"What have you been doin' over in the citadel?" says I. The citadel was what we called the building across the bridge.
"Fixin' engines of d-d-defense,'' says Mark.
"Hope we don't have to use 'em."
"We will," says he, short-like.
"You don't think we fooled The Man Who Will Come?"
"We f-fooled him about a quart, or maybe a pint, but it'll wear off. He ain't the kind to stay f-fooled."
"No," says Motu, from the door behind us, " he will not stay fooled, but he will fool others so they stay fooled."
"I've got a lot of respect for him since I've seen him in action," says I.
"If he discovers me I shall run," says Motu. "It will be decided by legs. Who has the best legs wins."
"The only way you could r-r-run and get away would be straight up," says Mark, " and we're just out of flyin'-machines. No, you won't run, Motu. You'll stay and we'll s-s-stand a siege."
"But, Mark Tidd, this large hotel cannot be defended by five. It would take fifty fighting-men."
"It isn't the hotel we're goin' to d-defend; it's the citadel. We're keepin' it for a s- s'prise. Wait till these fellows discover you. They'll think all they have to do is to come and get you out of here-but we won't be here. Five of us can put up a pretty good fight in the citadel."
"I'm goin' for a walk," says I. "I need exercise."
"Guess I'll stay and t-t-talk to Motu," says Mark.
I went off alone, though I was a little nervous about it. I headed toward the road and went along about a quarter of a mile when all of a sudden a Japanese stepped out of the bushes into the road and stood in front of me. He just stood and looked at me and scowled.
I didn't walk past him. I expect I could have if I'd wanted to, but I didn't want to. I stopped and looked at him and scowled, but his scowl was working better than mine; at any rate, I didn't notice his knees shaking any. He lifted his arm and pointed back toward the hotel. Not a word did he say, but I gathered what he meant, all right. He was explaining to me politely that he didn't want me to go any farther. I was obliging about it and turned right around and made for home.
"Mark," says I when I got there, "we're prisoners."
"How?" says he.
"I tried to go for a walk, but a Japanese stopped me.''
"Huh! Don't want any m-m-messages sent," says he. "I calc'late we fooled 'em a lot, a whole, whoppin' lot .... How'd you like to see how far they'll let you walk the other way?"
"Well," says I, "this one didn't bite me, so I guess the next one won't." And at that I started out and went in the opposite direction. This time I hadn't gone a hundred yards before a Japanese got up out of the bushes and herded me back the same as the first one did. We were besieged, all right.
I told Mark about it and he shook his head like he'd known it all the time.
"It don't prove anythin'," says he, "except that they think Motu's here, and dassen't take chances. They don't know yet."
"When we get a chance," says I, "we'd better carry the rest of the grub across the bridge."
"No," says he; "they'd see us and suspect somethin'. We'll have to s-s-sneak over what we can; but there's enough for a couple of weeks there now."
"How about cookin'-things?" says I.
"They're not there. But we can take 'em in a second. Always have them piled together ready to grab. That'll be your job, Tallow. Remember. At the first alarm drop everything and forget everything else. Just g-g-grab those dishes and scoot."
"All right," says I. "Here goes to get 'em ready now."
And now came the discovery of Motu by The Man Who Will Come. It was by nobody's fault unless it was Motu's own, but if what he did was a fault, then I should like to be committing faults like it all my life. We had all gotten to like Motu, for he was so pleasant and gentlemanly and patient, but that was all. We didn't feel toward him like we felt toward one another, and it wasn't to be expected. But from that time on he belonged. It was the first time a boy had ever been let into our crowd of four, and the last time-but this boy deserved it. The thing Motu did was not only brave, for it isn't such a big thing to be brave, but it was self-sacrificing, which is a big thing. He not only did a brave thing in an emergency when quick thinking and quick acting had to be done, but, with his eyes open, he risked capture by the Japanese, with all the important results that would have come from it. Without a moment's hesitation he risked everything for one of us, and I hope that all the rest of our lives we will be just as quick to risk everything for him. This was the way of it:
Plunk and Binney came in from fishing. They had been out in the canoe, and luck had been right in the boat with them, for they had a dandy string of bass and pickerel. Plunk got out with the fish and carried them over to the live-box. For some reason or another Binney pushed off again all alone and paddled out about twenty feet from shore. I guess at the start he had it in mind to go somewhere, but changed his plan. He stopped where the water was about four feet deep, and then, like a little idiot, leaned over the side of the canoe to wash his face.
He washed it, all right, and the rest of him with it. Just as if it had been alive and wanted to get rid of Binney, that canoe tipped over. Ker-flop! it went. Binney just had time to let out a yell. I came to the kitchen door, where I had been putting the cooking-dishes in shape, and saw him take the dive. Other folks heard the yell, for out of the tail of my eye I saw The Man Who Will Come step into sight about two hundred yards down the road and stand looking.
I expected Binney to come right up and wade ashore, but he didn't. I couldn't understand it, and my mind didn't work fast enough to figure what had happened. Mark was across the bridge in the citadel, so he wasn't there to help any, and if it hadn't been for Motu I guess our crowd of four would have been cut down to three and a pretty sorrowful three. But Motu was there, and the day will never come when I stop being thankful for it.
While I stood there like a big booby Motu came rushing out of the hotel and plunged into the water. He couldn't swim, either, but fortunately the water wasn't over his head between him and Binney. He surged and jumped and plowed his way to where the canoe floated, bottom up-floated and bobbed and wiggled as Binney struggled under it where he had got caught somehow.
When Motu got there he just ducked under. It pulled a yell right out of me, I was so frightened. It seemed like he was underwater half an hour, but it couldn't have been more than a few seconds. When he came up he was dragging something with him, and that something was Binney Jenks- -limp and unconscious. Then Motu began plowing his way back again.
Of a sudden I remembered The Man Who Will Come and looked that way. He was coming on the run with two Japanese at his heels. They had covered half the distance.
"Quick, Motu, quick!" I bawled, and dashed into the kitchen for my dishes. By the time I was out Motu was almost to shore and the Japs were not fifty yards away.
"Mark!" I yelled. "Mark Tidd!" and scooted across the bridge.
I might have known Mark wouldn't be far away from his job. Before I was half-way across Mark leaned over the balcony above and threw down the end of a rope with a hook on it
"H-h-hitch it to the other end of the b- bridge," he stuttered, as excited as a chicken when there's a hen-hawk around.
I got the idea, grabbed the rope, and hooked it to the staple on the far end of the lift- bridge. Then I jumped back for the citadel side.
Now Motu was coming, staggering and running, with Binney over his shoulder. Behind him, not twenty-five yards away, were the three Japs. Motu's lips were drawn back so you could see his beautiful white teeth, and the expression on his face was the sort a man wears when he is making the greatest effort of his life.
"Hurry, Motu, hurry!" I yelled, and danced up and down with eagerness and fear and excitement.
Motu hadn't far to go, but Binney was bigger than he was, and it was too much for him to carry. My, but he was strong! He staggered on, tripping, almost falling on his face sometimes, and the Japs got closer and closer.
I grabbed up a couple of potatoes that had somehow spilled when we carried them over, and heaved one at the first Jap. I hit him, too, so that he grunted and stopped a little. Maybe it was enough to help. Then I threw the other at The Man Who Will Come, but he just moved his head, and I could see him grin, for all he was running so hard.
Now Motu was at the very edge of the bridge, with the Japs not a dozen feet behind.
From the balcony I heard Mark yell, "T- throw Binney on the b-bridge and jump."
Quick as a wink Motu did as he was told, and then Mark Tidd's drawbridge showed what it was made for. The instant the two boys were on the bridge Mark pushed over the iron weight that was to help lift it. But this was no time for slow lifting, so what did Mark do but grab that rope just above the weight and jump right off the balcony. Down he came, ker-slam! and up went the bridge with Motu and Binney on it. Up it went, with the first Japanese so close it almost caught him under the nose. He couldn't stop, and went right under the lift into the water.
Motu and Binney came rolling and bumping down the bridge to our side. The Japs stopped sudden, and one of them hauled out the man who had fallen in.
"They-can't-swim," panted Motu.
So, for a while at least, we were safe. There wasn't a boat on that side, they couldn't come anywhere near jumping across, and they couldn't do anything till they had figured out some scheme to cross the water.
By this time Mark Tidd was down-stairs, working over Binney. He knew all about first aid, and, by pumping and working Binney's arms and one thing and another, it wasn't long before Binney showed signs that he was alive. In half an hour he was able to sit up and move around sort of feeble. It was the first second we had had time to breathe.
Mark Tidd stood up and walked over to Motu with his hand out.
"Motu," says he, "there ain't any t-thanks that will do for a thing like you did. It's somethin' that can't ever be paid for by words, or even by doin' things. But I want to t-t-tell you, Motu, that-that none of those Samurai in your country have got you beat. You're as good as the best of 'em, and some b-better. And one thing you can depend on, and that is that this crowd 'll stick to you, and work for you, and f-f-fight for you till they p-p-petrify."
Motu smiled a proud, grateful sort of smile and took Mark's hand. "What you say is good. It makes me fill with pride. I am joyful your Binney is safe, and I am joyful it was Motu who helped."
"Now," says Mark, "we'd better be gettin' ready for business."
I thought so, too. The Japs had disappeared behind the hotel. We couldn't see what they were up to, but we knew mighty well it was something that wouldn't be good for us.
The siege had begun.