Again the question had been put to him, “What have you done?” And it was nobody’s fault but his that he had done nothing.
“I wish you had two legs, Tommy,” Truxton said, when at last he got up and went to the door. “You an’ me workin’ together out there—well, we’d make things jump, that’s all.”
Tommy laughed, but his sensitive mouth twitched as though with a sharp physical pain.
“Oh, I’m doing all right inside,” he answered, quietly. “Somebody’s got to attend to this end of the game. And Conniston will be on to the ropes in a few days. He’ll help you make things jump.”
Truxton made no answer. For a moment he stood frowning at the floor. Then he turned once more to Conniston for a short, intent scrutiny.
“You have your blankets ready, Conniston,” he said, shortly. “You’ll sleep on a sand-pile to-morrow night.”
And he went out, slamming the door behind him.
At half-past three, Conniston, awakened with a start by the jangle and clamor of Tommy Garton’s little alarm-clock, got up and dressed. At the lunch-counter the man who had been fidgety yesterday and was merely sleepy this morning set coffee and flapjacks and bacon before him. Before four he had saddled his horse, rolled into a neat bundle a blanket and a couple of quilts from the cot upon which he had slept last night, tied them behind his saddle, and was ready for the coming of Bat Truxton. Then Truxton on horseback joined him. Conniston mounted, acknowledged Truxton’s short “Good mornin’,” and rode with him away from the sleeping village and out toward the south.
“Tommy’s told you somethin’ about what we got ahead of us?” Truxton asked, when they had ridden half a mile in silence.
“Yes. We went over the whole thing together as well as we could in a day’s time.”
“That’s good. If any man’s got a head on him for this sort of thing, that man’s Tommy Garton. He’d make it as plain as a man could on paper, without goin’ over the ground. To-day we’re tyin’ into those seven sand-hills I mentioned last night. I’ve got two hundred men workin’ there. So they won’t get in each other’s way I’ve divided ’em up in four gangs, fifty men to the gang. There’s all kinds of men in that two hundred, Conniston, and about the biggest part of your day’s work will be to sort of size your men up. I’ve divided ’em, not accordin’ to efficiency, but partly accordin’ to nationality an’ mostly accordin’ to cussedness. I’m givin’ you the tame ones to begin on. I’ll take care of the ornery jaspers until you get your hand in. But I can’t spare more’n a day or two. Then it’ll be up to you. You’ll have to swing the whole bunch, if you can. An’ if you can’t it’ll be up to you to quit! Oh, it ain’t so all-fired hard, not if you’ve got the savvy. I’ve got a foreman over each section that knows what he’s doin’ an’ will do pretty much everything if you can furnish the head work.”