“I’m afraid Mr. Lansing never got to Grant’s,” he said. “I’ll ride over at once.”
“Then I’m coming,” Jake said shortly. “I’ll bring the gun along.”
Grierson lifted a clenched brown hand.
“So am I! If Mr. Lansing’s hurt, somebody’s got to pay!”
Edgar was stirred by something in their looks and voices; George had gained a hold on these men’s loyalty which the regular payment of wages could never have given him. He merely signified assent, and, running out, sprang into the saddle. The others had evidently had their horses ready, for he heard them riding after him in a minute or two, though he was galloping recklessly through the bluff when they came up. The homestead was dark when they reached it, and they shouted once or twice before Grant came down.
“Is George here?” Edgar asked.
“No,” said Grant, “we didn’t expect him.”
“Then get on your clothes quick! There’s work on hand!”
Grant brought him in and struck a light, then hurriedly left the room; and Flora came with him, fully dressed, when he reappeared. Edgar supposed she had heard his sharp inquiry at the door, and he noticed that her expression was strained. He threw the note on the table.
“After what you said, I needn’t ask if you wrote that.”
“I didn’t,” Grant told him. “It’s not like my hand. I suppose Lansing started when he got it and has not come back?”
“You have guessed right. Where are they likely to have waylaid him, and where will they probably take him?”
“The bluff, sure. They might head north for empty country, or south for the frontier.”
“The frontier,” Flora broke in.
“It’s what I think,” said Edgar. “Shall I send a man for Flett, or will you?”
“That’s fixed, anyway,” said a voice outside the open door. “We’re not going.”
It was obvious that the hired men had followed them as far as the passage, for Grierson, entering the room, explained:
“He means we’ve made up our minds to look for Mr. Lansing.”
Grant nodded in assent.
“Then my man goes. Turn out the boys, Jake; you know the place. I want three horses saddled, quick.”
“Four,” said Flora, firmly. “I’m coming.”
Grant did not try to dissuade her.
“Write to Flett,” he said.
He went out hastily in search of blankets and provisions, and when he returned, his hired men had gathered about the door and the note was finished. He threw it to one of them.
“Ride with that as hard as you can,” he said, and called another, “You’ll come with us.”
“We’re a strong party already,” Edgar broke in. “You’re leaving the place poorly guarded, and the rustlers may have counted on something of the kind. Suppose they finish their work by driving off every beast that’s left as soon as we have gone.”
“I’ve got to take my chances; we’ll want the boys to make a thorough search.”