Every night at half-past 11, old Hoss Jacobs drained the last drop from his canteen, gazed out at the open range in front of Grayback Gulch Mine to make sure no one was fooling round … and promptly passed out cold.
It had taken Jess Sanders all of five days to figure out the hired watchman’s routine, and it came none too soon.
Jess, after all, was a scholar, not a miner. But as soon as he heard the big news out of Garden Park, he knew Colorado was the place for him.
And, even though he didn’t have the gear to get the job done, he knew who did.
Within a week, Jess had made his way west and hired on with the Clayton company.
The intense labor racked his soft body, and Jess almost gave up each of the first three days.
But on the fourth, he noticed an unusual shape emerging from one of the rock walls he passed on the way to his assigned station.
By Friday, that shape was unmistakable. Jess had to rescue his treasure before the real miners damaged or lost it.
And so, as Friday seeped into Saturday, Jess tiptoed around the sleeping Hoss and eased his way into that first dark chute. He had memorized the layout of the mine and felt his away through the blackness until he made the final turn leading to his quarry.
There, he stopped and lit his lantern. As orange light flickered against the walls, an unmistakable click thudded in Jess’s ears.
Before him stood Avril Thomas, holding the great lizard’s thigh bone in one hand and a revolver in the other.
“Looks like we both had the same great idea,” his rival paleontologist said. “I just had it first, is all.”