“This boy says he saw a signal given from a window as soon as this bunch was taken,” he said. “Then crowds began forming. Say, but we’d better be gettin’ out!”
“Save yourselves the exertion,” the prisoner said. “They will find you, wherever you go!”
“Possibly,” Ned said.
Then he walked to the window and again looked out on the mob. The street was packed. Faces showing rage and desperate bravery were uplifted. Fists were shaken at the window where he stood. In a moment a stone came hurtling against the wall of the house.
Here and there, on the outskirts of the crowd, policemen in the funny uniforms the police of Peking wear, were seen trying vainly to force their way to the door of the hotel. The main entrance seemed to be guarded, for the mob did not succeed in forcing its way in.
Presently, however, Ned saw long ladders being carried forward on the shoulders of the rioters. Then they were dropped against the wall and men with bloody faces—bloody from the acts of their own fellows—fought to be first to climb.
“In three minutes,” the prisoner said, “you will be torn limb from limb if I am not released.”
“Your friends certainly do insist on something of the kind,” Ned replied.
“Remove these irons and place me before the window,” commanded the other. “That will quiet them.”
“And make terms with a pack of rioters?” smiled Ned.
“You can save your life, and the lives of your friends, in no other way,” insisted the other.
Ned went to the window again, although bricks and stones were flying quite freely. The ladders swarmed with excited men, but no one seemed able to gain entrance at the windows which were attacked.
Instead, a ladder now and then went toppling backward, carrying dozens of rioters to death or injury. When the ladders began falling the mob moved away from that side of the street.
“You see,” Ned said to the prisoner, “that we were on the lookout for something like this.”
“How could you have been?” gasped the other.
“Our interpreter heard some of the messages sent out by mouth by the revolutionists. I connected your possible capture with the gathering. We were warned and made ready.”
“But my men will soon be here!” shouted the other. “They are sworn to go to death for the cause if necessary.”
“But I don’t see them doing anything of the kind,” Ned replied. “On the contrary, they seem to be taking pretty good care of their yellow old hides!”
“You’ll see!” howled the other.
Directly the heavy beat of marching feet came up to the window, heard above the roar of the mob below. Far down the street Ned saw the advancing line, bearing the colors of the Emperor.
The rioters saw the line, too, and the crowd in front of the hotel began to thin. Then the soldiers arrived and the thoroughfare was empty save for their presence. By this time the prisoner was in a condition of collapse. He had planned this thing carefully, and was now in the meshes of failure.