The bushes were a good enough hiding-place for the time, and he crawled back to them with the air and manner of a man whose mind was made up to something.
Ford and Frank were absent in the city that day with Mr. Foster, who was kindly attending to some affairs of Frank’s; but when the three came home, and learned what had happened, it was hard to tell which of them failed most completely in trying to express his boiling indignation. They were all on the point of running over to the Morris house to thank Dab, but Mrs. Foster interposed.
“I don’t think I would. To-morrow will do as well, and you know they’re expecting Mr. and Mrs. Morris this evening.”
It was harder for the boys to give it up than for Mr. Foster, and the waiting till to-morrow looked a little dreary. They were lingering near the north fence two hours later, with a faint idea of catching Dab, even though they knew that the whole Kinzer family were down at the railway-station, waiting for Ham and Miranda.
There was a good deal of patience to be exercised by them also; for that railway-train was provokingly behind time, and there was “waiting” to be done accordingly.
The darkness of a moonless and somewhat cloudy night had settled over the village and its surrounding farms, long before the belated engine puffed its way in front of the station-platform.
Just at that moment, back there by the north fence, Ford Foster exclaimed,—
“What’s that smell?”
“It’s like burning hay, more than any thing else,” replied Frank.
“Where can it come from, I’d like to know? We haven’t had a light out at our barn.”
“Light?” exclaimed Frank. “Just look yonder!”
“Why, it’s that old barn, ’way beyond the Morris and Kinzer house. Somebody must have set it on fire. Hullo! I thought I saw a man running. Come on, Frank!”
There was indeed a man running just then; but they did not see him, for he was already very nearly across the field, and hidden by the darkness. He had known how to light a fire that would smoulder long enough for him to get away.
He was not running as well, nevertheless, as he might have done before he came under the operation of Dab Kinzer’s “lower joint.”
Mrs. Kinzer did her best to prevent any thing like a “scene” at the railway-station when Ham and Miranda came out upon the platform; but there was an immense amount of “welcome” expressed in words and hugs and kisses, in the shortest possible space of time. There was no lingering on the platform, however; for Ham and his wife were as anxious to get at the “surprise” they were told was waiting for them, as their friends were to have them come to it.
Before they were half way home, the growing light ahead of them attracted their attention; and then they began to hear the vigorous shouts of “Fire!” from the throats of the two boys, re-enforced now by Mr. Foster himself, and the lawyer’s voice was an uncommonly good one. Dabney was driving the ponies, and they had to go pretty fast for the rest of that short run.