Never had Conniston known a busier forenoon, never a happier. The fatigue, the despondency, the utter hopelessness of the early morning was swept away. He felt a new life course through his veins, there came a fresh elasticity to his stride, his voice rang with confidence. For he was as a leader of a lost hope within the walls of a beleaguered city to whom, when all hope was gone, reinforcements had come.
He felt that now nothing could tire him in body or in mind, nothing drive from his heart his glorious conviction of success to come.
And yet he had no faintest idea how busy the day was to be. When two hours had passed and the wagons carrying three hundred men had started for the Valley, Conniston had the two hundred and fifty men at Deep Creek working with a swiftness, an effectiveness which would have told a chance observer that they had been familiar many days with the work. He was to leave them before noon, to hurry on horseback to overtake the wagons that he might personally oversee the arrangements to be made upon their coming into the Valley. And there was much to be done, many specific orders to give the Lark, before he dared leave.
Upon the dam itself he put a hundred men to work. The remaining hundred and fifty he set to building the great flume which was to carry the stored water for five hundred yards along the ridge, then into the cut in the crest of the ridge and into Dam Number Two. He saw that he must have more horses, more plows and scrapers. But for the present he could do without them. There was blasting to be done upon the rugged wall of the canon, there were tall pines bunched in groves, many of which must come down before the flume could be completed or the ditch made. And men with axes and crowbars and giant powder were set to their tasks.
Everywhere he went the Lark dogged his heels, listening intently to the orders which his superior gave him.
“The main thing,” Conniston told him, when he had outlined the work as well as he could, “is to keep your men working! Don’t lose any time. I’ll be back as soon as I can make it, some time to-morrow, and if you don’t know how to handle anything that comes up put your men on something else. The dam has got to be made, the flume has got to be built, the cut has to be dug, a lot of trees and boulders have to come out. You will have enough to keep you busy.”
“Do you know, Mr. Conniston,” Jimmie Kent told him, as they sat down together for a bite of lunch, “I’ve got a hunch. A rare, golden hunch!”
Conniston laughed—he was in the mood to laugh at anything now—and asked what the rare “hunch” was.
“Just this: there’s going to be some fun pulled off in this very same neck of the woods before the first of October! And, by Harry, I’d like to see it! Have you any objection to my sort of roosting around and keeping my bright eye on the game? Oh, I don’t want a salary; I’ll pay for my grub, and you can have my valuable advice gratis. Can I stick around?”