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HOME > Children's Novel > The Moving Picture Boys on the Coast > CHAPTER VIII BLAKE LEARNS A SECRET
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 Blake, looking on from a little distance, saw Joe turn aside from the man.  
“That’s rather queer,” thought the lad. “If that was his father it isn’t a very cordial welcome.”
As he looked, he saw Joe walking out of the garden.
“Queerer still,” Blake . “Even if that isn’t Mr. Duncan, he must be somewhere around, for lighthouse keepers can’t be very far away from their station, as I understand it.”
Joe came walking toward his chum. His face showed his disappointment so unmistakably that Blake called out:
“What’s the matter, Joe?”
“He’s gone—he isn’t here! He never got my letter!”
“Where has he gone?” asked Blake, always practical.
“I—I don’t know. I didn’t ask.”
“Look here, Joe!” exclaimed his chum. “I guess you’re too excited over this. You let me make some for you. Suppose he has gone? We may be able to trace him. Men in the lighthouse service get transferred from one place to another just as soldiers do, I imagine. Now you sit down here and look at the sad sea waves, as C. C. would say if he were here, and I’ll go tackle that lighthouse keeper. You were too to get any clues, I expect.”
“I guess I was,” admitted Joe. “When I found he wasn’t there I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel like asking any questions.”
Blake placed his arm around his chum’s shoulder, patted him on the back, and started toward the aged man, who was still leaning on his hoe, looking in mild surprise at the two lads.
“I’ll find out all about it,” called back Blake.
“Ha! Another boy!” exclaimed Mr. Stanton, as Blake approached. “I didn’t know this was going to be visiting day, or I might have put on my other suit,” and he laughed . “Are you another son of Mr. Duncan?” he asked.
“No,” replied Blake. “I’m Joe’s chum. We’re in the moving picture business together. But he says his father has left, and, as he naturally feels badly, I thought I’d make some inquiries for 64him, so we can locate him. Do you know where Mr. Duncan went?”
“No—I can’t say that I do,” was the slow answer. “And so you are chums; eh?”
“Yes, and we have been for some years.”
“That’s nice. You tell each other all your secrets, I suppose?”
“Well, most of ’em.”
“Never hold anything back?”
“Why, what do you mean?” asked Blake, for there seemed to be a strange meaning in the old man’s voice.
“I mean, lad,” and the lighthouse keeper’s tones sank to a whisper; “I mean, if I tell you something, can you keep it from him?”
“Why—yes—I suppose so,” Blake, wonderingly. “But what is the matter? Isn’t his father here?”
“No, he’s gone, just as I told him. But look here—he seems a nice sort of lad, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I’d rather tell you, as long as you’re his chum, and if you can keep a secret.”
He looked to where Joe was sitting on the rocks, watching the waves roll lazily up the beach and break. Joe was far enough off so that the low-voiced conversation could not reach him.
“I can keep a secret if I have to,” replied Blake. 65“But what is it all about? Is Mr. Duncan—is he—dead?”
The old man hesitated, and, for a moment, Blake thought that his guess was correct. Then the aged man said slowly:
“No, my boy, he isn’t dead; but maybe, for the sake of his son, he had better be. At any rate, it’s better, all around, that he’s away from here.”
“Why?” asked Blake quickly. “Tell me what you mean!”
“That I will, lad, and maybe you can figure a way out of the puzzle. I’m an old man, and not as smart as I was, so my brain doesn’t work quickly. Maybe you can find a way out. Come inside where we can talk so he won’t hear us,” and he nodded toward the quiet figure of Joe on the beach.
Blake wondered more than ever what the disclosure might be. He followed the aged man into the living quarters of the house attached to the light tower.
“Sit ye there, lad,” went on Mr. Stanton, “and I’ll tell you all about it. Maybe you can find a way out.”
He paused, as if to gather his thoughts, and then resumed:
“You see I’m pretty old, and I have to have an assistant at this light. I expect soon I’ll have 66to give up altogether. But I’m going to hang on as long as I can. I’ve had three assistants in the last year, and one of ’em, as you know now, was Nathaniel Duncan, Joe’s father. Before him I had a likely young fellow named—ah, well, I’ve forgotten, and the name doesn’t matter much anyhow. But when he left the board sent me this Duncan, and I must say I liked him right well.”
“What sort of a man was he?” asked Blake.
“A nice sort of man. He was about middle aged, tall, well built, and strong as a horse. He looked as if he had had trouble, though, and gradually he told me his story. His wife had died when his boy and girl were young——”
“Girl! Was there a girl?” cried Blake. “Has Joe a sister, too?”
“He had—whether he has yet, I don’t know,” went on Mr. Stanton. &............
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