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   Chapter 24 CONCLUSION

The Young Engineers in Nevada; Or, Seeking Fortune on the Turn of a Pick By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 12354

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:02


"It's the gleam of the real metal in the rock, sir--what's what it is," gasped one of the miners, as he held up a lantern to aid him in his quest.

It lay there, in streaks and rifts, a dull gleaming here and there.

To be sure, it was nothing at all like a solid golden wall, but

Tom Reade could be contented with less than Golconda.

In spots the precious metal showed in darkish streaks, instead of yellow. But these dark streaks showed admixtures of silver.

"Run and get me a hammer, one of you," cried Tom, breathing fast.

When the miner returned with the chisel-nosed hammer he found the young engineer eagerly exploring the whole length of the new wall thus laid bare.

"I knew that a real vein lay here," Tom went on, as he took the hammer. "The only trouble with us, men, was that we were working eight or ten feet south of where the true vein lay. Now, by the great Custer, we've hit it--thanks to the enemy!"

Eagerly Tom chipped off specimens of the rich gold and silver bearing rock. He loaded down two men and carried more himself. Every piece of rock was a specimen of rich ore.

Up the shaft they went, emerging into the sunlight.

"I'd like to know who the scamps were that fired the blasts in the mine," Tom muttered joyously. "I'd like to reward them."

"Party coming, sir," reported a miner, pointing to the southward.

Over the snow came a cutter, drawn by two horses, slipping fast over the snow. From one side of the cutter a pair of skis hung outward.

"That's Jim Ferrers and the doctor from Dugout," Tom breathed.

"But who can the other lot of people be."

A pung, drawn also by a pair of horses, contained five men.

Jim was quickly on hand to explain matters.

"I've brought Dr. Scott. He'll have to see Hazelton quickly, and then get back to Dugout," Jim declared. "The doctor is afraid the crust may melt, and then he'll be stalled here with his outfit.

"Those men over there?" inquired Reade, as the pung stopped, and the five men got out "Two of them look familiar to me."

"I reckon," nodded Jim Ferrers. "They're officers--all of 'em. They've come over here to hunt the rocks to the south of here. Up at the jail the keepers worried out of Eb some information about a cave where Dolph Gage hangs out. It seems that Gage and his pals have been stealing supplies at the Bright Hope Mine."

Jim introduced Dr. Scott, who said:

"I must see my patient and be away in an hour. I don't want to get stalled here by a thaw."

So Tom led the way to the shack, and did not see the departure of the law's five officers.

Outside Reade carefully dropped the ore he had brought along and made a sign to his workmen to do the same. Then the partners and the physician went inside.

Tom watched closely while the physician placed a thermometer in Harry's mouth and felt his pulse. Respiration was also counted, after which Dr. Scott produced a stethoscope and listened at Harry's chest and back. A little more, and the examination was completed.

"Gentlemen," announced Dr. Scott, "you've brought me all this distance over the snow-crust to see a patient who is just about convalescent. This young man may have some nourishment today, and by day after tomorrow he will be calling loudly for the cook."

"What has been the trouble, doc?" Hazelton asked.

"Congestion of the right lung, my son, but the congestion has almost wholly disappeared."

A mist came before Tom Reade's eyes. Now that his chum was out of danger Reade realized how severe on him the whole ordeal had been.

As soon as Tom found a chance he asked Dr. Scott:

"Will a little excitement of the happiest kind hurt Hazelton any?"

"Just what kind of excitement?"

"We've had a disappointing mine that has turned over night into a bonanza. I've a lot of the finest specimens outside."

"Bring them in," directed the physician.

Tom came in with an armful.

"Harry," he called briskly, "we were right in thinking we had a rich vein. The only trouble was that we were working eight or ten feet south of the real vein. Look over these specimens."

Tom ranged half a dozen on the top blanket. When Harry's glistening eyes had looked them all over, Tom produced other specimens of ore. Dr. Scott examined them, too, with a critical eye.

"If you've got much of this stuff in your mine, Reade," said the medical man, "you won't need to work much longer."

"Won't need to work much longer?" gasped Tom Reade. "Man alive, we don't want to stop working. When a man stops working he may as well consult the undertaker, for he's practically dead anyway. What we want gold for is so that we can go on working on a bigger scale than ever! And now, Harry, the name for our mine has come to me."

"What are you going to call it?" Hazelton asked.

"With your consent, and Ferrers's, we'll name it the Ambition

Mine. That's just what the mine stands for with us, you know."

"The best name in the world," Harry declared.

"And now, young man," said Dr. Scott, addressing Hazelton, "I want you to rest quietly while Tim Walsh sponges you off and the cook is busy making some thin gruel for you. Reade, in order to get you out of here I'll agree to go down in your mine with you."

Dr. Scott proved more than an interested spectator when he reached the tunnel. He possessed considerable knowledge of ores.

"Yes; you have your bonanza here, Reade," declared the physician.

"Almost any ambition that money will gratify will soon be yours.

From the very appearance of this newly-opened vein I don't believe

it is one that will give out in a hurry."

"By the way, Doe," called Ferrers, joining them, "here's that nugget that you wouldn't take when I offered it to you in Dugout. You've made your visit, and now the nugget is yours."

"I don't want it," smiled Dr. Scott. "I want real money, in place of the nugget, and I'll be content to wait for it. The owners of this mine will be welcome to run up a very considerable bill with me."

"Then can you stay a few days?" queried Tom eagerly. "Until good old Harry is wholly out of danger."

"Yes; I'll stay a few days, if you wish it, Mr. Reade."

Fin

ally Jim had the presence of mind to pilot the physician to the cook shack.

Quietly enough the officers from Dugout had reentered camp. With them they had borne one long, covered object--the remains of Dolph Gage, who had been shot and killed while resisting arrest. Gage's two remaining companions had been brought in, handcuffed. These expert sheriff's officers from Dugout had been able to find a trail, even on the hard-frozen snow crust, and had tracked the criminals directly to their cave.

Jim Ferrers went over to where the body of Gage lay on the snow.

Gently he turned down the cloth that covered the dead man's face.

For a few moments Ferrers gazed at the still face; then, awkwardly,

after hesitating, he lifted his hat from his head.

"That man killed your brother, Jim," murmured Tom, stepping up to his Nevada partner. "You had other reasons for hating him. In the old days you would have run Dolph Gage down and killed him yourself. In these newer days you have left Gage to the hands of the law. It is a much better way, and you will never even have to wonder whether you have done any wrong."

"The law's way is always best, I reckon," returned Jim Ferrers, slowly.

That same day, after the officers had gone with their men, Jim Ferrers, finding that the crust was holding, drove fresh horses to the doctor's cutter. The physician remained behind to take care of Harry Hazelton, but Jim went fast toward Dugout City. He was armed with letters from Dr. Scott that told certain dealers in Dugout what unlimited credit the partners ought to have on account of their mine.

Before Harry was sitting up vehicles had been employed to bring to Ambition Mine considerable supplies of dynamite, food and all else that was needed, including half a dozen of the latest books for the amusement of the invalid engineer.

Everything went on swiftly now. More miners, too, were brought over, while the hard crust lasted, and a score of carpenters. Lumber camp also. There was a constant procession of vehicles between Dugout and Ambition Mine. Tom did not hesitate to avail himself of his sudden credit, for every day's work showed that the vein was not giving out. An ore dump was piling up that meant big returns when the ore could be hauled to the smelter.

Ambition Mine proved a steady "payer." No; our young men did not become multi-millionaires. Mines that will do that for three partners are scarce, indeed. Ambition, however, did pay enough so that, by spring, Tom and Harry, after looking over their bank account, found that they could go ahead and furnish their engineer offices on a handsome scale. Some thousands, too, found their way to their families in the good old home town of Gridley.

The mine was turned into a stock company. Tom, Harry and Jim each retained one-fourth interest. The remaining fourth of the stock was divided evenly between Cook Leon and the twenty-four miners who had stood by so loyally, so that now each of the original miners, in addition to his day's pay, owned one per cent. of the gold and silver that went up in the new elevator that replaced the tub-hoist.

Alf Drew did not receive one of the small shares in the mine property. His cigarette smoking had made him lazy and worthless, and he had done nothing to promote the success of the once desperate mining venture.

However, there was hope for Alf. At the time when he threw his remaining "coffin nails" in the cook's fire he really did "swear off," and he afterwards was able to refrain from the use of tobacco in any form. He grew taller and stouter and developed his muscles. Tom and Harry employed him at the mine as a checking clerk, where he actually earned his money, and saved a goodly amount of it every month.

"Tom, you rascal, you promised some day to show me how you scared that boy stiff with your rattlesnake click," Harry reminded his partner.

"Nothing very difficult about it," laughed Tom. "Can you make a noise by grinding your molars together--your grinding teeth? Try it."

Harry did. The noise came forth from his mouth, though it didn't sound exactly like the rattle of a rattler.

"Keep on practicing, and you'll get that rattle down to perfection--that's all," nodded Tom.

Spring found the young engineers restless for new fields. They longed to tackle other big feats of engineering. Jim Ferrers understood, and said to them:

"You youngsters know, now, that you can trust me to run this mine."

"We always knew that we could trust you," Tom corrected him.

"Well, you know it now, anyway. You want to get back into the world. You are restless for new fields to conquer. Go ahead; only come back once in a while and shake hands with old Jim. While you're away I'll send you a monthly statement of your earnings and see that the money is placed to your credit."

On their ride to Dugout, Tom and Harry were favored with the company of Mr. Dunlop, promoter of the Bright Hope Mine.

"I suppose it's a lucky thing for you boys that you stuck to your own mine," said Dunlop. "you've come out a good deal better. I wish I had secured your services, though. We're making some money over at the Bright Hope, but we'd make a lot more with the right engineers in charge. I'm on my way to Dugout to use the telegraph wires in earnest. I've learned that the real way to make money out of a mine is to have a real engineer in charge."

Tom and Harry delayed but a couple of hours at Dugout. Then---

However, their further adventures must be delayed in the narration until they appear between the covers of the next volume in this series. It will be published at once under the title, "The Young Engineers In Mexico; Or, Fighting the Mine Swindlers."

In this new volume will be described what Tom and Harry did in a land of mystery and romance; a land where the sharp contrasts of wealth and squalor have fostered the development of many noble characters and have created some of the vilest among men. The forthcoming story is one filled with the glamour and the fascination of that neighbor-country of hot-blooded men. In Mexico, Tom and Harry encountered their most startling adventures of all.

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