“To the Southwest,” said Frank, emphatically, interrupting Mr. Temple.
“What do you mean?” asked Bob.
“Weren’t there a bunch of German spies in Mexico, stirring things up there against us, during the war? Well, I’ll bet there are some of the same breed there now making all this trouble for Mr. Hampton,” said Frank.
“A good idea,” said Mr. Temple, approvingly. “Well, boys, there will be no church for us today. This matter has got to be attended to.”
“Not a trace, Bob. I don’t know what to make of this.”
“Nor I, Frank. A fellow wouldn’t believe that right here near New York, in the most densely populated part of the East, two men could steal an airplane and escape without a trace.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Bob. You remember last winter when that aviator from the upper end of Long Island was last seen flying across the Sound toward the Connecticut shore and was never seen or heard of again.”
“But, Frank, here forty-eight hours have passed. Here we are, Tuesday morning. Dad has wired every city, town and hamlet in the East. Not a sign of the machine, nor of the men.”
It was, in truth, Tuesday morning. The morning when, everything going as planned, they should have been setting out on their flight to the Hampton camp in New Mexico. Instead, the boys were moodily pecking at breakfast, the airplane had disappeared, and the trip seemed more and more remote.
To add to their worries, they had been unable to reopen communication with their chum, Jack Hampton, by radiophone, since that first and only time the previous Saturday afternoon. All their efforts to call him met with no response. The day before, moreover, a telegram had been sent Mr. Hampton by Bob Temple’s father, informing him in code of recent mysterious occurrences, including the theft of the airplane, telling him the boys had tried to call Jack by radiophone, but without response from his powerful New Mexico station, and asking whether all was well with him. No answer had yet been received.
“Mister Robert,” said Mary, the maid, entering the breakfast room, as the two boys sat in moody silence, “your father wants you and Mister Frank in the library.”
The boys hurried to the library at once, where they found Mr. Temple, very grave of face, bent above a lengthy telegram which he had just finished decoding.
“It’s from Jack,” he said, “And the poor fellow is in a lot of trouble. Listen.”
“Dear Friends, Father has been kidnapped. Two men in airplane carried him away into Old Mexico. Since getting your telegram few minutes ago realize it may have been your airplane. Wasn’t there and didn’t see it but description of machine given by cowboy on the range who saw it all tallies with description of your machine.”