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Messenger No. 48
by James Otis
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"Do you suppose that fellow will call at our old camp?"

"I shouldn't be surprised; but it will be too late to do us any harm, unless he comes directly back with the news that we have made a change of base."

"You seem to think there isn't a question but we shall get the best of that fellow."

"I didn't say anything of the kind. We shall either have him prisoner, or be in the same fix ourselves in his camp by the time Sam gets back. Bob will take good care we are not in condition to trouble him again, if we fail this day."

"How are we to set about it?"

"In the same way as the other was taken. Trust to our chances of finding him asleep, or so far from his gun that he can't get at it until we have the drop on him."

"Don't you suppose he carries a revolver?"

"Of course he does."

"Then he'll be certain to shoot."

"This case is different from the other. There I had no right to fire; but here I should take the chances rather than let him kill me."



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE STRUGGLE

Jet was talking altogether too boldly to please the small guide, and he began to repent ever having consented to take part in such work.

"It won't do to call on our friend for some time, so let's go back to the thicket and make ready," Jet said, as he arose to his feet, and Jim followed like one who feels positive he is going to his doom.

Once inside the shelter of the trees, the amateur detective set about preparing for the work on hand.

He examined the revolver carefully, greased the lock with a bit of bacon rind, and assured himself that every part worked freely and correctly.

Then he loaded the gun with ball cartridge, and put half a dozen in his pocket. The bacon rind was also used with good effect, and, Jet said, as he slipped a couple of crackers in his coat:

"Now come on, Jim. We may as well sit there as here, and we shall know if he leaves the place."

"He can't unless he swims, for the other fellow has got the boat."

"I forgot that; but anyhow it won't do any harm to be ready. We'll carry the boat down to the bushes on the bank, and that will take some time."

The small guide obeyed.

The craft was taken as near the water as possible without exposing her to view in case Bob should look that way, and then the boys settled down for the last rest before the struggle.

"How long are we to wait here?" Jim asked.

"A couple of hours. He will have all his chores done up by that time, and there's more chance of finding him lying down."

"Why wouldn't it be as well to row around boldly, and make believe we've jest come for a visit? Then when he wasn't looking you could clap your revolver to his head."

"I'm afraid that wouldn't work. In the first place, he'd be pretty certain to recognise me in the daylight—you know my face was half-hidden in the shadow of the shanty when he called at the other camp. Then again I question if any visitors could catch him unawares after first showing themselves. He has reason to know there are a good many hunting for him, and is too old a bird to take chances."

Jim sighed. Almost any plan seemed to him preferable to trying to steal upon a fellow, who would be likely to shoot at the first alarm, and he had little faith in the ultimate success of the undertaking.

Jet waited patiently another hour, and then he said, as a look of resolution came over his face:

"We must start now. If he happens to see us rowing over we must pretend that we came to look at the island, and then get away as soon as possible. In case we land without his knowledge, the thing must be worked exactly as was the other: creep up till we see him, and take advantage of the first chance that offers."

"Shall I carry the gun?"

"No; here is the revolver, and be sure to use it if things get hot. We shall be fighting for our lives when we tackle him."

Jet took hold on one side of the boat, and Jim with an expression of despair on his face, cared for the other, launching the little craft without a splash.

The amateur detective motioned his companion to take up the oars, and then shoved off, leaping lightly on the stern-sheets where he could handle the tiller.

There was no attempt at conversation now, for the utmost silence was necessary if they would land without making their coming known to the man both feared.

Jet steered the boat under an overhanging tree, made the painter fast, and then crept softly onto the bank, leaving his companion to follow.

Since both the boys knew the exact location of the camp, their task was just so much the easier, and they crept cautiously along in a straight line, but keeping a close watch ahead lest Bob should suddenly appear.

Half an hour after landing they were where the shanty could be seen clearly; but its occupant was not in it.

Jet had begun to fear he might have circled around the island merely for the sake of walking, and would come up in their rear; but this cause for alarm was soon found to be groundless.

Jim espied the man lying under the shade of some trees, where he could have a full view of any who might pass, and pointed him out to Jet.

There was no chance to creep upon him as in the case of the other fellow, for he was unmistakably awake and on the alert.

"We shall have to wait until he changes his position," the boy whispered. "It won't do to tackle him yet a while."

Jim breathed more freely.

Any respite, however brief, was a great relief.

When ten minutes had passed, and there was no change in the position of affairs, Jet said:

"I'm going to creep around the hut, and try to get through the back. The guns are probably there, and it will be a big thing if we get hold of them."

"How long are you goin' to be gone?"

"I don't know; but in case I stay you can make up your mind that I've concluded to do the business there, and when he comes toward the shanty be on your feet ready to jump in the minute you hear my voice."

"Hadn't we better keep together?"

"If there's a good chance to hide, I shall wait and try to get the drop on him from the inside."

Then Jet started off as if fearing his companion might attempt to dissuade him from his purpose.

Bob was so far away that there was no reason for moving with such extreme caution, and he walked rapidly around through the underbrush until the hut was between himself and the man, after which he went boldly forward.

It was not a difficult matter to make his way into the shelter, constructed as it was only of brush, and he entered at once.

The hut was entirely enclosed on all sides, save where a narrow door-way had been left open, and Jet soon realized that he could ask for no better place to attempt the capture.

He found both guns in one corner, and these he carried out, hiding them under the leaves some distance away.

It was well he finished this work quickly, for he had hardly regained the shelter of the shanty when from between the branches he could see Bob rise to his feet, yawn wearily, and then come leisurely up the incline.

The decisive moment had arrived, and only by the greatest exercise of will power could Jet prevent his hands from trembling violently.

Gently pushing the muzzle of the gun through the brush which formed the side of the hut, the boy waited until the man should be within a few feet.

Bob came on in a lounging fashion, looking back every now and then as if undecided what to do, and thus approached the shanty in the exact direction which best served the purpose of his would-be captor.

Not until he was within a couple of yards did Jet shout, as he pushed the muzzle of the gun farther out and took careful aim:

"Hold up your hands, quick! I shall fire at the first move you make."

Bob obeyed instinctively, as any other man would have done in the same position, with that ominous-looking barrel almost touching him.

"Now, remember that the slightest movement will cost you your life, for I shall let both barrels go if you do more than wink. I know what your reputation is, and don't intend to take any chances. Where are you, Jim?"

"Here," was the prompt reply, and Jet saw the small guide coming rapidly from his place of concealment.

"Stand on one side of that fellow so you won't spoil my aim, and take his revolver away. Be quick, and don't fear his hurting you, for he can't make but one move."

Bob scowled fiercely; but did not dare to offer any resistance. Perhaps if he had known who was behind that gun the case might have been different; but there was every reason to believe an officer held it, and he could not afford to run any risk.

Jim searched the prisoner carefully, and then, when a revolver and a knife had been thrown into the camp, Jet said:

"Now, stand directly behind him with your revolver pressed to the back of his head, and pull the trigger if you feel him move ever so slightly."

Jim was beginning to regain his courage, and obeyed without hesitation.

The amateur detective now came into view, and Bob literally gnashed his teeth in rage.

"I wish I'd known it was you," he cried, savagely.

"Be careful or your head will move so much my friend will shoot; his hand trembles so now that there's danger your brains will be blown out unintentionally."

On first entering the shanty, Jet had seen plenty of ropes with which to bind the prisoner, and these he brought out, lashing Bob's arms behind his back, and tying his legs securely together.

During this last operation, the prisoner struggled most desperately, for Jim's revolver had been lowered in order that he might assist his companion, and before the boys finally got him under subjection they were reeking with perspiration, in addition to being nearly tired out.

"Well," Jim said, triumphantly, as he rose to his feet, "that part of the work was done as slick as grease, and at this rate it won't take us long to wind the whole gang up."

"I'm afraid the hardest job is ahead," Jet replied, as a most unaccountable fit of gloominess came over him. "You know the other makes the third one, and superstitious people believe a fellow always comes to grief on that number."



CHAPTER XXIX

BOB

When Bob was fettered beyond his power to make any resistance he relapsed into a sullen silence, which troubled Jet more than reproaches or threats would have done.

He had expected to be overwhelmed with curses, and fancied the man would rave and struggle uselessly until he was completely worn out; but such was not the fact.

It was much as if Bob had suddenly conceived the idea of reserving his strength until the time should come when he could use it with effect.

He lay silent and motionless on the ground, and when Jet had prepared a gag he was even so complaisant as to open his mouth to receive it.

"S'posen we let up on his legs a little so's he can walk down to the shore," Jim suggested. "He's goin' to make a big load if we try to carry him."

This seemed to be a very good idea, and Jet acted upon it at once, saying to the prisoner:

"If you'll come along quietly we'll treat you the best we can under the circumstances."

Bob did not move.

"Get up," Jet said, in a louder tone, as if believing his first remark was not understood.

Bob shook his head, and there was no mistaking the look on his face as he did so.

He had no intention of aiding his captors in any manner, and if they claimed him as prisoner they must take him by sheer expenditure of strength or not at all.

"There's no use spending time trying to coax or drive him," Jet said, after a long pause. "If he won't walk we've got to carry him, and that's the end of it."

Jim, who had been examining the shanty while resting after the battle, discovered a hammock tucked away in one corner, and he proposed that this should be used as a litter, for the man could be conveyed more easily on something than if the boys raised him simply by the head and feet.

"Roll him in here, and we'll run this pole through the ends so all the weight will be on our shoulders."

This was done at once, and although the prisoner was bent nearly double when the density of the foliage forced the bearers to approach each other closely, the labor of removing him to the boat was greatly lessened.

"There's no chance Sam will be back until late in the night," Jet said, as Bob was deposited in the bottom of the craft with no gentle force, "so we can move about without fear of being discovered, and you might give us a hot dinner."

"We'll take our ease this day, an' that'll put us in better shape for tackling the other feller to-night. If he helps himself to the liquor as he comes down the lake we may have our hands full."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Jet replied, gloomily, and then, recovering himself as with an effort, he added: "There's no use borrowing trouble, however, and we should be mighty thankful we've succeeded so well in getting two of them."

"You can bet I am thankful," Jim replied, with such emphasis that Jet could not prevent himself from laughing heartily.

By this time Bob had been carried to the cedar thicket, and an expression of surprise came over his face as he saw the first prisoner; but Jet did not intend to allow them an opportunity to communicate with each other even by signs.

Bob was made fast to a tree at the farther end of the encampment, where he could not see his former companion, and then Jet went to the first prisoner as he said:

"If you will promise not to speak, I'll take the gag out of your mouth for a while, because we shall likely be here a long time."

There was an expression of deepest thankfulness in the fellow's eyes, and the amateur detective felt reasonably certain that he would not attempt to make any disturbance.

"Now, if I hear you so much as whisper, back it goes," he said, as he removed the uncomfortable preventive of speech.

"You needn't be afraid," was the meek reply. "I'll do anything rather than have that thing put in my mouth agin. How did you get hold of Bob?"

"Took him unawares, as we did you."

"Well, all I can say is, you fellers are corkers!"

This in a tone of admiration. "If any one had told me that a couple of boys could get the best of him, I'd said it was a lie, an' here you sneak off an' bring him in when you get ready."

"We shouldn't have done it if you'd found them."

"That's a fact; but you can't expect that a feller wouldn't help his pals."

"That's all right, since no harm has been done," Jet replied, feeling very magnanimous now he had been so successful.

The boy had every reason to feel proud of what had been accomplished. He had acted as Harvey wished, and, in addition, arrested the man so particularly wanted, with one of his companions.

Now if he could transfer them to the charge of an officer his triumph would be complete, and the detective have good reason to keep his promise relative to employing him as an assistant.

It was the fact of his having been successful, more than anything else, that caused Jet to fear the third attempt at capturing a man would be attended with signal failure, and several times during the day was he tempted to bundle the two into the boat, instead of waiting to make prisoners of all three.

He even went so far as to suggest this to Jim, saying:

"We could get up to the village with these fellows before morning, and I'm not sure it wouldn't be the best plan, for if Sam downs us these will be set free. Then all this work counts for nothing."

"Let's go the whole hog or nothing," the small guide replied, bravely, for he was rapidly beginning to think that he and Jet could accomplish anything they might attempt.

Then Jim set about cooking an elaborate dinner as a sort of thanksgiving.

The fire was built inside the thicket between the two prisoners, so that the boys might keep watch of both at the same time, and when the food had been prepared Detective Harvey's assistants set themselves down to enjoy it to the utmost.

Then it was necessary to feed the prisoners, a task which required considerable time.

Jim attended to the stranger, while Jet fed Bob, and the latter said, when his gag was removed:

"I reckon you're countin' on turnin' us over to the Albany officers."

"Yes, unless some one comes from New York."

"Ain't you the messenger boy I smuggled up on the boat?"

"Yes. I don't suppose you expected to see me again, eh?"

"I wish I'd done as Joe wanted me to. You could have been thrown over that night, and no one would have been any the wiser."

"Lucky for me you didn't know as much as you do now."

"You can well say that," was the surly reply, and during the next five minutes Bob paid strict attention to receiving the food which Jet held to his lips.

"I wonder if it would be any use to try an' buy you off?" the fellow said, half to himself, when the meal was finished.

"Not a bit; Joe tried that, but it wouldn't work."

"Are you the same boy who nabbed him?"

"Yes."

"It's hard, mighty hard, to be pulled by a cub like you," and Bob shook his head mournfully. "A feller expects something of the kind from a reg'lar officer, if it so be that he's put himself in the way of trouble; but it comes tough to be downed by a couple of whiffletts I could break all up with one hand."

"It does seem queer we should be able to do so much," Jet replied, modestly, and then he added: "If you give me your word as a man that not a word shall be spoken, and no noise made, I'll leave this gag out until sunset, otherwise, it must go in again."

"I'll agree, because you've got me foul."

"Very well; but if I hear so much as a whisper it will go in your mouth again, not to be taken out till the officers get here."

"I know when I'm licked," Bob growled, "an' don't need threats after I can't help myself."

During the remainder of the afternoon the boys had nothing to do save discuss the chances of taking Sam a prisoner, and when they were tired of this Jet suggested that each take a nap.

"From this out we shall have to keep our eyes open pretty much all the time, unless Sam succeeds in getting the best of us, and it will be a good idea to scoop in what rest we can now. You lie down first, and I'll stand watch."

The small guide was quite ready to act upon this suggestion, and it seemed as if he had but just rolled over on the blanket when his eyes were closed in slumber.

When the sun was an hour high Jet awakened his companion, and said, as he prepared to take his turn at sleeping:

"Be sure to call me at sunset, and keep your eyes on those fellows all the time. I don't reckon there's much chance of their being able to get free; but we mustn't run any risks."

His orders were obeyed to the letter, and the sun had but just sunk behind the trees when Jim shook him into wakefulness as he was instructed to do.

"I haven't seen so much as a boat," he said. "The men have been quiet as mice, sleeping a good deal of the time. When shall we start for the island?"

"As soon as we've had supper, and gagged the prisoners again. It won't do to let them have the chance of warning Sam."

"It ain't likely he'll get back before midnight."

"That's true; but in the meanwhile we have a good deal to do. The camp-fire must be lighted, to prevent him from being suspicious when he comes in sight of the island, and we need to look about a bit for a hiding-place."

"Have you made up your mind how we are to strike him?"

"I think it will be best to wait near the shore, and knock him down. If he comes back half-drunk he won't be likely to put up his hands very quickly, even if a revolver is at his head, and I don't want to shoot."

"You were willing enough to do so in Bob's case."

"That was different. Sam's crime isn't as serious."

"What's Bob accused of?"

"Murder."

"I swow!" and Jim looked around in alarm, even though the man was powerless to so much as move his hands. "If I'd known that I wouldn't have gone to help catch him for a hundred dollars."

"That is exactly why I didn't go into any particulars when we made the trade for you to help me," Jet replied quietly. "Now let's get our work done, and row over to the island for what I hope will be the last time."



CHAPTER XXX

A FAILURE

The boys soon had their camp in order. The prisoners were gagged again; their bonds examined to make certain there could be no chance of an escape, and the smouldering remains of the fire carefully extinguished.

"I reckon everything will be safe if we are gone all night," Jet said, as he looked around for the last time to assure himself nothing had been forgotten; "but those fellows would have a pain in their jaws if we should stay so long."

Jim insisted on carrying his muzzle-loader on this expedition, believing it a more trustworthy weapon than the revolver, and Jet made no objections, although he would have much preferred that the ancient musket had been left behind.

The boys did not draw the boat upon shore when they landed with Bob, therefore they had nothing to do but step on board.

The small guide pulled her across to the hiding-place under the overhanging trees, and there she was made fast.

Then the boys went directly to the camp, and built a fire, after which nothing could be done save wait and watch.

Since it was not known on which side of the island Sam would come ashore, the two went to the extreme northern point where they could see the fellow in time to hasten back and get into ambush.

Jet's plans were already formed, and had been explained to his companion. He now said, as they sat among the bushes, waiting for the first sound which should betoken the coming of the man they hoped to make captive:

"I shall hit him over the head with the butt of the revolver, and the moment he drops you must be ready to jump on him, for it'll be sharp work if I don't stun him at the first blow."

"Ain't you afraid of killing him?"

"Not a bit of it; he'd stand up under a good deal harder blow than I shall give him."

Then the conversation ceased, and after a time Jim's heavy breathing told that he was sleeping at his post of duty.

Jet had quite as much as he could do to keep his eyes open; but he succeeded after a fashion, and when they had been in hiding at least three hours the alleged melody of a song coming across the still waters told their hoped-for captive was approaching.

That Sam had been indulging to a considerable extent in liquor could be plainly understood by the sound of his voice, and again Jet felt the same misgivings which had assailed him immediately after the capture of Bob.

The new-comer had no thought of prudence; but was evidently bent on landing in front of the camp on the outside of the island.

Jet shook Jim, at the same time placing his hand over the boy's mouth to prevent a possible outcry, and whispered:

"There's no time to lose. We must get there ahead of him, or the jig is up, and, according to the noise, he's rowing mighty fast."

Jim was on his feet in an instant, and the two started at full speed through the underbrush, paying little attention to the disturbance of the foliage, because Sam was so nearly intoxicated that he would not heed slight sounds.

"He'll land somewhere here," Jet said, breathlessly, as he halted where the glimmer of the camp-fire could be seen. "If he don't we must creep up while he's fastening the boat."

Sam was evidently amusing himself by making the light craft spin through the water, and when he turned for the shore the boys saw that they had stationed themselves in the most advantageous position.

It was not necessary to move out of their tracks, for after landing the man came directly toward where they were standing.

Jet raised his revolver by the muzzle, and Jim stood ready to make a spring.

Sam reeled along shouting for Bob and lurching from side to side.

The time had not come to strike the blow; but the boy, believing he was about to be discovered, struck at the fellow's head.

The blow was not delivered fairly, but glanced off, and instead of being stunned Sam was only alarmed.

Leaping back quickly, before Jet could strike again, he fired into the bushes from whence he believed the attack had come.

The bullet whistled so near Jim's nose that the young gentleman leaped back with a howl, and this outcry was sufficient to show Sam where to send another. Before the echoes had fairly died away the sound of hurried footsteps through the bushes told that the small guide had taken refuge in flight.

Jet was alone, amid darkness so intense that he had no means of judging the whereabouts of his enemy save by the flash when the revolver was discharged.

The knowledge of danger had sobered Sam, and he understood he must make a desperate fight or be arrested, for, quite naturally, the first thought was that the officers of the law were on his track.

Jet was wholly at a loss to know what course should be pursued.

Sam was not charged with a capital crime, and Harvey never intimated that he cared to take him prisoner, therefore to shoot now, save actually in self-defense, would be little less than murder.

Sam emptied the chambers of his weapon while retreating toward the boat, and that he had reloaded before reaching her was told by the second volley which he sent in the direction of Jet.

By the grating of wood and sand the amateur detective knew the boat was being pushed off from the shore, and at that moment he could have fired with a very good chance of hitting the mark; but he refrained from doing so.

The most important thing just now was to assure the safety of the prisoners in the other camp, and he made his way across the island hurriedly, lest by accident Sam should happen to stumble across his comrades.

Neither Jim nor the boat were to be seen when he arrived at the clump of trees where the craft had been moored.

The small guide had thought only of his own safety, and paid no attention to what might happen to his friend.

Jet would have tried to summon him by whistling, but for the fear Sam might hear the signal and come that way.

It was possible to swim across the intervening space; but it would be at the cost of wetting both weapons, and he decided against the idea almost before it took form in his mind.

He splashed the water gently, hoping Jim would believe it a signal to come back.

Then he waited in silence nearly an hour, fancying all the previous work would speedily be undone, and when it seemed certain the small guide had deserted him entirely, he heard his name whispered.

"Is that you, Jim?" he asked in a low tone.

"Yes. Where's that feller?"

"Left the island, I think. Why don't you row in here?"

"Is it safe?"

"It won't be if you don't take me off precious quick."

This threat had the effect of deciding the timid guide, and in a few moments the boat was paddled alongside the bank.

"What did you run away for?" Jet asked, angrily, when they were a short distance from the shore.

"What for? Didn't you hear that bullet come across my nose?"

"Of course he fired; but there wasn't much chance of being hit in the darkness."

"There was too good a chance to suit me. If that bullet had come an inch nearer I'd be dead by this time."

"But it didn't, and when you found he hadn't hit the mark, you told him where you was by runnin' away."

"I couldn't help it," Jim replied apologetically. "I don't reckon I was cut out for a detective, an' when folks begin shootin' right at me I'm bound to run."

"Have you been up to the camp?"

"Not much. I stayed right here in the boat to find out what was goin' on."

"Then there's no knowing but he has been ashore and set the men free."

"If that's so the sooner we get out of this place the better," and Jim would have headed the boat toward the outlet, but that Jet prevented him by pulling lustily on the other oar.

"Look here," the latter said, angrily, "if you act like this I'll dump you overboard, or shoot, whichever comes handiest. Now row for our camp, and do the best you know how, if you don't want to get into a pile of trouble with me."

Jim obeyed meekly, and a few moments later Jet was running at full speed toward the clump of cedars.

The encampment was, apparently, just as they had left it, and Jet gave vent to a sigh of relief as he ascertained that the prisoners were still bound securely.

Then he ran back to help Jim bring the boat ashore, and the guide asked in a trembling voice:

"Are you goin' to try to stay here now?"

"What else can we do? It would be running a big risk to start in the boat with both men, for Sam is rowing around somewhere, and he's certain to help his friends if he sees them in trouble."

"Suppose he should find out we were here?"

"That's exactly what I'm afraid of. We must keep mighty close for a day or two, and then I'll try to send another message."

"I can't stay as long as that."

"Very well, start for the village now, and I'll hold my own against him if he comes."

"But I don't dare to go off by myself while he's prowlin' 'round."

"Then don't be a fool, but help me keep things quiet until he gets tired of hunting for us, and leaves."

Jim was not in such a frame of mind as would best fit him to be an assistant in such a desperate case as was now before the boys; but in the absence of other help Jet could do no less than utilize him in some way, and he began by threatening all kind of punishments if he didn't stand up like a man and do his duty.

There was no sleep for the amateur detective on this night.

He spent the time pacing to and fro in the encampment, watching the prisoners, going to the water's edge, or listening to the slightest unusual sound, fearing it might be made by Sam.

When daylight came Jet was hidden among the fringe of bushes which bordered the lake, and the first living thing he saw was the man whom he had failed to capture on the previous evening.

Sam was standing on the shore of the island, apparently on the point of embarking in the boat.

While Jet could have counted twenty he remained there, and then, stepping on board, began to row directly toward the spot where the boy was in hiding.



CHAPTER XXXI

AN ATTACK

It could not have been other than an accident which caused Sam to head for this particular spot; but excited as he was Jet believed the man knew they were encamped in the cedars.

The first question in his mind was whether he had best make a stand on the shore, or in the thicket, and the latter course was decided upon.

Sam was not more than two boat lengths from the island when he started, and there would be several moments in which to arrange for a defense before the man could land.

Jim was overhauling the cooked provisions preparatory to feeding the prisoners when his comrade burst into the encampment looking quite as excited as he felt.

"Sam must have come to the conclusion that those who hit him last night were not officers of the law, for he went back to the island, and now is heading straight for this place."

"What?" Jim cried, sharply, as he leaped to his feet, dropping a handful of fried fish.

"Now, don't get excited, and, above all, keep quiet. It isn't dead certain he has any suspicion there is a camp here; but we must be prepared for the worst."

"What are you goin' to do?" Jim asked in a voice trembling with fear.

"Fight him off if he tries to come inside this thicket. It will be strange if two of us, well armed and under cover, can't hold our own against one man."

"But how is it to end? He may keep us shut up here till the provisions are all gone."

"There is no need to look so far ahead. Get your gun and come with me."

Jim obeyed very unwillingly.

This was one of the moments when he felt more like running away than fighting, but Jet took good care that he should not have an opportunity.

The two crept to the very edge of the thicket, where it would be possible to see any one who came up from the lake, and they had hardly concealed themselves before the man appeared.

He was walking slowly, gazing around scrutinizingly, as if expecting to find enemies, and carried a revolver in his hand.

Jet hoped sincerely that he would pass the cedars without devoting to them any especial attention, but in this he was disappointed.

Sam had already noted the place, and came straight on as if determined to examine every inch of the ground.

There was no time for hesitation.

Already he was within a dozen yards of where the boys were crouching, and in a moment more would be upon them.

Jet suddenly pushed the muzzle of his gun out from among the branches, and cried:

"Put up your hands, or I'll fire."

Unfortunately Sam was not taken by surprise as the others had been; his revolver was ready for use, and it seemed as if the words had hardly been uttered when he fired three times in rapid succession.

He aimed directly for the muzzle of Jet's gun, but was forced to discharge his weapon so quickly that there was no time to shoot with any degree of accuracy.

Two of the bullets whistled past Jet, but the third lodged in the fleshy portion of his arm.

For the instant he was conscious of nothing more than a sharp twinge such as might have been caused by the sudden application of a galvanic battery, and he pulled both triggers of his gun at the same instant.

Unfortunately neither of the bullets took effect.

At the moment he fired Sam leaped behind a tree, thus shielding himself from what might otherwise have put a speedy end to the battle.

"Stay where you are, and fire whenever he shows himself!" Jet whispered sternly to Jim, who was showing signs of beating a retreat.

"Where's the use?" the small guide whined. "You're pretty nigh killed, an' what am I goin' to do?"

"I'm all right; there's no need to worry about me if you'll only do your share."

"But look at the blood!" and Jim pointed to his friend's shoulder down which the life fluid was flowing copiously.

Just at that instant Jet had no time to bestow upon his own injuries.

He had seen Sam edging around as if to advance nearer, and he emptied two chambers of his revolver as a warning that it would be dangerous for him to make the attempt.

The man shrank behind the tree very suddenly, and this gave the amateur detective an opportunity to slip a couple of cartridges into his gun.

"Shall I go to see if the prisoners are all right?" Jim whispered. "They'll be sure to try an' give us the slip after hearin' all this shootin'."

"Stay here, and keep your eyes oh that fellow! The others must be left to do as they can for a while."

This scheme of Jim's for getting out of the way of danger had proven a failure, and with a deep sigh he turned his attention once more to the enemy in front.

Jet knew how dangerous it would be to allow Sam a chance to rush in upon them, and after loading his gun he fired one ball at the fellow's leg, which was visible from behind the tree.

A smothered curse, and two shots fired at random told that he had succeeded in making matters even, so far as wounds were concerned, and Jet whispered:

"Fire, whenever you see a bit of his clothes; that will prevent him from jumping in on us."

During the next ten minutes no less than a dozen shots were exchanged without apparent effect.

Sam was growing more cautious.

The discharge of Jim's weapon, thus showing there were at least two confronting him, had taught a salutary lesson, and he now appeared eager to find a better shelter.

Jet understood what the man wished to do and determined to prevent it if possible.

Sam, in his present position, did not dare show himself long enough to take aim, and while he remained behind this particular tree there was little danger he could do very serious damage.

By this time Jet's wound had begun to make itself felt.

The pain had become great, and the blood was yet flowing freely.

Once he thought he would creep over to Jim that the latter might fasten a ligature above the aperture, thus checking the blood, but in order to do so it would have been necessary to expose himself to a certain extent, and also give Sam the desired opportunity to gain a better shelter.

"I don't see any way out of the scrape," he said to himself, "for there's no chance anybody will come this way, and he's bound to get the best of us after a time, because I can't hold out a great while longer if I keep on growing weak; but anything is better than surrendering willingly."

Therefore he remained where he was, firing on the slightest chance of hitting the mark, and using the revolver when the gun was empty.

The only ray of hope which Jet could see in the entire business was the fact that Sam might not have a full supply of cartridges.

He no longer shot at random, reserving his fire as if it was necessary to make every shot count, but this might mean nothing more than a desire to tire the others out.

Jet was growing weaker each moment.

Jim watched his companion anxiously, ready to take flight the instant he was overcome.

Jet knew exactly what would happen the instant he failed to show a bold front, and between two evils be chose the one which seemed the least.

Loading the gun and the revolver he laid both at his side, and stripped off his coat to stanch the flow of crimson fluid.

Sam must have seen this movement, for at that moment he ran for a clump of trees half a dozen yards farther off, and succeeded in gaining the desired spot before Jet could pick up his weapons.

"Why didn't you fire?" the latter asked sharply.

"I didn't know he was goin' to leave so sudden," was the innocent reply.

"That move was just what I've been trying to guard against, and now we must push back a bit, to prevent him from picking us off."

The small guide was only too willing to beat a retreat, even though it was only for a short distance, and he followed his companion quickly.

An overturned tree twenty feet away was the barricade Jet selected, and when they were sheltered by it he said:

"Tie this handkerchief around my arm above that bullet hole, and then twist it with a stick until the blood stops. I'll use the revolver in the meanwhile so he'll know we haven't gone far."

Jim did as he was directed, and Jet discharged one chamber of the weapon every few seconds, taking good aim at the clump of bushes behind which he believed Sam was hiding.

Twice he loaded his revolver, and twice exploded every cartridge before the surgical work was done, and then Jim seized his own weapon, saying as he did so:

"That fellow has got a good chance now to creep around behind us an' let the others loose. Then the fat will be in the fire for certain, because we shan't even have a chance to run away."

This was a possibility which Jet had failed to take into consideration, and for the first time since the battle began he was thoroughly alarmed.

He did not know whether it would be best to go up to the encampment or remain where he was, either course seemed fraught with danger, and he was beginning to despair when the sound of a human voice startled both him and Jim.

"Hold up your hands!" some one shouted, the speaker evidently being between the lake and Sam's hiding-place.

"Drop that revolver, but don't lower your arm!" was the next command, and Jet cried joyfully:

"Some one has come to help us, Jim, and it don't make much matter who, for we can get him to help take the prisoners up to the village."

The small guide had recovered all his lost courage immediately upon hearing the words, and was dancing about in a triumphant manner, but much too cautious to venture from his hiding-place until knowing to a certainty that the enemy was really disarmed.

During a couple of minutes not another sound was heard, and then the listeners could distinguish the words:

"Go up farther and find out what this fellow was shooting at."

There was a sound as of some one making his way through the foliage, and again the voice shouted:

"Hello there! What's the matter?"

"Who is that?" Jet cried.

"Harvey!"

"Come on! Come on! You've got here just in' time!" and Jet started down the slope to meet the one person in the world whom he particularly wished to see at that moment.



CHAPTER XXXII

HARVEY & CO.

When Jet was where he could see the new-comers Sam had been handcuffed, and was in charge of a stranger who was dressing the wound in his leg, while the detective, walking with a cane, was coming up the ascent in advance of another man.

"It seems as if you'd been in pretty snug quarters," Harvey said as he clasped Jet warmly by the hand. "Who is this fellow who has been making a target of you?"

"One of the gang we met at the house in the woods. He introduced himself to me when he was made up as a tramp, on the railroad track."

"You are wounded!" Harvey interrupted, as he pointed to the boy's arm. "Let me see if it is serious; you are looking pale."

"I shall be all right now you are here. Come up to our camp, and you can attend to it."

Jet led the way hurriedly to the cedar thicket, taking such a route that his visitor must pass Bob, who was looking woefully disconsolate and uncomfortable.

"Hello!" Harvey cried in astonishment, "I'm blest if you haven't bagged the game already," and once more he clasped Jet's hand. "I knew you would suit me for a partner, and from this day out we'll work in company or my name's not Dan Harvey. How long have you had this fellow?"

"Since last night, and that's why Sam was trying to get the best of us. We attempted to capture him, but made a botch of the business."

"Bob's arrest is enough to cover you with glory, my boy, for you've done what every man on the force would have liked to had a hand in. Here, Downs," he continued to the man behind him, "slip the bracelets on this man, and take the gag out. I reckon his jaws ache by this time."

When this order was obeyed Jet led his visitors to where the other prisoner was trussed up, and Harvey's amazement was complete.

"Is this another one of the gang?"

"Yes, in the counterfeit money business, and when we get back I calculate the constable can be found without much trouble."

"Well, Jet, you've done this job up about as brown as possible, and there'll be no mean reward coming when Bob reaches New York."

"What do you mean?"

"One thousand dollars has been offered for the apprehension of those charged with murder, and in regard to the makers of the queer, Uncle Sam ought to shell out liberally for having them brought in so cleverly. The firm shall be Harvey & Co., for a boy who can do so much single handed will be an ornament to the force even though he isn't larger than a pint of cider."

"I had Jim to help me," Jet replied modestly.

"Who is Jim?"

"A boy I met up at the village, and promised twenty dollars if we succeeded."

"But I haven't earned it," Jim cried, "I was mightily frightened, an' would have run home long ago if you'd let me."

"The money has been earned," Harvey said as he took a roll of bills from his pocket, "and I'll add ten on my own account."

The small guide looked in bewilderment at the thirty dollars, and then broke into a dance which was quite as vigorous if not so skillful as Jet's performances with the minstrel company.

"How did it happen you got here in the nick of time?" Jet asked after Jim had ceased his contortions.

"When I received your letter telling me you were coming into the woods it was enough to show you would want assistance. I never thought for a moment you'd be able to bag the whole gang, but only counted on saving them from cutting your throat. Not being well enough to walk very handily I brought a couple of friends along, and now we've got force enough to take our men back."

"How did you happen to find me?"

"We heard at the village that a couple of boys, one a stranger, had come this way, and we started on chances. Last night we camped this side of the first carry, and was striking for the upper lake when the reports of your weapon gave us a clew. It was easy to tell that the shots were not fired by hunters, and we rounded up your friend Sam on general principles."

While this conversation was being carried on Harvey's companions released the prisoners from the bonds which had been put on by the boys, and shackled them in much more secure and less painful fashion.

Then Jim remembered that none of his party had breakfasted, and he cooked the remainder of the provisions at once, when all hands joined in the meal.

Harvey had already examined Jet's wound, and pronounced it a trifling one, more painful than dangerous.

The ball was extracted, the arm bandaged properly, and fastened in a sling, the detective saying, when the work was finished:

"You'll come around all right in a week or two with care, and that I'll guarantee you shall have in abundance."

It was not yet noon when the party were ready to leave Round Pond. Harvey and the boys traveled in the boat Jet had hired, and the other craft, which was considerably larger, carried the two officers and their prisoners.

Except at the carry, where all hands were forced to assist in transporting the boats, the journey was made in a leisurely fashion, and that night Jet slept in a comfortable bed at the Saranac Lake House.

Jim disappeared as soon as the party arrived at the village. He was eager to show the money earned, and to tell his chums of his wonderful skill as a detective, but it is not probable he spoke of the many times when he would have sold his position very cheaply.

He was on hand next morning to see his friend and companions take their departure, and then Jet was forced to promise he would visit the Adirondacks on a regular hunting trip as soon as his business would permit.

"I'd like to go out with you once when there wasn't a lot of ruffians 'round to make trouble," Jim said, and a moment later the train rolled out of the depot.

Jet was praised and petted by the officers at headquarters, when the party arrived in New York, at a rate which would have turned many another boy's head, but he knew in his heart that a good portion of the success was due to "luck" rather than detective skill.

Harvey kept his word in regard to taking him in partnership, and to-day Jet Lewis, young as he is, does a full share of Detective Harvey's work. In fact, that gentleman often says that without his partner he would fail in many cases which he now "works up" successfully.

Jet received the reward of one thousand dollars for the arrest of Joe and Bob, and those worthies are serving a life sentence at Sing Sing for murder, the crime having been fully proven against them.

Sam, the constable, and the fellow who stole the boys' boat have been sentenced to ten years for uttering counterfeit money, and Jet insists that at some future time he will find the plates they buried in the vicinity of the house in the woods, for he keeps well in mind what he heard regarding the big oak.

THE END

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