“Precisely,” answered Helen.
“Well, I don’t know but you’re right. Anyway, I wouldn’t detract from such a nice compliment paid to the dearest daddy on earth. Still, after leaving the atmosphere of his carloads of coal he had experienced the diversion of being held up.”
“By two masked men with guns on a lonely highway,” supplemented Helen.
“And later found that his driver had turned traitor and planned to deliver him into the hands of the enemy.”
“I don’t see any diversion or inspiration in that sort of experience. Many a man would have come home in a very depressed state of mind after such an adventure. And yet he came home, found everybody scared to death, and before he even began his story had us all laughing just as Alice would at some of the contortions behind the looking glass. And he kept us smiling even when he told of the masked would-be kidnappers standing in the middle of the road and pointing pistols at the driver of his automobile.”
“Kidnappers,” repeated Marion in puzzled surprise. “Why do you say kidnappers?”
The two girls were alone in the library when this conversation took place. All of the other guests, feeling that the members of the family would prefer to be left alone following the startling occurrences of the evening, had withdrawn to their rooms. Helen was about to bid her friend good-night when her remark regarding Mr. Stanlock’s happy personal faculties opened the discussion as here recorded. She hesitated a few moments before answering the last inquiry; then she said:
“Don’t you think that those men intended to kidnap your father? What other explanation can you find for their actions?”
“I hadn’t tried to figure out their motive,” Marion replied thoughtfully. “Father called it a hold-up and I took his word for it.”
“But he had no money with him, did he?”
“No, I think not. He seldom carries much money.”
“And it is hardly reasonable to suppose that this plot between the chauffeur and the two highwaymen was for the purpose of murder. They would have gone about it in some other way. This one leaves too many traces behind.”
“Yes,” Marion admitted.
“Well, the only reasonable conclusion you can reach with the robbery and murder motives out of the way, is that the plotters wished to take your father prisoner and hold him some place until they got what they wanted.”
“But what did they want?” asked the bewildered Marion.
“That’s for your father to suspect and the police to find out,” said Helen shrewdly. “Personally, I haven’t a doubt that the strike has everything to do with it.”
“What makes you think so?”
“The threatening letter that you received at the Institute. Show that to your father tonight and suggest that he turn it over to the police.”