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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesBoy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter XIII. BOY SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE
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Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter XIII. BOY SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE Post by :adamb Category :Long Stories Author :G. Harvey Ralphson Date :April 2012 Read :2492

Click below to download : Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter XIII. BOY SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE (Format : PDF)

Boy Scouts In The Canal Zone - Chapter XIII. BOY SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE

CHAPTER XIII. BOY SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE

Ned Nestor and Frank Shaw sat on the porch, that night, for a long time after the other boys were asleep. It had been decided that Frank should stand guard until midnight, but Ned was far too anxious to attempt to sleep. The absence of Jimmie and Peter worried him, and he sat waiting for some sign of their approach until very late.

"Frank," he said, after a long silence, "there has been some talk in this case about your father having an interest in an emerald mine down here. Have you any idea where that mine is?"

"Not the slightest," was the reply. "All I know about it is that it is a paying proposition, and that foreigners are in the game with him."

"You do not even know whether the mine is situated in the Province of Panama?"

"I rather think it is."

"I have heard talk," Ned went on, "about mines on the line of the canal. It may be that this one is."

"I think it is not far from Colon," was the reply.

"Do you know who these foreigners are?"

"Japanese, I think."

Ned was silent for a time, as if studying some proposition over in his mind. The boys in the cottage were stirring in their sleep, and a shrill-voiced bird in the jungle was calling to its mate.

"What are you trying to get at?" Frank asked.

"Has it ever occurred to you," Ned replied, "that your father acted rather strangely on the night he was attacked in his house--the night your emerald necklace was stolen and the office building searched?"

"I have never thought of his attitude as remarkable," replied Frank, "but, come to think the matter over from this distance, it does seem that he did act queerly when asked to reveal the nature of the information he had received. Lieutenant Gordon was angry with him."

"Yes; the lieutenant believed that the papers would help him a lot if he could get hold of them. He still thinks so."

"I understand that he still, in his mind, accuses father of disloyalty to his country," said Frank.

"It seems to me," Ned continued, "that one of two propositions is true. Either the papers would be useless in revealing the plot, or they deal with a situation which your father believes himself capable of handling alone."

"I wonder what he will think when he gets the cable Lieutenant Gordon took up to Panama for me?" asked Frank.

"What did you say in the message?"

"I told him to keep an army of men in the basement of the newspaper building--to look out for bombs all over the structure."

"I am glad you were able to warn him," Ned said, "but I can't help believing that he knew something of the peril he was in before we left New York. He was altogether too quiet that night when his house and his office were searched. He appeared to me to be planning a revenge both effective and secret."

"And he never made a row about Pedro leaving him," Frank said. "Why, he used to think Pedro was the whole works."

"You say the fellow's name is not Pedro at all, but Pedrarias?" asked Ned.

"Yes, that is what father says. I gave him the name of Pedro for short. He is an offshoot of the Spanish family that ruled the Isthmus after Balboa was shot. He claims pure Castilian blood, and all that. How he ever consented to become a servant is more than I can make out."

"Has it never occurred to you," asked Ned, "that he might have had an object, besides that of salary, in acting the part of a menial?"

"I have thought, since the night of the robbery, that he might have scented the necklace from afar off and come there to get it."

"Your father found him on the Isthmus?"

"Yes; on his latest trip."

"He consulted with him, in a way, concerning conditions here?"

"Yes, I think he did. Pedro is a very intelligent man, and proud as the Son of the Morning. He gave me his pedigree about the first day of his service in the house."

"Perhaps your father sought his advice regarding the emerald business."

"Yes, I think he did, now and then."

"And Pedro was always ready to advise?"

"Oh, of course."

"And your father grew to put some confidence in his talk?"

"I presume so, for they talked together a good deal. But I don't see what you are getting at."

"Do you know whether the two discussed the location and opening up of new mines?"

"Oh, yes. Father is always after new mines."

"Where is he looking for them?"

"On the Isthmus and all through the republic of Colombia, I think."

"And especially on the Isthmus?"

"I believe so."

"And Pedro was active in looking up possible workings?"

"Yes; he used to show father maps and plans, at night, in the study, and they used to pore over them for hours at a time. But what does that amount to? Father took him to New York, I have no doubt, because he thought he would be useful in that way. The fellow knows every inch of the Isthmus and South America. Now, let me ask you a question. Do you think he stole my emerald necklace?"

"No, frankly, I do not," replied Ned.

"But you have a notion that he let the others into the house?"

"Well, he might have done so."

"He showed guilt when he ran away."

"Of course. The fact is that if he did let the thieves into the house he did not do so especially to give them a chance to steal the necklace. At least that is the way I look at it. And, again, if he did admit them, he permitted them to do a bungling job."

"You mean that they didn't get what they wanted?"

"Exactly."

"The papers concerning the plot?"

"Probably."

"Well, how could they get them if they weren't in the house?"

"He should have located them before he turned his confederates loose."

"Then you really think Pedro was at the bottom of all that?"

"I have not said so," was the reply. "There is no knowing whether he was or not."

"I wish you wouldn't be so secretive," Frank said. "You have a straight out and out theory of that night's work, and you won't tell me what it is."

"I never form theories," was the reply.

"What would Pedro want of the papers?" Frank demanded. "Was he in the plot to blow up the dam, or was he just paid to get them?"

"I can tell you more about that in a few days. It is midnight, and I will relieve you. Go to bed."

"I shall sleep sounder after I hear from father," the boy said, passing into the cottage. "He may be having troubles of his own in New York," he added, pausing at the door for a last word.

Ned sat for a long time on the screened porch with the splendor of the tropical night about him. The jungle came nearly to the walls of the house on all sides, save in front, where a little clearing had been made, and the noises, the creature and vine talk of the thickets, came to his ears like low music.

He listened constantly for the footsteps of the absent boys, but for a long time there was no break in the lilt of the forest. Then--it must have been two o'clock--he heard the quick beat of running feet, and directly Gastong, as Jack had fancifully named his new acquaintance, came spurting into the cleared space.

He stopped running when he reached the middle of the cutaway spot and, seeing Ned on the porch, beckoned to him.

Ned was off the porch in an instant, standing by the exhausted boy, who was now on the ground, supporting his swaying figure with one hand clutching the long grass.

"What is it," asked Ned.

"Have you heard anything of the boys, the two who went away in the car?" asked the other. "Have they come back?"

"No," replied Ned, filled with a sickening sense of helplessness, "they have not returned. Come inside the screen and speak low, so as not to wake the others."

Gastong rose slowly to his feet and walked stumblingly to the porch. Once inside he dropped into a chair.

"I have run a long distance," he said, by way of apology for his weakened condition. "I'm all in."

"What is it about the boys?" Ned demanded, clutching the other by the arm.

"I stopped at the old house," began Gastong, but Ned cut him short.

"About the boys," he said, shaking him fiercely. "What about the boys?"

"They are either in the hands of your enemies or lost in the jungle."

The words were spoken shrinkingly, as if the news conveyed might be of his own making.

"Where did you leave them?"

"I stopped at the old house," began the other again, "and remained there only a few minutes. Then I went on toward the Culebra cut and came upon a friend who told me what had taken place."

"Well! Well! Well!"

"The boys stopped at the cut, this side of the high point, and were there accosted by Gostel. Oh, you don't know Gostel?"

"No, no," was the impatient reply. "Who the dickens is Gostel?"

"He is a spy, a Jap who has been hanging about the Isthmus ever since the beginning of the work."

Ned was thinking fast. This might mean something tangible. He had never heard of Gostel before.

"Well, what of Gostel?" he asked.

"He talked with the boys for a time and invited them to become his guests for the night. He referred them to Lieutenant Gordon. I got it from my friend who heard all their talk."

"And they went away with him?"

Ned's voice was harsh and high, and the boys in the cottage were heard moving about, as if awakened by his voice.

"No, they didn't go away with him. They became suspicious of him, and when he went for his car they ran away into the jungle. A mad thing to do. A crazy thing for boys to do, for strangers. There is death in the jungle."

"And why didn't you go in after them?" asked Ned.

"What could I do alone?" asked the other, with a little shiver of apprehension.

"If you know the country--"

Gastong interrupted with a gesture of impatience.

"Knowing the country couldn't help me, not with Gostel and his men trailing into the jungle after the boys."

There was a new fear creeping into Ned's heart, and he was beginning to realize that there are perils more to be dreaded than the perils of the jungles.

"How many went in?" asked Ned, in a moment.

"Oh, half a dozen--I don't know. Some one must go for help. Gostel will kill the boys. I should think that after the experiences of the afternoon--"

"I am ready to go this minute," Ned said.

"Oh, but you must have torches, and guns, and stand ready to fight against wild beasts as well as against men. There are jaguars in there, and boas--serpents ten yards in length. Natives have been killed by jaguars within the month."

"Jaguars rarely come as far north as this," Ned said, "and your serpents are not dangerous," but the other insisted that there were both jaguars and boas in the jungle.

"This man Gostel may have gone to the rescue of the boys," suggested Ned.

Gastong laughed weakly.

"You don't know him," he said. "I tell you he is a spy, a Japanese spy, watching every inch of the canal as it is excavated. He is in the pay of hostile interests, and will work you all a mischief. He knew before you arrived that you were coming."

"How do you know that?" demanded Ned.

Gastong's replies to the question were not satisfactory, and so Ned gave over questioning him. The sleeping boys were aroused and in ten minutes, just as a faint tint of day came into the east, they were away to the jungle--taking the way to Gatun at first, as the thicket they sought was far to the southeast of that city.

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