“You speak as if we were going to be next on the program,” Arnold laughed quietly. “Don’t be too sure. Things may slip.”
“Well,” disputed Arnold, “suppose that Wyckoff doesn’t do as Lopez wants him to do, what then? What’s to hinder Lopez shooting Wyckoff and getting the treasure chest himself? Tell me that.”
“How does that let us in?” queried Frank.
“Well, if they are down and out, don’t we get busy?”
“I suppose so, but I believe this treasure has had enough blood spilled over it now. I’m getting rather scared about it.”
“Look there,” cried Jack in a tone that was almost audible to the two men at the pit. “It looks as if Wyckoff were going to dig. He’s a plucky chap all right. We must give him credit for that.”
Wyckoff had searched the vicinity and found a shovel. This he was now preparing to put to use. He was in the pit in another moment and began throwing the sand out. Then he paused!
“That sand’s wet,” declared Arnold, who had observed closely.
“Tide’s away up and probably has seeped through the little sand intervening,” declared Harrison. “I expected it.”
“Why, look at him,” hoarsely urged Frank. “He seems to be floundering about. Can it be he’s in trouble?”
“It would look that way,” declared Tom. “I wonder why Lopez don’t come to his rescue instead of standing there with his rifle.”
“He isn’t in any danger,” declared Arnold. “He’s just wading around in the soft sand that was loosened by the explosion.”
“Don’t you believe it,” urged Tom rising to his feet. “I believe the man’s in serious trouble. It looks like quicksand.”
“If Lopez would let us, I’d be in favor of helping him.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” volunteered Tom. “I’ll make a running noose in this line I brought along. You boys cover Lopez with your guns and I’ll go as close as I can and lasso Wyckoff. We can all get hold of the line then and maybe we’ll be able to pull him out. It wouldn’t be right to leave him there to go down.”
At that moment Wyckoff seemed to realize his danger. He was, indeed, caught in the treacherous quicksand. No doubt the sand had been loosened by the explosion to such an extent that although quiet heretofore, it was now “quick,” and was working to draw into its depths any object unfortunate enough to be in its grasp.
Like a thing of life the sand sucked and pulled at Wyckoff’s feet. He felt himself being drawn into the terrible danger.
“Help. Help,” he cried, flinging his arms toward the firmer ground. “Pete, give me a hand! I’m going down.”
For answer Lopez flung his rifle up. A spurt of flame was his answer. Horrified, the boys expected to see Wyckoff drop. To their amazement Lopez had missed. Then they saw Wyckoff throw his knife straight at Lopez. It struck the man in the forehead.