Chapter XXV. Ready for the Canal Zone.

"This is the end of the case," Frank Shaw said, covering the face of the dead man with a handkerchief. "Fremont is free to go back to New York, taking his mine with him! Nestor was right when he declared that the solution of the Cameron mystery lay on this side of the Rio Grande."

"But the object of our visit has not yet been accomplished," Nestor said, "and so I can't go back with you. Perhaps you would better leave me in charge of the mine!"

"You are wrong," Lieutenant Gordon said, then, "the object of our journey is accomplished. I was ready to announce the fact when you stopped me to listen to the last words of the poor wretch who lies there."

"Do you mean that the arms and ammunition were stopped on the other side?" demanded Nestor.

That is what the signals said! When I left Don Miguel in charge of the secret service men at San Jose and came back into the hills to find you, I left word with the men to climb to the top and signal if the news came that the arms had been stopped. I don't know just how they got the news, but it is undoubtedly reliable. The arms are in Uncle Sam's possession. The rag-tag-and-bob-tail-of-creation fellows we have seen skulking about here will have to go away without a fight."

"That is too bad!" grunted Frank. "I wanted to see a raid!"

"It is better as it is," replied Nestor.

"And the signals told me something else," continued the lieutenant. "Something about your end of the case," he added, turning to Fremont.

"About Mr. Cameron?" asked the boy, excitedly. "He is--"

"In his right mind again, and knows who struck him."

Then the Black Bears and the Wolves joined hands and actually danced about the old hut until it seemed about to collapse. The secret service men looked on and smiled at the sight of so much happiness. Then Fremont asked:

"And he will live?"

"There is no doubt of it," was the reply. "I do not know the details, for one rocket told me that he was in his right mind again, and another that he would live."

"Then we can all go back to New York and get ready for the trip down the river!" said Jimmie. "You fellers can ride on cushions and I'll hoof it."

"Say," cried Stevens, in a moment, "if this raid scare is all over, get a couple of drums and let Frank and Peter drum their heads off."

"I don't want to drum," Frank said, "not here, anyway! I don't want to go down the Rio Grande, either. I've had enough of Mexico."

He turned to the night watchman with a shudder and bent over him. The man's face was whiter than before, and his form seemed rigid. Seeing the boy's action, Lieutenant Gordon also stooped down. When he arose his face was grave.

"Prussic acid!" he said. "It seems that he was prepared for an emergency!"

"The last of the three conspirators!" Nestor said. "To wander through the world until past middle age and then to come to this! But it is better so."

It was daylight now, and the burials took place. After taking a very light breakfast, the party started back over the mountain. They passed up the ravines and canyons to the mine, and Lieutenant Gordon ascended the mountain of crushed rock and entered the gold chamber.

"There is a fortune here," he said looking about. "What are you going to do with it?" he added, turning to Fremont.

"I had not thought of that," was the reply.

"You'd better be thinking about it!" said Jimmie. "Some one will come down here and geezle it!"

"No one will ever find it," Fremont said.

"But we found it!" Stevens remarked.

"There are a couple of men in my company," the lieutenant said, then, "who are anxious to get out of the service. Why not leave them here to keep possession? After this revolution is over, you can come down here and work it, or they can handle it for you. They are honest and capable."

When spoken with about the matter the men were eager to undertake the task of guarding the mine until peace should be restored, after which they were willing to undertake its development. And so, when the party left, these men stood on the shelf of rock by the opening, reminding Lieutenant Gordon and Fremont for the twentieth time to be sure to send up provisions. It is needless to add that the provisions were sent!

When the party reached El Paso one of the first men they met was Don Miguel, who smiled in a sarcastic manner as he greeted Nestor.

"And so you were released?" the boy asked.

"On orders from Washington," was the reply.

"The case ended when the arms were captured," Nestor said.

"And if they had not been taken?"

"If a raid had actually taken place, you would have been charged with murder," was the quiet reply.

"Only for you," snarled the other, "my plans would have succeeded."

"Only for the strange combination of circumstances which brought us both to the Cameron building that night, you should say," Nestor replied. "It chanced that we appeared on the scene in time to interrupt a murder plot."

"It is fate!" Don Miguel said, with a frown. "It was to be. Why, half the police officers in New York might have visited the suite without seeing anything significant in those letters. And even if they had found them interesting reading, they would not have been capable of smashing all our plans. At the beginning of the world it was set that you were to be there that night! It is fate!"

Don Miguel bowed to the boy and took himself off. The government, fearing international complications, had ordered his release, and the boy was glad of it. The boys were all back in New York in two days, accompanied by Lieutenant Gordon, who was interested in seeing that Nestor received a suitable reward for what he had done. When the check finally came from Washington Nestor was so surprised at its size that he sought the lieutenant, who laughed at him.

"Uncle Sam always pays well," he said, "and he wants a little more of your time!"

"Wants me?" asked Nestor.

"Well, he asks me to get some keen fellows together and go down to the Canal Zone and look into a bit of treason."

"And you want me to go?" cried the boy, almost disbelieving his own ears.

"It is just this way," the lieutenant said. "I want some one with me who can act and act quickly, and who can think on the spur of the moment. Also some one who will not be suspected of being in the secret service of the government."

"I see!" cried the boy, his eyes flashing.

"And so," continued the lieutenant, "I was thinking that you might get some of the Black Bears and Wolves we had in Mexico to go down there and look about. Where is little Jimmie? I like the boy."

"Fremont has about adopted him!" laughed Nestor. "I guess the boy will have an easy life from this time on."

"And Fremont is now the acknowledged heir?"

"Oh, yes. Mr. Cameron is holding the property until he comes of age, but is giving him the income, which is very large, to say nothing of the mine."

"Mr. Cameron, of course, knew that Fremont was the heir?"

"Oh, yes, he knew, and he had statements from Mother Scanlon to prove it. It was all clear for Fremont before the crime was committed. A lucky boy!"

"Of course he appreciates your efforts in his behalf?"

"Does he? Why, he wants me to stop working and come and play with him for the remainder of my life! Suppose I take him to Panama if you really want me to go?"

"I certainly do, and for the reason given," was the reply. "Get some of the Black Bears and Wolves together and organize an excursion to the Canal Zone. You must not mix with me, or the other secret service men down there, but you must keep us posted as to what you discover."

"That will be a picnic," cried Nestor. "What is doing down there?"

"I don't know much about it myself," was the reply, "except that it is a plot to stop the building of the canal. You'll find out soon enough when you get down there. When can you go?"

"In three days," was the answer. "Just as soon as I can round up the boys. The folks down there will think a menagerie has struck town when they see all the wild animals creeping in on them. Say, what would Uncle Sam do if it wasn't for the Boy Scouts of America?" he added, with a laugh.

"Couldn't exist!" smiled the lieutenant.

It is needless to say that the prospect of a trip to Panama, with a little intrigue thrown in, pleased the boys greatly, and in three days they were ready to start, waiting only for orders from Lieutenant Gordon.


What they did and what they saw and heard in the Canal Zone will be told in the forthcoming book of this series entitled, "Boy Scouts in the Canal Zone; or Plot Against Uncle Sam."