The man had a temper as short as his stature; and Ted dared not stir him up any further. So he hung there alongside the tree, watching the glow of the lamp further up the road.
And as he stood in this disconsolate position, he suddenly became aware that something was taking place just beyond the kneeling Wash.
Perhaps, had his hands not been so snugly fastened together with that horrid steel chain, Ted might have tried to rub his eyes, under the impression that they were deceiving him; for he saw a face in the dim light, a face that looked wonderfully like that of Paul Morrison.
Some foolish boys would have been so thrilled by the prospect of relief that they must have called out, and thus betrayed the creeping rescuers. Ted chanced to be built on different lines. He stared and blinked, but gave utterance to no sound.
He saw other moving figures close on the heels of the leader. Then he understood that Paul was not alone, but some of his Red Fox patrol must be in attendance.
Closer still crept the newcomers. If Ted’s heart ever warmed toward a living being it surely ought just then; when these lads, whom he was wont to regard as his bitter rivals, and enemies in everything at school, took such chances simply because they could not see a Stanhope boy in trouble.
Wash kept muttering to himself as he worked. The rustle of the leaves, and the crackling of the brush as he dragged it forward, kept him from hearing such sounds as might have been made by the tenderfeet scouts, who had not yet learned just how to do these things as might an Indian or an experienced woodsman.
Paul was on his knees now, and still rising, with Jack a close second.
They were not three feet behind the man who labored. A single plunge forward must send them full upon his back.
Some thought of his companion possibly crossed the mind of Wash just then; for he suddenly turned his head.
Of course he could not help but see what was behind him.
“Now!” whooped Bobolink and William in a breath.
There was a simultaneous movement on the part of the five lads. Wash, taken by surprise, could not get up on his feet. He had his hands full of brush at the moment, and this also handicapped him about making any effective use of the weapons Nature gave him.
He had just time to shout the name of his companion when the avalanche struck him, and he was bowled over as neatly as ever a football tackle got his man.
Paul knew that they could easily manage this one fellow. The trouble was Wash did not happen to be alone. When the tall ruffian came dashing quickly to the spot there was no telling what he might not do.
“Hold him down, you twins. Don’t let him break loose. The rest of you follow me!”
Even while speaking Paul scrambled to his feet. He heard the mad patter of feet as Brad came dashing toward the spot, shouting in his excitement, and doubtless believing that the prisoner had turned upon his captor.