the day we get water into the Valley.  You are to take orders from him and no questions asked.  You can hold your jobs just as long as you do the work.  If you can’t do the work you’ll get fired and another man put in your place.  Come along with me.  And you,” to the Lark, “come too.”

He swung off toward the wagons, the five men and Jimmie Kent following him.  At the first wagon he called to the men to “climb out.”  As they clambered down the men in the other wagons got to the ground and came forward.

“I want forty men,” Conniston called.  “Walk by me single file so I can count.”

When the fortieth had passed him he raised his hand.

“You,” he said to the one of the new foremen nearest him, “take these forty men, add ten of the old section to them, and go to work on the dam.  Wait a minute.  Have you boys had any breakfast?”

They had not.

“Go to the cook, then,” he ordered.  “Tell him to give you the best he can sling out at quick notice.  Tell him that there will be one hundred and sixty more to feed.  I’ll send for more grub right away.”

The men passed on to the cook’s tent, and one after another Conniston counted off the other sections of forty and sent them to be fed.

“The rest of you,” he called to the three hundred men who had watched their fellows move away, “go to the Valley.  You can loaf until we scare up something to eat for you and until the horses rest a bit.  I’ll send right away to Crawfordsville—­”

“Mr. Conniston,” interrupted Jimmie Kent, “in those two wagons back there is a lot of grub.  And tools,” he added.  “Mr. Crawford had me pick them up in Littleton.”

CHAPTER XXI

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