“I’ve got his gun. If you can hold him now I’m going into the cave after Morales. He’s still at the phone.”
A grunt was Stone’s only reply as he pressed his chin deeper into the other’s shoulder. Von Arnheim’s body was beginning to arch like a bow. If he did not surrender soon, his back would be broken.
Frank darted off down the slope.
Morales was seated at the telephone as Frank entered the cave, captured revolver in his hand. His own weapon hung forgotten at his side, so little used was he to the handling of small arms. Frank had tumbled, fallen, rolled down the slope, taking no precautions, fired only with anxiety to prevent Morales from radioing while there was yet time.
The Mexican also, in his anxiety to reach the ranch and give the warning, had cast caution aside.
Across the outer room dashed Frank, scarcely noting the trussed-up figure of Tom Bodine flung in one corner. No hangings obscured the brightly-lighted interior of the inner cave, for they had been torn down the night before to form a pallet.
Morales sat with his back turned, the headpiece clamped over his ears.
Frank darted forward and brought the butt of the revolver crashing down on the Mexican’s head. Without a sound, without a gurgle or a cry, Morales swayed in the chair, then slumped to one side and slid to the floor.
With nervous haste Frank pulled the headpiece from the other and clamped it on his head. At once a crackle of Spanish words filled his ears. He could make nothing of them. What little knowledge of Spanish he once had possessed was not at his command now.
“Jack, Bob,” he cried, pulling the microphone toward him. “This is Frank. Do you hear me? Frank.”
The chattering ceased as if by magic.
“Frank? What in the world?”
Glory be! It was Jack’s voice in reply.
“Use the code,” cried Frank. In this emergency his brain was working lightning-fast. And in their own private code he added:
“It’s all right now. They captured Tom Bodine while we were down in the valley seeing you off. But we’ve recaptured the cave.”
“You saved our lives,” came back Jack’s voice. “I heard your Mexican friend call the ranch while we were flying, and at once started to interfere. It’s been a job and my throat’s hoarse. But he never got his message through, I can tell you that. Whatever it was he had to tell, I never did find out. I just started interfering, singing, talking, shouting. The ranch never found out what he was trying to say, and neither did I. But, boy, you’re just in time. We can see the lights now. What? What’s that?”
What he heard was a shout.
But Frank was too busy to answer his question. Morales had recovered consciousness and was on his knees and struggling to his feet, when out of the tail of his eye Frank saw his peril. Snatching the instrument from his head, he flung himself sideways. The impact of his body hurled Morales again to the floor.