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Title: Motor Matt's Mariner - or, Filling the Bill for Bunce
Author: Matthews, Stanley R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



  MOTOR STORIES

  THRILLING
  ADVENTURE

  MOTOR
  FICTION

  NO. 31
  SEPT. 25, 1909

  FIVE
  CENTS

  MOTOR MATT'S
  MARINER

  OR FILLING THE
  BILL FOR BUNCE

  _By
  THE AUTHOR
  OF MOTOR MATT_

  _STREET & SMITH
  PUBLISHERS
  NEW YORK_

[Illustration: _The jolt was terrific. Motor Matt was thrown roughly
against the front seat and Bunce went into the air as though shot from
a gun._]



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

_Issued Weekly. By subscription $2.50 per year. Copyright, 1909, by_
STREET & SMITH, _79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York, N. Y._

  =No. 31.=      NEW YORK, September 25, 1909.      =Price Five Cents.=



MOTOR MATT'S MARINER;

OR,

Filling the Bill for Bunce.

By the author of "MOTOR MATT."



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I. "BUDDHA'S EYE."
  CHAPTER II. THE GREEN PATCH.
  CHAPTER III. MOTOR MATT--TRUSTEE.
  CHAPTER IV. BUNCE HAS A PLAN.
  CHAPTER V. BUNCE SPEAKS A GOOD WORD FOR HIMSELF.
  CHAPTER VI. THE HOMEMADE SPEEDER.
  CHAPTER VII. TRAPPED.
  CHAPTER VIII. THE CUT-OUT UNDER THE LEDGE.
  CHAPTER IX. BETWEEN THE EYES.
  CHAPTER X. THE MAN FROM THE "IRIS."
  CHAPTER XI. ABOARD THE STEAM YACHT.
  CHAPTER XII. GRATTAN'S TRIUMPH.
  CHAPTER XIII. FROM THE OPEN PORT!
  CHAPTER XIV. LANDED--AND STUNG.
  CHAPTER XV. A CRAFTY ORIENTAL.
  CHAPTER XVI. THE MANDARIN WINS.
  JERRY STEBBINS' HOSS TRADE.
  THE PHANTOM ENGINEER.



CHARACTERS THAT APPEAR IN THIS STORY.


  =Matt King=, otherwise Motor Matt.

  =Joe McGlory=, a young cowboy who proves himself a lad of worth and
  character, and whose eccentricities are all on the humorous side. A
  good chum to tie to--a point Motor Matt is quick to perceive.

  =Tsan Ti=, Mandarin of the Red Button, who proves adept in the ways
  of Oriental craft, and shows how easy it is for a person to shift
  his dangers and responsibilities to other shoulders--if only he goes
  about it in the right way.

  =Philo Grattan=, a talented person who devotes himself to "tricks
  that are dark and ways that are vain," and whose superb assurance
  leads him to flaunt his most memorable crime in the face of the
  authorities through the medium of moving pictures. A man fitted by
  nature for a worthier part than he plays, and whose keen mind is not
  able to save him from deception.

  =Bunce=, the mariner, and a pal of Grattan.

  =Pardo=, who charters a power-boat and uses it in forwarding a plot
  of Grattan's.

  =Bronson=, a railroad superintendent, who appears briefly but
  creditably.



CHAPTER I.

"BUDDHA'S EYE."


"It's three long and weary hours, pard, before the boat for New York
ties up at the landing. You don't want to cool your heels in the hotel,
do you, while we're waiting? How about doing something to fill in the
time?"

It was about seven o'clock in the evening, and Motor Matt and his
cowboy chum, Joe McGlory, were sitting on the porch of their hotel in
Catskill-on-the-Hudson. The hotel was on an elevation, and the boys
could look out over the river and see the lights of steamers, tugs,
motor boats, and other craft gliding up and down in a glittering maze.

Matt had been looking down at the river lights, and dreaming. He
aroused himself with a start at the sound of his chum's voice.

"What would you suggest, Joe?" he asked.

"Let's take in the moving-picture shows. Say, they're the greatest
thing for a nickel that I ever saw. Some yap gets into trouble, and
then ladies and gents, and workmen, and clerks, and nurses with baby
cabs take after the poor duffer, and there's a high old time for all
hands. I'm plumb hungry for excitement, Matt. This town has become
mighty tame since we parted company with Tsan Ti."

"If you think the moving-picture shows will furnish what you need in
the excitement line, Joe, we'll go out and take them in."

Matt got up with a laugh, and he and McGlory left the hotel, and laid
a course for the main street of the town. At the first nickel theatre
they came to, they gave up a dime, and moved into the darkened room. An
illustrated song was in the lantern, and a young man with a husky voice
was singing something about a "stingy moon."

The motor boys stumbled around in the dark, and McGlory tried to slip
into a seat that was already occupied. A stifled scream made him aware
of his mistake, and he tumbled all over himself to get somewhere else.

"Speak to me about that!" he whispered to Matt, with a choppy chuckle.
"That's the trouble with these moving-picture honkatonks when you come
in after the lights are out. Oh, bother that stingy moon! I wish the
chap with the raw voice would cut it out, and let the rest of the show
get to climbing over the screen."

"Don't be so impatient, old chap," returned Matt. "You've got to have
something happening to you about once every fifteen minutes, or you get
so nervous you can't sit still. In that respect, you're a lot like Dick
Ferral, a sailor chum I cruised with a while ago. Now----"

"Sh-h-h!" interrupted the cowboy. "The piano has had enough of the
moon, and now here comes the first moving picture."

White letters quivered on the screen. "Buddha's Eye" was the title of
the series of pictures about to be shown. McGlory gulped excitedly, and
Matt stared. The motor boys had just finished a wild entanglement with
a great ruby called the "Eye of Buddha," and this, the first picture in
the first theatre that claimed them, reminded them, with something like
a shock, of recent experiences.

"Sufferin' sparks!" muttered McGlory. "What's the difference between
'Buddha's Eye' and the 'Eye of Buddha,' Matt?"

"No difference, Joe," answered Matt. "This is just a coincidence,
that's all."

The interior of a Buddhist temple was thrown on the screen. The views
were colored, and priests in gray and yellow robes could be seen moving
back and forth and prostrating themselves before a huge gilt idol. The
idol was of a "sitting Buddha" and must have measured full twenty feet
from the temple floor to the top of the head.

With a flash, the interior of the temple gave way to an enlarged view
of the idol's head. The head had but one eye, placed in the centre of
the forehead--a huge ruby, which glowed like a splash of warm blood.

"The Honam joss house, in the suburbs of Canton!" whispered McGlory
excitedly. "If it ain't, I'm a Piute!"

Motor Matt kept silence, wondering.

The boys were next afforded a view of two men, plotting aboard a
sampan near the island of Honam. One was tall and had a dark face and
sinister eyes. He wore a solar hat with a pugree. The other had on
sailor clothes, had a fringe of mutton-chop whiskers about his jaws
and a green patch over his right eye. McGlory grabbed Matt's arm in a
convulsive grip.

"What do you think of that?" demanded the cowboy, in a husky whisper.
"The tinhorn in the sun hat is Grattan, and the webfoot is Bunce. Am I
in a trance, or what?"

"Watch!" returned Matt, fully as mystified as was his chum.

The next picture was labeled, "The Egyptian Balls--view of excavations
at Karnak, on the Upper Nile."

Ponderous ruins were brought into view, showing Egyptian fellahs
digging in a subterranean chamber. An urn was lifted up and uncovered.
From this urn the wondering workmen removed a number of crystalline
spheres. One of the spheres dropped from an awkward hand, crashed to
fragments on the floor of the chamber, and instantly all the workmen
staggered, flung their hands to their faces, and fell sprawling, lying
on the stones prone and silent.

Two men stole in upon them, covered with flowing Arab robes, and their
faces masked in white. Swiftly they gathered up some of the balls, and
the camera followed them as they left the chamber and stood under the
broken columns of the ancient temple of Karnak. The robes were flung
away, and the masks removed. Grattan and Bunce, the sampan plotters,
stood revealed.

"I've got the blind staggers, I reckon!" mumbled McGlory, rubbing his
eyes. "It was in Egypt Grattan got his dope balls--the glass spheres
filled with the knock-out fumes. This--this--sufferin' brain twisters!
It's more'n I can savvy."

After Grattan and Bunce had gone through a pantomime expressive of
their wild delight on securing the balls, the films entered into
another series, entitled, "The Theft of the Great Ruby from the Honam
Joss House, near Canton, China."

The walls outside the temple were shown, and an avenue bordered with
banyan trees, with rooks flapping among the branches. Grattan and Bunce
were seen making their way along the avenue, entering the temple court,
and coming into the chamber which had been flashed on the screen at the
beginning.

Here was the huge idol again, and the yellow-robed priests moving
about. For a space, Grattan and Bunce stood and gazed; then, suddenly,
Grattan pulled a hand from his coat, held one of the glass balls over
his head for a space, then sent it crashing among the priests. The
priests started up in amazement, recovered their wits, and rushed
toward the foreign devils. But the priests were suddenly stricken
before Grattan and Bunce could be roughly dealt with.

White masks had been pushed over the faces of the two plotters, and
the pair watched while the priests, overcome by the paralyzing,
sense-destroying fumes from the broken balls, reeled to the temple
floor, and lay there in inert heaps. The masks protected Grattan and
Bunce from the baneful influence of the balls.

As soon as the priests were stretched silent upon the floor, Grattan
unwound a ladder of silk from about his waist. One end of the ladder
was weighted with a bit of lead, and this end was thrown over the
idol's head. Thereupon, Grattan mounted the ladder, and dug out the
ruby with a knife. Upon descending, he and Bunce went through another
pantomime, suggesting their joy over the success of their shameless
work, and then passed quickly from the court, stuffing their white
masks into their pockets as they went.

The next scene was in the room of a house in the foreign quarter, on
the sea wall, called Shameen. Grattan was secreting the ruby in the
head of a buckthorn cane. Barely was the secreting done, when a fat
mandarin burst in on them with a number of armed coolies at his heels.

The mandarin seemed to be accusing Grattan. Grattan could be seen to
shake his head protestingly. Then Grattan and Bunce were searched
thoroughly, and the room ransacked. In the utmost chagrin, the mandarin
and his coolies left, without having been able to discover anything. A
few minutes later, the thieves took their triumphant departure, Grattan
exultantly waving the buckthorn stick.

Scarcely breathing, and with staring eyes, the motor boys continued to
watch the pictures as they raced over the white screen. What wonder
work was this? From Grattan's own lips Matt had heard of the robbery
at the Honam joss house, in which Grattan had played such an important
part. So far, the pictures had shown it substantially as the details
had come from Grattan; there were a few minor differences, but they
were insignificant.

From this point, however, Grattan's story and the story as told by the
pictures were at variance.

The thieves got into a couple of sedan chairs, each chair carried by
four coolies. Apparently, Grattan and Bunce were on their way to the
river to embark for other shores. When near the landing, one of the
poles supporting the chair in which Grattan was riding broke. The chair
fell, the bamboo door burst open, and Grattan tumbled out. One of the
coolies picked up the buckthorn cane, and another the sun hat with the
pugree. Grattan, in anger, knocked down the coolie who had picked up
his hat. The other, coming to his countryman's aid, struck at Grattan
with the head of the cane. Grattan dropped to his knees. The cane
passed over his head, and the force the coolie had put into the blow
carried the stick out of his hand, and sent it smashing against the
side of a "go-down."

The head of the cane was broken, and the great ruby rolled over the
earth out of the débris, and lay gleaming in the sun under the eyes
of the astounded coolies. Then, with the inexplicable timeliness
so prevalent in motion pictures, the fat mandarin and his coolies
came upon the scene, the mandarin gathering in "Buddha's Eye" with
extravagant expressions of joy, and Grattan and Bunce writhing
desperately in the hands of the chair men and the mandarin's guard.

That was all. The scenes to follow were of a humorous order, and
probably had to do with some unfortunate getting into trouble and
leading a varied assortment of people a gay chase, but McGlory had lost
interest in the show. So had Matt.

As by a common impulse, the boys got up and groped their bewildered way
out of the room and into the street. They were dazed, thunderstruck,
and hardly knew what to think.



CHAPTER II.

THE GREEN PATCH.


Distracted by their mental speculations, the motor boys presently found
themselves back on the porch of their hotel, occupying the same chairs
they had left a little while before. Once more Matt was looking down on
the river lights, coming and going across the broad stream like so many
fireflies.

"Am I locoed, I wonder?" inquired McGlory, as though speaking to
himself. "Did I see that moving picture, with Grattan and Bunce in it
and stealing the 'Eye of Buddha,' or didn't I?"

"You saw the picture, Joe," returned Matt, "and so did I."

"I reckon I did; and jumpin' tarantulas, how it got on my nerves! But
how does it happen that the picture is being shown like it is? Grattan
told you, Matt, just how the ruby was stolen from the Honam joss house
by himself and Bunce; he told you how he went to Egypt after the glass
balls that were more than two thousand years old, and had been dug up
at Karnak. He didn't get the balls from Karnak just exactly in the
way the picture shows it, but he did steal the ruby in exactly the
same fashion those films brought the tinhorn trick under our eyes. Not
only that, but Grattan hid the ruby in the head of his cane. Right up
to that point the whole game is a dead ringer for the yarn Grattan
batted up to you. The rest of the pictures are pure fake. It was you
who helped recover 'Buddha's Eye,' and it happened right here in the
Catskill Mountains, near the village of Purling, and not in China. But
it was the smashing of the head of the cane that revealed the ruby."[A]

[A] The thrilling adventures of the motor boys in recovering the Eye of
Buddha were set forth in No. 30, Motor Stories.

"We know," said Matt, his mind recovering from the shock occasioned by
the strange series of pictures so suddenly sprung upon him and McGlory,
"we know, pard, that Grattan was in the motion-picture business at the
time he conceived the idea of stealing the ruby. He was traveling all
over the world with his camera apparatus. Probably his line of work has
something to do with his putting the robbery into the form we have just
seen it."

"But why should Grattan want to publish his criminal work all over
the country in moving pictures? And he put himself into the pictures,
too--and that old sea dog, Bunce."

"That part of it is too many for me, Joe," answered Matt. "However, I
can't see as the moving pictures of the robbery cut much figure now.
The mandarin, Tsan Ti, has recovered the ruby, and is on his way to San
Francisco to take ship for China. Grattan and Bunce made their escape,
and are probably getting out of the country, or into parts unknown,
as rapidly as they can. So far as we are concerned, the incident is
closed. But it was certainly a startler to come face to face with a set
of pictures like those--and so unexpectedly."

"First nickelodeon we struck, and the first picture shoved through the
lantern," muttered the cowboy.

"Are you positive, Joe," went on Matt, "that the two thieves who
figured in the picture were really Grattan and Bunce?"

"It's a cinch!" declared McGlory. "There can't be any mistake. I
never saw a clearer set of pictures, and I'd know Grattan and Bunce
anywhere--could pick 'em out of a thousand."

"That's the way it looked to me, and yet there's one point I can't
understand. It's a point that doesn't agree with your assertion that
Bunce was really in the picture."

"What point is that?"

"Why, it has to do with the green patch Bunce wears over his eye."

"The patch was in the picture, all right."

"Sure it was! But which of Bunce's eyes did it cover?"

"The right eye!"

"Exactly! The green patch was over Bunce's right eye, in the picture of
the robbery, which we just saw; but when we had our several encounters
with Bunce, a few days ago, the patch was over the mariner's left eye."

McGlory straightened up in his chair and stared at his chum through the
electric light that shone over them from the porch ceiling.

"Glory to glory and all hands round!" he exclaimed. "You're right,
pard. When we were trotting that heat with Bunce, here in the
Catskills, it was his left eye that was gone. Now, in the picture, it's
his right eye. How do you explain that?"

"The explanation seems easy enough," answered Matt. "Bunce must have
two good eyes, and he simply covers up one for the purpose of disguise.
Either that, or else some one represented him when the moving pictures
were taken, and got the patch over the wrong eye."

"What good is a green patch as a disguise, anyway?" demanded McGlory.

"Give it up. The difference in the position of the patch merely led me
to infer that Bunce might not have really been in that moving picture.
And if Bunce wasn't in it, then it's possible that Grattan wasn't
in it, either. Two men might have been made up to represent the two
thieves. I can't think it possible that Grattan and Bunce, as you said
a moment ago, should want to publish their crime throughout the country
by means of these moving pictures. The films are rented everywhere, and
travel from place to place."

McGlory heaved a long breath.

"Well, anyhow, I don't want to bother myself any more with the Eye of
Buddha," said he. "It's a hoodoo, and I never went through such a lot
of close shaves, or such a series of rapid-fire events, as when we were
helping Tsan Ti, the mandarin, recover the ruby. Let's forget about
it. We can't understand how those pictures came to be shown, and we're
completely at sea regarding the green patch. But it's nothing to us,
any more. We're for New York by the night boat, and then it'll be 'Up
the river or down the bay, over to Coney or Rockaway' for the motor
boys. Sufferin' cat naps! A spell of pleasure in the metro-polus is all
that brought me East with you, anyhow. It's us for the big town, and
with you along to see that no one sells me a gold brick, I reckon I'll
be able to pan out a good time."

The prospect of a week or two in New York, with a little rest and a
little motoring, was also appealing powerfully to Matt. He had not been
in the big town for some time, and he longed to renew his acquaintance
with its many "sights" and experiences.

"We'll be there in the morning, Joe," Matt answered. "As you say,
we need not bother our heads any longer about the Eye of Buddha, or
Grattan, or Bunce, or Tsan Ti. We'll take our toll of enjoyment out of
Manhattan Isle, and we'll forget there ever was such a thing as the big
ruby."

"You don't intend to think of business at all while you're there, eh?"

"No. We'll just knock around for a couple of weeks and enjoy ourselves.
Of course we'll be more or less among the motors--I couldn't be happy
myself if we weren't--and then, when we've had enough of that, I want
to take a run up to my old home in the Berkshire Hills."

Great Barrington had been very much in Motor Matt's mind for several
weeks. He felt a desire to go back to the old place, and revisit the
scenes of his earlier life. There was a mystery concerning his parents
which had never been solved. He did not have any idea that a return to
Great Barrington would settle that problem, but, nevertheless, it had
something to do with luring him in the direction of the Berkshires.

"Speak to me about that!" murmured McGlory. "You've always been a good
deal of a riddle to me, pard. You've never let out much about your
early life, and I come from a country where it's a signal for fireworks
if you press a man too closely about his past, so I've just taken you
as I picked you up in 'Frisco, and let it go at that. But there are a
few things I'd like to know, just the same."

"I'll tell you about them sometime, Joe," Matt answered. "Just now,
though, I'm not in the mood. When we're ready to start for the
Berkshires----"

He paused. The night clerk of the hotel had come out on the porch and
was standing at his elbow, a small package in his hand.

"Motor Matt," said he, in a voice of concern, "here's something that
came for you by express, about five-thirty in the afternoon. It's been
lying in the safe ever since. The day clerk couldn't find you, when
the package came, so he receipted for it. He didn't tell me anything
about it, when I went on duty, and he just happened to remember and to
telephone down from his room. I'm sorry about the delay."

"We're taking the ten-o'clock boat for New York," spoke up McGlory. "It
would have been a nice layout if we'd got away and left that package
behind."

"I'm mighty sorry, but it's not my fault."

"Well," answered Matt, taking the package, "no great harm has been
done. It's an hour and a half, yet, before the New York boat gets here,
and I have the package."

The clerk went back into the hotel and Matt examined the package under
the light.

"What do you reckon it is, pard?" queried McGlory curiously.

"You can give as good a guess as I can, Joe," Matt answered. "I'm not
expecting anybody to send me anything. It's addressed plainly enough to
Motor Matt, Catskill, New York, in care of this hotel."

"And covered with red sealing wax," added McGlory. "Rip off the cover
and let's see what's on the inside. Sufferin' tenterhooks! Haven't you
got any curiosity?"

Matt cut the cord that bound the package and took off the wrapper. A
small wooden box was disclosed, bound with another cord.

The box was opened, and seemed to be filled with cotton wadding.
Resting the box on his knees, Matt proceeded to remove the wadding.
Then he fell back in his chair with an astounded exclamation.

A round object, glimmering in the rays of the electric light like a
splash of blood against the cotton, lay under the amazed eyes of the
motor boys.

"Buddha's Eye!" whispered McGlory.

Around the end of the veranda, in the wavering shadows, a face had
pushed itself above the veranda railing--a face topped with a sailor
cap and fringed with "mutton-chop" whiskers--a face with a green patch
over one eye.



CHAPTER III.

MOTOR MATT--TRUSTEE.


Matt and McGlory had seen the Eye of Buddha, and they were not slow in
recognizing it. But the bewildering events of the evening were crowned
by this arrival of the ruby, by express, consigned to Motor Matt. By
all the laws of reasoning and logic, the gem, worth a king's ransom,
should at that moment have been in the possession of Tsan Ti, en route
to the Flowery Kingdom.

"Oh, tell--me--about this!" stuttered McGlory.

Matt picked the ruby up in his fingers and held it in the palm of his
hand. Apparently he was loath to credit the evidence of his senses.
From every angle he surveyed the glittering gem.

"Wouldn't this rattle you?" he murmured, peering at his chum.

"Rattle me!" exploded McGlory. "Why, pard, it leaves me high and
dry--stranded--gasping like a fish. Tsan Ti must be locoed! At last
accounts, he was in a flutter to get that ruby back to the Honam joss
house and replace it in the idol's head, where it belongs. What came
over the mandarin to box it up and ship it to you? I'm fair dazed, and
no mistake. This cuts the ground right out from under me."

Matt, with a hasty look around, dropped the ruby into his pocket; then
he pulled out some more of the wadding and discovered, in the bottom of
the box, a folded sheet of white paper.

"Here's a letter," said he. "This will explain why the ruby was sent to
me, I guess."

"What good's an explanation?" grunted the cowboy. "I wouldn't be
tangled up with that thing for a mint of money. Sufferin' centipedes!
It's a regular hoodoo, and hands a fellow a hard-luck knock every
time he turns around. What's in the letter, anyway? If it's from Tsan
Ti, I'll bet his paper talk is heavy with big words and all kinds of
Class A 'con' lingo. Read it, do. I can't tell how nervous you make me
hanging fire."

"It's from Tsan Ti, all right," said Matt, "and is dated New York."

"New York! Why, he was hitting nothing but high places in the direction
of 'Frisco, when he left here. How, in the name of all his ten thousand
demons of misfortune, does he happen to be in New York?"

"Listen," answered Matt, and began to read.

  "'Esteemed and illustrious youth, whose never-to-be-forgotten
  services to me shine like letters of gold on a tablet of silver:
  Behold----'"

"Oh, the gush!" growled McGlory.

  "'Behold,'" continued Matt, "'I send you the Eye of Buddha, the
  priceless jewel which belongs in the temple of Hai-chwang-sze, in my
  beloved Canton. You ask, of your perplexity, why is the jewel sent
  to you? and I reply, for the security's sake. Upon my trail comes
  Grattan, of the evil heart, weaving his plans for recovering the
  costly gem. I fear to keep it about me, and so I send to you asking
  that you remain with it in the Catskill Mountains until such time as
  I may come to you and receive it from your hands. This will be when
  the scoundrel Grattan is safely beheaded, or in prison, and clear of
  my way for all time. I turn to you of my perfect trust, and I adjure
  you, by the five hundred gods, not to let the ruby get for one moment
  out of your possession. Leave it nowhere, keep it by you always,
  either sleeping or walking, and deliver it to no one except to me,
  who, at the right time, will come and request it of you in my own
  person. Will it be an insult to offer you one thousand silver dollars
  and expense money for consummating this task? I commend you to the
  good graces of the supernal ones whose years are ten thousand times
  ten thousand!

                                   "'TSAN TI, of the Red Button.'"

The reading finished, McGlory eased himself of a sputtering groan.

"Loaded up!" he exclaimed. "You and I, pard, just at the time we
thought we were rid of Tsan Ti and Buddha's Eye for good, find the
thing shouldered onto us again, and trouble staring us in the face!
Why didn't the mandarin deposit the ruby in some bank, or safe-deposit
vault? Better still, if Grattan was on his trail, why didn't he have
the express company take it to San Francisco for him instead of sending
it to you, at Catskill? He knows less, that Tsan Ti, than any other
heathen on top of earth. In order to keep himself out of trouble he
hands us the Eye of Buddha, and switches the responsibility to us.
Wouldn't that rattle your spurs?"

McGlory was profoundly disgusted.

"I reckon," he went on, "that this sidetracks us, eh? The big town
is cut out of our reckoning until the mandarin shows up and claims
the ruby. He may do that to-morrow, or next week, or next month--and,
meanwhile, here we are, kicking our heels in this humdrum, back-number,
two-by-twice town on the Hudson! Say, pard, I'd like to fight--and I'd
just as soon take a fall out of that pesky mandarin as any one else."

"He offers us a thousand dollars and expenses," said Matt. "Tsan Ti
wants to do the right thing, Joe."

"A million dollars and expenses won't pay us for hanging onto that
ruby. It's a hoodoo, and you know that as well as I do, pard. We can
expect things to happen right from this minute. Say, put it somewhere
where it'll be safe! Put it in the hotel safe, or in a bank, or any
place. Pass the risk along."

"Tsan Ti expressly stipulates that I am to keep the ruby about me,"
demurred Matt.

"What of that?" snorted McGlory. "Are you working for Tsan Ti? Are you
bound to do what he tells you to? What business is it of his if we
choose to show a little sense and get some one else to take charge of
the ruby? The mandarin's an old mutton-head! If he wasn't he'd know
better than to send the Eye of Buddha to us. And in a common express
package, at that. What value did he put on it?"

McGlory picked up the wrapper that had covered the box and looked over
the address side.

"No value at all!" he exclaimed. "Either he didn't think of that, or
else he didn't want to pay for the extra valuation. If there had been
a railroad wreck, and the ruby had been lost, our excellent mandarin
would have collected just fifty plunks from the express company--and I
reckon the Eye of Buddha is worth fifty thousand if it's worth a cent."

"Sometimes," said Matt reflectively, "it's safer to trust to luck than
to put such a terrific value on a package that's to be carried by
express."

"Well," grunted McGlory, "I don't like his blooming Oriental way of
doing business, and that shot goes as it lays. I'll tell you what we
can do," he added, brightening.

"What?"

"We can jump aboard that New York boat and tote the ruby back to New
York; then we can hunt up Tsan Ti and return the thing to him and tell
him not any--that we have done as much for him as we're going to.
Where's his letter sent from? What's the name of the hotel?"

In his eagerness, McGlory snatched the letter from Matt's knee and
began looking it over.

"There's no address," said Matt.

"Tsan Ti may be in Chinatown," went on McGlory. "Such a big high boy
couldn't get lost in the shuffle around Pell and Doyer Streets. Let's
go on by that boat and take our chances locating him!"

"No," and Matt shook his head decidedly, "that's a move we can't make,
Joe. I'm no more in love with this piece of work than you are, but
we're in for it, and there's no way to dodge. Tsan Ti has unloaded the
ruby upon us and we've got to stand for it."

"But we're responsible----"

"Of course, up to a certain point. If the stone should be taken away
from us, though, Tsan Ti couldn't hold us responsible. We didn't ask
for the job of looking after it, and we don't want the job, but we're
doing what we can, you see, because there's no other way out of it."

"You could stow it away in a safer place than your pocket," grumbled
McGlory.

"In that event," returned Matt, "we might be responsible. The thing for
us to do is to follow out our instructions to the letter. If anything
happens to the Eye of Buddha then it's the mandarin himself who's
responsible."

"And we're to hang out in the Catskill Mountains until Tsan Ti comes
for the ruby!" mused McGlory, in an angry undertone; "and he's not
going to come until Grattan is 'beheaded' or clapped into jail. We're
liable to have a long wait. Of all the tinhorns I ever saw, or heard
of, that Grattan is the sharpest of the lot. Fine job this red-button
heathen has put onto us!"

Matt disliked the work of taking care of the valuable gem, and he would
have shirked the responsibility if he could have done so, but there
was no way in which this could be brought about. He and Joe would have
to stay in the Catskills, for a while anyway, and wait for Tsan Ti
to present himself. Meanwhile, the trip to New York would have to be
postponed.

More to soothe his friend than as an expression of his own feelings,
the king of the motor boys began taking a pleasanter view of the
situation.

"We know, pard," said he, "that Tsan Ti is a man of his word. When
he says he'll do anything, he does it. He'll come for the ruby, and
I think he's clever enough to fool Grattan, and we know he'll pay us
a thousand dollars. That money will come in handy while we're in New
York."

"If we ever get there," growled the cowboy. "We may get into so much
trouble on account of that Eye of Buddha that we'll be laid up in the
hospital when Tsan Ti presents himself in these parts."

Matt laughed.

"You're so anxious to see the sights in the big town, Joe," he
observed, "that it's the delay, more than anything else, that's
bothering you."

"When I get started for anywhere," answered McGlory, "a bee line and
the keen jump is my motto. But, so long as we have anything to do with
Tsan Ti, we never know what's going to happen. I wish the squinch-eyed
heathen would leave us alone."

Just then a form rounded the front of the hotel, gained the steps
leading up to the porch, and climbed to a place in front of the motor
boys.

McGlory lifted his eyes. The moment they rested on the form, and
realization of who it was had flashed through his brain, he jumped for
the man and grabbed him with both hands.

"Bunce!" he whooped. "I told you things would begin to happen, pard,
and right here is where they start!"

Then, with considerable violence, McGlory pushed the old sailor against
one of the porch posts, and held him there, squirming.



CHAPTER IV.

BUNCE HAS A PLAN.


"Avast, there!" gurgled Bunce, half choked, trying to pull the cowboy's
hands from his throat.

The green patch was over his left eye, and the right eye gleamed
glassily in the electric light.

Matt was as much surprised at Bunce's appearance as was McGlory, but he
held his temper better in hand. The cowboy, profoundly disgusted with
the trend of recent events, showed a disposition to take it out of the
sailor.

Had Bunce been even the half of an able seaman he would have given
McGlory a hard scramble, but he seemed a wizened, infirm old salt,
although he had proved active enough during the experiences the motor
boys had already had with him.

"Don't strangle him, Joe!" called Matt. "Take your hands from his
throat and grab his arm. He came here openly, and he must have known
we were here. Judging from that, I should say that his intentions are
peaceable."

"Ask him," gritted McGlory, "why he doesn't change eyes with the patch.
Let's get to the bottom of this moving-picture business, too. We can
have a little heart-to-heart talk, I reckon, and find out a few things
before we turn the old webfoot over to the police."

"Right you are, my blood," gasped the half-suffocated Bunce, as the
cowboy dropped his hands to his arm and dragged him down into a chair,
"a heart-to-heart talk's the thing. Didn't I bear away for this place
for nothin' else than to fall afoul o' ye? Ay, ay, that was the way of
it, but split me through if I ever expected such treatment as this what
I'm a-gettin'. Motor Matt's the lad, says I to myself, to fill the bill
for Bunce, so I trips anchor an' slants away, only to be laid holt of
like I was a reg'lar skull-and-crossbones, walk-the-plank pirate, with
the Jolly Roger at the peak."

"Oh, put a crimp on that sort of talk," growled McGlory. "Sufferin'
freebooters! If you're anything better than a pirate, I'd like to have
you tell me."

"So, ho!" and Bunce's eye glittered wrathfully, "if I had a cutlass, my
fine buck, I'd slit ye like a herrin' for that. I'm a fair-weather sort
of man, an' I hates a squall, but stir up nasty weather an' then give
me somethin' to fight with, an' I'm a bit of a handful. Nigh Pangool,
on the south coast o' Java, I laid out a hull boat's crew with my fists
alone, once, not so many years back. That was when I was mate o' the
brig _Hottentot_, as fine a two-sticker as ever shoved nose into the
South Seas--reg'lar bucko mate, I was, an' a main hard man when roused."

At the time the Eye of Buddha was recovered, Bunce had made his escape
with Grattan; and he had been equally guilty, with Grattan, in the
theft of the ruby from the Honam joss house. That the sailor should
have shown himself at all, in those parts, was a wonder; and that he
should have shown himself to Matt and McGlory, who knew of his evil
deeds, was a puzzle past working out.

"You say you came here to see me?" inquired Matt.

"Ay, ay, my hearty," answered Bunce. "Motor Matt, says I to myself, is
the lad to fill the bill for me, an' I luffed into the wind an' bore
down for Catskill. Here I am, an' here's you, an' if I blow the gaff
a bit that's my business, ain't it? But take me to the cabin; what I
has to say is between us an' the mainmast with no other ears to get a
sizing of it."

McGlory glared at Bunce as though he would have liked to bore into him
with his eyes and see what he had at the back of his head.

"If you're trying to play double with us, you gangle-legged old hide
rack," he threatened, "you'll live to wish you'd thought twice before
you did it."

"Now, burn me," snorted Bunce, "d'ye take me for a dog fish? By the
seven holy spritsails, I'm as good a man as you, an' ye'll l'arn----"

"Enough of that, Bunce," broke in Matt sharply, getting up from his
chair. "You want to say something to us in private, and I'm going to
give you the chance. Come after me; you trail along behind him, Joe,"
and, with that, Matt went into the hotel and up the stairs to the room
jointly occupied by himself and McGlory.

At the door, Matt pushed a button that turned on the lights. As soon as
McGlory and Bunce were in the room, the door was locked and Matt took
charge of the key.

"That's the stuff, pard," approved McGlory, with great satisfaction.
"If the old tinhorn don't spout to please us, we can phone the office
for a policeman."

"Ye're not sending me to the brig this trip, mates," spoke up Bunce.
"'Cos why? 'Cos in fillin' the bill for me, ye're givin' the mandarin a
leg up out of a purty bad hole."

"What have you got to tell us?" inquired Matt curtly. "Out with it,
Bunce."

"When ye last seen me, my lad," said Bunce, "I was sailin' in convoy
with Philo Grattan. But he's doin' things I don't approve of, not any
ways. It was all right to put our helm up an' bear down on a chink joss
house to lift the Eye o' Buddha, an' it was all right, too, when ye
helped the big high boy get the ruby back. That was all in the game,
an' we'd ought to've made the most of it. But not Philo Grattan. D'ye
know what he's layin' to do? Nothin' more, on my soul, than to strangle
Tsan Ti with a yellow cord an' take the ruby away from him. My eye,
mates, but Grattan's a clever hand at overhauling his locker for a game
like that. The boss of the Chinee Empire sends these yellow cords to
the chinks he don't like an' don't want around. When the cords come to
hand, then the chinks receivin' thereof uses them to choke out their
lives. Tsan Ti is found, dead as a mackerel, with the yellow cord
twisted into his fat neck. Eye o' Buddha is missin' from his clothes.
What's the answer? Why, that Tsan Ti lost the ruby, an' used the cord
sent him from the home country. That'll seem plain as a burgee flyin'
from the gaff o' one o' these fresh-water yachts. Won't it, now?"

Matt knew that Tsan Ti had received the yellow cord from China, and
that he had been allowed two weeks in which either to find the stolen
ruby or to use the cord. Of course, the ruby had been recovered, and
there was no necessity for using the hideous cord; but, if he was found
strangled, it would have seemed as though he himself had committed the
deed in compliance with orders from the Chinese regent.

Bunce may have been romancing, but there was a little plausibility back
of his words.

"Where is Grattan?" demanded Matt.

"In these here hills, shipmate," replied Bunce.

"Tsan Ti isn't in the Catskills!"

"No more he ain't, which I grant ye offhand an' freely, but supposin'
he's in Noo York, held a pris'ner in a beach comber's joint in Front
Street? An' supposin', furthermore, this same beach comber is a mate o'
Grattan's, an' waitin' only for Grattan to come afore he makes Tsan Ti
peg out? Put that in your pipe an' smoke it careful."

"You mean to say that Tsan Ti is a prisoner in New York--a prisoner of
a confederate of Grattan's?"

"That's gospel truth! It happened recent--no longer ago than early
mornin'. I bore the word to the beach comber in a letter of hand from
Philo, an' the beach comber met me in a snug harbor on the front where
sailormen are regularly hocused an' shipped for all parts. I don't know
where the beach comber's place is, not me, but I did get him topping
the boom an' he reported the whole matter entire. However Tsan Ti fell
into the net is a notch above my understandin', but there he is, hard
an' fast, an' when I'd done with the beach comber I took the train for
Catskill to find Grattan an' tell him what's been pulled off."

Bunce was a trifle hard to follow.

"Let's see if I've got this right," said Matt, "When you and Grattan
escaped from the officers, at the time the ruby was recovered, you hid
yourselves away among the Catskills?"

"Ay, so we did!"

"And then Grattan gave you a letter to some man in New York and you
carried it personally?"

"Personally, that's the word. I carried it personally."

"And this man in New York entrapped the mandarin and is holding him a
prisoner until he can hear what Grattan wants done?"

"Ye've got the proper bearin's, an' no mistake."

"And you came back on the train to tell Grattan?"

Bunce nodded, and pulled at his fringe of whiskers.

"Then, why didn't you go and tell Grattan," asked Matt, "instead of
coming and telling me?"

"I'm no blessed cut-an'-slash pirate," protested Bunce. "So long as the
ruby was to be come by without any stranglin', I was willin' to bear
a bob an' do my share; an' while mebby there ain't anythin' morilly
wrong in chokin' the breath out of a heathen Chinee, yet they'll bowse
a man up to the yardarm for doin' the same. Mates, on the ride back to
the Catskills I overhauled the hull matter, an' I makes up my mind I'd
sailed in company with Grattan as long as 'twas safe. If I can save the
mandarin, I thinks to myself, mebby Motor Matt'll play square with me
an' let me off for what I done in helpin' lift the ruby. If so be he
thinks that way, says I to myself further, then he's the one to fill
the bill for Bunce. So, instid o' slantin' for the cove where the motor
car is hid away, I 'bouts ship an' lays a course for this hotel."

"What's your plan, Bunce?" queried Matt.

"Easy, does it; simple as a granny's knot. You kiss the Book that I'm
free as soon's I do my part, then I takes you to where Grattan is,
an' you lays him by the heels--just us three in it an' not a man Jack
else. The beach comber don't do a thing to Tsan Ti till he hears from
Grattan; an' how'll he ever hear from Grattan if he's safe in irons in
some jail in these hills? That's my plan, an' you take it or leave it.
If ye don't follow the course I've laid, then Grattan gets the ruby
back, an' the mandarin's life along with it. If ye think I'm talkin'
crooked, an' put the lashings on me an' hand me over to the police,
then not a soul'll ever know where Grattan's hid, an' he'll clear out
an' get to Noo York whether I see him or not--but Tsan Ti'll be for
Davy Jones' locker, no matter what ye try to do to prevent it. I've
said my say an' eased my mind; now it's you for it."

With that, Bunce calmly drew a plug of tobacco from his pocket and
nibbled at one corner reflectively.



CHAPTER V.

BUNCE SPEAKS A GOOD WORD FOR HIMSELF.


Matt made a brief study of Bunce, leaning back in his seat and gazing
at the mariner through half-closed eyes. The sailorman's get-up
reminded Matt of _Dick Deadeye_ in "Pinafore." Whether Bunce was really
a deep-water humbug, and whether he was to be taken seriously, were
questions that gave Matt a good deal of bother.

"He's stringing us, pard," averred McGlory bluntly. "That tongue of his
is hung in the middle and wags at both ends."

"Avast, my man-o'-war!" came hotly from the mariner. "I'm no loafing
longshore scuttler to let go my mudhooks in these waters and then begin
splicing the main brace out of hand. You'll get your whack, my blood,
and get it hard, if you keep on in the style ye're goin'. Belay a bit,
can't you?"

McGlory snorted contemptuously and put his tongue in his cheek. Bunce
began fingering his knife lanyard.

"No more of that give-and-take," said Matt.

"I'm a hard man," observed Bunce, "an' I've lived a hard life, winnin'
my mate's berth on the ole _Hottentot_ off Trincomalee by bashing in
the skull of a Kanaka. More things I've done as would make your blood
run cold just by listenin' to, but I'm straight as a forestay for all
that, d'ye mind, an' I've a clean bill from every master I ever sailed
with. 'He ain't much fer looks, Bunce ain't,' as Cap'n Banks, of the
ole _Hottentot_ used to say, 'but in a pinch you don't have to look
twice for Bunce.' An' there ye have it, all wrapped up, tied small, an'
ready for any swab as doubts me."

"Bunce," said Matt dubiously, "I'm frank to say I don't know just how
to take you. By your own confession you're a thief----"

"Only when chinks has the loot," cut in Bunce hastily, "an' when it
takes a bit of headwork an' a matchin' o' wits to beat 'em out."

"You helped Grattan steal the Eye of Buddha. Plotted it on a sampan off
Canton, didn't you?"

Bunce shoved in his chair and showed signs of consternation.

"Scuttle me!" he gulped. "Wherever did you find that out? Grattan never
told you where we had our chin-chin in the river of Honam."

"It's all pictured out," said Matt, "and you can drop into a theatre,
in this town of Catskill, and see yourself and Grattan committing the
robbery."

Bunce fell limply back.

"So, ho!" he mumbled. "Then them pictures are out, eh? They wasn't to
come out for a month yet--it was in the agreement."

"Agreement?"

"Ay, no more nor less. It was on the trip from 'Frisco, east, mate,
when Grattan an' me had the ruby but not a sou markee in our pockets.
We needed money. Grattan knew some of these moving-picture swabs in
Chicago, and he allowed he could turn a few reds by givin' 'em the
plan of the robbery an' helpin' act it out. 'Avast,' says I, feelin' a
warnin' twinge, 'don't touch it, Philo!' But he would--an' did, first
gettin' an' agreement from the swabs that they wouldn't put out the
pictures for two months. We got a couple of hundred yen for the work,
an' that's what brought us on to the Catskills. So it's out, so it's
out," and Bunce wagged his head forebodingly.

"Did you play a part in the pictures, Bunce?" went on Matt.

"Not I, mate! I may be lackin' in the head, once in a while, but
there's a few keen thoughts rollin' around in my locker. I wouldn't go
in for it, an' you can smoke my weather roll on that."

"There's a one-eyed sailor in the picture," said Matt.

"And he's a dead ringer for you," added McGlory.

"Which it ain't me, d'ye see?" scowled the mariner. "It's a
counterfeit, got up to look like me--an' nothin' more."

"Then it's a mighty good counterfeit," averred the cowboy.

"I'm a man o' high principles, mate, even though I do say it as
shouldn't. I was brought up right, by a Marblehead fisherman who
hated rum, couldn't abide playin' cards, an' believed the-ay-ters was
milestones on the road to the hot place. Actin' in a play I wouldn't
think of, an' that's the flat of it. But what's the good word,
shipmate? Are you sailin' this cruise wi' me to save the life o' the
mandarin? I must know one way or t'other."

"Where is Grattan?"

"Five miles away, snug as a bug in a rug where he'll never be found
onless I con the course. We'll have to go to him soon, if he's
captured. I'm due at the meetin' place to-night."

"You spoke of a motor car----"

"Ay, that I did. It's hid in the woods beyond the railroad yards. We'll
use that."

"You had a couple of motorcycles," said Matt.

"Which you and Grattan stole from us," supplemented McGlory. "What's
become of them, Bunce?"

"Wrecked an' sunk," answered Bunce. "Mine sprung a leak an' went over a
cliff in fifty fathoms of air; Grattan's bounced up on a reef an' went
to pieces. Then we lifted the motor car, usin' of it for night cruises."

"You stole a motor car, eh?" said McGlory grimly. "And on top of
that you have the nerve to come along here and speak a good word for
yourself."

"Stow it," growled Bunce, "or you an' I'll be at loggerheads for good.
What's the word?" and he turned his gleaming eye on Matt. "You can use
the telephone an' hand me over to the police, or you can do as I say
an' save the mandarin. What's the word?"

"When will we have to start after Grattan?" asked Matt.

"By early mornin', mate, just when it's light enough to see."

"And where'll we meet you?"

"In the woods beyond the railroad yards. Go there, stand on the track,
an' whistle. I'll whistle back, then we'll come together--an' fill the
bill."

"You can expect us at six o'clock," said Motor Matt, unlocking the door
and pulling it open.

"Brayvo, my bully!" enthused Bunce. "An' ye'll come armed? Grattan is a
hard man, an' sizable in a scrimmage."

"We'll be prepared to take care of Grattan," answered Matt. "Good
night, Bunce."

"Good night it is," and the mariner vanished into the hall.

As soon as the door was again closed, Matt turned to find McGlory
staring at him as though he thought he was crazy.

"Sufferin' tinhorns!" exclaimed the cowboy. "You can't mean it, pard?"

"Yes, I do," was the answer.

"Why, that old fore-and-after never told the truth in his life! He was
using his imagination overtime."

"The chances are that he was, but there's a bare possibility he was
telling the truth. We know Tsan Ti is in New York, and we can't feel
absolutely sure that the Chinaman hasn't fallen into some trap laid by
Grattan. If that's the case, the mandarin may lose his life."

"There's about as much chance of that, pard, as that you and I will get
struck by lightning."

"We'll say the chance that Bunce is telling the truth is about one in
a hundred. Well, Joe, that hundredth chance is what we can't take.
Besides, Grattan is wanted. If he is really in the hills, and we can
capture him, that will clear the road for Tsan Ti."

"But what will you do with the Eye of Buddha?"

Matt was in a quandary about that.

"Will you tote it along on a trip of this kind?" proceeded Joe, "or
will you leave it in the hotel safe? Maybe that's what Bunce is playing
for."

"He don't know we have the ruby. How could he?"

"I'm by. But he's up to something, and that's a cinch."

"We'll have to give him the benefit of the doubt--on account of Tsan
Ti."

"Consarn that bungling chink!" grunted the cowboy, venting his anger on
the mandarin as the original cause of their perplexing situation. "You
can't do a thing with that red stone but lug it along."

"If the banks were open between now and the time we start, I might
leave it with one of them for safe-keeping."

"And go dead against your letter of instructions! Then you would be
responsible."

"I'll think it over to-night," said Matt, and began his preparations
for turning in.

But sleeping over the question didn't answer it. Matt's quandary lasted
until far into the night.

He had no faith in Bunce; he couldn't understand why Tsan Ti should
have sent the ruby to him for safe-keeping; he doubted the wisdom of
going into the hills with the mariner, and he understood well the risk
of carrying the priceless Eye of Buddha with him on the morning's
venture.

When McGlory opened his eyes in the first gray of the morning, Matt was
tying up the box in which the ruby had come by express.

"What are you going to do, pard?" inquired the cowboy, jumping out of
bed and beginning to scramble into his clothes.

"I guess, after all," answered Matt, "that I'll leave this box with the
clerk."

"Wish I knew whether that was the proper caper, or not, but I don't.
One thing's as good as another, I reckon."

At five-thirty they had a hurried breakfast, and, a little before six,
Matt handed the small box to the hotel clerk and asked him to put it
away in the office safe. Then the motor boys started for the railroad
track and followed it away from the river and into the wooded ravine
beyond the yards.

"This is far enough, I guess," said Matt, and began to whistle.

The signal was promptly returned from a place on the left, and the head
of the mariner was pushed through a thicket of bushes.

"Ahoy, my hearties!" came from Bunce. "Come up here and bear a fist
with the car, will ye?"

Puzzled not a little at this request, Matt and McGlory climbed the bank
of the ravine and came alongside the mariner on a small, cleared shelf
on the bank side. The "motor car" was before them, and at sight of it
McGlory exploded a laugh.

"Speak to me about this!" he exclaimed. "Had you any notion it was this
sort of a bubble, Matt?"



CHAPTER VI.

THE HOMEMADE SPEEDER.


What Matt saw was an ordinary hand car equipped with a two-cylinder
gasoline engine. Across one end of the car was a bench, tightly bolted
to the framework; back of this was a shorter bench for the driver of
the queer machine. The king of the motor boys examined the car with
a good deal of curiosity. Power was communicated to the rear axle by
chain and sprocket. The gasoline tank was under the driver's bench, and
he unscrewed the cap and tested the fuel supply by means of a clean
twig picked up from the shelf.

"Oh, she's loaded full," wheezed Bunce. "I filled her myself, not
more'n ten minutes ago."

"Do you know anything about motors, Bunce?" inquired Matt, giving the
mariner a sharp look.

"Ay, that I do--in a way. I can turn on the oil and the spark when
I wants to start, an' I can cut 'em off an' jam on the brakes when
I wants to stop. That's all ye got to know in runnin' these benzine
machines."

"Where does this belong?"

"Track inspector owns it. Grattan an' me borried it." Bunce grinned.
"When we're done with the machine, we'll give it back."

"We'll make a picture, pard," grumbled McGlory, "trailin' along with
this tinhorn on a stolen speeder."

"Avast, I say!" growled Bunce. "Ye're too free with your jaw tackle.
Lend a hand, an' let's get her on the track an' make off. The section
gang'll be out purty soon, an' we want to be away afore they see us."

"Sure you do," agreed McGlory sarcastically. "It'll be healthier for my
pard and me, too, I reckon, if we're absent when the section men come
along. That's why you wanted to make such an early start, eh?"

Without more ado, the motor boys helped Bunce get the speeder down the
slope and upon the rails.

"Any trains coming or going at this hour?" asked Matt, with sudden
thought.

"Say," jeered McGlory, "it would be fine if we went head on into a
local passenger!"

"No trains comin' or goin', mate," said Bunce. "That's another reason
for the early start. Want me to run the thing?"

"I'll do the running," answered Matt. "You climb up in front with
McGlory."

Bunce and McGlory got on the front bench. Matt "turned the engine over"
by running with the speeder for a few steps, then climbed to his seat,
and they began laboring up a stiff grade through the ravine.

The road was full of curves, and when it couldn't go around a hill it
went over it.

From his talk with Bunce, the night before, Matt had been under the
impression that the stolen car was an automobile, and he had made up
his mind to return the car to its owner--if the man's name could be
learned--after it had been used for running down Philo Grattan. Now,
that he had discovered that the car was a track speeder, he was no
less resolved to hand it over to the railroad company on the return to
Catskill.

The speeder performed fairly well, considering that it must have been
knocked together in the company's shops by men whose knowledge of their
work was not extensive. A secondhand automobile engine had furnished
the motor.

"This isn't so bad," remarked McGlory, as they ducked around the
shoulder of a hill, still on the up grade, with the motor fretting and
pounding. "A motor ride's a motor ride, whether you're on an aëroplane,
or rubber tires, or steel rails."

"This is what they call a joy ride, Joe," called Matt, from the rear.
"The owner of the car doesn't know we're out with it. I'll return it to
the railroad company when we're through with our morning's work."

"That's you. I hope the railroad company don't find out we've got it
before we give it back. Gee, man, how she's workin'!"

"Fine day an' clear weather for fillin' the bill," remarked Bunce. "Did
ye come armed, mateys?"

"Sufferin' hold-ups!" exclaimed McGlory. "Did you think for a minute,
Bunce, we'd jump into this without being heeled?"

The cowboy, as he spoke, reached behind him and drew a short,
wicked-looking six-shooter from his hip pocket.

Bunce recoiled.

"Where'd you get that, Joe?" asked Matt.

"Borrowed it from the hotel clerk."

"Well, put it away. I don't think we're going to need it. If we find
Grattan there'll be three of us to take care of him. He's alone, I
suppose, Bunce?"

"Sailin' by himself, mate," answered the mariner. "Better le' me take
the gun, my hearty," he added, to McGlory.

"Speak to me about that!" scoffed the cowboy. "Why?"

"I'll have to go for'ard when we come close to the place, an' if Philo
gets vi'lent, I'll look at him over the gun, an' it'll be soothin'."

"I'm able to soothe him, I reckon, no matter whether you're ahead or
behind."

The speeder was making a terrific clatter. Everything rattled--the
brake shoes barged against the wheel flanges, the engine rocked on its
bed, and the levers jarred in their guides. In order to talk, and make
themselves heard, those aboard had to lift their voices.

"Sufferin' Bedlam!" cried McGlory. "It's a wonder Grattan and Bunce
were ever able to steal a rattletrap like this and get away with it.
We're making more noise than a limited express."

Suddenly the motor gave a flash and a sputter and went out of business.
In a twinkling the car lost headway and began sliding back down the
grade toward Catskill. Matt threw on the brakes. The rear wheels
locked, but still the car continued to slide downward. Shutting off
the power, Matt dropped into the roadbed over the back of the bench,
cleared the rails at a leap, and wedged one of the wheels with a stone.
He had been obliged to work rapidly, for the car was on the move, and
going faster and faster, as its weight gathered headway. But the stone
sufficed, and the speeder was brought to a standstill.

"What took us aback, like that?" demanded Bunce.

"Too much gasoline," answered Matt, tinkering with the supply pipe,
"and I couldn't check it with the lever control."

"This is a great old chug cart," laughed McGlory. "The railroad company
ought to have been willing to pay somebody for running away with it.
How'd you ever get over this road with it, Bunce?"

"When I came over the road it was downhill," answered the mariner, "an'
all I had to do was to keep the craft on her course, an' scud along
under bare poles."

"You had to climb a hill before you took the down grade, didn't you?"

"Ay, so I did, but the car came up the hill easy enough."

Matt soon had the valve in the supply pipe adjusted, and all hands had
to push in giving the car a start. When they were going, and the engine
had taken up its cycle, there followed a wild scramble to get aboard.
This was finally accomplished, and once more they were puffing up the
hill, but with less pounding than before.

"Say, Bunce," demanded McGlory suddenly, "did you take the speeder off
the track and up the slope into those bushes alone?"

"Ay, ay, mate," was the answer. "But I had a rope and tackle to help."

McGlory was convinced that Bunce was wide of the truth, and Matt
inclined to the same opinion, although why the mariner wanted to
deceive them in such a small matter was difficult to understand.

Presently, to the great relief of the motor boys, the top of the hill
was reached. The descent angled downward, around rocky uplifts and
through thick timber, so that it was impossible to watch the track in
advance for any considerable distance.

The descent, on such a makeshift power car as the speeder, was fraught
with greater perils than the climb up the mountain. No power would be
necessary, for the car would go fast enough without any added impetus.
In order to keep it from going too fast, and jumping the track, the
brakes would have to be judiciously used.

"We're off!" cried McGlory, as the speeder began coasting down the
grade.

Matt tried out the brakes. They were capable of slackening the pace,
but as for stopping the car, no appliance could have done that.

With rear wheels locked, the speeder hurled itself down the mountain,
acquiring greater and greater speed as it went. In and out of cuts
the car dashed, here and there rumbling over a trestle which gave the
passengers fearful glimpses of space below them.

McGlory and Bunce hung to their bench with both hands. There was no
talking, now, for all three passengers were holding their breath.

Finally the descent became less steep. As the grade flattened out
slowly into something approaching a level, Matt's work with the
brakes began to achieve results. By degrees the mad flight of the car
commenced to slacken.

"Sharp curve ahead!" sang out McGlory, heaving a deep breath of relief
as the car continued to slow down.

Matt saw the sharp turn in the track where it rounded a shoulder
of rock. Naturally he could not see around the turn, and he was
speculating as to whether their reduced speed would be sufficient to
throw the speeder off the rails at the bend, or whether the car would
make it safely.

Before his calculations had been brought to an end, the problem was
working itself out.

The speeder struck the curve, whirled around it with a shrieking of
flanges against the rails, and then there went up a wild yell from
McGlory and Bunce.

Directly in front of the car was a tie across the track!

A collision with the tie was inevitable. Matt foresaw it, and clung
desperately to his bench.

"Brace yourselves!" he yelled.

The next moment they struck the tie.

The jolt was terrific. Motor Matt was thrown roughly against the seat
in front, and Bunce went into the air as though shot from a gun.



CHAPTER VII.

TRAPPED.


Matt saw that McGlory had managed, like himself, to stay with the
car, then both motor boys had a flash-light glimpse of the mariner
ricochetting through the atmosphere and striking earth right side up by
the track. But Bunce did not remain in an upright position. The force
with which he had been thrown launched him into a series of eccentric
cartwheels, and when he finally stopped turning he was in a sitting
posture, with his back against a bowlder.

Apparently he had escaped serious injury, which was a remarkable fact,
in view of the circumstances. A broken neck might easily have resulted,
or, at the least, a fractured arm or leg.

"Shiver me!" gasped Bunce, dazed and bewildered by the suddenness of it
all.

Then Motor Matt's and McGlory's shocked senses laid hold of another
detail of the situation which was most astounding.

The green patch had been shaken from the mariner's head, and he was
peering around him with two good eyes!

"Tell me about that!" roared McGlory, pointing. "Look at his lamps,
Matt! He's got two!"

"I see," answered Matt grimly. "Suppose we approach closer, Joe, and
find out about this."

Bunce watched the boys descend from the speeder and advance upon him,
but there was still a dazed gleam in his eyes which proved that he was
slow in recovering his wits.

"Are you all right, Bunce?" asked Matt, reaching the mariner's side and
bending down.

"That--that craft must have--have turned a handspring," mumbled Bunce.
"Purty tolerable blow we had, mates, an' I was snatched away from
the bench, an' tossed overboard. It was done so quick I--I hardly
knowed what was goin' on. By the seven holy spritsails! it's a wonder
I'm shipshape an' all together." He got up slowly and began feeling
gingerly of his arms and legs. "Nothin' busted, I guess," he added.

The ground where he had landed was cushioned with sand. To this fact,
more than to anything else, he owed his escape from injury.

McGlory picked up the green patch.

"Here's an ornament you dropped during that ground-and-lofty tumbling,
you old tinhorn," said he. "What did you wear it for, anyhow?"

"Blow me tight!" exclaimed Bunce, staring at the patch with falling
jaw. "Ain't that reedic'lous?" he added, with a feeble attempt to treat
the matter lightly.

"It is rather ridiculous, Bunce, and that's a fact," answered Matt.
"You've a pair of very good eyes, it seems to me, and what's the good
of that patch?"

The mariner grabbed the bit of green cloth and pulled the string over
his head.

"I never said I'd lost one o' my lamps," he averred, settling the patch
in place. "Off Table Mountain, South Africy, a cable parted on the ole
_Hottentot_, an' I was hit in the eye with a loose rope's end. For a
while, I thought I was goin' blind. But I didn't, only the eye has been
weak ever sence, an' needs purtection. That's why I wear the patch."

"You've got it over the wrong eye, Bunce," observed McGlory. "You've
been wearing it over the left eye, and now it's over the right. Have
you got any clear notion which eye was hit with that rope's end?"

Bunce hastily changed the position of the patch.

"I'm that rattled," said he, "that I'm all ahoo, an' don't rightly know
what I'm about. I----"

For an instant he stared up the track, breaking off his words abruptly;
then, without any further explanation, he whirled and rushed for the
timber.

With a yell of anger, McGlory started after him.

"Come back, Joe!" shouted Matt. "Here come some men who seem to have
business with us."

The cowboy whirled to an about face, and followed with his eyes the
direction of his chum's pointing finger.

Four men in flannel shirts and overalls, and carrying spades, picks,
and tamping irons, were hurrying up the track in the direction of the
curve.

"The section gang!" muttered McGlory.

"A good guess," laughed Matt. "We've been trapped."

"Trapped?"

"That's the way it looks to me. We were seen coming down the mountain
and those men, recognizing the speeder, laid the tie across the rails
to catch the thieves."

"Sufferin' kiboshes, but here's a go! This comes of trying to fill the
bill for an old tinhorn like Bunce."

"Ketched!" yelled one of the approaching men, flourishing a tamping
iron; "we've ketched the robbers that run off with Mulvaney's speeder!
Don't you make no trouble," he added, slowing his pace and coming more
warily.

The other three men spread out and then closed in, barring escape for
the motor boys in every direction.

"You've made a mistake," said Matt.

"Oh, sure!" jeered the section boss, "but I reckon we'll take ye to
Catskill, an' let ye tell the superintendent all about the mistake."

"Don't be in a rush about taking us to Catskill," threatened McGlory.
"You listen to what Motor Matt says, and I reckon he'll make the layout
clear to you."

"Motor Matt!" returned the boss ironically. "Why don't ye say ye're the
governor o' the State, or somethin' like that? Ye might jest as well.
Motor Matt ain't stealin' speeders an' runnin' off with 'em."

The king of the motor boys had become pretty well known in the
Catskills through his previous work in recovering the ruby for Tsan
Ti. Even these section men had heard of his exploits. Matt, seeing the
impression his cowboy pard's words had made, resolved to prove his
identity in the hope of avoiding trouble.

"What my chum says is true, men," he declared. "I am Motor Matt. We
didn't steal the railroad speeder. That was done by the man who was
with us--the fellow who ran away. You saw him, didn't you?"

"Sure we saw him," answered the section boss, "but I wouldn't try to
put it all off onto him, if I was you."

"Sufferin' blockheads!" rumbled McGlory. "Use your brains, if you've
got any, can't you? Do we look like thieves?"

"Can't most always tell from a feller's looks what he is," returned the
boss skeptically. "And this other chap can't be Motor Matt, nuther, or
he wouldn't have stole the speeder. That there speeder has been missin'
for three days, an' orders has gone out, up an' down the line, for all
hands to watch out for it. When I seen it comin' down the grade, I
knowed we had ye. All we done was to throw that tie acrost the track,
an' the trick was done. Ye'll have to go to Catskill, that's all about
it."

"Are you men from Catskill?" inquired Matt.

"No, Tannersville, but Catskill's the place you're wanted. We'll put ye
on the passenger, when it comes along."

"But we don't want to go back to Catskill just yet," Matt demurred.
"We've got business here, and it can't be put off."

Matt believed that Bunce had run to get away from the section men, who,
he must have realized, had caused the speeder's mishap in the hope of
catching the ones who had stolen the car. There was yet a chance, Matt
thought, to overhaul Bunce and find Grattan. To go back to Catskill,
just then, would have been disastrous to the work he and McGlory were
trying to do under the mariner's leadership.

"Sure ye don't want to go to Catskill," went on the section boss,
"right now, or any other time. But ye're goin', all the same. Grab 'em,
you men," and the boss shouted the order to the three who had grouped
themselves around Matt and McGlory.

"Hands off!" shouted the cowboy.

Matt saw him jerk the revolver from his pocket, and aim it at the man
who was reaching to lay hold of him. The man fell back with an oath of
consternation.

"Don't do that, Joe!" cried Matt.

"Oh, no," sneered the boss, "you fellers ain't thieves, I guess!
What're you pullin' a gun on us for, if ye ain't?"

"I'm not going to argue the case with you any further," Matt answered
shortly. "We're going back to Catskill after a while, but not now. When
we get there we'll report to your superintendent and explain how we
happened to be aboard the stolen speeder. I was intending to return the
car to the railroad company as soon as we had got through with it, and
then----"

"Sure ye was!" mocked the boss. "Ye wasn't intendin' to do anythin' but
what was right an' lawful--to hear ye tell it. We got ye trapped, an'
I ain't goin' to fool with ye any longer. Put down that gun, you!" and
he whirled savagely upon McGlory. "We're goin' to take ye, an' if you
do any shootin' ye'll find yerselves in a deeper hole than what ye are
now."

"You keep away from me," scowled McGlory, still holding the weapon
leveled, "and keep your men away from me. Try to touch either of
us, and this gun will begin to talk. We're not thieves, but that's
something we can't pound into your thick head, so we're going to attend
to our business in spite of you."

The section boss was a man of courage, and was resolute in his
intention to take the boys to Catskill. Certainly, so far as
appearances went, he had the right of the matter, and Matt didn't feel
that he could explain the exact situation with any chance of having his
words believed.

"Here's where I'm comin' for ye," proceeded the section boss, "an' if
you shoot, you'll be tagged with more kinds o' trouble than you can
take care of. Now----"

The section boss got no farther. Just at that moment the rumble of a
train coming up the grade could be heard. Instantly the attention of
the section boss was called to another matter.

"The passenger!" he cried, jumping around and staring at the speeder
and the tie. "There'll be a wreck if we don't clear the track. Come on,
men! Hustle!"

The peril threatening the passenger train banished from the minds of
the section men all thought of the boys. All four of the gang ran to
remove the obstructions from the rails.

"Come on, pard!" said McGlory; "now's our chance."

Matt, with a feeling of intense relief, bounded after his chum, and
they were soon well away in the timber.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE CUT-OUT UNDER THE LEDGE.


McGlory was inclined to view recent events in a humorous light.

"Speak to me about that, pard!" he laughed, when he and Matt had halted
for breath, and to determine, if possible, which way Bunce had gone. "I
told you what was on the programme if you became trustee for the Eye of
Buddha. We never know when lightning's going to strike, or how."

"I don't like episodes of that sort," muttered Matt. "It puts us in a
bad light, Joe."

"Oh, hang that part of it! We can explain the whole thing to the
railroad superintendent as soon as we get back to Catskill. That
section boss was a saphead. You couldn't pound any reason into his
block with a sledge hammer. Forget it!"

"But you drew a gun on the section men. That makes the business look
bad for us."

McGlory chuckled. "See here, pard," said he. With that, he "broke" the
revolver and exposed the end of the cylinder.

There were no cartridges in the weapon!

"Now, what do you think?" laughed the cowboy. "I borrowed the gun in a
hurry, and didn't think to ask whether it was loaded--and I reckon the
hotel clerk didn't think to tell me. It's about as dangerous as a piece
of bologna sausage, but it looks ugly--and that's about all there is to
this revolver proposition, anyhow."

Matt enjoyed the recent experience, in which the harmless revolver had
played its part, fully as much as his chum.

"Well," said the king of the motor boys, "what's done can't be helped,
and we'd better be about our business with Bunce. But what's become of
the mariner? He ought to be around here, somewhere."

"He's ducked," returned McGlory, "and I'll bet it's for good. We've
found out he had a pair of good eyes, and he's got shy of us."

"If we don't find him," mused Matt, "it's a clear case that he was
playing double with us. If we do find him, then we can take a little
more stock in what he tells us about Tsan Ti. It will be worth
something to feel sure, either way."

"Maybe you're right, but how are we going to pick up the webfoot's
trail?"

Matt studied the ground. The earth was soft from a recent rain, and the
fact gave him an idea.

"Track him, Joe. You're used to that sort of thing. Put your knowledge
to some account."

"In order to track the mariner," said McGlory, "we'll have to go back
to the place where we saw him duck into the timber. It'll be a tough
job, but I'm willing to try if we can once pick up the trail."

"That's the only thing for us to do. If Bunce was intending to deal
squarely with us, he'd have shown himself before this."

"Let's see," mused the cowboy. "He said that Grattan was hiding out
about five miles from Catskill, didn't he?"

"Yes."

"Then I reckon the place is somewhere around here. We're about five
miles from the town, I should judge. Still," and disgust welled up in
the cowboy as he voiced the thought, "you can't tell whether Bunce was
giving that part of it straight, or not. He's about as crooked as they
make 'em, that tinhorn."

The boys, during their talk, had been moving slowly back in the
direction of the railroad track. Cautiously they came to the edge of
the timber, close to the right of way, on the alert not only for the
tracks left by Bunce, but for the presence of the section men, as well.

The section gang, they discovered, had left the vicinity of the sharp
curve, and were nowhere in sight. The speeder, badly shaken by the
jar of its collision with the tie, was off the rails, and the tie lay
beside it.

"No sign of the section men," announced Matt, after a careful survey of
the track.

"Mighty good thing for us, too, pard," said McGlory. "Here's Bunce's
trail, and he traveled so fast he only hit the ground with his toes.
Come on! I can run it out for a ways, anyhow."

McGlory's life on the cattle ranges had made him particularly apt in
the lore of the plains. The trail was very dim in places, but even the
disturbed leaves under the trees, and the broken bushes told McGlory
where the mariner had passed.

The course taken by Bunce led across a timbered "flat" and down into a
rocky ravine, then along the ravine to a ledge of rock which jutted out
from a side hill. The under side of the ledge was perhaps a dozen feet
over the bottom of the ravine, and under it was a sort of "pocket" in
the hill.

Here there were evidences of a primitive camp. The soft earth under the
ledge was trampled by human feet, and there was a large, five-gallon
can that had once held gasoline, but which was now empty. A small mound
of dried leaves had been heaped up at the innermost recess of the
"pocket," and the bed still bore the faint impression of a man's body.

"Bunce was right about Grattan being in hiding near Catskill," observed
Matt. "Here's the place, sure enough."

"And Bunce came here, pard," went on McGlory; "he made tracks straight
for this hang-out as soon as he got clear of us. Judging from what we
see, I should say Bunce met Grattan, and that they both hurried off.
But what was that gasoline for?"

"For the speeder, maybe," replied Matt.

"They wouldn't keep the gasoline supply for the speeder so far from the
track, would they?"

"I shouldn't think so; still, I can't imagine what else they'd want
gasoline for."

"What sort of a game was Bunce up to? If Grattan was here, then
everything was going right, so far as the plan to capture Grattan was
concerned. Why didn't Bunce wait for us, back there in the timber, and
give us the chance to come on here and put the kibosh on the man we
want?"

"It's a mystery, Joe," said the puzzled Matt. "Perhaps Bunce believed
that we'd be captured by the section men and that it wouldn't be
possible to get hold of Grattan. If he thought that, he might have come
on to this place, given his New York report to Grattan, and made up his
mind to see the rascally game through to a finish. Bunce couldn't have
any idea that we'd escape from the section gang."

"Well," growled McGlory, "he might have waited and made certain of it."

There was no accounting for the queer actions of the mariner. It seemed
as though, after the collision with the railroad tie and the coming of
the section men, he had changed his mind about helping the boys capture
Grattan.

Matt and McGlory moved around under the ledge, trying to find something
else that would point positively to the presence of Grattan in the
"pocket."

There was a strong odor of gasoline--much stronger than would have
come from the uncorked, empty can. Suddenly Matt found something, and
hurriedly called his chum.

"What is it?" inquired McGlory, running to Matt's side.

Matt pointed to two straight lines in the earth, leading out and up the
ravine.

"Motorcycles," said he laconically, "two of them!"

McGlory struck his fist against his open palm.

"Well, what do you think of that!" he cried. "Motorcycles and speeders!
Say, those tinhorns were well fixed in the motor line. And Bunce told
us both motorcycles had been destroyed! Sufferin' Ananias, but he's a
tongue twister!"

"There's no doubt but that Grattan was here," went on Matt, "and that
he had the two motorcycles with him. The gasoline was used to fill the
motorcycles' tanks. As soon as Bunce got to this place, the wheels were
made ready and Bunce and Grattan rode off."

"They're headed for New York, I reckon, to 'fill the bill' for poor old
Tsan Ti!"

"I don't believe it," declared Matt. "I didn't take much stock in the
story when Bunce told it, but on the chance that it might be true, I
felt as though we should give Tsan Ti the benefit of the doubt. But,
now, I'm fairly certain the yarn was all moonshine."

"Bunce took a whole lot of trouble for nothing, pard," commented
McGlory. "What was the good of his coming to the hotel, running the
risk of our turning him over to the police, and then motoring out here
with us on that ramshackle speeder if he never intended to help us
capture Grattan?"

"Maybe we'll discover that later. Suppose we follow the trail of the
motorcycles, Joe?"

"Why? They're a dozen miles from here, by this time."

"We can't overtake them, of course, but we can discover which way they
went."

It was an easy matter to trail the heavy machines up the ravine. About
half a mile above the camp under the ledge, a wagon road crossed the
ravine, and the wheels had turned into it. To the surprise of the boys,
the wheels had turned in the direction of Catskill.

"It can't be those two tinhorns would have the nerve to go to the
town," said McGlory.

"I don't think they would," agreed Matt, "but they have gone in that
direction, at all events. It's up to us to walk back, so we may as well
follow the road and the motorcycle trail."

"This is what I call tough luck," said the cowboy, when he and Matt
were swinging along the road. "I didn't think there was any sense
taking up with Bunce, in the first place. Nice way for that move to pan
out! We go gunning for Grattan on a speeder, and then hoof it back--to
face a charge of robbery preferred by the section men!"

"We'll settle that robbery charge quick enough," returned Matt.

"No doubt about that. I wouldn't feel so worked up over the thing if I
could make any sort of guess as to what it was all about."

"Well," laughed Matt, repeating one of McGlory's favorite remarks, "we
can't know so much all the time as we do just some part of the time,
Joe."

"No more we can't, pard," said the cowboy.



CHAPTER IX.

BETWEEN THE EYES.


The wagon road which the boys were following led them into Catskill
near the railroad station. The motorcycle tracks, after holding a
straight course toward town for a long time, had finally vanished at an
elevated point from which the motor boys had secured their first view
of the river.

"We might just as well call on the superintendent," suggested Matt,
when they were close to the station, "and explain about the speeder. By
doing this now, we may dodge trouble later."

"Good idea," assented McGlory.

They found the superintendent in his office, and he gave them an
immediate hearing.

"We called to tell you about that speeder, Mr. Bronson," began Matt,
having caught the super's name off the painted window in the door.

"You mean Mulvaney's speeder," returned Bronson, "the one that was
stolen two days ago?"

"Yes. My name's King, Matt King, and I'm stopping at the----"

"Motor Matt?" interrupted Bronson, whirling squarely around in his
swivel chair. He had suddenly developed a great interest in the
interview.

"Yes," laughed Matt, "I'm called that more often than I'm called by
my last name. This is my chum, Joe McGlory," and he nodded toward the
cowboy.

"I've heard of both of you," smiled Bronson. "That was great business
of yours, over near Purling. But what in the world have you got to tell
me about the stolen speeder?"

"Then you haven't heard about what happened this morning?"

"Haven't heard a thing about the speeder to-day. Why?"

"Well, Joe and I and another fellow were chasing down a grade with it,
a few miles out of town, and a section gang from Tannersville saw us
coming and put a tie across the rails."

"That stopped you, did it?"

"Did it!" echoed McGlory. "Why, it stopped us so hard and quick that
one of the passengers was scattered all over the right of way."

"We hadn't anything to do with stealing the machine," went on Matt,
"and we didn't----"

"Of course not!" struck in Bronson. "But where did you get it, and what
were you doing with it?"

"You heard how the great ruby was recovered, and how the thieves got
away?"

The superintendent's eyes sparkled.

"Everybody around here has heard about that," he answered.

"We thought we had a chance to capture one of the thieves," proceeded
Matt. "The crook's pal came to us and offered to show us where Grattan
was, and when we joined the fellow this morning, he had the speeder
tucked away among the bushes. We knew the speeder had been stolen, and
were intending to bring it back as soon as we had finished our work;
but the section gang made things so warm for us we had to change our
plans."

"And now you're fretting for fear the section men will send in word,
and that I'll have you pinched!" laughed the superintendent. "I guess
I'd think twice before I had Motor Matt arrested for stealing an old
speeder like that. Mulvaney, our track inspector, made it himself. He's
rather choice of it, and that's why I sent out word to have the thing
found, if possible. But, tell me, did you capture Grattan?"

"No, sir. We found where he has been staying, but he had got away
before we reached the place."

"Hard luck! By the way, they've got a moving picture in one of the
nickelodeons here, that tells the story of a ruby called 'Buddha's
Eye.' Everybody is going to see it. Is that the same story as the one
connected with the 'Eye of Buddha?'"

"It's the same, Mr. Bronson, even down to the minor detail of the
identity of the thieves."

Bronson whistled.

"How in the dickens does that happen, eh?" he asked.

Matt could see no harm in explaining that point, as Bunce had covered
it, and told how the thieves, needing money in Chicago, had suggested
the idea for the picture, and how at least one of them had volunteered
to play a leading part.

The superintendent was astounded at the audacity of a thief who, after
perpetrating such a successful robbery, and with the ruby then in his
possession, could publish his crime through the medium of a moving
picture.

"It merely goes to prove," said the superintendent, "what a clever and
daring scoundrel this fellow Grattan is. Too bad he escaped at the time
the ruby was so cleverly recovered. More than likely, Motor Matt, he'll
make trouble for you."

"I guess he'll be too busy looking out for himself," laughed Matt, "to
pay any attention to me."

"I hope so, certainly."

Matt and McGlory got up to leave.

"Don't bother your head about the speeder," the superintendent went
on. "I'm glad your report reached me ahead of the one from the section
gang. I'll know how to handle the matter, now, when I hear from the
section boss. Good-by, my lads, and good luck to you."

"It didn't take long to fix that up," said McGlory, when he and Matt
were once more on their way to the hotel.

"I knew it wouldn't," returned Matt, "just as soon as we could get to
some one who would be willing to take our word for what happened."

"What the super said about Grattan trying to get back at you, Matt, for
what you did in the old sugar camp, near Purling, sounded to me like it
had a lot of good horse sense mixed up in it."

"What I told the super had a little horse sense in it, too, didn't it,
Joe?"

"You mean about Grattan having so much to do to keep out of the
clutches of the law that he won't find any time to hit up your trail?"

"Yes."

"I don't know about that. Grattan is a tinhorn who is in a class all by
himself. He seems to have all kinds of nerve, and to be willing to take
all sorts of chances. That moving-picture deal gives us a pretty good
line on him."

When the boys got to the hotel, McGlory stumbled into a chair on the
veranda.

"Gee, man, but I'm tired!" he exclaimed. "A cowboy is built for
riding, and not for this footwork. It sure gets me going. Sit down
here for a while, Matt, and let's palaver about New York, and what the
chances are for our getting there."

"They're pretty slim, I guess," answered Matt, dropping into a seat at
his chum's side, "if we're to wait until Grattan is captured. Tsan Ti
says, in his letter, that he won't come on until Grattan is behind the
bars, or safely off his trail."

"Which means to hang on here until--we don't know when. We're rid of
Bunce, but there'll be something else to hit us between the eyes before
we're many minutes older. You can bet your moccasins on that. As long
as we're tangled up with that ruby, we'll find hard luck flagging us
all along the pike."

At that moment the clerk emerged from the hotel office and crossed the
veranda. He wore a troubled look, as though something had happened to
worry him.

"That man came, Motor Matt," said he, "and I gave him the box."

McGlory fell back as though some one had struck him.

"What man? What box?" he roused up to inquire wildly.

The clerk caught the alarm in the cowboy's voice and manner.

"Why, don't you know?" he cried, appealing to Matt. "It was the small
box you left with me early this morning."

"And--and you gave it up?" gasped McGlory huskily.

"What else could I do?" protested the clerk. "I had the written order
from Motor Matt. The man brought it."

McGlory was too dazed to answer. His jaw fell, and he stared at the
king of the motor boys.

"Let me see the order," said Matt.

The clerk pulled a letter from his pocket.

"I hope there's nothing wrong?" he asked, handing the letter to Matt.
"I've been thinking there might be something wrong, but I didn't see
how there could be. The handwriting of that letter matches your fist on
the register--I was careful to look that up before I gave the man the
box."

"Read it, pard," implored McGlory, in a mechanical tone.

"'Please deliver to bearer the small box which I left with you for
safe-keeping, early this morning,'" Matt read. "'I need it at once,
and find that I can't come for it in person.' That's all of it, Joe,"
said Matt, "and I must say that it's a pretty good imitation of my
handwriting. The name is a tremendously good forgery."

The clerk nearly threw a fit; and McGlory nearly helped him.

"Then the letter is a forgery?" cried the clerk. "The man didn't have
any right to the box?"

"How could he have any right to the box," stormed McGlory, "when the
letter asking you to turn it over to him was never written by Motor
Matt? Corral your wits. Sufferin' hold-ups, it's come! We no sooner get
out of one raw deal, than we tumble headfirst into another. Now----"

"Take it easy, Joe," cut in Matt. "Wait a minute." He turned to the
clerk. "Don't get worked up about this," said he; "you're not to blame.
When did the man call and deliver the forged letter?"

"Not more than an hour ago," answered the clerk, wiping the
perspiration from his forehead. "Was there anything very valuable in
the box?"

"What sort of looking man was he?" proceeded Matt.

"Slim, and dark, and undersized. Fairly well dressed."

"Well, never mind. Don't let it worry you."

The clerk, visibly distressed, in spite of Matt's reassuring words,
went back into the office. As soon as he had vanished inside the hotel,
the king of the motor boys gave vent to a low laugh.

McGlory peered at him.

"Pard!" he murmured, leaning over to drop a hand on Matt's knee. "Have
you gone off the jump on account of that confounded ruby? It's a blow
between the eyes, all right, but, for heaven's sake, don't let it get
you locoed."

"Locoed!" and Matt pulled himself together, reached inside his vest and
brought out a knotted handkerchief. Untying the knotted ends of the
handkerchief, he opened it out on his knee. "See here, Joe!" said he;
"that's how badly I am locoed."

What McGlory saw was the ruby, glowing redly against the white linen.



CHAPTER X.

THE MAN FROM THE "IRIS."


Not many times in McGlory's life had he been so tremendously at a loss
for words as he was then. He stared at the ruby and he stared at Matt.

"You see, pard," said Matt, "the ruby wasn't in the box when I gave
it to the clerk. I kept the Eye of Buddha safely about me, all the
time. It gouged me a little when the speeder stopped and I was slammed
against the forward bench."

"Speak to me about this!" rumbled the cowboy. "It wasn't in the box--a
tinhorn blew in with a forged letter--he got the box, but he didn't
get the ruby. Matt's done something--and he never told me what he was
doing. What--how--why---- Look here, you blooming old maverick, how did
you ever come to think of such a dodge?"

"It wasn't much of a dodge," answered Matt. "In the first place, I
didn't take any stock in that wild yarn told us by Bunce. At the same
time, while I didn't believe in it, I couldn't afford not to go with
Bunce on Tsan Ti's account. I tried to think why Bunce should want
to coax us into the hills, and the only idea that came to me had to
do with the ruby. Now, I reasoned, if the ruby _was_ back of Bunce's
little game, then it was clear he knew it had been sent to me for
safe-keeping. I wanted to find just how much Bunce knew, so I left the
box with the clerk. Bunce was watching, or else he had somebody else
watching. If he'd thought I had the ruby with me, an attempt would have
been made to get it while we were in the hills. But Bunce believed I
had left the ruby in the safe, so he dodged away, leaving you and me to
be nabbed by the section men, while he went on to that 'pocket' under
the ledge, found Grattan, told him where I had placed the box, and the
two got on their motorcycles and came close enough to town to get a man
to help them secure the box.

"Grattan must have forged the letter. Then this third man took it. The
rascals had to work quick, for the game was played while we were taking
a look around at the camp in the ravine, and walking into town. Can't
you understand, Joe? By getting us into the hills, with that fairy
story about Tsan Ti, Grattan could play his hand either way. If we had
the ruby with us, he could get hold of it; if we had left it behind, he
could take advantage of our absence from Catskill to execute some ruse
in town while we were out in the country."

"Clever?" breathed McGlory; "why, he's the cleverest crook that ever
happened. But I'd like to have a picture of him now!" The cowboy fell
back in his seat and roared with mirth. "Wouldn't I like to look in
on him while he and Bunce are opening that box?" he sputtered. "Oh,
but it's rich! Clever as he is, Grattan has found that he's butted up
against some one who can give him cards and spades, and then beat him
out. I've been proud of you, pard, more times than I can tell, but I'm
just a little prouder now than I ever was before. Shake!"

Matt caught his chum's hand.

"It was only a guess, Joe," he deprecated, "and it happened to work our
way. There was nothing clever about what I did. The result was entirely
a--an accident."

"You had your head with you, all the same," insisted McGlory, "when you
put that empty box in the safe. But how in thunder did Bunce get next
to that? How did he know that Tsan Ti had sent you the ruby, in the
first place?"

"Well, he did know, and that's enough. A third man has jumped into the
deal--another pal, who is helping Grattan and Bunce. Perhaps he had
something to do with keeping track of the ruby."

"Perhaps. But that old two-eyed counterfeit with the green patch--I
wonder how much he'd sell out for, about now?"

"Bunce is pretty clever, in his own way, too," averred Matt. "He must
have laughed in his sleeve when he saw how we had swallowed that fish
story of his about Tsan Ti."

"He can laugh, now, on t'other side of his face. We're helping Tsan
Ti, all right. Grattan is on our trail instead of his. I'm not saying
it was the right thing for the mandarin to shift the responsibility
for that ruby onto you, but he was pretty long headed when he did it.
He understood that if any one could take care of the ruby it was Motor
Matt."

"It will soon be dinner time, Joe," said Matt. "Suppose we go up to our
room, shake the dust out of our clothes, take a bath, and get ready to
eat?"

"That reminds me how hungry I am!" exclaimed McGlory, springing up.

By the time dinner was ready, the boys were ready for dinner. Their
experiences of the forenoon had put a keen edge on their appetite, and
the cowboy was in high good humor.

He and Matt had put in a strenuous morning, and so long as McGlory
thought they had not accomplished anything, he was disgusted and "out
of sorts." But to learn that Grattan and Bunce had been beaten at their
own game, set twanging a most delightful chord in the cowboy's make-up.

The motor boys had no plans for the afternoon, so they put in their
time idling about the veranda. It was about three o'clock when a tall
man, dressed in a natty white yachting costume with the name "Iris," in
gilt letters on the band of his cap, came briskly up the veranda steps,
passed Matt and McGlory and went on into the hotel.

The man claimed only casual attention, on his first appearance, but, a
few seconds later, he captured the entire attention of the two boys. He
returned to the veranda, ushered by the clerk, and both stepped toward
Motor Matt.

"Matt," said the clerk, "this is Mr. Pardo, of the yacht _Iris_. Mr.
Pardo, Mr. King. He wants to see you about some business matter," the
clerk added, as he vanished back into the hotel.

The man from the _Iris_ smiled cordially as he clasped Matt's hand.

"This is a pleasure, I assure you," said Pardo. "I have heard quite a
little about Motor Matt."

"What can I do for you, Mr. Pardo?" asked Matt.

"That's the business part of our interview," was the answer, as Pardo
helped himself to a chair, "and I'm going to get right down to it. You
are familiar with gasoline motors, I understand?"

"Yes."

"With marine motors?"

"I reckon you never heard how he put an automobile engine in a launch,
at Madison, Wisconsin," struck in McGlory, "and won a big race. He's
right at home with every kind of an explosive engine, whether it drives
a craft in the air, on wheels, or in the water."

"My chum is a trifle prejudiced, Mr. Pardo," smiled Matt.

"Well, I guess you can do the work, all right. The question now is, can
I secure your services?"

"What for?"

"Of course," laughed Pardo, "that's what you naturally want to know.
I'm the owner of a power yacht, fifty feet over all, ten feet beam,
equipped with a fifty-horse-power motor. She's the _Iris_. I dropped
down from Albany, this afternoon, and when we tied up at Catskill my
engineer received a telegram from Buffalo saying that his father was
dangerously sick. He left at once, and here I am, anxious to make a
quick run to New York, but caught in the worst kind of a hole. Can't
I get you to help me out? As soon as I reach New York I can get any
number of reliable men to take charge of my engine room, but here in
Catskill help of that sort is scarce."

McGlory's joy shone in his face. Here was a chance to get down the
river in style, and all that stood between Matt and the trip was the
ruby.

"Can't you run the motor, Mr. Pardo?" asked Matt.

"Don't know the first thing about it," was the answer. "You see, I
haven't had time to learn. This is my first trip in the _Iris_, and I
haven't had much chance to pick up a knowledge of her machinery. It's
my idea that every man ought to know how to run his own boat--and I'll
know it, too, before I'm many days older. But, just now, I've got to
have some one. What do you say?"

Pardo noticed that Matt was not especially eager to help him out.

"If you can just get me down to New York," he pleaded, "that's all I
will ask. If you have to come back to Catskill for anything, you can
come on the train in the morning. You won't be away very long, and it
will be a big accommodation to me. I'll pay you well for your trouble,
too, if that will be any inducement."

"Better go, pard," urged McGlory. "I don't think your business will
suffer any. We can be back here by nine in the morning, if we want to."

It was hardly likely, as Matt reasoned the matter out, that Tsan Ti
would present himself and ask for the ruby before he and McGlory could
get back from New York. The opportunity to make a little money in a
pleasant way was appealing, for the king of the motor boys had long
desired to have the run of the engine room on a big power boat.

"What time do you want to start, Mr. Pardo?" Matt asked.

"At nine, this evening," was the reply. "If you can help me out, you'd
better arrange to be aboard at, say, eight-thirty. The _Iris_ is close
to the day-line dock, and you can't help but find her."

"How much are you willing to pay for the trip?" queried Matt. "It's
just as well, you know, to have all that settled beforehand."

"I'll give you a hundred dollars--not so much for the work, you
understand, as for the time you are losing. Your time may be worth even
more than that. If it is----"

"You are more than liberal," broke in Matt. "I and my chum will be
aboard the _Iris_ at eight-thirty."

The man from the _Iris_ heaved a deep breath.

"That's a big load off my mind," said he. "I could have telegraphed New
York and had an engineer come up on a late train--but that would have
delayed the start until close upon midnight. I shall expect you, Motor
Matt," and Pardo got up and went his way briskly.



CHAPTER XI.

ABOARD THE STEAM YACHT.


"I don't know," said Matt, "whether this is the thing for us to do, or
not, Joe. Tsan Ti's letter asked us to stay in the Catskills."

"Oh, bother the old heathen!" returned the cowboy. "He won't show up
here for quite a spell. Anyhow, if he does arrive to-morrow morning,
before we do, he can wait for us, can't he?"

"He's paying us for our time."

"What if he is, pard? The old boy won't find any fault if we take this
little run down the river. There's a point, too, that you don't seem to
have thought of."

"What is it?"

"Why, Grattan has quit trailing Tsan Ti and gone to trailing you. By
taking this trip down the river we may be able to throw Grattan off the
track."

"That's so," answered Matt, struck with the idea.

"If the tinhorn is laying any more of his plans," chuckled the cowboy,
"we'll fool him."

"I'll leave word with the clerk," said Matt, "to tell Tsan Ti where
we've gone, and when we'll return; then, if he _does_ happen to get
here before we do, he'll know we're intending to come back and meet
him."

"That's the talk!"

Matt immediately went into the hotel and stepped to the clerk's desk.

"Are you acquainted with Mr. Pardo?" he asked.

"Never saw him before," answered the clerk. "He came in here,
introduced himself, and said he was looking for Motor Matt. I knew you
were on the porch, so I volunteered to take him out and introduce you.
Looks like a fine gentleman. Interview satisfactory?"

"Yes. He has a power yacht at the landing, and wants an engineer to get
her to New York for him. I've taken the job, and Joe and I will be away
all night and not get back until sometime to-morrow forenoon. If any
one calls and asks for me, you need not tell them where I have gone,
but just let them know when I expect to return."

"I'll do it, Matt. Didn't know you had an engineer's license?"

"He's got everything," put in McGlory, "that goes with running a motor."

The boys had no preparations to make, and as there were two hours to be
passed before supper they concluded to run down to the dock and take a
look at the _Iris_. There was no difficulty at all in locating her, and
the sight of her trim and graceful lines made Matt eager to have a look
at her interior plan. There was no one about her decks, however, whom
he and McGlory could hail, and he hesitated to go aboard and arouse any
one who might chance to be in the cabin.

The cowboy, who was a wretched sailor, quite unaccountably was an
enthusiast about boats, and his doting eyes sparkled as they traveled
over the _Iris_.

She had a very high freeboard forward, and this, with her perfect
lines, gave her an easy entrance and a guarantee that she would not
pound or ship seas in any sort of weather. There was no midship bridge,
or forward pilot house, but the boat was steered and the engine
controlled from a big and roomy after deck.

"She's a fair daisy!" declared the cowboy, "as spick and span as a
freshly coined four-bit piece. Sufferin' bones, but I'd like to own a
boat like that!"

"You'd find such a craft an expensive luxury, Joe," said Matt. "If you
did much cruising, it would keep you poor just buying gasoline. Let's
go back up the hill. We can't see inside the boat, and it don't take
long to get a pretty fair idea of the outside."

Returning to the hotel, the boys idled away the time until the supper
call sounded. The meal over, there were still some two hours of waiting
before they were due aboard the _Iris_.

McGlory suggested another visit to the theatre for a second look at the
"Buddha's Eye" pictures. Matt, thinking that as good a way as any for
passing the time, acquiesced, and they were soon at the moving-picture
place.

There was standing room only--which proved how much of a hit the ruby
robbery had made. The hit, of course, was entirely because of Matt's
adventures while recovering the gem for Tsan Ti. If those attending the
show had known that Motor Matt was also present, and that he had the
very Eye of Buddha in his pocket, there would have followed a furore of
no small proportions.

But the king of the motor boys, often in direct opposition to his best
interests, was reserved and diffident.

"Gee!" exclaimed the cowboy, as he and Matt left the theatre and
wandered along the street, "if those people back there had only known
who you were, and what you had in your pocket, there'd have been
something of a stir."

"I don't like that kind of a stir," said Matt.

"That's you! Say, pard, you're altogether too modest and retiring. If
you wanted to splurge a little, you could make yourself talked about
from one end of the country to the other."

"I'll leave that to those who like it. It's the quiet chap, who plugs
along and does things without blowing his own horn who makes the
biggest hit in the end."

"I don't know but that's right, too."

They dropped in at another show, promenaded the street, and finally
discovered that it was nearly eight-thirty. Turning their steps toward
the water front, they presently reached the wharf alongside the _Iris_.

The craft had her "running" lights in position. There was a white light
in the bow, visible from straight ahead and for ten points on either
side, a green light to starboard and a red light to port, each screened
so that it could be seen from dead ahead to two points aft of the beam,
and a high white light aft and directly over the keel, showing all
around the horizon.

But, notwithstanding all these lights on deck, there were none visible
through the cabin ports.

"I wonder if Mr. Pardo has got here?" said Matt.

"What's the odds, Matt?" returned McGlory. "It's eight-thirty, and
we're due."

They got aboard, gaining the after deck. The elevated white light
cast a dim glow over polished mahogany and glittering brasswork, and
Matt bent down to examine the bulkhead controls. A door opened in
the bulkhead, on the right of the steering wheel, and a man showed
shadowily in the dark.

"Is that Motor Matt?" he called.

"Yes," was the reply.

The man clambered up two or three steps, knocking his shins and
swearing because of the darkness.

"You're expected," said he. "Go down into the saloon--a stateroom is
the first thing you come to, and the saloon is beyond that."

"Why don't you light up?" asked Matt.

"Mr. Pardo has a headache, and the light bothers him. Go on down--he's
waiting for you."

Matt led the way, and McGlory followed. They left the door open, and a
faint radiance followed them, but they were in unfamiliar surroundings,
and had to grope their way along.

"Is that you, Motor Matt?" called a voice, which they recognized as
Pardo's.

"Yes," Matt answered.

"Come on in here. I'm not feeling very well to-night, and the light
hurts my eyes. You can guide yourself by the sound of my voice, can't
you?"

"We'll get there, all right."

"Is your friend with you?"

"Yes. I never travel without him."

The next moment Matt gained the open door in another bulkhead. Before
he could pass through it, two sinewy arms went around him from behind
and a hand was clapped over his lips. He struggled, but he was caught
as in a vise, and his efforts to free himself were useless. From near
at hand, too, he heard sounds which indicated that McGlory, also, had
been seized.

"Got them?" came the voice of Pardo.

"Yes, sir," answered the man who was holding Matt, "but they're
fightin' like a pair o' young demons."

"Then throw them down on the side seats and hold pillows over their
heads. We'll get under way at once."

Matt felt himself borne down on a cushioned bench. The hand was jerked
from his lips, and the half-formed cry that escaped him was smothered
in the pillow that was immediately pushed over his head.

A bell jingled, and steps could be heard on the deck above, moving
swiftly.

"All right!" came a muffled voice.

Matt, half suffocated, could hear no more. He was fighting fiercely for
his breath.

Presently he was conscious that the _Iris_ was moving, and, as he lay
gasping and helpless under the strong hands of his captor, there came
faintly to his ears the hum of a motor and the lapping of waves against
the hull.

How long he was held down on the seat, half smothered by the pillow, he
did not know. It seemed hours, but was probably no more than so many
minutes.

Then, suddenly, the pillow was jerked away, and he lifted himself
on his elbow, a glare of light in his eyes. For a moment or two the
dazzling light blinded him. When his eyes became somewhat used to it,
he discovered a man standing near him, his flannel shirt parted at the
throat and his bronzed arms bare to the elbows. The man held a dirk in
one hand and a piece of rope in the other.

From this frowning figure, Matt's gaze shifted across the narrow
aisle to a cushioned bench opposite. McGlory was there, and there was
likewise a ruffian keeping watch of him.

"What--what does this mean?" demanded Matt.

"You'll find out, quick enough. Are you goin' to make any trouble? If
you are, say so, now, and you'll save yourself a knife in the ribs."

"I want to know about this!" declared Matt.

"Then get up and go into the saloon."

"You, too," said the man who had charge of McGlory. "Foller yer mate
inter the saloon, an' if either o' ye let out a yell ye'll never know
what struck you."

Matt, fearing the worst, swung his feet down from the upholstered seat
and started forward. McGlory, who appeared to be in a trance, followed
him mechanically.

The door of the saloon was open, and Matt passed through it, and
stopped. McGlory crowded in beside him.

The saloon was the full width of the boat, with seats on each side,
and a table at one end. The small room was flooded with light, and
three figures were seen in an angle formed by one of the seats where
it partly crossed the forward bulkhead. The fixed table stood in the
angle, and the three figures were leaning upon it.

One of the men was Grattan, another was Bunce, and the third was
Pardo. In front of Grattan, on the table top, lay two objects. One was
a revolver, and the other the small box in which the ruby had been
expressed to Matt from New York.

All three of the men were smiling.

"Speak to me about this!" muttered McGlory. "Nabbed! Nabbed as slick as
you please! And I never guessed a thing. Oh, sufferin' easy marks!"



CHAPTER XII.

GRATTAN'S TRIUMPH.


Motor Matt understood the situation. The full realization came to him
with something like a shock. In some way Grattan had secured the aid
of the owner and crew of the _Iris_ in carrying out his villainous
designs. He had triumphed, for he had only to have Matt searched in
order to secure the ruby.

Philo Grattan was an educated fellow, and could be a man of pleasing
address when he so desired. In almost any honest line of work he could
have distinguished himself, for his ability was high above the average.
Yet, like so many others equally gifted, he had been drawn toward a
life of crime.

"Motor Matt," said he, in a tone and with a manner that was friendly,
"we meet again. The pleasure, on your part, I presume, is unexpected,
and perhaps of a doubtful quality, but so far as I am concerned, I
assure you that this renewing of our acquaintance leaves nothing to be
desired."

"Not a blessed thing," struck in Bunce, contorted with inward mirth,
"sink me, if it does!"

Grattan dropped a heavy hand on the mariner's shoulder.

"Keep a still tongue in your head," he ordered sternly. "I'm able to do
the talking."

"Then," and Matt turned toward Pardo, "this is simply a plot you have
engineered to get me into the hands of Grattan?"

"Simply and solely," was Pardo's cheerful answer.

"Pardo is my friend," explained Grattan. "He lives in Albany, when he's
at home--but he's rarely at home. He has been fortunate, of late, in
sundry little ventures, and happened to be well supplied with money.
No sooner had I lost my buckthorn cane, there in the old sugar camp,
at Purling, and been made aware of the fact that the Eye of Buddha had
been found, than I communicated with friend Pardo. I had met him in
Albany on my way to the Catskills, so I knew he was at home. He met me
in my temporary camp, and agreed to charter the _Iris_ to help me down
the river and out of the country after I had got back the ruby. The
_Iris_, together with a crew of men on whom we can depend, has been
awaiting my convenience for the past two days. Of course," and Grattan
showed his teeth in a smile, "my friend's name is not Pardo, any more
than mine is Grattan, or than this salt-water bungler on my left is
named Bunce."

Although Matt followed Grattan closely, he had, at the same time, been
covertly using his eyes.

The door leading into the stateroom behind him was closed. On the other
side of it he knew there was one brawny ruffian, and perhaps two.
Beyond the saloon's forward bulkhead he could hear the purring motor.
There, he inferred, was the engine room and the galley, with another
man who could be "depended on." At the steering and engine controls on
the after deck was surely another man, and probably one on the deck
overhead.

He and McGlory were hemmed in on all sides. There must have been,
counting those in the saloon, all of seven or eight men against them.
So far as Matt could see, the case was hopeless.

Matt's covert looks had not escaped the keen eyes of Grattan. The
scoundrel seemed able to read even the young motorist's thoughts.

"Don't think of escape, Motor Matt," said he. "That is entirely out of
the question. Neither you nor your friend are in any danger. I think
too highly of you to rob the world of so much talent and ingenuity.
Let us have another friendly and intimate chat such as we had in the
old sugar camp. I do not object to telling you things of great moment
to me, because I have already taken measures to make the knowledge
harmless. I escaped from the sugar camp, did I not? And all I told you
then did not in any way hamper me in proceeding with my plans. I am
willing to be equally frank now, in the hope that you, on your part,
will give me some of your confidence.

"You thought Tsan Ti, the mandarin, had started for San Francisco with
the ruby. Orientals are crafty. He gave it out that he was going to San
Francisco, and immediately started for New York. I had him followed
from the Hotel Kaaterskill, and shadowed while in New York. The man
who served me was clever, but not clever enough to keep Tsan Ti from
learning that he was under espionage. The mandarin became nervous. He
did not appeal to the police, as his heathen mind counsels him to have
nothing to do with the peace officers who serve the foreign devils. But
he had his man, Sam Wing, and other Chinamen, continually guard him.
One of these Chinamen was faithless. Some of my money, expended by the
man I had set to watch Tsan Ti, bought him. This Chinaman was Charley
Foo, and he betrayed the mandarin's trust for the sum of ten silver
dollars.

"Charley was in the room with Tsan Ti when the ruby was boxed, wrapped
and addressed to Motor Matt. Charley, also, went with Tsan Ti and Sam
Wing to the express office, and saw the package sent. Then, quite
naturally, Charley told my man, and my man telegraphed Pardo at
Hudson, and Pardo got the message to me, out there in that lonely
ravine.

"Then I began rehearsing Bunce in his part. Bunce is a natural
blockhead, and I was three hours teaching him what he was to say and
do. As an example of his folly, I will say that it was Bunce who stole
the speeder. The owner of the machine was inspecting a bit of siding
that wound around a low hill. The speeder was on the main track. All
Bunce had to do was to get aboard, switch on the gasoline and the
spark--and there you are. But why did we need the speeder when we had
two good motorcycles? Bunce can't tell. He doesn't know. He has a low
mind, and the itch to steal unimportant things runs in his blood--and
has more than once proved embarrassing to me.

"However, I saw a chance to use the speeder in beguiling you to my
ravine. The motorcycles would only have carried two, and there were
to be three of you, including Bunce. Besides, the machines might have
aroused your suspicions. So the speeder was used, and Pardo went over
the hill with Bunce and helped him hide the speeder within an arrow
flight of the Catskill railroad yards.

"Bunce took a risk. He knew it. I impressed upon him the fact that, if
he did not carry out his programme with earnestness, you would make a
prisoner of him and turn him over to the police. We knew Tsan Ti had
written that you must keep the ruby about you, and leave it nowhere
for security. I flattered myself you would bring the gem with you,
concealed somewhere upon your person. But Pardo, wearing clothes which
made him look vastly different, saw you leave the little box with the
hotel clerk. Instantly Pardo ran ahead of you to the place where Bunce
was waiting, and told him. The seeming failure of our plans threw Bunce
into a panic--you can expect so little of Bunce in a pinch!--and he
would have thrown over the whole matter, then and there, had not Pardo
advised him. 'Take them out into the hills,' said Pardo, 'and leave
them stranded there while you get away to the ravine and tell Grattan.
Grattan will know what to do.' And Grattan did."

An ironical smile crossed the face of the strange man, and he paused a
space. When he continued, his manner was again easy and vivacious.

"Ah, those section men! They helped gain time for me, and afforded
Bunce his opportunity to get away from you. Bunce fled--you know how.
He came to me and told me about the box, the box Motor Matt had left
with the hotel clerk to be put in the safe. A fountain pen and a sheet
of letter paper sufficed for the letter. I have seen your written name,
Motor Matt, and when I have once seen a person's handwriting, I can
copy it from memory after a lapse of one year or ten. Some say it is a
gift.

"We had sharp work ahead of us, Bunce and I. We rolled out of the
ravine on our motorcycles, gained the river bank below Catskill and
signaled the _Iris_. Pardo came ashore in the tender, and he loaned us
his motor-man for the work that claimed us. You know how he got the
box, and we know what it contained--cotton wadding, but no ruby. Motor
Matt, I could have shaken your hand and congratulated you--if you had
been near and I had had time.

"A few rebuffs are what I need to bring out the best that is in me.
Quick as a flash I thought of the motor-man's sick father in Buffalo,
and Pardo's call at your hotel to get you to take the _Iris_ to New
York. Shall I call it an inspiration? I believe it amounted to that.

"Bunce and I, snugged away in this saloon, slept and waited for the
issue of our scheming. Pardo came to report that you would be aboard
the _Iris_ at eight-thirty. I was almost sure of success, but not
certain. You have a way, Motor Matt, of disappointing people like me,
and I was not counting positively upon success until I had you in my
hands.

"Well, here you are. I have only the kindliest feelings toward you, but
you know what I want, and what I want, in this instance, I am going to
have."

Grattan got up and stood beside the table, a superb figure of a man
whose head just cleared the deck above.

"I have devoted time, and study, and faced dangers innumerable," he
proceeded, betrayed into passionate vehemence, "to secure the Eye of
Buddha! I have beaten down every obstacle, and secured the stone only
to lose it; now it is mine again, mine. Motor Matt," and he stretched
out his hand, "I will trouble you for the Eye of Buddha!"



CHAPTER XIII.

FROM THE OPEN PORT!


Motor Matt made no move to give the ruby into the possession of
Grattan. Thief though he was, yet Philo Grattan had a remarkable
personality. Matt had listened to him with deepest interest, but one
hand had been busy in his pocket. McGlory was so deeply absorbed in
what the master rogue was saying that his jaws gaped, and he hung
breathlessly upon his words.

Near Matt's left hand, with only the width of the side seat between,
was an open port.

"What!" exclaimed Grattan, as though intensely surprised, "you
hesitate? I dislike to treat you with any more roughness, Motor Matt.
It seems to me you might understand how hopeless it is for you to try
to keep the ruby. What is this Tsan Ti to you that you will risk so
much for him? Is it the money he pays you? I can't believe that. You
have made a good deal of money in your work, I have been told, and you
are not in need.

"Is it because you desire to help an unfortunate Chinaman who must
use the yellow cord in case he cannot return to China with the Eye of
Buddha? Foolish sentiment! What would this fat mandarin of the red
button do for you if your positions were reversed? Take the present
case. What has Tsan Ti done? He is a coward. Instead of facing his
risks like a man, he turns the ruby over to you, thereby unloading
the danger and responsibility. After you have me safely jailed"--and
Grattan's voice throbbed with contempt and scorn--"then this mandarin
will hunt you up, take the ruby, which is worth a fortune, and pay you
a thousand dollars! Why are you the friend of such a coward? Tell me,
will you? Here is where I should like a frank expression of your views."

"I don't think Tsan Ti is a coward," Matt answered.

"You have the proof."

"I have your side of the question, not his."

"My side of the question! Is there any other side?"

"There may be."

"I am disappointed in you, Motor Matt. Such talk is foolish--almost
worthy of Bunce, here."

"There is something else, too, Grattan," went on Matt, "something, I
suppose, you will appreciate even less than what I have just said."

"I don't think there can be anything I would appreciate less. However,
let's hear what it is."

"Being true to a trust," answered Matt sturdily. "Even if a Chinaman
trusts you, standing fast and not betraying his confidence."

Bunce snickered, and Pardo laughed outright. Only Grattan kept a
serious face and peered steadily at Matt.

"Yes," murmured Grattan, "there is something in that. It is not for
me--I have turned my back on such principles--but you are young and
quite likely you have started right. That, however, does not affect
our present situation. It is impossible for you to remain true to the
trust the cowardly Tsan Ti reposes in you. I have you in my power. It
is night, and the _Iris_ is in the middle of the Hudson River. The ruby
is tied up in a handkerchief in your coat pocket. I tell you I want it."

The voice was imperious, compelling. Motor Matt still passively faced
Grattan.

"Oh, shiver me!" grunted Bunce. "Let's lay hold of him an' take it."

Pardo pushed a hand toward the revolver on the table.

With one movement, Grattan, although still with his eyes on Matt,
dropped his own hand to the revolver and another hand on Bunce's
shoulder.

"You'll speak when you're spoken to, Bunce," said he savagely, "and
Pardo, you'll leave the revolver alone. I've managed this matter with
fair success, up to now, and I believe I can wind it up. The ruby,
Motor Matt!"

"There it is!" said Matt.

His hand darted toward the open port. A knotted handkerchief, weighted
with some small object, flashed through the port and vanished downward.

A yell escaped Bunce, and he flung himself across the table in a
frantic attempt to lay hold of Matt. Pardo leaped for him, and the door
leading into the stateroom opened and the man who was waiting stepped
into the room.

McGlory had jumped to help Matt against Pardo. The man who had just
entered grabbed the cowboy and flung him roughly on the seat at the
side of the room; then he and Pardo hurled Matt to the floor.

"Search him!" ordered Grattan calmly.

"By the seven holy spritsails!" bellowed Bunce, "what's the use o'
searchin' him? Didn't he just throw the Eye o' Buddha into the river?"

"He ought to be strangled for that!" cried Pardo, in a temper.

"Search him, I tell you!" roared Grattan. "Are you all a pack of fools?
He didn't throw the ruby into the river."

"But we saw him," insisted Pardo.

"You saw his handkerchief go into the river, but it was only a trick.
Do you think he would sacrifice the ruby, even to prevent me from
getting it? Search him, I tell you."

The search was made, and thoroughly. Motor Matt's pockets were turned
inside out, but without result. Garment by garment his clothes were
stripped away and crushed in eager hands, but still without result.

The ruby was as large as a small hen's egg, and not easily to be hidden.

McGlory had gone into a trance again. As he lay on the seat and stared,
he wondered if Matt had really tossed the priceless gem into the Hudson.

"He hasn't got it, Grattan," announced Pardo.

"Then his friend has it," answered Grattan confidently. "Search him."

Thereupon the cowboy came in for his share of the rough handling. Matt
once more got into his clothes. Just as the search of McGlory was
finished, Motor Matt was reaching for his cap, which had tumbled off
in the scuffle in the other room, and had been thrown into the saloon
after the boys had entered it.

"Nothing here," announced Pardo, as he turned from McGlory.

"Nary, there ain't," fumed McGlory. "Motor Matt's not the lad to shift
his responsibilities like Tsan Ti. Sufferin' hornets! You're a fine
outfit of tinhorns, I must say."

Stepping quickly out from behind the table, Grattan passed to Matt and
snatched off his cap. He weighed the cap for a moment in his hand,
felt of the crown with his fingers, and then, still holding the cap,
returned quietly to his seat.

"Sit down, Bunce, you and Pardo," ordered Grattan. "Pierson, go out and
close the door."

When the two men were seated, and after Pierson had left the saloon,
Grattan leaned his elbows on the table, Matt's cap between them.

"This Motor Matt," said he, "is a lad whom I greatly admire. He takes
precautions. His first precaution was removing the ruby from the box
and depositing the box with the hotel clerk before he went out into the
hills with Bunce. In running away from the ravine with Bunce to carry
out my plan for securing the box, I ran directly away from Motor Matt
and the ruby. Motor Matt had the ruby tied up in his handkerchief,
then. He was seen, on the hotel veranda, to untie his handkerchief
and show the ruby to his friend. When he came aboard the _Iris_ he
had taken another precaution. Something else was tied up in the
handkerchief, and the ruby was in the lining of his cap."

Swiftly Grattan's hands descended, tore at the cap lining, and brought
out the imperial stone. He laid it on the table, turning and turning it
so the light might catch its fiery flash.

"Blow me tight!" mumbled Bunce. "Say, mates," he added, drawing a
sleeve across his forehead, "that was a scare I don't want ever to go
through ag'in. We've risked so much for that bloomin' Eye o' Buddha
that I near went wrong in the head with the thought that it was in the
bottom o' the river!"

"It's comparatively easy for you to go wrong in the head, Bunce,"
taunted Grattan.

"So that's the thing!" murmured Pardo, his fascinated eyes on the
gleaming stone.

"Did you ever see anything more beautiful?" asked Grattan. "It's a true
pigeon-blood ruby, and worth ten times the value of a diamond the same
size."

Then, drawing out his own handkerchief, he wrapped the ruby carefully,
and as carefully stowed it away in his pocket.

"So," said he, "after a number of startling adventures in the
Catskills, the ruby is finally where it ought to be."

"It ought to be in the head of that idol, in Canton," said Matt.

The king of the motor boys was calm, and, while he may have had
regrets, he had nothing to reproach himself for. He had done his best
to keep the ruby--and he had failed.

"Motor Matt," returned Grattan, "a heathen temple is no place for such
a jewel as this. In the Honan joss house it benefits no one. When I
sell it, it will benefit me a great deal, and Bunce a little."

"And me," put in Pardo. "Don't forget that I stand in on the divvy."

"And Pardo," added Grattan.

"And Tsan Ti must strangle himself with the yellow cord," said Matt.

"If that is his will, yes. I have no patience with these pagan
superstitions. A heathen, who lives by them, cannot let them shuffle
him out of the world too quickly. As for you, Motor Matt, you have
nothing to be sorry for. You did your best to keep the ruby out of my
hands--no one else could have done so much."

"It's not the ruby I care for so much as saving Tsan Ti," answered Matt.

"Find out if there's a landing near this point, Pardo," said Grattan.

Pardo stepped out of the room and could be heard talking with the man
at the steering wheel.

"No," he reported, coming back, "there's no safe landing for the _Iris_
anywhere near here."

"Then put over the tender," ordered Grattan; "Motor Matt and his friend
are going ashore."



CHAPTER XIV.

LANDED--AND STUNG.


Pardo left the saloon to give the necessary orders to the man outside.
There was a splash in the water as the tender was put over, and the
_Iris_ slowed until she had no more than steerage way.

"Get into your clothes, McGlory," said Grattan to the cowboy. "I'm
about ready to send you ashore."

"The quicker the better!" exclaimed McGlory wrathfully. "We don't want
to lose a minute getting to some place where we can send the officers
after you."

Grattan laughed.

"You will have your trouble for your pains," said he. "After you are
landed, the _Iris_ and those aboard her will vanish as completely as
though they had gone to the bottom. I have planned for this. Do what
you please, and as soon as you please. Philo Grattan and his friends
will never be captured."

"Ten thousand demons of misfortune pester a man who has anything to do
with the Eye of Buddha," snarled McGlory, stamping into his shoes. "My
pard and I know that. Sufferin' hoodoos! Haven't we been tangled up
with all sorts of backsets since we met Tsan Ti? If it ain't one thing,
it's two. You never know what minute's going to be the next."

"I'll risk the ten thousand demons," smiled Grattan.

"Something'll hit you," declared McGlory. "You take that from me, and
spread your blankets on it."

"You forget that I have carried the ruby for a good many thousands of
miles."

"I'm gloomed up more to think we ever saw that Eye of Buddha," scowled
McGlory, getting up from the seat and jamming on his hat, "than to know
that we lost it."

"Are you ready?" asked Grattan.

"I've been ready to leave this boat ever since we came aboard! You're a
fine bunch of outlaws, the lot of you, and you'll all get hung, one of
these days. I'd like to be around when it happens."

Matt left his wrathful chum to do the talking. So far as he was
concerned, he had nothing to say.

"We're going to put you ashore near a place where you can catch a
train north, to Catskill," said Grattan, after a brief, whispered
conversation with Pardo. "There doesn't happen to be any telegraph
station at the place, but the train will stop on signal."

"There are other telegraph stations," fumed McGlory. "I reckon we can
find 'em."

"I hope, Motor Matt," went on Grattan, "that you don't cherish any hard
feelings?"

"No matter how I feel, Grattan," returned Matt, "I think you've made a
big mistake."

"How?"

"Why, in your choice of a career. Half the energy you put into your
criminal work would make you a power in the world."

"I used to talk like that," said Grattan, with a tinge of bitterness,
"when I was young. Good-by."

Matt did not answer, but went out of the saloon and through the
stateroom to the steps leading to the after deck. McGlory came close
behind him. When they gained the deck, Pierson was in the tender, and
another man stood ready to help them over the side.

Silently Pierson rowed them ashore through the moonlight. When the boys
had debarked, Pierson rowed swiftly back to the _Iris_, and the lads on
shore could hear the noise as the tender was taken aboard.

"Landed," muttered Matt.

"And stung," finished McGlory. "Wasn't it neat? Say, I take off my hat
to Grattan. He's the king bee of all the tinhorns. Let's watch and see
which way the _Iris_ goes."

The boys watched, but under their staring eyes the lights vanished one
by one from forward and aft, and from starboard and port. The cabin
windows winked out in darkness, and the gloom of the river swallowed up
the motor yacht. Her disappearance was helped by a cloud which floated
across the face of the moon and threw the river into deepest shadow.

"Speak to me about that, pard!" exclaimed McGlory. "I wonder if it
would do any good to send out telegrams?"

"I don't think it would, Joe," Matt answered, "but if there was a
telegraph office handy, we'd try it."

"Let's find the place where the trains stop. If a train comes along
pretty soon, we can get to a telegraph office."

When the cloud had swept on, and the moon shone out again, a survey of
the place showed the boys a dark building at the top of the bank. They
climbed up to the structure and found that it was an open shed, with
benches. There was no light, and the cowboy struck a match and hunted
for a time card. He could find none.

"Oh, hang such a place!" grumbled McGlory. "If we knew how far it was
to the next station, pard, we could set out and hoof it."

"Haven't you done enough walking for one day, Joe?" asked Matt. "I
believe I have. I'm going to sit down here and wait for a train to come
along."

Suiting his action to the word, Matt dropped down on one of the
benches. His chum took a place beside him.

"You're as full of surprises, pard," remarked McGlory, "as a cocoanut
is of milk. There's no guessing what you're going to do next. You
didn't tell me anything about taking the Eye of Buddha from that empty
box when you left it with the clerk, and you never let out a yip about
removing the ruby from the handkerchief and putting it in your cap.
Regular greaser trick--carrying things in your hat."

"I thought I had to do something, Joe. When I was at work in the engine
room, I had planned to take off the cap and put it in my pocket."

"What did you have in that handkerchief?"

"My pocketknife."

"Great guns! Was the knife in the handkerchief when we left Catskill?"

"No. The knife and the handkerchief were both in the same pocket. I
managed to tie the knife up in the handkerchief, after a fashion, while
we were facing Grattan, and he was talking."

"Well, glory to glory and all sashay! And Grattan never saw you!"

"I'm inclined to think he did, from the way the thing turned out."

"You didn't think you could fool Grattan so he wouldn't search you, did
you?"

"It was a desperate chance to keep him from looking into my cap. But I
might have known I couldn't fool him."

Just at that moment a lantern could be seen coming from down the track.
A man reached the shed and began lighting a lamp at each end of it.

"Hello, neighbor!" called McGlory. "Do you belong around here?"

The man turned and looked toward the boys. Evidently he had not seen
them before, and the call startled him.

"I live down the track a ways," he answered.

"Do you take care of this palatial depot?"

"I put out the lights," was the reply.

"A little late getting them out to-night, aren't you?"

"Well, no. There's no use putting them out before, 'cause the first
train to stop hasn't come along yet."

"How far is it to Catskill?"

"Twenty mile."

"Where's the nearest telegraph office?"

"Three miles below. You fellers waitin' to ketch a train for Catskill?"

"Yes. When will it be along?"

"It's due now."

"Does it stop here?"

"Yes, if it's signaled."

"How'll we flag it?"

"I'll do that for ye with the lantern. That's what I come up here
for--to put out the lights an' do the flaggin'."

"Here's a piece of luck, anyhow, Matt," said McGlory. "We can go on to
Catskill and do our telegraphing from there."

"We might just as well," said Matt.

Matt's failure to keep the ruby was preying on his spirits. He couldn't
help what had happened, but the sting of failure, when he always prided
himself on "making good," was hard to bear.

"Buck up, pardy!" cried McGlory. "Old Tsan Ti can't find any fault with
you."

"I know that. I'm thinking, though, we weren't cautious enough in going
aboard that boat."

"Cautious? Tell me about that! Who wouldn't have been fooled, when the
game was worked like Grattan worked it? I don't know how any one could
have helped what happened."

"Anyhow," said Matt, "we fell down. It might have been just as well if
I had disobeyed Tsan Ti's instructions and placed the ruby in some bank
vault."

"But the mandarin said no. You carried out orders to the letter, and
that's what lost us the ruby."

"We were to stay in the Catskills, and we didn't. Because we broke over
our instructions, we fell into the hands of Grattan."

"He'd have got at you somehow even if we'd stayed in Catskill. I never
saw such a man to keep after a thing he's set his mind on. Now, if
we----"

"Train's comin'," called the man, stepping upon the track and waving
the lantern.

The rumble of the passenger could be heard, growing rapidly in volume.

"Well," remarked McGlory, as he and Matt got up, "we've shuffled off
the hoodoo and nothing more will go crossways with us. That's worth a
whole lot. And if Tsan Ti is fool enough to choke himself with that
yellow cord, well, let him do it. Grattan was more than half right in
what he said about that."

The train, with its row of dimly lighted windows, came to a halt. Matt
and McGlory climbed aboard, and the train started on again.

The boys walked from one car into another trying to find a vacant seat
which they could share together. At last Matt, who was in the lead,
came to a halt in the aisle at the rear of the second coach.

"Move on, pard," said McGlory. "We'll try the next car. It can't be
that all the coaches are as full as this one."

But Matt did not move on. He turned, amazement shining in his gray
eyes, and pointed to a seat ahead of him, and on the right.

Two drowsy Chinamen occupied the seat. One of them was fleshy, and took
up two-thirds of the space. This man wore a black silk cap with a red
button. His chin was sunk on his breast and he was snoring loudly.

"Tsan Ti!" murmured McGlory, wondering if his eyes were playing him a
trick.

"And Sam Wing," added Matt. "The mandarin is going to Catskill to get
the ruby. Here's where I have to tell him the truth."

With that, Motor Matt leaned over and touched Tsan Ti on the shoulder.



CHAPTER XV.

A CRAFTY ORIENTAL.


Meeting Tsan Ti in this peculiar fashion was a seven-day wonder to the
motor boys. The workings of chance, in connection with various matters
appertaining to the stolen ruby, could not have been better exemplified.

Tsan Ti roused himself under Matt's touch, and blinked up at him
through sleepy eyes. By degrees the lad's face took form before him,
and he gave an incredulous grunt and floundered to his feet.

"Estimable, never-to-be-forgotten friend!" the mandarin wheezed, his
flabby face beaming as he reached for Motor Matt's hand. "Also the
notable McGlory, friend of my friend! This is a delight, all the more
joyful because not expected until Catskill. Why is it I have the great
honor to see you here?"

"That's quite a yarn, Tsan Ti," replied Matt.

"Let me hear it forthwith, I beseech!" and Tsan Ti ordered Sam Wing out
of the seat and motioned for Matt to take his place.

The mandarin had been educated at one of the most famous colleges in
the United States, and seemed, as McGlory expressed it, to have spent
most of his time corralling adjectives.

Sam Wing, apparently not in the least excited by the sudden appearance
of the motor boys, got a seat across the aisle and continued his doze.
McGlory managed to secure a place behind Matt.

"I, most devoted youth," said Tsan Ti, as soon as Matt was seated,
"am on my way to Catskill of a purpose to talk with you. No longer am
I followed by the suspicious person whom I know to have been in the
service of Grattan. So soon as I discovered this, I started immediately
to find you. The five hundred gods of good luck must have decreed this
meeting."

"Rather," answered Matt, "the ten thousand demons of misfortune. I
suppose, Tsan Ti, you are after the Eye of Buddha?"

"Quite true, honorable youth."

"Well," said Matt, "I haven't got it."

Tsan Ti started, then slumped back into his seat.

"It has escaped you, vigilant one?" he inquired, his puffy eyelids half
closing as he regarded Matt.

"It has escaped me, all right."

"And who has it now?"

"Grattan."

The mandarin turned his face away and looked out of the car window into
the night. Motor Matt felt miserable enough. His words, just uttered,
might have sealed the doom of the mandarin.

"Converse with me at length upon the subject," said Tsan Ti, again
turning toward Matt. "What you say is of vast importance, excellent
friend."

Matt had twenty miles of slow traveling in which to make his
disclosures, and he made them in detail, with now and then an
explanatory word from McGlory.

He began at the point where he had received the ruby, and set forth
the manner in which Bunce had presented himself. Bunce's cock-and-bull
story was gone into, and Tsan Ti's eyes twinkled humorously--Matt
wondered at the humor--as he heard how he had been lured into a
basement by a beach comber and was being held a prisoner. The leaving
of the box with the hotel clerk, the flight into the hills, and the
disappearance of Bunce, all dropped into the recital in chronological
form; then came the tracking to the "pocket" under the ledge, and the
following of the motorcycle trails in the direction of Catskill, the
arrival of the boys in town, and the report of the clerk concerning the
forged letter and the removal of the box.

"So there," put in the mandarin, "is where my ruby escaped from your
unfortunate hands."

"Don't be so quick in your snap judgments, Tsan," spoke up McGlory.
"The ruby wasn't in the box, but in Motor Matt's pocket. My pard had
left the empty box with the clerk for a bluff."

The mandarin chuckled, and his body shook with his suppressed mirth.

"Remarkably well planned!" approved Tsan Ti. "Who could have done
better? You have a brain of great power, my renowned friend, and your
talk gives me much amusement and instruction. Grattan had the empty box
and you had the ruby. What then?"

Then followed the call at the hotel of the man from the _Iris_, and
Matt's agreement to take charge of the yacht's motor on the down-river
trip, Matt to return to Catskill on the following morning. The
treachery aboard the boat was listened to by the mandarin with flashing
eyes.

"Grattan is possessed of a demon," declared Tsan Ti. "His wits are as
keen as a sword's edge, and he knows how to use them. I do not wonder,
estimable friend, that you fell into his power. Even I, had I been in
your place, could not have saved the jewel."

"What's to be done now, Tsan Ti?" asked Matt anxiously.

"Nothing," was the answer.

"But--but--the yellow cord!"

"It shall not be used by me."

Here was a mystery. If Tsan Ti could not bear the Eye of Buddha back
to the Canton temple, it was the august decree of the regent that he
should perish by the yellow cord. The ruby had been recovered, and lost
again, but Tsan Ti had no intention of strangling himself by invitation
of his ruler.

Failing to understand this point, Matt shifted the subject.

"Did you know, Tsan Ti," he queried, "that while you were in New York
you had a Chinese spy around with you? A man who was carrying news of
everything you did to an agent of Grattan's?"

"You refer to Charley Foo, honorable one?"

"Yes."

"Grattan can plan, my son, and so can the mandarin. This agent of
Grattan paid Charley Foo ten silver dollars to betray me, and Charley
Foo told me of it, showed the money, and asked what it was I would have
him tell this hireling of Grattan's. Charley Foo was of much help to
me."

Tsan Ti folded his hands complacently over his capacious stomach.

"Well, sufferin' bluffs!" murmured McGlory. "Charley Foo was the kind
of a dark horse they were playing both ways. He told Grattan's man only
what Tsan Ti wanted him to know; then why, in the name of all that's
hard to figure out, did Tsan tell Charley to let it be known that the
ruby was being sent to Motor Matt?"

"It was my wish that Grattan should know about the sending of the
ruby," said this most amazing Chinaman.

"Then," went on McGlory, "you expected that Grattan would get on Motor
Matt's trail and make a dead set to get back the Eye of Buddha."

"I thought it most likely, sagacious youth."

"Then," averred McGlory warmly, "you can't blame Motor Matt for losing
the ruby."

"Am I blaming him, inconsiderate one?" returned Tsan Ti. "Have I said
one scolding word, or emitted anything but praise? Motor Matt has done
excellently well, and I shall engrave his deeds on the tablets of my
memory."

"But the ruby is gone!" said Matt.

"Not so, highly esteemed but most deceived friend. Observe!"

With that, Tsan Ti opened his yellow silk blouse and revealed a small
bag suspended by a chain from his neck. Opening the bag, he gave Matt
and McGlory a swift glimpse of a shining, blood-red jewel.

"Behold the Eye of Buddha," smiled the mandarin. "Not Grattan, with all
his evil work, has it, but I."

This, as might be expected, heaped up the measure of astonishing events
and topped off the motor boys' bewilderment.

"But the ruby--the Eye of Buddha Grattan took from me----"

"That, generous youth," answered the mandarin, dropping the bag on his
breast and rearranging his blouse, "was not a ruby, but a base replica
of the true gem. It is worth, possibly, five dollars. I secured it from
a stonecutter in New York."

By degrees the mandarin's crafty performance dawned on the motor
boys. They were awed by the scope and audacious success of the
design--completely fooling Grattan as it had done. As a specimen of
Oriental craft, it was a revelation to Matt and McGlory.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE MANDARIN WINS.


"Listen, honorable friends," said Tsan Ti, "while I talk to you
instructively. In the words of the great Confucius, 'the cautious man
seldom errs.' When I departed from you, amiable ones, on recovering the
Eye of Buddha, I said that I was returning to my country by way of San
Francisco. Such was my intention, of the moment, but further reflection
dissuaded me. I decided to go to New York and proceed to China by the
longer, but perhaps the safer, way.

"In the great city I discovered that I was being pursued and spied
upon, and a great fear overcame me. Immediately I thought of Motor
Matt. Should I visit him with possible dangers, I besought of myself,
in order that I might preserve the precious relic from the temple at
Honam? I thought of your bravery, never sufficiently to be praised, and
I decided to make the risk. The cutter of precious stones was sent for,
and I showed my ruby and asked that he make a counterfeit of it that
would deceive any but a dealer in jewels. This was done, and quickly. I
sent this comparatively valueless replica to you, Motor Matt, and told
Charley Foo to let Grattan's man know what I had done. Also, the man
was to be informed of my desire that Motor Matt should carry the stone
about with him continually.

"What would happen? I inquired of myself. Most certainly, reflection
made answer. Grattan will be upon the brave youth's track, and he will
never rest until he secures the gem. This is as I desired, although I
dared not so express myself in my letter which accompanied the false
gem.

"After the package had left me, my heart failed. I feared I had exposed
you to dangers which might cause your undoing. Hence, without lingering
further, Sam Wing and I took this train for Catskill, I being of the
intention to tell you what I had planned, and to let it be known,
through Charley Foo, that the real gem was in my hands and not yours.

"And see, I have come too late. Grattan, the wise and unscrupulous,
has taken the counterfeit ruby and is pleased to think he has cheated
me, and that I shall pass by means of the yellow cord. All is well,
and my plans are maturing most successfully. The five hundred gods of
good fortune are smiling upon me. While Grattan goes his course, firmly
believing he has the Eye of Buddha, I travel mine, knowing he has been
justly deceived."

There was a little resentment in Matt's heart as he listened to the
mandarin's explanation of his crafty ways and means for circumventing
Grattan. Tsan Ti had thrown upon Matt the weight of the whole
proceeding, and had not taken means to inform him of the true state of
affairs. The king of the motor boys, had he understood the nature of
the mandarin's scheme, could have worked out his part of it even more
successfully than he had done while being kept in ignorance.

"You're a keen one, Tsan," grunted McGlory, "but I'm a Piute if I
admire the free-and-easy fashion you have of making dupes of your
friends."

"It is that which has pained me," admitted the mandarin, "and it is my
regret which was carrying me speedily to Catskill to tell my widely
known friend the exact truth. Fate was quicker in the race than I.
Events have come swiftly to pass, and out of them rises Grattan with
the false ruby. I have been fortunate, and while he goes to parts
unknown, I shall hope to reach China before he discovers his error."

"Queer that Grattan, who knows the great ruby so well," said Matt,
"could be fooled with a piece of glass of the same shape and size."

"And likewise of the exact color," returned Tsan Ti. "The color was
most important of all. That Grattan was fooled shows how admirably the
cutter of precious stones has done his work."

"You're really going to China this time, are you, Tsan Ti?"

"Of a certainty," declared the mandarin. "Now that you have been met
most wonderfully on this train, I shall not get off at Catskill, but
will accompany the cars to Buffalo. From there, without delay, I shall
go on to Chicago, from there to Denver, and so to San Francisco, where
I will embark on the first ship that will carry me across the Pacific."

Tsan Ti leaned over in front of Matt and called out something in
Chinese to Sam Wing. Sam Wing lifted his nodding head with a start,
and from his blouse produced a small sack of alligator skin, which he
handed to his master.

The sack was stuffed with banknotes, and from the lot the mandarin
extracted three five-hundred-dollar bills.

"Will you consider it of an insulting nature if I offer you these?"
inquired the mandarin of Matt.

"I won't, if he does," chimed in McGlory.

"I think I'm entitled to the money, Tsan Ti," said Matt. "The way you
Chinamen do business doesn't make much of a hit with me. Your little
plot wouldn't have been hurt in the least if you had just mentioned in
the letter you sent with that supposed ruby that the gem was false, and
that you sent it to me hoping Grattan would get it and keep off your
trail. I could have helped you even more in achieving your purpose."

"It is to be regretted deeply that I did not," answered the mandarin
humbly. "In my own country I would not have given two thoughts to the
troubles I caused another, so long as my aim was just and wise; but
here, in America, different standards rule, and that I brought dangers
upon your head I shall never forget."

The door of the coach opened and a brakeman thrust in his head to call
out the station of Catskill.

"That means us, pard," said McGlory. "Grab your money and let's hike."

Matt took the money and slowly placed it in his pocket.

"You bear no ill will, worthy one, and friend whose memory will always
blossom in the gardens of my recollections?" asked Tsan Ti.

"It's all right, Tsan Ti," returned Matt, getting up. "You win, and
are off for the Flowery Kingdom with the Eye of Buddha. Grattan loses,
and he'll find it out sooner or later. As for Joe and me, we'll call
accounts square. Good-by, and good luck to you." He took the mandarin's
hand cordially.

"May the five hundred gods of good luck smile continually upon you,"
said Tsan Ti.

With that, Motor Matt and McGlory left the coach and dropped off the
train.

"Back in Catskill!" said the cowboy, "and after being fooled by Bunce,
and Grattan, and Tsan Ti!"

"We've fooled Grattan twice where he has fooled us once, Joe," returned
Matt.

"Right you are, pard; and there's plenty of chance for Tsan Ti to run
into a snag between here and China."

"I'm hoping he makes the trip without any trouble."

"I don't know but I hope the same thing, although I get a trifle hot
under the collar every time I think of the way we fretted over a piece
of colored glass."

They stood on the platform until the tail lights of the train had
vanished from sight up the track.

"The mandarin is getting a good start on the home trail, anyhow,"
remarked McGlory, as he and Matt turned away to climb the slope that
led to their hotel. "He's bound west by train, while Grattan is fooling
around, somewhere on the Hudson, with the _Iris_. I wouldn't turn over
my hand, after what Tsan Ti told us, to put the kibosh on Grattan, or
even Bunce."

"Grattan and Bunce have got their deserts," asserted Matt. "They'll be
punished enough when they discover that they've had all their trouble
and taken so many chances for nothing more than a bogus ruby."

"Fine business," chuckled McGlory; "and yet," he added, with a
perceptible change in his voice, "there's something about that Philo
Grattan that makes a hit with me. Maybe I've got a yellow streak in
my make-up, somewhere, and that it's wrong for me to own up to such a
notion, but it's the truth."

"If Grattan was honest," said Matt, "he'd be a fellow any one could
like. But his ideas are all wrong. He can't see where the harm comes in
removing a valuable ruby from an idol in a heathen temple, but if he'd
step into Tiffany's, in New York, and extract a gem like that from the
show case and make off with it, his crime wouldn't be any the less."

"A heathen has got property rights," agreed the cowboy, "just the same
as you or me--or Grattan, himself. Where do you suppose Grattan, and
that choice assortment of tinhorns he has with him on the _Iris_, are
going?"

"I don't know, pard, and what happens to them now doesn't bother me
much. We're rid of them all, and I'm thankful for it. We've had too
much of Tsan Ti, as well as of Grattan and Bunce."

"That's what you say now, but just let the mandarin write you one of
those embroidered letters of his, asking for help, and you'll head in
his direction just a-smoking."

"Not again, Joe. I know what the Yellow Peril is, now, and I'm going to
fight shy of it."

"Amen to that, pard, and I hope you stick to it."

"I will."

"And there's nothing more between us and a high old time in Manhattan?"

"Nothing but a stretch of river--or of railroad track, Joe, if you'd
rather go by train."

"Hooray!" jubilated McGlory.


THE END.



THE NEXT NUMBER (32) WILL CONTAIN

Motor Matt's Double-trouble;

OR,

THE LAST OF THE HOODOO.


  The Red Jewel--Another End of the Yarn--Shock Number
  One--Shocks Two and Three--A Hot Starter--McGlory is Lost, and
  Found--"Pocketed"--Springing a Coup--Motor Matt's Chase--The Chase
  Concluded--A Double Capture--Another Surprise--Baiting a Trap--How
  the Trap was Sprung--Back to the Farm--Conclusion.



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

NEW YORK, September 25, 1909.


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JERRY STEBBINS' HOSS TRADE.


At a recent interview with one Jeremiah Stebbins, he freed his mind in
the following choice language:

"Everybody I've saw lately has ben a-winking and a-smirking, and
a-laughing, and a-saying, 'How de dew, Jerry? how's the hoss trade?'
and sich like, and I've got tired on't; and I'm a going to tell the
hull story to you newspaper fellers, and let you print it and done with
it.

"You see, the way on't was this. I live up in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania, and once in a while I takes a trip down to Philadelphia
to see the sights, do some dickering, buy some store things, and so on.

"I've al'ays considered myself pooty cute, and have gi'n lots o' advice
to them that's around me, telling 'em about the city, and its big
shows, and its cheating scamps, and what to do when they goes there,
and how not to get took in, and all sich; and I 'spect it's jest
because I've done all this ere that the laugh comes in agin me pooty
rough-like.

"You see there's a feller living right nigh me, named Jim Smithers,
who's been down to Philadelphia four times, and every time so'thing's
happened to him in the way o' getting fooled by some o' them confounded
scamps what don't 'pear to do nothing for a living but lay around, like
nasty spiders, watching for flies, to ketch some o' us country chaps
by some dirty trick or other, and git hold o' some o' our hard-earned
dollars to loaf around on. I ain't afeared to speak my mind about 'em,
and I don't keer a goll darn if you print it, nuther, and let 'em know
that I think they're just about as mean as mean kin be.

"Waal, about Jim Smithers. He's pooty green yit; but the first time he
went down to the big city he was as raw as a new cabbage, and he got
took in fifteen dollars' worth on what you newspaper fellers calls the
drap game.

"In course you know all about that ere. A feller comes up behind the
country chap, and, all unbeknown to him, drops a pocketbook, picks it
up, and tells him it's hisn. But it ain't, you know, and the country
feller says so. Then the city scamp opens it a lettle, and it 'pears to
be stuffed full o' bank bills; and he says it's a pity that some honest
man has got to lose it, 'cause he hisself's a stranger in town, and
is jest a-going out ag'in, and he can't stop to advertise it, and git
the big reward that's sartin to be offered for it; but if the country
feller's a mind to take it, give him fifteen or twenty dollars or so,
he'll let him have his chance, and so on.

"Waal, Jim Smithers was ketched in this way, and he gin the other
feller fifteen dollars--nigh all the money he had--and when he went to
put so'thing into the _Public Ledger_ about it, and handed over one o'
the bills to pay for 't, the grinning clerk told him as how he'd ben
'sold,' and the money wa'n't wo'th as much as white paper. Wa'n't Jim
mad, then? and didn't us fellers plague him peskily about it arter he
got home?

"Waal, the next time Jim went to the city he got ketched in some keerd
trick, and lost a twenty-dollar bill afore he knowed it. The third time
he spent five dollars, a-buying prize packages that didn't have no
prizes in 'em 'cept brass rings; and the last time some scamp ketched
him ag'in on a hoss affair.

"'Jim Smithers,' says I, arter he'd told me all about it, 'if I's you I
wouldn't go down to Philadelphia ag'in alone--I swon I wouldn't. Jest
as like as not some critter, a-running loose in the streets, will take
you fer a green pumpkin, and eat you all right up, so's you won't never
git back to your mar any more,' says I.

"'Oh, you think your darn smart, Jerry Stebbins, don't ye?' says Jim
back ag'in. 'Jest you look out that you don't git ketched some day your
own self.'

"'They've all tried me, and found me too smart for 'em,' says I.

"'We'll see in the end,' says Jim.

"'Bout a week or so arter that, I went down ag'in to Philadelphia.
I had some arrants to do for some o' my neighbors; and I'd a notion
to tend a auction sale of hosses, and if I could see any going right
cheap, I thought mebbe I might buy one on a spec--for, though I says
it myself, I'm pooty cute in a hoss trade, and have made a good many
dollars afore now in fatting up some old critter and then swapping him
off and gitting boot.

"Waal, I went to town, and, arter gitting through with my other
business, I started right over to the bazaar, where they sells
hosses--for I'd been there afore and knowed exactly where it was.

"Jest as I was a-going in, I met a dressy-looking chap a-coming out;
and he says to me, says he:

"'Mister, kin you tell me where I kin buy a right good hoss pooty
cheap?'

"'I couldn't, less it's in here,' says I 'for that's jest what I wants
to do myself.'

"'Waal, I shan't buy in this here cheating place,' says he, 'for I
done that once afore, and paid a hundred dollars for a critter that I
arterward had to sell for thirty-five; and right glad I was to git that
much, and only lose sixty-five on the trade. If I's you I wouldn't risk
no money in here.'

"'I knows a hoss when I sees him,' says I, pooty proud, feeling my
oats, 'and if anybody makes anything off o' Jerry Stebbins in a hoss
trade, I hope they'll let me know.'

"'S'pose you could pick out a good nice critter for me, Mr. Stebbins,
and not get cheated in the price?' says he.

"'I s'pose I could if I'd try,' says I.

"'And would five dollars make you try?' says he.

"'I guess it would,' says I.

"'Wal, then,' says he, 'I'll give you a five-dollar bill to do it,'
says he.

"He rammed his hand into his pocket to git the money; but afore he'd
drawed it out, a slick-looking feller comes riding up on hossback, and
says to my chap, says he:

"'Do you know anybody what wants to buy a right good hoss dirt cheap?'

"'I dew,' says my man.

"'How high be you willing to go?' says the hossback chap.

"'I don't keer a darn, so's the critter's wo'th the money,' says
t'other, and he gin me a sly wink.

"'Then I'll take you to a place where I know you'll be suited,' says
the hossback chap.

"'Fur from here?' axes t'other.

"'Not more'n a mile at the outside,' says him on the hoss.

"'Will you jest go along, 'arn the five, and see that I ain't
cheated?' says the foot feller to me, in a tone so low that t'other
couldn't hear.

"I said I would; and then my man axed the man on the hoss for his
keerd, which he gin him and rid away.

"While we was a-going to the place, my feller told me that his name was
John Jenkins; that he'd got as much money as he keerd about having, and
if he could only git a hoss to suit him, and not pay more for't than
'twas wo'th, he'd be mighty pleased.

"''Tain't 'cause I ker a darn for the money, Mr. Stebbins,' says he
to me, confiding-like; 'but it's 'cause I knows as how all these
racehoss-jockey fellers takes a pride in gitting the best of everybody
they deals with, and I hates to be beat in that are way. Now I sees by
your eyes, Mr. Stebbins, that you ain't a chap to be took in in a hoss
trade, and I wants you to use 'em for me; and if things comes out all
right, I won't stop to put another ten or twenty a-top of the five, you
know.'

"'I'll do my best, Mr. Jenkins,' says I; 'and I guess you'll find my
best right up to the handle.'

"When we got to the place we seen a stable, in a little, back, dirty
street, and in it was two men and three hosses.

"Two of these 'ere hosses wan't o' no great account, but t'other one
was a pooty slick smart-looking critter.

"'How much for this 'ere one?' says Mr. Jenkins, putting his hand onto
the beast.

"Waal, really,' says the dealer, 'we don't keer about selling that are
critter.'

"'I was recommended to come here for a place where I could buy a good
hoss cheap,' says Mr. Jenkins.

"'We really hain't got nothing to sell 'cept the other two critters,'
says the jockey. 'We'll sell you them cheap.'

"'I don't want 'em,' says Jenkins, 'but only this 'ere one. Hey,
Stebbins! what d'you say?' he says, speaking to me.

"'Waal, the critter you've picked out is pooty likely,' says I, 'but I
don't think much of t'others.'

"He called me out one side, and axed me what the best hoss was really
wo'th.

"'A good hundred and twenty-five,' says I.

"'How about a hundred and fifty?' says he.

"'I wouldn't go a mite over a hundred and forty,' says I.

"'I'll have him, though, at some price, for I've sot my mind on't,'
says he, in a determined way.

"Then he went back to the jockey, and offered him a hundred dollars for
that critter.

"The jockey chap laughed right in his face at fust, and then he 'peared
to get mad, and said, says he:

"'You're either a dealer yourself, or else you wants to insult me; and
no matter which it are, I ain't a-going to trade with you at no price.'

"'I'll give you a hundred and twenty-five,' says Jenkins.

"'Pshaw!' says jockey.

"'A hundred and fifty,' says Jenkins.

"'No,' says t'other.

"'A hundred and seventy-five, then.'

"'No.'

"'I'll give you two hundred.'

"'You can't buy him at no price,' says the hoss dealer, looking awful
mad.

"'Then let us go to a more decenter place, Mr. Stebbins,' says Jenkins
to me.

"We started off together, and as soon as we'd got out of sight of the
stable, Jenkins says to me, says he:

"'Friend Stebbins, I wants that are hoss right bad, 'cause he's jest
the critter to suit me. I wonder if you couldn't buy him for me?'

"'I don't 'spect I could,' says I, 'for the feller that owns him has
got his Dutch up, and won't sell him to neither of us.'

"'Would you mind going back by yourself and trying?' says he.

"'To obleege you I'll dew it,' says I. 'But the hoss ain't wo'th what
you offered, and nothink like it.'

"'I don't keer for that, Mr. Stebbins,' says he; 'it a'nt making a
spec' I'm arter; I wants the hoss for hisself, 'cause I've sot my mind
on't, and money ain't no object with me. I'll tell ye what I'll dew. If
you'll buy that are hoss and fetch him round to my stable, I'll jest
plank down two hundred and fifty dollars cash for him, and you may make
what profit you kin. I don't keer what you give for him, but I'll give
you two hundred and fifty dollars jest the minute he reaches my stable,
and I'll go right down there now and wait for you.'

"I told him I'd try my luck, and he writ down the direction for me to
come to.

"Waal, I went back and found the two hoss fellers talking with the chap
that had fust told us about the place.

"The minute this chap seen me, he come for'ard and said he was right
down sorry that his pardners had got mad at my friend--and if he'd been
there it wouldn't have turned out so--though it was a insult for him
to offer only a hundred dollars for a hoss like that are, which nobody
could find his match nowhere for a cent less than three hundred dollars
in gold.

"'Tell you what 'tis, mister,' he says, 'I know your friend, John
Jenkins--though he don't recollect me--and I know he's mighty rich, and
a right down good customer where he likes to deal, and I hate like fury
that he went away disapp'inted. Now if you'll find him, and fetch him
back, and git him to trade with us, I'll give you a five-dollar bill.'

"I thought I'd got a good chance for a spec, so I says, says I:

"'I don't think I could git him back; but if you folks here wants to
sell that are hoss, and will take what he's wo'th, I don't mind buying
him for my own self.'

"'You kin have him for two hundred and twenty-five dollars, and not a
cent short,' says he.

"'That's more'n I'd give my old daddy for him,' says I.

"Then we began to talk, and palaver, and hile, and at last I got him
down to two hundred and ten, and him to give in a old saddle and
bridle, so's I could ride him off.

"Waal, I paid down the money, and then rode off for Jenkins' stable
feeling pooty proud and happy that I'd made a clean forty dollars by my
barg'in.

"But, somehow or other, I couldn't find Jenkins' stable, nor Jenkins
nuther, and I hain't found 'em since.

"To git right down to the gist on't, I'd been awfully fooled, and
tricked into paying two hundred and ten dollars for a hoss that I
didn't want myself, and that I's glad to git rid on, arterwards for one
hundred and five, jest one-half the critter cost me.

"Waal, mister, that's the story that all the folks round my way is
a-grinning and a-snickering over, and I s'pose I've got to grin and
bear it till the hull darned thing dies out and be darned to it.

"It's l'arned me for one thing, that them slick-looking, slick-talking
city fellers kin lie and cheat like thunder; and for another thing,
that it don't dew for a country chap to butt his brains ag'in them city
scamps and al'ays 'spect to git the best on't."



THE PHANTOM ENGINEER.


"Whenever I tell the story," said Alf Whitney, throwing away his
half-smoked cigar, and putting his long legs on the top of the table,
in a way some men have when a story is to be forthcoming, "everybody
winks at everybody else, as much as to say, 'Alf had taken too much
whisky that time,' or 'Alf was asleep and dreamed the whole thing.'
But I tell you, comrades, though you are at liberty to disbelieve
what I tell you, it is true; and that's all I know about it. I'm no
long-headed metaphysician to reason it all out--I only know what
happened, and it's that I'm going to tell."

We gathered closer around the red-hot stove in the bar-room of the
Anderson House, for it was a biting cold night, and the snow was too
much for our train, destitute as we were of a snowplow, and we had
given up the attempt to push through to C---- that night, and retaken
ourselves to the hospitalities of the Arlington.

It had often been whispered among the railway employees that Alf
Whitney had once had something strange happen to him. He was a
young man yet, though the oldest and most skillful engineer on the
road--noted for his skill and judgment, no less than for his sturdy
endurance and his bravery, which nothing ever overcame.

I suppose you people who ride in Pullman cars, rocked in velvet
cushions, and look at the scenery rushing past, through plate glass
windows, heavy with gilt and rosewood mouldings, never think much of
the man upon whom your safety depends--the man who, with his hand
upon the lever which controls the monster that is bearing you along,
stands tireless at his post, through cold and heat, through storm and
sunshine, smutty, grimy with smoke, greasy and weather-hardened, but
oftentimes the bravest and noblest man among you all. But this is a
digression.

We all hastened to assure Alf that we were ready to believe whatever he
might say; and he, smiling a little, as if he doubted the sincerity of
our assurances, began his story. I give it in his own words, which are
much better than mine would be.

"Six years ago, one dark stormy night, Jack Horton lost his life in a
smash-up at Rowley's Bend. Jack was an engineer, and as fine a fellow
as ever trod the ground. He was handsome, too, and notwithstanding his
dirty occupation, a great favorite with the ladies; for when he was
off the machine long enough to get the oil and cinders washed off,
and his other clothes on, he was the best-looking, as well as the
best-mannered, young man anywhere in this vicinity.

"He was engaged to marry Esther Clay; and Esther was a beauty without
anything by way of art to help her--a sound-looking, wholesome, healthy
young girl--none of your die-away kind, fainting at the sight of a
spider, and going into tantrums over a cow a mile off. She was just the
kind of woman I could worship, and not put myself out any to do it,
either!"

"Why didn't you go for her after Jack was dead?" asked Tom Barnard
carelessly.

"Hush! she is dead!" said Alf, in a subdued voice; and the unwonted
pallor that settled round his mouth gave me a slight clue to the reason
he had never married. And afterward I knew that Esther Clay, dead,
and pledged through all eternity to another, was more to him than any
living woman!

After a little he went on.

"When Jack was killed, it was the breaking of an axle that caused the
mischief; and, of course, this axle broke on just the worst part of the
road. They always do. You all know Rowley's Bend? You all know just how
high the grade is there, and just how rough and jagged the rocks lie
all along the embankment, clear down to the river. No need to dwell
on this. The train pitched down into the dark, head first, and Jack,
true to his duty, never stirred from his post. It was a good while
before we could get to him, the broken timbers of the piled-up cars so
completely caged him in. She came there before we had taken his body
out, and I shall never forget how she went down into the ruins where
even the bravest of us hardly dared to venture, so insecure was the
footing, and worked with her white, slender hands, until the blood ran
from their wounds. She never minded it a particle, but worked on, with
a face as pale and rigid as marble. But I am making a long story, and
dwelling too much on details. Jack was dead when they found him, and
she lived just a month afterward. And, though everybody lamented at her
funeral, and said it was 'so sad,' I do not think it was sad, for when
two people love each other, truly and loyally, and one of them dies, it
seems to me Heaven's special mercy if the other is suffered to go along.

"Jack and I had always been great friends; and once when we were
talking about the supernatural nonsense that so many believe in, Jack
said to me laughingly:

"'If I die first, I'll keep a watch over you, old fellow; and when
I see you running into danger, I'll whistle the brakes down. Now
remember!' After he died these careless words of his kept coming back
to me, and try as I would not to remember them, the more they were
present to my mind.

"It was nearly two years after Jack's death that I was taking the
ten-fifty accommodation out to L----. It was a dark, drizzly night, and
the headlight on the front of the engine pierced but a short distance
into the gloom and fog ahead of us. I was running carefully, as I
always run on such nights, and had nearly reached Carney's Ford when I
saw something on the track before us. I whistled to down brakes, and
reversed the lever. The train slackened, and I could see distinctly
ahead of us the tall figure of a man. But we got no nearer to him, for
though he seemed to be only walking, his speed was fully equal to ours.
We should never overtake him. A cold shiver ran through me as I noted
this fact. No mortal man could walk like that.

"'Richards,' said I to the fireman, who, ghastly and trembling with
fear, was gazing at the strange apparition, 'it must be Old Nick
himself, with the seven-league boots on!'

"As I spoke, the figure turned toward us, and then I saw that in his
hand he carried a red lantern, the well-known signal of danger. He
lifted it, swung it slowly round his head once, and, as he did so, the
blood-red light fell full on his face--the face of Jack Horton. For
a moment he stood motionless, then he was enveloped in a pale, azure
flame, which died out instantly, and left--nothing!

"All this, which it has taken me so long to describe, took place in an
instant of time, and by the time the phantom had vanished Richards and
I had managed to stop the train. We got off and went ahead. The red
lantern had not signaled 'danger' for nothing. A heavy stick of timber
was spiked across the track, and, had we gone on at full speed, it
would have sent us to swift destruction.

"The company ferreted out the rascal who had done this vile thing, and
he is serving out a long term in the State prison now. I have seen him
and talked with him, and he swore to me, with a voice that trembled
even then with horror, that after he had spiked down the timber and had
hidden in some bushes near by to watch the result, he had seen a tall
man, with a red lantern in his hand, start up in front of the engine
and walk, as nothing human could walk, until he reached the very spot
where the danger lay.

"'And then,' said the miscreant, 'he changed into a blue flame, and
vanished, and I knew that my plan was upset, and that for once Satan
had gone back on them as he'd set to work.'"

"Well," said Tom Barnard, "what else?"

"That is all," said Alf, lighting another cigar.

"But what was the fellow's object in seeking to disable the train?"

"Plunder. He had ascertained that a carrying company would have a large
sum of money on board that night, and he was not averse to turning an
honest penny."

"But the phantom--how do you explain it?" persisted Tom.

"I don't explain it," said Alf quietly.



LATEST ISSUES


BRAVE AND BOLD WEEKLY

All kinds of stories that boys like. The biggest and best nickel's
worth ever offered. =High art colored covers. Thirty-two big pages.
Price, 5 cents.=

  342--Through the Earth; or, Jack Nelson's Invention. By Fred Thorpe.

  343--The Boy Chief; or, Comrades of Camp and Trail. By John De Morgan.

  344--Smart Alec; or, Bound to Get There. By Weldon J. Cobb.

  345--Climbing Up; or, The Meanest Boy Alive. By Harrie Irving Hancock.

  346--Comrades Three; or, With Gordon Keith in the South Seas. By
  Lawrence White, Jr.

  347--A Young Snake-charmer; or, The Fortunes of Dick Erway. By Fred
  Thorpe.

  348--Checked Through to Mars; or, Adventures in Other Worlds. By
  Weldon J. Cobb.

  349--Fighting the Cowards; or, Among the Georgia Moonshiners. By
  Harrie Irving Hancock.

  350--The Mud River Boys; or, The Fight for Penlow's Mill. By John L.
  Douglas.

  351--Grit and Wit; or, Two of a Kind. By Fred Thorpe.

  352--Right on Top; or, Yankee to the Backbone. By Cornelius Shea.

  353--A Clue from Nowhere; or, On a Phantom Trail. By Harrie Irving
  Hancock.

  354--Never Give Up; or, Harry Holton's Resolve. By John L. Douglas.

  355--Comrades Under Castro; or, Young Engineers in Venezuela. By
  Victor St. Clair.


MOTOR STORIES

The latest and best five-cent weekly. We won't say how interesting it
is. See for yourself. =High art colored covers. Thirty-two big pages.
Price, 5 cents.=

  20--Motor Matt Makes Good; or, Another Victory for the Motor Boys.

  21--Motor Matt's Launch; or, A Friend in Need.

  22--Motor Matt's Enemies; or, A Struggle for the Right.

  23--Motor Matt's Prize; or, The Pluck That Wins.

  24--Motor Matt on the Wing; or, Flying for Fame and Fortune.

  25--Motor Matt's Reverse; or, Caught in a Losing Game.

  26--Motor Matt's "Make or Break"; or, Advancing the Spark of
  Friendship.

  27--Motor Matt's Engagement; or, On the Road With a Show.

  28--Motor Matt's "Short Circuit"; or, The Mahout's Vow.

  29--Motor Matt's Make-up; or, Playing a New Rôle.

  30--Motor Matt's Mandarin; or, Turning a Trick for Tsan Ti.

  31--Motor Matt's Mariner; or, Filling the Bill for Bunce.

  32--Motor Matt's Double-trouble; or, The Last of the Hoodoo.

  33--Motor Matt's Mission; or, The Taxicab Tangle.


TIP TOP WEEKLY

The most popular publication for boys. The adventures of Frank and Dick
Merriwell can be had only in this weekly. =High art colored covers.
Thirty-two pages. Price, 5 cents.=

  691--Dick Merriwell's Dandies; or, A Surprise for the Cowboy Nine.

  692--Dick Merriwell's "Skyscooter"; or, Professor Pagan and the
  "Princess."

  693--Dick Merriwell in the Elk Mountains; or, The Search for "Dead
  Injun" Mine.

  694--Dick Merriwell in Utah; or, The Road to "Promised Land."

  695--Dick Merriwell's Bluff; or, The Boy Who Ran Away.

  696--Dick Merriwell in the Saddle; or, The Bunch from the Bar--Z.

  697--Dick Merriwell's Ranch Friends; or, Sport on the Range.

  698--Frank Merriwell at Phantom Lake; or, The Mystery of the Mad
  Doctor.

  699--Frank Merriwell's Hold-back; or, The Boys of Bristol.

  700--Frank Merriwell's Lively Lads; or, The Rival Campers.

  701--Frank Merriwell as Instructor; or, The Skill of the Wizard.

  702--Dick Merriwell's Cayuse; or, The Star of the Big Range.

  703--Dick Merriwell's Quirt; or, The Sting of the Lash.

  704--Dick Merriwell's Freshman Friend; or, A Question of Manhood.


_For sale by all newsdealers, or will be sent to any address on receipt
of price, 5 cents per copy, in money or postage stamps, by_

STREET & SMITH, Publishers, 79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York


=IF YOU WANT ANY BACK NUMBERS= of our Weeklies and cannot procure them
from your newsdealer, they can be obtained from this office direct.
Fill out the following Order Blank and send it to us with the price
of the Weeklies you want and we will send them to you by return mail.
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                                    ________________________ _190_

  _STREET & SMITH, 79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York City._

      _Dear Sirs: Enclosed please find_ ___________________________
      _cents for which send me_:

  TIP TOP WEEKLY,         Nos. ________________________________

  NICK CARTER WEEKLY,      "   ________________________________

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A GREAT SUCCESS!!

MOTOR STORIES


Every boy who reads one of the splendid adventures of Motor Matt, which
are making their appearance in this weekly, is at once surprised and
delighted. Surprised at the generous quantity of reading matter that we
are giving for five cents; delighted with the fascinating interest of
the stories, second only to those published in the Tip Top Weekly.

Matt has positive mechanical genius, and while his adventures are
unusual, they are, however, drawn so true to life that the reader can
clearly see how it is possible for the ordinary boy to experience them.


_HERE ARE THE TITLES NOW READY AND THOSE TO BE PUBLISHED_:

  1--Motor Matt; or, The King of the Wheel.

  2--Motor Matt's Daring; or, True to His Friends.

  3--Motor Matt's Century Run; or, The Governor's Courier.

  4--Motor Matt's Race; or, The Last Flight of the "Comet."

  5--Motor Matt's Mystery; or, Foiling a Secret Plot.

  6--Motor Matt's Red Flier; or, On the High Gear.

  7--Motor Matt's Clue; or, The Phantom Auto.

  8--Motor Matt's Triumph; or, Three Speeds Forward.

  9--Motor Matt's Air Ship; or, The Rival Inventors.

  10--Motor Matt's Hard Luck; or, The Balloon House Plot.

  11--Motor Matt's Daring Rescue; or, The Strange Case of Helen Brady.

  12--Motor Matt's Peril; or, Cast Away in the Bahamas.

  13--Motor Matt's Queer Find; or, The Secret of the Iron Chest.

  14--Motor Matt's Promise; or, The Wreck of the "Hawk."

  15--Motor Matt's Submarine; or, The Strange Cruise of the "Grampus."

  16--Motor Matt's Quest; or, Three Chums in Strange Waters.

  17--Motor Matt's Close Call; or, The Snare of Don Carlos.

  18--Motor Matt in Brazil; or, Under the Amazon.

  19--Motor Matt's Defiance; or, Around the Horn.

  20--Motor Matt Makes Good; or, Another Victory for the Motor Boys.

  21--Motor Matt's Launch; or, A Friend in Need.

  22--Motor Matt's Enemies; or, A Struggle for the Right.

  23--Motor Matt's Prize; or, The Pluck that Wins.

  24--Motor Matt on the Wing; or, Flying for Fame and Fortune.

  25--Motor Matt's Reverse; or, Caught in a Losing Game.

  26--Motor Matt's "Make or Break"; or, Advancing the Spark of
  Friendship.

  27--Motor Matt's Engagement; or, On the Road With a Show.

  28--Motor Matt's "Short Circuit"; or, The Mahout's Vow.

To be Published on September 6th.

  29--Motor Matt's Make-up; or, Playing a New Role.

To be Published on September 13th.

  30--Motor Matt's Mandarin; or, Turning a Trick for Tsan Ti.

To be Published on September 20th.

  31--Motor Matt's Mariner; or, Filling the Bill for Bunce.

To be Published on September 27th.

  32--Motor Matt's Double-trouble; or, The Last of the Hoodoo.


PRICE, FIVE CENTS

At all newsdealers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers upon receipt
of the price.

  STREET & SMITH,      _Publishers_,      NEW YORK



Transcriber's Notes:


Added table of contents.

Italics are represented with _underscores_, bold with =equal signs=.

Page 5, added missing quote before "Tsan Ti expressly stipulates."

Page 9, corrected "qundary" to "quandary."

Page 11, changed "thrown" to "throw" in "throw the speeder off the
rails."

Page 12, added missing apostrophe to "if ye ain't?"

Page 13, changed "anl" to "and" in "and he's got shy." Changed "or" to
"of" in "vicinity of the sharp curve."

Page 14, changed "declarel" to "declared" after "I don't believe it."
Changed "her" to "here" in "a dozen miles from here."

Page 15, corrected double quote to single quote before "Eye of Buddha."

Page 16, corrected double "man" in "third man took it."

Page 27, corrected "countefeit" to "counterfeit" ("asked that he make a
counterfeit").

Page 29, retained error ("your darn smart") from original on assumption
it is intended as part of dialect.

Page 30, corrected "pickel" to "picked" ("critter you've picked").





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