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    Chapter 20

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    Chapter 21
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    THE EXPOSURE

    When Tom Dillon heard about the light that had been seen and the determination to walk to it, he wanted to know how far off it was.

    "If it's that close we had better all go," he announced, after being told. "If it's Abe Blower's camp it must be in a good spot, for Abe knows this locality as good as I do and maybe better. A mile isn't so far. We can walk an' lead the hosses, if we have to."

    Less than quarter of an hour later found them on the way. The old miner was in front, with Roger beside him, and Dave and Phil bringing up the rear. All were on foot, for they had to pick their way in the darkness, which seemed more intense than it had been on previous nights.

    "The sky is overcast," observed Dave, as they trudged along the uncertain, rocky trail. "Looks to me like rain."

    "We'll catch it sooner or later," announced Tom Dillon. "And maybe we'll have a big blow in the bargain."

    "Then it blows up here?" queried Roger.

    "Does it? I should say yes, lad! I've been in such a wind up here one could hardly keep his feet. And the rain comes so thick an' fast it nigh drowns you!"

    As they advanced, they kept their eyes on the alert for the distant campfire. Twice they found and lost it, but, as they came around another spur of rocks they beheld it quite plainly and saw several figures moving around it.

    "Wait!" called Dave, to the others. "If that is Abe Blower's camp, and Merwell and Haskers are with him, I've got an idea."

    "What is that?" asked Roger.

    "Why not let Mr. Dillon go ahead alone, and find out what Merwell and Haskers have to say? We can sneak up in the darkness and show ourselves later."

    This was considered a good plan, and, after a short discussion, it was adopted. The old miner mounted his horse and rode onward, the three boys coming after him on foot and keeping in the shadow of the rocks to one side of the uneven trail.

    The clatter of the horse's hoofs on the rocks soon attracted the attention of those around the distant campfire. The three persons came forward, to see who was coming.

    "Why, if it ain't Tom Dillon, of all men!" cried one of the three, and his face, that had shown anxiety, broke into a smile. "How are you, Tom, and what brings you up here?"

    "I came to find you, Abe," was the old miner's reply. "They told me down in Butte you were off to have another search for the lost Landslide Mine."

    "Saw Kate Carmody, I reckon," went on Abe Blower. "Yes, I'm goin' on another hunt fer the mine--account o' these two gents," and Abe Blower pointed to his companions.

    "Who is this man?" asked one of the others, who had come from the campfire.

    "This is Tom Dillon, one o' the best old-time miners and prospectors in Montany," answered Abe Blower, with a broad smile. "He used to know yer uncle well," he added.

    "Is that so? Then--er--perhaps he can help us to locate the lost mine."

    "Mebbe--if he wants to spare the time. Ye see, Tom ain't so poor as I be," explained Abe Blower. "He made his pile an' saved it, he did," he added, admiringly.

    "Who are your companions, Abe?" asked Tom Dillon, rather abruptly.

    "Oh, sure, excuse me fer not introducin' you," cried the other miner. "This here is Mr. Morr, son o' Senator Morr an' nevvy of Maurice Harrison, an' this is his friend, Prefesser Haskers, o' the colledge Morr ust to go to. Gents, this is Mr. Thomas Dillon, a miner an' prospector, an' one o' the richest an' best men in Butte."

    "Ah, glad to know you, sir!" exclaimed Job Haskers, and held out his thin hand. But, somehow, Tom Dillon did not seem to see it and he merely bowed.

    "And you are Senator Morr's son, eh?" said the old miner, turning to Link Merwell.

    "I am," was the bold answer, but when the old miner looked him squarely in the eyes, Merwell had to turn his gaze away.

    "I understood that Maurice Harrison, when he died, willed the Landslide Mine to your family," went on Tom Dillon.

    "He did, and I and my friend are here to look for it," answered Link Merwell.

    "Think you'll find it?"

    "Blower here says he will do what he can to discover it," broke in Job Haskers. "He has a great reputation as a prospector."

    "I will surely do my best for Maurice Harrison's nevvy," said Abe Blower. "Maurice Harrison was mighty good to me, an' I ain't the one to forgit that."

    "Have you a brother?" asked Tom Dillon, turning again to Merwell.

    "A brother? Why--er--no," answered the imposter, and then turned suddenly pale. "Why--er--do you ask that question?" he faltered.

    "I met another young fellow in Butte named Morr."

    "I--I don't know him."

    "He was with two other young fellows named Porter and Lawrence."

    At this unexpected announcement Link Merwell's face grew paler than ever. Job Haskers, too, showed that he was much disturbed.

    "Did this--this Morr say where he was from, or where he was going?" asked the former teacher of Oak Hall.

    "Oh, the whole crowd was from the East. I reckon they are coming up here," answered Tom Dillon, dryly. "They want to find you, Abe," he added, with a wink at the other miner.

    "Me? What fer?"

    "They want you to locate this same Landslide Mine for them."

    "The same mine? Say, Tom, what are you drivin' at?" demanded Abe Blower, in astonishment.

    "What I'm drivin' at is just this, Abe," answered Tom Dillon, and his voice grew suddenly stern. "This ain't Roger Morr at all. The real fellow you ain't met yet. This chap is a fraud!"

    "Say--look here----" began Link Merwell.

    "Is the--er--the other Morr--er--coming here?" faltered Job Haskers.

    "I am not coming--I am here!" cried a voice, and Roger stepped from the shadow of a near-by rock.

    The senator's son faced Link Merwell and Job Haskers, and both stared at him as if they were looking at a ghost, and backed away.

    "Roger Morr!" faltered Merwell.

    "Yes, Link. You didn't expect I'd follow you so soon, did you?" cried Roger. "Now, I've got a nice account to settle with you. I want to know what you did with my suit-case, and I want to know what you mean by impersonating me."

    "I--I----" began Merwell, and then stopped, not knowing how to proceed.

    "This is--er--very unfortunate," murmured Job Haskers. He would have retired had there been any place to retire to, which there was not.

    "Say, are you Roger Morr?" gasped Abe Blower, gazing fixedly at the senator's son.

    "I am. And you are Abe Blower?"

    "I sure am. But see here----"

    "We'll explain everything in a few minutes, Mr. Blower. These fellows are swindlers! They robbed me of my suit-case and then got ahead of me, and that fellow impersonated me," and Roger pointed to Merwell. "We hired Mr. Dillon to bring us to you--or at least he offered to come. He knows that I am the real Roger Morr, and Maurice Harrison was my mother's brother."

    "Well, I never! But wot did they think to gain----"

    "They wanted to locate the lost mine before I got here, that was their game. What they intended to do later I don't know, but probably Job Haskers was going to cook up some deal whereby our family could be kept out of the property. He is a rascal----"

    "See here, Morr, I won't--er--have you--ahem!--talk about me in this----" commenced the former teacher.

    "But I will talk about you!" interrupted Roger. "You are a rascal, almost as bad as Merwell here, and you know it."

    "Yes, and we know it, don't we, Phil?" cried another voice, and Dave and Phil stepped into view.

    "Porter--and Lawrence!" faltered the former teacher of Oak Hall, and he looked almost ready to drop. "I--I----" He did not know how to finish.

    "Say, I want to git the straight o' this!" burst out Abe Blower.

    "This young man is givin' it to you straight, Abe," replied Tom Dillon, pointing to Roger. "And these are his friends--all true blue to the core. These other fellers are first-class swindlers. They took you in good an' proper."

    "If they did, they shall suffer fer it!" roared the other miner. "Do you know, I kinder suspected somethin' was wrong. They didn't act as open as honest folks should. An' they was in an all-fired hurry to git away from Butte and from Black Cat Camp."

    "Because they knew we were following them," explained Dave. "Link, I guess you had better admit that the game is up," he went on, turning to his former schoolmate.

    "Is it up?" sneered Link Merwell. "Well, I don't know, Dave Porter. We have as much right to hunt for that lost mine as you have."

    "Oh, so that's the game, eh?" burst out Roger.

    "You had no right to impersonate Roger," asserted our hero. "He can have you arrested for that."

    "Huh, that was--er--only done for--er--fun," faltered Link Merwell. "And as for your old suit-case, it's on check at the Glenrose Hotel in Butte, and there's the check for it," and he drew the brass disc from his pocket and passed it over to the senator's son.

    "Why did you take my suit-case?"

    "Oh, for fun."

    "He took it thinking he was going to get your map!" cried Dave. "Link, what makes you act as you do?" went on our hero, earnestly. "When I helped you on Cave Island you promised that you were going to reform."

    "What's the use of reforming?" burst out the other. "Everybody in this world is down on me! I don't dare to show my face wherever I am known! There is a warrant out for my arrest!" And Link Merwell's face showed his bitterness.

    While the boys were talking Abe Blower and Tom Dillon had been conversing together. Job Haskers was left in the cold, and he looked much disturbed. Evidently he was thinking how foolish he had been to come to Montana with Merwell.

    "So this is the trick yer played on me, consarn ye!" cried Abe Blower, coming from the other miner to Haskers. "I've a good mind to take it out of yer hide!" And he shook his fist in the former teacher's face.

    "Don't you touch me--don't you dare!" howled Job Haskers, in new alarm, and he backed away so hastily that he tripped over some of the camp outfit and went flat on his back.

    The accident was such a comical one that Dave and his chums laughed outright, and Tom Dillon and Abe Blower grinned broadly. Link Merwell reached down and assisted the former teacher to his feet. Job Haskers's face was sourness itself.

    "Stop that! Don't you dare to laugh at me!" he roared. "Don't you dare!"

    "We'll laugh as much as we please," answered Dave, boldly.

    "I--I guess we had better get out of here," whispered Link Merwell, nervously. "They--they might take it into their heads to harm us."

    "Do you think so?" asked Job Haskers. "All right, I--I am ready to go. But how are we to find our way back to the town?" he asked, helplessly.

    "We'll have to follow the back trail," answered Link Merwell. Being used to ranch life, this being in the open did not daunt him as it did the former teacher. "Come on, let us get our horses and be off!" the youth added. "It is getting too hot for us here!"
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