It was a gag, and he started to place it in Anderson Rover’s mouth, when the latter leaped up and began to struggle with all the force he could command.
“Stop, I tell you!” cried Arnold Baxter softly.
“Stop!” And then, catching up his club once more, he dealt Anderson Rover another blow, this time directly across the temple. The gentleman wavered for an instant, gave a deep groan, and fell like a log to the floor.
A USELESS PURSUIT
Half an hour later Tom awoke with a start. For the moment he could not tell what had aroused him. Then he remembered hearing the slam of a door or a window sash.
“Must have been the storm,” he told himself, and was about to turn over and go to sleep when he heard a gun-shot from the direction of the barn.
“Something is wrong, that’s certain!” he cried. “Sam, wake up!”
“What’s the row, Tom?” questioned the youngest brother sleepily.
Before Tom could reply they heard Dick getting up, and also their Uncle Randolph and Aunt Martha.
“What did that shot mean?” demanded Randolph Rover, coming toward the boys’ rooms. “Did any of you fire it?”
“No, it came from outside,” returned Torn. “Hark!”
“Hullo, in the house!” came in the voice of Jack Ness. “Wake up, everybody! Something is wrong!”
After this it did not take long for those upstairs to slip into some clothing, and go below. Randolph Rover ran to the side door, to find it wide open. Dick lit the hall lamp.
“Saw a man running across the garden,” said Jack Ness, who had his shot-gun with him. “I yelled to him to stop, and then fired the gun. I think he came from the house.”
“How did you happen to be up?” asked Sam.
“One of the horses is sick, and I was attending to him.”
By this time some of the others were looking into the various rooms.
“The desk has been broken open!” cried Dick. “And the pantry in the corner, too!”
“Mercy, save us!” shrieked Mrs. Rover, from the kitchen. “Come here at once. Poor Anderson has been killed!”
“Killed!” gasped Tom; and then all ran to the kitchen as quickly as they could.
They found Anderson Rover lying where he had fallen, and still unconscious. There was a lump on his forehead, and a thin stream of blood trickled down one side of his face.
“Thank heaven, he is not dead!” murmured Dick, as he knelt beside his father. “But he has been struck some cruel blows. Somebody fetch water and a bandage.”
The water was procured, and also a bandage, and under skillful treatment, Anderson Rover was presently restored to consciousness.
“Where—where is he?” he questioned, when he could speak.
“Do you mean the person who struck you down?” asked Dick.