MoboReader > Literature > The Young Engineers in Nevada; Or, Seeking Fortune on the Turn of a Pick


The Young Engineers in Nevada; Or, Seeking Fortune on the Turn of a Pick By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8409

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02

As Tom had surmised, Dolph Gage was anxious to become friends with the young engineers.

"They're only kids," Dolph explained to his comrades, "but I've heard that they know their business. If we can get their help for a month, then when they hand in their bill we can give them a wooden check on a cloud bank."

"Their bill would be a claim against our mine wouldn't it?" asked one of the other men.

"Maybe," Dolph assented. "But, if they try to press it, we can pay it with lead coin."

The morning after Jim had gone, one of Gage's companions stalked into camp.

"The boss wants to see you," said this messenger.

"Whose boss?" Tom inquired.

"Well, maybe he's yours," scowled the messenger. "And maybe you'll be sorry if you fool with him."

"I? Fool with Gage?" inquired Reade, opening his eyes in pretended astonishment. "My dear fellow, I've no intention of doing anything of the sort."

"Then you'll come over to our camp, right away?"

"Nothing like it," Tom replied. "Kindly present my compliments to your boss, and tell him that I have another appointment for today."

"You'd better come over," warned the fellow.

"You heard what I said, didn't you?" Reade inquired.

"There'll sure be trouble," insisted the fellow, scowling darkly.

"There's always trouble for those who are looking for it," Tom rejoined smilingly. "Is Dolph Gage hunting it?"

"You'll find out, if you don't come over!"

"Really," argued Reade, "we've disposed of that subject, my dear fellow. Have you any other business here! If not, you'll excuse us. Mr. Hazelton and I are to be gone for the day."

"Going prospecting?"

"We're going minding," smiled Reade.

"Mining?" repeated the visitor. "Mining what?"

"We are going off to mind our own business," Tom drawled. "Good morning."

"Then you're not coming over to our place?"

"No!" shouted Harry Hazelton, losing patience. "What do you want?"

"As you will observe, friend," suggested Tom, smiling at the messenger, "my partner has well mastered the lesson that a soft answer is a soother."

"Are you going to leave our camp?" Harry demanded, as the visitor squatted on the ground.

"If you two are going away," scowled the other, "you'll need some one to stay and watch the camp. I'll stay for you."

"Come on, Harry!" Tom called, starting away under the trees. Alf Drew had already gone. Breakfast being over the young cigarette fiend had no notion of staying in camp for a share in any trouble that might be brewing.

"Why on earth are you leaving the camp at that fellow's mercy?" quivered Harry indignantly, as he and Tom got just out of earshot of the visitor.

"Because I suspect," Reade returned, "that he and his crowd want to steal our assaying outfit."

"And you're leaving the coast clear for that purpose?" Hazelton gasped in high dudgeon.

"Now, Harry, is that all you know about me?" questioned his partner, reproachfully. "Listen. Around here you'll find plenty of stones of a throwing size. Just fill your pockets, your hands--your hat. Creep in close to camp and hide. If you see 'Mr. Sulky' poking his nose into anything in our camp--the furnace, for instance, or the assay balance, then just drop a stone so near to him that it will make him jump. Be careful that you don't drop a stone on that balance. You used to be a pretty fair pitcher, and I believe you can drop a stone where you want."

"And what will you be doing?" asked Harry curiously.

"Oh, I'll be keeping out of harm's way, I promise you," laughed

Tom Reade.

"Humph! Yes, it would be like you to put me into danger and to leave yourself out of it, wouldn't it?" mocked Harry Hazelton, unbelievingly.

"Well, I'll try to make good use of my time, Harry, old fellow. For one thing, if you haunt camp and keep Gage's crowd busy, then you'll keep them from following or watching me. Don't you see?"

"No; I don't see," grunted Hazelton. "But what I do suspect is that you have something up your sleeve that I may not find out for two or three days to come. Yet, whatever it is, it will be for our mutual good. I can depend upon you, Tom Reade! Go ahead; go as far as you like."

"Get the stones gathered up, t

hen, and get back to camp," counseled Reade. "Don't lose too much time about it, for Gage's rascal may be able to do a lot of harm in the two or three minutes that you might be late in getting back."

Harry industriously picked up stones. Hardly had he started when

Tom Reade silently vanished.

"Well, I'm glad, anyway, that Tom doesn't want us both away from camp while he's doing something," reflected Hazelton, as he began to move cautiously back. "There wouldn't be any camp by noon if we were both away."

Even before he secured his first glimpse of camp, Harry heard some one moving about there.

"The rascal must feel pretty sure that we're both fools enough to be away," quivered Hazelton indignantly. "What on earth is he doing, anyway?"

Then the young engineer crawled in close enough to get an excellent view of what was going on.

"Well, of all the impudence!" choked Harry, balancing a stone nicely in his right hand.

First of all the visitor had rounded up all the firewood into one heap. Now, to this combustible material the fellow was bringing a side of bacon and a small bag of flour. These he dropped on the firewood, then went back for more of the camp's food supply.

"Just wait," scowled Hazelton. "Oh, my fine fellow, I'll make your hands too hot for holding other people's property!"

Over the brush arched a stone. Hazelton had been a pitcher in his high school days, and no mistake. The descending stone fell smack across the back of the fellow's right hand.

"That's right! Howl!" cried Harry, exultantly. "Now, for a surprise."

The second stone flew with better speed, carrying away the fellow's hat without hitting his head.

"Hey, you, stop that!" roared the fellow.

From behind the bushes all was quiet. The camp prowler stood up straight, staring to see whence the next stone would come. After nearly two minutes he bent to pick up the case of biscuit that he had dropped.

Smack! Even as his nearer hand touched the box a sharp stone struck the back of that hand, cutting a gash and causing the blood to spurt.

"I'll have your scalp for that!" howled the enraged man. Making a pretty good guess at the direction from which the stone had come, the fellow started toward the brush on a run.

"Here's where you get all of yours!" chuckled Harry Hazelton.

Still crouching he let three stones fly one after the other.

The first struck the prowler in the mouth, the second on the

end of the nose and the third over the pit of his stomach.

"You two-legged Gatling gun!" howled the fellow, shaking with rage and pain. He halted, shaking his fist in the direction from which the stones had come.

Another lot of stones flew toward him. The prowler waited no longer, but turned, making for Gage's camp as fast as he could go.

"That ought to hold those rascals for a little while," speculated Harry. "But, of course, there'll be a come-back. What'll they do to me now, I wonder?"

By way of precaution Hazelton cautiously shifted to another hiding place. Within fifteen minutes he saw the same prowler stealing back into camp. When the fellow was near enough, Harry let fly a stone that dropped near the rascal's toes.

"Hey, you stop that, or I'll make you wish you had!" roared the fellow, shaking his fist.

Harry's answer was to drive two more stones in, sending them close to the fellow, yet without hitting him.

Again the man shouted at him, though he did not attempt to come any nearer to so expert a thrower of stones.

Then, suddenly, just behind him, Harry Hazelton heard a sound. In the next instant two men hurled themselves upon the young engineer, pinning him to the ground.

"I ought to have suspected this!" grunted Harry inwardly, as he fought back with all his strength. He might have succeeded in slipping away from the two men who sought to pin him down, but the third man, still aching from contact with Harry's missiles, now darted into the scrimmage, striking several hard blows. Harry was presently conquered and tied.

"Take the cub to his own camp!" sounded the exultant voice of Dolph Gage. "With one of the pair tied, it won't be hard to handle the other whenever he happens along."

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