“I will,” Marion promised. “In this new excitement I forgot all about it. I didn’t even show it to mother. Just as soon as papa finishes his dinner, I’m going to show that letter to him. I’ll go upstairs now and get it. You wait here and be present when we talk it over, Helen. You’re so good at offering suggestions that maybe with you present we can all work out some kind of solution of what has been going on.”
Marion hastened up to her room and returned presently with both of the anonymous letters she had received in Westmoreland. A few minutes later her father and mother both entered the library with the evident purpose in mind of holding a lengthy conference on the problems growing out of Mr. Stanlock’s business troubles.
“Papa, do you think those men tried to kidnap you?” Marion inquired by way of introducing the subject.
Mr. Stanlock laughed heartily.
“Kidnap me!” he exclaimed. “Well, that’s a good one. I thought they only kidnapped kids.”
“Father,” the girl pleaded; “do be serious with me. I’ve got something very important to show you, something I forgot all about until Helen reminded me. Helen thinks those men tried to kidnap you, and she’s a pretty wise girl, as I’ve had occasion to find out.”
“If Helen said that, she surely must be a wise girl or else she has made a pretty accurate guess,” was the mine owner’s reply.
“Then they did want to kidnap you?”
“Absolutely no doubt of it. They’ve got some kind of retreat in the mountains, and planned to carry me off there and keep me prisoner.”
“Why, to force me to yield to some of their demands, which are utterly impossible and unreasonable. First, they demand an increase of wages that would force us into a receivership sooner or later and again they demand the adoption of a cooperative plan which eventually would make them owners of the mines, if there were any possibility of it working, and there isn’t. It’s a most ridiculous hold-up, the responsibility for which rests with a few fanatical leaders of doubtful integrity.”
“What do you think of these letters?” Marion asked, handing the two anonymous missives to her father. “I received them by mail at the Institute last night, but neglected to read them until we were all on the train this morning.”
As Mr. Stanlock read them, his brow contracted sternly. He could treat lightly any hostile attack on himself, but when danger threatened members of his family or their intimate friends, all signs of levity disappeared from his manner and he was ready at once to meet with all his energy the source of the danger, whether it be human or an element of inanimate nature.
“This” he said, as he finished reading and held up the letter signed with a skull and cross-bones, “undoubtedly came from the source where the plot to kidnap me originated. They are pretty well organized and determined to go the limit. Of course, you girls must give up your plans to work among the strikers’ families. It would be foolhardy and probably would result in somebody’s getting hurt.”