“Suppose we see if the horses are in good shape,” Ned said, going to an adjoining apartment.
He made his appearance again in a minute trundling a magnificent motorcycle. It was been built expressly for army use, with a long, powerful stroke 10 h. p. motor. It was as indestructible and as auto machine as could well be designed. With a perfect muffler, automatic carburetor and lubrication, it was a machine to cover miles silently and with little danger of delay.
The open door behind Ned revealed three machines arranged along the wall, and the boys rushed to the examination of them. In second all were in the room, bending over their steel pets.
“Say!” Jimmie cried, presently, “we’ll get Peking to-night—not! This machine has been tampered with, and some parts are missing.”
“Yes, I reckon the Yellow Peril is on deck!” said Frank.
A DISQUIETING DISCOVERY
The four boys regarded each other in silence for a moment. Jack was the first to speak.
“How badly are the machines damaged?” he asked.
“Mine is all right,” Jimmie reported, after a careful examination of his steel steed, “except that a couple of burrs are missing.”
“And mine,” Frank hastened to say, “is all right except that the oil feed is blocked and the electric battery is shut off—that is, it is so arranged that the machine will spark for a short distance and then buck. Great doings!”
“And yours, Jack?” asked Ned.
“Just a few burrs gone.”
“And mine is o.k.,” Ned went on, “except that the carburetor has been tampered with. I think we’ll get off for Peking before long.”
“How?” demanded Jimmie. “We can’t make burrs out of wood, or patch up with rat pie, which seems to be about the only thing we have plenty of. I don’t suppose we can get repairs in this yellow hole.”
Ned took a handbag from under the burlap. “I am carrying my own repair shop with me,” he said, taking out a box of burrs and a pair of pincers. “I’ve got all the small parts right here in duplicate, and some of the larger ones are in the big suitcase.”
“You’re a wonder!” Jimmie cried, dancing about his chum and wrinkling his nose until it looked like that of a comedian in a motion picture. “I wonder if you haven’t got a hunk of Washington pie in that keyster!”
The lads fell to work on their machines, and in a very short time all were ready for the road. Then Ned put away his handbag and began an examination of the large suitcase, which contained the larger repairs for the motorcycles. It had not been molested.
“There’s one thing certain,” he said, “and that is that the Chinese who are watching us expect us to make a dash for Peking. They took the pains to leave our machines in such shape that their tampering with them would not be suspected. I’d like to know just when this mischief was accomplished.”