“That’s right, Frank,” said Mr. Temple. “Search it well. And, Bob, did you notice the license number of the car? We can telephone and have it intercepted.”
“No,” confessed Bob. “I was too busy to get that.”
Frank interrupted the conversation with a shout of delight. “Look at this,” he cried, holding up a long strip of paper. “Return trip ticket to Ransome, New Mexico. And a wallet with a big bunch of bills in it. And here, what’s this?” he added, holding up a thick, legal-looking envelope. “Why, Mr. Hampton’s name is written on it.”
“Let me have that, Frank,” said Mr. Temple, extending his hand. Frank passed him the envelope. Mr. Temple noted the seal had been broken, and opening it he pulled out a thick document down which he ran his glance hurriedly. Then his face became grave.
“Boys,” he said, “Mr. Hampton has many things of value in his home, but this was the most valuable of all.” Briefly he explained the paper contained a list of names of “independents” in the oil field, together with other information, which would give the Octopus a very great advantage in the business war between the Oil Trust and the “independents” if the document fell into its hands.
“This is pretty serious business, boys,” Mr. Temple continued. “Bob, you were very rash, but you did a good stroke of business that time. Come,” he added, “we’ll go back to the house, and call up the police. Maybe that car can be stopped and its occupants arrested.”
As they turned through the woods, another thought occurred to Mr. Temple, and he asked Frank what was the name of the man to whom the railroad ticket had been issued.
“Jose Morales,” read Frank. “This is the portion for the return trip from New York. Evidently the man came from—why, Mr. Temple, he came here from Ransome, New Mexico. That’s the nearest station on the railroad to the Hampton’s camp.”
“You’re right, my boy,” said Mr. Temple gravely. “There is some mystery here.”
Frank thwacked Bob gleefully on the back. “Say, Bob,” he declared, “old Jack isn’t having all the fun after all, is he?”
SHOTS AT THE STATION
“Boys,” said Mr. Temple, when the Temple home, a short distance from the Hampton place, was reached, “come into the library with me. I want to have a serious talk with you.”
Obediently, Bob and Frank filed into the room and sat down in deep leather armchairs, while Mr. Temple sat back in a swinging chair by his broad, flat-topped desk. Selecting a cigar from the humidor at his elbow, he lighted it and puffed thoughtfully several moments before addressing the chums.
“First of all,” he said at the conclusion of this period of silence, “I’ve decided that we will not notify the police of this affair.”
“Why not, Dad?” demanded Bob in surprise.
“We want to keep this matter to ourselves until we can see more clearly what it means,” explained Mr. Temple. “We recovered what was stolen, anyhow. But more than that, I begin to suspect there is something more behind all this than mere business rivalry between the independent oil operators and the Trust.”