This information was communicated to the police, who increased the family’s alarm by asking a string of questions over the telephone indicating the most direful suspicions. Had Mr. Stanlock seen or heard anything which caused him to believe that the strikers might do him bodily harm if they had an opportunity? Had he received any threatening letters? Had he appeared nervous or was there anything in his manner which indicated that he was apprehensive of trouble not already well known to the public?
Marion and her mother answered some of these questions over the telephone and half an hour later a police lieutenant called at the house and made further inquiry. There was no longer any possibility of dodging the most logical suspicions, namely, that Mr. Stanlock was the victim of a decoy plotted by some criminal element working with or under the shadow of the coal miners’ strike.
And so the relief from this dread suspense was very great when he drove up to the house and walked in, smiling as if nothing unusual had happened. Marion fairly flew into her father’s arms as if she had not seen him for sixteen months.
“Papa!” she cried almost hysterically; “where have you been? We’ve been telephoning all over the city, and the police have been searching for you for nearly two hours. Why didn’t you call us up and let us know you were going to be late?”
“I was intending to call you, my dear,” replied Mr. Stanlock, as he greeted her and the other members of the family with a rapid succession of hugs and kisses, indicating, in spite of his attempts to appear composed, that he had returned home not under the most ordinary circumstances.
“Why didn’t you?” Marion insisted. “Do you know what a state of mind you had us in during the last two or three hours?”
“I delayed calling you because I wanted to find out how late I was going to be,” Mr. Stanlock explained. “Then something happened, and I wasn’t near a telephone, and something more delayed me, and I decided to come directly home without stopping on the way to telephone.”
“What was it that happened, papa?” Marion demanded. “Was it anything serious?”
“Pretty serious, girlie,” answered her father, pinching her cheek; “but your daddy is an awfully brave man, you know, and he can’t tell his daughter any of his blood-curdling experiences unless she can listen to the roaring of cannons and the yelling of Indians without flinching.”
“Now, papa, you’re making fun of me,” Marion protested. “Didn’t anything really serious happen? The police thought you must have been waylaid.”
“I see there’s no way out of it, and I shall have to tell you girls a story that will make you all scream and dream nightmares filled with revolvers and skulking figures and masked faces and lonely highways.”
All of the thirteen members and the Guardian of Flamingo Camp Fire, Marion’s mother, sister, and brother were present at this scene in the big living room of the Stanlock home. Mr. Stanlock covertly watched the faces of his auditors and was pleased to note that his bandying words were rapidly bringing the tension back to normal. Young Master Harold at this point helped his father’s purpose along remarkably by piping forth: