Page:Ralph on the Railroad.djvu/629

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61
THE HIDDEN PLUNDER

"The safest way to do is to follow them until they get near a town or settlement, and then go for assistance and arrest them," advised Ralph. "Now, then, Zeph, make no false moves."

"No, I will follow your orders strictly," pledged the farmer boy.

The basket was lifted into the wagon by Ike, who, with Mort, led the horse through the intricate timber and brushwood. Progress was difficult and they proceeded slowly. As soon as it was safe to do so, Ralph left Zeph. The two men had taken up the trail of the wagon, guarding its rear so that Joe could not escape.

Ralph kept sight of them for half-an-hour and was led deeper and deeper into the woods. These lined the railroad cut, and he wondered that the gang of robbers had dared to camp so near to the recent scene of their thieving operations.

At last the young fireman was following only two men, for he could no longer see the wagon.

"Perhaps they have left Ike and Bemis to go ahead with the wagon and they are reaching the camp by a short cut," reflected Ralph. "Why, no," he suddenly exclaimed, as the men turned aside to take a new path. "These are not the same men at all who were with the wagon. I am off the trail, I am following some one else."

Ralph made this discovery with some surprise.