Cautiously the boys advanced. They did not stop to think what they were going to do, nor how they would capture the man, who, if he had evil designs, was probably armed and desperate. With the sole desire of protecting from loss their friends in the bungalow, they determined to prevent the man from breaking into the place. That this seemed his intention was almost certain to the boys, for they saw him approach one of the low windows, stop under it, and flash his light several times.
“Now’s our chance!” whispered Ned. “Let’s creep up and jump on his back. Then yell like mad and Ponto, and some of the servants will come and help us.”
With light footsteps, hardly making a sound that was not covered by the noise of the wind in the trees, the boys advanced until they were within a few feet of the man. He did not suspect their presence. The three chums were trembling with nervousness and excitement.
Suddenly the man flashed a bright beam of light on the ground, and made a quick motion.
“Now!” whispered Ned. “Jump boys!” for it looked as if the intruder was about to open a window, and spring inside.
The chums leaped together, and fairly bore the man to the earth. Down they came upon him, as if they were stopping a halfback, with a football, running around right end on the second down.
“We’ve got him!” yelled Bob.
“Help! Help!” shouted Ned.
“Murder! Thieves! Robbers! Fire! Police! Help!”
These were cries coming from the man who was struggling to get rid of the crushing weight of three healthy, sturdy boys.
“He’s trying to get away!” called Jerry: “Hold him, fellows!”
“Let me go! Help! Help! I haven’t any money!” pleaded the man underneath!” Fire! Police! Help!”
“What is it?” cried Mr. Seabury, opening a window just over where the struggle was going on, and thrusting his head out. “What’s the matter?”
“We’ve caught a burglar!” cried Bob.
“A burglar? Hold him until I get my revolver! Ponto! Where are you? There’s a burglar below! Hurry up and help the boys! Where is that black rascal? I’ll bet he’s gone to sleep again!”
“Comin’! I’se comin’ Massa Seabury,” answered Ponto’s voice from the far distance. “I were jest takin’ a nap—”
“Do you take me for a burglar?” suddenly asked the wriggling man, as he succeeded in getting his head from under Bob’s stomach where it had practically been out of sight. “Did you think I was trying to rob the house?”
“Of course; aren’t you—” began Jerry, when a light flashing from one of the windows, as Ponto approached, shone full on the prostrate man’s face. Upon the startled view of the boys there burst the vision of the peaceful, though sadly surprised, face of Professor Snodgrass.
“Pro-fes-sor Snodgrass!” exclaimed Ned weakly.
“Pro-fes-sor,” stammered Bob, rolling over in his astonishment.