CHAPTER XXX THE ROUND-UP—CONCLUSION
“Oh, Dave, do you think” began Jessie in a low voice, when a look of warning from our hero stopped her.
“You can't fool us!” cried Nick Jasniff, after a moment of silence. “Are you coming down, or shall I come up and bring you down?”
To this none of those in the tree replied. All kept silent, scarcely daring to breathe. Jessie was clinging to Dave's arm, and Roger had a protecting hand on Laura's shoulder. Each of the young civil engineers had his pistol ready for any emergency which might arise. They heard a movement below as if either Nick Jasniff or one of the gypsies was starting to climb the tree.
“Oh, don't let them come up here!” whispered Laura, unable to remain silent longer.
“Yes, yes, make them stay on the ground!” breathed Jessie.
“Stop where you are!” cried Dave in stern tones. “Don't you dare come a foot closer if you value your life.”
“Don't you shoot me!” exclaimed Nick Jasniff.
297“Then you get back on the ground, Jasniff, just as quick as you can,” answered Roger. “We won't stand any more of your nonsense!” and at these words Nick Jasniff lost no time in dropping out of the tree.
The gypsies and the fellow who had escaped from prison began to talk among themselves, but in such a low tone of voice that those in the tree could not make out what was being said.
“What do you suppose they'll do next?” questioned Jessie anxiously.
“They'll try to get us down somehow; but I'm not going,” answered Roger stubbornly.
“But they may keep us up here all nightor even longer!” returned Laura.
“Are you going to give in or not?” demanded Nick Jasniff in a loud tone of voice.
“I don't see why we should give in,” answered Dave.
“You'll have to do it, Porter, sooner or later. Can't you see that we've got the bulge on you? If you don't give in now, we'll keep you up in that tree until you change your mind. The best thing you can do is to drop your pistols and give yourselves up. If you'll do that we'll promise to treat you well and let you go as soon as we receive that ransom we are expecting.”
“We don't intend to give in,” answered Dave, after a few words with Roger.
298“All right then, we'll let it go at thatfor the present,” answered Nick Jasniff. “I think you'll change your tune after you have spent a night in that tree and are good and hungry,” he added cunningly. “And let me tell you, if anybody tries to escape he'll get shot.”
After that there was a long period of silence. Evidently some of the gypsies had moved away, but it was more than likely that the others were keeping on guard in the vicinity of the tree. What had become of Nick Jasniff those who were concealed among the branches could not surmise.
It must be confessed that Dave and those with him were in a great quandary. They did not wish to remain in the tree indefinitely, and yet to make another break for liberty might be decidedly perilous.
The best part of an hour passed, and then Dave and the others heard some of the gypsies calling to each other.
“Dobado is back, and he has news!” they heard some one cry.
“Did they find Carmenaldo?” asked another voice.
“They did not.”
“Perhaps that half-witted fool has gone back on us,” came in the voice of Nick Jasniff. “I said it wouldn't be wise to let that fellow into the game.”
“Carmenaldo is all right. He can be trusted,” 299answered the voice of Mother Domoza. She was an aunt to the half-witted gypsy and she did not like to have any one speak ill of him.
Then began a hurried consultation among the gypsies, and the whole crowd moved down in the direction of the tree in which our friends were hiding.
“Ha, you are a pack of cowards not to get them out of the tree!” cried Mother Domoza. “Had I the strength to climb, I'd get them out single-handed.”
“We'd bring them down quick enough, were it not that they are armed,” answered Tony Bopeppo.
There was a warm discussion, the old gypsy woman urging the men to go up into the tree and bring down our hero and the others.
In the midst of the discussion Dave heard a sound which thrilled him to the heart. Far off from the direction of the main road between Frytown and Cullomburg came the honk of an automobile horn twice repeated.
“Roger, did you hear that?” he cried in a low voice. “Listen!” and a moment later the double honk was repeated.
“Why, it sounds like the horn on your auto!” exclaimed the senator's son.
“That's just what it is! And didn't you hearit sounded out twice in rapid succession? Listen! 300there it goes again! That's the signal from my Uncle Dunston!”
“Oh, Dave! can it be Uncle Dunston?” exclaimed his sister.
“That's just who it is!” he answered, great relief showing itself in his voice. “I'm going to answer back!” and pulling out his pistol, Dave fired two shots in the air in rapid succession.
“Hi! hi! what are you doing?” roared a voice from below. “Don't you dare to shoot at us!”
“We are not shooting at you,” answered Dave quick-wittedly. “I am trying my pistol to see that it is in good order.”
“Huh, you'll get no chance to use that pistol on us,” growled Nick Jasniff.
All in the tree paid but scant attention to what was said below. They were listening intently. An instant later came two more honks from the distant automobile.
“Give them two more shots, Roger!” cried our hero. “I'm going up to the top of the tree to look around,” and he began to climb with vigor.
From the top of the tree Dave could get a fairly good view of the surroundings. He soon made out the little side-road and the point where it ran into the main highway. Then he spotted an automobile containing four or five men. Another auto was on the main highway but a short distance away.
301Standing on the topmost branch of the tree and holding fast with one hand, Dave waved his cap with the other and then fired two more shots from his pistol. Those in the automobile were evidently on the alert, and a second later our hero saw that his signal had been seen. One man jumped up in the front automobile and waved his arms, and then the automobile moved forward rapidly up the little side-road.
“They have seen us, and they are coming in this direction!” cried Dave, as he lowered himself to where the others rested in the tree. “I'll give them another signal, so that they won't go astray,” and a few seconds later two more shots rent the air.
“Hi, you! what are you doing up there, anyway?” came uneasily from Nick Jasniff.
“An automobile is coming!” came in a yell from a distance. “An automobile with a number of men in it!”
“We've been betrayed!” added another of the gypsies. “We must run for it or we'll be captured!”
“The automobile! Why can not we ride away in the automobile?” asked Mother Domoza, in sudden panic.
“We can't use it! That other auto will block the road!” answered Nick Jasniff.
By this time a shouting was heard from the narrow 302roadway as the first automobile came closer, quickly followed by the second car.
“Hello, Uncle Dunston! is that you?” yelled Dave at the top of his lungs.
“Yes, Dave!” came the answering cry. “Where are you?”
“We are all here in a tree in the woods,” answered Roger.
“Are the girls safe?”
“Yes,” returned Dave. “Never mind usgo after those gypsies and after Nick Jasniff.”
“We'll do that all right enough!” answered Dunston Porter.
“They are the kidnappers, don't let them get away!” yelled Roger.
The men who had accompanied Dunston Porter needed no further urging. They knew many of the particulars concerning the case, and had been promised a large reward if they would give their aid in rounding up the kidnappers and saving the two girls. One man was a local constable, and two were detectives, while the others were men who had been picked up in the town and pressed into service because of their strength and willingness to fight. The whole crowd leaped from the automobiles and lost no time in giving chase to the fleeing criminals.
“I'm going to join in this hunt, Roger!” exclaimed Dave. And then he added to the two 303girls: “You had better remain where you are until we come back.”
He dropped out of the tree just in time to see his Uncle Dunston making after one of the gypsies and Nick Jasniff. Several shots were fired, which, however, took no effect, and then the criminals dived out of sight between a number of trees.
Dave's blood was up, and he made up his mind that Nick Jasniff should be captured if it were possible to do so. Roger had followed him out of the tree, and now both made after the rascal who had escaped from prison.
“You get back! Don't you dare to follow me!” howled Jasniff, and flourished a revolver at them. He pulled the trigger, but the weapon failed to go off, and then the rascal continued to run.
“We ought to shoot him!” exclaimed the senator's son.
But as he spoke he saw Nick Jasniff trip over a tree root and go sprawling. Before the fellow could arise, Dave was on him. Jasniff tried to catch our hero by the throat, and in return received a blow in the chin which all but stunned him.
That the chase after the fleeing gypsies was going on in earnest was testified to by the sounds coming from various quarters of the woods on the mountainside. Exclamations and cries rent the 304air, punctuated every now and then by a pistol shot or the discharge of a shotgun. One of the gypsy men was hit in the leg and fell, and Mother Domoza received part of a charge of shot in her right hand.
“We'll disarm him and tie his hands behind him,” said Dave to Roger, referring to Jasniff. And despite the protests of the fellow who had escaped from prison this was speedily done. Then Jasniff was marched along to the foot of the tree in which the girls were hiding, and there Roger stood guard over him, while Dave assisted Jessie and his sister to the ground.
In less than half an hour the impromptu fight came to a finish. Mother Domoza and three of the leading gypsies had been captured. The others had escaped into the mountains, but a posse was organized, and all of them were rounded up inside of twenty-four hours.
“Oh, Uncle Dunston, I am so glad to see you!” cried Laura, when the uncle put in an appearance.
“And I am glad, too!” exclaimed Jessie.
“Are either of you hurt?” questioned Dunston Porter quickly.
“No, not in the least,” answered the daughter of the jewelry manufacturer. “But we have been horribly frightened.”
“You didn't pay the gypsies or Jasniff any reward, did you?” questioned Dave quickly.
305“No, Dave; although we might have done so if we hadn't got the word that you sent by telephone.”
As far as our friends went, it was a happy little party that gathered in the bungalow a short while after. The girls were inclined to be somewhat hysterical, and the young men and Dunston Porter did all they could to quiet them.
“As soon as I discovered your automobile in the bushes I knew that you must be somewhere in this vicinity,” explained Dunston Porter. “We had come in to Frytown from Crandall less than an hour before.”
“But how did you get to Crandall so quickly?” questioned Roger.
“As soon as I got word from Dave I set the wires to working, and through the authorities had the Boston Express stop both at Crumville and Crandall, so that brought us up here in no time.”
“Did you see that fellow we had tied to the tree?” questioned Dave.
“Oh, yes, I found him directly after I located your auto. I tried to get something out of him, but he seemed a bit off in his mind. Then I remembered that signal you had spoken about and used it on the auto horn.”
“Oh, won't I be glad to get back to Crumville!” murmured Jessie.
“That's right,” answered Laura. “I don't 306think we want to make that trip to Boston just now. I want to get home and see the rest of the folks.”
And now let me add a few words more and then bring this story of “Dave Porter's Great Search” to a close.
The whole party found themselves that night at the Bliss House in Crandall, where they would have to remain until morning. Word had been sent to Crumville, and it can well be imagined how happy those at home were when they received the glad tidings that the girls were safe and that those who had kidnapped them had been captured.
“Oh, Dave, it was simply wonderful how you and Roger got on the trail of Jasniff and those awful gypsies!” remarked Jessie, in talking the matter over.
“It was certainly very clever work,” put in Laura. “I think I'll have to have medals of honor struck off for both of you”; and this remark brought a happy laugh all around.
The criminals had been taken in charge by the authorities, and the following day found them safe behind the bars. It may be added here that later on all of the gypsies, including Mother Domoza, were tried and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Nick Jasniff was returned to the prison from which he had escaped.
“He'll have to serve his old sentence over 307again,” explained Dunston Porter. “After he has finished with that, they will probably try him for this kidnapping affair, so that it's likely he will not mingle with honest people for a good many years to come.”
On being taken to prison, Jasniff was closely questioned and finally gave the particulars of how he had stolen the battered touring-car, come to Crumville in disguise, learned that the girls were going to take the trip to Boston, and arranged with the gypsies to do the kidnapping.
“Oh, what a misspent life!” was Laura's comment.
“Well, he has no one to blame for it but himself,” was Roger's blunt reply.
The home-coming of the two girls, accompanied by Dave, Roger and Dunston Porter, was made a gala occasion at Crumville. Many of their friends were on hand to greet them, and Mrs. Wadsworth shed tears of joy when she embraced her daughter and Laura.
“I shall never forget what you have done,” said Mr. Wadsworth to Dave and Roger. “It was grandsimply grand!” and he wiped the moisture from his eyes.
“I knew Davy would do it,” quavered Caspar Potts, nodding his head over and over again. “He's a great boymy Davy is!”
As for Dave's father, the man could hardly 308speak, but the way he grasped his son's hand spoke volumes.
The two young civil engineers could not resist the temptation to send a so-called night letter over the wires to those at the construction camp in Montana, telling of what had been accomplished and stating that they would soon be back at work. This message caused even Ralph Obray to become enthusiastic.
“They are certainly great boys,” he said to Frank Andrews.
“The finest lads we have in camp,” answered the other. “I'm certainly glad they joined us. Some day they'll make their mark.”
“I believe you!”
Now that the young civil engineers had found the two girls they were loath to separate from them. The young folks had many hours of happiness together, which the older heads did not have the heart to interrupt.
“They certainly think the world and all of each other,” said Mr. Porter to Mr. Wadsworth, referring to Dave and Jessie.
“So they do, and I am not sorry for it,” answered the jewelry manufacturer. “And I notice that Roger thinks a good deal of your daughter Laura.”
“You are right. And that pleases me, too,” returned Dave's father.
309“Well, we've got to start back for the West to-morrow,” announced Dave one day.
“Right you are!” answered the senator's son. “I suppose after this there won't be anything left for us to do but to work.”
“Oh, I don't know, Roger. Something else may turn up sooner or later,” returned our hero.
And he was right. Something else did turn up, and what that was will be related in our next volume, to be entitled “Dave Porter Under Fire, or A Young Army Engineer in France,” in which book we shall learn how our hero and his chum “did their bit” for Uncle Sam.
“Becoming civil engineers has not been such a monotonous existence after all,” said Roger. “Think of those strenuous times we had along the Rio Grande and in Mexico, and then all those doings out in Montana, and when we went after the gypsies and Jasniff.”
“They certainly were strenuous days, Roger,” answered Dave. “But now we've got to buckle down to work if we want to become first-class, full-fledged civil engineers.”
And here let us take our leave and bid Dave Porter good-bye.