Paul did not reply, and on Jack turning his head to ascertain why, he found his chum staring at a red automobile that had just whizzed past!
It had a khaki-colored top!
THE RED CAR
“What’s the matter with you, Paul?”
Jack asked this question, for of course he could not understand why his chum should take such a deep interest in any automobile that passed them on the road.
“Did you happen to see inside that red car as it went by?” asked Paul, turning eagerly on his friend.
“Why, er—yes, I did chance to be looking over your shoulders just then; I was a little afraid the wheels might graze you,” admitted Jack.
“Do you know the machine, then?” asked the other, in some suspense.
“Don’t believe I ever saw it before; but then, what of that? Don’t dozens pass along here every day, that come up from the city? It’s common to see a strange car, even if it has got a khaki-colored top, instead of a plain black one. Hey, Paul! what ails you?” demanded Jack.
“It wasn’t Colonel Strange, was it?” asked the other; for the gentleman mentioned happened to possess a red auto.
“Of course it wasn’t, because his car has a black top; and besides, neither of the two men was the fat colonel,” replied Jack, immediately.
Paul had learned something already.
“Then there were two men in it, you say?” he went on, casually, as though much of his interest had abated.
“Yes, and one of them was staring at me to beat the band. Perhaps he has lost a boy, and thinks I look like him. Don’t let him kidnap me, will you, Paul?” went on Jack with pretended anxiety, as he clung to his companion’s arm.
“Say, look there, the car’s stopped. I believe they’re waiting for us!” declared Paul, in some excitement.
“Well, that’s what gave me such a scare, you see. That’s why I’m shaking all over, Paul. But in union there is strength; and I’m going to hang on to you, if he tries to coax me to get aboard. I’m not in the long lost class.”
“Oh! come along, and let’s see what they want. He’s leaning over the top now, and keeps beckoning to us.”
Paul started on a run. He could feel his heart beating very hard; indeed it was strange, he thought, that his companion did not hear it pounding away, and make some sort of remark.
The chance that he had been hoping for seemed to be within his grasp. Not only had he discovered a car that answered the description of the one mentioned by Mr. Pender; but the occupants were plainly desirous of obtaining information of some sort, and had selected him and Jack as the ones most likely to give it.
As he hurried on, he tried to control himself. It would never do to show more than natural curiosity in his actions. If these two men were the ones the gentleman stopping at Jack’s house wanted to find, they must be smart enough to read his secret, unless he took warning.