During this conversation the auto driver had been an attentive listener. At times it was difficult for him to refrain from laughing outright, especially at the captain’s embarrassment. It was not for amusement, however, that he was there, but for something far more important. What he learned seemed to please him, so with the light of satisfaction in his eyes, he left the store and returned to his car. When the captain came out a few minutes later he greeted him in a friendly manner.
“Fine morning, Captain,” he accosted.
“Hello, John!” the captain replied. “I didn’t know it was you. Where did ye drop from?”
“Oh, just on my way from the city. I didn’t expect to meet you here.”
“An’ I didn’t expect to be here, John. I’ve been hung up fer hours, an’ can’t git a breath of wind. I should be loadin’ at Spoon Island by this time.”
“Perhaps a rest will do you good, Captain. A trip ashore once in a while will do you no harm. You have been shopping, I see? I didn’t know your wife and Flo were with you on this trip. They were home when I left.”
“What makes ye think they’re with me?” the captain somewhat sharply asked.
“Oh, it was merely a surmise on my part,” and the young man smiled. “I happened to overhear the conversation between you and the storekeeper; that was all.”
“Well, s’pose I was buyin’ things fer me wife an’ daughter, what of it? Why should ye think they’re on the boat when I buy things they want?”
“It was just a notion on my part. I happened to hear what they wanted, and naturally wondered why you should go to a store like that when you could have got all the articles in the city to far better advantage. It’s none of my business, of course, only it made me somewhat curious.”
The captain made no reply but turned and looked out upon the river, where the men were searching for the missing girl. The young man, too, looked, and there was an amused expression in his eyes as he at length turned them upon the captain’s face.
“They don’t seem to be meeting with much success, do they?” he casually remarked.
“Seems not,” was the quiet reply.
“Perhaps they are not searching in the right place. They may be all astray, and the girl is not drowned after all.”
“What makes ye think that?” the captain somewhat anxiously asked.
“Oh, certain things have made me come to the conclusion that the girl did not drown herself. It would be a most unlikely thing for Miss Randall to do. She is not that kind.”
“H’m, that’s no reason,” the captain retorted. “Ye never know these days what notions gals’ll take.”
“I believe you are right,” and the young man smiled. “They do take queer notions at times, as was proven by the list of articles you tried to buy in the store just a few minutes ago.”
“Hey, what’s that yer sayin’?” the captain demanded, swinging swiftly around. “What d’ye mean by them words?”