Meanwhile, Jake sat in the bedroom of the old house, tied and gagged. The shots outside made him uneasy. He hoped Boliff wasn’t a good at shooting. He sat there and waited. Suddenly, all was quiet. Silence. A grandfather clock stood in the corner of the room. It’s slow ticks would drive any person crazy. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. All of the sudden, heavy footsteps sounded outside the door. His hopes building up, he began to yelp, despite the cloth bound tightly around his mouth. But to his dismay, it was Pete, the man who had fought with Tom.
“Come on. We’re taking you hostage. George is waiting out back.” Jake couldn’t let them take him hostage! The Spiral Gang must be captured! He decided to stall time. Deep down inside him, he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to Tom and Uncle Sam.
Pete started to pick Jake up, but Jake mumbled loudly.
“I’m not going to take that off. You’ll just cry for help,” Pete said. Jake shook his head.
“Well, I don’t know. George probably wouldn’t want me to…But, if you promise.” Pete untied the bandanna.
“Thanks,” Jake said, rubbing his jaw. “I wanted to tell you that I lost my watch. Do you see it?” Pete looked around the room.
“Maybe it’s under the bed,” Jake said. “Why don’t you untie me so I can help look?” Jake asked, knowing Pete wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. Pete agreed and untied Jake.
“Try under the bed,” Jake suggested again. As the large man tried to look under the dark bed, Jake slipped away.
Later, Tom woke. His jaw was sore and he had a large bump on the back of his head. Noticing that the man wasn’t there, he went inside the house.
“Jake, Jake! Are you in here?” he whispered, afraid Boliff was nearby. He went upstairs and met Jake in the hallway. Tom was about to let out a joyful ‘Jake!’ but he silenced him. They hurried down the kitchen stairs. But to their dismay, George Boliff stood at the back door, gun in hand!
“So, you thought you could get away,” he chuckled. “How did you get loose? Where’s Pete?” he asked, looking at Jake. At that moment, Tom leaped on him and started punching. Just then, Pete came running frantically down the stairs.
“George! He’s gone-” he stopped short when he saw the fight. Before he could escape, Jake flew all his weight against the heavy man. A fight erupted, but soon, Tom and Jake had them under control.
“You’re under arrest,” Tom huffed. “For destruction of private property and probably a bunch of other things.”
Only minutes later, the two brothers led the crooks, who had their hands tied, out front. The boys were shocked to see the officer leaning over Uncle Sam. Blood soaked his arm.
“Officer!” Jake exclaimed. “What happened to Uncle Sam? Is he alright?”
“Boliff shot him!” he exclaimed. “I just finished wrapping his arm up until we can get him to a doctor.” Uncle Sam’s face was pale. They lifted him carefully on his horse. George and Pete were also mounted onto horses and they all headed slowly for Spring Valley.
“Doc, is he gonna be okay?” Aunt Jean asked. She and Molly and Derrik had ridden to the doctor’s office after they heard about Uncle Sam’s accident.
“He’ll be just fine. I put his arm in a sling,” The doctor replied.
“Good, now let’s get down to business,” Jake said. “Boliff, Pete, there’s a couple things I want to straighten out. Do you know anything about the boot prints in the field?”
“Oh, yah. Phil took the boots from your neighbor to make you think he had been doing all those things. Pretty smart, huh?” Pete answered. Jake rolled his eyes.
“So, you admit you did all those sabotages?” Tom asked. Pete and George nodded their heads.
“But why? Why did you do all these things to get the ranch? What’s so important about Lucky Shoe Ranch and not all the other hundreds of ranches around? What’s your point for doing all these awful things?”
“Three letter word. Guess what it is.”
“Mr. Boliff, we’re not playing hangman.”
“Alright, alright. Just trying to make it exciting.” he mumbled. “It’s oil.”
“OIL! Did you say OIL?” Uncle Sam suddenly exclaimed, a little weak.
“Yep. Phil here overheard somebody saying something like ‘Benson feller’ discovered oil on his property.’ What better way is there to get rich?” Boliff growled. Uncle Sam laughed so hard his face turned a bright red.
“I think Phil over heard wrong. It was Mr. Bronston’s ranch, five miles from our ranch, that discovered oil!” Boliff’s face turned pale and his jaw dropped open.
“Do you mean to tell me-” his voice trailed off.
“Come on, you two. You’ll probably get a long while in prison for this,” the officer said, as he lead them out the door of the doctor’s office.
Dear Mom and Dad,
We miss you! Having a great time with Uncle Sam, Aunt Jean, Derrik, and Molly! Got some great stories to tell when we get home (Mom, you better brace yourself) ! Although we love this western life, we can’t wait to get back home!
Tom and Jake