Part 3 out of 3
"Didn't know there was anything meaner than opium," Jack said.
"There is a drug that is used by old soaks after the poppy stuff gets
too mild for them," replied Sandy. "Perhaps these men got some of that.
Keep quiet, boys!"
This last as Frank and Hans came through the tunnel and stood staring at
the men on the floor and their chums.
"Who did it?" asked Frank.
"Sandy did it!" answered Jack. "Ain't he the broth of a lad? Sure he's
"Perhaps we'd better be getting out," Sandy observed. "I hear some one
upstairs. They're comin' down here, too."
WHY ESCAPE WAS SO EASY
As Sandy finished speaking two figures dropped down the ladder, not
stopping to descend rung by rung. As they landed on the floor the boys
sprang toward them, ready to make a battle for their liberty. Then came
Instead of making hostile demonstrations, the two newcomers, Chinamen so
far as appearances went, threw up their hands and dropped back against
the wall. Then shouts of laughter echoed through the place.
Directly the newcomers seemed to forget to keep their hands up, for they
gripped their waists with them and roared. There was something about
the laughter, too, which was not at all like the Orient.
"Go it!" Jack exclaimed.
"Have your fun before we come to settlement with you," Frank threatened.
"Let me soak heem!" Hans pleaded.
Sandy stood by with wonder showing in his face.
"What kind of a play house is this?" he asked. And still the others
laughed, bending over, now, and covering their faces with their hands.
The change from tragedy to comedy had been so sudden that for a time the
boys did nothing at all to solve the mystery of the sudden outbreak of
Then Frank stepped closer and peered down at the larger of the two
figures. Then he turned his searchlight on the bowed head.
Then a smile came over his face and he reached out a hand and took the
bobbing pigtail into his hand and gave it a quick jerk. The result was
The pigtail came away in his hand, and with it a bunch of coarse hair
and an odor!
"Look here, kids!" Frank cried. "Look who's here!"
It was Ned, and the shaking figure by his side was that of Jimmie. In a
moment both were out of their disguises and making an inspection of the
tunnels and the underground chamber.
"You've got Herlock Sholmes beaten to a frazzle," said Jack, as Ned
stooped over to examine the knocked-out Chinamen.
"How did you do it?" demanded Frank. "We thought you were on the road
to Peking until we heard some of the Chinks talking, not long after
daybreak, then we thought you might be in trouble."
"It was long after daybreak when we mixed with the bunch," Jimmie
answered. "Anythin' you heard before eight o'clock was fright an' not
Sandy was now presented and his share in the adventures of the night
given proper recognition.
"I thought he was a sneak at first," Jack explained, "but he showed us
the way out in the end."
"What did you go an' sit down there an' wait for?" asked Jimmie. "Why
didn't you get a move on?"
"They did the very thing they should have done," Ned remarked. "If they
had tried to fight their way out they might have been killed,' as there
was, I am told, a strong guard here at daybreak."
"But how did you get here?" asked Frank.
"When we got out of the old temple," Ned replied, "we had no motorcycles
to go on with, so we came back to hunt up more. There was little use in
going on by any way other than the one mapped out for us.
"The scamp we almost captured had been kind enough to tell us that you
boys were in trouble and perhaps that had something to do with our
"But how did you get here?"
"Easy," laughed Ned. "We knew that you boys had been captured, and it
was easy to see who had had a hand in it. The people at the telegraph
office would know more about the matter than any one else.
"So we went to the American consulate and got into these disguises. The
consul says he never saw anything smoother, though he must be prejudiced
in our favor, for he helped get up the disguises himself.
"Then we went to the vicinity of the telegraph office and waited. In a
moment we saw that something unusual was going on. Directly a messenger
started off in this direction and we followed him. I knew then, as well
as I know it now, that you boys had been detained in the hope of keeping
us all out of Peking, so I bought some strong opium on the way and doped
the pipes of the guards after I mixed with them."
"How could you mix with them?" asked Jack. "You know about as much
Chinese as a robin."
"Oh, they thought we were sullen brutes sent down from their
headquarters, and took us into their confidence all right. We were just
ready to explore the underground places when we heard the scrap below."
"And now what?" asked Frank.
"Now, we're goin' to Peking!" cried Jimmie.
"You said that before!" Jack taunted.
"Well, we didn't get tied up in a hole we couldn't get out of," retorted
the little fellow.
"I guess you'd have been in the old temple until now if you hadn't
traveled with an escort," Jack cut in.
The boys, laughing and "roasting" each other, passed up the ladder and
to the half earthen, half-board floor of the mud hut. There they found
the woman Chee moving about with a swollen face.
She tried to talk with Ned, but as neither could understand what the
other said, little progress was made. However, she finally managed to
make Ned understand that she wanted him to take the unconscious men out
of the cellar, also the man who had been tied up by Jack and Sandy.
Ned finally made her understand that she could call the police half an
hour after their departure. This seemed to satisfy her, and the piece
of silver Ned presented was received with many gestures of gratitude.
"Won't the finding of them men there get her into trouble?" asked Sandy,
as the lads walked away.
"I'll explain the matter to the American consul," answered Ned, "and ask
him to inform the authorities. You see, these people who are making us
all this trouble are about as afraid of the officers as they are of us.
The government is keeping a sharp lookout for the revolutionary leaders,
and some are captured every day."
"What do they do with them?" asked Jack.
"They are never heard of again."
"Murdered? Without trial?"
"That is the belief."
"Then why don't we ask this good, wise, benevolent, sane, and all the
rest of it government to keep the revolutionary party off Uncle Sam?"
asked Jack. "We represent Uncle Samuel, you know."
"Because," was the reply, "there are spies in every branch and
department of the government. While the traitors who are serving the
government while seeking its destruction may not be powerful enough to
secure the release of such confederates as are caught, they are
undoubtedly able to send out reports calculated to assist their party."
"And every move we made under the protection of the Chinese government
would be noted and reported," mused Jack. "I see how it is! Guess the
people at Washington knew what they were about when they issued
instructions regarding the trip to Peking."
"Yes, I think they did," Ned replied. "Observe how they tested us. We
did not know about the cablegram at the office here when we started on
our long ride. If we had weakened in any way we never should have known
about it, but would have been ordered back home."
"Land flowing with milk and honey, and breakfast foods, and choice beef
cuts at a dollar a pound!" Jack exclaimed now. "Are we never going to
get anything to eat?"
"I haf one vacancy!" observed Hans, laying a hand on his stomach. "I
haf a misery!"
"You had a good breakfast, Jack!" reproved Frank.
"What! Where! What was it? Yes, I haf a breakfast two days ago. This
morning I haf cellar air for breakfast. It isn't nourishing. Where is
there an eatery?"
Before long Ned stopped at a little tea house where an American sign
hung in a window, and the boys ordered such viands as the place
afforded. It was not much of a meal, as Jack insisted, but just a
teaser for a dinner which would be procured later on.
"Where are the marines?" asked Frank, as he and Ned seated themselves at
a little table apart from the others.
"Encamped in the grove," was the reply.
"They will not be attacked there?" asked Frank, in some amazement.
"Certainly not. All Chinamen hate us, but we are safe except when the
revolutionists take a hand in the game. The marines are probably
surrounded by a crowd of sullen curiosity seekers, but they will not be
molested unless the revolutionists decide to take another chance with
"And the machines are gone for good?"
"No, the American consul is getting them back, or was when I left his
office, one by one. The men who were fighting were too frightened to
take the machines with them, but the mob got them. They were taken by
individual thieves, and will soon be restored."
"We ought to have come over in our aeroplane," smiled Frank.
"That would have defeated our purpose," Ned replied. "We are here to
catch the leaders of this conspiracy, and the only way we can do it is
to wait until they show themselves.
"Just see how foolish they are!" Ned went on. "If they had been content
to wait, to manufacture such evidence as they needed to show their
innocence, we could never have located them. They would have lied us
out of countenance if we charged any one man with being the leader, or
any one nation with fostering the conspiracy.
"But they tried to make a clean record for themselves by wiping us off
the face of the earth and so showed themselves to us. I am told by
police officers that if criminals would keep away from women, away from
the scenes of their crimes, and keep their mouths shut when given the
famous--and disgraceful--third degree, not one in twenty would ever be
"Well," Frank said, "here's hoping that the man we want will come within
After breakfast the boys headed for the American consulate, where they
found the machines which had been stolen.
"That was quick work," Ned congratulated. "How did you do it?"
The consul laughed.
"Why," he replied, "you might as well try to bide a fifty story building
in China as one of those machines! The natives believe the devil is in
"I've known Americans to express the same opinion," laughed Frank.
While they talked with the consul a message was brought him from the
telegraph office. It read:
"Nothing to report but disaster," he said.
"Well," the consul replied, "we expected something of the kind. You
have gained the very point we expected you to gain. You know exactly
who is at the head of this mess. Thinking he had you where you would
never get away, he talked too much."
"I think I should know him in any disguise," Ned said. "I should know
him anywhere, and under any circumstances. Do you think he would have
kept faith with me if I had given up the documents and promised never to
implicate either his country or himself in the trouble?"
"Certainly not. The fact that he revealed himself to you shows that he
meant to have you murdered there. Only for the marines breaking in just
as they did, it would have been all off with you, my boy."
"He must be a treacherous old chap!" Ned commented.
"His life and everything he loves is at stake."
"Then he should have kept out of the mess! Why should he want to get us
into a war?"
"My boy," replied the consul, "we are sure to have a war with some great
European nation before many years."
"Because the people are getting too thick over here. Because they are
going to America in droves. Because the governments of Europe desire to
retain control of their people after they leave the confines of their
own countries. They want English, German, Russian, Italian, French
colonies held under their hand instead of a mass of their subjects doing
reverence to a foreign flag."
"And they will fight for that?"
"Of course. The only way we can keep out of a great and disastrous war
is to abandon the Philippines, throw our island possessions to the dogs,
and tumble the Monroe doctrine into the sea. Then these foreign nations
can buy, steal, or conquer all South and Central America. We don't want
the land there, and we can't afford to fight for the dagoes who live
"There is too much jingo in our country to ever do what you suggest,"
"I'm afraid you are right," the consul replied. "But now to business.
Get your machines here and mount them! You are to leave for Peking
"And I'll not come back until I reach the town!" declared the boy.
"By the way," said the consul, "where are the papers you took from the
captain of the Shark--the boat you fought with your submarine?"
"I have them here," was the reply.
"Better leave them in my safe."
Ned consented to this, and later, on the march to Peking, he was very
glad that he had done.
At twilight the boys joined the flying squadron, and were all off for
the imperial city, little suspecting that the perils before them were
greater than any they had encountered.
A BIT OF SEALING WAX
The night grew clearer as the flying squadron advanced toward the
imperial city of China. The roads were rough in places, but the superb
machines carried the boys and their companions at good speed.
It may well be imagined that the party created something of a sensation
as it whirled along. The constant popping of the engines, the strong
lights which flashed ahead, and the voices of the marines brought many a
sleepy-faced Chinaman to the door of his home.
Now and then the boys were hailed from the roadside, but little
attention was paid to these calls. Finally, however, a voice addressed
the party in English.
"Where are you going?" it asked.
Ned instructed the Captain to proceed a few paces with his company and
then halted to see what manner of man it was that spoke to him in that
tongue. He found an old Chinaman, a wise-looking old fellow with a keen
face, leaning over a rude gate in front of a small house.
"Did you speak?" he asked, advancing to the gate.
"I did," was the reply. "I was curious to know where you were going in
the middle of the night."
"You speak English remarkably well," Ned said, not in any hurry to
satisfy the old fellow's curiosity.
"I ought to," was the reply. "I have just come back from New York. I
owned a laundry there for a good many years."
"And have returned to China to live in peace and comfort?"
"I don't know about the peace," replied the Chinaman, with a sigh.
"You think there will be a war?"
The Chinaman nodded.
"The coming revolt," he declared, "was conceived more than two hundred
years ago. For fifty years organization has been going on. For six
years the revolutionists have been working as a whole."
"And they are strong?" asked Ned.
"Wherever in the world Chinamen live, in New York, Chicago, San
Francisco, Boston, London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, anywhere, everywhere,
there are funds being collected for the coming civil war."
Ned wanted to ask the loquacious old fellow what his private ideas about
the justice of the struggle were, but he decided not to do so. He
thought he might find out in another way.
"And the revolutionists will win?" he asked.
"God forbid!" was the reply, and the boy had the answer he thought he
Still, he was not satisfied that the old fellow was telling the exact
truth regarding his sentiments. It was the revolutionists he had to
battle with, and not the federalists. This retired laundryman might
"Anyway," the boy thought, "the fellow seems desirous of keeping me here
as long as possible. This, of course, may be because of a desire for
the companionship of one of the race he has lived with so long, but I do
not think so."
Pretending to be deeply interested in what the Chinaman was saying, he
excused himself for a moment and beckoned to Jimmie.
"Lead your motorcycle noiselessly up that rise of ground," he directed,
"and when you get there keep your eyes wide open."
"What for?" demanded the boy.
"For whatever comes in sight," replied Ned. "Keep the line of vision
from this house to whatever may be beyond unimpaired if it is possible
to do so. If you observe anything unusual, report to me."
"All righto!" cried the boy.
Ned saw Jimmie making a noiseless progress up the little hill and turned
back to the man at the gate. Instantly the latter offered refreshments,
for the entire party, and seemed disappointed when the offer was
"You're going to Peking on business?" the Chinaman finally asked.
"Yes," was the short answer.
"Why do you ride in the night?"
"Because we must get there in the morning."
"But there is another day."
"Always there is another day in the Far East," Ned smiled, "but we of
the West count only on what we can do before that other day arrives."
The two talked on for half an hour, while the marines muttered
complaints and Frank and Jack rolled themselves in blankets and tried to
pay a visit to Dreamland. The previous night had been a hard one, and
they felt the need of more rest than they had been able to get during
After a time Ned became anxious. He had sent Jimmie on ahead with the
notion that something was going to happen there within a short time.
But all was still about the house and the small fields which surrounded
it. Jimmie did not return.
"I wonder if the little scamp is in trouble again?" thought Ned.
This seemed to be the natural solution of the puzzle of his long
absence, and Ned was about to send Frank on after him when the little
fellow came up to him.
"The Captain wants you to get a move on," the boy said.
Ned saw that Jimmie had something to say to him which was not for the
ears of the Chinaman, and walked away, followed by the urgent voice of
the former laundryman, who besought him to return and partake of
"In honor of old New York!" he added.
"Gee!" Jimmie muttered, as the boys stood alone together. "I was
thinkin' I'd struck the fourth of July."
"Up on the hill."
"So, they were using rockets?"
"Where did they ascend from?"
"From the other side of the hill, at this end, and from an old house at
the other end."
Ned stood for a moment without speaking. So the Chinaman had been
holding him in conversation while his tools had been signaling to some
one farther up the road!
This was practically what he had suspected. From the first he had
believed that the old fellow's purpose was to hold him there as long as
Signals would naturally be the outgrowth of such a plan, and Ned had
sent Jimmie on ahead--silently--in order to see where the other party
answered the signals from, if they were answered at all. As from the
opening of the case, he had planned to secure his information from his
enemies--from their actions and their presence or absence from the
position he occupied.
Directing the marines to follow on slowly, Ned awoke Frank and Jack.
The four climbed the hill slowly, watching the sky as they advanced.
The clouds lay low to the east, but in the west was a patch of clear
When they gained the summit of the rise, they saw a light in a little
grove some distance away. It seemed like a lantern moving out and in
among the trees.
"There," Jimmie explained, "when I got to the top of the hill, I saw a
rocket shoot out of that thicket. It did not ascend the sky, but follow
the line of the earth and died out in the road."
"Of course," Ned said. "A rocket sent up in the usual way would have
been visible from where we were standing."
"And, in a minute," the boy went on, "there came a rocket from that
house, the house where the light was a minute ago. That, too, followed
the ground line."
"Talking together in low tones!" grinned Jack.
"They were talkin' together, all right," Jimmie said.
"Dollars to dumplings," Frank exclaimed, "that the funny chap we met in
the old mud house at Taku has a room in that shack."
"He might have been hiding there," Ned said.
"An' that old stiff signaled to him to make his getaway?" asked the
"Looks like it," Ned replied.
"Huh!" Jack objected. "The signals might have told the men at the other
end of the line to get their soldiers out and bump us off the
"Which idea," responded Frank, "causes me to want to approach that house
with all due caution and respect."
"Suppose we four surround it," suggested Jimmie.
"That's the idea!" Jack commented.
"Just what I was about to propose," said Wed. "We'll leave the marines
within call and go up to this temporary signal station and see what
The Captain was communicated with, and then the four left the road and
moved around toward the rear of the house, keeping in the shadows of the
trees. Not until they reached the very door of the place were there any
signs of life there.
The lantern they had observed from a distance was seen no more. The
windows were dark and silent. But when they came to the door they found
As the crude latch was lifted, with a very slight creaking sound, a
movement was heard inside, and then a heavy body was heard striking the
ground at the rear. Then a was as silent as before.
"Someone jumped out of a window!" Jimmie whispered. "I hope he broke
There was to be no defense of the place, then! Whoever the inmates had
been, they were deserting the house.
Ned stationed Frank and Jack at the front and moved around to the rear
with Jimmie close behind. A rustle in the undergrowth told him that the
former occupants of the place were still about.
Jimmie darted in the direction of the noise, but was back again in a
"Might as well try to chase a ghost!" he said.
"Got clear away, did he?" asked Ned.
"You know it!" grunted the little fellow.
Frank and Jack were now heard in the house, and the rays of a
searchlight showed at a window, showed very faintly in cracks, for there
was a heavy wooden shutter to the window on the inside. Ned tried the
rear door. It was not locked and he entered.
The house was deserted, but it was not unfurnished. Indeed, articles of
furniture scattered about the rooms, which were in great disorder,
denoted not only wealth but a refined taste.
There were velvet rugs on the floors and great easy chairs and lounging
divans. A pantry revealed unwashed dishes, showing that food had been
served there recently.
"Who was it that ran away?" asked Jack, as the boys met.
"A ghost!" replied Jimmie. "I chased him until he hid in a tree."
"Why didn't you pull him out?" grinned Jack.
"Because he turned into a green cow with purple wings!" the little
Jack whirled his arms around in the manner of one turning a crank and
laughed. The boys delighted in such by-play.
"If it's all the same to you, boys," Frank was now heard saying, "I'll
just devour such few things as are left here. I see a ham and a box of
canned vegetables. Must have intended a long stop here, whoever he
Leaving the boys to search the remainder of the house, Ned entered what
had evidently been a reading room and turned on his light. The room was
handsomely decorated, and there were scores of books lying around on
tables and chairs.
Calling to the boys, he directed them to bring up the marines and
station them around the house.
"I want to know that I'll not be disturbed," he said.
"Found somethin'?" asked Jimmie.
"Look at the books," Ned replied.
Jimmie read half a dozen titles and cast the volumes aside.
"They don't look good to me," he said. "All about international law and
"Exactly!" Ned said, and then Jimmie opened his eyes.
"I'll bet there's been some of them statesmen livin' here!" the little
fellow almost whispered. "Say, do you think you have run 'em down at
"I don't know, son," was the reply. "Look on that table and see what
"Bits of torn paper an' some red wax."
"The paper," Ned explained, "is parchment, such as is used in important
official transactions, and the wax is of the kind used by lawyers and
diplomats. Here is a seal!"
Ned's face turned pale as he looked at the seal. Could it be possible
that the nation to which it belonged had been engaged in this
conspiracy? It did not seem possible.
Ned put the telltale seal away in his pocket without permitting Jimmie
to see it and picked up some loose pieces of sealing wax which lay on
the table near where the seal had been found.
"Do you see the fine work done with the seal which made this
impression?" Ned asked.
"Fine seal!" Jimmie replied. "Was that stamp made by the seal you just
"No," Ned replied, "thank God it was not!"
Wrapping the wax very carefully, so that it would not crumble, and
securing every bit of paper in sight, Ned made a little bundle and
stowed it away in a pocket. Then he began a search of the rug on the
Jimmie was on his knees, in a moment.
"Finders keepers?" he asked.
"That depends!" Ned said.
"Well, some one's been payin' out money here," the boy went on. "See
what I found!"
What he had found was a gold piece of the denomination of twenty
dollars. And it bore the stamp of the American eagle!
BOY SCOUTS IN A LIVELY MIXUP
Ned took the gold piece into his hand and examined it.
"It is American money, sure enough," he observed, "and was made at the
San Francisco mint."
Frank and Jack now joined the little group in the library and regarded
the piece with interest.
"What does it mean?" Frank asked.
"Why," Jack volunteered, "it means that some American man is mixed up in
this dirty affair."
"Perhaps that gold came out of the wreck," Jimmie suggested. "Say, are
we ever goin' back after that gold?" he added.
"Ned's got all the gold he can attend to right here," commented Frank.
"He's got to find out how that came here."
"Why, there was an American in the bunch, and he lost it out of his
pocket," Jack ventured.
"That's the very point," Frank observed. "What was an American doing in
"It might have been the American who planned to send the gold to the
revolutionary leaders by way of a shipment to the Chinese government,"
Ned said, thoughtfully. "You know some American had to send the gold."
"Well, suppose he is now here trying to get something in exchange for
the gold which lies at the bottom of the Pacific?"
"He naturally would be doing business, with the revolutionary party,"
Frank exclaimed. "What a trick that was!"
"I haven't got it through my head yet," Jack said. "I don't know any
more about the plot than a robin."
"Look here," Frank said, in a superior tone, "there are a lot of Chinese
in the United States who want to assist the revolutionary party. Got
"You know it!"
"These men arrange with the Chinese government to send over a cargo of
"That's easy. What were they to get for the gold?"
"I don't know," Frank answered. "But they arranged to send the gold
right out of the subtreasury at San Francisco--or was it New York?--to
the Chinese government."
"All right," laughed Jack. "I see daylight."
"Then they notify the rebels-to-be that the gold will be shipped on such
a vessel at such a time."
"Warmer!" grinned Jimmie.
"And the rebels undertake to have a ship ready to snatch off the gold
when the right time comes. So the Chinese government will have to pay
for the yellow stuff and the rebels will have the good of it."
"Yes, well, some other nation gets wise to what is going on, and sets
out to burst up the combination."
"So this foreign nation sends out a ship to ram the vessel carrying the
"Oh! I got that long ago!"
"And the vessel is rammed and the gold goes to the bottom. Then this
other government, thinking to kill two birds at one shot, gives it out,
in certain diplomatic circles, that Uncle Sam shipped that gold directly
to the Chinese government from the subtreasury, with the full knowledge
that the rebels were to get it."
"Yes, I've heard about that."
"So Uncle Sam sends Ned over here to dig up that gold and see if the
shippers didn't put documents in the bags or boxes which would prove out
the whole transaction."
"An' Ned found the documents!" cried Jimmie. "Good old Ned!"
"Yes, he found the documents which prove that the United States had
nothing to do with the matter, but which do not show who started the
"And then Ned is sent out to track the statesman who had been doing
business with the rebels down to his hiding place. It is thought that
his nation is the one that tried to mix Uncle Sam in the matter."
"But why should this man be doing business with the rebels?" asked Jack.
"That is what we don't know," was the reply. "Still, we know that he is
allied with the rebels. We met him at Taku. Ned met him at the ruined
temple. He may be treacherously in the company of the men who lead the
revolutionary party, but he is there."
"You have that figured out correctly," Ned cut in. "If the man we are
after had been doing business with the Chinese government, we would have
had officers of the law after us at Tientsin and Taku, instead of men
who ran when it came daylight."
"What national seal made that stamp on the wax you have in your pocket,
Ned?" Jimmie asked.
Ned made no reply.
"Was the stamp made with the seal you have with you?" was the next
Still Ned did not answer. He was in a quandary. It did not seem
possible that the two nations pointed out by the seal and the wax could
be engaged in such dirty business. He hoped to prove to his own
satisfaction that they were not.
"The only way to find out what we want to know," he said, "is to go on
"Your proof will assist you when you get there?" asked Frank.
"Yes, I'm afraid so," Ned answered, tentatively.
"I don't understand that reply," Frank observed, with a serious face.
"You must have discovered something in this house which is not to your
"Time will show," Ned said.
Captain Martin, of the marines, now entered the room where the
discussion was going on. His face was pale, and his eyes showed greater
anger than Ned had ever seen reflected there before.
"Just a moment, Ned," he said, and the two stepped into another room.
The Captain dropped into a chair.
"We have struck the hornet's nest," he said.
"Do you hear them buzzing?" asked Ned, with a smile.
"Worse than that," was the reply. "I am feeling their stings. Two of
my men have been attacked in the dark."
"Yes; one of them seriously."
"I'm sorry for the poor fellow," Ned said. "Do you think we can get him
on to Peking?"
Captain Martin shook his head.
"It is a bad wound," he said. "The man was on guard not far from the
edge of the grove when a figure loomed up before him. He challenged and
was about to shoot, for no reply came, when he got the knife in his
back. He can't be moved."
"The trouble is," Ned replied, "that we got here too soon."
"What's the answer to that?"
"We did not give the plotters time enough to finish their business.
When that old Chink, back there at the gate, signaled to them with his
rockets, they cut and ran, leaving important evidence behind them."
"And you think they will hang about the flying squadron until they
recover what they have lost?"
"They certainly will try to recover it. Now you see the wisdom of the
Washington people in sending me to Peking on a motorcycle! You see that
I was right in saying that we were being set up as marks for other
nations to shoot at!"
"Yes," said Martin, "you never could have got to the fellows in the old
way. It was right to plan it so that they would come to you, although
it was placing you in great danger."
"But the danger has rippled off our backs like water off the feathers of
a duck! If we meet no more peril than we have now encountered, we'll
get back to New York fat and healthy."
"One thing I fail to comprehend," Captain Martin said, "and that is why
a flying squadron was sent with you."
"To attract attention," laughed Ned.
"To get you out of scrapes, I should say," the Captain retorted.
"Well, then, both!"
"I don't get it yet."
"We might have reached Peking without our presence in the country being
known to our enemies," Ned said, "but that was not the idea of the
Washington people. I have already explained to the boys that we were to
do our real work in identifying the man we want while on the way."
"Oh, all right," replied the officer, "but it seems to me that you might
have made the trip in a quieter way with the same result. These chaps
would have found you, depend on that."
"Yes, but we needed help," replied Ned, "and we got it in the nick of
time. Guess the Secret Service people at Washington are all right."
"Perhaps," the Captain said, then, "we would better get the wounded men
into the house and look after their wounds. The others I'll leave on
The injured marines were carried into the house and given such attention
as could be bestowed in the absence of a surgeon.
"What next?" asked Frank.
"Peking!" answered Jack. "We can't heal these wounds by remaining here,
and we can help by going on and sending a surgeon back."
"But my orders are to remain with you," Captain Martin said.
"Then leave most of your men here and come on," Ned replied.
This plan was agreed upon, and would have been carried out at once had
not something not on the program of the night intervened. Captain
Martin had detailed two men to sit with the wounded and stationed the
others in a circle about the house when a shot was fired off to the
"I didn't think they would have the nerve to attack the house openly
before we got away," Captain Martin remarked.
All listened intently, but there was no more shooting.
"That sounded to me more like a signal than anything else," Ned
observed. "I wonder if they are out in force?"
"I think I'd better call the men in," Captain Martin remarked.
The words were hardly out of his mouth when a skulking form appeared in
the dim light which now fell from the stars. The fellow was creeping
from the house outward.
"A spy!" Jack whispered. "Shoot, some one. I haven't my gun with me.
The skulking man appeared to hear the words, though they were spoken in
a very low tone, for he sprang to his feet and dashed away at full
speed. In a second he was lost to view in the thicket.
"Say, but that chap is some runner!" Jimmie cried. "He went so fast I
never thought to wing him!"
"Where did he come from?" asked Frank. "I'm certain he was not in the
house. Perhaps he was up to some deviltry."
"He wasn't here with any bouquets," Jimmie answered. "I'm goin' out an'
run around the house. Perhaps I can find out where he was hidin', an'
find his mate there."
No objections being offered to this, the little fellow left the group
and started in on a tour around the old house. He was gone perhaps two
minutes, then came dashing back, his face white and horror-stricken in
the circle of light which met him.
"Grab 'em! Grab 'em an' get out!" he shouted.
"Where did you get it?" demanded Jack.
"You're scared stiff!" Frank laughed.
"Grab the wounded men an' beat it!" Jimmie repeated. "This ranch will
go up in the air in a second!"
"That's cheerful!" Jack cut in, half believing that Jimmie was up to
Jimmie dashed into the house, seized one of the wounded men by the
shoulders and tried to drag him off the improvised bed on which he had
"All right!" he yelled. "You boys may stay here an' get shot up into
blue sky if you want to, but I'm goin' to get these men out."
"Why don't you tell us what the danger is?" demanded Ned, shaking the
little fellow by the arm.
"You listen!" Jimmie replied.
There was dead silence for an instant. Then, seemingly from underneath
the floor, came a low, sinister hissing sound which every one of the
A great fuse was burning below, and might at any moment reach the
explosive to which it was attached. The Chinese tools of the man at the
head of the conspiracy were taking desperate chances.
In order to destroy the clues which Ned had found in the house, and also
to prevent the boy ever discovering any more, they were taking the long
chance of murdering the soldiers of a friendly power and bringing on
international complications. Ned was by no means idle while these
thoughts were swarming in his brain.
In fact, all the boys sprang to action instantly. Captain Martin was
told to order his men farther away from the point of danger. In less
time than the result of their activities can be written down the wounded
men were lying in the grove, surrounded by their fellows, and the boys
were waiting for what seemed inevitable, the complete destruction of the
A BROKEN MATCH SAFE
"Why don't she go up?" asked Jack, as the boys crouched in the grove.
"I don't mind seeing a little fourth of July!"
"She's coming," Frank answered. "Do you see the light in the cellar?
That's the fuse burning."
"It must be a long one," Jimmie said. "Gee, but I was scared stiff when
I saw it burnin' right under where you all were!"
"How did the sneak who set the fuse on fire ever get down there?"
"Must have been there all the time," Jimmie volunteered.
"But he didn't have the powder, or the dynamite, or whatever thing he
figured on blowing us up with, in his pockets, did he?" asked Jack.
"I guess the old Chink down the road, the fellow who kept me talking at
the gate, had something to do with storing the explosive there," Ned
remarked. "I presume the plot was laid to blow us up the minute the
effort to destroy us at the ruined temple failed."
"Merry little time we're having," Frank laughed. "Here, kid, where are
you going?" he added, as Jimmie moved away.
"I'm goin' to see why that don't go bang!" answered the boy.
Ned tried to stop him, but the little fellow dodged away and disappeared
around an angle of the house.
The boys waited in suspense for a moment, expecting every instant to
witness the explosion, then Frank and Jack darted around the corner, in
quest of Jimmie.
"Come back!" Ned called, but they paid no heed.
Both Ned and the Captain sprang after the lads, the latter expressing in
very vigorous language his opinion of boys who would take such risks out
"I'd rather wait an hour for an explosion than go up to see why it
didn't come off in time," he said. "That Jimmie needs a good beating.
He'll get it, too, if he doesn't behave!"
Ned laughed, serious as the situation was, at the thought of what would
be apt to happen if the Captain should lay hands on the little fellow in
anger. He would have the other boys on his hands in a second!
When Ned rounded the corner he saw Jimmie's heels half blocking a cellar
window. Thick smoke was oozing out around him, and Frank and Jack were
trying to pull him back.
"You let go!" they heard the little fellow shout. "I guess I know what
I'm doin'. You let go!"
"Wait!" Ned said, then he stooped over and called out to Jimmie:
"Is the fuse out?"
"Sure!" was the reply. "'Sure the fuse is out, but before it went out
it set fire to something on the cellar bottom, an' the blaze is workin'
its way up to the powder, or whatever it is. Ouch!" he added, as Jack
gave a pull at his foot. "You let go!"
"Let him go," Ned advised. "Perhaps he can get in there in time to
prevent the explosion."
"The little gink!" Jack exclaimed, "I wanted to see the thing bust up.
Now he's spoiled it!"
In a moment the boy was in the cellar, and Ned was not far away when the
creeping flame was extinguished. While Frank and Jack looked in at the
window, shielding their eyes and faces from the smudge as well as it was
possible to do, Ned called out to them:
"Tell Captain Martin to keep his men on guard around the house. The
scamps who did this may be up to some other trick. They're determined
that we shall never get to Peking!"
Frank crawled through the window and stood by Ned's side, searchlight in
hand. Just about underneath the center of the house, was a half barrel
"That would have done the business," Frank observed, and Jimmie made a
wry face. "If this little nuisance hadn't seen the fuse burning, we
might have been killed."
"Aw, go on!" Jimmie said. "The fuse went out, didn't it? Gave us a
good scare, anyway. I'm six inches shorter than I was before I saw the
blaze creepin' along like a bloomin' snake!"
"How did it affect your appetite?" asked Frank.
"If you mention anythin' to eat," Jimmie answered, "I'll have a fit. I
don't know how people live in China, but I've been starved ever since I
struck the country."
Flashlight in hand, Ned now devoted his whole attention to the floor of
the cellar. There were marks of shoes here and there, and half-burned
"It looks as if whoever did this job did it in a hurry," Ned said. "If
the fuse had been set right it would have done its work. Do you see why
it went out?"
"Well, there's a break in it, and the break is over a damp spot on the
floor. The powder stuffed line burned to the break and there the flame
went out. It burned slowly, anyway, which probably accounts for our
being alive at this time."
Ned took a rule from his pocket and measured the shoe tracks on the
floor. There were numerous tracks, but one was very distinct. This had
been made by the man who rolled the half-barrel of powder to the place
where it had been found.
The barrel had come upon a slight obstruction, and the man had evidently
lifted and pulled at it until his shoe, by reason of the extra weight
put upon it, had sunk deep into the light soil.
"That wasn't any Chink shoe," Jimmie said.
"No, it was a shoe made in America," Ned said. "It is comparatively a
new shoe, too. I am wondering now why the American, or Englishman, or
Frenchman, whatever he is, didn't hire some of the Chinks to do this
work of laying the explosion."
"They're afraid," Jack volunteered.
There was a litter of half-burned matches near the barrel and Ned bent
over and gathered them up. As he did so something bright lying on the
ground, caught his eye. It was a gold rivet, or wire, not more than an
inch long and about as thick as a knitting needle.
"What is it?" asked Frank.
"I should say," replied Ned, "that the fellow lost the cover to his
match box here. This looks like the rivet which served for a hinge.
The cover itself may be here."
But a close search did not reveal the cover, nor anything else of
moment, in fact, and the boys soon left the cellar. Frank laughed as
Ned placed the gold wire in his pocketbook.
"You are making quite a collection," he said.
"Yes," Jack added, "he has a state department seal, bits of broken
sealing wax, and now a piece of a broken match safe. He'll set a trap
with them directly!"
"The trap is already set!" Ned replied.
The long delay at the house made high speed necessary during the
remainder of the run to Peking. The machines sparked and roared through
that ancient land, bringing sleepy-eyed natives to doors and windows,
and setting villages into whirls of excitement.
Captain Martin and one marine were with the boys, the rest having been
left with the wounded men.
"My flying squadron is just beginning to fly," Ned said, as the machines
rolled noisily down a hill from which the towers of the distant city
showed. "And the smaller it becomes as we approach the end of the
"Suppose the Chinks attack the men left behind?" asked Jack.
"No danger of that," Ned replied. "They are not after the marines, but
the Boy Scouts who had the nerve to cross the Pacific for the purpose of
bringing a rascal to punishment."
This view of the case proved to be the correct one, as the marines were
remarkably well treated by the natives, who gathered about them with
many gestures and questions, all unintelligible to the warriors. The
boys who were slowly drawing a slowly closing circle around the guilty
ones were the persons in demand!
It was the middle of the forenoon when Ned and his companions reached
the suburbs of the wonderful city. They attracted a great deal of
attention as they wheeled through the straggling streets. They had not
yet come to the wall, so the population was principally agricultural.
Maize and millet are the principal products of the soil here, as the
staple crops, wheat and rice, do not flourish well.
They had no difficulty in passing the gate which gave into the southern
or "Chinese City." It is the northern part of Peking that is known to
foreigners as "The Forbidden City." Here the rulers live in wonderful
palaces. This is the old "Tartar City," too.
The second division of Peking is the business section. Here the boys
drew up at a most uninviting native inn and asked a clerk who claimed to
speak English for an interpreter. A snaky-looking fellow was finally
produced, and Ned proceeded to question him about the show places of the
"Let him think we are American tourists," Ned said to his chums, "and
we'll stand a better chance of getting into the diplomatic section of
the town. Anyway, while we are here, we may as well see the sights."
After a midday luncheon Ned and Jimmie started out to look over the
place. They were now in what is known as the general city, where the
streets are from 140 to 200 feet wide. The thoroughfares are mostly
unpaved, and the shops which line them are continuous, some green, some
blue, some red, but all bustling with business.
The shops in this section of Peking are decorated with huge, staring
signs, resplendent with Chinese characters highly gilt. Before the boys
had traveled far they were forcibly reminded of the lower East Side of
New York. The great thoroughfares roared with the rush of commerce.
Shopkeepers, peddlers, mountebanks, quack doctors, pedestrians rushing
to and fro, all reminded the lads of the lower part of the big city on
Manhattan island. The theaters and public places of amusement are
situated in this part of Peking.
When Ned and Jimmie returned from the stroll they found Frank and Jack
waiting for them with anxiety depicted on their faces.
"What have you been doing?" Frank asked. "I thought you came here to
interview the American ambassador."
"All in good time," Ned replied, with a smile. "I want to pick up the
American shoe print before I present my letter to the ambassador."
"Fine show you stand of picking up a shoe print in a crowd like that one
out there!" Jack said. "It's worse than Coney Island on a midsummer
"Perhaps I didn't use the right words," smiled Ned. "I might have said
I was waiting for the American shoe man to pick me up."
"He's done that now, all right," Captain Martin said. "You had not been
out of the house five minutes before the spies were thick as flies in
the old Eighth ward. They are all about us now. Watch and see if we
are ever alone."
Ned glanced about carelessly and nudged Frank with his elbow.
"That waiter?" he asked. "How long has he been loitering about the
"Ever since we arrived. The men who have been entertaining us on the
way were evidently waiting for us."
The boys were not in a private room, but in a public apartment where
there were tables and refreshments.
"But that chap belongs here," Ned replied.
"Well, if you watch him, you will see that he is attending strictly to
the wants of this party. If we call he'll wait on us. If any one else
calls, another waiter glides over to him. Nice to be so exclusive,
"If you are right," Ned said, "it is time for us to move on."
"To the embassy?" asked Captain Martin. "You see," the Captain went on,
"I'm rather anxious to land you boys under the protecting folds of the
American flag, for there my responsibility ends."
"No, not to the embassy," Ned replied. "As yet I have nothing of
importance to confide to the ambassador. I can only tell him that we
are here, that we had numerous nibbles on the road from Taku, but that
all the fish got away."
"Holy smoke!" exclaimed Jack. "I hope you don't think of staying out in
the open until you can convey a couple of diplomats to the embassy! You
can't catch your man single handed. You're not in New York now, but in
a heathen town, a town where the life of a foreign devil is not worth a
grain of rice."
"Just the same," Ned replied, "I'm going to stick around this town until
I get what I want."
"In this dump?" asked Jack.
"No; there's an American hotel up the street--an American hotel operated
by Chinks! We'll go there and take rooms and wait for something to turn
So, in spite of the protests of Captain Martin, the change was made, and
late that night Ned awoke to find himself sitting up on the edge of his
bed, automatic in hand, listening to the steady boring of a tool of some
sort around the lock of his door!
A BOY SCOUT SURPRISE PARTY
When Ned heard the assaults of the midnight visitor on his door he
looked at his watch, then slipped over to the window facing the street.
Twelve o'clock and the thoroughfare below still teeming with life.
Peking has something over three millions of population, according to the
records, but, as a matter of fact, no one knows the exact size of the
town as to humanity, for the Chinese live in densely-packed districts,
and there are no census reports given out.
The city is many centuries old. It was a thriving capital three
thousand years before Christ was born and during all the years of war
and starvation and intrigue it continued to grow.
The hardy races from the North, which overran the country and kept a
Tartar on the Chinese throne for centuries, are virile and pertinacious.
It has been the fate of every civilization we know anything about to be
wiped out by hardy races. Rome went down before the Northmen, and
England had its oversea conqueror. Greece and Italy succumbed to the
might of brawny arms, and civilization shrank back for hundreds of
years. So China fell before the men of the mountains, and her records
As in all large cities, there is a night side to the life of Peking. If
you traverse the streets at night you will find shops which have been
closed all day opening for the trade of the night workers. You will see
people who have slept through all the daylight hours walking through the
streets to their nightly toil. You will see about the same things, only
on a smaller scale, that you see in the daytime.
This night was no different from any other, except that there were more
men who did not appear to have any particular business there lounging
along the streets. Now and then these loiterers, walking slowly along
the business ways, slipped unostentatiously into alleys and narrow
by-ways and so on into basement and garret halls where others of their
kind were assembled.
When Ned looked out of his window, listening meanwhile to the steady
boring sound at his door, he saw a light at a window opposite to the
building in which he stood waving slowly to and fro. There was a long
vertical motion, and then the light moved from side to side again.
Ned counted the slow strokes. Left to right, right to left, back again
and yet again!
"Six," he mused, "and all in action!"
The mouse-like gnawing at his door continued, the sounds seemingly
louder than before. The intruder was evidently gaining courage!
Presently the boy leaned out of his window, which was on the third floor
of the hotel, and watched the entrance below. There appeared to be a
great rush of customers at that time. At least a score of natives
passed in at the large door.
Then Ned turned to the right and studied the window of the room next to
his own on that floor. There was a light in that room, too, but it
seemed to be a red light. Then it changed to white, then to blue.
Ned laughed and began drawing on his clothes. Still the boring
continued, and Ned bent over to see if he could discover any holes in
the stile of the door.
There being no light in his room and, presumably, one in the corridor
outside, he thought he might be able to see when a cut through the stile
had been made. There were no indications of a break yet, and Ned
settled back on his bed to wait.
Just at that moment he hardly knew what he was waiting for. He had been
very busy all the afternoon, laying plans and conferring with a man who
came from the police bureau, and who appeared to be working under
instructions from the boy. Ned considered his plans as near perfect as
any human plans can be, still he did not know exactly what would happen
at a quarter past twelve.
At ten minutes past midnight the boy heard a rush of footsteps in the
corridor. They passed his door and the boring ceased. Then they faded
away in the distance and the gnawing was resumed. There was a little
more noise in the hotel than before.
Ned smiled at the crude efforts that were being made to enter his room.
In New York man disposed to enter for the purpose of robbery would have
a skeleton key. He would be inside the room in three seconds after
entering the corridor and finding the apartment he sought wrapped in
"But this isn't New York," the boy mused. "This is the Orient, and the
patience of the Orient, and the stupidity of the Orient!"
At exactly a quarter past twelve there was a commotion in the corridor.
Several people seemed to be moving toward the door of Ned's room. Once
there was a little cry of alarm.
Ned looked out of his window. The panes where he had observed the
signals, across the street, were dark. There was no light in the window
next his own which had shown red, white and blue but a moment before.
The clamor in the corridor increased, and Ned walked to the door and
undid the fastenings. Then it swung open, almost striking Ned in the
Facing the boy, in the corridor, were six Chinamen, or men in native
dress, rather. Back of them were a score of stern-faced Chinese
policemen. To the right, and struggling with all their might to get
into the room were Frank, Jack, and Jimmie, the latter with his nose
wrinkled and wrinkling to such an extent that it resembled a small ocean
with the wind undulating its surface.
That was Jimmie, of course. Frank and Jack stood by laughing. The
faces of the six men who stood before the door were anything but
pleasant to look upon.
They expressed hate, despair, desperate intents. As they stood there
Frank reached forward and snatched a queue-wig from the head of the man
"There he is!" Jimmie cried. "There's the old boy, Ned--the smooth gink
we saw at Taku, at Tientsin, and at numerous places on the road. I
wonder how he likes the scene?"
Ned motioned to the six to step into the room. Three of them objected,
then swords flashed in the light of the corridor and they moved on.
They were followed by the three boys and half a dozen policemen, all
with automatics in view. At a motion from the leader of the officers
the six were searched and ironed. Jack nudged Frank in the ribs with
his elbow as the handcuffs clicked on the wrists of the man who had so
persistently followed them from the coast of the Yellow Sea.
"That's a good sport," he said. "I like to see a fellow play the game!"
The prisoner turned a pair of treacherous eyes on the boys and a cynical
smile curled his thin lips.
"You have the cards now," he said, in English, "but look out for the new
deal. I'll keep you busy yet."
"Go to it!" laughed Jack. "Go as far as you like, only I fail to see
how you're going to get into the game again. Looks like you were all
in, just now!"
"Wait!" said the other, scornfully.
There now came a knock at the door and Ned opened it to admit Captain
Martin, who looked as if he had just left his bed after an
unsatisfactory sleep. He cast his eyes about the room with amazement
showing in every glance.
"What does this mean?" he asked.
"Surprise party!" Jimmie cried.
"Who are these men?"
The Captain pointed to the six prisoners lined up against the wall of
"Our friends from Taku, from the ruined temple, from Tientsin, from the
farm house loaded with gunpowder, and from the tea house," laughed Ned.
"Do you recognize the fellow with his disguise off? Jimmie gave him a
haircut and shave just now."
"And you have captured them?"
"It doesn't look as if they had captured us," Jimmie broke in.
"But how, when, why?"
"All of that!" grinned Jimmie.
Ned spoke a few words to the officer in charge of the squad and in a
moment the room was occupied only by the handcuffed prisoners, the four
boys, and Captain Martin. The latter stood looking at Ned with a
question in each eye.
"When you get time," he said, "I'd like to have you tell me how you
brought this case to a close so suddenly."
Ned motioned to the man who had been stripped of his disguise to take a
chair at the table. The fellow did so reluctantly, turning his face
this way and that, as if seeking some opportunity of escape.
"Well," he said. "You have the floor. Go On."
"You were at Taku?" asked Ned.
"I deny everything!"
"You will deny your own fingerprints, the shoeprints?" asked Ned.
"Well, supposing, for the sake of argument, that I was at Taku, what has
that to do with this brutal and illegal arrest?"
"You placed the powder under the house where the wounded men lay?"
"I have something I want to show you," Ned said, taking a paper from his
pocket. "Have you a match?"
Almost involuntarily the fellow put his hand to his right vest pocket
and brought forth a gold match safe. Ned took it into his hand and
touched the spring which lifted the top.
"There seems to be a new wire in the hinge," he said.
"Yes, the old one wore out."
Ned opened his pocketbook and took out the gold wire he had found in the
cellar by the side of the powder. The prisoner started violently when
he saw it.
"Is this yours?" Ned asked.
"All right!" Ned said.
With the point of his knife he pushed the sale and put the old new hinge
from the match safe and put the old one in its place.
It fitted exactly.
"There!" Ned said, "you see the old one did not wear out entirely. It
wore away so that it dropped out. Do you know where I found it, my
"It is immaterial to me where you found it."
"Even if I found it in a cellar by the side of a half barrel of
gunpowder to which a lighted fuse had been attached?"
"Hadn't you better make your case--if you can make it at all--in the
courts?" asked the prisoner.
Ned took the state department seal, the sealing wax, and the bits of
parchment from his pocket.
"Who met you in the library at the house you attempted to destroy?" he
There was no reply.
"Were these men present?" with a sweep of the hand toward the other
"What has this to do with my case?"
"This," Ned replied. "You were still conspiring to fix upon my
government the crime of interfering in the private affairs of another
nation--with the crime of providing, by a treacherous and despicable
route, the money needed by the revolutionary party of China. You were
doing business in that house with the representatives of another nation.
Who were they? What nations did they represent, or pretend to
"I have nothing to say to that."
Ned held up the seal.
"This was not used?" he asked.
"It was not used."
"Because the representative of that nation refused to consider the terms
Ned held forth the sealing wax.
"This shows that the seal of another nation was used. Where is the
paper to which the seal was attached?"
"Is that true?" asked Ned.
"It is true, they all deserted me. They all ran away when they knew you
were in the country, but I brought them back, and held them until the
incident at the house where you found those things."
"So you are now the only one to look to for the history of this bit of
"I stand alone," was the reply. "Alone, with the exception of these men
I who were arrested with me. The plot has failed, and we know what to
The prisoner was about to say more, but just then a clamor in the street
below attracted the attention of all in the room.
THE EMPEROR TAKES A HAND
Ned stepped to the window and looked out. The street in front of the
hotel was filled from curb to curb with an excited mob.
That the efforts of those below were directed toward the building and
its occupants there could be no doubt. Many a shaking fist was thrust
up to the lighted panes where Ned stood.
The boy turned to Jimmie, spoke a few words in a whisper, and the little
fellow left the room. With him went the interpreter who had been
engaged that day.
Shouts, howls and groans of rage now came up from the street, and Ned
stepped away from the window. As he did so the prisoner who had been
making a partial confession when the uproar came, moved forward, as if
to show himself to those below.
Seeing his intention, Ned seized him by the shoulder and hurled him to
the back end of the room. The prisoner smiled and again seated himself
in the chair he had occupied before.
"Your friends are excited," Ned said, drawing the curtain at the window.
The other nodded in the direction of the window and smiled.
"My friends?" he asked.
"Why do you attribute this outbreak to me?"
"Because those not in league with you and your cause would hardly
threaten American tourists, in the face of the law."
"American tourists!" snarled the other, and Ned laughed.
Jimmie now came bustling into the room, his eyes staring with
excitement. The interpreter was only a trifle less moved by the
information which had been gained.
"What is it?" Jack asked.
"He's crazy with fear again!" Frank put in.
"Say," Jimmie cried, "you'd all better be gettin' out of this place.
The people out there are goin' to raid it in a minute!"
The prisoner uttered a defiant laugh and again started for the window.
Again Ned forced him back.
"What's the trouble?" asked Frank.
"Why," was the reply, "this gink here," pointing toward the prisoner
whose disguise had been removed, "this gazabo hadn't much confidence in
his own ability to win this fight, so he appealed to the revolutionary
"That's fine!" Jack said. "We may have the luck to see a full-fledged
revolution doing business."
"You are quite likely to."
This from the prisoner, now standing with the others at the back of the
"You arranged for this demonstration in case you should be taken?" asked
The prisoner snarled out some ugly reply.
"You planned this?" demanded Ned, resolved to know the truth.
"Yes," almost shouted the other, "and you will soon discover that it is
something more than a demonstration."
The interpreter drew Jimmie aside and whispered in his ear. Then the
boy turned to Ned.
"This boy says he saw a signal given from a window as soon as this bunch
was taken," he said. "Then crowds began forming. Say, but we'd better
be gettin' out!"
"Save yourselves the exertion," the prisoner said. "They will find you,
wherever you go!"
"Possibly," Ned said.
Then he walked to the window and again looked out on the mob. The
street was packed. Faces showing rage and desperate bravery were
uplifted. Fists were shaken at the window where he stood. In a moment
a stone came hurtling against the wall of the house.
Here and there, on the outskirts of the crowd, policemen in the funny
uniforms the police of Peking wear, were seen trying vainly to force
their way to the door of the hotel. The main entrance seemed to be
guarded, for the mob did not succeed in forcing its way in.
Presently, however, Ned saw long ladders being carried forward on the
shoulders of the rioters. Then they were dropped against the wall and
men with bloody faces--bloody from the acts of their own fellows--fought
to be first to climb.
"In three minutes," the prisoner said, "you will be torn limb from limb
if I am not released."
"Your friends certainly do insist on something of the kind," Ned
"Remove these irons and place me before the window," commanded the
other. "That will quiet them."
"And make terms with a pack of rioters?" smiled Ned.
"You can save your life, and the lives of your friends, in no other
way," insisted the other.
Ned went to the window again, although bricks and stones were flying
quite freely. The ladders swarmed with excited men, but no one seemed
able to gain entrance at the windows which were attacked.
Instead, a ladder now and then went toppling backward, carrying dozens
of rioters to death or injury. When the ladders began falling the mob
moved away from that side of the street.
"You see," Ned said to the prisoner, "that we were on the lookout for
something like this."
"How could you have been?" gasped the other.
"Our interpreter heard some of the messages sent out by mouth by the
revolutionists. I connected your possible capture with the gathering.
We were warned and made ready."
"But my men will soon be here!" shouted the other. "They are sworn to
go to death for the cause if necessary."
"But I don't see them doing anything of the kind," Ned replied. "On the
contrary, they seem to be taking pretty good care of their yellow old
"You'll see!" howled the other.
Directly the heavy beat of marching feet came up to the window, heard
above the roar of the mob below. Far down the street Ned saw the
advancing line, bearing the colors of the Emperor.
The rioters saw the line, too, and the crowd in front of the hotel began
to thin. Then the soldiers arrived and the thoroughfare was empty save
for their presence. By this time the prisoner was in a condition of
collapse. He had planned this thing carefully, and was now in the
meshes of failure.
The street below soon cleared of the few who gathered about to witness
the arrival of the soldiers. The few prisoners, who had been taken
marched sullenly to prison. In ten minutes the city of Peking was as
quiet as if the machinations of the conspirators had never stirred the
people to riot.
"Well?" Ned said, facing the prisoner. "What do you think we ought to
do with you?"
"After all," was the reply, "you have no charges against me. My
government alone can discipline me for what has been done."
"Your government will deny any knowledge of the conspiracy," Ned
replied. "From this time on, you have no government."
"And yet I acted under instructions."
"What was the motive?" asked Frank, who saw a fine cablegram for his
father's newspaper in the story.
"The purpose," replied the other, weakly, "was to so entangle your
government that it would not dare lend aid to the revolutionary
"And you were engaged in it?"
A nod of the head was the only reply.
"Yet you pretended to be assisting the revolutionary party. You were
present at their councils. Can it be possible that you were treacherous
to both sides?"
There was no answer.
"Suppose," Ned said, "suppose I turn you over to the revolutionary
leaders, with a statement of what you have just said? What would be
your fate? Remember that the men of the revolution were ready to fight
for you not long ago."
Still no reply. The prisoner only looked sullenly down at the floor.
"What government do you represent?" asked Frank. "What nation is it
that is protecting the imperial government of China?"
"You need not answer that question," Ned said, with a sigh.
"I see," he said. "You don't want to further implicate matters by
giving out the name of the power whose seal shows on the wax! All
right, old boy, I'll get it yet!"
"No good can come of a representative of the United States Government
presenting charges of such a character against another power," Ned
Captain Martin now arose from the chair where he had been seated for a
long time. He glanced keenly into the faces of the six prisoners and
then turned to Ned.
"Shall I take them in charge?" he asked,
"That would be useless."
"Then what can be done with them?"
"I am going to turn them over to the authorities on the charge of
attempted murder, based on the effort they made to kill us in the old
"Very well," the Captain said, "now will you tell me how you set this
trap so, cleverly?"
"It was only a matter of detail," Ned replied. "I took good care to let
the native waiters here know that I had the clues I had found secreted
in my room. I also let it be known that I was a heavy sleeper.
"My interpreter, who is by no means as treacherous a chap as his looks
would indicate, heard the robbery of my room planned. He heard the hour
fixed-a quarter past twelve. So all the rest was easy."
"Oh, yes, easy, but how did you do it?"
"Frank, Jack and Jimmie helped," added Ned. "Jack was at a window over
the way. He told me by signals just how many men were to take part in
the attack on me.
"Frank, in the next room to mine, told me when the time came to be on
guard. I really do not wake easily, and he rigged a cord through the
wall so I could rest comfortably until the time for action came.
"Then when all was ready, he told me by means of colored light that all
the six were in the corridor, and that the officers I had engaged during
the afternoon were on hand."
"And you went to sleep with all this on your mind and slept up to within
a quarter of an hour of the time set for action?" asked the Captain in
"Why, certainly," was the reply. "You see, we have been having some
exciting nights, and I needed rest. The other boys slept a good deal
this afternoon, so I left them to wake me at night. Nothing odd about
that, is there?"
"Nothing save the nerve of it."
Two high officers now made their appearance in the room and beckoned to
the prisoners. All arose save the man from whom the disguise had been
stripped. He remained in the chair into which he had dropped, seemingly
in a stupor.
"Come," said the officer.
The man arose, desperation in his eyes, and moved toward the door. A
few days before that miserable night he had been one of the leaders in
the statecraft of the world. Now he was being marched to a prison like
any ordinary criminal.
The speaker was interrupted by a quick movement on the part of the
prisoner, the man he had addressed as Count. There was no one between
he desperate man and the still open window. Ned was at the door,
Captain Martin was out in the corridor, and Frank, Jack and Jimmie were
talking together in a corner.
Handcuffed as he was, the Count leaped to the window and shot down to
the hard pavement below. There was a shrill cry as his body hurtled
through the air, then a crash.
Below passersby drew away from what lay in a bloody heap on the
pavement. A little crowd gathered, at a distance, but none knew that the
body of one of the most distinguished statesmen in the world lay there.
"It is finished!" Ned said, with a sigh. "The whole story of the
conspiracy will never be told. It is the story of a treacherous
government and a treacherous statesman.
"The documents I have will fully prove that the United States had no
hand in the gold shipment, and that is all that we care for. The old
world may take care of its own political messes."
"It is a mess indeed," Captain Martin, said. "In less than a year China
will be red with blood, and the streets of Peking will witness the
retreat of the royal family."
How true this prophecy was the readers of the daily newspapers now know.
"Well," Jack said, with a yawn, as the boys and the Captain were left
alone in the room together, "I presume it is us for little old New York
to-morrow. How do you like this motorcycle-flying-squadron business,
boys," he added. "We seem to have flown ahead of the flying squadron."
"Then we ought to fly back and look after the ones who were wounded on
the road," Frank said. "Suppose we all go back on our machines, and
really see something of the country?"
This was agreed to, and the party separated for the night. In the
morning Ned paid his respects to the American ambassador, who greeted
him courteously, but wanted to know all about the events of the trip
from the coast.
"You have gotten Uncle Sam out of a bad mess," the ambassador said, when
Ned had finished his narration, "and you will find that you will be well
rewarded when you return to Washington."
The ambassador also requested the boys to visit the other legations, but
they did not care to do so.
"Well," he said, then, "you must take a letter from me which may help
you on your way. I have been expecting you here all the week, but it
seems that you completed your work without my assistance,"
"Just what I was figuring on," Ned replied.
"I worked under surveillance all the way here, and I desired to show
that I could do something on my own account."
The boys left Peking early the next morning, and were not long in
reaching the house where the powder trap had been set for them. There
they found Hans and Sandy! The boys had followed them on from Tientsin
in an automobile which an English merchant was taking through.
Both boys were riding motorcycles, and were already proficient enough to
proceed with the others, using the machines which had been ridden by the
wounded marines, who were sent on to Peking in charge of Captain Martin.
A week was spent on the road to Taku, and the lads enjoyed every minute
of the time. The letter given them by the American ambassador brought
them every attention at Tientsin and Taku.
It was late in the fall when they reached New York. On the night of
their arrival there were many joyful meetings in the clubroom of the
Black Bear Patrol. The next day Ned went on to Washington to file his
report. When he returned it was with a very substantial reward.
"Now," he said, with a laugh, "I'm ready for the next trip. I wonder
where it will be?"