It was an easy matter to run the car a hundred feet or so beyond the
side road. Here the trees were slightly scattered, and they had little
difficulty in bringing the machine to a halt in the midst of them at a
place where there were a few bushes. Then Dave took out the spark plug
from the dashboard and placed it in his pocket.
“I don’t believe anybody will bother that car,” he said.
“Perhaps we won’t be gone very long anyhow, Dave. This may prove to be a
blind road leading to nothing.”
They pushed on side by side. As it was very warm they had discarded
their dust-coats and their goggles. Each had seen to it that his pistol
was ready for use, for there was no telling what might confront them.
A little farther on the road took a turn, and here became so stony that
the tracks made by the wheels of the car they were following were
completely lost. But as there was no place where the machine might have
turned around, they felt certain it had gone on.
“We had better keep quiet from now on, Roger,” said our hero in a low
voice. “And keep your ears and eyes wide open.”
Two hundred feet more were passed and then Dave came to a halt, at the
same time clutching his chum by the arm. From ahead they heard footsteps
coming down the rocky roadway. Both made a bound, and crouched behind
some trees and brushwood. The approaching person, whoever he was, came
closer; and presently the two youths saw that he was a middle-aged man
dressed in the garb of a gypsy.
“I’ve seen that fellow before! He is one of the gypsies who used to hang
around the outskirts of Crumville!” whispered Dave excitedly.
“Then he must be one of the chaps who ran off with Laura and Jessie!”
returned the senator’s son. “What shall we do?”
“Wait a minute. We want to make sure that he is alone.”
They waited until the gypsy had passed them and gone on a distance of a
hundred feet or more. He was evidently alone.
“Maybe we had better let him go,” whispered Roger. “That will make one
less to tackle, if the others are ahead of us.”
“He’s not going to get away,” answered Dave decidedly. “We may not meet
the others at all, and in that case we’d be very foolish to let this
fellow get out of our clutches. Come on! I’m going to make him a
Making as little noise as possible, our hero went after the gypsy, who
had now passed a turn in the road and was out of sight. The senator’s
son followed, and soon both came up behind the fellow ahead.
The gypsy was taken completely by surprise. He had seated himself on a
rock to fix one of his shoes, and before he could regain his feet both
of the young civil engineers had him covered with their weapons.
“Throw up your hands and keep quiet,” demanded Dave sternly.
“Yes, don’t you dare to cry out,” added Roger. “If you do, you’ll get
“What is this? For why do you stop me like this?” stammered the gypsy.
He was a tall, swarthy-looking fellow, with anything but a cheerful
“You know well enough why we have stopped you,” returned Dave. “What
have you done with those two young ladies who belong in Crumville?”
“I know not’ing of any young ladies,” grumbled the gypsy. “You make big
“You do know!” cried Roger. “Now tell us the truth! Have you hurt those
“I know not’ing,” was all the gypsy replied. And, try their best, that
was about all the two chums could get out of him.
Had the man not been covered by the pistols he would undoubtedly have
shown fight, but he was too cowardly to attempt anything under the
Not knowing what else to do with their prisoner, the two youths marched
him down the road and to where they had left the automobile. Here they
brought out a strong rope, and with this bound the gypsy’s hands and
feet and tied him fast to one of the trees.
“I guess he’ll stay there until we get back,” was Dave’s comment. “Now
then, are you going to tell us what became of those young ladies or
not?” he questioned. But to this the gypsy merely shook his head and
muttered something which neither of the young civil engineers could
“I don’t believe that fellow is altogether right in his mind,” said
“Either that, Roger, or else he is shamming,” answered Dave. But Roger
was right, the fellow was not more than half-witted.
Leaving their prisoner, the two chums lost no time in making their way
along the side-road once more. They soon passed the point where they had
first caught sight of the gypsy. Here the roadway became fairly good for
a distance of several hundred feet, but beyond this were a number of
large rocks, and the road seemed to come to an end in a mass of
“Let us look around for wheel-tracks, Roger,” said Dave in a low voice.
Both began an eager search, and were soon rewarded by seeing where the
touring-car they were following had left the mountain road and passed in
among some trees and bushes on the right. Close at hand was a spring of
water, and beyond this the remains of a tumbled-down barn.
“I see the car!” whispered Dave, and pointed to the machine, which
rested behind some rocks and brushwood. One glance at the automobile
showed that it was deserted.
“They can’t be very far off,” said Roger in a low voice. “Dave, what do
you think we had better do next?”
“Let us get behind the trees and bushes and reconnoiter,” was the
answer. “Be very careful, Roger, so that you don’t expose yourself. We
don’t want to tumble into a hornet’s nest.”
“Don’t you think we had better go back to town and get help, or wait
until your Uncle Dunston arrives?”
“Maybe we’ll have to do that. But I want to discover where the girls are
first, if I possibly can.”
With extreme caution the young men moved along behind the trees. They
saw that from the dilapidated barn a trail ran over some rough rocks to
where was located a large bungalow. This had evidently been unused for
years, and was almost as dilapidated as the other building. One end of
the front porch had fallen down, and many of the windows had the glass
broken out of them.
“I’d like to wager that this is the place to which they brought the
girls,” whispered Roger.
“I think you’re right,” answered Dave. “And if that is so, and those
rascals are around here, we want to be more careful than ever.”
Nobody was in sight around the dilapidated bungalow, and not a sound
came from within. Presently, however, Dave noticed a thin wreath of
smoke curling up from the chimney.
“Somebody has got a fire in there—that’s sure,” he whispered. “I’m going
to work my way around to the kitchen side of the building.”
With added caution the two youths crept along among the trees and over
the rocks until they gained a point where they could look into the open
kitchen of the bungalow. Here they saw an old gypsy woman moving around
as if preparing a meal.
“I’ll bet that’s Mother Domoza, in fact, I’m almost certain of it,”
whispered our hero. And he was right, it was indeed the gypsy woman who
had caused so much trouble to the folks in Crumville.
The two chums crept closer, and were then able to see what Mother Domoza
was doing. She had prepared some things to eat over a small rusty stove
in the bungalow, and now she placed this food on a couple of tin plates.
Then, with the plates in one hand and a tin kettle of water in the
other, the old woman left the kitchen and entered the front part of the
“Do you know what I think?” said Roger excitedly. “I think she’s been
getting some food ready for the girls!”
“I’m going to follow her and find out,” answered Dave, with sudden
“But, Dave, we want to be careful! If those other fellows are around——”
“I know, Roger. But I was thinking that possibly we could get into the
bungalow without being seen. It is a big rambling affair, as you can
see, and it must have a lot of vacant rooms.”
Our hero led the way across a little clearing, and then entered the
kitchen of the house. Going to one of the doors, he listened intently
and heard Mother Domoza ascending a creaking pair of stairs. Then he
heard a door slam, after which, for the time being, all became silent.
Not daring to speak for fear of being overheard, our hero tiptoed his
way across what had been the living room of the bungalow and then to the
narrow stairs which led to the upper floor. Roger came close behind him,
and soon the pair stood on an upper landing. All was bare, the entire
building being devoid of everything but a few heavy pieces of furniture,
evidently left there years before because the owner did not think they
were worth carrying away.
“Oh! oh! please don’t do that! Please don’t!”
The unexpected cry came from a room at the end of a corridor. It was the
voice of a girl, and was immediately followed by some harsh words
uttered by the gypsy woman. Then the voice of another girl was heard.
“You let her alone! Don’t you dare to touch her, or touch me!”
“I’ll do as I please! I’ll make you behave yourselves!” came in the
voice of Mother Domoza. And then there followed some heavy footsteps and
several girlish screams.
Not waiting to hear more, Dave and Roger bounded down the corridor and
flung themselves against the door to the room from which the sounds had
issued. They had recognized the voices of Laura and Jessie, and were
more than eager to go to the girls’ assistance.
The door had been closed, and evidently something had been placed
against it. But the two young civil engineers were strong and their
excitement gave them additional strength. They flung the door open
readily, sending a bench before it. As they did this they found
themselves confronted by Mother Domoza, her eyes blazing with commingled
astonishment and anger.
“You—you!” she shrieked. “What do you want here?”
“It’s Dave!” shrieked Jessie.
“And Roger!” exclaimed Laura.
Then the two girls attempted to move toward the two youths, but their
way was barred by Mother Domoza.
“You get out of here! You have no right here!” screamed the old gypsy
hag, and in her sudden fury she hurled herself at the two young civil
engineers, sending them out into the corridor. Then she tried to shut
the door of the room behind her.
But now Dave’s blood was up, and he knew it would be useless to attempt
to argue with the old hag. He made a leap forward, caught her by the
arm, and swung her around. As he did this, Roger caught the old hag by
the other arm, and between them they ran her down the corridor. Here
they saw the open door to a vacant room, and into this they thrust the
old woman, who, by this time, was screaming at the top of her lungs. The
door had a hook with a staple to it, and this they locked.
“Now you behave yourself and keep still,” ordered Dave. “If you don’t,
you’ll get into worse trouble than ever.”
“Oh, Dave! is it really you?” came from the room at the other end of the
“Roger! Roger!” burst out Laura, “can’t you come and release us?”
“We are chained fast to the floor,” explained Jessie.
“We’ll release you, and we’ll get you out of here in no time,” answered
Dave; and then he and his chum ran back to where the girls were
They had just passed into the room and were hard at work on some chains
which bound the two girls to rings in the floor, when there came an
unexpected interruption. They heard footsteps in the corridor, and an
instant later several gypsy men appeared. Then, before they could make a
move to escape or show fight, the door to the room was slammed shut and
they heard the click of a heavy lock.
Dave and Roger were prisoners in company with those they had sought to
For a moment after they were made prisoners Dave and his chum thought to
try an attack upon the door, in an endeavor to batter it down. But then
a command from the corridor made them pause.
“Now, you keep quiet in there and behave yourselves,” said a voice in
fairly good English. “We are armed, and we mean business.”
“Who is it who is talking?” asked Dave.
“That’s none of your business, young man. You keep quiet or it will be
the worse for you.”
“Say, Tony, you are wanted downstairs,” put in another voice out in the
corridor. “There may be more of those spies around.”
“All right, Carlos,” was the quick reply. Then the gypsy called Tony
raised his voice. “Now you fellows settle down and don’t try any funny
work. Remember we are all armed and know how to shoot.”
“Look here, we want to talk this matter over,” said Dave, as he heard
the gypsy prepare to go below.
“I haven’t got time now. I’ll be back later. Now, no funny work
remember, or you’ll get the worst of it!” and then those in the room
heard the gypsies tramp downstairs. Mother Domoza had joined them, and
all seemed to be in an angry discussion among themselves.
“Oh, Dave, do be careful!” pleaded Jessie. “They are dreadful people,
and I am afraid they will shoot us!”
“Yes, you must both be very careful,” put in Laura. “I heard one of them
say that if our folks attempted to follow them, there would surely be
some shooting;” and the girl shuddered.
“Have they done you any harm?” questioned Roger, quickly.
“They have treated us very rudely, and they have given us awful food,”
answered the daughter of the jewelry manufacturer.
“They wanted us to aid them in a demand for money, but we would not do
it,” explained Laura. “We have had some dreadful quarrels, and that old
Mother Domoza has been exceedingly hateful to us. Just now, when she
brought in some food, she said we must write a letter home for money,
and when we said we wouldn’t do it, she caught Jessie by the arm and
Each of the girls was chained to a ring in the flooring by means of a
heavy steel dog-collar fastened around her ankle and to a chain which
had another steel dog-collar on the other end passed through a ring in
“They keep us chained up about half the time,” explained Laura.
“But not at night, I hope?” returned Dave.
“No. At night Mother Domoza releases us so we can go into the adjoining
room where there is an old mattress on the floor on which we have to
sleep. Mother Domoza, or one of the other gypsies, remains on guard in
the hallway outside.”
“What about the windows?” questioned Roger.
“They are all nailed up, as you can see. Once we tried to pry one of
them open, but the gypsies heard it, and stopped us.”
The two youths made a hasty inspection of the two rooms in which the
girls were kept prisoners. Each apartment was about twelve feet square,
and each contained a window which was now nailed down and had heavy
slats of wood taken from the tumbled-down piazza nailed across the
outside. The inner room, which contained the mattress already mentioned,
had also a small clothing closet in it, and in this the girls had placed
the few belongings which had been in Laura’s suit-case at the time they
had been kidnapped.
“They took our handbags with our money away from us,” explained Jessie.
Of course the girls wanted to know how it was that Dave and Roger had
gotten on the trail, and they listened eagerly to the story the chums
had to tell.
“Oh, I knew you would come, Dave!” cried Jessie, with tears in her eyes.
“I told Laura all along that you would leave Montana and come here just
as soon as you heard of it;” and she clung tightly to our hero, while
the look in her bedimmed eyes bespoke volumes.
“Yes, and I said Roger would come,” added Laura, with a warm look at the
“There’s one thing we can’t understand at all,” said Dave. “How was it
that you left that train at Crandall, went to the hotel there, and then
walked out on that country road to where the automobile was?”
“Oh, that was the awfulest trick that ever was played!” burst out Laura.
“They must have planned it some days ahead, or they never could have
“Tell me,” broke in Roger suddenly, “wasn’t the driver of that car Nick
“I think he was,” answered Dave’s sister. “We accused him of being
Jasniff, but he denied it. Nevertheless, both of us feel rather certain
that it is the same fellow who robbed Mr. Wadsworth’s factory.”
“We suspected Jasniff almost from the start,” said Dave. “But go
ahead—tell us how they got you to leave the train and go to where they
had the automobile.”
“You see, it was this way,” explained Laura. “At the very first station
where the train stopped, a messenger came through the car calling out my
name. He had a telegram for me, which read something like this: ‘We are
on an auto tour to Boston. If you want to ride with us, leave train at
Crandall and meet us at the Bliss House. Telegraph answer from
Glenwood.’ And the telegram was signed, ‘Mrs. Frank Browning.’”
“Mrs. Frank Browning?” repeated Dave. “Do you mean the girl you used to
know so well—Edith Parshall?”
“Yes, Dave. You know she is married, and her husband has a fine big
touring-car. They left Crumville for a trip a few days before we went
away. They were at our house talking about the tour the night before
“I see,” answered Dave, nodding understandingly. “Go on.”
“Jessie and I talked it over, and as we were very much crowded in the
day coach—you know we couldn’t get parlor-car chairs—we thought it would
be a fine thing to accept Mrs. Browning’s invitation. So at Glenwood we
sent a telegram, stating we would meet them at the Bliss House in
Crandall. The train met with some kind of an accident, and we were
stalled just outside Crandall; but we got out with a number of others
and walked to the town.”
“Of course Mrs. Browning had nothing to do with the telegram,” put in
“Just as we got to the hotel in Crandall, a boy came up with a note and
asked if either of us knew Laura Porter. I took the note, and from the
way it was written supposed that Mrs. Browning had sent it. It stated
that they had had a blow-out, and her husband was fixing the car some
distance down the road, and wouldn’t we walk down there and meet them?”
“So, instead of going into the hotel, we went down the road as the boy
told us,” said Jessie. “He pointed out the car, and then ran away to
join some girls who were in a yard not very far off. We went up to the
car, and the next thing we knew we were caught up and thrown inside, and
the car went down the road at breakneck speed.”
“Who was in the car?” questioned Dave.
“Mother Domoza and a tall gypsy, who we found out was Tony Bopeppo, the
man you were just talking to. The fellow who drove the car was the chap
we afterward suspected of being Jasniff. He wore a false mustache and a
wig, and I am sure he had his face stained.”
“Didn’t you struggle or cry out?” questioned Roger.
“To be sure we did! But the old gypsy hag had something on a
handkerchief which she placed to our faces, and then we went off into
something like a swoon. When we recovered, we found we were bound hands
and feet with pieces of clothes-line. The automobile was going along at
a lively rate, and we bumped over some terrible rocks. Then we began to
climb a long hill, and after a little while the automobile came to a
stop among some trees. There we were met by several other gypsies, and
the whole crowd made us walk to this house and marched us up to these
rooms—and here we are!”
“And now they have captured you, too!” cried Jessie. “Oh, this is worse
“Don’t you worry too much,” whispered Dave, lowering his voice so that
anybody outside the door might not hear. “When we were at a town a few
miles away from here, we sent word to Crumville, and Uncle Dunston is
coming out to this neighborhood.”
And then in a low voice Dave and Roger related how they had been
following up the trail from Frytown, and had captured one of the gypsies
and tied him to a tree.
“Oh, if we could only get word to Uncle Dunston!” murmured Laura.
The girls had had no food since early morning, and so they were hungry.
Nevertheless they insisted upon it that the boys share what was on the
tin plates left by Mother Domoza, and each washed down the scanty meal
with a draught of water from the tin kettle.
“Dave, what do you think they will do with all of us?” questioned his
sister, after the situation had been discussed from several angles. The
gypsies were still downstairs and in the woods surrounding the bungalow.
“Their idea is to make a lot of money out of this,” was the reply. “But
they are not going to do so if I can prevent it. I’m going to get out of
here somehow, and then notify the authorities, and have these rascals
“That’s the talk!” returned Roger. “Come on—let us make an inspection of
these rooms and see what can be done.”
“I’m going to release the girls first,” said Dave, and getting out his
penknife, he opened the file blade and began work on the steel band
which encircled Jessie’s ankle.
Seeing this, Roger employed himself on the band which held Laura
prisoner, and soon the youths had the satisfaction of setting the two
“Those gypsies will be very angry when they find out that you have
ruined the chains,” remarked Jessie.
“We’ll have to take our chances on that,” answered Dave.
“We are still armed, even if we are prisoners,” put in Roger. “I guess
we could put up a pretty stiff fight if we had to.”
“Oh, Roger, I hope there won’t be any shooting!” cried Laura, in horror.
“There won’t be, unless they start something,” answered the senator’s
The two young men began a careful inspection of the two rooms. Although
the bungalow was old and dilapidated in many places, the timbers of
which it was built were heavy, and they found the walls and the floor,
as well as the ceiling, intact. The only place that looked as if it
might afford some means of escape was the little closet where the girls
had hung up some of the articles contained in Laura’s suit-case. Here,
by standing on a bench, Dave found that one of the boards in the closet
ceiling was loose. He was just about to make an investigation of what
was beyond this loose board, when there came a sharp knock on the door
leading to the corridor.
“I want Dave Porter to step out here!” said a voice. “I want to talk to