Bessie followed her eyes, and started to her feet.
“It’s Jake Hoover!” she cried. “What can he want here?”
AN OLD ENEMY TURNS UP
Startled and frightened by Bessie’s cry, Eleanor jumped up and followed her to the window.
“Well,” said Eleanor, “I never saw him before, but I can’t say I’m sorry for that. He looks mean enough to do all the things you’ve told us about him, Bessie.”
“Who is this Hoover? One of the people Bessie lived with, in Hedgeville?” asked Jamieson.
“Yes; he’s the son of the old farmer and his wife.”
“H’m!” said the lawyer. “Then evidently he knows where she has come. That looks bad.”
“Yes. You see, he was always his mother’s pet,” said Eleanor, “and I suppose he’ll tell her all about the girls.”
“Let him! I guess it can’t do any harm. I don’t see how it can now, anyhow, unless he’s in with this Weeks or someone we don’t know anything about, who has some interest in this affair. That’s one of the things that’s going to give me trouble, I’m afraid.”
“What do you mean, Charlie?”
“Just that there’s so much I don’t know. You see, there’s something mighty queer loose here. I can see that. There’s a mystery and we haven’t the key. The chances are that the people we’ve got to fight know everything there is to be known, while we don’t even know who they are, except this Weeks. And I’m not a bit sure about him.”
“I am, Charlie. If you’d seen him, and heard all about the way he acted, you’d know he was an enemy all right.”
“That’s not just what I mean, Eleanor. I’m thinking that perhaps he isn’t just making this fight on his own account; that maybe he’s working for someone else.”
“I hadn’t thought of that at all—”
“No reason why you should! But it’s my business to think of every little thing that may happen to have an influence on any case that I’m mixed up in, you see. And, as I understand it, this Weeks is pretty close—pretty fond of money, isn’t he?”
“He’s a regular old miser, that’s what he is!” said Zara, her eyes flashing.
“There’s a motive for him, you see. Someone might have a reason for wanting to keep Zara where they could get her easily, and if they offered Weeks a little money to get hold of her, I judge he’d do it fast enough.”
“But why shouldn’t they try to get hold of her themselves, if that’s what they want?”
“There might be lots of reasons for that. They might want to keep out of it, so that no one would know they were doing it, you see. That would be one reason. And then this Weeks is a bit of a politician. He’s got a good, strong pull in that county, I guess. Lots of men who have a little money saved up can get a pull. They lend money, and then they can make the men to whom they lend it do about as they like, by threatening to take their land away from them if they don’t pay up their mortgages as soon as they’re due. It’s pretty bad business, but that’s the way things are. I’m afraid we’re going to have a lot of trouble, and until I know just what’s what, I’ve got to do a lot of my work in the dark. But I’m going to do my best.”