Through the woods they dashed, emerging within sight of the door of the power house. There stood Tom Barnum unharmed, revolver in hand. At the noise of their approach, he swung about abruptly, bringing up his revolver in doing so. Mr. Temple and the boys shouted, and he dropped the threatening weapon again to his side.
“Thought they were comin’ back,” he said.
“What happened, Tom?” queried Mr. Temple, as they surrounded the watchman-mechanic in charge of the Hampton radiophone station with whom they had pursued a thief fleeing from the Hampton home only a short time before.
“Well, sir, when we come back from chasin’ them fellers in the motor car,” Tom explained, “I stopped at your back door a minute to chin Mary an’ tell her the news. She wanted to know what all the excitement was about.
“Then I come on down here, an’ thinks I to myself: ’I’ll just get out the old army revolver that I carried in France an’ I’ll be better fixed for trouble the next time.’ So I took ’er out of my locker in the shop here an’ swabbed her up an’ just got everything slicked when I hear a fellow creeping up to the door an’ then voices whisperin’ together.
“Then the door starts to open slow an’ easy like. I seen somebody what hadn’t no business here was nosin’ around an’ I says to myself: ’Tom, it’s a good thing you got the ol’ army gun fixed up in time.’
“Then one of ’em stumbles an’ falls agin the door an’ open she comes with him a-sprawlin’ on the floor. The other fellow is right behin’ him but he sees me an’ lets out a yell an’ turns an’ runs. Man, he was a regular jackrabbit, too. I’ll say that for ’im.
“Well, I been crouchin’ by the dynamo an’ let out a screech like wild Injun an’ fired off a shot through the doorway. Maybe two shots. Say, you’d oughta seen that bird fly then. As for the other fellow, the one that stumbled an’ fell, he picks himself up an’ tuk out like a whitehead.
“I fired agin, high, just to scare ’em. I scared ’em all right, I guess. Anyhow, they disappeared over south there toward that old wood road that nobody uses no more. An’ then I hear a motor car roar an’ off she goes.”
“Why,” cried Frank, “they must have been the same two men we chased.”
“Were,” said Tom. “Dark-lookin’ fellers an’ one didn’t have no coat. That was the guy Bob peeled his coat off of. I’d know ’em agin easy.”
For several minutes there was an animated discussion of the exciting events of the afternoon. What puzzled Bob and Frank was the reason for the return of the thieves to the scene from which they had been driven. Nobody could offer a good solution of the mystery until finally Bob said:
“Say, I’ll bet they were going to hide here in the station and lay for me in the hope of getting back that coat and the papers the thief stole from Mr. Hampton’s house.”
“Yes,” put in Frank, “and the wallet with the railroad ticket to Ransome, New Mexico, and all that money, too.”