“What do you mean, Uncle George?” asked Frank, puzzled.
“Well, boys, I’ll tell you,” said Mr. Temple, speaking deliberately and thoughtfully. “In the first place I know the men at the head of the so-called Octopus. They are keen business men and quick to seize every legitimate advantage. But they are above such unscrupulous tactics as this.
“I know the signs point to them as the instigator of our troubles at Mr. Hampton’s camp and then here today. But those signs point to something else, too. If you will recall, Jack said the fellows who raided the Hamptons today, or rather tried to do so but failed, were Mexicans. And this man who entered the Hampton house today was a Mexican, too. What was his name, Frank?”
“Morales. Jose Morales,” said Frank, promptly.
“Yes, Jose Morales,” said Mr. Temple. “Well, I believe that certain Mexicans are responsible for our troubles, and not our business rivals, at all.”
“What in the world?” said Bob, puzzled.
“But why, Uncle George?” demanded Frank.
“In order to make trouble between the United States and Mexico,” said Mr. Temple, promptly.
“Oh,” said Bob, “I begin to see what you’re driving at. You mean, then, that by attacking the independents in the Southwest these Mexicans would get us so stirred up that Uncle Sam would take a hand to protect our properties, and might even send troops to the border?”
“That’s exactly what I mean, Bob,” said Mr. Temple approvingly.
“But in that case, Uncle George,” demanded Frank, “why wouldn’t the Mexicans be making trouble for the Octopus, too?”
“Because, Frank,” explained the older man, “the properties throughout the region where we are located are mainly held by independent operators. The Octopus is trying to gobble us up, but it hasn’t succeeded, and won’t if we can prevent. But, just the same, it isn’t there for the Mexicans to attack. If they want to harass anybody in the hope of getting the United States Government to intervene, they must attack us and our friends and allies.”
“Yes, I see that now,” said Frank, nodding. “But what makes you think the Mexicans want to get into a war with Uncle Sam?”
“They don’t particularly yearn to come to blows with us, Frank,” said Mr. Temple. “And not all Mexicans are involved, if my suspicions are correct, but only a faction. You see, boys, General Obregon has been President of Mexico now for several years, but the country is far from pacified and far from submitting to his rule. The rebel forces in the northern part of Mexico are gaining in strength right along. One of these days they will be in open revolution.
“Now these Mexicans who want to depose Obregon would like to get him into trouble with the United States in the hope that what they desire would then come to pass.”
“I begin to understand you,” said Bob, with more animation than usual. “You mean the rebels would like to stir up trouble on the border and get Obregon into hot water with Uncle Sam in just the same way that Pancho Villa some years ago made trouble between our government and Carranza by his raid on Columbus, New Mexico?”