“You are going to send for Oliver?” he queried.
The judge hesitated, then motioning Black to sit, said abruptly:
“What is Andrews’ attitude in this matter?”
Andrews was Shelby’s District Attorney.
Black’s answer was like the man.
“I saw him for one minute an hour ago. I think, at present, he is inclined to be both deaf and dumb, but if he’s driven to action, he will act. And, judge, this man Flannagan isn’t going to stop where he is.”
“Black, be merciful to my misery. What does this man know? Have you any idea?”
“No, judge, I haven’t. He’s as tight as a drum,—and as noisy. It is possible—just possible that he’s as empty. A few days will tell.”
“I cannot wait for a few days. I hardly feel as if I could wait a few hours. Oliver must come, even if—if the consequences are likely to be fatal. An Ostrander once accused cannot skulk. Oliver has been accused and—Send that!” he quickly cried, pulling forward the telegram he had been writing.
Mr. Black took up the telegram and read:
Come at once. Imperative. No delay and no excuse.
“Mrs. Scoville will supply the address,” continued the poor father. “You will see that it goes, and that its sending is kept secret. The answer, if any is sent, had better be directed to your office. What do you say, Black?”
“I am your friend, right straight through, judge. Your friend.”
“And my boy’s adviser?”
“You wish that?”
“Then, there’s my hand on it, unless he wishes a change when we see him.”
“He will not wish any change.”
“I don’t know. I’m a surly fellow, judge. I have known you all these years, yet I’ve never expressed—never said what I even find it hard to say now, that—that my esteem is something more than esteem; that—that I’ll do anything for you, judge.”
“I—we won’t talk of that, Black. Tell Mrs. Scoville to keep me informed—and bring me any message that may come. The boy, even if he leaves the first thing in the morning, cannot get here before to-morrow night.”
“He will telegraph. I shall hear from him. O God! the hours I must wait; my boy! my boy!”
It was nature’s irrepressible cry. Black pressed his hand and went out with the telegram.
THE DOOR OF MYSTERY
HE MUST BE FOUND
Three hours later, an agitated confab took place at the gate, or rather between the two front gates. Mr. Black had rung for admittance, and Mrs. Scoville had answered the call. In the constrained interview which followed, these words were said: