Boy Scouts on Motorcycles
G. Harvey Ralphson
Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Sean Pobuda
Boy Scouts on Motorcycles
With The Flying Squadron
By G. HARVEY RALPHSON
BOY SCOUTS IN A STRANGE LAND
"Fine country, this--to get out of!"
"What's the difficulty, kid?"
Jimmie McGraw, the first speaker, turned back to the interior of the
apartment in which he stood with a look of intense disgust on freckled
"Oh, nothin' much," he replied, wrinkling his nose comically, "only
Broadway an' the Bowery are too far away from this town to ever amount
to anythin'. Say, how would you fellers like a chair in front of the
grate in the little old Black Bear Patrol clubroom, in the village of N.
The three boys lying, half covered with empty burlap bags, on the bare
earth at the back of the apartment chuckled softly as Jimmie's face
brightened at the small picture he drew verbally, of the luxurious Boy
Scout clubroom in the City of New York.
"New York is a barren island as compared with this place," one of the
boys, Jack Bosworth by name, declared. "Just think of the odor of the
Orient all around us!"
Jimmie wrinkled his nose in disdain and turned back to the window out of
which he had been looking. The other boys, Ned Nestor, of the Wolf
Patrol, and Jack Bosworth and Frank Shaw, of the Black Bear Patrol, all
of New York, pulled their coarse covering closer under their chins and
grinned at the impatient Jimmie, who was of the Wolf Patrol, and who was
just then on guard.
It wasn't much of a window that the boy looked out of, just an irregular
hole in a bare wall, innocent alike of sash and glass. Away to the east
rolled the restless waters of the Gulf of Pechili, which is little more
than a round bay swinging west from the mystical Yellow Sea.
To the south ran the swift current of the Peiho river, on the opposite
bank of which lay the twin of Taku, Chinese town where Jimmie stood
guard. Tungku, as the twin village is named, looked every bit as forlorn
and disreputable as Taku, where the boys had waited four days for
important information which had been promised by the Secret Service
department at Washington.
The gulf of Pechili and the Peiho river glistened under the October sun,
which seemed to bring little warmth to the atmosphere. Junks of all
sizes and kinds were moving slowly through the waves, and farther out
larger vessels lay at anchor, as if holding surveillance over the mouth
of the stream which led to Tientsin, that famous city of the great
"Look at it! Just look at it!"
Jimmie pointed out of the opening, his hand swinging about to include
the river and the gulf, the slowly moving boats and the picturesque
"'Tis a heathen land!" the boy went on. "They wear their shirts outside
of their trousers an' do their trucking on their shoulders. Say, Ned,"
he added, "why can't we cut it out? I'm sick of it!"
"Cut it out?" laughed Jack Bosworth, "why, kid, we've just got to the
land of promise!"
"Most all promise!" replied Jimmie. "We've got nothin' but promises
since we've been here. Where's that Secret Service feller that was
goin' to set the pace for us?"
"Perhaps he's lost in the jungle," laughed Frank Shaw. "He certainly
ought to have been here three days ago. What about it, Gulf of Pechili
and the Peiho river Ned?" he added, turning to a youth who lay at his
side, almost shivering in spite of his shaggy burlap covering.
Ned Nestor yawned and threw aside his alleged protection from the
growing chill of the October day. The boys, fresh from a submarine in
which they had searched an ocean floor for important documents as well
as millions of dollars in gold, had arrived at Taku five days before
this autumn afternoon.
After concluding the mission on the submarine, Ned had been invited to
undertake a difficult errand to Peking, in the interest of the United
States Secret Service. Even after landing at Taku, he had confessed to
his chums his utter ignorance of the work he was to do.
He had been requested by the Secret Service man who had engaged him for
the duty to wait for instructions at the old house on the water front
which, in company with Frank, Jack, and Jimmie, he now occupied. The
house was old and dilapidated, seemingly having been unoccupied for
years, so the lads were really "camping out" there.
Their provisions were brought to them regularly by a Chinaman who did
not seem to understand a word of English, and, as the boys knowledge of
the Chinese tongue was exceedingly limited, no information had been
gained from him. The Secret Service man had not appeared, and Ned was
becoming uneasy, especially as the curiosity of his neighbors was
"I guess this is a stall," Jimmie grumbled, as Ned arose and stood at
his side. "You know how the Moores, father an' son, tried to get us on
the submarine? Well, I'll bet they've got loose, an' that we're bein'
kept here until they can do us up proper without attractin' the
attention of the European population."
Ned laughed at the boy's fears. He had no doubt that the man who had
promised to meet him there had been delayed in some unaccountable
manner, and that the information he was awaiting would be supplied
before another day had passed.
"Anyway," Jimmie insisted, "I don't like the looks of things hereabouts!
There's always some pigtailed Chink watchin' this house from the street.
I woke up last night an' saw a snaky-eyed Celestial peering in at this
window. I guess they've got rid of the man we are waitin' for."
"If we only knew exactly what we were to do in Peking," Frank said,
approaching the little group by the window, "we might jog along and
report to the American legation. I'm like Jimmie. I don't fancy this
long wait here--not a little bit!"
"As I have told you before," Ned replied, "I don't know the first thing
about the work cut out for us by the United States Secret Service
people. There was some talk about following a brace of conspirators to
Peking, the conspirators who tried to discredit the United States in the
matter of the gold shipment but that was only incidental, and I was
ordered to come here and await instructions. So I'm going to wait--
until the moon drops out of the sky, if necessary."
"Oh, we'll stick around!" Frank put in. "Don't think, for a minute,
that any of us thought of quitting the game. Still, I'd just like to
know how much longer we have to remain here, and just what we are to do
when we get to Peking, if we ever do."
"Of course we'll stick!" Jimmie exclaimed. "All I'm kickin' on is the
delay. We might have remained on board the submarine, where we had cozy
quarters an' somethin' to eat besides this Chink stuff."
"Whenever you want to bump Jimmie good and plenty," laughed Jack, "all
you need to do is to tamper with his rations. What's the matter with
this rice, kid, and this meat pie?" he added, as the man who had served
their food since their occupancy of the old house approached with a
large, covered basket on his arm.
Jimmie wrinkled his freckled nose again and laid a hand on his stomach,
as if in sympathy with that organ for the unutterable Chinese
concoctions it had been called upon to assimilate of late.
"Rat pie!" he said, in a tone of disgust.
"I'll bet a dollar to a rap on the nose that it's rat pie! I can hear
the rats squeal nights when I'm tryin' to sleep an' can't."
"Say, Chink," Jack said, seizing the Chinaman by the shoulder and facing
him about so that a good look into his slanty eyes might be had, "what
do you know about this chuck?"
"No chuck! Pie!"
"Of course it's pie!" answered Jack. "It would be pie if it was made of
old shoes, if it had a crust on. What I want to know is, where did you
catch him, and who pays you to bring it to us, and who pays him to pay
you to feed it to us? Where does he live, and is he black, white, or
red? Come on, old top. You know a lot if you could only think of it."
The Chinaman, an evil-looking old fellow with a long cicatrice across
his left cheekbone, shook his head and regarded his questioner craftily.
"No spik English!" he said.
"You spoke it then," Jack retorted. "I'll bet a pan of pickles that you
know what we were saying when you came in here."
"Let him alone," Frank advised. "That head of his is solid bone. He
would think his foot hurt if he had the toothache."
"What a filthy, yellow, toothless, wicked old devil it is!" Jack went
on. "Some day when he comes here with that basket of rats I'm going to
cut his pigtail off close behind his ears."
"I think he's the foulest old geezer I've ever met," Frank went on. "If
I had a dog with a mug like that I'd hire him out to the man who
The Chinaman stood looking stupidly about for a minute before placing
his basket on the floor, then dropped it with a jar which rattled the
few dishes within and scuffled out of the door. Jimmie followed to see
that he did not loiter around the house listening, and came back with a
mischievous grin on his face.
Long before the appearance of the Chinaman the boys had planned to use
such uncomplimentary language in his presence as would be likely to
excite his anger, if he understood what was being said. They did not
believe he was as ignorant of the English language as he pretended to
"Well," Jimmie asked, of Ned, "did he tumble? What did you see?"
"I saw as evil a look as ever burned out of a human eye," Ned replied.
"Looked to me like he would enjoy feeding Jack and Frank to the rats."
"Then he understood, all right?"
"Of course he did," Jack, answered. "I could see that with one eye.
He's been coming here with his grub for four days, and picking up a word
here and there every time. We ought to have had sense enough to have
been on guard against such treachery."
"What's the answer now?" asked Jimmie, turning to Ned.
"I'm afraid we're in a bad predicament," Ned replied. "This shows me
new light. The messenger we are expecting should have been here long
ago, and I'm now sure that we've just got to do something. I'm getting
afraid to eat the food they bring us, and I lie awake at night,
listening for hostile footsteps."
"That sounds a little more like Manhattan!" Jack cried. "Sounds like
action! We're off in a heathen land, surrounded by enemies, and not
likely to get anything like a fighting chance, but I'm for doing
something right now. I'm not going to lie still here and be poisoned,
like a rat in a sewer!"
"I'm for going on to Peking," Frank said. "We can report to the
American ambassador there, and, at least, get something to eat besides
rat pie and something better than a bare floor to sleep on. If we only
had the Black Bear, the motor boat we cruised with on the Columbia
river, we wouldn't be long on the way."
"Huh!" Jimmie observed, taking out a minute memorandum book, "it is
seventy miles by the river from Taku to Tientsin, and only twenty-seven
by the road."
"And how far to Peking by the road?" asked Jack.
"It is seventy-nine Miles from Tientsin to Peking," was the reply, "and
the roads ought to be good."
"That's more than can be said of the natives!" Jack said.
"The allied armies marched over the road to Peking in 1900," Frank
explained, "and I rather think the inhabitants of strip of country have
a wholesome respect for foreigners. With our high-power motorcycles,
ought to make Peking before daylight, if we start right after dark."
"And don't run across any cutthroats on the way," added Jimmie.
"Let's see," grinned Frank, "we were to have a flying squadron of
marines with us? What? I reckon they're flying so high that they are
out of sight!"
"Suppose we see if the horses are in good shape," Ned said, going to an
He made his appearance again in a minute trundling a magnificent
motorcycle. It was been built expressly for army use, with a long,
powerful stroke 10 h. p. motor. It was as indestructible and as auto
machine as could well be designed. With a perfect muffler, automatic
carburetor and lubrication, it was a machine to cover miles silently and
with little danger of delay.
The open door behind Ned revealed three machines arranged along the
wall, and the boys rushed to the examination of them. In second all
were in the room, bending over their steel pets.
"Say!" Jimmie cried, presently, "we'll get Peking to-night--not! This
machine has been tampered with, and some parts are missing."
"Yes, I reckon the Yellow Peril is on deck!" said Frank.
A DISQUIETING DISCOVERY
The four boys regarded each other in silence for a moment. Jack was the
first to speak.
"How badly are the machines damaged?" he asked.
"Mine is all right," Jimmie reported, after a careful examination of his
steel steed, "except that a couple of burrs are missing."
"And mine," Frank hastened to say, "is all right except that the oil
feed is blocked and the electric battery is shut off--that is, it is so
arranged that the machine will spark for a short distance and then buck.
"And yours, Jack?" asked Ned.
"Just a few burrs gone."
"And mine is o.k.," Ned went on, "except that the carburetor has been
tampered with. I think we'll get off for Peking before long."
"How?" demanded Jimmie. "We can't make burrs out of wood, or patch up
with rat pie, which seems to be about the only thing we have plenty of.
I don't suppose we can get repairs in this yellow hole."
Ned took a handbag from under the burlap. "I am carrying my own repair
shop with me," he said, taking out a box of burrs and a pair of pincers.
"I've got all the small parts right here in duplicate, and some of the
larger ones are in the big suitcase."
"You're a wonder!" Jimmie cried, dancing about his chum and wrinkling
his nose until it looked like that of a comedian in a motion picture.
"I wonder if you haven't got a hunk of Washington pie in that keyster!"
The lads fell to work on their machines, and in a very short time all
were ready for the road. Then Ned put away his handbag and began an
examination of the large suitcase, which contained the larger repairs
for the motorcycles. It had not been molested.
"There's one thing certain," he said, "and that is that the Chinese who
are watching us expect us to make a dash for Peking. They took the
pains to leave our machines in such shape that their tampering with them
would not be suspected. I'd like to know just when this mischief was
"Yes," Frank observed, "they wanted us to get out of Taku and break down
on the road to Tientsin. They would have us at their mercy out there--
or they figured it out that way."
"The work on the machines must have been done sometime during the day--
or last night," Ned replied. "Possibly while we were dozing."
"I don't believe it!" Jimmie insisted. "I've had me eyes open every
"Well," Ned went on, laughing, "we had a high wind yesterday, didn't we?
A wind that tumbled the dust of the streets in upon us? Well," pointing
to a portion of his machine frame which he had been careful not to
touch, "here is some of the dust which fell upon the motorcycle then.
The person who did the job brushed a lot of the dust away, so, you see,
he must have worked since the dust fell."
"Did he brush it all away?" asked Jimmie.
"No," Ned replied, pointing, "here is a brace which he touched with his
hands but did not wipe off. In a short time I'll tell you just what
sort of a chap it was that did the trick."
The boy got his camera out of the suitcase and took a picture of the
spot on the machine frame where the print of human fingers showed. The
motorcycle owned by, or in charge of, Jimmie also showed a similar mark,
and this, too, was photographed.
This completed, Ned laid the films aside for a time while he made a
circuit of the old house, walking slowly as if out for chest exercise,
but really seeing every square inch of the earth's surface where he
walked. Once he dropped a pocketknife which he carried in his hand and
stooped over to pick it up.
The boys thought he was a long time in securing the knife, although it
was plainly in sight. When he stood up again and continued his circuit
of the house there was a strange, inscrutable smile on his face.
"What is it?" asked Jack, the instant Ned entered the house.
"We've been blind and deaf since we have boon here," Ned answered.
"Hostile influences have been operating all around us. Now," he
continued, as Frank opened his lips to ask a question, "we'll see what
sort of a tale the camera has to tell."
As he looked at the films his face hardened and his eyes snapped. In a
moment he put the telltale sheets away.
"European fingerprints," he said, quietly, "and European footprints out
there. It is not Chinamen that we have to look out for."
"What the Old Harry--"
Jimmie checked himself as a figure darkened the doorway. Ned stepped
forward to greet the newcomer.
The visitor was a youngish man with black hair, growing well down on a
narrow forehead, small black eyes, a straight-lipped mouth, and hard
lines about his deep-set eyes. His manner and carriage was that of a
man trained to military service.
"You are Mr. Nestor?" he asked, extending his hand as Ned approached
him. "I have come a long distance to meet you," he added, before Ned
could answer the question.
"From Washington?" asked Ned.
The visitor nodded; glanced sharply about the apartment, where the
motorcycles were still lying, and then squatted on one of the burlap
bags. Jimmie shook his fist behind the newcomer's back. It was evident
that the boy did not like his appearance.
"I am Lieutenant Rae, of the Secret Service," he said, in a moment. "I
have been delayed on my way here. You were about to start on without
your final instructions?" he asked, lifting a pair of eyebrows which
seemed to make his little black eyes smaller and more inscrutable than
Ned looked at the man, now lolling back on the burlap, and for a moment
made no reply. Then he lied deliberately--in the interest of Uncle Sam
and human life, as he afterwards explained!
"No," he said, "we were merely overhauling the machines. We are in no
haste to be away."
"I see," grinned the other. "You are taking life easily? Well, that is
not so bad. However, you are to start on your journey early to-morrow
"I shall be ready," Ned replied. "You have just landed?"
For just a second Lieutenant Rae's eyes sought the ground, then he
lifted them boldly. Ned was watching his every movement.
"No," he said, then, "I came in three days ago, but I was obliged to
await the movements of others before reporting to you."
Jimmie caught Frank by the arm and drew him out of the house. Out in
the deserted garden--which was only a yard or two of hard-packed earth--
"That feller's a liar!"
"What makes you think so?" Frank asked.
"He's no Englishman," Jimmie insisted. "He's a Jap. You bet your last
round iron man that's the truth. Now, what do you think he's doin'
"Well," Frank replied, "I think you are right. He's not an Englishman.
The nerve of him to put that up to us!"
"Perhaps he's the gazabo that monkeyed with our machines," suggested
Jimmie. "Wish I'd 'a' caught him at it!"
"But Ned says that was an European," Frank said.
"Then they're thick around us," Jimmie went on, "and we're up to our
necks in trouble. I wonder what instructions this Rae person will give
"Suppose we go inside and see," Frank answered.
When the lads reached the interior of the house again Ned and Rae were
bending over a road map of the country between Taku and Peking. The
visitor was indicating a route with his pencil.
"Very well," Ned said, as if fully convinced of the honesty of the
other, "now about the private orders. You understand, of course, that I
know little concerning the work cut out for me."
"You are to receive final instructions at Peking."
Ned smiled, but there was something about the smile which told the boys
that he was of their way of thinking.
"He's on!" Jimmie whispered in Frank's ear.
"You bet he is," was the reply.
"I'll come here in the morning," the visitor said, looking at his watch,
"and go out with you. The chances are that we'll have to make a quick
run. Machines in good order?" with a glance at the motorcycles lying
against the wall.
"We haven't as yet looked them over carefully," Ned lied again, "but
presume they are in good shape. As a matter of fact," he continued,
hardly able to suppress a smile as Jimmie looked reprovingly at him, "as
a matter of fact, we know little about the machines. This is new
business for us."
Lieutenant Rae bowed himself out of the door, and the boys gathered in
an inner room to discuss the situation.
"We may as well face the truth," Ned said, calmly. "The man who was to
meet us here has fallen into the hands of our enemies. We are alone in
China without instructions and surrounded by foes. Now, what shall we
do? We may be able to reach the water front and get off to one of the
British ships in sight."
"And go back?" demanded Jimmie. "Not for me! I'm goin' to stay an' see
this thing out."
"That's me!" Frank said, and Jack echoed his words.
"Well, then," Ned went on, with a smile of satisfaction at the attitude
of the lads, "if we are going on, we've got to get to Peking without
delay. I'll tell you what I think. The conspirators are aware that we
are trying to run them down. If they can stop us before we fully
identify them, their part in the plot against Uncle Sam will never be
known." Rest assured, then, that they will stop us if they can."
"Then it's us for the road to-night!" said Jimmie. "That is fine."
In referring to conspirators, Ned indicated the men who had been
involved in a plot to get the United States into trouble with a foreign
government over a shipment of gold to China. This shipment had gone to
the bottom of the Pacific.
It had been claimed that the gold shipment, which was marked for the
Chinese government, had really been intended for the revolutionary
party, now becoming very strong. It was now insisted that the
revolutionists had been posted as to the shipment, and that it was on
the books for them to seize it the moment it left the protection of the
These claims having been made, and believed, in the state department of
a foreign government, none too friendly to the government of the United
States. A ship had been sent out to watch the transfer of the gold. At
least, that was what had been claimed, but this ship, so sent out, had,
by an "accident," rammed and sunk the treasure boat. If the Chinese
government did not get the gold, neither did the leaders of the
It had been claimed at Washington that the whole thing was a plot to
discredit the United States government in the eyes of the nations of
Europe, and Ned Nestor and his chums had been sent out to search the
wreck for papers which would disprove the statements made. The papers
had been secured.
The point now was to connect the foreign statesmen who had burned their
fingers in the plot with the affair. Ned knew that the papers would
establish the falsity of the charges, but he wanted to place the blame
for the whole matter where it belonged. He wanted to track the man who
had conferred with known conspirators back to his home. He wanted to be
able to point out the treacherous government which had so sought to
belittle the United States in the eyes of the world.
The boy had no doubt that this was actually the mission upon which he
had been sent when ordered by the Secret Service department to report at
Taku and there await instructions before proceeding to Peking. He did
not understand why he had been instructed to make the trip to Peking on
a motorcycle when there were easier ways, but he was quick to obey
orders. Later on he learned just why this order had been given.
"Yes," Ned replied to Jimmie's remark, "I think we may as well set out
for Peking to-night. If we wait until morning, we may not be at liberty
to start out."
"What do you mean by that?" asked Jack.
"Study it out," smiled Ned, "and you may be able to find an answer."
While the boy was speaking, he bent over and looked keenly at a
footprint on the earthen floor of the room. It was not such a print as
the foot-covering of a Chinese man would leave. It had been made by the
long heel of an European shoe.
When Ned looked closer, he saw that the ground was stained a deep red,
that there were dark crimson spots on the window casing. Then he saw
that a struggle must have taken place in the room, for the few things it
held were in disorder.
"Boys," he said, "perhaps our Secret Service man got here before we
A SHOE AND A SURPRISE
"What do you mean by that?" asked Frank. "If he had reached the old
house first, he would have waited here for us, wouldn't he?"
"Look what's here," Ned replied. "There has been a fight in the room.
The combatants fought from the inner wall to the window, then a knife
was used. These stains are by no means fresh, but they tell the story.
And to think that we've been here all these days and never found them!"
"Well," Frank hastened to say, "we weren't suspicious; and, then, we had
no occasion to visit this room."
"We should have been on our guard," Ned replied, "but there is no help
for it now. This discovery may block our going on to Peking to-night."
"I don't see why," Jack said, in a disappointed tone.
"If the man who was wounded here and carried out of the window," Ned
replied, "is really the messenger we are waiting for, we ought not to go
away and leave him in the hands of the enemy. It may not be the one I
fear it is, but we ought to find out about that."
"It might have been only natives fighting," urged Jack.
"Of course," Ned insisted, "but we ought not to leave if there is any
possibility of our friend being in trouble. Besides, Jack," he went on,
"a native fight here would hardly be umpired by a man wearing European
shoes! Here are the tracks, and I found others like them on the ground
outside not long ago. We may as well go out now and try to follow
Accompanied by Jimmie, Ned went out and made a closer examination. The
tracks crossed the yard and ended at the street in the rear of the old
"Now," Ned said, as he stepped out on the beaten course of the unpaved
street, "we shall have to take chances. The trail has disappeared, and
we can only depend on our enemies for guidance."
"That's fine!" said Jimmie. "We may as well go back!"
Ned pointed to a little group of Chinamen standing not far away, at the
corner of a street lined with miserable huts.
"We'll walk about here," he said, "and if we get somewhere near any
point of information to us or danger to the others, I have a notion that
that nest of Celestials will begin to buzz."
Jimmie laughed and the two passed on, merely looking in the direction of
the group as they passed it. They moved on down the street on the
opposite side. The Chinamen did not move.
When they turned back, however, on the other side of the thoroughfare
and stopped, on speculation, for an instant before a hut somewhat larger
and more dilapidated than the others, a pair of the watchers suddenly
detached themselves from the group and hastened away in opposite
directions. Two more strolled toward the boys.
"What next?" asked Jimmie, in a whisper.
"Seems to me that our halting here indicates that there may be something
doing in this house," Ned replied. "Suppose we go in and ask some
"An' get kicked out!" grunted Jimmie.
"That will be all right, so long as they let us out at all," Ned replied
with a smile. "I just want to know why our stopping here excited the
Chinks who were watching us."
As Ned turned toward the house the little fellow caught him by the
sleeve and held him back.
"You look out," he said, "there's a snake in there, that black-eyed
snake who claimed to be Lieutenant Rae! Do you want him to know that we
are wise to his game?"
Ned turned and started away from the house, but there came a call from
the structure, and the next instant two men were running out to greet
him. More by gestures than by words they informed the boys that there
was a man in the house wished to see them.
In a moment they stood facing the man who had called himself Lieutenant
Rae. He advanced to meet them and pointed to chairs as they entered the
"Out for a walk?" he asked, with a smile.
Ned nodded and Jimmie grinned.
"The owner of this house," Rae went on, "is an old friend of mine. We
met first, years ago, in San Francisco. I'm staying here while in the
town. By the way, I was about to visit your quarters."
"Come along," Ned said. "We must be getting back."
Rae left the room, saying that he would bring a raincoat, and Jimmie
pointed to a rear apartment where an old Chinaman with a long, sinister
cicatrice on his left cheek was bending over a table.
"That's the Chink who brings our grub," he said. "What is this Rae
person doing here? I don't eat no more grub that Chink brings."
Ned made no reply, for a swinging closet door attracted his attention at
that moment. Inside the narrow closet, on the rough floor, lay a pair
of European shoes. Ned slipped forward and seized one. When Rae
returned it was hidden in a capacious pocket.
"What is it?" whispered Jimmie.
"If I'm not much mistaken," was the reply, "it is the shoe that made the
tracks we have been following."
"Then this Rae person didn't always enter the old house where we are
stopping by the front way," commented Jimmie. "Gee," he added, "I'll
bet he umpired that fight, and the man the Chinks carried off is in this
There was no more opportunity for conversation between the two boys at
that time, for Rae stood watching them closely, a sneering smile on his
face. Ned turned toward the door.
"Why venture out in the storm?" asked Rae. "Surely, there is no need of
haste. Your friends will not lose themselves during your absence."
"You were ready to go, a moment ago," Ned said.
"It is the storm," the other observed, with a shrug of the shoulders.
"It is increasing in violence every moment."
Glancing into the rear room, Ned saw the old Chinaman leave his work and
pass through a door to the west. The boy thought he recognized a
significant signal as the fellow disappeared,
The lads never knew exactly how it all occurred. They only knew at the
time that there was a quick rush, a flash of weapons, a desperate
struggle, then momentary unconsciousness.
They decided afterwards that their enemies had rushed upon them from
every direction, and that the sneering face of Rae had gloated over
"Don't injure them," Rae ordered, as ropes were knotted about the wrists
and ankles of the prisoners. "I'll go out now and see that the two
Black Bears," with a double sneer in his voice, "are taken into camp in
short order. Bad climate, this, for school boys who imitate wild
animals," he added, with a malicious smile. "A bad climate."
"You're all right!" Jimmie called out, as Rae paused in the doorway for
an instant. "You're all right! But let me give you a pointer. You
keep the Bears and Wolves you get in strong cages! If they get out,
they'll eat you up!"
"Oh! I'll pull their fangs!" laughed the other, and then he was gone.
"This China seems to be a nice country," Jimmie said, turning to Ned.
"Some people would break our crusts in instead of tyin' us up."
"I rather think," Ned replied, "that they have planned to do that a
little later on. We ought never to have taken such chances."
"You can't have a chicken pie," grinned Jimmie, "unless some one kills a
chicken! No more can you find out what's goin' on by sittin' down in an
old house an' waitin' for someone to bring you the news in a New York
newspaper! We had to keep cases on this chap, didn't we?"
"I think you would talk slang if you were drowning," Ned smiled.
"Anyway," he added, "we've caused Rae, if that is his name, to show his
hand. That is something."
"If we never get away," laughed Jimmie, "we can leave the information to
our friends in a will! I wonder if this gazabo will get Frank and
"Possibly," Ned answered.
"They seem to be puttin' most all the Americans in China out of
circulation!" said the little fellow. "Wonder if that old gear-face
thinks he can guard us an' sleep, too? Say, you watch your chance, Ned,
an' I'll roll over and geezle him an' you get out of the house. Roll
out, tumble out, any way to get out! There," with a sigh of
disappointment, "there's another Chink in the game. Listen to what they
TWO BLACK BEARS IN TROUBLE
Jack and Frank sat long by the window, waiting for Ned and Jimmie to
return. The doors of the adjoining rooms were wide open, so they had a
full view of the lower floor.
There were windows, unglazed like that which looked out on the Gulf of
Pechili, too, and the lads could see for some distance along the street
which ran parallel with the one upon which the miserable old structure
Presently a mist crept over the sky, and black clouds rolled in from the
threatening canopy over the gulf. There was evidently a storm brewing,
and, besides, the night was coming on.
In spite of the fact that they had a good view all about them, so far as
the house and its immediate vicinity was concerned, both boys felt that
almost indescribable sensation which one experiences when being observed
from behind by keen and magnetic eyes. They were not exactly afraid,
but they had premonitions of approaching trouble.
"I wonder what's keeping Ned?" Jack asked. "Hope he hasn't gotten into
"Oh, he'll look out for that!"
"Of course! Ned's no slouch!"
While the boys cheered themselves with such remarks as these, the rooms
grew darker and the black clouds from off the gulf dropped nearer.
"What an ungodly country!" Jack exclaimed. "I feel as if I were
surrounded by snakes, and all kinds of reptiles. How would you like to
take a New York special, just now?"
"I'm not yet seared of the job we are on," Frank replied, "but I'd like
a half decent show of getting out alive. I feel like we were in a hole
in the ground, with all manner of creeping things about us. The very
air seems to be impregnated with treachery and cunning."
"That's the breath of the Orient," smiled Jack, not inclined to continue
in the vein in which the conversation had started.
"I don't know why the breath of the Orient should differ from the breath
of the Occident," replied Frank, well pleased at the change of subject.
"It wouldn't, if the natives of the far East would put bathtubs in their
houses and garbage cans on the street comers."
"Well, there certainly is an odor about the East," grinned Jack.
"Perhaps it is the hot weather."
"Hot weather has nothing to do with the sanitary conditions of this part
of the world," Frank went on. "Peking is in the latitude of
Philadelphia, or New York. You wouldn't think so to hear people talk
about the Orient back home, but you'll change your mind if you don't get
out of this before winter sets in."
"Somehow I never associated cold weather with the East," Jack said.
"Why," Frank continued, "this river freezes over about the middle of
December and they run sledges on the ice until the middle of March. In
summer it is often 106 above zero, while in the winter it drops to about
6 degrees below. If the natives were half civilized, you might get the
idea that you were in Ohio, because of the fields of corn."
"We don't know much about China, do we?" mused Jack.
This was Frank's opportunity. Before reaching the coast he had spent
many hours studying up on the history of the strange land he was about
to visit. His father was owner and editor of one of the most powerful
newspapers in New York City, and the boy had had plenty of inspiration
for historical research from the time he was old enough to read. His
father's library had supplied him with all the facilities necessary to
the carrying out of his inclination, and his travels with the Boy Scouts
had brought him into contact with many of the countries whole history he
had studied so enthusiastically.
Now he saw an opportunity of talking China to Jack, and started in at
once. Jack listened eagerly, for, while interested in the past of the
strange land, he was too busy a young man to spend much time in any
library. His father was one of the leading corporation lawyers in New
York, but the boy's inclinations pointed to mining as a future
profession--when he had investigated the wilds of the world!
"We don't know much about China," Frank began, "because for centuries
China has shunned what we call civilization. This is said to be the
most ancient and populous nation in the world, although it seems to me
that history goes back farther on the banks of the Nile and the
Euphrates than on the western shore of the Yellow Sea.
"The authentic history of China goes back 2207 years before the birth of
Christ, while Egyptian records and the data found along the Euphrates
and the Tigris point to a much older organization of men into
communities. However, it is said by some that Fuh-hi founded the Chinese
empire eight hundred years before the date given, when Yu the Great
began to make history.
"One reason why the story of China is so short, comparatively, is that
Ching Wang, the old fellow who caused the Chinese wall to be built to
keep out the Tartars, ordered all books and records previous to his time
to be destroyed. This was to dispose of the stories of wars, in which
China, before his time, was always engaged.
"China has always been at war with the Mongolians. In 1300 A.D.,
Genghis Khan raised a Mongolian army and captured Peking. Later, one
Kublai Khan overthrew the Sung dynasty and established a Mongolian
empire. The members of the defeated royal family drowned themselves in
the river at Canton. This Mongolian dynasty lasted until the middle of
the fourteenth century, when it was overthrown.
"The Chinese governed their own land, then, until 1644, just before
which time the emperor was murdered by native sons. Then the Tartars
got to Peking, in spite of the Great Wall, and established the dynasty
now on the throne.
"One cause of the growing revolt in China is the fact that the Tartars
are still in power. But the Tartars who were warlike enough when China
lay before them for conquest quieted down as soon as Sun-chi took the
throne. Peace has been the rule since then.
"It seem strange, but it is true, that China has not progressed, has not
been given the respect conferred on other nations, because she would
not, or could not fight. Talk about peace all you like, but it is the
fighters that win whether in private or national life.
"China has been kicked about by all the nations of the world, large and
powerful as she is, because it was understood that she could be insulted
with impunity. England put the opium curse on her against only feeble
resistance. She has stood for peace, not conquest, and had been treated
condescendingly, like a big booby of a boy at school who is afraid of
lads half his size. The secret organization now forming in this country
may overthrow the Manchu dynasty, but if it does it will build a Chinese
republic and not a new Chinese empire.
"It is claimed by some that the United States is favoring this new
Chinese party of liberty, that the gold recently lost in the Pacific was
our contribution to the cause--by the roundabout way we have heard so
much about--and that the Washington government will be the first to
recognize the new republic.
"I don't know whether all this is true or not, but father says it is,
and he ought to know. Anyhow, there will be plenty of fighting before
the present rulers release their grip on the royal treasury. It may be
that our mission here is to find out something more about this new
"You see," he added, "if our government is for the new movement, the
nation which rammed the gold ship, which set the conspirators at work,
which sent a great statesman, as we believe, to negotiate with the
conspirators, is against it, and Uncle Sam possibly wants to know what
power it is that is likely to assist the present Emperor of China in
holding his job. If Ned can get the proof he needs to establish what he
already knows and suspects, he will do a good piece of work."
"I wish he would return," Jack said, with an apprehensive look about the
room. 'I don't see what is keeping him."
"Here he comes, now!" Frank cried, "or it may be Jimmie," he added,
"blundering through the window."
Both boys arose and hastened to the door of the room from which the
sounds of approach had been heard. The apartment was dark and still,
save for the whipping of the wind at the open casement. While the boys
stood there, expecting every instant to hear the voice of one of their
chums, rain began to fall, and a sharp zigzag of lightning cut across
By this natural searchlight the lads saw a figure crouching just under
the window. The illumination lasted for an instant only, and it was not
possible for them to see whether the visitor was dressed in native or
European costume. His face was not in sight, and only the barest
outlines of his figure were discernible.
Jack was for rushing forward on a tour of inspection, but Frank took a
firm grip on his friend's arm and held him back. He not only prevented
him springing upon the crouching figure, but drew him away from the open
door-way, believing that both had been observed by the intruder.
"We ought to get him!" Jack panted, in a whisper. "We ought to find out
if he is one of our enemies or only a common thief."
"Much good it would do to capture him!" Frank whispered back. "We
couldn't force the truth out of him, and the things they call courts of
justice here would soon be after us."
"Then what can we do?" demanded Jack.
Frank did not reply, for footsteps, now plainly heard above the sweep of
the wind and rain, were approaching the room where the boys were
standing, with automatic revolvers in their hands.
"He's got his nerve!" Jack said. "Why doesn't he come into the place
with a brass band? Shall we sneak out of a window, or remain here and
find out what he wants?"
"I'm for getting out!"
Frank leaped from the window as he spoke, and in a second Jack came
piling out on top of him.
"Gee whiz!" Frank whispered. "Why don't you knock a fellow over?"
"What are you trying to do?" demanded Jack.
"Not a thing," was the reply. "Say, but we'll get a nice soak if we
"You'll get a nice soak on the coco, if you don't stop pulling me
around," came back from Jack.
"Then keep your hands off me!" Frank responded.
But in a moment both boys knew that they were not struggling with each
other. A brilliant flash of lightning cut the sky, and by its light
they saw each other lying on the ground under the window, each with a
couple of men in native costume perched on top.
Jack fired, but the pressure on his back was not lessened. Instead, he
felt a snaky hand slip down his arm, seize his fingers and twist the gun
"Frank!" he called out. "Frank! Shoot at the heathens! I missed, and
one of them has my gun."
Frank obeyed the suggestion, and three reports were heard. Jack, though
not naturally bloodthirsty, was overjoyed at the sound of a groan which
came from the spot where Frank lay.
"Don't try that again, son!"
"That will be enough!"
Both sentences were spoken in English. Then the boys were carried
bodily into the house and sat down against a wall. Then a lighted
lantern was brought in, and the prisoners saw six sleepy-looking
Chinamen grinning at them.
A COLLECTION OF WILD ANIMALS
"Well, what do you think of it?"
The voice was that of an Englishman, and the words were spoken in the
room, but the struggling prisoners could not discover where the person
who uttered them stood. It seemed to them that there were only the six
sleepy-looking Chinamen and themselves in the apartment.
Frank ceased his useless struggling with the rope which held both feet
and hands in its strong coils, and glanced along the row of stupid
"What did you say?" he asked, hoping that the speaker would say
something more and so locate himself.
"How do you like it?"
That was the same voice, and it was in that room, but, still, there were
only the six Chinamen and Jack in sight. Frank looked at his chum with
a smile on his face. In that moment he resolved to meet whatever Fate
might have in store for him with a cheerful heart. He had little doubt
that both Ned and Jimmie had been caught in the trap into which Jack and
himself had fallen.
There was no knowing what the fate of himself and his friends would be,
but whatever had been planned for them by their enemies, there would be
no relief in sighs and pleas for pity. They were alone in the land of
mystery. Owing to the necessity for secrecy regarding their movements,
no one with whom they had been associated in the Secret Service work
knew of their whereabouts, save only Lieutenant Scott, who had sent them
on to Taku, and who had failed to keep his promises to them.
And Lieutenant Scott? Frank believed him dead or in the clutches of the
Otherwise, he would have kept his appointment at the old house on the
water front. The view ahead was not a long one, as the boy considered
the matter, nor a smooth one, but he decided that nothing was to be
gained by subserviency.
"I like it!" was Jack's quick reply. "Who is it that is doing the
"One of the six in front of you," came the answer in English.
Jack cast his eyes quickly along the row of faces, but failed to catch
the movement of a lip, the twinkle of an eye.
"You're a funny bloke," Jack went on. "How much will you take for a
month in vaudeville?"
"He'd make a fine spirit medium," Frank cut in. "Can you make the talk
come from behind me?" he added, with a grin.
"Of course I can!"
Although the boys watched closely, there were no signs of motion in any
one of the six yellow, foxy faces, still the words seemed to come from
the wall directly back of Jack's head.
"If I had you on the Bowery," Jack continued, "I'd give you a hundred a
month. Come on over and get busy in the little old United States!"
"I think I'll wait until the boys bring in the other two wild animals,"
replied the unknown speaker. "I rather want to see the finish of you
Wolves and Black Bears before I see the Bowery again."
"You'll find more wild animals of our stripe on the Bowery than you will
want to meet," Jack replied, "especially when it is known that you've
been mixed up with Boy Scouts, to their harm, in China."
"I'll take my chances on that," was the reply. "You have been very
successful, you wild beasts, in butting into the business of other
people, and getting out again uninjured, but it is going to be different
now. There are two black Bears and two Wolves that I know of who will
never get back to New York again."
"All right," Frank said. "We've had fun enough out of the Secret
Service work we have done to pay for whatever trouble we have now. Ned
will be along presently, and then you'll have another think coming."
"Sure, he'll be along directly," was the reply. "In fact, he's right
But it was not Ned who was pushed, bound hand and foot, into the circle
of light in the room. The little fellow came near falling as he was
thrust forward, but he regained his equilibrium, and turned around to
face his tormentor.
"You're a cheap skate!" he said. "If I had you on Chatham Square I'd
change your face good and plenty!"
Then he saw that he was speaking to empty air. There was no one in the
doorway. The person who had brought him there and hustled him into the
room had disappeared.
"Now, what do you know about that?"
Jimmie chuckled as he asked the question of the six silent figures
ranged along the wall. As yet his eyes had not fallen on the figures of
Frank and Jack, farther back in the shadows.
There was, of course, no answer to his question, and the boy leaned
forward, a grin on his freckled face.
"Say, but you're a bum lot!" he cried. "Why don't you go back to the
Pyramids and sleep for another thousand years? There ain't no
nourishment in sitting up there like a dime museum, for there's no one
sellin' tickets at the door."
"Look behind you!"
That was the English voice again, seemingly out of the heavy air, or out
of the storm outside. Jimmie turned quickly and saw his chums nicely
In a moment he turned back to the row of six, without even exchanging a
look with his friends.
"Who's doin' the talkin'," he asked.
Frank and Jack were now too impatient to know what had become of their
leader to delay longer. The latter asked:
"Ask this lineup," Jimmie replied. "I don't know. Gee! If I had a
face like that man on the end, I'd sell it to the wild man of Borneo,
its an improvement on anythin' he could get up. Say, Old Socks!" he
added, "where is Ned?"
"Packed up, ready for delivery," was the reply. "Say, how would you
wild animals like to take a jaunt on your motorcycles to-night? Nice
cool night for a ride! You might reach Poking by morning and report to
the American ambassador!"
"We'll get there in due time," Frank answered.
"I've drawn the teeth of this collection of wild animals, at all
events," said the voice. "No more Wolves and Black Bears will be apt to
come to China. Such collections are not popular here."
Jimmie dropped back to where his chums were seated. Serious as the
situation was, the boy could not restrain a smile as he threw himself
down beside Frank. The storm was still thundering outside, and splashes
of rain now and then whirled in at the open casement.
The lantern which illuminated the interior of the room showed only a
round blotch against the darkness. In this circle sat the six silent
men, watchful but motionless.
"It might be a scene in a play!" Jimmie exclaimed.
Frank nodded and whispered:
"Did they get Ned, too?"
Jimmie nodded. His face was grave in an instant.
"Where is he?" Frank whispered.
The little fellow shook his head. Then the voice which seemed to come
from nowhere was heard again:
"You'll meet him in due time," it said.
A long silence followed. The lantern which gave out the light flickered
in the wind and the beat of the rain increased in violence. In all the
adventurous lives of the Boy Scouts nothing so weird, so uncanny, as
this had ever occurred.
"Well," Jack said, more to break the strange silence than for any other
purpose, "why don't you say something?"
Then, through the clamor of the storm, came the sharp ring of steel. It
sounded to the listening boys like the purring of two swords directed
against each other by strong hands.
Instantly the light was extinguished, and the shuffling of feet told the
captives that the watchful six were getting into upright positions.
"Hello, the house!"
The challenging call came from the street outside.
"That's good, honest United States!" Jimmie whispered. "Shall I risk an
"You'll probably get a knife in your side if you do," Frank answered.
"The Chinks are still in the room."
"Show a light!"
The voice was nearer than before, and the three boys lifted to their
feet and moved toward the window, which was just above where they had
been sitting. Frank was about to throw himself out into the storm when
a muscular hand seized him by the arm.
"Nothing doing!" a voice said in his ear.
"If you move again, or try to answer the call, that will be the last of
one Black Bear. Remain silent while I talk with your friends."
"Our friends?" repeated Frank.
"Certainly," was the reply--given with a chuckle. "Your very good
friends from the American ship in the harbor."
There was torture in the words, in the fierce grip on the arm. The
promised assistance had arrived and the boys were powerless to make
their perilous situation known!
But a hopeful thought came to the brain of the boy as he was dragged
away from the open window. It was barely possible that Ned had escaped,
that he knew of the peril his friends were in, and would arrive before
the Americans were, by some treacherous falsehood, sent away.
"Nestor!" cried the voice outside. "Are you there? Show a light."
There was a rustle in the room, then black silence.
WITH THE FLYING SQUADRON
"Go around to the front and come in," a voice said--a voice from the
room where the boys were. "I've just got here, and am trying to find a
There was a rattle of arms outside, then the heavy tread of men still
making some pretense, even in the darkness and the rain, of moving in
marching order. The men who had come to the assistance of the Boy
Scouts were preparing to enter the house.
How would they be received? This was the question uppermost in the
minds of all the boys as they waited.
Would they be greeted with treacherous words, or with a murderous
fusillade of bullets and knives stabbing in the darkness? It would seem
that the Chinamen would hardly dare attack an American military squad,
yet these men were outlaws, and there was no knowing what they might do.
The lads heard the marines, as they supposed the newcomers to be, pass
around an angle of the old house and stand for an instant talking in the
doorway to which they had been directed by the voice of the man on the
inside. Frank was preparing to set up a cry of warning, let the
consequences be what they might, when the rattle of arms told him that
the marines had surrounded the house, and that every door and window was
guarded! The men who were guarding the boys evidently knew what was
taking place, for they released their clutches on the lads and moved
Next came a struggle at the window, and then a strong electric light
swept into the room. Jimmie jumped forward and bumped into Ned, who was
clambering over the decayed window sill.
There were several shots exchanged on the outside, followed by shouts of
both rage and pain, then three men in the uniform of the United States
marine service entered the room. One of them picked up Ned's
searchlight, which had fallen to the floor when Jimmie bunted its owner,
and turned its rays on the mix-up under the window.
There was a flutter of arms and legs, as Frank and Jack, half choking
with laughter at the manner in which tragedy had so suddenly and
unexpectedly been changed into comedy, pulled Ned and Jimmie apart.
Jimmie sat up, wrinkling his nose until one would think it never would
smooth out again, and gazed at Ned with provoking grin.
"Gee!" he cried. "I thought I was mixing it with six Chinks! Wonder
you wouldn't knock before entering a private room!"
"I did knock," laughed Ned, rising from the floor and taking the
"Yes, you knocked me down," grunted Jimmie.
The three marines, standing in the middle of the room with amused faces,
regarded the four boys curiously for a moment and then moved out of
range of the window. Also Ned was asked to shut off the light.
"We're not out of it yet," one of them said. "Our men chased the Yellow
Faces into a bad part of town, and they are likely to be chased back,
not by a few, but by a mob! These Chinks like Americans about as much
as brook trout love the desert."
"Perhaps I'd better go out an' see what's comin' off," suggested the
"You'll only get captured again," Jack suggested, provokingly.
"I ain't got nothin' on you in getting tied up with ropes," Jimmie
retorted. "You looked like one of these mummy things when the light was
The officer in charge of the marines motioned to Jimmie to remain where
he was, but the order came too late. Having been relieved of his bonds
by Ned's quick fingers, he fairly dived out of the window into the
"Now there'll be trouble catching him again," complained the officer.
"If he doesn't get a hole bored through him, we'll have to hunt the town
over to get him out of the Chinks' hands. Why can't you boys behave
"Ruh!" Jack retorted, annoyed at the tone of superiority adopted by the
officer. "I guess we've been doing pretty well, thank you! I reckon
you fellows must have followed off a cow path! We've been waiting here
for you long enough to walk to Peking on our hands!"
"That's the fact!" the officer replied, speaking in a whisper in the
darkness. "We were the first ones to fall into the snares set by the
Chinks. Only for Ned, we would still be waiting for you in a house
something like this one, in a distant part of the town. How the boy
found us I can't make out, but find us he did."
"What are you going to do about that runaway kid?" asked Frank of Ned.
"Shall I go get him?"
It was not necessary for Ned to reply to the question, for at that
moment a figure came tumbling through the window and a voice recognized
as that of the little fellow cried out:
"Gee!" he said, feeling about in the darkness, "what do you think of my
ruinnin' into a sea soldier an' getting chucked through the hole the
"If you boy will get ready now," a voice said, "we'll be on, our way
"How many of the Chinks did you catch?" asked Ned.
"Not a blooming one," was the disgusted reply. "They ran away like
water leaking into the ground."
"If you'd only let me alone," wailed Jimmie, "I'd have got one. I want
to soak the man that tied me up."
The marines, a full dozen of them, now gathered in the old house and all
made ready for departure. Directly a motorcycle for every man was
wheeled up to the door.
"We have been practicing riding while waiting for you," the officer in
charge explained, "and the fellows think they can go some!"
"It is a wild night for such a ride," Frank suggested.
"Couldn't have been better for our purpose," said the officer.
"Do you know why we are going on motorcycles?" asked Ned.
"I think I do," was the reply.
"Why don't you out with it, then?" asked Jack.
"You'll learn of the reason soon enough!" replied the other. "Before we
go to Peking you may understand why you are going with a flying squadron
of Uncle Sam's men!"
"Who directed you to the house where I found you?" asked Ned.
"A chap who called himself Lieutenant Rae," was the reply.
"Japanese-lookin' chap?" asked Jimmie.
"That's the fellow."
"There's one more question," Ned went on. "Are all the men you took
from the ship with you?"
"Every one of my men is here," answered the officer, "but there was a
fellow, a friend of yours, with us at first who is not with us now.
Queer chap he was, too! German, I think, and a master at tangling up
the United States language. He came on board the ship, and managed to
get off with us when we left. In two days he disappeared."
"That was Hans!" cried Jack.
"A German Boy Scout we picked up on an island. A member of the Owl
Patrol, of Philadelphia, he said. We left him on the submarine."
"Well, he asked after you boys, and looked disappointed when we did not
find you, owing to the misleading statements of that fraud, Rae. He
left us without a word of explanation, and is probably looking for you.
Did he know where you were going?"
"Yes," admitted Ned, "I told him we were going to Peking by way of
Tientsin. I should not have done that."
"Oh, it can do no harm, and may be for your benefit. If the lad was not
killed by the Chinks, he is doubtless on his way to Peking."
"Then you think he knew there was something wrong because we did not
meet you?" asked Ned.
"Yes; he acted queerly."
"There are evidences of a struggle in this house," Ned went on, "and we
thought the messenger we were waiting for had been attacked, but it may
have been Hans after all. I hope he is not in serious trouble."
"I am the only messenger sent to you," the officer said, "so, as you
say, it might have been the German who was attacked, though no one knows
how he ever found this house, or why, when attacked, he didn't make
The rain was now falling heavily, and it was decided to remain under
shelter for a time, so the flashlight was brought into use again.
"If your men can keep up with us," Jack said to the officer, "we can get
to Peking in six hours, so there is no need of hurrying."
"If you get to Peking in six weeks you'll be doing well," laughed the
"What do you mean by that? Demanded Ned, who was anxious for a start.
"I can't tell you," was the answer. "But it was never believed you
could make a quick jump to the capital city. There maybe things to do
on the way there. That is why you have to escort. I don't like this
diplomacy game, but have to obey orders."
"What I want to know," Jimmie broke in, "is how Ned got away. They had
him tied up plenty last time I saw him. And, after he got away, how did
he happen to blunder into the company of our escort? China is a land of
mystery, all right!"
"They didn't watch me closely," Ned replied, modestly, "after they took
you away, and when I did get out of the house I had only to follow one
of my captors. Believing that I was safely tied, my captors talked a
lot about having the marines waiting in the wrong house while they
disposed of the Boy Scouts!"
"This man Rae?" asked the officer. "Was he there with your captors?
That's one of the men we must take."
"Oh, he is the man that caused us to be taken," Jimmie cut in. "I'd
like to break his crust for him. I'm gettin' sick of bein' tied up in
every case, like the hero in a Bowery play!"
"Was there a Chink who spoke English like a native?" asked Jack.
"There were two."
"Dressed in native costume?"
"Yes, and looking bored and weary."
"Then they're the men that sat with the others in a grinning row up
against the wall," Frank exclaimed. "Do you think they are Chinamen?"
"Disguised Englishmen," Ned replied.
"That's my notion," Frank went on. "Oh, we'll get this all ironed out
directly! If we could find Hans we might start off with a thorough
understanding of how the game was carried out here."
The rain now slacked a little, and here and there stars showed through
masses of hurrying clouds. The boys led their steel horses to the door
and prepared to mount.
"Plenty of mud," Jack suggested.
In the little pause caused by the marines getting out their machines a
dull, monotonous sound came to the ears of the party. It was such a
sound as the Boy Scouts had heard on the rivers of South America, when
the advance of their motor-boat was blocked, and hundreds of savages
were peering out of the thickets.
"What is it?" asked Jack.
"Sounds like the roaring of a mob," answered the officer. "You
understand that a word will stir the natives to arms against foreigners.
As there is no knowing what this fake Lieutenant Rae and the men we
drove away from this house may have said to the Chinks, we may as well
be moving. It may be safer out on the road!"
"I should say so!" exclaimed Jack. "We can't fight a whole nation, can
we? Look there! That was a rocket, and means trouble."
The distant murmur was fast growing into a roar, and rockets were
flecking the clouds with their green, red, and blue lights. Shadowy
figures began to show in the darkness, and a group was seen ahead, in
the street which led away toward Peking.
"More dangerous than wild beasts!" exclaimed the officer. "Be careful
to keep together and in the middle of the road, when we get under way,
for if one of us gets pulled down there's an end of all things for him!"
"It is too bad we can't stay long enough to find Hans," Ned said.
"If we remain here five minutes longer," the officer replied, "someone
will have to come and find us. Are you ready?"
All were ready, and the next moment sixteen motorcycles shot out into
the street and headed northwest for Tientsin, which city lay in the
direct path to Peking. The group in the road ahead parted sullenly as
the squadron pressed on its outer circle and the company passed through
That was as wild a ride as any living being ever engaged in. Nothing
but the speed of the motorcycles saved the boys, for enemies sprung up
all along the way. Some mysterious system of signaling ahead seemed to
be in vogue there.
The sky cleared presently. The road was muddy, but the giant machines
made good progress, especially through little towns, through the doors
and windows of which curious eyes peered out on the silent company,
marching, seemingly, to the music of the spark explosions.
After a run of two hours the officer halted and dismounted.
"Now," he said, "we've got a bit of work cut out for us here. If we
make it, we may go on in peace. If we fail, all must keep together and
take chances on speed."
THE MIDNIGHT CALL OF AN OWL
Ned glanced about keenly as he left his seat on the machine and stood
awaiting further instructions. There was little rain in the air now,
but it was still dark except for the faint reflection of a distant group
"Where are we?" Ned asked.
"So soon? Why, I thought we'd be a long time on the way."
"I reckon you don't know how fast we have been traveling," said the
officer. "Fear led me to take risks. I'll admit that."
"I want to look through the city before I leave the country," Ned
"You are standing now where the allied armies encamped in 1900," the
officer went on. "You doubtless recall the time the allied armies were
sent to Peking to rescue the foreign ambassadors during the Boxer
uprising? That was an exciting time."
"Hardly," laughed Ned, "although I have read much about that march. I
must have been about eight years old at the time."
"Well here is where the American brigade encamped on the night before
the start for Peking was made. At that time it was believed that the
foreigners at Peking had all been murdered. I was here with the boys in
"Then you ought to know the road to Peking."
"I certainly do."
"What are we halting here for?"
"There is a dispatch from Washington due you here," was the reply.
"Telegrams in China?"
"Certainly. Why, kid, this city has over a million of inhabitants, and
thousands of the residents are foreigners. Of course they have
"But how am I to get it to-night?"
To the east lay a great cornfield, to the west a broken common upon
which were a few houses of the meaner sort. The corn had been cut and
was in the shock. In the houses the lights were out. But far over the
poverty-stricken abodes of the poor shone the reflections of the high
lights of the city.
Tientsin is a squalid Oriental city, its native abodes being of the
cheapest kind, but the foreign section is well built up and well
lighted. These were the reflections, glancing down from a gentle slope,
that the boys saw.
The officer pointed to the north, indicating a low-roofed hut half
hidden in the corn shocks.
"We are to remain there," he said, "until you receive your instructions
"But why were they not given me before?" demanded Ned.
"Because the man in charge of this matter for the Secret Service
department doubted your ability to make the trip to Tientsin. That is
the truth of it. If you had failed back there at Taku, I should have
taken the message from the office and mailed it, unopened, back to
Washington. You have made good, so you get it yourself."
"They never put me to such a test before," grumbled Ned.
The officer turned, gave a short order to his men, and passed his
machine over to one of them.
"I am going into the city with Mr. Nestor," he said; "see that none of
these youngsters gets away during my absence."
"I'm goin' to get away right now," Jimmie exclaimed. "I'm goin' with
Ned to the city. I guess I'm not visiting China to live in a cornfield.
I want to see the wheels go round!"
The officer glanced at Ned questioningly, while the little fellow made a
"Let him come along," Ned said. "He'll come anyway, whether we give him
permission or not. How far must we walk?"
"Walk?" repeated Jimmie. "I'm goin' to take my motorcycle."
"That may be a good idea," admitted the officer. "I had not thought of
"We may have to make a run for it, judging from the experiences we had
at Taku," Ned suggested.
"Nothing of the kind here," the other said. "You are as safe in this
city as you would be in New York, under the same conditions, of course.
You know there are sections of New York which strangers do well to keep
out of at night."
So, mounting their cycles again, the three set off for the foreign
section of Tientsin. At first the streets were very bad, but in time
they came to smoother running and good time was made.
It was now approaching midnight, but the city, was still awake and
stirring. The streets were well filled with pedestrians, and many of
the small shops were open.
Naturally the three motorcycles, speeding through the streets of the
ancient city, attracted no little attention. Here and there little
groups blocked the way for an instant, but on the whole fair progress
Jimmie, by no means as anxious as were his companions, enjoyed every
moment of the dash. He was thinking of the stories he would have to
tell when he returned to the Bowery again!
It is quite possible that the way would have been more difficult for the
riders only for the uniform of the officer. Foreigners are not given
much consideration by the street crowds in China--especially by such
crowds as enliven the thoroughfares at night--but, since the march of
the allied armies to Peking, uniforms have been held in great awe.
At last the telegraph office was reached, and Ned was glad to see that
lights still burned within. His night ride would at least prove of
avail. He would receive instructions directly from Washington, and that
would be more to the purpose than traveling along like a blind mole in
the earth, receiving his information by bits from underlings in the
Besides, the boy was wet and cold, for the night was growing more
disagreeable every moment, and he would now have an opportunity to warm
himself by a blaze such as foreigners ordinarily insist on in the cold
months in China.
The man at the desk bowed courteously as the three entered the office.
He was evidently a native of China but seemed to have profited by a
When Ned gave his name and asked for a message, the operator, who
appeared to be the sole employee there, coolly surveyed him critically
from head to foot. Then he turned questioning eyes to the marine.
"It is all right," the officer said. "This is the person brought here
by the flying squadron."
"A boy!" cried the operator. "Only a boy!"
"Aw, cut that out!" cried Jimmie, always ready to resent any seeming
discourtesy to his chum.
The operator scowled at the little fellow and turned to the officer with
the remark that he should be obliged to consult with his superior.
"All right," was the officer's reply. "Only make haste."
The operator entered a back room and presently returned with a boy who
evidently served as messenger during the daytime. After receiving
whispered instructions, the lad passed out of the office, with a furtive
glance over his shoulder at Jimmie.
Then the operator went back to his desk, while the officer and Ned stood
waiting. There was no fire in the outer office, but a wave of warm air
came from the rear room.
"We have been riding in the rain," the officer said, seeing that they
were not to be invited into the heated apartment. "May we go back to
The operator scowled, but the uniform won the day, and the three were
ushered into a small room where an American oil stove was sending forth
a generous heat. Then the grouchy operator slammed the door and left
his guests to their own reflections.
"Say," Jimmie whispered, in a moment, "I don't believe that chump is on
"Well," Ned replied, "he's got to give me the dispatch. He can't get
out of doing that."
"Perhaps he knows what the message contains," the officer suggested,
"and is not inclined to deliver it."
"I hardly think he knows what it contains," Ned answered, "for it is
undoubtedly in cipher."
"And you have the Secret Service code?" asked the officer, amazement
showing on his face.
"Well, they have a lot of confidence in you, then," said the other.
At the end of half an hour a man said to be the assistant in charge of
the station entered the room and eyed all three occupants keenly. His
glances were met frankly by Ned and the officer, but Jimmie could not
resist an inclination to wrinkle his nose at him.
"Which is Ned Nestor?" the man asked, addressing the officer.
The marine pointed toward Ned.
"Do you know him to be Ned Nestor?" was the next question, and Ned
thought he felt a hostile spirit in the tone.
"Certainly I do, else I would not be here with him."
"This is important business of state," suggested the other, "and I have
to be cautious."
"Your conduct seems more like curiosity than caution," the officer
declared. "Have you the message with you?"
"Yes, but I can't deliver it except in the presence of the manager."
"Is it in the code of the Secret Service?" asked Ned.
"It is in some code unknown to me."
"If you don't deliver it in five minutes," declared the officer, "I
shall call the American consul!"
The official made no reply.
"You can read this code, I suppose?" he asked of Ned.
"Well, I'll communicate with the manager, and if he says it is all right
I'll give you the message and take your receipt for it. Will that
"It must, I suppose," replied the officer.
The obdurate official left the room.
"Gee, but it's close in here!" Jimmie declared, in a moment. "Seems
like a hop joint in Pell street."
"There is opium in the air," the officer said. "See if you can find a
Jimmie found a window opening on a large court and lifted the lower
sash. Then he called to Ned.
"I don't like the looks of this," he said. "If they should try to hold
us here, what?"
"They won't do that."
"Oh, they won't tie us up, I guess," said the little fellow, "but they
may delay our departure."
"Go on," smiled Ned.
"An' communicate with the ginks that have been chasing us ever since we
left the submarine," concluded the boy.
"In time, Jimmie," Ned answered, "you may even get into the thinking
row. I have been wondering ever since we came in here if we were not
with enemies instead of friends."
"I can soon find out," declared Jimmie.
"Yes? How, may I ask?"
"I'll rush out into the other room an' try to get to the street. If
there's anythin' in the notion we have, they'll turn me back."
"You might try that," smiled Ned, and the officer clapped a hand on the
boy's shoulder and declared that he was a "brick."
So Jimmie hustled out into the front office. The listeners heard sharp
words, and then a slight scuffling of feet. Then next instant the boy
was pushed back through the doorway.
"What is the trouble?" asked the marine of the assistant, whose flushed
face showed in the half-open doorway.
"You'll all have to be identified before you can leave here," was the
curt reply. "You have asked for important state dispatches, and we want
to know what your motive is."
"My motive is to get them," replied Ned, coolly.
"Wait until you prove your right to them," said the other, and the door
was slammed shut. Ned stepped back to the window and looked out into
the court. The walls were four stories high, and there seemed to be no
passage out of the box-like place. The officer suggested that he force
his way through the outer office and reach the American consul, but Ned
did not approve of this. He thought there must be some other way. Then
a hint of that other way came from the court in the call of an owl.
"That's a Boy Scout signal, and not a bird!" almost shouted Jimmie.
THE MESSAGE FROM WASHINGTON
"Surely," the marine officer said, in answer to the boy's exclamation,
"that is a genuine, feathered owl. No boy could make so perfect an
"It's Dutchy, all right," insisted Jimmie. "I've heard him make that
noise before. Now, how did he ever get to Tientsin, and how did he
"It doesn't seem possible that it is Hans," Ned said. "How could he
make the journey on foot, through a country suspicious of every
foreigner? And how comes it that he chanced on this building?"
"Didn't he know that you were expecting instructions from Washington
while on the way to Peking?" asked the officer.
"I did not know, myself, that I was to receive instructions while on the
way until I met you," Ned replied. "If Hans is indeed here, he has
either blundered into his present position or gained pretty accurate
information from some one unknown to me."
"If he is here?" repeated Jimmie. "Of course he is here. I'm goin' out
in the court an' give him the call of the pack!"
"What does he mean by that?" asked the officer of Ned. "Call of the
"The call of the Wolf pack," answered Ned. "We both belong to the Wolf
Patrol, of New York."
"And you think Hans, if it is he, will understand?"
"Of course!" scorned Jimmie.
The little fellow was about to step out of the low window to the floor
of the court when a mist of light appeared at one of the glazed windows
on the opposite side. The three watched the illumination with absorbing
interest for a moment.
"Hans must be up there," Ned, muttered, "although I would almost as soon
expect to find him up in a balloon."
"I reckon you'll find an owl with wise eyes and feathers up there, if
you wait," said the officer, with a smile. "The boy you refer to never
could have traveled here alone."
"You just wait," advised Jimmie.
Presently the mist of light centered down to three small flames,
apparently coming from three narrow twists of paper, burning in a row in
front of a window on the second floor. Jimmie grasped Ned's arm as the
three tiny columns of flame showed for an instant and then vanished.
"There!" he said. "Do you know what that means?"
"It is a warning of danger," Ned muttered.
"Say that again," exclaimed the officer. "What kind of a game is this?"
"It is a Boy Scout warning," Ned replied. "In the forest three columns
of smoke express the warning. How did this German boy learn all this?"
he continued, turning to Jimmie.
"Don't you ever think the Philadelphia Boy Scouts are slow!" answered
the boy. "Hans has been out in the forest with them, and knows all
about woods work, an' signs, an' signals. Give it up, now?"
"Yes," replied the officer, "I give it up. You boys must have a
"We certainly have," Ned replied.
The three waited for a moment, but no more signals came from the window.
Instead a heavy footfall sounded outside the door and a man they had not
seen before stepped into the room.
He was a heavily built man, with broad shoulders, black hair and eyes,
and a wicked mouth. His face looked hard and repulsive, like the face
of a reckless, intolerant, whisky-drinking captain of police in a
graft-ridden district. He closed the door with his back as he entered.
"You are Ned Nestor?" he asked of the officer. The latter pointed
"That child!" exclaimed the newcomer.
Jimmie restrained himself with an effort, for he knew that this was no
time to engage in a quarrel. He turned his back to the group and looked
out of the window into the court.
There was now no light at the window from which the warning had been
given, but there were flickers of uncertain candles at some of the
others. The hooting of the owl had undoubtedly attracted the attention
of the occupants of the building.
As Jimmie looked, however, the sash of the window he was watching was
pushed up and a tousled head appeared. Other sashes were pushed up in
an instant, and pigtailed heads and slanting, evil eyes were in view.
"I guess they're keepin' cases on the kid!" Jimmie thought, as he made
an almost imperceptible motion toward Hans. "It would be pretty poor, I
reckon, if I could get up there," he added, not meaning that it would be
"pretty poor" at all, but, on the contrary, a very good move indeed.
While the lad watched the window, from which the tousled head had now
disappeared, some of the other windows closed. The natives were
evidently in no mood to lose their sleep because of a foreign-devil
noise in the middle of the night.
The little fellow was certain that the head he had for a moment seen was
that of Hans, the Philadelphia Boy Scout who had been so strangely
encountered during the visit of the submarine to an island off the coast
of China. He knew, too, that the German understood that something
unusual and hostile to his friends was going on below.
He did not stop to consider the means by which Hans had reached the city
of Tientsin and that particular building. He accepted it for granted
that he was there, and wondered just what steps he, the German, would be
apt, or able, to take in the emergency which threatened the failure of
the mission to Peking.
Presently the voices of the marine officer, the official who had been
summoned by the assistant manager, and Ned reached his ears. The
officer was clearly in an angry mood and Ned was trying his persuasive
powers on the newcomer.
"Are you an officer of the telegraph company?" the officer asked, in an
"I am not," was the equally discourteous rejoinder. "I am a private
detective employed, by the manager here. It is my duty to look after
just such cases as this."
"Well," Ned said, calmly, "ask any questions you desire and we will
answer them frankly. I came to China at the request of the Washington
government, and am to receive instructions here. The operator tells me
that there is a cablegram here for me, but refuses to deliver it on the
ground that I may be an impostor."
"I think he has you sized up right," grated the detective.
"Then we may as well be going," Ned said, still coolly. "There is
nothing for us to do now but try to establish our identity before the
The boy moved toward the door as he spoke, but the brawny detective
obstructed his passage to the outer room. Ned drew back with a smile on
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