Read CHAPTER XXVIII of Young Captain Jack The Son of a Soldier , free online book, by Horatio Alger and Arthur M. Winfield, on ReadCentral.com.

In the hands of the guerrillas.

Our hero knew only too well how dangerous a wild cat can be, and as he gazed at the beast looking in through the open doorway of the lonely cabin his heart was filled with dread.

“A wild cat!” he muttered. “Scat! go away!” he yelled.

The sudden cry caused the beast to retreat a few steps, and for the instant Jack breathed easier. But then the beast approached once more.

“Go away! scat!” he repeated, but now the wild cat stood its ground, its eyes gleaming fiercely and its mouth half open, showing its sharp teeth. It was tremendously hungry, and this had caused it to find its way to the habitation.

“Go away, I say,” repeated Jack, and then, as the wild cat took a noiseless step forward, he let out a scream: “Help! Help!”

The wild cat now prepared to leap upon him. It crouched low, shaking its short tail from side to side. The leap was about to be taken when, of a sudden, bang! went a gun, and the beast rolled over on its side.

“A good shot, Ben!” came in the voice of Columbus Washington. “I rackon ye killed him.”

“Ben!” cried Jack, in great joy, as the face of the faithful old negro showed itself at the doorway. “You came in the nick of time!”

“Dat’s so,” answered Old Ben, as he came forward and poked the wild cat with his gun barrel. “Dead, are ye? Well, Old Ben will make suah,” and he hit the wild cat’s skull a blow that crushed it completely.

“Ben, you saved my life,” went on Jack joyfully. “I was certain I was going to be chewed up.”

“Wot fo’ is yo’ a prisoner yeah?” asked Columbus Washington, as he gazed at Jack’s bonds curiously.

“Dr. Mackey made me a prisoner.”

“What, dat man!” ejaculated Old Ben.

“Yes, Ben; he had me taken from the stable, where I had gone to watch that guerrilla.”

“And where am de guerrilla?”

“Dr. Mackey helped him to escape.”

The faithful old colored man shook his head doubtfully.

“Massah Jack, do yo’ dun t’ink dat doctor am your fadder?” he asked.

“No, Ben; I think nothing of the kind.”

“Neider do I. He is a-plottin’ against yo’.”

“That is what I think, Ben. If I could manage it, I would have him arrested. Then we could get at the bottom of this affair.”

Jack was speedily released, and the party of three left the lonely mountain cabin and started across the country for the Ruthven plantation.

“Yo’ mudder will be tickled to see yo’,” remarked Old Ben, as they trudged along. “She was worried to death ober yo’ absence.”

“After this I will see to it that they don’t get me again,” replied our hero.

Half a mile was covered when, on turning a point in the trail, they came unexpectedly upon a company of Confederate guerrillas who were taking it easy, lying in the grass.

“Hullo! who are you?” demanded one of the guerrillas as he leaped up and drew up his gun.

“Friends!” answered Jack.

Just then he caught sight of the men who had marched him away from the stable, and also of Pete Gendron, who was lying on some blankets in the shade.

“Friends, are you!” cried one of the men who had marched him off. “Up with your hands, sonny!”

There was no help for it, and Jack put up his hands, and his negro companions did likewise.

“I reckon as how we cotched ye nicely,” went on the man with the gun. “Whar did ye come from thet cabin up the mountain?”

“Yes.”

“Whar is Dr. Mackey?”

“I do not know.”

“Did he let ye go?”

“Of course he didn’t let the boy go,” growled Pete Gendron. “The niggers must have released him.”

“Is that true, sonny?”

“That is none of your business,” answered Jack, not knowing what else to say.

“Aint it, though? All right, ride yer high hoss, if yer want to. But throw down them arms fust.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean all of yer are prisoners, thet’s wot I mean,” drawled the guerrilla.

“You have no right to hold me up in this fashion.”

“Ye forgit, sonny, thet might makes right in most cases. Come, hand over them firearms.”

Jack had been provided with a pistol by Old Ben, and this he was compelled to surrender, and his companions were also disarmed. The guerrillas numbered fully a score, so resistance would have been foolhardy.

“What do you intend to do with me?” asked our hero, after he had been made a prisoner by having his hands bound behind him.

“We’ll hold ye till Dr. Mackey comes back.”

“When will that be?”

“Can’t say.”

This ended the talk, and presently the guerrillas moved up the mountain side to where there was a fair-sized cave.

They marched our hero into this cave, and tied him and his companions fast to some jagged rocks in the rear.

A fire was started up and the outlaws for the guerrillas were nothing less proceeded to make themselves comfortable by lying around, drinking, smoking, and playing cards.

Gendron was not badly wounded, and sat up to look on at the card-playing.

So the hours wore away. Toward night a scout went out to learn what the armies were doing, and he did not come back until the next day.

Two days were spent by Jack and his companions in the cave. During that time the guerrillas treated them brutally, and gave them hardly sufficient food to keep them from starving.

Gendron was particularly bitter against Jack, and insulted our hero upon every possible occasion.

“If I was the doctor I’d blow your head off, and get that money for myself,” he said once.

“What do you know about that money?” demanded Jack.

At this the guerrilla closed one eye suggestively.

“I know a whole lot, sonny.”

“Then you know what a rascal Dr. Mackey is?

“I didn’t allow as how he is a rascal, sonny.”

“Well, he is, and you know it. I can’t see how he puts up with a fellow like you, though.”

This was said to draw Gendron on, and it had the desired effect.

“He can’t help himself,” chuckled the guerrilla. “I know too much.”

“What do you know.”

“I know all about the doctor’s private papers the ones he carries in the tin box.”

“The papers about the property?”

“O’ course.”

“Those papers won’t help him any,” went on Jack, wondering what the guerrilla would say next.

“Won’t they? They’ll prove that he is . But never mind you shan’t git nothin’ out o’ me,” and then Gendron relapsed into sudden silence, as though he realized that he had been talking too much.

On the afternoon of the next day Dr. Mackey appeared, accompanied by another man, evidently an officer of the guerrillas. His face grew dark as he gazed first at Jack and then at Old Ben and Columbus Washington.

“So you were going to help Jack to escape,” he said harshly to the negroes.

“Jack is my young mastah,” replied Old Ben. “Why shouldn’t I try to sabe him?”

“You are the fellow who saved Jack years ago, when the shipwreck occurred, I believe.”

“I am, sah.”

“Then I am glad I have you in my power,” answered Dr. Mackey. “You may prove useful to me.”