“Looky here, Mister man, we’ve decided that we’re not going to stay here any longer. You ain’t got nothin’ on us, and you haven’t got any reason to hold us up with those guns. We haven’t done nothin’ criminal, and we don’t intend to be held for crim’nals. We’ll tell you where your kids are and ev’rything’ll be all right if you keep off o’ our islands. We own all these islands here, and we’re not goin’ to ’low no trespassin’.”
“The main trouble with your proposition is that we have no way of knowing whether you’re telling the truth,” answered Mr. Baker. “Can you tell us where the boys are and then prove that they’re there before we let you go?”
“We c’n tell you where they are and you must take our word fer it,” was the fellow’s reply. “They’re over on the first island in that direction, pointing to the southwest. You can’t miss it. It’s an island about the same size as this one, all by itself. You’ll find ’em there if somebody hasn’t taken ’em off.”
“No, that won’t do,” replied Mr. Baker. “We can’t afford to let you go.”
“All right, then, let me tell you something more,” said the spokesman of the strange quartet, whose self-confidence and courage seemed to be on the increase. “Do you see that stake there?”—indicating the visible end of a piece of wood similar to a guy-rope stake, that had been driven into the ground at a point midway between the two hostile conferees.
“I see it very plainly,” Mr. Baker replied.
“Do you know what it means?”
“I must confess my ignorance.”
“Well, I have a surprise for you. There are other stakes driven about a hundred feet apart clear across this island east and west. That is the dividing line between the United States and Canada. You are a Canadian, ain’t you?”
“Well, that line there means that you are now in Canada and we are in the United States. If you come over here to take us you are invading the United States. If you shoot at us, you are shooting across the border line at citizens of the United States. I defy you to commit any such act.”
Mr. Baker was “almost taken off his feet” by the shrewdness of this argument, and for several moments he was unable to make any intelligent reply. Cub also was nonplused at the “international situation”. However, the ludicrous element of the affair did not escape them, and presently Mr. Baker was hurling the following heated rejoinder at the spokesman of the unfriendly four:
“Now, see here, my fine fellow, I’m not going to listen to this nonsense any longer. My son has been kidnapped by you scoundrels, and I am a desperate man right now. I am in a mood at this moment to snap my fingers at international lines, if what you say is the truth. I don’t care to dispute your word on so flimsy a subject. But here is the only compromise I am willing to make with you. One of you has got to stay here a prisoner