“No, you’re wrong,” said Bob. “You used the code when you telegraphed that your father was kidnapped. But, as I recall it, when we spoke by radio after getting your wire, we all were so excited we never thought of the code.”
Frank nodded agreement. “That’s right,” he said. “But, anyhow, we never thought of making it a secret. Perhaps your cook—this Gabby Pete—said something innocently in town. Or the word got around somehow.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s the way it happened,” said Jack, dismissing the subject. “But the question now is, what are we going to do? Shall we, telephone the county sheriff about this attack on us tonight and about Remedios? And—what shall we do about father?”
Mr. Temple who had been puffing thoughtfully throughout this discussion, his head bowed, now looked up, and shook his head in negation.
“Let’s not notify the sheriff,” he said. “The minute we bring the authorities into this, we run the danger of letting our whole story become known. Then the end which these mysterious enemies of ours seek will be attained. That is, the government will be drawn into the situation.
“As to your father, Jack,” and Mr. Temple paused, “well, we shall have to think the matter over pretty carefully before we undertake to do anything. In the first place, as I have said before, I believe he was captured in order to make trouble between Mexico and the United States. Now, here comes a note from his captors demanding that we pay a ransom of one hundred thousand dollars. How does that fit into my theory?
“Well, if we appeal to Washington and ask our government to demand Mr. Hampton’s release, there certainly will be trouble. And that, I believe, is what the enemy counts on us to do. If they really were after a ransom, and had no other object in view, it is likely they would not have asked for so big a sum, and also would not have given us two whole weeks in which to carry out their demands. No, I am convinced they expect us to go to Washington and make trouble. Therefore, that is the one thing we must try to avoid doing.”
“But, look here, Mr. Temple,” said Jack, impulsively and with just the slightest quiver in his voice, “he’s my father.”
“Yes, I know, Jack,” Mr. Temple said in a sympathetic tone, “and I know what you’re thinking of. You’re thinking your father is a prisoner and ill-treated. And you’re saying to yourself that while we hold back here from appealing to the government, something dreadful may happen to him. Isn’t that so?”
Jack gulped unashamedly, and turned his head away. “Something like that,” he said, in a muffled voice.
The older man dropped a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry too much, my boy,” he said. “We may appeal to Washington, and let the consequences go hang, if that is the only way to bring back your father. But we don’t want to act too hastily. Let’s turn in now and get a good night’s sleep. Then in the morning we’ll decide on something definite.”