“I believe you are right, boys,” said Mr. Temple. “These certainly are no ordinary thieves, but desperate men.”
Tom had re-entered the power house and was pottering around the machinery.
“Dad,” said Bob, who had been knitting his brow in thought, “according to what you believe, this is all part of a plot of certain Mexicans to embroil their country and ours by making trouble for the independent operators in the Southwest represented by Mr. Hampton. In that case, why should they try so hard to steal that list of the names of the independents. That looks to me like a move on the part of your business rival, the Octopus.”
“I know it does, Bob,” said his father. “The thing isn’t clear to me by a good deal. But I believe I am right. However, let’s go into the station now and call up the Hamptons out in New Mexico. Both Mr. Hampton and Jack will be interested to hear about what has happened here this afternoon.”
The boys agreed enthusiastically, and with a word to Tom Barnum to switch on the motor in order that they might have power to telephone, all three entered the station. But, despite repeated calls, they received no response.
“I suppose there’s nobody at their station, that’s all,” said Bob.
“I suppose so,” said his father. “But this business has me worried. Let’s hope nothing has gone wrong out there.”
Reluctantly, all three abandoned their efforts, removed their headpieces, and with a “good-bye” to Tom, who lived in a room at the rear of the station, started for the house. If New Mexico were to call, a light bulb would flash the signal in Tom’s quarters, and he would telephone the house.
It was twilight when they reached home, and all three went to their rooms to dress for dinner.
“Tomorrow,” said Mr. Temple in parting, “we’ll all drive over to church, and then in the afternoon you boys can go to work preparing the airplane, and I’ll lend a hand.” Mr. Temple was chairman of the Board of Trustees of an old ivy-covered church in a sleepy village some miles away, and never let Sunday pass without attending divine worship.
At dinner the talk was all of the prospective airplane flight to New Mexico. The events of the day were told in detail to Mrs. Temple and Della, Bob’s sister. Della, who was an athletic girl of 16, declared she wanted to go with them, but Bob answered rudely, as boys too often speak to their sisters:
“Huh,” he said, “you’d just get in the way.”
Mrs. Temple made no objections to the proposed trip, but began immediately to lay plans for filling the house with guests during their absence. And in discussion of the details, Della was appeased.
“Say, Bob, why are you so rude to Della?” Frank queried later, in the library, as they awaited Mr. Temple’s coming to discuss preparations for the flight.
“Huh, she’s not your sister, Frank,” said Bob. “Anyhow, I believe you’re sweet on her.”