When the Governor and Archie went down to breakfast at nine o'clock they learned that Congdon had risen early and, declaring that his arm was fully recovered, was fishing from the wharf.
The Governor drew from his pocket a telegram which Leary had carried up to him while he was dressing.
"A cipher from Perky at Harbor Springs. He's got the provisions aboard but reports that he suspects the tug is being watched. It's possible of course that he and old Eliphalet were spotted at Cleveland when they boarded the boat and that the Government is keeping an eye on the _Arthur B. Grover_."
Archie fidgeted uneasily.
"We've got enough trouble on hand right here without bucking the Federal authorities. Of course you'll warn him at once not to put in here!"
"My reply was sent instantly. I wired him to hold on to Eliphalet but to drop all the men he didn't need to handle the tug at the first convenient point and send them singly into the woods beyond Calderville to await instructions. This is a dead port; nothing but driftwood has landed here since the mill shut down three years ago."
"I tell you I don't like this at all! You can't run a pirate ship through the Great Lakes without attracting attention. A policeman can stand on the shore anywhere and throw a brick on board anything afloat."
"Really, you exaggerate, Archie," replied the Governor gently. "These wide and beautiful waters invite the adventurous mariner and if piracy appealed to me at all I'd rather enjoy levying tribute upon the unprotected cities of the saltless seas."
Sally brought in a fresh pot of coffee and they waited for her to leave the room.
"Only one thing interests me," declared Archie, "and that's the immediate cleaning up of Carey. The Congdons have begun to bore me, if you'll pardon my saying it! The old man and his plugged gold pieces and the will he's reported to carry in his umbrella and the family row are none of my business. If you want to give me a thrill of delight you'll chuck everything connected with the name Congdon and concentrate on Carey."
"Not so easy, with our friend Putney living here under the same roof. Again I warn you that we must practise patience. Here comes Putney now."
They had reached the veranda, where Congdon joined them, proudly displaying his string of perch. When Leary had borne his catch to the kitchen Congdon became serious.
"Something's happened that bothers me a little. A man motored up here awhile ago, looked the place over and asked me a lot of questions about the hotel and its guests. You understand, Comly—"
He hesitated, glancing questioningly from Archie to the Governor.
"You may trust Saulsbury. We have knowledge of some other things that make it necessary for us all to stand together."
"This fellow seemed to have no business here," Congdon continued. "He said he was staying at Calderville, farther down the road, and pretended to be looking for a quiet hotel to bring his family to. He thought Huddleston might do. He looked me over in a way I didn't like. You remember, Comly, I took you into my confidence about a little difficulty I had before I came here—"
"That little affair on the Maine coast? It was a shooting, Saulsbury," Archie explained soberly.
"Extraordinary!" exclaimed the Governor. "Mr. Congdon, you may command my services in any manner whatsoever. Now and then it has been my fortune to be able to pull a friend out of trouble. Pray consider me wholly at your service."
He listened gravely while Congdon described the shooting at Bailey Harbor. He was convinced that he had shot a burglar who died of the wound, and that the injury from which he had just recovered had been inflicted by his victim.
"You have troubled about this matter quite unnecessarily," the Governor declared with a wave of the hand. "I can see that yours is a sensitive nature, with imagination highly developed. You were in your own house, and had every right to be there; and certainly no jury would ever convict you of murder where you were only defending yourself against a scoundrel who did his best to kill you."
Congdon brightened perceptibly at this broad-minded view of the matter and flashed a look of relief at Archie, who was quietly smoking.
"It's most fortunate that we three have met here, gentlemen and murderers all!" the Governor went on airily. "Comly tells me that he too has been dodging the police. To make you both feel perfectly at ease I'll be equally frank and say that for nearly seven years I've been mixed up with the leading crooks of this country; not for profit; no, decidedly not; but merely for the fun of the thing."
Archie pretended to share Congdon's surprise at this confession, delivered without the quiver of an eyelash.
"I should never have guessed it," said Congdon. "I had sized you up as a college professor, or perhaps a lecturer on applied ethics," he added with a laugh; "we hardly look the black wretches we are!"
"Let us hope not! But now to business. We seem to be fellows with a pretty taste for adventure, and I'm going to appeal to your chivalry right now to help me in a very delicate and dangerous matter that calls for prompt attention. Comly and I had a little brush with the enemy last night and in our further tasks we shall be glad of your help."
He bade Archie tell the story, interrupting occasionally to supply some detail. When Isabel's name was mentioned as the head of Heart o' Dreams Camp Congdon sprang to his feet excitedly.
"Isabel Perry! Why," he flung round upon Archie, "that's the girl I told you about in Chicago, who gave me the bad advice that got me into all my trouble with my wife. So it's Isabel who's the custodian of my daughter! This is a queer business, gentlemen."
"Highly interesting, I must confess!" the Governor ejaculated. "But you must bear no grudge against Miss Perry; she's wonderful. She all but lost her life last night. Comly and I have solemnly pledged ourselves to clear up this whole situation, and we invite your fullest cooperation."
"Certainly; I enlist right now. With my own child over there at the mercy of that scoundrel I couldn't refuse. I assure you that I cherish no resentment against Miss Perry. I was a fool, I suppose, ever to have let her influence me. I was pretty miserable at the time and she is a very attractive girl, and we men, well—"
"Man," said the Governor, "is only a xylophone upon which any woman may exercise her musical talents. At times her little hammers evoke the pleasantest harmonies, but when it pleases my lady she can produce the most painful discords. To get back to business, the tug that's bringing the supplies for the camp is also towing a launch for our use. We'll meet Mr.
Carey on land or water, or in the air if he chooses. Now, Congdon, if you've no objection to taking orders from me, I'll ask you to lie off Heart o' Dreams in the row boat, while the supplies are unloaded. Our landlord, a trustworthy person in every particular, will go with you. Comly and I will meet the tug and pick up the launch."
"But how about this fellow from Calderville who's nosing round?" Congdon asked anxiously. "I'll say right here that I have no intention of being hauled back to Maine to be tried for murder."
"Take my word for it, that Comly and I will die rather than give you up. We'll stand or fall together. That chap may not be looking for you at all. He may be on the lookout for me or some pal of mine on the tug; they're all outlaws, desperadoes!"
"Not in the least! Fugitives from justice, every mother's son of 'em! Only a few will be aboard when the _Arthur B. Grover_ puts into Heart o' Dreams, but there are enough crooks in the woods about here to plunder all Michigan. If that chap from Calderville's looking for trouble he's going to have his hands full."
Congdon went into Archie's room just before noon and laid an automatic pistol on the dresser.
"See that? That's the gun I shot the thief with at Bailey Harbor. Guess I'll take it with me this afternoon for I know the infernal thing works!"
"It's always best to tote a gun you've tested," Archie answered, examining with unfeigned interest the weapon Congdon had discharged into the mirror in the Bailey Harbor house. The gun with which he had shot Congdon was in a drawer of his bureau, and the instant Congdon left he examined it for any marks by which its owner might identify it. He was relieved when the Governor came in and assured him that there was nothing to distinguish the pistol from a thousand of its kind.
While they waited for the tug's appearance they hung off Heart o' Dreams shore, and the Governor and Archie paddled close enough to talk with Ruth at the wharf.
"Everything's all right," she reported cheerily. "The doctor is keeping Isabel in bed today but merely to rest. The bruised hand is doing nicely and will probably heal without a scar. The camp's running smoothly and the girls don't know that they ate our last bread and butter for luncheon."
"You're safe in putting cookies on the evening bill of fare," said the Governor. "Has Carey made any sign today?"
"No, except that I went through the woods this morning toward Calderville and found the road piled with logs there at the bridge over the little brook. I peeped through the barricade and saw some men with guns—"
"Don't you dare go near that place again!" exclaimed the Governor. "There's a good mile between that point and the camp boundaries and you have no business going off your reservation."
"How terribly you scold! I was just reconnoitering a little."
"That little might mean the end of the world! But it's worth while to know that you pout when you're scolded."
The hazards of the night had left no mark upon her, and in the khaki Heart o'
Dreams uniform she would have passed for a carefree boy.
"You look shockingly young," the Governor remarked with mock resentment, as he fended the canoe away from the wharf. "It doesn't seem possible that a venerable relic like me would ever have any chance with a beautiful young goddess like you."
"Maybe you haven't!"
"Don't taunt me, woman, or I'll let you starve to death! Archie," he went on, his delight in her bright in his eyes, "this might be just the right moment to propose marriage. Your presence is a little embarrassing, but all the conditions here are unusual. Ruth, I'm so proud of myself for loving you that I feel like proclaiming it to all the world."
She picked up a chip and threw it at him with a boy's free swing. He caught it and placed it tenderly in his pocket.
"The first gift you ever made me!" he cried rapturously. "I shall ask you to autograph it later. I shall treasure it always!"
"Who are those gentlemen out yonder?" she asked, spying Congdon and Leary in the row boat.
"The gentleman idling at the oars is Mr. Leary, the honest innkeeper from Huddleston; the other is Mr. Putney Congdon!"
"Not really! Please don't tell me we're to have another kidnaping!"
"Certainly not! Leary was a valuable member of our rescue party last night and he's wholly friendly to our cause. Mr. Congdon came up with Mr. Comly merely to be near his daughter."
"How did he know she was here? Please don't jest; this is very serious!"
"He knew because he got a mysterious message from me hinting that his wife had sent the child here. He's a charming fellow—not at all the brute we've been thinking him; and while we've told him only what it's best for him to know about ourselves he cheerfully enlisted in our campaign to protect the camp.
He's even now—"
An exclamation from Ruth caused Archie and the Governor to turn toward the lake. The _Arthur B. Grover_ was steaming slowly into the bay. A moment later Leary whistled to call attention to the Carey launch, which was running rapidly toward the camp.
"Keep out of sight," said the Governor, "and send your young charges to play in the woods. We don't want witnesses if anything disagreeable happens while we're unloading."
"Please," she cried, turning to go, "take care of yourselves! We'd better give up the fight right now than have you hurt!"
"It was pretty nice of her to say that, Archie," said the Governor soberly, watching her as she disappeared down a long lane of tents. "We'll see some fun now if Carey cuts any capers."
"He'll hardly ram the tug, though he may be fool enough to try it."
The _Arthur B. Grover_ had rounded the point and was feeling its way toward Heart o' Dreams.
Archie recognized Perky, industriously taking soundings and lazily giving orders to the man at the wheel.
"How much does she show?" called the Governor.
"A coupla clothes lines deep," replied Perky without taking the pipe from his mouth.
His air of unconcern, his complete absorption in the business of getting the tug in position to unload, the nonchalant manner in which he directed the pilot, greatly enhanced Archie's admiration for Perky.
Two men were rigging up a crane to land the bags, boxes and crates that were piled on deck in prodigal profusion.
"There's our new launch trailing behind like clouds of glory," said the Governor. "A very snappy little affair it is."
"And a very snappy little man is hanging over the rail of the tug gripping an umbrella. How do you suppose Perky's explaining all this to Eliphalet?"
"Trust Perky to be plausible. Wait till father Congdon sees Putney and you'll hear an imitation of the ichthyosaurus singing its song of hate."
Carey's launch had effected a half circle round Heart o' Dreams landing and was now drawing nearer. There were two men aboard and Leary, having put himself between the launch and the tug, signaled the Governor by lifting one arm high over his head, and then extending it horizontally. A careless observer would have thought he was only stretching himself.
"That means," the Governor explained, "that there's a suspicious person on Carey's launch; and," he continued, after watching Leary's further telegraphing, "that Congdon has identified him as the gentleman who interviewed him at Huddleston this morning. Everything's going smoothly."
By the time the _Arthur B. Graver_ had warped in, Carey had brought his launch to within a dozen yards of the tug, and his companion was standing up anxiously scrutinizing the men on board.
"Prisoners!" he bawled; "every one of you a prisoner! I know you, Perky; and you needn't try any tricks on me or it'll be the worse for you. And don't you fellows on that wharf try any funny business with me!"
Perky, busily getting the crane in working order, paid no heed whatever to these threats uttered in the authoritative tone of one who is confident of the support of the army and navy of the United States. Carey loudly seconded the detective's demand for the immediate and unconditional surrender of the tug.
"Trapped! Lost!" cried Eliphalet, tragically.
"You're mighty right you're lost!" yelled the officer. "You're a nice old scoundrel, to be circulating plugged gold pieces, and a rich man at that!
You're pinched; do you understand? You're under arrest!"
The effect of this shot was to cause Eliphalet to attempt to climb from the tug to the wharf but the Governor seized a paddle and gently urged him back.
"I beg of you, Mr. Congdon, don't be disturbed. That person in the launch can't harm you in the least. He may be annoying, yes; and his voice is extremely disagreeable, but really his utterances are unworthy of the attention of honest men."
"Who the deuce are you?" demanded Eliphalet, leveling his umbrella at the Governor. "It occurs to me we have met before."
"Thanks for the compliment!" the Governor answered, dodging a heavy crate, the first of the freight to be swung ashore.
Perky was thoroughly prepared for the expeditious delivery of his cargo, even to wheelbarrows in which three men now began trundling supplies up the wharf and along the beach to the camp store house. The work was proceeding rapidly, without noise or confusion, and Archie and the Governor were busily assisting when the shore was startled by a yell.
Leary and Congdon in the row boat had been stealing up behind Carey's launch.
Leary sprang aboard while the two occupants were watching the landing of the stores.
Carey, diving under Leary's arms, seized a club and knocked him overboard. The detective jumped into the water and swam to the wharf, where he was immediately overpowered and hauled aboard the tug. By this time Carey was steering for the middle of the bay, where he watched the tug for a while and then retired toward his camp.
Leary had crawled upon the pier and was disconsolately shaking the water out of his shoes.
"It was a good try, old man," said the Governor cheerily. "That fellow's not going to be easy to bag, but we've got a detective on our hands," he chuckled,
"and I don't know just how we're going to let loose of him."
Putney Congdon had rowed close to the wharf to pick up Leary. As the Governor had predicted, Eliphalet Congdon emitted a loud and not wholly melodious howl as he recognized his son.
"Hey there! You've been following me! I told you to stay at the farm and here you come sneaking after me away up here where I've come for rest."
"You were never more mistaken in your life!" replied Putney. "I came up here to see Edith and found that that fellow you saw in the launch was trying to starve out this camp."
"Edith here? Who says Edith's here? You're out of your senses! You know perfectly well the child's in Ohio!"
"Break in on that dialogue," said the Governor to Archie. "Those men will never get anywhere yelling at each other. I'll attend to Eliphalet after we land the freight."
"If that wife of yours has stolen Edith I'll have the law on her!" screamed Eliphalet. "She's not fit to have the care of children!"
Archie walked to the edge of the wharf and commanded Eliphalet to hold his peace.
"Putney, row out a few hundred yards and watch Carey. You needn't worry about your father. We'll find some way of getting him out of his scrapes."
The detective, who had been lashed to the pilot house, reused himself to shout:
"You'll make a nice mess of it trying to get him away from the Government. The whole lot of you are crooks, and you're holding me at your peril."
The discharge of freight had not ceased during this colloquy. The crane swung over the wharf at regular intervals, and the men with the wheelbarrows trotted back and forth with the spirit and agility of men intent upon finishing an honest day's work. As Putney Congdon, mystified but obedient, rowed away, his father began begging Perky to leave the place and steer for Canada.
"You promised to protect me but you've made a fool of me," the old man wailed.
"You betrayed me to the police; you—"
The Governor flung a sack of potatoes into a wheelbarrow, and surveyed the infuriated Eliphalet for a moment.
"Pray calm yourself, Mr. Congdon, and please be careful how you charge people with serious crimes. It seems to be an obsession with you that everybody on earth is a crook. The proposition interests me psychologically. When I get through with this freight I'll look at your data. Meanwhile I solemnly warn you to make no charge against me or any friends of mine that you can't prove."
It was five o'clock when the last of the cargo was landed in the store house.
The engineer (a gentleman whose grimy face and mournful eyes belied his record as a hold-up man) sounded the whistle.
Ruth ran down to the shore and Archie and the Governor went to meet her.
"O you angels!" she cried. "I've just taken a peep into the store house and you've given us enough food to last all next summer. It's perfectly splendid.
I wasn't watching—really, I wasn't—for I had to keep the girls busy; but you did have trouble of some sort?"
"Nothing of the slightest consequence," the Governor answered. "We tried to catch Carey but he was too quick for us. But we did pick up a friend of his—the gentleman you see giving an exhibition of haughty disdain out there on the tug. Keep everybody well under cover tonight and don't be alarmed by anything you hear. We'll soon be through with this business."
"Who's that funny little man on the tug? He seems anxious to attract attention!"
Eliphalet Congdon was engaged in an argument with the detective, who, being helpless, was obliged to endure a tirade the old gentleman was delivering to the accompaniment of an occasional prod of the inevitable umbrella.
"That," said the Governor, "is Edith Congdon's paternal grandfather; an estimable person fallen upon evil times."
"You don't mean Mr. Eliphalet Congdon!"
"Most emphatically I do."
"And have he and his son settled their differences?"
"Not so you would notice it! But they'll be loving each other when I get through with them."
"Do you know," said the girl, looking wonderingly into the Governor's eyes, "I don't suppose I could ever learn to know when you're fooling and when you're not."
"After we're married I shall never attempt to fool you. By the way," he added hastily as she frowned and shrugged her shoulders, "when does the camp close?"
"August twenty, if Mr. Carey doesn't close it sooner."
"The date shall stand without reference to Carey's wishes, intentions or acts.
Please write your father to be here on that last day and bring his episcopal robes with him. And by the way, you spoke of your embarrassments about mail.
We'll send to the Calderville post-office for all the Heart o' Dreams mail; a boat will deliver it tonight and pick up the camp mail bag. Have you anything to add, Archie?"
"You might say to Isabel," said Archie slowly, "that August twenty strikes me as the happiest possible date for our wedding."
"You two talk of weddings as though we were not in the midst of battle, murder and sudden death!"
She folded her arms and regarded them with an odd little smile, half wistful, half questioning, playing about her lips. The tug was drawing away from the wharf. Perky sat on the rail placidly sucking an orange, a noble picture of an unrepentant sinner. From the woods floated the far, faint cries and light- hearted laughter of the camp youngsters at play. In spite of his attempt to imitate the Governor's jauntiness Archie felt again, as so often since he left Bailey Harbor, the unreality of the events through which he had been projected with his singular companion, who had drawn him so far out of his orbit that it was hard to believe that he would ever slip into it again. Their affairs had never presented so many problems as now, when the Governor was predicting and planning the end with so much assurance. In the few seconds that Ruth deliberated he plunged to the depths in his despair that Isabel would ever seriously consider him as a lover.
"I was just thinking," said the girl, stepping back a little into a path that led from the beach to the woods, "how we seem to be living in the good old times, when knights hastened by land or water to the rescue of ladies in distress. This is all very pretty and be sure we all appreciate what you have done for us. But I don't quite see through to the end!" The smile was gone and there was no doubt of the sincerity of the anxiety that darkened her eyes as she ended with a little, quavering, despairing note: "Something serious and dreadful threatens us, one and all of us maybe! It's only—what do you call such a thing—a presentiment!"
"Please don't think of it!" pleaded Archie; "things are bound to come out all right. You mustn't lose faith in us."
"Yes; it will be only a little longer," muttered the Governor listlessly.
He had responded instantly to Ruth's confession of her premonition of impending evil, and Archie, troubled by his friend's change of mood, hastened to end the interview.
"We're not going to lose!" he declared. "It's when the world is brightest that the shadow of a cloud sometimes makes us fear to trust our happiness. Good-by and good luck!"
She was not reassured, however, and as she shook hands with them there were tears in her eyes.