“That would suit me first rate,” said Julius, promptly; “and my fine electric hand-torch might come into play with a vengeance. There’s nothing better going for following a trail in the dark, because the light is focussed, you see, on a small compass. Why, you can pick up night-walkers like everything when the fishing season’s on, by using a flashlight. I could even find a needle in a haystack, I believe, with one of these jim-dandy contraptions.”
“All right, Julius, we’ll appoint you head tracker, then,” chuckled Horatio. “But, after all, perhaps we’ll run across our comrade yet, before we get out of this tangle. We’re about to come to the most critical point of the entire trip, remember, for the old quarry is just ahead of us.”
Horatio chanced to be on the side of the car toward the quarry. He was not spending nearly so much time now looking ahead, leaving that task to his chums; even while talking he kept his eyes fixed upon the dark expanse that represented the surrounding woods, anticipating catching a glimpse of something, he hardly knew what, at any moment now. Doubtless all those silly yarns retailed by the ignorant gossiping farm-hands in the market-place in Scranton, while they tried to outdo one another in matching fairy stories, must have been circulating through Horatio’s brain just then. The heavy atmosphere of the deserted stone quarry, and its lonely surroundings, added to the mysterious disappearance of K. K., combined to make him peculiarly susceptible to such influences as see ghosts in every white object that moves in the darkness.
This being the case with the Juggins boy it was not to be wondered at that there could be traced a vein of actual gratification in his voice when he suddenly electrified his companions by exclaiming:
“Hugh! fellows, I tell you I saw it right then, just as that Swanson farmhand vowed to me he did once on a time this last summer—it was a light, waved up and down, back and forth, and just like they teach you when you join the Signal Corps, and learn how to wigwag with a flag or a lantern. It came from right over yonder, where we all know the old quarry lies! And I’m not fooling, either; cross my heart if I am!”
PROWLING AROUND THE QUARRY
Everybody was staring hard by the time Horatio finished. Hugh, of course, had immediately stopped the car on the road, so that they were now stationary.
It chanced that the spot was one of few where a glimpse of the quarry could be picked up, as the boys had discovered at the time they passed along this way, when we overtook them on their nutting trip.
Seconds crept past.
Each boy could measure time by the beating of his wildly accelerated heart, and as these were throbbing at the rate of something like a hundred pulsations per minute it can be easily understood that “things were going some,” to quote Horatio, when afterwards telling the story.