“It might be a good idea to talk to Mrs. Hooper and Grace about it before you inform on Thad,” Bill said.
“I’ll do that,” Gus agreed and was off. In half an hour he was back again.
“I saw them, late as it was. Grace and Skeets were playing crokinole and Mrs. Hooper came down. And, what do you think? Mr. Hooper wrote that Thad had forged his name on a check for several hundred dollars and got away with it and, even if he did still want to shield Thad, the law wouldn’t let him. Grace says Thad ought to be caught and punished and that her father will want it done.”
“But Gus, even if you got Willstown on the long distance ’phone, how would that help to——”
“We’ll get them later; after we have located Thad.”
“Oh, Gus, do you think Ben Shultz was dreaming?”
“When he said he saw Thad out there in the barren ground woods by the old cabin? Not a bit of it! It’s the last place they’d ever think of looking for him—right on his uncle’s place. Thad is pretty keen in some ways. But I doubt if he’ll stay there long. He’ll be pulling out for the mountains. There’s a late moon to-night, you see.”
“I wish I could go with you; this old leg—”
“Never mind now; don’t worry. I’ll take Bennie Shultz and make him messenger. If Thad’s there you can get down to the drug store and call Willstown. That’ll make our case sure. By cracky, old scout, five hundred! We can—”
“Chickens, old man; chickens. Hatch ’em first. But you will, I’ll bet, and it will be yours; not—”
“What are you talking about? Ours! It’s as much your job as mine. Divy-divy, half’n’half, fifty-fifty. Well, I’m off.”
“Now then, Bennie,” whispered Gus, “beat it on the q.t. Then streak it for Bill’s house. He’ll be watching for you. Tell him our man is here and probably getting ready to light out. You needn’t come back; I’m only going to spot this bird and find out where he goes, if I can. You’ll get well paid for this, kid.”
The two boys were lying on the sandy ground among young cedars, and watching the little cabin not fifty yards distant. Out of this crude shack had come the sole occupant, to stand and gaze about him for a minute, lifting his face to the moon. Gus could plainly distinguish the gray cap, the slender build of the youth; he recognized the walk, a certain manner of standing, and once he plainly caught that upward shift of the shoulder. Then Gus gave his orders to Bennie, knowing that they would be carried out with precision, for the little fellow, almost a waif and lacking proper influences, would have nearly laid down his life for Gus after the athlete had very deservedly whipped two town bullies that were making life miserable for him. Moreover, the youngster wanted to be like Gus and Bill, in the matter of mentality, and a promise of reward meant money with which he could buy books.