Part 4 out of 4
Jim Scoby, sitting against the wall near the hearth, groaning
dismally with the pain of his broken leg, cast a keen glance
at the big fellow and smiled--an ugly smile which informed
those who saw it of his belief that Big Bob was now beyond
the power of speech. Indeed, this did seem to be the fact
for a moment, but then the renegade opened his eyes and
motioned to the lieutenant.
"I want to tell you who attacked Cameron!" he said.
A string of curses escaped the lips of the watchman, but they
were almost unnoticed in the excitement caused by the words of
the dying man.
Nestor and Fremont drew nearer at a motion from Big Bob. Seeing
that his profanity did not avail, the watchman set up a loud cry,
in fact, a succession of loud cries, as if with the intention of
drowning the voice of the speaker. He was silenced only when one
of the secret service men threatened him with a billet of wood
picked up from the floor.
"I reckon this story ain't goin' to do that geezer no good!" Jimmie
said, in a shrill whisper which brought smiles to the faces of his
"Sure not!" returned Frank. "This is the fourth man, and he was
there that night. Can you guess whom he will accuse?" he added,
with an eager glance at Jimmie, who promptly shook his head and
came closer to the group on the hearth.
"I had been hanging around the Cameron building for some days,"
Big Bob began, feebly, "hoping to get a look at the Tolford papers.
I had bribed Scoby, and he was helping me all he could. It was
for me that he got the key to the suite made."
Seeing that the man would not be likely to survive long enough to
tell the story as he had begun, Nestor said:
"Wouldn't it answer if I asked you questions on the points we are
most interested in clearing up? We can get through quicker that way."
Big Bob nodded, and the boy asked:
"You saw Don Miguel there?"
"Yes; he was there."
"Nod or shake your head if you find your voice failing," advised
Lieutenant Gordon, and the big fellow expressed his satisfaction
with the arrangement by a look.
"Was Mr. Cameron working at his desk when you left him?"
An emphatic nod.
"Then that clears Don Miguel," said Nestor. "Who next entered the room?"
Big Bob glanced toward Jim Scoby, still snarling at the group.
"Was Felix with him?"
"Yes; Felix and myself," was the unexpected reply.
"It is a lie!" shouted Scoby. "I never saw him that night."
"You'll see stars in a minute, if you have got a broken leg, if you
keep on interrupting!" said the secret service man, and Scoby
subsided for the time being.
"Was the door locked when you entered?"
A nod from Big bob.
"And was Mr. Cameron there, sitting with the door locked, still at
work at his desk?" was the next question.
"He was not there. He had been called away."
This was a new feature of the case, for Nestor had not considered
Mr. Cameron's absence from the room as among the possibilities.
"Was he out of the building?" he asked.
Big Bob shook his head.
"And while he was away you three entered with the false key?"
Another nod. Fremont motioned for him to go on, but Nestor laid a
hand on his shoulder.
"Let me see if I can't help you," he said. "I think I can state
the case now. You were waiting about the building to secure the
Tolford papers, and Scoby and Felix were with you. After the
departure of Don Miguel you caused a telephone call to be sent
to Mr. Cameron--a call taking him to another part of the building.
Is that right?"
The injured man smiled faintly and nodded.
"There were no telephone calls there that night!" howled the
night watchman. "He is lying to you!"
"Mr. Cameron left the room, locking it after him," Nestor went on,
"and you three entered and began looking for the Tolford papers?
Is that right?"
Another nod from the big fellow on the floor.
"And you found the papers, after searching the safe and the desk,
and Felix held the mine description while you copied it?"
"He read it off to me," was the reply.
"Now, what other paper in the Tolford envelope did you copy?"
This question brought a shake of the head.
"The will was there?"
"And you took that away with you, leaving a forged instrument in its place?"
It was now Fremont's turn to look amazed. He turned to Nestor
with an eager look in his eyes.
"How did you know that?" he asked.
Nestor motioned for him to remain quiet. It was clear that
Big Bob's hours were numbered, even his minutes.
"You are one of the heirs to the Tolford estate, and you objected
to the manner in which the property was left by Julius Tolford,
especially as it was left mostly to Cole Tolford and his heirs.
So you made a new will, as much like the old one as you could
manage, and left it in the envelope?"
"Yes, I did that!"
"I thought so," said Nestor. "And you made a bad job out of it,
for I had no difficulty in discovering the deception when I looked
through the papers that night. The false will was on stained
paper, like the other instruments, but the others were stained
with age, while the one you introduced into the lot was colored
Big Bob nodded and looked with astonishment at the boy.
"And Mr. Cameron came back and found you three in the suite?" Nestor went on.
Big Bob shook his head.
"You left before he returned?"
Another shake of the head, then the man whispered:
"Scoby was watching for him outside."
The night watchman seemed like a man about to throw a fit. He writhed
about the floor, regardless of his injured leg, and tried to reach
"And Scoby struck him down?" asked Nestor.
There was a strained silence in the room as they all waited for the
reply, already suggested by Big Bob's previous words.
"Yes," he whispered. "Scoby struck him down with a billy."
The accused man dropped back against the wall and his eyes closed.
It was plain that the words, together with his previous exertions
and pain, had taken the nerve all out of the fellow.
"But Scoby did not do this of his own notion," Nestor went on,
remorselessly. "It was done by your orders. You had bribed
him to do it. It was your idea that if Cameron was killed no
one would ever be able to detect the substitution of the false
will for the original one."
Big Bob nodded, but did not stop there.
"I wanted to take no chances," he said, with a choke in his voice.
"I wanted the property! I did not care for the mine especially,
but I told Scoby that that was my motive--the securing of the
description. I wanted to clear my title to the entire estate.
If the boy working there that night had not followed Fremont
into the room, he, Fremont, would have been attacked also."
"Then Fremont stood in your way?" asked Nestor.
Fremont, remembering Big Bob's talk with him about his early
association with Mr. Cameron, his mention of the will, bent
closer, a startled expression on his face.
"Yes, he stood in my way," was the reply. "He is the son of
Cole Tolford, who was killed in New York a long time ago,
and would have inherited the property."
"And Mr. Cameron knew that?" asked Nestor, his old suspicions,
voiced to Fremont at the time they talked of Mother Scanlon,
recurring to his mind.
"Of course he knew," was the reply. "With Cameron out of the way,
and the boy ignorant of his parentage, I would have been safe.
Still, I thought best to put Fremont out of my way also. Then
there could have been no danger, for I was the next heir."
"I understand!" Nestor said, greatly shocked at the revelation
of the cold-blooded murder plot. "You had seen Fremont about
the building, and yet you pretended not to know him after your
men had taken him prisoner?"
"I knew him," was the faint reply. "My men captured the boy
I described to them. I preferred that my men should think I
had captured a marplot who had ruined their plans. Then they
would have thought nothing of my killing him. But Ren Downs interfered."
"That is the man who lies dead out there?"
Another nod from the injured man, now almost too weak to talk.
"It was your intention to kill Fremont? You wanted him to try
to escape and have him shot down by another?"
"Yes, that was my plan. And Scoby and Felix if necessary.
I came here for that."
"Great Scott!" whispered Frank. "I reckon this chap got just
what was coming to him! Only he ought to be hanged!"
"Hush!" whispered Nestor. "Look!"
Big Bob opened his eyes wider, shot out one hairy hand, gave
a convulsive motion which shook his great frame so that the
floor of the frail hut trembled, and then the end came. Later,
when the body was given rude burial, the original will was found
in a pocket of the dead man's coat, together with letters from
his brother, Cole Tolford, asking him to go to New York, search
out Mother Scanlon, and protect his son.
"Congratulations are in order, Mr. Black Bear!" Shaw whispered,
as the papers were handed to Fremont, "but, somehow, I feel like
waiting until we get back to little old New York before showing
any enthusiasm. This has been a tragic trip."
The other members of the party seemed to feel the same way, for
the revelation of the dreadful plot and the death of Samuel Tolford,
known as Big Bob, had cast a gloom over the party which not even
the clearing up of the mystery could shake off.
READY FOR THE CANAL ZONE.
"This is the end of the case," Frank Shaw said, covering the
face of the dead man with a handkerchief. "Fremont is free
to go back to New York, taking his mine with him! Nestor
was right when he declared that the solution of the Cameron
mystery lay on this side of the Rio Grande."
"But the object of our visit has not yet been accomplished,"
Nestor said, "and so I can't go back with you. Perhaps you
would better leave me in charge of the mine!"
"You are wrong," Lieutenant Gordon said, then, "the object
of our journey is accomplished. I was ready to announce
the fact when you stopped me to listen to the last words
of the poor wretch who lies there."
"Do you mean that the arms and ammunition were stopped
on the other side?" demanded Nestor.
That is what the signals said! When I left Don Miguel in
charge of the secret service men at San Jose and came back
into the hills to find you, I left word with the men to
climb to the top and signal if the news came that the arms
had been stopped. I don't know just how they got the news,
but it is undoubtedly reliable. The arms are in Uncle Sam's
possession. The rag-tag-and-bob-tail-of-creation fellows
we have seen skulking about here will have to go away
without a fight."
"That is too bad!" grunted Frank. "I wanted to see a raid!"
"It is better as it is," replied Nestor.
"And the signals told me something else," continued the lieutenant.
"Something about your end of the case," he added, turning to Fremont.
"About Mr. Cameron?" asked the boy, excitedly. "He is--"
"In his right mind again, and knows who struck him."
Then the Black Bears and the Wolves joined hands and actually danced
about the old hut until it seemed about to collapse. The secret
service men looked on and smiled at the sight of so much happiness.
Then Fremont asked:
"And he will live?"
"There is no doubt of it," was the reply. "I do not know the details,
for one rocket told me that he was in his right mind again, and another
that he would live."
"Then we can all go back to New York and get ready for the trip down the
river!" said Jimmie. "You fellers can ride on cushions and I'll hoof it."
"Say," cried Stevens, in a moment, "if this raid scare is all over,
get a couple of drums and let Frank and Peter drum their heads off."
"I don't want to drum," Frank said, "not here, anyway! I don't want
to go down the Rio Grande, either. I've had enough of Mexico."
He turned to the night watchman with a shudder and bent over him.
The man's face was whiter than before, and his form seemed rigid.
Seeing the boy's action, Lieutenant Gordon also stooped down.
When he arose his face was grave.
"Prussic acid!" he said. "It seems that he was prepared for an emergency!"
"The last of the three conspirators!" Nestor said. "To wander through
the world until past middle age and then to come to this! But it is
It was daylight now, and the burials took place. After taking a very
light breakfast, the party started back over the mountain. They
passed up the ravines and canyons to the mine, and Lieutenant Gordon
ascended the mountain of crushed rock and entered the gold chamber.
"There is a fortune here," he said looking about. "What are you going
to do with it?" he added, turning to Fremont.
"I had not thought of that," was the reply.
"You'd better be thinking about it!" said Jimmie. "Some one will
come down here and geezle it!"
"No one will ever find it," Fremont said.
"But we found it!" Stevens remarked.
"There are a couple of men in my company," the lieutenant said,
then, "who are anxious to get out of the service. Why not leave
them here to keep possession? After this revolution is over,
you can come down here and work it, or they can handle it for you.
They are honest and capable."
When spoken with about the matter the men were eager to undertake
the task of guarding the mine until peace should be restored,
after which they were willing to undertake its development.
And so, when the party left, these men stood on the shelf of
rock by the opening, reminding Lieutenant Gordon and Fremont
for the twentieth time to be sure to send up provisions. It
is needless to add that the provisions were sent!
When the party reached El Paso one of the first men they met
was Don Miguel, who smiled in a sarcastic manner as he greeted Nestor.
"And so you were released?" the boy asked.
"On orders from Washington," was the reply.
"The case ended when the arms were captured," Nestor said.
"And if they had not been taken?"
"If a raid had actually taken place, you would have been charged
with murder," was the quiet reply.
"Only for you," snarled the other, "my plans would have succeeded."
"Only for the strange combination of circumstances which brought
us both to the Cameron building that night, you should say,"
Nestor replied. "It chanced that we appeared on the scene in
time to interrupt a murder plot."
"It is fate!" Don Miguel said, with a frown. "It was to be.
Why, half the police officers in New York might have visited
the suite without seeing anything significant in those letters.
And even if they had found them interesting reading, they would
not have been capable of smashing all our plans. At the beginning
of the world it was set that you were to be there that night! It is fate!"
Don Miguel bowed to the boy and took himself off. The government,
fearing international complications, had ordered his release, and the
boy was glad of it. The boys were all back in New York in two days,
accompanied by Lieutenant Gordon, who was interested in seeing that
Nestor received a suitable reward for what he had done. When the
check finally came from Washington Nestor was so surprised at its
size that he sought the lieutenant, who laughed at him.
"Uncle Sam always pays well," he said, "and he wants a little
more of your time!"
"Wants me?" asked Nestor.
"Well, he asks me to get some keen fellows together and go down
to the Canal Zone and look into a bit of treason."
"And you want me to go?" cried the boy, almost disbelieving his own ears.
"It is just this way," the lieutenant said. "I want some one with
me who can act and act quickly, and who can think on the spur of the
moment. Also some one who will not be suspected of being in the
secret service of the government."
"I see!" cried the boy, his eyes flashing.
"And so," continued the lieutenant, "I was thinking that you might
get some of the Black Bears and Wolves we had in Mexico to go down
there and look about. Where is little Jimmie? I like the boy."
"Fremont has about adopted him!" laughed Nestor. "I guess the boy
will have an easy life from this time on."
"And Fremont is now the acknowledged heir?"
"Oh, yes. Mr. Cameron is holding the property until he comes of age,
but is giving him the income, which is very large, to say nothing of
"Mr. Cameron, of course, knew that Fremont was the heir?"
"Oh, yes, he knew, and he had statements from Mother Scanlon to
prove it. It was all clear for Fremont before the crime was
committed. A lucky boy!"
"Of course he appreciates your efforts in his behalf?"
"Does he? Why, he wants me to stop working and come and play
with him for the remainder of my life! Suppose I take him to
Panama if you really want me to go?"
"I certainly do, and for the reason given," was the reply.
"Get some of the Black Bears and Wolves together and organize
an excursion to the Canal Zone. You must not mix with me,
or the other secret service men down there, but you must keep
us posted as to what you discover."
"That will be a picnic," cried Nestor. "What is doing down there?"
"I don't know much about it myself," was the reply, "except that
it is a plot to stop the building of the canal. You'll find out
soon enough when you get down there. When can you go?"
"In three days," was the answer. "Just as soon as I can round up
the boys. The folks down there will think a menagerie has struck
town when they see all the wild animals creeping in on them.
Say, what would Uncle Sam do if it wasn't for the Boy Scouts
of America?" he added, with a laugh.
"Couldn't exist!" smiled the lieutenant.
It is needless to say that the prospect of a trip to Panama,
with a little intrigue thrown in, pleased the boys greatly,
and in three days they were ready to start, waiting only for
orders from Lieutenant Gordon.
What they did and what they saw and heard in the Canal Zone will
be told in the forthcoming book of this series entitled, "Boy Scouts
in the Canal Zone; or Plot Against Uncle Sam."