“Good!” cried Thayor, brightening. “And, Mr. Holt—isn’t he coming too?”
“I’m afraid not; he said to me before lunch that he and the dog were going to stay on for a spell.”
“What—not alone! Oh, Billy, I wouldn’t want to leave him here alone. He’s an old man, you know, even if he is tough as a pine knot. Can’t we persuade him to go with us? He’s been so loyal and lovable I hate to leave him.”
“I don’t think you need worry, sir—he won’t be alone.”
“But Skinner is going with us.”
“Yes—but he’ll have company.”
“The man you saw yesterday. You didn’t suspect, perhaps, but that was Bob Dinsmore, who killed Bailey.”
“The hide-out!” exclaimed Thayor, with a start.
“Yes, he’s been around here ever since we came.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry! Why didn’t you let me see him?”
“Well, we didn’t think any good would come of it, sir. Hite won’t let him go hungry if he can help it, and he can now. We haven’t eaten half the grub we brought.”
Thayor stood for a moment in deep thought, reached down into his pocket and took from it a roll of bills.
“Hand this to Holt, Billy, and tell him to give it to the poor fellow from me.”
When Blakeman opened the steel grille for his master at an early hour the day following, the thought uppermost in his mind was the change in Thayor’s appearance. He saw at a glance that the wilderness had put a firmness into his step and a heartiness in his voice, as well as a healthy colour in his cheeks, such as he had not seen in him for years. He would gladly have sacrificed his month’s salary to have been with him, and more than once during his absence had he gone to his room, finding a certain consolation even in looking for rust spots on his favourite gun.
With the casting off of his heavy travelling coat and hat, Thayor’s first words were of his daughter.
“And how is Miss Margaret?” he asked, as Blakeman followed him upstairs with his gun and great-coat.
Dr. Sperry’s villainous verdict still rankled in the butler’s mind, and at first he had half decided to tell Thayor all he had overheard in the teakwood room. Then the pain it would give his master restrained him.
“Miss Margaret is quite well, sir,” he returned in the unctious, calm voice he assumed in service.
“Ah, that’s good. She’s asleep, I suppose, at this hour.”
“I presume so, sir, as she was out rather late last night. I beg pardon, sir, but might I ask if you have had good luck?”
“Well, I managed to kill a fine buck, Blakeman,” returned his master, as he continued up the stairs.
“Did you, indeed, sir!” exclaimed Blakeman, his face lighting up. “Well, I’m happy to hear it, sir—I am, indeed. A full blue-coat, sir, I dare say.”