It was not until Dick failed to appear for breakfast next morning that Davis began to get uneasy. He sent a bellboy to awaken Gordon, and presently the lad came back with word that he could get no answer to his knocks. Instantly Steve pushed back his chair and walked out of the room to the desk in the lobby.
“Got a skeleton key to Mr. Gordon’s room—317, I think it is?” he demanded.
“Yes. We keep duplicate keys. You see, Mr. Davis, guests go away and carry the keys——”
“Then I want it. Afraid something’s wrong with my friend. He’s always up early and on hand for breakfast. He hasn’t showed up this mo’ning. The bell hop can’t waken him. I tell you something’s wrong.”
“Oh, I reckon he’ll turn up all right.” The clerk turned to the key rack. “Here’s the key to Room 317. Mr. Gordon must have left it here. Likely he’s gone for a walk.”
Davis shook his head obstinately. “Don’t believe it. I’m going up to see, anyhow.”
Within five minutes he discovered that the bed in Room 317 had not been slept in the previous night. He was thoroughly alarmed. Gordon had no friends in the town likely to put him up for the night. Nor was he the sort of rounder to dissipate his energies in all-night debauchery. Dick had come to Santa Fe for a definite purpose. The old miner knew from long experience that he would not be diverted from it for the sake of the futile foolish diversions known by some as pleasure. Therefore the mind of Davis jumped at once to the conclusion of foul play.
And if foul play, then the Valdes claimants to the Rio Chamo Valley were the guilty parties. He blamed himself bitterly for having let Dick venture out alone, for having taken no precautions whatever to guard him against the Mexicans who had already once attempted his life.
“I’m a fine friend. Didn’t even find out who he was going out to call on. Fact is, I didn’t figure he was in any danger so long as he was in town here,” he explained to the sheriff.
He learned nothing either at the police headquarters or at the newspaper offices that threw light on the disappearance of Gordon. No murder had been reported during the night. No unusual disturbance of any kind had occurred, so far as could be learned.
Before noon he had the town plastered with posters in English and in Spanish offering a reward of five hundred dollars for news leading to the recovery of Richard Gordon or for evidence leading to the conviction of his murderers in case he was dead. This brought two callers to the hotel almost at once. One was the attorney Fitt, the other a young woman who gave her name as Kate Underwood. Fitt used an hour of the old miner’s time to no purpose, but the young woman brought with her one piece of news.
“I want to know when Mr. Gordon was last seen,” she explained, “because he was calling on my mother and me last night and left about ten o’clock.”