III. Open Trail
"Not good enough," said Average Jones, laying aside a sheet of paper upon which was
pasted a newspaper clipping. "We can't afford luxuries, Simpson."
The confidential clerk rubbed his high, pale forehead indeterminately. "But five thousand
dollars, Mr. Jones," he protested.
"Would pay a year's office rent, you're thinking. True. Nevertheless I can't see the
missing Mr. Hoff as a sound professional proposition."
"So you think it would be impossible to find him?"
"Now, why should I think any such absurd thing? I think, if you choose, that he wouldn't
be worth the amount, when found, to lose."
"The ad says different, Sir." Simpson raised the paper and read:
"FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS--The aforesaid sum
will be paid without question to anyone
furnishing information which leads to the
discovery of Roderick Hoff, twenty-four years
old, who left his home in Toledo, 0., on
April 12. Communicate with Dr. Conrad Hoff,
"Surely Doctor Hoff is good for the amount."
"Oh, he's good for millions, thanks to his much advertised quack 'Catarrh-Killer.' The
point is, from what I can discover, Mr. Roderick Hoff isn't worth retrieving at any price
above one dime."
"Was the information about him that you wished, in the telegram?" asked the
"Yes; all I wanted. Thanks for looking after it. Have the Toledo reporter, who sent it,
forward his bill. And if the old inventor who's been haunted by disembodied voices
comes again, bring him to me."
"Yes, sir," said Simpson, going out.
Left to himself, Average Jones again ran over the dispatches, conveying the information
as to the lost Toledo youth. They had given a fairly complete sketch of young Hoff's life
and character. At twenty-four, it appeared, Roderick Hoff had achieved a career.
Emerging, by the propulsive method, from college, in the first term of his freshman year,