“Do you see anything?” queried his brother.
“Nothing much. One or two of the bushes over yonder seem to be brushed aside and broken.”
“What do you think we had best do now?”
Both remained silent for several minutes, but nothing out of the ordinary reached their ears.
“We may as well give it up, Sam. It is growing dark and there is no telling where this search would lead us. We might even get lost in the woods.”
They retraced their steps as quickly as they could to where they had left the rowboat.
“What luck?” queried Fred.
“None; he got away from us.”
“It’s too bad,” said Powell; and then the return to the camp was made without further delay.
“Do you mean to tell me that you saw Arnold Baxter?” exclaimed Dick, after listening to Sam and Tom’s story.
“We did,” replied the youngest Rover. “There was no mistake?”
“If it wasn’t Arnold Baxter do you think he would take such pains to get out of our reach?” asked Tom.
“That is true, Tom. But it seems so unnatural. What can he be doing in this out-of-the-way place?”
“As Powell says, he must be keeping out of the reach of the law. Perhaps he expects to keep shady until this affair blows over.”
“As if it would blow over!” cried Sam. “Dick, we ought to do something.”
Captain Putnam had already learned why the four cadets had been late in returning to camp. The Rovers now went to consult him further.
“I agree, something should be done,” said the captain. “Perhaps you had better go to the nearest telegraph office, Richard, and telegraph to your folks. You might also get some of the local authorities to take up the hunt for this criminal.”
“Who are the local authorities?”
“I really don’t know, but we can find out at Oakville.”
In the end Dick and Tom received permission to leave camp for an indefinite time. Late as it was, they hurried to Oakville and caught the telegraph operator at the little railroad station just as he was shutting up for the night.
Having sent the message to their father they made inquiries of the operator and learned that the town boasted of a Judge Perkins and that the local constable was Munro Staton.
“Do you mean the farmer who lives down on the road to Bass Lake?” asked Dick. “The man who has twin daughters?”
“That’s the man.”
“Why, he was in camp to-day, with his daughters,” cried Dick. “Wish I had known of this before. I might have hired him to make a hunt for the fellow we are after. Where does that judge live?”
“Sorry, but he went to New York yesterday and won’t be back for several days.”
The boys said no more, but without delay turned away from Oakville and made their way to the Staton farmhouse.