27. 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
"One moment, Mrs. Scoville. How can I tell the judge! Young Ostrander is gone--
flew the city, and I can get no clew to his whereabouts. Some warning of what is
happening here may have reached him, or he may be simply following impulses
consequent upon his personal disappointments; but the fact is just this--he asked
for two weeks' leave to go West upon business,--and he's been gone three.
Meanwhile, no word has come, nor can his best friends tell the place of his
destination. I have been burning the telegraph wires ever since the first despatch,
and this is the result."
"Poor Judge Ostrander!" Then, in lower and still more pathetic tones, "Poor
"Where is Reuther?"
"At Miss Weeks'. I had to command her to leave me alone with the judge. It's the
first time I ever spoke unkindly to her."
"Shall I tell the judge the result of his telegram, or will you?"
"Have you the messages with you?"
He bundled them into her hand.
"I will hand them in to him. We can do nothing less and nothing more. Then if he
wants you, I will telephone."
She felt his hand laid softly on her shoulder.
"Yes, Mr. Black."
"There is some one else in this matter to consider besides Judge Ostrander."
"Reuther? Oh, don't I know it! She's not out of my mind a moment."
"Reuther is young, and has a gallant soul. I mean you, Mrs. Scoville, you! You
are not to succumb to this trial. You have a future--a bright future--or should
have. Do not endanger it by giving up all your strength now. It's precious, that
strength, or would be--"
He broke off; she began to move away. Overhead in the narrow space of sky
visible to them from where they stood, the stars burned brightly. Some instinct
made them look up; as they did so, their hands met. Then a gruff sound broke
the silence. It was Alanson Black's voice uttering a grim farewell.
"He must be found! Oliver must be found!" How the words rung in her ears. She
had handed in the messages to the waiting father; she had uttered a word or two
of explanation, and then, at his request, had left him. But his last cry followed her:
"He must be found!"
When she told it to Mr. Black the next morning, he looked serious.
"Pride or hope?" he asked.
"Desperation," she responded, with a guilty look about her. "Possibly, some hope
is in it, too. Perhaps, he thinks that any charge of this nature must fall before