Torry increased the speed the very next moment. There were not many constables around Seacove, and the first five miles of the road to Elmvale was perfectly straight. The amber lamps of the car gave a good light ahead, and Torry was really a safe driver.
But he seemed reckless on this evening. Inspired by the same feeling that impressed Whistler Morgan, he felt that they could not get to Elmvale too quickly.
During the journey the older boys vouchsafed no explanation to the younger pair save that they had made an engagement with Mr. Santley at the munition factory over the telephone. In fact, they had no idea what they would do, or what they would say to Mr. Santley.
The car roared on, the dogs barked behind them, and finally they came to the slope leading down into Elmvale. Lights were already twinkling in the valley. But the mills were closed, and even the munition factory seemed deserted.
This time they did not take the Upper Road, but drove through the center of the little hamlet. The stores were open and there were lights in most of the cottages of the workmen. There were lively parties in all the long, barrack-like boarding houses. The town was wide awake.
Torry brought the car to an abrupt stop before the brick office building of the munition works. The place had been a mill before the war. The long, many-windowed buildings behind the offices covered a good deal of ground. There was a high stockade fence about the whole plant. An armed guard stood at the main door when Whistler ran up the steps. The other boys chose to wait in the car for him.
“I want to see Mr. Santley,” Whistler said to the guard in khaki.
“The manager? I don’t know whether he is here at this hour or not.”
“I see lights in the offices yonder. And I have made an appointment with him.”
At that moment the bolts of the big door were shoved back and a man looked out. Whistler Morgan did not know the manager of the munition works by sight; but the guard at once said:
“Here’s a boy to see you, Mr. Santley.”
“What is your name, young man?” asked the manager, eying the boy with interest.
Whistler told him.
“Dr. Morgan’s son, from Seacove? Come in,” and Whistler was ushered inside and the heavy door was again barricaded.
“We have to keep locked up here like a fortress at night,” said Mr. Santley. “Come in and let me hear what you have to say, young man. What do you know about Mr. Blake?”
“Did you know he had been out at sea on an oil tender to-day?” blurted out Whistler. “She was chased by a submarine chaser, but the tender escaped in the fog. Afterward she came into Rivermouth Harbor without her cargo.”
“What’s this? What’s this?” demanded Mr. Santley. “Why, that has nothing to do with the factory.”
They were in his private office. He stood with his hand upon Whistler’s shoulder and asked the boy sternly: