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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XX THE RESCUE PARTY
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 When Mappin left, Frobisher went to his smoking-room, where he was surprised to find Geraldine waiting for him.  
"I think," he said with mock severity, "it was mean of you to leave Mr. Mappin on my hands, particularly as I don't suppose his visit was made on my account."
"Did he bore you very badly?" Geraldine inquired.
"We have had guests here whom I'd rather entertain; but for your aunt's sake I try to be civil. After all, we have known the man for a long while."
"I feel that we have been very patient in putting up with him! He's insufferable!"
"Ah!" said Frobisher, taking out a cigar. "Then you didn't happen to be here by accident? Sit down and we'll have a talk."
Geraldine took the chair he indicated.
"I have something to tell you," she said with an effort. "Mappin asked me to marry him a little while ago."
"It strikes me as curious that this is the first I've heard of it."
"I was ashamed to tell you," Geraldine admitted, shyly. "I felt degraded. Besides, you must have guessed——"
"Yes. I had some idea of the man's ambitions; in my opinion, he's too cold-blooded to be influenced by[Pg 204] any more tender sentiment. We'll take it for granted that you refused him. Nowadays it seems to be a father's business to sanction and not to interfere1; but I really think if you had wanted to marry the fellow I'd have been as firm as adamant2. However, this is not to the purpose. Why do you tell me about it now?"
"You'll see presently. But try to remember that he has other feelings than avarice3. The man's unscrupulous and full of savage4 cruelty."
"To begin with, will you read this? It's from Ethel Hillyard, whom I met in London. You have heard me speak of her."
She gave him a letter containing sufficient information about the house of Allinson to explain why Andrew had gone to Canada. His character and his relations with Hathersage and the rest of the family were cleverly sketched5. Frobisher studied it carefully before he looked up.
"All this is not exactly new to me, though Miss Hillyard, who seems to be a shrewd young lady, speaks strongly in Allinson's favor. From odd things he let fall, I'd formed a pretty good idea of the situation. Now that you have cleared the ground, you had better go on."
"Father," said Geraldine, "so far, you have done nearly everything I asked you, and that is why I'm not afraid to ask for something else. I want you to send up a party to look for Mr. Allinson. He and the others are in danger of starving in the snow."
Frobisher looked at her searchingly, and she met his gaze for a moment, though a flush crept into her face.
"Well," he said simply, "he is a straight man."
[Pg 205]"And a friend of yours. But you will send him help at once?"
"First of all, tell me why you think it is needful."
Geraldine spent some time over the explanation and concluded:
"You must see that their safety depends on their finding the provisions, and Mappin has had the caches made at the wrong places."
For the next few minutes Frobisher sat silent, the smoke curling up from his neglected cigar, while Geraldine watched him in suspense6.
"You have reasoned the matter out remarkably7 well," he said, "and it strikes me that you're near the truth. However, I don't understand how you led Mappin into making the dangerous admissions that gave you a clue; he's a brute8, but I thought him a cunning one. Perhaps I'd better not inquire."
Geraldine's embarrassment9 was obvious and there were signs of amusement on her father's face.
"After all," he resumed, "when you play a game for high stakes with a man like Mappin, you can't be fastidious."
"But what about the relief party?" Geraldine asked.
"I think the situation is serious enough to need one. I'll drive over to the Landing and see about it the first thing to-morrow."
He got up, and as he reached the door Geraldine, following, put her arms about his neck and kissed him. Then she went past swiftly and vanished down the passage.
The next morning Frobisher learned that Mappin had gone east by an early train and that there was not a man capable of undertaking10 a difficult journey into the[Pg 206] wilds disengaged. Mappin had hired all the available choppers and packers and sent them into the bush to cut some lumber11 he required for his railroad contract. Frobisher could not determine whether this had been done with the object of preventing their being employed on a relief expedition, but it looked suspicious. Being in a difficulty, he called on the owner of the sawmill and told him as much as he thought advisable.
"As it happens, I can help you," said the lumber-man. "There are two or three fellows on our pay roll whom we haven't much work for at present, though we'll need them later. They're good bushmen, and I might raise one or two more by sending up to our logging camp."
"Thanks," said Frobisher; "it will be a favor. It's lucky I thought of coming to you."
"Never mind that. I feel that I ought to help Graham out: he's an old and valued servant. But I don't see how you are interested in the thing."
Frobisher smiled.
"It's one's duty to help a fellow creature who's in serious danger. Then I believe I may call myself a friend of Allinson's."
"There's a point to be considered. The most likely place to meet the party would be in the neighborhood of the food caches. You intimate that there's a risk of Allinson's missing them; but he must have a rough idea as to about where they are. As Mappin's out of town, wouldn't it be well to wire and ask him exactly where they were to be made?"
"On the whole, I'd rather get the information from Mrs. Graham. No doubt she knows her husband's plans."
The mill-owner gave him a searching glance. He was[Pg 207] a shrewd man and suspected that there was a good reason for his visitor's preference.
"Yes," he said pointedly12, "that might be wiser."
"There may have been some misunderstanding about the precise location of the caches," Frobisher explained. "Mrs. Graham will know where her husband meant them to be made—which of course is the most important thing."
"Just so," agreed the other. "Excuse me for a few minutes."
He went out, and returning a little later announced that three men would be ready to start up-river during the afternoon and that some more from the logging camp would follow in a few days. Frobisher left him and, after calling on Mrs. Graham, went to the store, where he ordered a quantity of provisions to be prepared. It was evening when he reached home. Finding Geraldine waiting for him, he smiled at her as he took off his furs.
"I've had a busy day, but I've got things satisfactorily fixed
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