“No, no, he couldn’t have done it. I was listening and watching every minute for him to come back. I am certain I would have seen him.”
“Does Mrs. Peterson know where you are?”
“No. She was asleep when I left. I only intended, to come a short distance for I was sure that I would meet Mr. David coming back. But when I didn’t, I came all the way here. Oh, let us go at once.”
Jasper stepped back into the room, and put out the light. He was about to close the door when he paused.
“Wait a minute,” he said, “until I get my lantern. We can’t do anything without a light. Mr. David may have fainted by the side of the road. He is an old man, you know.”
It did not take Jasper long to get the lantern, and soon they were speeding across the field toward the main highway. He noticed that Betty kept very close to him, and as they drew near the Haven she seemed to be trembling violently. She started often, and Jasper wondered what was the matter with her.
“Were you not frightened to come all the way alone?” he asked.
“Not at first,” was the reply. “But I was frightened after a while and I ran hard.”
“What frightened you? Were you afraid of the dark?”
“No—yes,” Betty faltered. Jasper wondered at her answer, but made no comment.
All along the road they watched most carefully, thinking they might find David. Especially careful was this search as they neared the Haven but not a trace of him could they find.
The Petersons were greatly concerned over the missing man. The captain suggested that the neighbours should be notified and a search-party should start out at once. As this seemed the only thing to do, Jasper hurried to the village and aroused Andy Forbes from his slumbers. It took the storekeeper several minutes to grasp the significance of the affair, and Jasper had to do considerable explaining.
“So you tell me that Crazy David is lost?” he at length queried.
“Certainly. Isn’t that what I have been trying to tell you? We must get a search-party out after him at once. I fear that evil has befallen the old man. He may be wandering off in the woods somewhere, as his mind seems to be uncertain at times.”
“I’m afraid we can’t do much to-night,” and Andy scratched his head in perplexity. “However, I’ll see what I can do. Maybe I can get a bunch of men together before morning.”
“That’s good,” Jasper encouraged. “You round up the men here, and I’ll go to the camp down the road. There are several men there and I’ll get one of them to hurry to the falls and bring in all the men. I feel responsible for the welfare of David as I had strict instructions to look after him. If anything has befallen him I shall never forgive myself.”
It took Jasper over an hour to go to the camp and bring back a half dozen men. In the meantime a dozen or more had left the village with lanterns to begin the search. These he met up the road. They had searched every nook and corner, but had found no trace of the missing one.