The Master Key

Page 34

Rob watched him with almost breathless eagerness.

After making many motions that conveyed no meaning whatever, the Turk drew the electric tube from his pocket and pointed his finger first at the boy and then at the instrument, as if inquiring what it was used for. Rob shook his head. The Turk turned the tube over several times and examined it carefully, after which he also shook his head, seeming greatly puzzled.

By this time the boy was fairly trembling with excitement. He longed to recover this valuable weapon, and feared that at any moment the curious Turk would discover its use. He held out his hand toward the tube, and tried to say, by motions, that he would show the fellow how to use it. The man seemed to understand, by he would not let the glittering instrument out of his possession.

Rob was almost in despair, when he happened to notice upon his hand the ruby ring given him by the chief. Drawing the jewel from his finger he made offer, by signs, that he would exchange it for the tube.

The Turk was much pleased with the idea, and nodded his head repeatedly, holding out his hand for the ring. Rob had little confidence in the man's honor, but he was so eager to regain the tube that he decided to trust him. So he threw the ring to the top of the wall, where the Turk caught it skilfully; but when Rob held out his hand for the tube the scoundrel only laughed at him and began to scramble to his feet in order to beat a retreat. Chance, however, foiled this disgraceful treachery, for in his hurry the Turk allowed the tube to slip from his grasp, and it rolled off the wall and fell upon the sand at Rob's very feet.

The robber turned to watch its fall and, filled with sudden anger, the boy grabbed the weapon, pointed it at his enemy, and pressed the button. Down tumbled the Turk, without a cry, and lay motionless at the foot of the wall.

Rob's first thought was to search the pockets of his captive, and to his delight he found and recovered his box of food tablets. The Record of Events and the traveling machine were doubtless in the possession of the other robbers, but Rob did not despair of recovering them, now that he had the tube to aid him.

Day was now breaking, and several of the Tatars appeared and examined the body of the Turk with grunts of surprise, for there was no mark upon him to show how he had been slain. Supposing him to be dead, they tossed him aside and forgot all about him.

Rob had secured his ruby ring again, and going to the chief's tent he showed the jewel to the guard and was at once admitted. The black-bearded chieftain was still reclining upon his pillows, but Rob bowed before him, and by means of signs managed to ask for a band of warriors to assist him in assaulting the town. The chieftain appeared to doubt the wisdom of the enterprise, not being able to understand how the boy could expect to succeed; but he graciously issued the required order, and by the time Rob reached the city gate he found a large group of Tatars gathered to support him, while the entire camp, roused to interest in the proceedings, stood looking on.

Rob cared little for the quarrel between the Turks and Tatars, and under ordinary circumstances would have refused to side with one or the other; but he knew he could not hope to recover his electrical machines unless the city was taken by the band of warriors who had befriended him, so he determined to force an entrance for them.

Without hesitation he walked close to the great gate and shattered its fastenings with the force of the electric current directed upon them from the tube. Then, shouting to his friends the Tatars for assistance, they rushed in a body upon the gate and dashed it open.

The Turks had expected trouble when they heard the fastenings of the huge gate splinter and fall apart, so they had assembled in force before the opening. As the Tatars poured through the gateway in a compact mass they were met by a hail of bullets, spears and arrows, which did fearful execution among them.

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