“I’m afraid I can’t give you their names,” Mr. Stanlock replied slowly.
“You don’t mean to say that you let them get away without finding out who they were, do you?” his daughter inquired with just a shade of indignation.
“No, not exactly that, for I can easily get all their names any time I want them. But I know also that they don’t wish to get into the newspapers in connection with this affair.”
“Can’t you tell me who some of them are, papa?” Marion pleaded. “I want to know who it was that, perhaps, saved the life of my father.”
“I can’t tell you now, Marion. I have promised faithfully not to reveal their identity at present for very good reasons which they gave to me.”
“Where is Jake, the driver, Henry?” asked Mrs. Stanlock. “I see you drove home alone.”
“Jake proved himself to be a scoundrel and a traitor and when he discovered that I had found him out he vamoosed. I expect to swear out a warrant for his arrest tomorrow. Shortly before my usual time for coming home, I received a letter by messenger, supposedly from Mr. Mills, chairman of a special hospital committee that is looking after the sick members of striking miners’ families. I had been expecting a call of a meeting and this letter stated that it was important that I be present. He lives out on the Foothill pike near the quarries. I thought that I would make a quick run out there and call you up from his home and let you know how late I would be. Well, I didn’t get there. It seems that Jake was one of the conspirators in a plot to get me out there and waylay me. By the way, that makes me think I ought to call Mills up and find out if he did call a meeting. The notice was on his stationery and it is just possible that wasn’t a fake.”
In a few moments Mr. Stanlock was talking with Mills on the phone. The latter was astonished, declared that he had no idea of calling a meeting that night.
“Well, it’s lucky I kept the notice,” the mining president muttered. “That’ll be something interesting to show to the police tomorrow.”
* * * * *
Mr. Stanlock amused.
“I understand now how a mathematician could write ’Alice in Wonderland’,” Helen Nash remarked to Marion after Mr. Stanlock had withdrawn to the diningroom and his belated meal.
“How is that?” the hostess inquired, looking curiously at her friend.
“Why, your father, I suppose, has been thinking in terms of tons of coal all day—”
“Carloads,” Marion corrected, with a toss of levity.
“Well, make it carloads,” Helen assented. “That’s better to my purpose, more like a multiplication table, instead of addition. But it must be about as dry as mathematics.”
“Oh, I get you,” Marion exclaimed delightedly. “You mean that it is quite as remarkable for a coal operator, with carloads of coal and soot weighing down his imagination all day, to come home in the evening and spin off a lot of nonsense like a comedian as it is for a mathematician to have written ’Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.”