“If you have tobacco and cigarette papers,” Tom continued, “then some one gave the stuff to you. It was Dolph Gage, or one of his rascals, wasn’t it?”
“Don’t know him,” replied the boy, with a shake of his head.
“Now, don’t try to fool me, Drew,” warned Tom, with a mild shake administered to the youngster’s shoulders. “How much tobacco have you?”
“A whole package,” admitted Alf reluctantly, feeling that it would be of no use to try to deceive his employer.
“And plenty of papers to go with it?”
“You got it from four men?”
“No; I didn’t.”
“Well, from one of four men, then? Tell me the truth.”
“What did you do to please the four men?”
Alf Drew shifted uneasily from one foot to the other, and then back again.
“Come! Speak up!” Reade insisted sternly.
“You’re wasting our time. What did you do for the four men?”
“I didn’t do anything,” Alf evaded.
“What did you tell them, then?” Reade wanted to know.
“They asked me a few questions.”
“Of course; and you answered the questions.”
“What did the men want to know about?” pressed Tom, the look in his eyes growing sterner still.
“They wanted to know how many men Jim Ferrers had,” admitted the Drew boy.
“Oh, I see,” pondered Tom aloud, a half smile creeping into his face. “They were guessing the size of Ferrers’s army, were they?”
“I—–I guess so,” Alf replied.
“And you told them-----?”
“I told ’em the camp was made up of you and Mr. Hazelton, Jim Ferrers and myself.”
“And then they gave you the tobacco for cigarettes, did they?”
“I made ’em gimme that first,” Alf retorted, a look of cunning in his eyes.
“So, my bright little hero, you sold us out for a toy bale of cigarettes, did you?” demanded Tom Reade, staring coldly down at the shame-faced youngster.
NO NEED TO WORK FOR PENNIES
“I—–I didn’t see how it could do any harm,” sniveled young Drew.
“Perhaps it didn’t,” Tom admitted. “So far, it has resulted only in our being ambushed and all but murdered. Now, where did they take our tents and the other stuff?”
“I don’t know,” declared Alf. “Are the tents gone?” He answered so promptly that Reade believed him.
“Very much so,” replied Reade, releasing his grip on Drew’s shoulder. “Come on, friends, we’ll hunt further.”
“Say, what was that big explosion?” asked Alf, running after the party when he found himself being left alone.
“No time to talk until we find our camp stuff,” Tom called back over his shoulder.
“I’ll help you,” proposed Alf eagerly.
“You’re full of helpfulness,” Reade jibed.