“It’s all a school,” said he, calmly. “An’ I’m just beginning to study the Book of Trouble. It’s full of rather tough problems, but I’m not going to flunk or fail in it.”
The Spider Snares
Trove and Spinnel were in Hillsborough soon after sunrise the morning of that memorable day. The young man rapped loudly on the broad door at the Sign of the Dial, but within all was silent. The day before Darrel had spoken of going off to the river towns, and must have started. A lonely feeling came into the boy’s heart as he turned away. He went promptly to the house of the district attorney and told all he knew of the money that he had put in the bank. He recounted all that took place the afternoon of his stay at Robin’s Inn—the battles of the cocks, and the spider, and how the wounded fowl had probably sprinkled his sleeve with blood. In half an hour, news of the young man’s trouble had gone to every house in the village. Soon a score of his schoolmates and half the faculty were at his side—there in the room of the justice. Theron Allen arrived at nine o’clock, although at that hour two responsible men had already given a bail-bond. After dinner, Trove, a constable, and the attorney rode to Robin’s Inn. The news had arrived before them, but only the two boys and Tunk were at home. The latter stood in front of the stable, looking earnestly up the road.
“Hello,” said he, gazing curiously at horse and men as they came up to the door. He seemed to be eyeing the attorney with hopeful anticipation.
“Tunk,” said Trove, cheerfully, “you have a mournful eye.”
Tunk advanced slowly, still gazing, both hands deep in his trousers pockets.
“Ez Tower just went by,” said he, with suppressed feeling. “Said you was arrested fer murder.”
“I presume you were surprised.”
“Wal,” said he, “Ez ain’t said a word before in six months.”
Tunk opened the horse’s mouth and stood a moment, peering thoughtfully at his teeth.
“Kind of unexpected to be spoke to by Ez Tower,” he added, turning his eyes upon them with the same curious look.
The interrogation of Tunk and the two boys began immediately. The story of the fowl corroborated, the sugar-bush became an object of investigation. Milldam was ten miles away, and it was quite possible for the young man to have ridden there and back between the hour when Tunk left him and that of sunrise when he met Mrs. Vaughn at her door. Trove and Tunk Hosely went with the officers down a lane to the pasture and thence into the wood by a path they followed that night to and from the shanty. They discovered nothing new, save one remarkable circumstance that baffled Trove and renewed the waning suspicion of the men of the law. On almost a straight line from bush to barn were tracks of a man that showed plainly where they came out of the grass upon the garden soil. Now, the strange part of it lay in this fact: the boots of Sidney Trove exactly fitted the tracks. They followed the footprints carefully into the meadow-grass and up to the stalk of mullen. Near the top of it was the abandoned home of the spider and around it were the four snares Trove had observed, now full of prey.