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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 248 pages of information about The Young Wireless OperatorAs a Fire Patrol.

The forester fell into a deep study.  His face was dark and angry.  A long time he sat silent.  “I wonder,” he said finally, “if Bill Collins’ presence in the woods last spring had anything to do with it.  I’d just like to know who that was with him.”

“Oh!  Mr. Marlin,” cried Charley.  “I forgot to tell you what I discovered.  The other night when I got near Lumley’s house, I saw Lumley and another man up-stairs.  They pulled the curtain down quick when the dogs barked.  At first I felt sure the man was Collins.  But when I went into the house, Lumley sat at the table with the man.  He wasn’t Collins, though he looked like him.  But I discovered this.  The man I saw last spring in the forest with Collins was Lumley.  I hardly noticed him at the time, but when I saw these two men together I felt sure they were the pair I had seen in the woods—­only the stranger wasn’t Collins.”

“Are you quite sure?”

“The man I saw at the table wasn’t Collins.”

“Are you sure he was the man you saw in the bedroom?”

Charley looked at the forester in silence.  “I never thought of that,” he said, after a moment.  “There must have been two strangers in the house.  Lumley thought I was coming and would recognize Collins, so he must have hustled down-stairs with the other man and left Collins up-stairs.  I’ll bet anything that’s what happened.  And that makes me believe more than ever that Lumley was with Collins in the forest.  Otherwise, why should he fear to have me see Collins?”

“Charley, it is as plain as the nose on your face.  Collins is the go-between in this crooked lumber deal.  These lumber operators meant to cheat the state when they sent in their bid.  They must have had it all arranged with Lumley then.  That’s why they put in the highest bid, so as to make sure to get the timber.  By George!  They could afford to bid high.  Just see what they’ve stolen in one day’s cut of timber.”

The forester’s face grew black as a thundercloud.  “But we’ll fix them, Charley,” he cried.  “We’ll get all that money back for the state and maybe put these fellows in prison besides.  Anyway, we’ll put Lumley there sure.  Don’t breathe a word of this to a soul.  We’ll check up Lumley’s figures every day now at the skidways.  When we have enough evidence, we’ll act.  Meantime, don’t let a soul suspect that you know anything, and don’t do anything to alarm Lumley.”

Chapter XXIV

Checkmated

Charley was afoot very early next morning.  At the usual time he flashed out a wireless call for the Mortons, and the ranger himself answered.  Mr. Morton could now operate the wireless quite readily, though, of course, with nothing like the skill his wife had acquired.  He reported that he was to return to duty the next morning, starting work, with a big crew, on a six-foot fire-line along the summit of Old Ironsides.  Charley was overjoyed at the news.  It meant that now he would have a chance to see this friend from time to time.

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