Peterson had been working through the timber pile from the shore side, so that now only a thin wall remained at the outer edge of the wharf. Bannon found him standing on the pile, rolling down the sticks with a peavey to where the carrying gangs could pick them up. “Better bring all your men up here, Pete, and clean it all away by the steamer. She may as well begin unloading now.”
Bannon walked back to the tracks, in time to see a handcar and trailer, packed with men, come up the track and stop near at hand. The men at once scattered, and brushing aside Bannon’s laborers, they began replacing the sections of fence. Bannon crossed to the section boss, who recognized him and without comment handed him a telegraphed order.
“There’s no getting around that,” he said, when Bannon had read it. “That’s straight from the old man.”
Bannon returned it, called Peterson, and hurried with him around the elevator to find Max, who was overseeing the piling.
“What’ll we do?” Peterson asked, as they ran; but Bannon made no reply until the three were together. Then he said, speaking shortly:—
“Get the wire cable off one of your hoisting engines, Pete, and make one end fast as high as you can on the spouting house. We’ll run it across the tracks, on a slope, down to this side. Max, you get a light rope and a running block, and hang a hook on it.”
“I see,” said Max, eagerly. “You’re going to run it over on a trolley.”
“Yes. The engineers have gone, haven’t they?”
“Went at five,” said Peterson.
“That’s all right. We’ll only need the hoist at the spouting house. The rest of it’s just plain sliding down hill.”
“But who’ll run it?”
“I will. Pete, you get up on the spouting house and see that they’re started down. Max will stay over here and watch the piling. Now rush it.”
Half an hour had gone before the cable could be stretched from the spouting house, high over the tracks, down to the elevator structure, and before the hoisting engine could be got under steam. Meanwhile, for the third time since five o’clock, the laborers stood about, grumbling and growing more impatient. But at last it was all under way. The timbers were hoisted lightly up the side of the spouting house, hooked to the travelling block, and sent whirling down to Max’s waiting hands, to be snatched away and piled by the men. But compared with the other method, it was slow work, and Bannon found that, for lack of employment, it was necessary to let half of the men go for the night.
Soon, to the rattle of blocks and the tramping of feet and the calling and shouting of men, was added the creak of the steamer’s hoists, and the groan of her donkey engines as her crew began the work of dumping out the cribbing by hand and steam, on the cleared space on the wharf. And then, when the last big stick had gone over, Peterson began sending bundles of two-inch cribbing. Before the work was finished, and the last plank from the steamer’s cargo had been tossed on the pile by the annex, the first faint color was spreading over the eastern sky, and the damp of a low-country morning was in the air.