“What was that letter?” demanded Bonner eagerly.
“It was a B.”
Bonner looked at Anderson as if the floor were being drawn from under his feet.
“The young chap said somethin’ low to the old ‘un about takin’ the night train back to the University an’ comin’ down again Saturday.”
“To the University? Which one? Did he mention the name?” cried Bonner.
“No. That’s all he said.”
“Good heavens, if it should be!” said Bonner as if to himself.
“Well, we come up here an’ done the job. You know about that, I guess. Sam saw the young feller one night up at Boggs City, an’ got instructions from him. He was to help us git ’er away from here in an automobile, an’ the old man was to go across the ocean with ’er. That’s all I know. It didn’t turn out their way that time, but Sam says it’s bound to happen.”
Bonner, all eagerness and excitement, quickly looked around for Anderson, but the marshal had surreptitiously left the room. Then, going over to the door, he called for Anderson Crow. Bud Long was there.
“Anderson left five minutes ago, Mr. Bonner, hurryin’ like the dickens, too,” he said. “He’s gone to hunt up a feller named Barnes. He told me to tell you when you came out.”
Elsie Banks Returns
Bonner, considerably annoyed and alarmed by the marshal’s actions, made every effort to turn him back before he could ruin everything by an encounter with Mr. Barnes. He sent men on bicycles and horseback to overtake him; but the effort was unsuccessful. Mr. Crow had secured a “ride” in an automobile which had brought two newspaper correspondents over from Boggs City. They speeded furiously in order to catch a train for New York, but agreed to drop the marshal at the big bridge, not more than a mile from Judge Brewster’s place.
Chagrined beyond expression, he made ready to follow Anderson with all haste in his own machine. Rosalie hurriedly perfected preparations to accompany him. She was rejoining the house party that day, was consumed by excitement over the situation, and just as eager as Bonner to checkmate the untimely operations of poor old Anderson Crow.
The marshal had more than half an hour’s start of them. Bonner was his own chauffeur and he was a reckless one to-day. Luck was against him at the outset. The vigorous old detective inspired to real speed, for the first time in his lackadaisacal life, left the newspaper men at the bridge nearly three-quarters of an hour before Bonner passed the same spot, driving furiously up the hill toward Judge Brewster’s.
“If your bothersome old daddy gets his eyes on Barnes before I can head him off, dearest, the jig will be up,” groaned Bonner, the first words he had spoken in miles. “Barnes will be on his guard and ready for anything. The old—pardon me, for saying it—the old jay ought to know the value of discretion in a case like this.”