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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBoy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter X. A DELEGATION OF BOY SCOUTS
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Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter X. A DELEGATION OF BOY SCOUTS Post by :kenjess Category :Long Stories Author :G. Harvey Ralphson Date :April 2012 Read :2312

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Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter X. A DELEGATION OF BOY SCOUTS

CHAPTER X. A DELEGATION OF BOY SCOUTS

The three men who entered the subterranean chamber where Ned and Jimmie were hidden did not go to work at the forge, neither did they illuminate the place with such poor means as were at hand. Instead, they settled down in sullen silence by the dying fire in the forge. What little talk there was could not be understood by the lads for the reason that it was conducted in Spanish.

Ned was waiting in the hope that they would soon take their departure, but they seemed to be in no hurry to do so. Finally it was disclosed, in a few words of broken English, that they were waiting for some persons of importance to appear.

"If they don't get a move on pretty soon," Jimmie whispered, "we'll have to make a break of some kind. If we don't get out directly there won't be any newspaper building in the Shaw family, and Uncle Sam won't have any more Gatun dam than a robin."

"We must wait until the last moment," Ned replied. "The guards out there would shoot us down before we could reach the head of the stairs. We can't rush them from below."

It was a long and anxious wait there in the underground room, especially as so much depended on the boys getting out. They had no idea what had happened to the boys left at the cottage, or what was taking place in New York. The only thing in their favor was that the workmen did not light the torches which lay about. Such an act would have led to their discovery and precipitated a struggle at once.

"See if you can't reach one of them bombs," Jimmie giggled, nudging Ned in the ribs. "I want to eat it."

"I have about reached that stage myself," Ned replied. "I never was so empty in my life. We'll have to do something before long."

"Suppose I start an' run?" suggested Jimmie.

"You'll get a breakfast of lead if you do," Ned replied. "Sit still."

Again the boys sat back in their corner to wait, huddled together for the sake of companionship, and wondering what had become of their chums at the cottage.

"They ought to be here by this time," Jimmie complained, in a whisper. "I left plenty of instructions regarding the route."

The little fellow did not, of course, know that the boys were at that moment in the ancient house near the Culebra cut, nor that an automobile was speeding over a hill to the north of the old structure--watched by his friends with anxious interest.

"Something may have happened to them," Ned said. "It seems to me that this case is set on automatic springs. The slightest move on our part brings out a bang from the other side. Our opponents are industrious chaps, and that's no fabrication. They keep going every minute of the time."

"And they've won every trick so far," grumbled Jimmie.

"Yes, but the game is not out yet," Ned replied, hopefully.

"I should think these gazabos would get tired of waitin' an' go away," Jimmie said, after another long silence.

"They are taking turns sleeping," Ned replied. "I heard one of them snoring a few minutes ago."

Jimmie settled back again, rubbing his stomach dolefully, and the place seemed to grow darker before his eyes. When he awoke again Ned was pulling at his arm, and there was a great shouting and pounding at the door.

"Wake up and get your gun out," Ned said. "There's going to be something started here in a minute."

"What is it?" demanded the boy, sleepily.

"The others have come," Ned replied, "and there'll be lights in here directly."

"I'm so wasted away with hunger," Jimmie said, "that they'll have to shoot pretty straight to hit me."

One of the men by the forge now began stirring the embers preparatory to lighting a torch, and the others made for the door.

It looked as if there would be open battle in a moment, but in that moment a shot came from the outside, followed by a faint cheer.

The three men who had waited in the chamber drew together, close to the sullen light of the forge, the torches unlighted in their hands. They seemed to be whispering together, and the boys saw them turn their faces toward a corner not far from the forge.

Two more shots came from outside, and then a voice cried, in English:

"Open the door, you chumps."

"That's Jack Bosworth," cried Jimmie, bounding toward the entrance.

Ned followed the boy's movement for an instant, and then faced back toward the forge, where the three workmen had stood. The last one was just disappearing through an opening in the wall, and, with a bound the boy was after him. A heavy plank door snapped shut in his face.

Then the front door was thrust open, and Frank, and Jack, and Harry, and Glen, and Peter dashed through, shouting at the top of their voices. Jack even lifted up his chin and howled "In the prison cell I sit."

"Prison nothin'," Jimmie exclaimed, indignantly. "We was just goin' out to find you fellers."

"That's what the guard at the door said," cried Jack. "He told us that you were expected out any minute."

The lads danced about like mad creatures for a moment, and then settled down to meet the situation in which they found themselves.

"Where are the guards?" asked Ned.

"If they are still going at the pace they set out in," laughed Frank, "they must be pretty near up to San Francisco by this time. I never saw such running in my life."

"Why didn't you capture them?" asked Jimmie.

"For the same reason you did not capture the men who were inside," laughed Frank.

"But we did capture 'em," insisted Jimmie. "We've got 'em locked up in a chamber that opens from that corner."

"Is that true?" asked Frank.

"Yes," replied Ned. "It is true that they went into a chamber over there, but the door is locked on the other side."

"We'll soon remedy that," Jack observed, and in a short time the boys were pounding away at the plank door with a heavy sledge which had evidently been used in cutting up the gas-pipe.

When the door was down a narrow passage was revealed. This, followed by the boys, led to an opening at the bottom of the knoll on which the temple had been built. The men who had operated the bomb factory had escaped, every one of them, and Ned turned away in disgust at the luck which seemed to pursue him.

"Every man of them got away," he grumbled.

"What you kicking about?" demanded Jack, pulling away at the pile of pipe which was evidently the makings of a supply of bombs. "You captured their artillery."

"They can make more," Ned replied.

"And the maps he found," Jimmie cried. "Maps showing how to blow up a Gatun dam and a New York newspaper office. All marked out. Just like lessons on blowing things up from a correspondence school."

Frank was all attention immediately. He had heard something like that before that day, and asked a score of questions in a breath.

When the story of the drawings was told the boys gathered about Ned while he pointed out the lines drawn in what purported to be a sketch of the basement of the _Daily Planet building. Frank declared that the dots made in the drawing were located exactly at steel and concrete foundation points. The plan of destruction had evidently been prepared by some one familiar with the structure.

"It strikes me," Frank said, after a moment's inspection of the drawings, "that we'd better get out of here and reach a cable office. One of the plotters was kind enough to tell me what they were about to do, and this looks like they mean to keep their word, for once in their lives, at least."

"We'd better be getting out of this, anyway," Jack put in, "for those chaps are sure to come back and bring a gang with them. Suppose we go back to the cottage and see what has been doing there?"

"I thought you came from the cottage here," Ned said.

"No," was the reply. "We left the road leading from Gatun at the point where you two left it last night."

"I'll bet you saw my signs in twigs," Jimmie said.

"We sure did," was the reply, "and we found your signs in stone out there on the stone pavement, and Jack bunted one of the guards in the head with the third rock."

"But I don't understand this," Ned said. "Where have you boys been this morning?"

"This morning," declared Frank. "It is most night now."

"I'll tell you," grinned Jack, "they went and got taken prisoners by a martinet of a fellow and a dwarf, and I had to go and get them out. Say! But you wait a second, and I'll produce my modest assistant."

He stepped to the edge of the jungle and whistled shrilly, and the next moment a slender boy of perhaps fifteen stood by his side, gazing at the group, now on the pavement of what had at one time been the court of the temple, with something of fear in his dark eyes. He was dressed in clothes which were much too large for him, and his manner indicated that he was not at ease in the company of the well-dressed Boy Scouts.

"This is Gastong," Jack explained. "He's capable of doing a running stunt that would make an express train look like it was hitched to the scenery. Gastong," he added, turning the boy around so that he faced the others, "this is the company of bold, bad men you've enlisted in. What patrol did you say you belonged to?"

"The Owl, Philadelphia," was the reply.

"Gee," cried Jimmie. "Looks to me like he was a piece of the Isthmus."

"This," explained Jack, with the voice and manner of one standing on a box before a tent and touting for a curiosity, "is Gastong, the boy tramp of the Isthmus. If he had a place to sleep he would run away from it before night. If he went to bed with a dime in his pocket he'd dream it was there and get up and spend it. If he was set to digging in a mine he'd chop his way through and come out on the other side and run away. If he was--"

Frank clapped a hand over the speaker's mouth and marched him away.

"We've got no time for stump speeches," he said. "The gazabos we drove off when we arrived will come back with reinforcements, and--and there you are."

"I'm dying to know what has been happening," Ned said, with a laugh. "It looks to me as if you boys had been in something of a mess yourselves."

"Time enough for that when we get back to the cottage," Jack said. "Come on, Gastong, and we'll lead the bunch to the festive board. I hope the cook will be there. Say, but why don't you fellows compliment me on me fine appearance in this menial rig?"

"You haven't given us time to say a word," laughed Jimmie. "You look like the cook, indeed, you do; and you make me hungry."

"That is another story for the cottage," Jack said, and the boys hastened off toward the camp which had proved such a source of danger to them.

When they came in sight of the place they were astonished at seeing Lieutenant Gordon and the cook sitting side by side on the screened porch. The cook was still dressed in Jack's clothes, and the lieutenant, who had evidently just arrived, was speaking rapidly, as if laboring under great excitement.

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