Once again they were seated around the campfire. Supper had been, as usual, a great success, and while the older members of the party smoked, our boys amused themselves in various ways.
Will was, of course, busy with his photographic outfit. His field dark-room was a success, and he developed his films, and did all other things necessary, with little or no trouble. Indeed, he had an apparatus whereby he could carry on this operation successfully even in the daytime; but he usually worked at night, because there was nothing else going on then.
The others had fallen into a conversation connected with their home life. Reddy hovered near, listening, and Frank wondered why that wistful look had come into the eyes of the young cowboy. Possibly he had a home somewhere—perhaps memories of a mother or father had crowded into his mind while the boys were talking of the sacred ties that bound them to Centerville.
Frank had always believed there must be something of a history attached to Reddy’s past. He had even hoped that some time the other might take such a liking to him as to speak of his own folks. His manner gave Frank the impression that the dashing cowboy might have had a new longing spring up in his breast since their coming to the ranch, a desire to once again visit the scenes of his boyhood.
So, as they talked, referring to many of the events of the past, names were often mentioned, and as a thought came to him, Frank happened to say:
“I wonder how Hank Brady is getting on with father’s new car?”
He saw the cowboy start and turn white.
“Who’s Hank Brady?” he asked, his voice trembling.
“A fellow we met under strange circumstances. Hank was on the road to the bad, but he got his eyes open just in time. Now he’s our chauffeur, and we think he’s going to make good,” replied Frank, watching the other with sudden interest.
“Huh! Did you ever hear anything about his family?” asked Reddy, trying to act in a natural manner, but hardly succeeding very well.
“Yes. He’s got a father and mother who were mighty anxious about him.”
“And there’s that good-for-nothing brother Ted he told you to keep your eye out for up here!” broke in Bluff.
“Yes; how about that, Frank? Have you ever asked about him?” exclaimed Jerry.
“No; but perhaps I’d better begin now. How about it, Reddy?” questioned Frank.
“You needn’t go any further, for I can tell you all about that scalawag. If you had asked Mr. Mabie, he’d have told you my name was Ted Brady,” was the astonishing reply.
“WE MUST CUT AND RUN FOR IT!”
It was surprising to see the effect of the cowboy’s announcement.
Frank was in some measure prepared for it. He had entertained a sudden suspicion as he noticed the emotion of the other. But his chums seemed almost thunderstruck.