“You forget, my dear,” spoke Mr. Dunlop, gently, “that our newly-found young friends have just sent for other men.”
Tom smiled grimly as he thought of Jim Ferrers’s “crowd”—–consisting of poor, frighten little Alf with the cigarette-stained fingers.
“At any cost or risk, sir,” Tom went on, after a moment, “you must get the women and the child away from here. But—–why, where is the child?”
There was an instant of dismay. The little girl had vanished.
“Gladys!” spoke Dr. Dunlop’s daughter in alarm.
From under one of the cars a muffled voice answered, “Here I am.” Then Gladys, sobbing and shaking, emerged into view.
“I was so frightened!” cried the child. “I just had to hide.”
“The men have gone away, dear,” explained
her mother soothingly.
“And now we’re going too. We’ll be safe after this.”
At that instant three shots, fired in rapid succession, rang out.
JIM’S “ARMY” APPEARS
“Down on your faces!” called the older of the armed men with the motor party.
“Not necessary,” spoke Tom, dryly. “The shots were fired by Jim Ferrers’s army.”
“And I missed the pesky critter, too!” spoke Jim’s voice, resentfully, as he showed his head over the edge of the cliff, where three puffs of smoke slowly ascended.
“Don’t show yourself, Jim! Careful!” Reade warned their guide.
“It’s all right,” declared Ferrers indifferently, as he rose to his full height, then discovered the path by which Tom had descended. “The critters took to cover as soon as they heard me making a noise.”
With that explanation Ferrers slid rather than walked down into the gully.
“Where are the rest of your men?” questioned Mr. Dunlop, eagerly.
“I’m all there are,” explained Jim, “except one pesky little puffer of cigarettes. He’s hiding his stained fingers somewhere in the brush half a mile from here.”
“There are no more men to your crowd?” spoke Dr. Dunlop anxiously.
“None,” Tom broke in. “My order to the boy, Drew, was intended by way of conversation to interest your four callers.”
“Then, indeed, we must look out for an ambush,” said one of Mr. Dunlop’s companions, a man of thirty.
“And you will be in real danger every minute of the time,” said Dunlop’s daughter, fearfully. “Father, why can’t you come out of this wild country? Is the money that you may make out here worth all the risk?”
“Yes,” answered Mr. Dunlop, with a firmness that seemed intended to settle the matter.
“Why did you fire on those men without provocation?” Tom asked, aside, of Jim Ferrers, who stood stroking his rifle barrel with one hand.
“I had provocation,” Ferrers answered.
“Oh,” said Reade, who was none the wiser.