Then the bank of the stream rose again, and the water flowed through a ravine, into which the red car had entered. It could not escape him, and Ted chuckled, and examined his revolver, loosening it well in its holster, for he had not forgotten the warning against Checkers given him by Chief Desmond.
The ravine grew deeper as he advanced, and soon it became tolerably dark at the bottom where the high walls shut out the light. Suddenly his horse stumbled, and, as Ted shot over its head, he heard the twang of a broken wire that had been stretched across the path.
He had fallen into a trap. As he struck the earth, he was stunned for a moment, then a heavy weight was upon him.
He twisted around and felt for his revolver, but it had fallen from his holster, and he felt his arms grasped and a thong passed around his wrists, and then around his ankles.
The weight was lifted from him and he rolled over on his back. Standing above him was the man whom he knew as Checkers.
“Well, my lad, you delivered yourself like a lamb to the slaughter,” said Checkers, with a smile.
Ted could say nothing. He was too busy wondering how easily he had fallen into the toils.
“You went up against a tough proposition when yon tackled me,” continued the man. “It would have been a good thing for you if you had never run across me. You know too much to be left alive. I shall see that you are properly taken care of.”
Checkers issued a shrill whistle.
“Come,” he said to Ted, “get to your feet.”
Ted arose as three men came around an elbow of the wall of the ravine.
“Take care of this boy,” said Checkers to them. “And if he escapes—”
He finished the sentence with a smile that made the men wince.
Stella imitates Santa Claus.
“Come on, fellow,” said one of the men, jerking Ted along by hops.
“We’ll attend to him all right, boss,” said another.
“He’ll get all that’s coming to him,” said the third, with a grin that was almost as diabolical as that of Checkers.
Around the elbow of the ravine wall, in a small cove was a log cabin with a lean-to shed, under which was sheltered the fatal red car which had lured him to captivity.
The cabin was backed up against the wall of the ravine, and was small and dirty as to interior. A fire burned in a big stone fireplace at one end, filling the room with a suffocating smudge.
The room was almost dark, but Ted, from the corner into which he had been flung, was soon able to make out that the men were cooking something over the glowing embers, at the same time taking swigs from a black bottle, and smoking reeking pipes of vile tobacco.
After the food was cooked they began to eat, but did not offer Ted any of it, all the while making jokes at his expense, and vaguely hinting at his fate.