“It’s mighty funny if a man can’t be out after dark without a lot o’ women jumpin’ on ’im.”
Nobody with a grain of humor in his soul, if that is where the sense of fun is located, could have restrained a laugh at that remark. In a moment it would have been difficult for any one of those present to realize how tragically serious they had all been a few minutes before.
After the chorus of laughter had subsided, Mr. Stanlock sat down in a large upholstered armchair, and remarked to his unconsciously brilliant son:
“You are a great protector of women-oppressed man, aren’t you, Harold. Your chief virtue along this line is your ability to get the philosophical high spots of every-day gossip. But don’t stop there, my able young advocate. Do you realize that your father has had no dinner and that this exacting bevy of girls is going to force me to suffer the pangs of hunger until I have told my story?”
“I just told Mary (the head maid) to get your dinner ready,” Mrs. Stanlock interposed smilingly. “You won’t need to go hungry more than fifteen minutes longer.”
“I see that you don’t appreciate an eager and attentive audience,” Marion remarked, affecting to be deeply offended in behalf of her guests. “Very well, we’ll wait until after you have satisfied a mere man’s appetite, and then we’ll condescend to listen.”
“Oh, I can tell it in fifteen minutes while Mary is warming over the meat and potatoes. Now, get ready, all you young ladies, for the first shock. I was really and truly held up.”
“Held up!” exclaimed several of the girls in chorus.
“Yes, held up, with guns pointed at the chauffeur’s head by two masked men on a lonely highway.”
“You’re joking,” said Marion, dubiously.
“All right,” said the mine owner, settling back comfortably in his chair. “You insisted on my telling my story, and now that I have begun it, you won’t believe my first sentence.”
“Yes, I do believe it, papa,” Marion said repentantly, going close to her father’s chair and putting her arm around his neck. “I believe you were held up by two masked highwaymen with guns in a lonely spot, as you say. But how did you escape?”
“We were rescued by some boys!”
Although at the end of a sentence, Mr. Stanlock stopped so quickly that only a dull person could fail to notice it. His sudden stop, of course, was occasioned by the return to his mind of his promise to keep the secret of the Boy Scouts.
“Boys,” said Mrs. Stanlock, wonderingly. “I didn’t know that we had any heroes of that type in Hollyhill.”
“They were some young fellows out hunting,” explained the narrator. “They witnessed the hold-up and leveled their guns at the rascals and drove them away.”
“Who are those boys?” Marion demanded, and one might almost have imagined from her manner that she had half a kingdom to bestow on the rescuers of her father.