Part 2 out of 4
It was very rough going in the darkness, and more than once Frank received
a bump which effectually banished all inclination to sleep. At last he sat
down on a ledge and called out to Nestor.
"Dig in! Walk your head off!"
Nestor halted and looked back.
"What's doing?" he asked.
"I'm flabbergasted," was the reply. "How do you think you're goin' to get
back up the hill?"
Nestor pointed to a point of flame a little lower down.
"It is only a short ways now," he said.
Frank grunted and arose to his feet.
"They ought to put in elevators," he grumbled.
The boys walked for perhaps half an hour longer and then drew up near to
the point of fire which Nestor had pointed out.
"Now what?" demanded Frank.
"I want to see who they are. I'm expecting friends here," was the laughing
reply. "Remain here while I investigate."
"If I stand up," grumbled Shaw, "I'll fall down; and if I sit down I'll go to
sleep. I never was so sleepy in all me blameless life. You needn't hurry back."
Frank was as good as his word, although he had spoken in jest. No sooner was
his companion out of sight than he dropped to the ground, and in spite of his
efforts to keep his eyes open, was soon fast asleep. When he awoke an hour
later, Nestor was pulling at his arm.
"Don't pull it off," he said. "I may want to use it again. What's doing below?"
"Were you ever in the Cameron building in New York?" Nestor asked, irrelevantly.
"Did you wake me out of me sweet dreams to ask that?" grinned the boy. "Why
don't you go on and tell me what's coming off down there in that camp?"
"I've got the New York end of the Cameron case on my mind to-night," was the
reply. "Tell me what you know about the Cameron building and the people who
work there during the night--cleaning up, and that sort of thing."
"I don't think I was ever in the building, and Fremont never talked with me
about the workers. You can ask Jimmie about that."
"Yes, Jimmie worked there. I've heard him talk about the night watchman
and predict his future home. The boy came running into my room on the night
of the tragedy and almost pulled me out of bed, saying that a member of the
Black Bear Patrol was in trouble."
"What do you want to know about the building?"
"I was wondering if Jim Scoby, the night watchman, was permitted to carry a
key to the Cameron suite. Jimmie does not know whether he was or not, and I
thought you might have heard Fremont talking about matters there."
"I presume Fremont can tell you all about that. Suppose Scoby did have a key?
What of it? Fremont says Mr. Cameron locked himself in that night, or was to
do so, and that shows that the man who did the job did not need a key. He must
have been admitted by Mr. Cameron."
"There were strange doings in that suite that night," Nestor said, almost as if
talking to himself. "I can't quite get the hang of it," he added, taking a flat
steel key from his pocket, and holding it up for the inspection of the other.
Shaw took the key and held it up in the moonlight, examining every detail of it.
"That is a key to the suite," he said. "Fremont has one like it. Where did you
get it? It looks new."
"It is new," Nestor went on. "It looks as if it had been made to order recently.
Now, whoever made it did not get it exactly right at first, and was obliged to
file it down. I have known night watchmen to make keys."
"An old trick," admitted Frank. "Well, let us take it for granted that Scoby was
not permitted to carry a key and that he had one made, for some purpose of his own.
What does that lead up to?"
"I found this key in front of the safe," Nestor continued, after a moment's
deliberation. "It was undoubtedly dropped there by one of the men who visited
the rooms that night. I have been wondering if it was the watchman."
"You have some other reason for supposing it was Scoby," Frank said. "Go one
and tell me about it."
"Yes, there is another reason." Nestor continued, smiling at the quick way
Frank had taken him up. "I found this Grand Army button and this cloth
raveling in front of the safe, too, not far from where the key was discovered."
"Well, did the watchman wear a Grand Army coat that night?" asked Frank.
"Lots of unworthy people wear Grand Army coats."
"He did," was the reply. "He wore a blue coat with Grand Army buttons, and
one of the buttons was missing from the right sleeve when I saw him in the
corridor as I passed out. He probably caught his sleeve on something in the
safe and ripped the button off. He either did not notice the loss of the
button or had no time to pick it up."
"You're locating him in a compromising situation, all right," Frank said. "But
you said 'one of the men who visited the rooms that night.' Who were the others?"
"Wait a minute," said Nestor. "Let me tell you what else I found there. I have
in my pocket a piece of paper, a margin cut from a legal document, showing the
thumb and fingermarks of a withered right hand. I also have a shoe heel near two inches high. These were taken from the Cameron suite. What do you make of that?
"I understand," Frank said. "One of the other men was this Mexican, the man
with the short right leg, the fellow who tried to geezle me at the El Paso
restaurant. Well, that makes two who were there that night--two who were in
front of the safe--two who had no right to be there."
"And this Mexican was a tenant of the building," Nestor went on, "and he might
have had the key made. At least he was there the night the key was used,
looking over papers he had no right to touch."
"It begins to look as if the Mexican went to the building for the purpose of
robbery, and that he found a tool in Jim Scoby," said Frank. "Why don't you
have the two of them pinched, so Fremont won't have all this trouble on his
mind? The Mexican is somewhere about here, and Jim Scoby can't be far away,
as the newspapers say he ran away from New York. Why couldn't you have
studied this out that night?"
"Don't rush conclusions," smiled Nestor. "I said there were several people in
the suite that night. Well, we have made sure of two of them, though we don't
know how they go in there if Mr. Cameron had the door locked from the inside."
"If they hadn't used their false key," Shaw put in, "they wouldn't have had it
in hand and wouldn't have lost it."
"Very clever," said Nestor.
"Who else was in there?" asked Frank, blushing at the compliment.
"The third man," Nestor continued, "had business with Mr. Cameron. He was
there earlier in the evening."
"He didn't lose anything there, did he?" asked Frank, with a laugh.
"Yes," replied Nestor," he did. He lost his temper."
"You're a corker!" Frank exclaimed. "What else did he lose?"
"His life, possibly."
"Come, children," Frank grinned, "it is time to wake up."
ABOUT THE THIRD SUSPECT.
Nestor laughed at the puzzled boy's exclamation and sat for
some time looking down on the dim camp-fire near the tents
he had visited a short time before. The night was cloudless,
with a slight wind blowing from the west. Now and then the
sound of hoarse voices came from the peaks above.
"The Mexican knocked off his heel there," he finally said,
"and Scoby left his coat-button. They might just as well
have left their cards in the papers they examined."
"What papers were they?"
"The Tolford estate papers."
"Yes, of course. The Mexican wanted to know something about
the buried mine," Frank said. "We're getting at the motive now."
"Now, this third visitor," Nestor went on, "as I have said, went
there on business--on business connected with a contract for the
purchase of firearms and ammunition. Mr. Cameron undoubtedly
opened the door to admit him after he had locked himself in. The
door might not have been locked again that night, but that is
immaterial at present. This third man, whom we may as well call
Don Miguel, the diplomat, was not in the building when I got there.
The others were."
"Then why didn't you have them both pinched?" demanded Frank.
"Partly because they were in the building," was the reply. "If
they had been possessed of guilty consciences, they would have
run away. At least, it looks that way to me. You see, this
Don Miguel might have struck the blow and left the offices open
and at the mercy of the others. Now you see how useless it is
to draw hasty conclusions."
"That's so. He might," Frank admitted.
"No trouble to get Scoby, anyway," said Nestor. "He is asleep
in that tent, and here are more exhibits in the case--another
Grand Army button and another raveling. I cut them from Scoby's
coat as he lay asleep over there."
"You never had the nerve to go into the tent?" asked Frank.
"They are all asleep," was the reply, "so I ran no risk in going
in, and it was easy to crawl under the canvas. The Mexican we
had been talking about--Felix, Jimmie calls him--is also there,
with six or seven rough-looking fellows, probably miners. It is
easy to imagine what they are here for."
"They got the description out of the safe, and are going to the
mine," exclaimed Frank. "I believe they attacked Mr. Cameron in
order to get the description. The man you call Don Miguel would
have no motive in attacking him, would he?"
"We'll see about that later on," was the reply. "So far as I can
see through it, the case stands as it did before, with three men
in the suspect row."
"Gather them in, then," advised Frank. "Send for the soldiers and
have these two pinched. Then go to New York, or wherever this
third man is, and have him pinched, too. That will clear the
atmosphere a little."
"I have an idea," Nestor said, "that this Felix went to New York
on purpose to get the mine paper, or a copy of it. He probably
had a description of his own, which would not take him to the mine,
and went to the Cameron building hoping that he could get the one
in the estate papers, and that the two of them, his own and the
other, would enable him to reach his goal." "I reckon you have that
right," Frank said, "and he got Scoby to work with him."
"I'm going to let him go ahead with his search," the patrol leader
said. "He may show the way to the mine. Anyway, it is a chance
worth taking. Otherwise, I might, as you advise, arrest him and
the watchman with him. But here, again, this third suspect intervenes."
"You appear to think a lot of this third man," grinned Frank.
"Naturally," Nestor replied, "since he is the man who brought
me to Mexico."
"You're getting to be a puzzle," exclaimed Frank. "I thought the
safety of Fremont was the main thing, with the mine a close second."
"I might have hidden Fremont in New York, and the mine matter could
"Is this Don Miguel here?"
"He is expected here. I came down to meet him."
"Hope you'll know him when he comes."
"There will be no trouble about that," was the reply. "I know
about how the fellow looks. And I rather think he will recognize me."
"He may see you first," suggested Frank.
"If he does, I probably won't see him at all. Well, I must take
chances on that. I thought this might be his camp when I came down here."
"What is he coming here for?"
"To kick up a row."
"And is he going to succeed in doing it?"
"That is more than I can say at present."
"I wish you wouldn't be so mysterious," cried the boy. "You've
told me all about the other two, why not tell me about this one?"
"There are international reasons," was the grave reply.
"Oh!" exclaimed Frank. "That's why you're hand-in-glove with the
army, and why you're in the code row. Say, but you've told me
all about how the others were identified as having been in the
Cameron suite, now tell me something about this Don Miguel, if
you can. Has he got a short leg, or a withered hand, or a long
shoe heel? Go on and tell me how he looks and acts, if you can."
"Well, he's a dusky, slender fellow," Nestor laughed, "and shows
culture and education. He dined at a lobster palace that night
and wore evening clothes. He went directly to the Cameron building
from the restaurant, using a taxicab and speaking both French and
Spanish, as well as English, to the driver. He is a good dresser,
and ordinarily a discreet man, yet he left a schedule of firearms
in the Cameron suite when he left. He should have taken that with him."
Frank eyed his companion curiously, his face eager in the moonlight, his
right hand rubbing his forehead, as if trying to scour away the cobwebs.
"Quit your kidding," he said.
"It is only a question of observation and inquiry," laughed Nestor.
"There is no Sherlock Holmes business about it."
"And you think this man in evening dress will come down here and
mix with these ragged bums?"
"I think he will come down here," was the reply.
Frank watched the small camp-fire below, just touching with red
light the tents Nestor had so successfully entered a short time
before. The logic of the case seemed to be sound enough. Any
one of the three men might have committed the crime with which
Fremont was charged.
Two of the three were sleeping in that tent, while the third one
was expected. What connection could there be between the man in
evening dress and the sullen Scoby and the villainous Felix?
What significance could there be in the schedule of firearms
he had left in the suite?
How were the attack on Cameron, the matter of the hidden mine,
and the matter of international importance associated together?
These questions and many others presented themselves to the boy
as he watched the fire die out and waited for Nestor to go on.
"This third man is a diplomat, is he?" he finally asked. "Does
that mean that he is in the diplomatic service of some government,
and that he is acting here in that capacity?"
"Something like that," was the reply, "though it might be difficult
to get any government to father the mission he is really on. He
claims, I understand, to be acting for a junta. At least, he has
not brought any government into the affair so far, that I know of."
"Well, what does he want?"
"His benevolent purpose is to bring on a war between Mexico and
the United States," was the astonishing reply.
"I don't think he's next to his job as a statesman, then," observed
Frank, "unless he wants to see Mexico cleaned out."
"However that may be, he believes that a raid on Texas soil from
this side of the river would provoke our government to an invasion,
as it probably would."
"I should hope so."
"And he believes, too, that in such an emergency the Mexican federals
and insurrectos would join hands in fighting the common enemy."
"That is quite likely. He's got that figured out in good form,"
laughed Frank. "I guess he isn't such a dub, after all."
"He is probably right in the supposition that such a war would
stop the fighting over here--that is, the fighting as it is now
going on. He seeks peace in his own land at the risk of a war
with our country."
"Then he ought to be shot," declared the boy.
"He was negotiating with Mr. Cameron for the purchase of firearms
and ammunition," Nestor went on. "His people haven't got the guns,
and Mr. Cameron dealt in them."
"I see. Go on--faster," cried the excited boy.
"He went to the office that night hoping to convince Mr. Cameron
that he ought to sell him the arms he wanted. He doubtless expected
to leave the office with a signed contract for what he wanted--arms
and ammunition enough to make the proposed raid at least formidable.
He failed. Mr. Cameron would not sell the arms, knowing that they
were to be used against his own country."
"Good boy! Hope he gets well."
"Then this diplomat probably asked for the correspondence which had
been carried on between the two men. He doubtless feared that Mr.
Cameron would reveal the plot to the government, as he would have done."
"Say," cried Frank, "this is getting pretty swift."
"It has been swift from the start," replied the other.
"Did this diplomat get the arms of some one else?" asked the boy, presently.
"I don't know, but it is believed that he did."
"And is coming here with them?"
"Unless they are stopped at the border."
"Then," Frank said, soberly, "I know what all these men are gathering
here for. I know what they are waiting for--guns."
"I'm afraid you are right."
"Does the War department know?"
"You found out about it and told Washington by wire?"
Frank reached forward and seized Nestor's hand and shook it as if he
expected to keep it in his grasp forever.
"I know you did," he said. "You needn't say a word."
"The War department has the letters," said Nestor, "the letters the
diplomat did not secure from Mr. Cameron. I don't know why he did
not get them, I'm sure. They were in a drawer of the big desk.
It is quite probable, however, that he was frightened away, as the
others were. That must have been quite early in the evening, and
who it was that scared him away is what is puzzling me."
THE WOLF MEETS A PANTHER.
The ragged soldiers halted when they came to where the amazed
Jimmie stood, and in a moment were joined by the drummer, a
slender boy of fourteen, who looked worn out.
When he saw Jimmmie he smiled and saluted by extending the
right arm horizontally, palm out, three fingers vertical,
with the thumb and little finger crossed on the palm.
"Where did you get that?" demanded Jimmie.
"Did stunts for it," was the reply. "And look here."
The drummer swept his left hand down his right sleeve,
tapping half a dozen badges. These were those worn by
Boy Scouts who had passed as Fireman, Signaller, Pioneer,
Marksman, Horseman, and Musician. The officer in charge
of the squad looked on with an amused smile as the drummer
exhibited his honors.
"The kid is crazy over the Boy Scouts," he said. "He's been
hunting for comrades among the Mexicans, and I reckon he
found a few, at that. Well, I'm in favor of the organization
myself. It teaches, honor, manhood, self-reliance, and has
made a man of many a flat-chested, cigarette-smoking youth. It
will be the saving of boys in the city slums if carried out properly."
"Sure it is all to the good," cried the drummer. "A Boy Scout can
find friends wherever he goes--and friends that will stick by him,
too. We get into the game ourselves and do things, instead of sitting
on the bleachers ad smoking cigarettes while others get the exercise."
The little fellow smiled winningly at Jimmie, cast his eyes up the
mountain, and then asked:
"Where did you come from? What patrol do you belong to? I'm Panther
Patrol, New York."
"New York Wolf Patrol," was the reply.
"What you doin' here with the ragged army? Say, but they'd make a
hit on a Bowery stoige, them soldiers."
"What do you know about the Bowery?" demanded the drummer. "Have
you been reading about it in the Newsboy's Delight?"
"I know every inch of the Bowery," was the indignant reply. "When
I walk down to Chatham Square the lamps bow to me. I'm hungry
for it right now."
The drummer threw out his arms in a gesture of approval.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, then.
"I'm editing this end of a detective case," laughed Jimmie.
"All alone?" grinned the drummer. "Where are the others?"
"Lost," cried Jimmie. "Jere! I wish Frank Shaw was here
and had hold of that drum. There'd be something doin'.
He came down here to drum for Uncle Sam, but they wouldn't
have him. They said he was too short an' fat."
The drummer held his sides with his hands while he laughed,
and then dropped down on a convenient rock. The officer in
charge of the file of soldiers shook him by the shoulder, though
he was laughing too.
"Get up," he said. "What kind of a minstrel show is this?"
"Frank Shaw!" roared the drummer, paying no attention to the order.
"He got sore because I told him I'd enlisted as a drummer and lit out.
His father'll be sending after him, though. He's a good scout. Where is he now?"
"Lost," repeated Jimmie. "I don't know where he is. Just dropped into a hole."
"Not into any small hole," observed the drummer. "Are those your tents?"
he added, with a longing look at the soft blankets.
"Sure," replied Jimmie. "Want to sleep? Go to it then. You're welcome."
"You bet I will," said the drummer.
He started for one of the tents and then turned back.
"Did you see the wig-wagging awhile ago?" he asked.
"Sure I did," was the reply.
"It was brief," said the officer in charge of the file, "but, still,
long enough to convince me that we arrived here at the right time.
There is an army forming here, no one seems to know what for, and
renegade Americans are mixing in the game. The signals called for
a gathering some distance above us."
"That's the way I took it," observed Jimmie. "They are calling the
men together, I reckon, and there must be Americans in charge for
they talk United States."
"When you came up," began the officer, "did you observe the fellows
near the bottom? They seemed to me to be asking questions of the
ones up above."
"We saw no one except stragglers when we came up," was the reply.
"After the signals came, Ned Nestor and Frank Shaw went down there
to see who they were, and they are down there yet, I guess. At
least, they haven't returned."
The soldiers, who were now laying aside their weapons and preparing
to cook supper, late as the hour was, observed the lad eagerly at the
mention of Nestor's name. The lad noticed, too, as they gathered
about him with questioning looks, that they were not at all like
Mexicans in appearance, now that they had thrown off their outer
clothing. Jimmie glanced from the officer to his men.
"You don't look like Greasers to me," he said.
The officer laughed but made no reply.
"You came in with Ned Nestor?" he asked.
"Sure I did."
"And you say he went back down the mountain to see who was signaling down there?"
"That is what he said when he went away."
"What did he say about coming back?"
"Of course he'll come back," declared Jimmie. "He's needed here.
Since his departure the boy he left here with me has been geezled
by some one. I left him alone just a minute, and when I returned
he wasn't here. They're all lost but me, and I'm from the Bowery,
so nobody can lose me."
"Who was it that was taken from the camp?" asked the officer.
Jimmie hesitated, for he did not know what reply to make. These men
might be in quest of Fremont. Tempted by the large reward offered
for the capture of the boy, they might have crossed the river and
followed Nestor into the mountains.
On the other hand, if they were not in search of Fremont, they might
render valuable assistance in running down the men who had taken
him away. It was rather a hard place to put the loyal little
fellow, but he proved equal to the occasion by reserving his
decision until further information concerning the new arrivals
should be at hand.
"His name is Smith," he replied, shortly.
"And why did these unknown people abduct Smith?" laughed the officer,
who understood from the manner of the boy that the name was a fictitious one.
"I don't know," was the truthful reply.
"Well, we'll look into this later on," said the officer. "Just now we've
got to travel down this hill and see what Ned Nestor is about."
The officer talked with his men in whispers for some moments, and Jimmie
saw that they were all anxious about something. Finally, directing two
of his men to remain under arms at the tents, he set off down the mountain
with the other four. As they disappeared Jimmie beckoned the drummer aside.
"What do they want of Ned Nestor?" he asked.
"They want some information he has," was the reply. "They were sent here
to confer with him. Did you think they were Greasers because they wore
the ragged clothes over their good ones? Huh! They had to do that, and
talk Spanish, too, in order to get in here. The insurrectos think they're
"Who are they? asked Jimmie. "What do they want to see Nestor for?"
"They are United States secret service men," was the reply. "They are
here on a clue provided by Nestor, and they want to confer with him,
as I said before."
"Jere!" cried Jimmie. "I didn't know that Ned was in partnership with
the United States army. What is it all about?"
"You'll have to ask Ned," was the unsatisfactory reply. "He has been
keeping the wires to Washington hot ever since he left New York, and
these men were sent here at his request. There's something doing here,
but I don't know what it is."
"I thought they were here to arrest Fremont," said Jimmie. "If I had
known who they were, I wouldn't have lied about the boy. I said his
name was Smith."
"Oh, it is George Fremont, is it?" asked the drummer. "That is the
boy wanted for robbery and attempted murder in New York. Did Nestor
bring him here?"
"Yes," was the reply. "He wanted to keep him away from the officers
until the truth is known. Now he's gone and left us, and Fremont
has been captured."
"Perhaps United States officers captured him," suggested the drummer.
"If so, he is now on his way back to New York. I'm sorry."
"I don't believe civil officers got in here," said Jimmie. "When the
secret service men come back, I'm goin' to ask them to help find him.
I recon, now, that the Greasers caught him. I hope so, that is, I
would rather they would have him than the others. We may get him
away from the Greasers, but we couldn't get him away from officers."
A new view of the incident was now presented by one of the secret
service men, who began questioning Jimmie about the boy he had called
Smith. The boy thought best to tell him the truth, and did so.
It may be all right," the secret service man said, after hearing the
story. It strikes me that the Greasers mistook Fremont for Nestor. In
that case, they may release him as soon as they discover their mistake."
"Don't you ever think that," the other man cut in. "They are more
likely to stand him up against a wall and shoot him. When the
lieutenant comes back we'll see what can be done about it."
"But why should the Greasers want to capture Ned Nestor?" demanded
Jimmie. "You said they might have mistaken Fremont for Ned."
"I can imagine that the man responsible for this gathering is
interested in papers Nestor has," was the reply.
Jimmie and the drummer were now advised to get what sleep they
could, the guards explaining that they were "expecting company,"
and that the talking might frighten the prospective callers away.
It was now nearing midnight, and Jimmie tried hard to lose himself
in sleep, but, tired as he was, this seemed to be impossible.
Fremont might be in deadly peril, and Nestor and Shaw were still
unaccountably absent. His idea now was that the secret service
man had advanced the correct theory regarding the abduction of
Fremont. He had no doubt that the boy had been mistaken for Nestor.
Besides, the boy's mind was naturally excited over the strange
revelations of the night. The arrival of the secret service men,
the announcement that Nestor was working with the War department,
the story that he had been in communication with the government at
Washington ever since leaving New York, the hint that he held very
important papers in his possession, all these supplied food for thought.
Under ordinary conditions the boy would have enjoyed himself to the
limit in the mountains. He loved the forests and the wild places,
the great spaces; he loved the light of the campfire and the rustle
of foliage in the night. However, he was now by far too anxious
to appreciate the outing he was having.
While he lay there trying to sleep he heard the guards whispering
together. They were speaking of the important part Nestor was
playing in the happenings there, and the boy was proud of his
association with the resourceful patrol leader.
In a short time the boy heard the guards moving about as if acting
under strong excitement. There was also the rattle of arms, as if
they were preparing to meet an enemy.
Jimmie crept out of his blankets and crawled to the opening of the
little tent. The guards were crouching low in the shadow of a rock,
with their guns in hand, and the boy joined them.
"I thought you were asleep, kid," one of the men whispered. "Better
go back to your tent. There may be shooting here."
"I didn't come down here to skulk," replied the boy, indignantly.
"Are the stragglers coming here again?"
"There is some one moving about," was the reply.
"Perhaps it is Fremont, coming back," suggested Jimmie, hoping with
all his heart that he had solved the riddle.
"If Fremont ever gets back here," the other guard observed, "we will
have to bring him back. The men who took him away doubtless thought
they were getting Nestor, and they will be so angry when they discover
their mistake that the boy will receive very little consideration," was
the discouraging explanation.
"Then we may as well be out after him," declared Jimmie. ""I'm not
goin' to lie in any old tent while they are killing him. I'm going
out to find him."
"In that case," said the guard, "we'll have to go and find you.
Wait until the lieutenant returns, and we'll see what can be done.
He may bring Nestor with him, you know, and he can assist."
Although this seemed good sense, it did not please Jimmie at all,
and he went back to his tent resolved to get away from the guards as
soon as possible and do what he could to find Fremont. At the very
door of the tent, however, he came to a halt, for the signals were
going again, and a great rocket flashed across the sky.
BLACK BEAR AND DIPLOMAT.
"It looks to me as if there might be civil war down here,
with all these men waiting for guns and ammunition," said
Shaw, as Nestor concluded the story of the letters which had
been forwarded to Washington. "I didn't know what I was
getting into when I left New York. I wish I could send
that story to my father. What a scoop he would have on
the other newspapers!"
"That is the very last thing you should think of," declared
Nestor. "The publication of the story now might bring
about the very thing we are trying to prevent. There is
no knowing what the Texans would do if they learned of
the plot to invade their state. We are here to defeat
the plot to arm these men who are waiting to cross
the river, and not to furnish newspapers with scoops,
as you call them."
"How are you going to do it?" asked the boy.
"The intention originally was to stop the purchase of arms.
That failing, it was determined to prevent the purchases
crossing the Rio Grande. If that cannot, or has not, been
done, then some other means must be resorted to. That is
why I am here, and that is why United States secret service
men are waiting for me somewhere about here."
"I see," said Shaw, "and you thought your men might be down
here? Well, if it is the other end of the conspiracy that
we find in this camp, at least the other end of the Cameron
robbery conspiracy--anyway not your associates--what then?"
"I am expecting the diplomat," was the reply. "If I can't
get the arms I hope to get him."
"Would that check the invasion of Texas?" asked the boy.
"It might delay it until we have a strong force on the other
side of the river."
"I believe you mean to kidnap him" cried Shaw. "Is that right?"
"I'm going to do something to disarrange the plans of the conspirators,
if I can. We don't want a war with Mexico just now. Such an event
might bring on complications with other nations, at least with one other nation."
"You mean Japan," cried Shaw. "I've heard that Mexico is full of
Japs, all trained and ready to fight. And I've heard about a secret
treaty between Mexico and Japan, too. Let the Japs butt in, if they
want to. We'll drive them into the Pacific."
"I have said nothing about Japan," replied Nestor. "I don't believe
half this sensational stuff about Japan's warlike attitude toward the
United States that the newspapers are printing."
"Well, you didn't say Japan, but I know what you meant, all right,"
declared Shaw. "How much longer are you going to watch that camp?"
"I'm not watching the camp," replied Nestor. "I'm waiting to see
if some important individual doesn't make his appearance here,
bound for the peaks above."
"You mean the third man--the diplomat?"
"Exactly. He'll be here to-night, according to all reports.
I thought it might be his party wig-wagging when I came here,
provided it was not my associates. If he doesn't come pretty
soon I'll return to our camp. The boys will be getting anxious
over our long absence."
Presently, while the two waited, a signal rocket came blazing
out of the east, swept a wide curve in the sky, and dropped out
of sight. It was almost immediately followed by a blue rocket,
sent up from the foot of the range, not very far away. Then
the men in the camp below were heard moving about.
"The fellows down there," said Shaw, "appear to be about as
astonished as we are at the display of fireworks. I don't
think they are next to this game at all. They have their minds
too crowded with mine-dreams to leave room for any international
complications, I guess."
Indeed, this seemed to be the case, for the night watchman, the
Mexican, and the miners were now assembled in a little open
space before the tents, gazing perplexedly into the sky, which now
showed red and blue rockets, apparently sent up in answer to each other.
"There's our third man," said Shaw, as a moving light appeared not
far away. "Listen, and you'll hear him coming."
The boy almost danced up and down in his excitement.
"Let me geezle him" he whispered. "Let me make a record for valor
down here," he added, with a grin. "I might get a Carnegie medal."
"You'll probably get a bullet if you don't keep quiet," advised Nestor.
"Come, we may as well hide ourselves in the thicket over there
and await the turn of events."
Within ten minutes the sound of hoofs was heard, indicating the
advance of, perhaps, half a dozen horsemen, and then came a
challenge from the night watchman's camp. There followed a
short conversation in Spanish, only a portion of which Nestor
could understand. However, he learned from what he did hear
that the party just coming in had missed a guide, and was seeking
the easiest way to get to the top of the range.
After a short time the conversation suddenly changed into
English, and Nestor heard a soft voice ask:
"Are you going up?"
"In the morning," was the reply, in the voice of the night watchman.
"Why not go now and guide us?" came another question.
"Because we prefer to wait until morning," was the gruff reply.
"Have you seen any men going up?" was asked, then
"There are stragglers all about," was the ungracious reply.
"We have been disturbed by them before."
There was a short silence, then a shot and a struggle.
"Say," said, Shaw, "the newcomer is tying Felix and Scoby up,
and the miners have all taken to their heels. What do you
think of that?"
"I think that our friend, the third man, needs a guide up the
mountain, and is not at all particular how he gets one. The
Mexican seems to be the one he wants."
"He's got his nerve," Frank grinned.
"That is only his pleasant little way," replied Nestor, with
a quiet smile. "He is a very arrogant fellow."
"If that is really the third man," Shaw said, presently, as
the soldiers came up the hill, Scoby and the Mexican being
almost forced along, "we've got 'em bunched. We've got the
three men who were in the Cameron suite that night all in a
heap. Guess you can pick out your man now. I reckon you did
some thinking before you planned this trip to Mexico, Ned."
"Don't forget that the United States secret service men had a
hand in the deal from the beginning," replied Nestor, modestly.
"Within six hours of the time I left the Cameron building I was
talking with Washington. The fact that the Mexican and the night
watchman are also here now is a lucky change, that is all. The trap
was laid for this diplomat. The others could have been found later on."
"Oh, you didn't do a thing, I guess," laughed Shaw as the two turned
up the acclivity, planning to keep some distance in advance of the
party behind. "Say, do you think this third man recognized Scoby
as a person he had seen in the Cameron building? What? That might
be one reason for marching the two off."
"I can't say," Nestor replied, "but the diplomat probably had his
eyes open when he was in that building. Don't ask so many questions."
Twice within a few moments the boys heard some one approaching them,
coming down the mountain side at a great pace, and twice they saw a
man hasten by the place where they had hastily secreted themselves
and confer with the party below.
"Spies! Messengers! Japs!" commented Shaw. "I heard that jargon
in a Jap restaurant in New York. What about it?"
"You are as full of the Yellow Peril scare, to-night, as the
sensational newspapers," replied Nestor, as they moved on up
the mountain side. "We are not looking for trouble with the
Japs, but we can take care of ourselves if it ever comes."
After a time the boys paused on a ledge of rock and looked over
the moonlit space about them, Nestor expectantly, Frank with
apprehension. The party with the unwilling guide was now far
below them, and during the last few moments they had walked
boldly, Nestor watching for a signal which he now thought he saw.
While they stood there a light flashed for an instant in a
little gully off to the right, and Nestor replied with a
bird-call which was so natural that Shaw gave a little start
and looked about for the bird. There was another flash of light,
and then five men made their appearance. There was a further
exchange of signals, and then the newcomers advanced to where the boys stood.
"You are Ned Nestor?" the leader of the party asked.
"And you are Lieutenant Gordon?"
"The same," replied the other, grasping Nestor by the hand.
"We found your camp but you were not there, so we came on down
to the place where the boy said you had gone."
"Weren't there two boys there?" asked Frank, a sudden fear gripping
him. "We left two there."
"I'm sorry to say that we found only one," replied Lieutenant Gordon.
"The other had been kidnapped, the little fellow said."
"Come on, then," Shaw shouted, speeding away as rapidly as the
nature of the ground would permit. "We've got to go and find him.
Was it Fremont who was taken?" he added, turning back for a moment.
"The boy we saw told us his name was Smith," laughed the lieutenant.
"He probably thought you were after Fremont," Nestor said. "We
must hasten up there, after we do a little important business here."
Lieutenant Gordon and the patrol leader conferred together for some
time, and then instructing Shaw to make his way to the camp as quickly
as possible, the little force of six awaited the arrival of the other
party. In half an hour they came up, panting, their horses having been
left behind as not being adapted to mountain work. When they stepped
out on a little plateau they found themselves looking into the muzzles of
six automatic revolvers, held in the hands of the civil service men and Nestor.
"You are Don Miguel?" asked the lieutenant of a tall, well-dressed man who
was in the lead.
"What is the meaning of this outrage?" demanded the man addressed. "We
are citizens of Mexico, going about our legitimate business."
"You are mistaken," replied the lieutenant, grimly. "You three,"
indicating Don Miguel, Felix and Scoby, "are citizens of the United
States. We are in the secret service of your government, and place
you under arrest for treason and robbery. Take their weapons, Charley,"
he added, addressing one of his men, "and if one of the soldiers lifts
a hand, shoot."
The weapons were quickly surrendered, the soldiers standing aside with
fright in their faces. Then Lieutenant Gordon and Nestor held a short
but earnest conversation with Don Miguel, at the termination of which
the latter ordered his soldiers back to the valley, "to await the
execution of plans now proposed," as he said.
"It is an outrage," Don Miguel complained, as the soldiers disappeared,
"and my government shall hear of it. You shall all suffer for what you
"You are a naturalized citizen of the United States," the lieutenant
repeated, "and you are under arrest for treason. The others are held
for attempted murder and robbery. Now, this being understood, we may
as well proceed to camp."
The night watchman and the Mexican also made vigorous protests against
their arrest, but no attention was paid to them. Nestor was at that
time too anxious over Fremont's disappearance to halt for a lengthy explanation.
WOLF AND PANTHER AFTER BEAR.
When the rocket flared across the sky Jimmie rushed into the
tent where the drummer was sleeping and shook him savagely.
"Get up an' blow out the gas!" he cried, as the boy gasped
and sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Get up!"
"This must be the Fourth of July," the drummer grunted, as
another rocket, this time a blue one, flashed across the zenith.
"They're bombardin' us with red an' blue fire," whispered Jimmie!
"Get up. I'm goin' out to see what's comin' off here. Want to go?"
"Of course I want to go," replied Peter. "I didn't come down here
to sleep my head off, did I? Shall I take my drum?"
Jimmie sat down on the ground and chuckled.
"You an' your drum!" he exclaimed, being careful to speak in a
tone which would not reach the ears of the guards.
"That is a fine drum," urged Peter, the drummer.
"What do you want to lug it around for, then?" demanded
Jimmie. "They won't let you beat on it."
"That's what I came down here for--to drum," was the
impatient reply. "Think I came down here to get my hair cut?"
"You may get it cut off under your chin before you get back
to the Great White Way," Jimmie said. "This is no joke."
"I haven't had a chance to drum since I got here," complained
the boy. "The time you heard me is the only one. That's rotten!"
"Why did they let you drum then?" asked Jimmie.
"I just rolled it out before they could stop me."
"I was wondering," Jimmie said, with a sly smile, "if these
secret service men went sleuthing with a brass band ahead of them."
"Indeed they don't!" declared the drummer, in defense of his
friends. "They found me broke and lost and picked me up,
which was mighty good of them. Say," he added, with a slight
scowl on his face, "this is a fine, large country to get lost in."
"I should think so," agreed Jimmie. "I wasn't lost, but I
hadn't any more money than --than--than a--a--a rabbit when
I found Fremont and Ned at El Paso. And my clothes looked
like they'd come out of a ragbag. Wore 'em out reclinin' in
my side-door Pullman."
"You're fixed up all right now for clothes," observed the
drummer, looking the boy's well-dressed, muscular figure
over with approving eyes.
"George Fremont bought these," said Jimmie, looking down at
his suit. "All right, ain't it? I'm goin' to pay him back
when I get to working again. I don't want anybody to give
"Lieutenant Gordon's son is a patrol leader at Washington,"
the drummer said, after a thoughtful pause, "and I suppose
that's the reason he helped me out. I reckon a Boy Scout
can find friends in any part of the world, if he is deserving
of them. I found a Mexican boy, over here in the hills, who
belongs to a patrol he calls the Owl. We may meet him if we
remain about here very long."
"A Boy Scout who is on the square won't have trouble in
getting through," Jimmie observed, "but we've got to be
moving. I imagine the guards want us to remain here, so
we'll have to sneak off if we leave camp. The guards seem
to think we couldn't find our way back. We'll show 'em."
Without further words the boys crept out of the tent,
waited until the guards were at the other end of the
little valley, and dashed away into a shadowy place
behind a rock, which they had no difficulty in leaving,
presently, without being seen.
Once away from the tents, they turned toward the high peak
from which the rockets had been sent up. The way was steep
and rough, and it was hard climbing, and more than once they
stopped to rest. It was, as has been said, a brilliant moonlit
night, and, from the elevation where the boys were, the valley
below lay like a silver-land of promise.
"It is a beautiful country," the drummer said, as they paused
to rest on a small shelf in the rock. "It is a rich and fertile
country, too, one of the most desirable in the world, but I'm
afraid the people don't get much out of life here."
"They are selfish and cruel," Jimmie said, "and no nation of
that stripe ever prospered. What they need here is less strong
drink and more school-houses--more real freedom and less mere
show of republican government. We read up on Mexico in the Wolf
Patrol when this trouble broke out. We always do that--keep
track of what's going on in the world, I mean."
"I know something about the country, too," the drummer said,
looking in admiration down on the beautiful valley below, bathed
in the sweet moonlight, "and sometimes I wonder that the people
are as decent as they are. Although they have never had much of
a show, and although they come, many of them, of rude ancestors,
the people of Mexico compare favorably with those of other countries."
The boys climbed on again, mounting higher and higher, their aim
being to gain the very top of the ridge. After half an hour's
hard work they stopped and sat down, to look over the valley again.
"There are no written records of the origin of these people," the
drummer said, almost as if thinking aloud. "No one knows the origin
of the people. Cortez found them here when he arrived with his
brutal soldiers. All that is known is that the inhabitants came from
"Twice the country was populated from the North," Jimmie put in,
the readings at the Wolf Patrol club coming back to his mind.
"Now I wonder why, in reading history, we always find that
invaders came from the North?"
"I've read," the drummer went on, quite enthusiastic over the
subject in hand, "that the present North Polar regions were
tropical in temperature and in animal and vegetable life,
a long time ago."
"Yes, they find there, skeletons of animals which now exist
only in the tropics," said Jimmie, "and tropical trees deep
under the ice. The earth, they say, shifted in its orbit
and it grew cold up there. I guess that is why we read
of people always coming down from the North."
"They had to get out of the North," the drummer mused,
"because during the Glacial period an ice-cap miles
in thickness covered the world down as far as the
dividing line between the British possessions and the
United States. That is the way California and Mexico
and Central America were populated, anyhow."
"You mean that the immediate ancestors of the people of
those countries came from the North," Jimmie criticized.
"For all we know, the people who lived before them came
from the South. They left no records to show that they
ever existed, but the earth was not bare of animal life
back of the period our scientists figure from."
"The first ones came from the East, by way of Iceland,
Greenland, and Baffinland; from the Eastern continent,
and about the vicinity of the Caspian sea, and so kept
on South on this continent as the climate grew colder.
But we were talking of the people of Mexico. I wanted to
show you that they have never been favored as the people
of our country have, and that they've got years of national
childhood to go through yet before they become a great people."
"Go on and tell me about it," urged Jimmie. "We may learn
as much about what's going on here by sitting on this plateau
as we could by climbing our heads off."
The boys listened a moment, but there were no suspicious sounds
about. The mountain lay as silent under the moon as if no human
foot had ever pressed its surface. There were lights far down
in the valley, but none on the slopes in view.
"About as far back as the books go in Mexican history," the
drummer began, "is the seventh century, even when England
wasn't much. About that time the Toltecs came out of the
North and took possession of the valley where the City of
Mexico now is. They were industrious, peaceful and skilled
in many of the arts. They kept their records in hieroglyphics.
"They had a year made up of eighteen months of twenty days each,
the other five and a fraction being chucked into the calendar
any old way. They knew about the stars and eclipses, and built
"When they build their temples, it is said, they found ruins of
other temples beneath them. And the ones who built the temples,
the ruins of which the Toltecs found, doubtless found ruins of
temples when they began to dig. It is wonderful. The ages and
ages that have gone by, with new civilizations growing up and dying out."
"I feel like I was in a land older than the solar system," said Jimmie.
"What became of the Toltecs?"
"They were crowded out by the Aztecs somewhere about the twelfth century.
The Aztecs were warlike and cruel. It is said that they murdered twenty
thousand victims a year on the altars of their gods. They were able people,
too, but murderous in all their instincts. They were cultivated to a
degree far above the other peoples of the North American continent at
that time, but they lacked the feelings of humanity as expressed to-day.
"They built temples--mounds of clay faced with brick, surmounted by
great towers where the priests dwelt. It was at the summits of these
mounds, on a sacrificial stone, before all the people who could get
in view, that the victims of their religious frenzy were slain.
"Then Cortes came, in fifteen hundred and something, and the deluge
of blood began. If you have read up on the subject at all, you
doubtless know how merciless the Spaniards were in their attitude
toward the Aztecs. They killed them by thousands, in open battle
and by treacherous means, and they tortured Aztec priests to force
them to reveal the places where the vessels of gold used in worship were hidden.
"It is easy to see where the modern Mexican gets his ideas of amusement,
as shown in the bull fight. The Aztec-Spanish blood is still in his
veins. Of course there are cultured and refined Mexicans, but the
great mass of the people are pretty primitive. Outside the cities,
in many instances, old tribal relations continue, and the people are
unsettled in habitation as well as in spirit, selfish and cruel, too.
"One revolution after another--brought about by unscrupulous leaders
in the hope of personal gain--has devastated the country. It seems
easy to stir up a revolution in Mexico, for the people are volcanic
in temperament, like the earth under their feet, and their eruptions
do not always follow usual lines, either, but break out in unexpected
places and for unheard of reasons--just as the volcanoes refuse to
follow the central mountain chains, but break out in undreamed of localities."
"It requires a strong hand to rule such a people," Jimmie mused.
"I guess Diaz has troubles of his own."
"There is no doubt of it," the drummer continued. "In future years
Mexico will become one of the garden spots of the world. It is clear
why one people after another selected the Valley of Mexico for their
abiding place. But blood will tell for evil as well as for good, and
the bad strain here must be thinned down. The hills are rich in
minerals, and the valleys are fertile, and all the land needs is
a race of steady, patient workers--fewer bull fights and less pulque
and more days' work."
As the drummer ceased speaking, Jimmie laid a warning hand on his
shoulder and bent his head forward in a listening attitude.
"Listen!" he said. "There are men talking just over that slope."
CAPTURED THE WRONG BOY.
As the boys listened voices came distinctly to their ears.
It was evident that the men who were talking had only
recently arrived at the spot where they stood, for all
had been quiet a short time before.
The boys crept closer and saw a party of rough-looking
natives gathered about an evil-looking man, who appeared
to be an Englishman, and a slender figure which Jimmie
had no difficulty in recognizing as that of George Fremont.
The sinister Englishman, undoubtedly the leader of the
party, was a giant of a fellow.
As the boys looked, he reached forth a great hand and,
seizing Fremont by one shoulder, shook him fiercely.
Then it was seen that Fremont's hands were tied behind
his back. Jimmie started forward, involuntarily, at
sight of the brutality of the act, but the drummer
drew him back.
"You'll have to remain quiet," the latter said, "if you
want to help your friend. We can't fight the whole party.
Have you a gun with you?"
Jimmie nodded and laid a hand on his hip.
"I am unarmed," the other said, in a minute, "and so couldn't
do much in a fight; so, perhaps I'd better go down and bring
up the guards."
"Just the thing," whispered Jimmie. "I'll remain with this
gang of bandits and manage to leave a trail that can be followed
if they leave the place. Go on down an' bring the guards. And," he
added, a half smile on his anxious face, "don't forget to bring your drum."
"My drum!" repeated the other, in amazement. "What is the good
of bringing a drum, I'd like to know?"
"Bring it, anyway," directed Jimmie. "If you hear a shot up here,
play it to beat a band. Beat it for keeps. Rattle off a charge,
and make a noise like a regiment of cavalry. And if you can't
make good time climbing down, slip on a rock an' roll down.
Somethin' must be done quick!"
"I don't believe they will shoot him," the drummer said, tentatively,
hesitating for an instant.
"If that big lobster gives the order to do it," Jimmie said, his eyes
flashing, "I'll get him before the order can be obeyed. They may get
me after that, but I'll have the satisfaction of knowin' that I got to
him first. Now, run!"
The dawn was strong in the east when the drummer disappeared down the
side of the mountain. It had been an eventful night, a long one to
the boy standing there watching for an opportunity of making his
presence known to the prisoner. There was a deal of talking going
on in the group about the prisoner, but Jimmie could catch only
part of what was said.
The soldiers--if the ragged, sullen-looking natives might so be
termed--talked fast and in a villainous tongue which did not
seem to be Spanish. They appeared to be greatly excited, and
it was only when the heavy voice of the leader boomed forth
that they reverted to silence.
Jimmie could not understand what the prisoner had been brought
there for. If the idea of his captors was to restore him to
his friends, that would be the work of only a minute. They
would only have to cut the bonds and Fremont would do the
rest. If the idea was to murder him, why the delay? It
had been hours since his capture, and it would have taken
only a minute to discover that the wrong boy had been taken.
If, as Jimmie considered gravely, the big man should prove
to be a civil officer from Texas, a a man with a warrant
for Fremont, then it seemed that he would be getting him
across the border as quickly as possible, taking no
chances with slow Mexican criminal procedure. This last
view of the case was the one which Jimmie feared most.
He might be able to get his friend away from Mexican
bandits, but not from a Texas sheriff.
The next words of the leader settled every doubt on the
question the boy was puzzling over. Although they showed
that Fremont was in immediate peril of his life, the
watcher was in a measure relieved at the knowledge they
brought him. So long as Fremont was held a prisoner
by those who were breaking and not enforcing the law
in doing so, there was hope of rescue.
"Nestor," the Englishman said, thrusting his bewhiskered
face into that of Fremont, "tell me where the papers are,
and I'll set you free in an instant."
"I know nothing about the papers you speak of," was the
reply. "I have never had them in my possession."
The renegade whispered with his companions for a moment.
Jimmie could not hear what was being said, but the
soldiers seemed to be insisting on some point which
the leader was not quite certain of. Then the latter asked:
"You are certain you made no mistake?"
The others nodded and pointed at Fremont.
"It is as you commanded," one of them said, in fair English.
Then the big man turned back to the prisoner, an ugly
frown on his repulsive face.
"You are not telling me the truth," he said. "You know well
enough where the papers are. It is useless for you to deny."
The leader believed the prisoner to be Nestor. That was plain
now. And Fremont had been captured by these brigands in the
absence of the leader, and he was taking their word that they
had abducted the right boy. This might account for the delay.
The leader might have joined his men only now.
"I don't know anything about the papers," insisted Fremont.
"Huh!" muttered Jimmie, from his hiding place. "Why don't
he tell his nobbs who he is? Then he might be released."
Jimmie did not know that Fremont had long been considering
this very point, and finally decided that the correct course
for him to pursue would be to permit his captor to remain in
ignorance of his identity. The instant he knew that his
brigands had made a mistake, the fellow would be out after
Nestor with a larger force, and that would make it dangerous
for the boy, would hamper him in the work he was there to do.
Besides, he believed that the course he proposed would gain
time, and that Nestor would certainly come to his rescue.
"You are making a mistake," the big man threatened, as Fremont
again denied knowledge of the papers. "You are known to have
been in the Cameron building that night. You are known to
have taken the papers away from there, and to have made use
of them. I won't say what treacherous use now. If the papers
are not on your person, they are hidden somewhere."
Fremont only shook his head. In the growing light Jimmie
could see that he was very pale, that he seemed tired out,
as if he had been traveling all night. However, the white
face he saw had a determined look, and Jimmie marveled at
the mental processes which should so obstinately defend a
wrong idea, which, of course, he only guessed.
"Everything you have done since you left the building that
night is known to me," the big man went on. "You deserve
death for the marplot that you are, but I will release you
if you will restore the papers."
Fremont made no reply whatever to this. As a matter of fact,
he did not even know the nature of the papers which were so
in demand, Nestor having told him little of his real mission
to Mexico. In the meantime Jimmie way trying in every way
he could think of, without revealing his presence, to catch
Fremont's eye and make him understand that help was at hand,
and that he ought to reveal his identity and so create delay,
as well as escape whatever cruelty the big fellow had in store
for the boy he was being mistaken for.
"I'll give you three minutes, Nestor," the leader finally said,
"to tell me where the papers are. At the end of that time,
if you remain obstinate, I'll order you shot. Decide!"
Jimmie twisted and wiggled about until he became fearful that
the noise he was making must disclose his presence, but Fremont
did not cast a look in his direction. The leader stood grimly
in the foreground with watch in hand. The seconds seemed to
Jimmie to be running by like a mill-race.
Fremont's face did not change, except for a slight tightening
of the lips. Jimmie listened intently for the sound of a drum
on the mountain side below. It now was quite light, and the
watcher could see every movement made by the men he believed
to be brigands and their prisoner. A chill of terror ran
through his veins as he saw the ragged squad examining their
guns as if they expected to use them at the expiration of
two more minutes.
The leader snapped out the words viciously; his evil eyes
sparred for an instant with those of his captive and were
then lowered to the ground. Jimmie took his revolver
from his pocket and held it ready for action. As he had
declared to the drummer, it was his deliberate intention
to shoot the leader an instant before he gave the order
to fire. He knew that the discharge would point out his
place of concealment, and did not doubt that the volley
intended for Fremont would be turned upon himself, but
the knowledge did not swerve him from his purpose.
He counted the next seconds by his own fierce heart-beats.
Thirty-four. Thirty-five. Thirty-six. It seemed to him
that a second was never so short before. At sixty he would
fire if he saw no evidence of weakening in Fremont. And he
did not believe that Fremont would weaken. He was coming
to understand that Fremont was obsessed with the idea that
he was protecting Nestor by the course he was taking.
This being true, he would remain loyal to the very end.
Thirty-nine. The leader seemed about to lift his hand as a
signal for the squad to level their guns, when a shout came
from up the slope, and a figure every whit as ragged and
disreputable in appearance as the men gathered about the
prisoner swung into sight, leaping over ledges and lifting
voice and hand in warning as he advanced.
The men, now swinging their guns into position, paused and
held them motionless while they gazed at the intruder. The
leader shifted about uneasily and muttered something under
his breath. Released, for the moment at least, from the
strain he had been under, Jimmie dropped back in his hiding
place, his weapon clattering to the ground. It was not the fact
of his own peril that had wrought him up to the point of breaking,
but the thought that it might be necessary for him to take a human life.
It seemed to the boy that there was displeasure half hidden in the
leader's manner as he conferred with the messenger. He did not appear
to approve of the interruption.
"Why didn't you tell me that you had made a mistake and taken the wrong
boy?" he demanded, then turning to the men. "Why didn't you tell me
this was not Nestor?"
The men made no reply except that one of them grumbled that they had
captured the boy whose description they had been given, and the leader
turned to Fremont.
"Why didn't you declare your identity?" he demanded.
"I had no reason to believe that anything I could say would be credited,"
was the cool reply. "You saw fit to disbelieve what I said about the papers."
"What is your name?" the other asked, laying a hand on the boy's arm.
Fremont remained silent, but the messenger stepped forward and declared
that he knew the fellow well by sight, and that his name was George Fremont.
"Is that true?" demanded the renegade, and Fremont nodded.
Somehow it seemed to Jimmie that the renegade expected the answer that he
had received, and that he way angry with the messenger for bringing out
the boy's name. At any rate he glanced furtively at his men as the name was
"And so," he said, then, "you are the boy wanted in New York for attempted
murder and robbery? The boy with a reward of $10,000 on his head."
THE CASE IS WELL STATED.
It was a long, tedious climb back up the side of the slope.
With almost every step the night watchman and the Mexican
clamored for a hearing, for details of the charge against
them, but they met with scant courtesy. Both Nestor and
Lieutenant Gordon understood that they were fearful that
they were to be taken at once back to New York, in which
case they would be deprived of a chance to plunder the
hidden mine, which they had come so far to find. Nestor
had explained, very briefly, to the lieutenant that the
Mexican and the watchman were there in quest of treasure,
but had not confided to him the whole story of the Cameron
tragedy, it being separate and distinct from the issue which
had brought the secret service men to Mexico.
Don Miguel maintained a dignified silence--as dignified as
a panting man can hold--through-out the tiresome journey,
except on one occasion. Once, while the night watchman
was violently demanding information concerning the crime
with which he was to be charged, the diplomat asked:
"Why are you so silent concerning the man's alleged crime?
It appears to me that you are conducting an abduction rather
than an arrest. I, also, am anxious to know something of the
charges against me."
"You shall know in good time," replied the lieutenant.
"I believe," Don Miguel went on, "that I can convince even
you, prejudiced though you are, that you are making a great
mistake--a costly mistake, both for yourself and your
"When we reach the tents I will listen to you," was the short
reply, and the little party went on its way in silence for a
long time, silent save for the mutterings of the Mexican and
his fellow-conspirator, as Nestor believed the watchman to be.
Moonlight lay like a silver mist over the stubborn paths
the party was following. Moving objects could be observed at
a great distance, where the character of the surface permitted,
and now and then moving bodies of men were discernible on the
slopes of faraway peaks. Don Miguel's dusky face seemed to
brighten, his eyes to gather almost a smile, whenever such
parties were seen. It was plain to his captors that he looked
upon the wandering bands as friendly to his interests.
Always the marching men--if scrambling up a mountain side in
undignified positions may justly be described as marching--were
headed for heights above. All were proceeding as silently as
possible, too, and that gave an air of secrecy, of mystery,
to the wild scenery and the romantic moonlight. Occasionally
the flickering gold of a camp-fire mingled with the silver of the moon.
Just before dawn, when the members of the party were nearly ready to
drop from exhaustion, a sharp challenge rang out ahead, and Lieutenant
Gordon gave a word which caused a cautious guard to withdraw his
threatening gun, and to hasten forward to greet his chief. With
his first breath he asked a question.
"Have you seen anything of those confounded boys?"
"The drummer and the Bowery lad?" asked the lieutenant. "Why, we
left them with you when we went down the hill."
"Well, they're gone!" exclaimed the guard, despondently.
"Gone!" repeated Nestor, stepping forward. "Where have they gone?
Has anything been heard of Fremont?"
"Not a word," said the guard, answering only the last question.
"It is my idea that the other boys sneaked off in the hope of
finding him. I sent them into one of the tents to sleep, and
when I looked in a short time later, they were not there."
"It is certain that they were not carried off?" asked Lieutenant Gordon.
"Certain," was the reply. "We watched the tents every second."
"And yet the boys got away without being seen," said the lieutenant, angrily.
"I don't see how they did it," was the abashed reply.
"I have little doubt that they have been carried away by the men
who captured Fremont," Nestor said, gravely. "Still, it may be
that they have only wandered off in search of the boy. It is a
"The mountain is swarming with men," the lieutenant said. "The only
wonder is that we have not been attacked. I fear that the boys have
been captured, even if they only wandered away to look for their friend."
Nestor walked restlessly about the little camp for a moment and then looked
into the two tents, as if expecting to find some one there.
"Where is Shaw?" he asked, then, alarm in his voice. "Where is the boy we
sent on ahead of us? He must have reached here a long time ago."
The guards looked surprised at the question.
"Why," one of them said, "no one came here from below but yourselves.
We have seen no one."
Nestor stood for a moment as if he thought the men were playing a trick
on him, then the gravity of the situation asserted itself. What mischief
was afoot in the mountains? Why had the boys disappeared, while there
had been no attempt to obstruct the passage of the secret service men as
they moved about?
"It seems, then, that there is another lost boy," said Lieutenant Gordon.
"That makes four. It is most remarkable."
"Yes," said Nestor, "Fremont, Jimmie, Shaw, and this drummer you told
me about. I think we have our work cut out for us now."
"It is the second time Peter Fenton has been lost to-night," Gordon said,
with a smile. "He was lost and we found him--lost and hungry, but full
"Peter Fenton!" exclaimed Nestor. "I know him well as a member of the
Panther Patrol. A bright boy, and full of information concerning Mexico.
I have often heard him speak of this country. Well, let us hope that the
four boys are all together, wherever they are. It seems strange that the
outlaws should go about picking up boys."
"It will soon be daylight now," Lieutenant Gordon said, "and then we'll
see what we can do. It may be that the lads will return and bring Fremont
with them, though that is almost too much to hope for. Anyway, it seems to
me that we have accomplished the principal object of our journey here," he
added, with a glance at Don Miguel.
The diplomat turned about and faced the lieutenant with a sneer on his face.
"You are not the only one who is making progress here to-night," he said.
"If you wish the return of your friends, release me and I will restore them to you."
"I think we'll take chances on finding the boys," Gordon said. "You are
wanted very particularly at Washington."
"Then permit me to send word to my friends, urged Don Miguel. "I can cause
the patriots who doubtless have the boys to return them to you. Odd that
they should have carried them off," he added, with a scowl.
The man's inference was that the boys were being held as hostages, but this
Nestor did not believe. Fremont had been taken away before the arrest of Don Miguel.
"That would be a very good move--for your interest," Nestor said, in reply to
the suggestion. "As the lieutenant says, we prefer to take our chances on
finding the boys. Your friends might want to interfere with your trip to Washington if they knew our intentions concerning you."
"You will soon see your mistake," was the significant reply.
During this talk the night watchman and the Mexican had remained silent,
but it was plain that they had not lost a word that had been said.
Especially when the talk of restoring Fremont to his friends was going
on, the watchman had cast significant glances at Felix.
"Was it a part of the conspiracy," Nestor asked, facing the three men,
"to abduct Fremont if he left New York? Or was it the intention to
murder him there?"
Don Miguel turned to Nestor with a sneer on his rather handsome face.
It was evident that he did not relish being questioned by a mere youth.
"I know nothing of the urchin to whom you refer," he said, scornfully.
"I do not deal with precocious infants."
Nestor checked an angry rejoinder, and Don Miguel directed his attention
to Lieutenant Gordon, whom he seemed to consider more worthy of his notice.
"Down there on the mountain side," the diplomat said, "you promised to
further inform me as to the reasons for my being held a prisoner, deprived
of freedom of action. I am waiting for you to speak."
Lieutenant Gordon smiled and referred the diplomat back to the boy.
"I know very little about the matter," he said. "I am working under
orders from Washington, definite orders, which leave me virtually under
the direction of Mr. Nestor. If you ask him to do so, he may be willing
to go into the details of the matter with you."
"Must I deal with the infant class in such an important matter?"
demanded the other. "Then perhaps, you will condescend to do as
the lieutenant suggests," he added, turning back to Nestor, with a
look of helpless rage on his face.
"I have no objection whatever," replied Nestor, seeing in the request
a chance to inform the lieutenant, in the presence of the prisoner,
of the exact status of the case, and also to observe the effect upon
the latter of a statement dealing with the particulars of his treasonable actions.
"Proceed, then, my boy," said Don Miguel, patronizingly.
"A few weeks ago," Nestor began, only smiling at the weak condescension
displayed, "you entered into correspondence with Mr. Cameron, of New York
City, with reference to the purchase of arms and ammunition in large
quantities. At first your letters met with prompt answers, for Mr.
Cameron was in the business of selling the class of goods you had
opened negotiations for. Then your letters grew confidential, finally
suggesting a private arrangement between Mr. Cameron and yourself under
which the arms and ammunition to be purchased were to be delivered to
secret agents on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande."
Don Miguel's face was now working convulsively, his hands, clenched,
were fanning the air in denial, and it seemed as if he would spring
upon the boy.
"It is false!" he shouted. "All false!"
"Suspicious that the arms and ammunition were to be used against
his own country, Mr. Cameron drew you out on this point, how
cleverly you well know, until the whole plot lay revealed. You
were purchasing the goods in the interest of a junta which
proposed to arm such outlaws and rag-a-muffins as could be
assembled, and to send them across the Rio Grande on a hostile
mission in the guise of Mexican soldiers."
"False! False!" almost howled the diplomat. "How is it that you,
a boy, a mere child, who should be with his mother in the nursery,
should know such things?" he demanded; then seeing his error, he
added, "should place such a construction on a plain business transaction?"
"It was the purpose of this junta," Nestor went on, not noticing the
interruption, "in marching this ragged army across the border to
precipitate war between the United States and Mexico. With an
invader on their soil, the members of the junta reasoned, all
Mexicans would flock to the standard of their country, and the
war with the United States would be fought out by a united Mexico."
Don Miguel was now walking fiercely about the little dent in the
side of the mountain where the camp was built, pressing close to
the loaded guns of the guards, each time, before he turned back
to swing and rave over the ground again.
"This very pretty conspiracy to involve the United States in a war
with Mexico," Nestor continued, "was unwittingly foiled by a
desperate crime--perhaps committed by yourself."
ACCUSING EACH OTHER.
Don Miguel stopped in his nervous pacing of the small space
in front of the tents and thrust his passion-swept face to
within a foot of that of the speaker.
"A desperate crime!" he repeated. "Do you have the temerity
to mention my name in connection with crime?"
"On the night of your visit to Mr. Cameron," Nestor went on,
coolly, "you dined at one of the famous lobster palaces on
Times Square. Early in the evening, let us say not far
from nine o'clock, you left the restaurant and took a cab
for the Cameron building. You spoke both French and Spanish
to the driver, as well as English, and tipped him liberally,
paying the charge in gold."
Don Miguel swung away again, his face expressive of a desire to do murder.
"You found Mr. Cameron in his office," Nestor continued, "busy
with the papers of the Tolford estate. There are only two
persons who know what took place at that interview, Mr. Cameron
and yourself, but we are certain that the purpose of it was to
urge Mr. Cameron to complete the contract for munitions of war
which was under discussion. It is also quite likely that,
failing in this, you sought the return of the compromising
letters which you had written to him."
The enraged diplomat made a desperate dash for the freedom of
the hills, such a short distance away, but was brought back by
a guard--brought back almost frenzied with the hate of the boy
that possessed him.
"Sit down," thundered the lieutenant. "Another break of that
kind will lead to handcuffs."
Don Miguel obeyed, throwing himself on the ground as far as
possible from his accuser. With a smile Nestor moved closer
to him and went on.
"You did not get the letters. They are now safe in the vaults
of the War department. Why you did not secure them I cannot
say, for they were later found on the desk. One strong point
in your favor, when the accusation is weighed, is that you did
not take the letters. Had you left Mr. Cameron unconscious,
you certainly would have secured them."
The harassed man lifted his eyes as if about to comment on the
spoken words, but finally decided to remain silent.
"Mr. Cameron was attacked that night by some person having murder
in his heart, and an innocent boy is accused of the crime. As I
stated a moment ago, the fact that the incriminating letters were
not taken speaks in your defense, still, you might have been
frightened away after striking the blow."
Jim Scoby and Felix, who had been listening intently to the
conversation, now whispered together for a moment, glancing
malevolently toward Don Miguel as they did so. The latter saw
the looks of hate and said a few words in Spanish which Nestor
could not understand.
It seemed to the boy that the three men were endeavoring to arrive
at some mutual defensive understanding with each other, so he asked
Lieutenant Gordon to separate them. He did not propose to have
any secret compact made there before his eyes.
"But there is still another view of the case," Nestor continued,
after listening for a moment to the enraged protests of the
three prisoners, who objected to the action that had been taken,
"for, even if you did not attack Mr. Cameron, you might have
sent some person in to do the work after your departure. You
might have depended upon this accomplice to secure the letters.
I don't know. The courts must decide.
"Anyway, whether you left Mr. Cameron in an unconscious state or not,
his suite was visited by others soon after your departure. At least
two persons were there, but I do not know whether they entered at
the same moment or not. These men copied a paper they found in the
Tolford estate envelope--the description of a lost mine--and went
away. When Fremont entered the rooms, after all these visits, he
found Mr. Cameron unconscious.
"It seems reasonable to suppose that one of you three men attacked
Mr. Cameron--either Jim Scoby, Felix, or yourself, Don Miguel. We
do not know which one dealt the blow, or whether you were all in
the conspiracy against him, so we are taking you back to New York
for trial. The matter of treason against you can be taken up later on."
"Your story is not exact, and your suppositions are forced," Don Miguel
said, with a sneer, as if about to confound the conclusions of the boy
with the logic of a man. "As purchasing agent for a perfectly legitimate
concern, I visited that suite that night in the interest of the contract
referred to by you. I was disappointed in the outcome of the negotiations,
but I did not ask for the letters. They were confidential, and Mr. Cameron
promised to regard them as such. When I left his office, Mr. Cameron was
at work at his desk. That is all I have to say."
"And I was in that suite that night," Jim Scoby broke in. "I went in
with a key I had had made, for the night-lock was on. I found Cameron
unconscious on the couch. Felix, the man who sits there, entered with me.
We were after the mine paper, and we got a copy of it. He will tell you
whether what I have said is the truth."
"What Scoby says is the truth," Felix grunted.
The three prisoners had the earnestness of men telling the truth.
They admitted having visited the Cameron suite on the night of the
tragedy, and told how and why they went there. At least they gave
good reasons for going, that of Don Miguel being legitimate, that
of the others based on crime, for they admitted that they went
there to steal a paper from the Tolford estate envelope, or,
at least, to copy it.
The three admitted all that Nestor had discovered, and nothing else.
Was this because they knew that he was certain of his facts regarding
the visits and the men who had made them? Anyway, there was no dispute
as to the details. It was the important conclusion that was denied.
"If you found Mr. Cameron lying there unconscious," Nestor asked of
Scoby, "why didn't you summon help? You had no cause for enmity against
him, had you?"
"I wasn't there as first aid to the wounded," replied Scoby, sullenly.
"I was there on business, and in danger of being caught at it, at that.
Besides, I looked Cameron over, and thought he was out for the count
and nothing more. Why don't you ask that foxy-looking guy over there,"
pointing to Don Miguel, "what he done it for?"
Don Miguel glared at Scoby, but said nothing.
"He says Cameron was well and hearty when he went in there. Well,
Cameron wasn't well at all when he went in there, and I don't believe
there was anybody in there between us. You search him for a reason."
"Were the lights on when you went in there?" asked Nestor.
"Yes," was the reply.
"And you switched them off?"
Scoby nodded and glanced toward Felix,
"How long was it after you left the room that Fremont came up?"
Both men refused to make any definite statement as to this, and Nestor
saw that they were concealing something, that he had struck a feature
of the case upon which they had made no agreement as to what should be
told and what kept secret.
"These men are trying to put their crime on me," Don Miguel now said,
fury in his tone. "They know that I left Mr. Cameron working at his
desk. They were in the corridor and saw me pass down the elevator,
which was making its last trip at that moment. They were whispering
in a corner, in sight of the door to the Cameron suite. They took
advantage of circumstances to place the crime on me."
This was what Nestor was aiming at. The three men, the only ones there
that night, so far as he knew, were quarreling with each other. This
would help in bringing out the truth. He decided to talk no more on
the case for the time being.
"We ought to be looking up the boys," he said, by way of changing the subject.
"It will be daylight very soon now," Lieutenant Gordon replied, "and
then something may be done. Rest assured that we shall do all we can
to bring them back."
"It appears to me," Nestor said, thoughtfully, "that you ought to be
getting these prisoners over the river."
"Yes, that is important," said the lieutenant.
"We do not know what is going on over there," the boy continued.
"The arms which this man succeeded in purchasing may be on this
side, for all we know. In that case, war may break out at any moment."
"Perhaps I would better start at once," agreed the lieutenant.
"Our boys over the river are prepared for a raid?" asked Nestor.
"Yes, all ready."
"Then you would better get the prisoners over before the trouble begins."
He turned to Don Miguel with a smile and asked:
"How is it? Were the arms you bought delivered on this side,
or did the United States troops stop them?"
"They were to have been sent across last night," with a grin of triumph.
"And the signal from the peak shortly after midnight?"
"The O.K. signal meant that the men were there ready to receive them."
"Then you anticipate rescue almost immediately?" asked Lieutenant Gordon.
Don Miguel shrugged his slender shoulders.
"The hills are full of men," he said. "If they are armed--well."
"And you will accompany us? asked Gordon of Nestor.
"I shall remain here and look after my friends" was the reply.
"After all, one may be able to accomplish more than half a dozen.
Get the prisoners over the border before the shooting begins,
and I will find the lost boys."
When the secret service men turned down the slope, Nestor moved toward the summit.
WOLVES ON THE MOUNTAIN.
"And so you are George Fremont, the scoundrel wanted by the
police of New York City for attempted murder and robbery--the
rascal for whose capture there is a reward of $10,000 offered!"
As the renegade repeated the accusation, his eyes flashed
malignantly. Fremont listened silently, apparently unmoved
by the vilifying words.
A moment's reflection convinced Jimmie--still observing the
group from the shelter of his rocky hiding place--that the
arrival of the messenger had slightly improved the situation
so far as the interests of his friends were concerned. The
critical moment had for the present passed or been delayed,
and the prisoner was no longer threatened with immediate death.
Jimmie, too, had been temporarily relieved of the responsibility
of the act he had decided upon--the shooting of the renegade if
he lifted an arm to signal the murder of the prisoner.
Still, Fremont was yet in the power of the renegade, and might soon
be, through the latter's malice and greed, in the hands of the
Mexican police and on his way back to the Tombs unless something
was done immediately. Before, the renegade had been alone in his
wish for the destruction of the boy; that is, alone of all the
group about him, and of all the outlaws gathering in the mountains.
Now, with the news of the reward published abroad by the messenger
and the renegade, every native man, woman and child in Mexico
would take a personal interest in delivering the prisoner to
officials competent to hand over the large reward.
Jimmie listened intently and with a fastbeating heart for the
strident voice of a drum. It seemed to him that Peter Fenton
had been gone long enough to gain the camp. The secret service
men, he knew, had not had time to reach the point of danger, but
they had, he thought, had time enough to make a noise like an
advancing army. There were bright-plumaged birds singing in
the early sunshine, but no indications of the approach of the
help Fenton had gone to arouse. What the next move of the
renegade and his companions would be the boy could not even
guess. He hoped, however, that the party would linger about
the vicinity until the secret service men could come up.
This hope, however, was soon shattered. The renegade Englishman
consulted with the messenger for some moments, pointing away to
the north, as he did so, and then the outlaws were ordered into
line, Fremont placed in the center, and all moved in the direction
which had been pointed out.
The course of travel, although due north in general, wound among
crags and through little canons, over level plateaux and along
dangerous precipices, it being the possible desire of the renegade
to work his way to the Rio Grande without coming into contact with
officers or hostile groups of armed men who might demand a division
of the fat reward offered for the arrest of the boy.
Owing to the character of the surface, Jimmie was obliged to wait
for some moments before following on after the party. In fact, it
was only by moving cautiously and keeping cliffs and crags between
himself and the renegade's group of outlaws that the boy could make
progress without being seen.
Before leaving the spot where the prisoner had stood, Jimmie selected
a rock of the size of a two-gallon jug, placed it in plain view, and
laid on top of it a smaller rock. At the left he placed another stone,
the size of the one on top. This would direct any of the boys who might
come too late to his relief.
During his Boy Scout excursions the boy had often used this "Indian
talk" to inform his friends of the course he had taken. All Boy Scouts
are supposed to be versed in "Signs in Stones." The large rock with the
small one on top read, "Here the trail begins." The smaller stone to
the left read, "Turn to the left." If the stone had been placed on the
right it would have read, "Turn to the right." If he had built a pyramid
of three stones, two on top of the large one, it would have read, "You
Proceed cautiously." Jimmie knew that Fenton understood signs in stones,
and would therefore have no difficulty in following him if he came up
As the boy followed on to the north, now and then sliding down declivities,