* * * * *
Meanwhile there had been great anxiety at the Wilsons’.
“If it were not for the storm,” said Aunt Harriet, “I should send up to the Pentzes’ to inquire about those boys.”
“I suppose it’s the storm that keeps them,” said Jane.
“If it were not for the storm,” Mrs. Pentz was saying to Mary, “I should like you to go down to the Wilsons’ and see what those boys are about.”
As to Mrs. Stebbins, John was so seldom at home it did not occur to her to wonder where he was.
But when Saturday morning came, and no boys, Aunt Harriet said, “There’s a little lull in the storm. I can’t stand it any longer, Jane. I am going to put on my waterproof and go up to the Pentzes’.”
“I will go too,” said Jane; and Gertrude and George joined the party.
Half-way up the long street they met the Pentz family coming down to make the same inquiries,—Mr. and Mrs. Pentz, Mary, Sophy, Will, and the rest.
“Where are the boys?” was the exclamation as they met half-way between the two houses.
Mr. Johnson, one of the leading men of the town, crossed the street to ask what was the commotion in the two families. “Our boys are missing,” said Mr. Pentz. “Five boys!”
“We haven’t seen them since Thursday morning,” said Aunt Harriet.
“They were at home Thursday afternoon,” said Mary Pentz.
“I must speak to the police,” said Mr. Pentz.
“He is up at the Wilson House,” said Mr. Johnson. “There were tramps in the house there last night, and the police came very near catching them. He found the door unlocked night before last. The tramps kept off that night, but turned up last night in the storm. They have got off, however. There is only one policeman, but we’ve sworn in a special to keep guard on the house.”
“I’ll go up and see him,” said Mr. Pentz.
“We’ll all go up,” said Harriet.
“Perhaps the tramps have gone off with the boys,” said Gertrude.
Quite a crowd had collected with the party as they moved up the street, and all together came to the front of the house. The policeman was just disappearing round the other side. They turned to the back to meet him, and reached the corner where the veranda looked down upon the yard.
At this moment Mr. and Mrs. Wilson appeared. They had arrived at the station from New York, and heard there the story of the disappearance of the boys, and of tramps in the house. They hastened to the scene, Mrs. Wilson almost distracted, and now stood with the rest of the Wilsons and the Pentzes awaiting the policeman. They heard a cry from above, and looked up to the veranda.
There were all the boys in a row.
A PLACE FOR OSCAR.
“I don’t like tiresome fables,” said Jack, throwing down an old book in which he had been trying to read; “it is so ridiculous making the beasts talk. Of course they never do talk that way, and if they did talk, they would not be giving that kind of advice But then they never did talk. Did you ever hear of a beast talking, Ernest, except in a fable?”