“If you move again, or try to answer the call, that will be the last of one Black Bear. Remain silent while I talk with your friends.”
“Our friends?” repeated Frank.
“Certainly,” was the reply—given with a chuckle. “Your very good friends from the American ship in the harbor.”
There was torture in the words, in the fierce grip on the arm. The promised assistance had arrived and the boys were powerless to make their perilous situation known!
But a hopeful thought came to the brain of the boy as he was dragged away from the open window. It was barely possible that Ned had escaped, that he knew of the peril his friends were in, and would arrive before the Americans were, by some treacherous falsehood, sent away.
“Nestor!” cried the voice outside. “Are you there? Show a light.”
There was a rustle in the room, then black silence.
WITH THE FLYING SQUADRON
“Go around to the front and come in,” a voice said—a voice from the room where the boys were. “I’ve just got here, and am trying to find a light.”
There was a rattle of arms outside, then the heavy tread of men still making some pretense, even in the darkness and the rain, of moving in marching order. The men who had come to the assistance of the Boy Scouts were preparing to enter the house.
How would they be received? This was the question uppermost in the minds of all the boys as they waited.
Would they be greeted with treacherous words, or with a murderous fusillade of bullets and knives stabbing in the darkness? It would seem that the Chinamen would hardly dare attack an American military squad, yet these men were outlaws, and there was no knowing what they might do.
The lads heard the marines, as they supposed the newcomers to be, pass around an angle of the old house and stand for an instant talking in the doorway to which they had been directed by the voice of the man on the inside. Frank was preparing to set up a cry of warning, let the consequences be what they might, when the rattle of arms told him that the marines had surrounded the house, and that every door and window was guarded! The men who were guarding the boys evidently knew what was taking place, for they released their clutches on the lads and moved away.
Next came a struggle at the window, and then a strong electric light swept into the room. Jimmie jumped forward and bumped into Ned, who was clambering over the decayed window sill.
There were several shots exchanged on the outside, followed by shouts of both rage and pain, then three men in the uniform of the United States marine service entered the room. One of them picked up Ned’s searchlight, which had fallen to the floor when Jimmie bunted its owner, and turned its rays on the mix-up under the window.