Bob was silent, but Jack again stepped into the breach.
“Good for you,” he said warmly. “I’m glad to hear you talk that way. But”—and here Jack paused impressively—“suppose the imprisonment of my father threatened the peace and prosperity of the ‘good old U.S.A.’ as you call it. What then?”
Stone looked troubled.
“See here,” he said. “What are you driving at?”
“Shall we tell him what Mr. Temple says is behind all this?” Jack asked his companions.
Bob and Frank nodded agreement.
“Well,” began Jack, “it’s this way.” Thereupon he proceeded to relate Mr. Temple’s theory that the attacks on the independent oil operators, the capturing of Mr. Hampton and the attempt engineered by Rollins and Remedios to capture himself, were all part of a plan to embroil the United States government with President Obregon, as the responsible head of the country whence the outrages originated.
“And Mr. Temple says,” concluded Jack, “that if the two countries did come to war, it would hurt us very much with all Latin-America.”
“Sure would,” agreed Stone thoughtfully. “I’ve knocked about among these Spanish-American republics for years, an’ they all look on the little old U.S.A. as a dollar-chaser and a bully.” He was silent for a moment, and when he resumed, he said: “Look here. What you’ve just told me makes a big difference. You haven’t said yet what you are out to do. But I can make a pretty good guess. You’re going to try to rescue your father without letting the American authorities know anything about it. Am I right?”
“Well, I’ll help you,” said Stone. “I know where he is and how to get him, an’ I’ll tell you all I know.”
“Hurray,” yelled Frank, the impulsive.
Jack and Bob contented themselves with grasping Stone’s hand warmly. Realizing Stone still was bound, Bob pulled out a pocket knife and started to cut his bonds, but Stone made him desist.
“Keep this dark from Von Arnheim and Morales,” he said. “And keep me tied up. They may suspect I’m throwing in with you, but I don’t want ’em to know. I want to be able to make a getaway, because these parts won’t be very pleasant for me hereafter.”
“That’s right,” said Bob. “Well, even if you won’t take money, you’ll have to let my father or Mr. Hampton help you in some way, with a job or something.”
Stone smiled tolerantly.
“Buddy,” said he, “getting along is the least of my troubles.”
With Stone’s aid won, the boys now set about learning from him how matters stood at the Calomares ranch.
For hours they continued to talk, so absorbed that they did not realize the flight of time until Tom Bodine came to inform them the sun was near setting and to ask what they intended to do that night. By then, however, they had obtained from Stone all the information he could give them, which was considerable; Bob had had another talk by radio with his father, and a plan for further proceedings had been worked out.