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HOME > Children's Novel > The Moving Picture Boys on the Coast > CHAPTER IX AT PRACTICE
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 There was silence between man and boy for a space, and then Blake, understanding how hard it would be to keep the news from Joe, said:  
“I’ll have to tell him something, Mr. Stanton. Joe will want to know why his father went away, and where. Isn’t there any way in which we may get a clue to the direction he took?”
“Wait a minute until I think, lad,” said the old man. “It may be that we can find a clue, after all. Nate Duncan left some papers behind. I haven’t looked at ’em, not wishing to make trouble, but there may be a clue there. I’ll get ’em.”
“And I’ll call Joe in to go over them with me,” said Blake. “He’ll want to see them.”
“But, mind you, not a word about what I’ve told you.”
“No, I’ll keep quiet,” promised Blake. “I’ll call him in, while you get the papers.”
Going to the door of the little cottage, Blake called to his chum.
“What is it?” asked Joe, eagerly. “Was there some mistake? Is my father somewhere around here, after all?”
“Well, we hope to find him,” said Blake, with an assurance he did not feel. “Look here, Joe, your father went away rather suddenly, it seems, but you mustn’t think anything about that. He’s been traveling all over, you know, looking for you and your sister——”
“Sister?” cried Joe.
“Yes, you had a sister, though I can’t get much information about her. Neither could your uncle tell you, as you remember.”
“That’s right. Oh, if I could only find dad and her!” and Joe sighed. “But maybe she isn’t alive.”
“It’s this way,” went on Blake, and he told as much of the lighthouse keeper’s story as was wise, keeping from Joe all information about the wreckers. “Now, your father may have heard of some new clue about you,” continued Joe’s chum, “and he may have gone to hunt that up,” which was true enough, for with the warning that he was likely to be arrested as a criminal, there may have come to Mr. Duncan some information about his missing children.
“But in that case,” asked Joe, “why didn’t he leave some word as to where he was going?”
“He may have been in too much of a hurry,” suggested Blake, realizing that he was going to have considerable difficulty in keeping Joe from guessing the truth.
“Well, perhaps that’s so,” agreed the lad. “But maybe Mr. Stanton has some clues.”
The lighthouse keeper came downstairs at this moment with a bundle of papers in his hand.
“Here is all I found,” he said. “It isn’t much, but among the things he left behind is the letter you wrote,” and he extended to Joe the missive the lad had penned in such hope at Flagstaff.
“Poor Dad,” murmured Joe. “I wonder if he will ever get this?”
Together he and Blake looked over the documents. As the keeper had said, there was not much. Some , evidently made as different clues came to him; paid bills, some business letters, a few notes, and that was all.
“What’s this?” exclaimed Blake, as he read one letter. “It seems to be from some agent in San Francisco, saying he can place—why, Joe, it’s to your father, and it says he can have a place as mate any time he wants it. Was he a sailor?” he asked, eagerly, turning to the keeper.
“So I understood.”
“Then this is the very thing we’re looking for!” cried Blake. “Look, it is dated only a short time before he left. I see now,” and he gave the lighthouse keeper a look, when Joe was not glancing in his direction. “Mr. Duncan got word that he could ship as a mate, and he left in a hurry.”
“Maybe so,” Mr. Stanton.
“Perhaps he had some new clue about you, Joe, or possibly about your sister,” suggested Blake, hoping his chum would come to take this view.
“Maybe,” assented Joe. “But it’s queer he didn’t leave some word, or tell someone he was going.”
“He may not have had time,” went on Blake. “Vessels have to sail in a hurry, lots of times, and he may have had to act quickly.”
“It’s possible,” admitted the keeper.
“Then I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” continued Blake. “We’ll go to San Francisco the first chance we get, and see this shipping agent. He may be able to put us on the right track.”
“I guess it’s the only thing to do,” agreed Joe, in tones. “Poor Dad! I nearly found him, and then ............
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