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   Chapter 22 DOLPH GAGE FIRES HIS SHOT

The Young Engineers in Nevada; Or, Seeking Fortune on the Turn of a Pick By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 6612

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


"Yes, if we don't blow ourselves to kingdom come in the effort," growled the man known as Josh.

"You're talking bosh!" grunted Dolph. "Why should we blow ourselves up? Is this the first time we've used dynamite!"

"But there's such a lot of the stuff," grunted Josh. "We must have a hundred and fifty sticks on the sled."

"All of that," nodded Gage.

"If the stuff goes oh accidentally, when we're near---"

"Then our troubles will be over," said Gage grimly.

"I'm not so all-fired anxious to have my troubles over that way," grumbled Josh. The other man said nothing, but he looked extremely thoughtful.

"The best way to make the thing sure," Gage went on, "is to get to work before some one comes prowling this way."

"Who's going to prowl?" queried Josh. "The camp is asleep."

"Reade is up; we know that," Dolph insisted.

"Humph! We saw through the window that he's too drowsy to stir."

"Don't be too sure," warned Gage. "He may be only a boy, but he's a sure terror, the way he finds out things! He may be out at any time. Come, we'll hustle, and then get away from here."

"I'm ready," said the third man.

"Then get on to the top ladder," ordered Dolph. "When you're down about fifteen feet, then stop and light your lantern. We'll each do the same."

Dolph waited until the other two had reached the bottom of the shaft and he could see their lanterns. Then he, too, descended, lighting two more lanterns after he reached firm ground.

"Where are you going to set the stuff off?" Josh asked.

"In two places," Gage answered. "One big pile in the tunnel, half-way between the heading and the shaft, and the other at the bottom of the shaft. Get picks and a couple of shovels, and we'll soon lay mines and tamp 'em."

While the men were obeying, Gage reclimbed the ladders. Roping about a third of the dynamite sticks, and passing a loop over one shoulder, he succeeded in carrying the dynamite below. In two more trips he brought down the rest. The fourth trip he came down with a magneto and several coils of light firing wire.

On account of their industry the time slipped by rapidly. As a matter of fact their wicked task occupied them for nearly four hours. However, no sound of what went on underground reached the ears of those who slept in the shacks.

"We're ready for the wiring," announced Josh at last.

"I'll do that myself," said Gage. "I want it well done. Each of you hold a lantern here."

By the light thus provided Dolph attached the light wires so that the electric spark would be communicated to each stick in this "mine." This was done by looping a circuit wire around each separate stick, and connecting the wire with each detonating cap. The dynamite, frozen on the snow crust, had thawed again at this subterranean level.

"Now, for the last tamping," ordered Gage.

While the others worked, Dolph carefully superintended their operations.

At last the tamping was done, and the connecting wires were carried back to the bottom of the shaft.

Here the second mine was connected in the same manner, and the wires joined so that the circuit should be complete.

"One spark from the magneto, now," chuckled Dolph, "and both blasts will go on at once. Whew! This old ridge will rock for a few seconds!"

For a few mome

nts he stood surveying his work with huge satisfaction.

"Now, get up with you," he ordered. "Remember, at the bottom of the last ladder, blow out your lanterns."

"The wires?" queried Josh.

"I'll carry 'em. All you have to do is to get out of here."

In quivering silence the three evil-doers ascended. The light of their lanterns extinguished, they stepped out of the shaft and once more on the hard snow crust.

"Now, take the magneto back about two hundred feet, leaving the wires stretched on the snow," whispered Dolph.

"Who's that coming?" Josh demanded, in sudden alarm, clutching his leader's sleeve.

For an instant all three men quailed. But they remained silent, peering.

"Don't get any more dreams, Josh," Dolph ordered sharply. "There's no one coming. It's all in your nerves."

"I was sure I heard some one coming." Josh insisted in a whisper.

"But you didn't"

"What if some one comes now?"

"No one is coming."

"But if some one should?"

"All the more reason for getting our work done with speed. Once we've connected the magneto and fired the blast our whole job will be done."

Josh, only half-convinced, drew a revolver and cocked the weapon.

"Now, be mighty careful!" snarled Dolph. "Don't get rattled and shoot at any shadows! A shot might spoil our plans tonight, for it would bring men tumbling out this way as soon as they could get out of their bunks and into some clothes. Give me that pistol!"

Josh, hesitating, obeyed, whereupon Dolph Gage let down the hammer noiselessly, next dropping the weapon into a pocket of his own badly-frayed overcoat.

"Now, get the magneto back, as I told you. I'll take care of the wires and see that they don't snap or get tangled."

This latter part of the work was quickly executed. Dolph deftly attached the wires to the magneto, then seized the handle, prepared to pump.

"All ready, now!" he whispered gleefully. "Two or three pumps, and damage will be done that it would cost at least fifteen thousand dollars' worth of material and labor to remedy. The kid engineers haven't the money and can't raise it. They'll have to give up--be driven out. Then we'll send our own man, who has his mineral rights, in here to take possession, and the mine will be ours once more--as it always has been by rights."

"Let us get a little way to the rear before you fire the blasts," pleaded Josh.

"Go back a couple of hundred feet, if you want," assented Dolph. "But don't you run away! Remember that part of your job is to stand by me if we're followed and fired upon."

Josh and his companion carefully made their way back over the crust.

Dolph Gage waited until he saw them to be a sufficient distance away.

"Now, work away, my magneto beauty" muttered Gage, exultantly.

"Do your work, straight and true. Drive these upstarts off of

Indian Smoke Range and bring my mine back into my own hands!

These fool engineers have found no gold in the ridge, but it's

there--waiting for me. And--now!"

He pumped the handle of the magneto vigorously. In another instant the spark traveled.

From underground there came a sudden rocking, followed, after a breathless interval, by a loud, crashing boom.

Both blasts had exploded in the same instant, and the dynamite had done its work!

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