Frank obeyed the suggestion, and three reports were heard. Jack, though not naturally bloodthirsty, was overjoyed at the sound of a groan which came from the spot where Frank lay.
“Don’t try that again, son!”
“That will be enough!”
Both sentences were spoken in English. Then the boys were carried bodily into the house and sat down against a wall. Then a lighted lantern was brought in, and the prisoners saw six sleepy-looking Chinamen grinning at them.
A COLLECTION OF WILD ANIMALS
“Well, what do you think of it?”
The voice was that of an Englishman, and the words were spoken in the room, but the struggling prisoners could not discover where the person who uttered them stood. It seemed to them that there were only the six sleepy-looking Chinamen and themselves in the apartment.
Frank ceased his useless struggling with the rope which held both feet and hands in its strong coils, and glanced along the row of stupid faces.
“What did you say?” he asked, hoping that the speaker would say something more and so locate himself.
“How do you like it?”
That was the same voice, and it was in that room, but, still, there were only the six Chinamen and Jack in sight. Frank looked at his chum with a smile on his face. In that moment he resolved to meet whatever Fate might have in store for him with a cheerful heart. He had little doubt that both Ned and Jimmie had been caught in the trap into which Jack and himself had fallen.
There was no knowing what the fate of himself and his friends would be, but whatever had been planned for them by their enemies, there would be no relief in sighs and pleas for pity. They were alone in the land of mystery. Owing to the necessity for secrecy regarding their movements, no one with whom they had been associated in the Secret Service work knew of their whereabouts, save only Lieutenant Scott, who had sent them on to Taku, and who had failed to keep his promises to them.
And Lieutenant Scott? Frank believed him dead or in the clutches of the conspirators.
Otherwise, he would have kept his appointment at the old house on the water front. The view ahead was not a long one, as the boy considered the matter, nor a smooth one, but he decided that nothing was to be gained by subserviency.
“I like it!” was Jack’s quick reply. “Who is it that is doing the talking?”
“One of the six in front of you,” came the answer in English.
Jack cast his eyes quickly along the row of faces, but failed to catch the movement of a lip, the twinkle of an eye.
“You’re a funny bloke,” Jack went on. “How much will you take for a month in vaudeville?”
“He’d make a fine spirit medium,” Frank cut in. “Can you make the talk come from behind me?” he added, with a grin.