While Charley was turning the matter over in his mind, the forester suddenly appeared. Charley gave a glad cry when he saw him.
“Did you get them all out?” he asked anxiously.
“All will be out in a short time,” was the reply. “Morton and his big gang crossed directly into the other valley when I came here with my crew. As soon as we had finished your job here, we hustled over to the other valley. The fires there had spread considerably, but as there was little wind and we had a big force of men, we quickly got them under control. The minute I was satisfied we had them in hand, I came back to see how you were. Jim is in charge over there, so everything will be all right. How are you?”
“All O.K.,” said Charley, “but I guess I must have been about all in when you got here. I don’t remember much about it.”
“Yes, you were about gone. We got to you just in time. Now tell me what you know about this fire.”
The two men sat down in the shade and Charley told his chief all that had happened to him since the two had parted on the preceding evening. When he showed the forester the marks in the clay, the forester was elated.
“He’s a pretty clever rascal who doesn’t trip himself up somewhere,” he said. “It’s an easy guess who your three fire bugs are. I have a very great suspicion that the thumb-prints in that ball of clay I took from your secret camp will match up with some of these marks, and that both sets of prints will correspond with the marks on the thumbs of one Bill Collins, though I didn’t know that he was in the neighborhood at present. And it’s just as safe a bet that another set of those marks will match the ends of Lumley’s thumbs. If only he had been as considerate as his friend Collins, and left his calling cards behind him, we’d have a complete case against him.”
“We have,” cried Charley, leaping to his feet in sudden excitement. “Lumley left his thumb-prints in the putty he stuck in his window-sash. I never thought of them until this moment.”
“Excellent!” cried the forester. “I suspect we can find the duplicates for this third set of prints only when we lay hands on Henry Collins. But I have a strong suspicion we’ll have a chance to make that comparison very soon.”
“How?” asked Charley eagerly. “What do you mean? Have the police made any arrests?”
“I don’t know,” replied the forester. “But this is the situation. Lumley will never dare hang around in the forest, for he will know that every man in the Forest Service is looking for him. Then, too, he can’t have much food with him.”
“Only what he took from me, I suspect.”