“I always thought she was queer,” said Elise, “but these notes are the queerest thing yet! Do you suppose she has eloped?”
“Hush, Elise,” said Farnsworth, sternly. “I know you don’t like Azalea, but I must ask you not to talk against her while you are under my roof. Whatever she is, she is my kin,—and I shall start at once in search of her, and learn the secret,—the mystery of her life. She has acted ‘queer,’ I freely admit it, but I, for one, believe she is all right and whatever is troubling her is not her fault or wrong-doing.”
“Good for you, old man!” cried Philip, “I’m with you in your search. We’ll find her, of course. First, we must find out where she went.”
This statement was so obvious and uttered so earnestly that Patty laughed.
“True, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” she said. “And just how shall we set about it?”
But Phil didn’t laugh,—he answered her question seriously.
“First, Patty, you must question the servants, and see if any one saw her go. You know, she must have gone early this morning,—she couldn’t have gone off in the night.”
The result of the inquiry was that the cook, who was around early, had seen Azalea start away from the house at about six o’clock. She had not thought it strange at all, for Azalea often went for a long walk before breakfast. Cook said that Azalea wore a travelling suit and carried a fair-sized bag.
“So far, so good,” said Phil; “next, Patty, will you go and look round her room? See what she took with her,—and see if she left any more notes.”
“No notes,” Patty said, on her return from this errand. “But she took all her jewellery and money, a house dress and a few toilet things. Janet and I could easily tell what was missing.”
“Now,” said Farnsworth, “first, why did she go, and second, where would she be likely to go?”
“Never mind the why and wherefore,” returned Phil, “but, as you say, where would she probably go? Not over to the Gales’, of course, that’s too near home. I am ready to declare that she went to the moving-picture studios.”
“Of course she did!” agreed Elise; “I think she’s in love with that Merritt person—”
“Nonsense, Elise,” laughed Channing; “she loves that man like a cat loves hot soap! I know better than that. But I think she may have gone over there to see Mrs. Bixby. That woman has been kind to Azalea, and I feel sure that’s where she’d go.”
“Then that’s where I go,” stated Van Reypen, rising from the table. “I daresay you’re right, Chick. May I take the little roadster, Bill, and whiz over there and bring her back?”
“Go ahead, boy, and good luck to you.”
But Farnsworth was not at all sanguine as to the bringing back of Azalea. He knew her, in some ways, far better than Van Reypen did, and he felt sure that when Azalea decided to go away, she would not be easily found.