Chapter XI. On Sully's Private Car
 

"Where are you taking me?" Phil demanded.

"You'll see in a minute."

"And so will you. There are laws to punish such high-handed methods as yours, and I'll see that you are punished, and well punished, too. If I can't do it, there are others who will--who will see that you get what you deserve."

"Keep on talking. It will be my turn pretty soon," answered Sully.

In a short time Phil discovered that they were driving along by the railroad tracks. He knew that the yards where the circus train was standing were only a short distance beyond.

"I guess he's going to take me to the train, for some reason or other," decided Phil, but he could not understand what the showman's motive might be.

The Circus Boy was not afraid, but he was thoroughly angry. His grit and stubbornness had been aroused and he was ready to take any desperate chance. However, he felt that, after all, this capture might be the means of giving him the further information of which he was in search. He might possibly be able to draw some admission from Sully.

They drew up beside the tracks and the carriage halted.

"Now, not a sound!" warned the showman. "If you raise your voice, or so much as speak to anyone you see, I'll forget that you are a kid and--"

"I am not afraid of your threats," interrupted Phil. "I know you are brute enough to do what you say you will, but it won't be good for you if you do. Go on. I'll follow till I get a chance to escape."

"You'll not get the chance," retorted Sully, taking firm hold of the boy's arm.

They made their way through the yards, avoiding the gasoline torches that flared familiarly here and there among the mass of cars, then turned toward the station. As the lights of the latter came into view, the showman halted, looked up and down the tracks, then led Phil to the platform of a car which the boy recognized as being one of the show's sleepers.

"That's what I thought he was up to," muttered Phil, watching for an opportunity to leap off the other side and lose himself among the cars.

No such opportunity was offered to him, however, and a moment later the door of the sleeper had been opened, and he was pushed roughly inside, Mr. Sully following in quickly, slamming and locking the door behind them.

"Get in there and sit down!"

"Where?"

"In the private office there."

"So this is your private car, is it?"

"Yes."

"Hm-m-m!"

"You seem to know a lot about the show business."

Phil made no reply, but dropped into the owner's chair at the latter's desk.

"Get out of that chair!"

"I thought you invited me to sit down?"

"I did, but I might have known you wouldn't have had sense enough to sit where you ought to."

"Where's that?"

"On the floor."

"I am not in the habit of being received that way," taunted Phil, making no move to vacate the chair.

Sully, with a grunt of disapproval, sat down in another chair, placing himself so the light would fall fully on Phil's face.

"Now, what's your name?"

"You'll have to guess that," smiled Phil.

"That's where you're wrong. I know it."

"What is my name?"

"Forrest. You're a bareback rider in the Sparling outfit. You thought you would not be known, but you see you are. You can't fool a man in the show business so easily. After you have grown older in the business you will learn a few things."

"I am learning fast," laughed the lad. "I am learning a lot of things that I wish I did not have to learn."

"What, for instance?"

"That there are such men as you in the show business."

"Be careful, boy. You will go too far, the first thing you know. Now, what are you doing here?"

"If you know so much I don't see why you should have to ask that question."

"I'm asking."

"And I'm not telling. I'll answer none of your questions, unless it is about something that I can tell you without getting others into trouble."

"You already have admitted that you are with the Sparling show. You have made several slips of the tongue since I got hold of you."

"I haven't denied that I am with the Sparling show, neither have I admitted it. I decline to lie or to give you any information of any nature whatever."

"When is the Sparling show coming here?"

"I was not aware that it was coming here. Is it?"

"No, I didn't mean that. I mean when are they going to show in Corinto?"

Phil was silent.

"You might as well make a clean breast of the whole business, young man. I've caught you red-handed, snooping about the lot for two days quizzing everybody. Now what's the game?"

"There is no game."

"What is Sparling trying to find out?"

"You will have to ask him, I guess."

Sully surveyed the lad in silence for a minute or two.

"I couldn't understand, at first, why he should send a kid like you to spy upon us; but I begin to see that you are a sharp little monkey--"

Just then the showman was interrupted by the entrance of the foreman of the stake and chain gang.

"Bob, I want you to tell me exactly what questions this cub asked you yesterday?"

"I thought he was some curious town fellow, so I didn't pay much attention to his questions. When I saw him on the lot, again today, and heard him asking other folks, kind of careless like, I began to smell a rat."

"What did he want to know, I'm asking you?"

The foreman related as well as he could remember, just what conversation had taken place between himself and Phil Forrest, omitting, however, the fact that he had furnished any information. It would have ended his connection with the show right there, had he let the owner know how much he really had told.

Phil grinned appreciatively, but it was not for him to get the foreman into trouble.

"Hm-m!" mused Sully. "You found out a lot, I presume?"

"I can truthfully say that I found out that what I had heard about the show is true."

"And what's that, if I may ask?"

"Thieves. I happen to know that they travel right along with the show, and I shouldn't be surprised if you got part of their stealings, either," Phil boldly flung at the showman.

Sully's face went redder than ever, while his fingers clenched and unclenched. It was evident that the man feared to let his anger get the better of him.

"If he ever lets go at me, I'm a goner," thought Phil understanding that, besides an almost ungovernable temper, the man possessed great physical strength. "I guess he won't do anything of the sort, unless I goad him to it. I believe that I have said about enough."

"Watch him a minute, Bob," directed Sully, rising and stepping to the other end of the car. He returned a minute later.

"Young man," he said, "if you had been more civil you might have gotten away with your bluff--"

"I have not tried to bluff you," interjected Phil.

"As it is, I think I'll lock you up until morning, and, if you are ready then to make a clean breast of the whole affair, perhaps I shall let you go back with a message to your boss--a message that he won't like, I reckon."

"You won't send any such message by me," retorted Phil. "Carry your own messages. Where you going to lock me up?"

"In a place where you will be safe. But I shouldn't advise you to get red-headed about it. There will be someone nearby to take all the howl out of you if you try it."

"You had better not!"

"What do you think, Bob? Is it safe to let this fellow go?"

"Well, I suppose you've got to let him go sometime. He'll be getting us into trouble if you keep him."

"I'll take the chance of that. We can drop him just before crossing the line back into the United States."

"That's a good game."

"Then the United States authorities can't take any action on an offense committed across the border. I don't believe they would, anyway. It is all a part of the show game. I'd like to drop the spy over the Falls when we get to Niagara," added Sully.

"I might get wet if you did that," grinned Phil.

"You'll be lucky if you don't get worse, which you will unless you keep a more civil tongue in your head. Yes; I guess that will be the best plan, Bob."

"You--you don't mean that you will drop him over the Falls?" gasped the foreman.

"No," laughed Sully. "Not that, much as I'd like to. But it would serve him right. I'm going to lock him up; that's what I mean."

"Where?"

"Here."

"But he'll get out."

"Not from where I put him."

The foreman looked about him a puzzled expression in his eyes.

"What do you say to the linen closet?"

"The linen closet?"

"Yes. I have just looked at it. There will be room enough for him, and there's no opening through which he can call to anyone on the outside. If he does make an outcry some of us will be here to look after him."

"That's a good game. I hadn't thought of it before."

"Come along, my fine young bareback rider. You'll wish you'd stuck to your own business before you get through with us!"

Phil was led down the side passageway of the car and thrust into a narrow compartment, about three sides of which were shelves loaded down with the linen used on the car.

There was room for a chair in the compartment and he could stand upright. However, had he wished to lie down he would have been unable to do so.

"So this is the prison you have decided to lock me in, is it?" grinned the lad.

"It looks that way. I guess it will bring you to your senses. You'll talk by tomorrow morning, I'll guarantee."

"I guess you will have another guess coming," warned Phil.

Without further parley Sully slammed the door and locked it, leaving Phil in absolute darkness.

"Now I am in a fix, for sure. If Sully hadn't been quite so big I should have taken a chance and pitched into him. He is strong enough to eat me alive. I could handle the fellow, Bob, all right, but not Sully. So I have got to stay here all night? Fine, fine! I hope I don't smother."

The car soon settled down to quiet again. Phil knew, however, that he was not alone--that undoubtedly there was someone watching his prison. He examined the place as well as he could in the darkness, tried the door, ran his hands over the sides and up among the piles of linen. There was scant encouragement to be found, though Phil believed that if he had room to take a running start he might break the door down.

He decided to remain quiet, and after his exciting experiences he was quite willing to rest himself for a time. The lad pulled a lot of the linen down to the floor, and making a bed for himself, doubled up like a jackknife and settled himself for the night. It was not a comfortable position, but Phil Forrest was used to roughing it. In a few minutes he was sound asleep.