“You have failed to do what I ... you to do. I told you that it was ... dangerous to bring the girls here. The letter of warning to Miss Stan ... did no good.... I want to warn you again and ... ... last time. Get your friends out of Hollyhill as soon as possible. I won’t be responsible for what occurs. It makes no difference if you have given up your original purpose. Some of the men are so worked up that they are liable to do almost anything. If you can’t get the rest out of town go yourself, or you may get hurt.
“Ah, ha!” exclaimed the short, heavy and loquacious detective, “That explains the whole thing. Miss Nash has gone out of town.”
“She hasn’t done any such thing,” Marion exclaimed indignantly, springing to her feet. “Helen isn’t that kind of a girl. I know she is peculiar, but she isn’t a coward. It’s evident now that she knew something about affairs here that resulted in the sending of that threatening letter to me, and she kept her information secret for some reason. Whatever her reason was, she meant all right.”
“Did she at any time urge or suggest that it would not be well for the girls to come here in the holidays?” Mr. Stanlock inquired.
“Never a word,” Marion replied, positively. “I admit that once or twice I noticed that there was something peculiar in her manner, and it may have had something to do with her condition back of these developments, but that is all.”
“How do you account for her disappearance?” asked Detective Meyer, with puzzled humility.
“I don’t pretend to account for it,” Marion replied, quickly. “That’s a problem for you men to solve. All I know is that Helen did not intentionally desert us. She’s gone, and she went for some reason, and I believe that reason is connected with the letter. Now, it’s up to you men to find her, and, if you don’t find her pretty quick, I’ll go and find her myself.”
A murmur of applause swept the room.
“We’ll do it,” declared the tall, thin detective.
“If it’s within human power,” conditioned the square-built, deep-eyed man.
The talkative gentleman of genius said nothing. All three of them left the house a few minutes later.
* * * * *
There was little sleep for anyone at the Stanlock home that night. The mystery of the patched-up letter, coupled with Helen’s apparently voluntary disappearance and the fear that she had been led into a trap of some sort, in line with the threat contained in the skull-and-cross-bones letter, kept everybody up until long after midnight. Meanwhile, Mr. Stanlock called up the police station and asked the lieutenant in charge to come over and begin work on a new angle of the strike developments.
“One of the girls has disappeared, and we are afraid that something serious has happened,” he told the officer over the telephone.