Frank led, but proceeded only a short distance. Then his light rested on the grinning face of a Chinaman.
The tunnel was guarded. The boy turned back and looked into the tunnel by which they had entered the chamber. Within a foot of the muzzle of his searchlight he saw the grinning face of another Chinaman.
He stepped back to the mouth of the tunnel and motioned Jack to guard the exit, explaining, briefly, that they had been trapped, not in a hut on the street level, but in a subterranean chamber where they could not be heard, and where no one would ever think of looking for them.
“Oh, no,” Jack cried, regarding Sandy angrily, “you didn’t know anything about this—not a thing! You treacherous dog!”
“I didn’t! I didn’t!” shouted the boy. “Call them men in an’ ask them if I did.”
“You wait a minute,” Jack gritted out, “and I’ll see if the Chinks will stand quiet while I beat their accomplice up!”
“Quit it!” Frank commanded. “We’re in trouble enough now, without bringing the Chinks down on us. I’d give a good deal to know if Ned and Jimmie are still alive!”
A VANISHING DIPLOMAT
Ned turned to the Captain as the men in slate-colored robes lifted their hands after the manner of fake mystics the world over. He was not uninterested, but he was anxious.
They were now some distance from the grove in which the camp breakfast had been prepared, and the grove, in turn, was some distance from the highway. They were also some feet under ground, where any calls for assistance that might be necessary would be muffled by the hewn stone and the damp air and earth.
Besides, the alleged priests had mapped out this scene before the arrival of the boys, as Ned believed. Therefore they might have half a hundred natives within call, prepared to do murder if necessary.
The marines had been ordered by the Captain to gradually surround the temple, to guard every entrance that could be discovered, and to force their way in if anything of a suspicious nature occurred. Ned did not know the men as well as he knew the Captain, therefore he asked:
“The men will obey your orders to the letter? You see, we are in a box here!”
“They will obey,” said the officer. “What do you make of the mummery now going on?”
The “mummery” consisted in slow, gliding motions, in whirlings about intended to be graceful, in slow liftings of the hands upward, and in the beating of the drums.
“I don’t make anything of it,” Ned replied. “I take it they are waiting for time. Perhaps they got us in here with less trouble than they had figured on, and are waiting for confederates.”
“What a land!” mused the Captain. “What a way to seek the destruction of any enemy! An Italian would have stabbed us in the back on the way in here, a Frenchman would have set a band of bullies upon us in the grove, an American would have walked up and made observations with his bare fists!”