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14. The Postscript

Don had considered making a change in one of his subjects for some time, and at last he decided to go and see the major about it. He waited until one morning when the cadets were marching off to their classes and finding a minute or two before studies began he went to the office. The day was cold and gray and there was a promise of snow in the air.

The major was not in when Don entered the office and he knew that he would not be able to wait long. The major’s desk was open and a number of papers were scattered around, and Don wandered over to the rail beside the headmaster’s desk to wait. He glanced down casually at the papers on the desk, noting that most of them had to do with school subjects. There was a letter there, unsealed, and in its envelope. Without thinking much about it Don looked at the name on the outside. Then he stiffened and looked closely at it.

The letter was addressed to Mr. Morton Dennings. There was no address number or town on it.

Naturally Don was interested. Morton Dennings was the last man, apparently, who had seen Colonel Morrell and it seemed strange that the major knew him and was writing to him. Don would have been glad to read the letter, but he had no intention of even touching it. The thought came to him that it would be wise to find out what the major knew of Dennings before turning over the evidence gathered on their recent trip to Spotville Point.

On the previous evening Rhodes had told them that Major Tireson was going away on a brief business trip. They had decided to wait for his return before giving him the postcard and telling him of Morton Dennings, and they had also decided to break into Clanhammer Hall that very night. As Rhodes put it, “We had to put off our first attempt because of the fire, but I see no reason why we should wait any longer. We’ll just give the major time enough to get away, and then we’ll take a quiet snoop through that old building. I think it’s time we found out what’s going on in there.”

So they had agreed to make the secret excursion that night, and all of them were looking forward to it. Don wondered what the result would be, and what bearing the major’s letter to Morton Dennings would have on following events.

It was then that he realized the major was standing at a side door watching him.

How long the major had been there he did not know. He had been so absorbed in his reflections as he looked at the name on the letter that he had not heard the man come in. The major bent one long sharp look upon him, and Don straightened and saluted. The major returned the salute and came forward.

“Well, Mercer, what is it?” the major asked, his tone a trifle sharp.

Don explained about the change which he wished made in his lesson and the major granted his permission. The bell rang and Don knew that he would be late for his class. As he turned to leave the office the major was standing at his desk, the letter in his hand. When Don reached the door the man called to him.

“One moment, Mr. Mercer.”

Don returned to the desk and looked questioningly at his superior. The major was apparently in deep thought and looked once at the letter. Then he sat down, and keeping the pages well screened behind a book, took the sheets and read them over. Picking up a pen, he wrote something at the end of the letter, refolded it and sealed the envelope.

“Do you know the country hereabouts very well, Mercer?” asked Tireson.

“I don’t think so, sir,” replied Don. “Only in a general way.”

“Do you know any of it across the lake?” the major pressed.

“I have been over there once or twice,” Don answered.

The major walked to a window and pointed across the lake. “Have you ever seen an old farmhouse off there in the woods?” he asked.

Don hesitated. He was not sure whether the major was pumping him or not. But feeling that the truth would be the best course he nodded.

“Yes, sir, I have seen the place. I think it is the only farm on that side of the lake.”

“That’s the place,” affirmed the major. “I wish you would do me a great favor, Mr. Mercer. I have had word that a friend of mine will be at that house today, and I want you to deliver a letter to him. I will excuse you from classes this morning and I would appreciate it if you would take this letter over there at once and wait for an answer.”

“Certainly, sir,” said Don, wondering at the strangeness of the request.

“Very well,” the major said, handing him the letter. “You may go at once. Remember, wait for an answer, and I would also appreciate it if you would not tell anyone that you are doing this for me.”

“I’ll do that, Major Tireson,” promised Don.

“Thank you. You may go now, Mercer. Take a boat and cross the lake.”

Don returned to his room, got his hat and gray overcoat and went down to the boathouse. He saw no one on the way,............
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