The obdurate official left the room.
“Gee, but it’s close in here!” Jimmie declared, in a moment. “Seems like a hop joint in Pell street.”
“There is opium in the air,” the officer said. “See if you can find a window.”
Jimmie found a window opening on a large court and lifted the lower sash. Then he called to Ned.
“I don’t like the looks of this,” he said. “If they should try to hold us here, what?”
“They won’t do that.”
“Oh, they won’t tie us up, I guess,” said the little fellow, “but they may delay our departure.”
“Go on,” smiled Ned.
“An’ communicate with the ginks that have been chasing us ever since we left the submarine,” concluded the boy.
“In time, Jimmie,” Ned answered, “you may even get into the thinking row. I have been wondering ever since we came in here if we were not with enemies instead of friends.”
“I can soon find out,” declared Jimmie.
“Yes? How, may I ask?”
“I’ll rush out into the other room an’ try to get to the street. If there’s anythin’ in the notion we have, they’ll turn me back.”
“You might try that,” smiled Ned, and the officer clapped a hand on the boy’s shoulder and declared that he was a “brick.”
So Jimmie hustled out into the front office. The listeners heard sharp words, and then a slight scuffling of feet. Then next instant the boy was pushed back through the doorway.
“What is the trouble?” asked the marine of the assistant, whose flushed face showed in the half-open doorway.
“You’ll all have to be identified before you can leave here,” was the curt reply. “You have asked for important state dispatches, and we want to know what your motive is.”
“My motive is to get them,” replied Ned, coolly.
“Wait until you prove your right to them,” said the other, and the door was slammed shut. Ned stepped back to the window and looked out into the court. The walls were four stories high, and there seemed to be no passage out of the box-like place. The officer suggested that he force his way through the outer office and reach the American consul, but Ned did not approve of this. He thought there must be some other way. Then a hint of that other way came from the court in the call of an owl.
“That’s a Boy Scout signal, and not a bird!” almost shouted Jimmie.
THE MESSAGE FROM WASHINGTON
“Surely,” the marine officer said, in answer to the boy’s exclamation, “that is a genuine, feathered owl. No boy could make so perfect an imitation.”
“It’s Dutchy, all right,” insisted Jimmie. “I’ve heard him make that noise before. Now, how did he ever get to Tientsin, and how did he locate us?”
“It doesn’t seem possible that it is Hans,” Ned said. “How could he make the journey on foot, through a country suspicious of every foreigner? And how comes it that he chanced on this building?”