Yet how could he have vanished so completely, and what possibly could have happened to his assailant or assailants?
“It’ll be an awful night, until daylight,” Tom groaned inwardly, as he ran. “At daylight, of course, we can make a far better search, especially over the water. But in the hours that must elapse—–! It’s going to be a tough period of waiting!”
Arrived at camp, Tom made straight for his own barracks, letting himself in with a latch-key as soon as he could control his shaking hand sufficiently to use the key.
Tom bounded straight for the bed-room of the superintendent, at the rear of the little building.
“Mr. Renshaw!” shouted the young chief, throwing open the bed-room door.
The barrack was lighted by electricity. Tom threw on the light, then wheeled toward the bed, to find the superintendent sitting up, revolver in hand.
“Oh, it’s you, is it?” gasped the superintendent. “Mr. Reade, in my stupor from being aroused I was just on the point of shooting you for a burglar. It’s awful!”
“You ought to throw that revolver to the bottom of the gulf,” Tom rasped out.
“Not much!” retorted the superintendent. “Handling as mixed a crew as we have on this work I wouldn’t think of going about unarmed. And you ought to go armed, too, Mr. Reade.”
“Bosh!” uttered Tom. He had a well-known objection to carrying a pistol. Reade always maintained that a pistol-carrying man was a coward. A coward is one who is afraid, and the man who is not afraid has no reason to carry a weapon.
“Renshaw,” added Tom, “there’s just one circumstance in which I would carry a pistol—–and that is, if I were carrying large sums of other people’s money. If I were a pay-master, or a bank messenger, I’d carry a pistol, but under no other circumstances, outside of military service, would I carry a weapon. But—–are you thoroughly awake, now?”
“Then, Mr. Renshaw, get up and hide that pistol somewhere. While you’re about it, listen to me. Some scoundrel has blown out a large portion of our retaining wall to-night. I left Hazelton on guard at the point and came ashore to get out the motor boat, ‘Morton.’ Before I could return I heard Hazelton’s call for help, and—–he has disappeared! There’s wicked work on hand to-night. You’ll have to get up and help me. Be quick with your dressing. We’ve work to do to-night, and all of it is man’s work.”
Tom hastily added such other particulars as were needed. Renshaw, while he dressed hurriedly, listened with a horror that he took no pains to conceal.
“Evarts claims that it’s revenge work, on the part of some of our men, because Hazelton and I stopped gambling in the camp,” Tom continued.
“It might be,” Renshaw admitted thoughtfully. “But to me it seems that there must be a lot more behind the whole terrible matter.”