“The wretch has stolen Myra!
I didn’t I think he would dare do that,”
cried the woman.
Mrs. Dexter had never made any effort
to secure a divorce from her worthless husband.
After he had abandoned her she had appeared in court
and had had herself appointed sole guardian and custodian
of little Myra. Under the law, therefore, Dexter,
if he stole Myra away from the mother, could be arrested
and punished for abduction.
At this frantic moment, however, Mrs.
Dexter was not thinking of punishments. All she
wanted was to get her child back in her own keeping.
“Isn’t it possible there’s
a mistake?” demanded Greg of the dismayed housekeeper.
“The little one may have gotten up out of bed.
She may be in some other part of the house.”
“Not much!” interjected
the housekeeper. “The child’s jacket
and coat are gone from a hook near by.”
After the first moment of fright Mrs.
Dexter had raced upstairs; now she came down again.
“Myra’s really gone,”
she cried, sobbing. “And no one but Dexter
would think of stealing her from me. He has done
it for spite - or as the means of extorting
more money from me.”
“A man could hardly go through
the streets carrying a child that didn’t want
to be carried. The child could cry out and attract
attention,” guessed Dick.
“Myra wouldn’t cry out.
She would be cowed by her father’s threats.
She always was afraid of him,” wailed Mrs. Dexter.
“Are you going to appeal to the police?”
“I - I must.”
“Then you’re losing time,
Mrs. Dexter - and there’s your telephone.
We boys will go out into the streets and see if we
can find any trace - pick up any word.
When we came along there was a cab standing in front
of the Grahams. But I suppose that cab belonged
to some of their visitors.”
“The Grahams have been out of
town for the last few days,” broke in Mrs. Dexter.
“There has been no one at their house, except
one old man who acts as care-taker.”
“Then Dexter may have had that
cab waiting for him,” flashed young Prescott.
“Come along, fellows! Let’s see what
we can find out.”
Dave and Greg were at the street door
ahead of their young leader. None of the boys
paused longer, for Mrs. Dexter was already at her telephone.
Out in the street the three Grammar
School lads raced along the sidewalk until they reached
the house of the Graham family. The cab was gone.
“We can find that cab anywhere,”
declared Dick. “Any one else would recognize
it. It had one brown, or dark horse, and one gray
“I didn’t notice the driver,” stated
“He was sitting inside the cab,”
spoke up Greg. “I didn’t get a good
look at him, either.”
“Going to race on into Main
Street?” asked Dave, as the three came to a
“Dexter would hardly drive right
into the clutches of the police, would he?”
pondered Prescott. “No; I think it’ll
turn out that he went the opposite way, out of town.”
Saying this, Dick headed for the outskirts
of Gridley, still keeping along at a dog-trot.
Dave and Greg didn’t talk now; they were husbanding
their store of “wind.”
After a short time all three boys
had to slow down to a walk. That “pain
in the side,” which seizes all boys who try to
run far without training and practice, had caught
them. Still, they moved along as fast as they
“Excuse me, mister,” hailed
Dick, halting the first man they met, who came strolling
toward them, smoking a pipe, “have you seen a
cab go by?”
“Oldish cab?” broke in Dave.
“One gray horse and one dark or brown?”
“How long ago?” asked all three.
“’Bout two minutes ago. Why?”
“Which way did it go?” breathed Dick anxiously.
“Why, the driver stopped me,”
explained the man, taking out his pipe, “and
asked if there was a drug store ahead in this part
of the town. I told him he’d find one on
the next block, around the next corner to the left.
So - - ”
“Thank you!” came politely
from three breathless boys, and off they started again
on a trot.
“Any one sick?” called
the man after them. “Huh! Curious how
excited those boys are!”
“Two minutes! I’m
afraid horses will leave us far behind with that start,”
Then they turned around the corner.
Ahead of them, in front of the little drug store,
or rather, just past the entrance, stood the cab that
occupied all their thoughts at the present time.
“There it is!” breathed
Dick excitedly, as though forgetful of the fact that
his chums had eyes also. “Come along - over
on the other side of the street - in the
In a twinkling all three lads had
crossed stealthily to the further side of the little
“Oh, for a policeman!”
appealed Dick. “Or any full-grown man, who
would listen to us and have the grit to give us a
“If Dexter has the little girl,
and that’s his cab, what has he taken her into
a drug store for?” whispered Dave.
“We don’t know that he
has taken her into the store. We don’t know
anything until we see it,” was Dick’s answer.
“Dexter didn’t stop for a trifle.
He isn’t buying Myra a glass of soda, or anything
The three boys were stealing down
the street, on the further side, keeping close in
the shadow of the buildings. They did not wish
to risk being seen until they had had a chance for
a good look at the cab and its possible contents.
Dick’s reason for crossing the
street had been that he had first caught sight of
the driver standing on the sidewalk beside the cab.
If he could get down close to the cab, and have that
vehicle between himself and the driver, Dick hoped
that he would have a chance to steal across the street
and look inside the rig.
By good luck, combined with stealth,
Dick, Dave and Greg succeeded in gaining a point on
the street opposite the cab.
“Careful, now,” whispered
Dick, “one bad move might spoil everything.”
On tip-toe they crossed. At a
point midway in the street they halted a brief instant.
From this point they could make out the unmistakable
form of Ab. Dexter at the back of the drug store,
walking to and fro as if waiting for something.
No word was spoken. Still on
tip-toe the boys went on until they stood by one of
the doors of the cab.
Dave and Greg made way for Dick to
get up close and peer into the vehicle.
Young Prescott gave a start of exultation
as he made out a little, wrapped-up human bundle huddled
on the back seat. It was little four-year-old
Myra. She had collapsed into a heap and was very
softly sobbing to herself, wholly unaware of what
might be passing outside.
On the further side of the cab, standing
on the sidewalk, Dick caught sight of the man whom
he presumed to be the driver. The fellow was
standing staring fixedly ahead.
“If he had been looking the
other way he would have caught us coming down the
street,” flashed through Prescott’s mind.
Then he turned, nodding swiftly, silently,
at his companions.
They had found Myra, these Grammar
School lads, but in a desperate fight, Dexter and
the driver would prove overwhelming odds. The
pair of rascals could knock these youngsters senseless
and whip up the horses for a dash.
What was to be done?
In sheer nervousness Dave Darrin began
to try the handle of the cab door. Then, understanding
coming to him, Dave tried in earnest to see whether
he could unfasten the door with out making the least
All three of the lads realized that
it was a ticklish moment. Even Myra, if startled,
might give the scream that would betray and defeat
Steadily Dave worked at his problem.
Dick and Greg, quivering, stood alertly on guard on
either side of him.
Squeak! That cab-door handle
needed oiling sadly. Even under Darrin’s
cautious handling it gave forth a noise that sounded
startling in the stillness.
“What’s that?” they
heard the driver mutter, as he started. Then came
the sound of footsteps, as the driver wheeled and ran
around behind the cab.
He was bearing down straight upon them!