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CHAPTER XXII
It seemed to Scott that he had scarcely closed his eyes when he heard the screen door bang and Mr. Graham was standing in the doorway.

“Well, well,” he laughed, “still pounding your ears? I guess you did not get even as much sleep as I said.”

Scott glanced curiously at his watch and then listened to see if it was running. It was three-thirty. “Thirteen hours,” he gasped in astonishment.

“Humph,” Murphy grunted, “that’s nothing. I’ll bet I could do it again right now.”

“Might as well try it if that is the way you feel about it,” Mr. Graham laughed. “It’s so late now that there is no use in our starting till morning.”

“Oh, that is not the reason,” Mr. Graham assured Scott when he noticed his crestfallen look. “I’m mean enough to have called you at five o’clock if I had been here to do it, but I just this minute got back. The sheriff was not at home and I thought I’d better escort our friend straight to the jail myself. I did not feel as though I wanted to trust anybody as slick as he has proved himself to be to any sheriff’s woodshed for safe-keeping. That is what the sheriff’s wife suggested.”

“There will not be any chance of his getting word to those other fellows, will there?” Scott asked anxiously.

“No, I think not. I impressed it on the warden pretty hard that he was not to be allowed to communicate with any one in any way. I hinted that Uncle Sam was very much interested in his guest’s welfare and he seemed to take it very seriously.”

“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go down there on the train this afternoon so that we would be on the ground early in the morning?” Scott asked. He was anxious to be doing something now that he was awake.

“I thought of that,” Mr. Graham said, “but I do not want to take the chance. They might have some spies out who would take them the news and we would find the nest empty when we got there. I am not afraid of their running away so soon as this. You said they were planning on lying low there for a couple of weeks. They did not get there till yesterday afternoon, and they would hardly be getting nervous so early. Just how far is that cabin from the railroad station?”

“Must be about seven or eight miles, isn’t it, Murphy?”

“About that, I should say. I hope our swiping that boat did not scare them out.”

“By the way, what did you do with that boat?”

“Left it on the edge of the swamp where we landed.”

“Well, it may make them suspicious, and it may possibly have been the only boat they had, but I do not think so. If they were long-headed enough to rig up that cabin in the swamp against a possible emergency like this I think they probably arranged some pretty sure way of getting to it and the loss of a boat would not be likely to stop them.”

“They had some boats over in the canal,” Scott said, “because I saw them there. They could carry them over there if they had to.”

“We cannot do anything now but hope, anyway,” Mr. Graham remarked. “There is no use in worrying about it. But if you fellows are not going back to sleep right away I wish you would explain to me the exact location of that cabin and all its surroundings so that I will be familiar with the ground when we get there. Are you sure that you will be able to find it again?”

“I don’t think there will be any trouble about that,” Scott answered confidently. “We ran a compass course straight north from it to where we left the boat and while it was not a very accurate course it ought to be straight enough to find a house. I think that I can draw you a pretty good sketch of the whole layout.”

So Scott, with occasional suggestions from Murphy, sketched the cabin and described it as accurately as he could. With this sketch as a basis Mr. Graham planned his campaign for the next day. He pored over it for several hours and it was not till some time after they had finished their supper that he seemed satisfied that it was complete in every detail. He then folded the sketch up thoughtfully and arose with a yawn.

“We shall have to catch that train at four in the morning,” he said, “and if you fellows have any more sleep to make up you better be about it. I am going to bed now.”

“So am I,” said Murphy. “I am not square with the world yet by about ten hours, but if we are not going till morning I am going home to let my wife know that I am still alive. I’ll meet you at the train. Anything in particular you want me to bring along?”

“No, nothing except a shooting iron of some kind. You may have some use for that before we get those other rascals in the jug.”

“There’s where I’ll miss my old Luger,” Murphy said sadly. “I wish I had it out of the bottom of that quicksand, but I guess I can manage. I feel as though I could hit one of those scoundrels with almost anything after the way they were longing for a shot at me.”

With that Murphy started for home and Mr. Graham went in to bed. Scott sat on the porch for a little while alone and thought over the events which had crowded themselves so rapidly into the past few days. It was only a little over a week since he had been sitting on that same porch wondering how he would ever accomplish what seemed to him then the almost impossible task which had been assigned him. Now almost as if by magic it had come suddenly to a successful conclusion. It would be an eminently successful conclusion if they could only capture the rest of the gang in the morning, but even if they did not get them they had discovered their secret, broken up their operations and jailed the ringleader. It could not exactly be called a failure. It had been a most interesting experience and promised to be even more so in the morning, but he hoped it would not lead him into any more assignments for detective work. He had made good twice largely through what he considered remarkably good luck, but he was afraid that he might fall down on the next one.

He did not feel at all nervous at the prospect of going under fire the next day, but he was worried for fear Roberts and his gang would not be in their hiding place. He felt that he would always reproach himself with his lack of foresight in taking that boat and possibly scaring them away. Under the circumstances there was not very much choice left to them, but he forgot that now and thought only of the possible results.

“Oh, well,” he exclaimed at last, “we shall know pretty quick in the morning and there is no use in worrying about it now,” and he followed Mr. Graham to bed. That gentleman evidently was not losing any sleep over the possibilities of the next day’s work. He was sound asleep and snoring like a trooper. Scott soon joined in the chorus and any one passing by the cabin would have found it hard to believe that the two occupants knew they had to dislodge a band of desperate men from a fortified cabin in the morning.

Had they known what was going on in the county jail at about that time they would probably have not been quite so contented, at least they might not have snored quite so loudly.


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