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The Rover Boys in New York
by Arthur M. Winfield
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"Surest thing you know," responded Jesse Pelter. "And this Irrigation Company of ours is the best thing in the world for rapid money making," he continued. "Just come on from Denver, Mr. Putnam?"

"I've been in New York a couple of days," answered Tom. "I want to look around a bit before I invest anything. I heard something of this company before I reached here."

"No doubt! No doubt! It is a big thing, and our rivals are all watching and envying us. Did you get our printed prospectus?"

"No, but I saw one somewhere, some time ago."

"Here you have it, with a map of the property. The shares are now selling at sixty-five, but next week I think we'll have to advance them to seventy or seventy-five, owing to the demand."

"Could a fellow buy five thousand dollars' worth at sixty-five?" asked Tom, trying to show an interest.

"You could, if you were quick about it."

"Well, I want to know something more about this property first," continued Tom. "I don't want to throw any money away."

"Quite right. I see you are a level-headed young man and that is the kind I like to deal with. We'll go over this matter carefully." And then Jesse Pelter plunged into the details of the irrigation scheme, showing up its many good points, and how, in the near future, it was bound to make a lot of money for all who invested in it.

"And you have the shares to sell?" asked Tom.

"Oh, yes."

"Do you own the property, Mr. Pelter?"

"Our company owns it— that is, we have a controlling interest in it."

"There are no other big stockholders?"

"None at all. We have invested heavily,— buying out the old company and reorganizing it. All of the other stockholders are small ones. You see, we have such faith in this scheme that we don't want to let too much stock get away from us."

Tom did not see, but he did not say so. Not a word had been said about Mr. Rover and his interest— Mr. Pelter ignored Tom's father entirely. And yet the youth knew that his parent had fifty thousand dollars or more tied up in that very company!

"I'd like to know some of the people who have invested in this stock," said Tom, after the matter had been talked over for nearly an hour.

"I will give you some names," was the broker's reply, and he wrote them down. "They are the principal stockholders outside of ourselves."

Tom took the list and glanced at it. His father's name did not appear, nor did the names of two other men he knew were interested in the concern.

"Thank you," said the youth, rising. "I will look into this. It might be a good investment for me."

"Finest in the world," returned Jesse Pelter. "Better let me put you down for five thousand dollars' worth of shares to-day."

"No, I want to think it over first."

"Supposing I hold the shares for you until to-morrow?" went on the broker, persuasively.

"You can do that, if you wish," answered Tom.

"Do you want to leave a deposit on them?"

"I didn't bring any money with me— that is, not enough."

"You might write out a check, Mr. Putnam."

"No, I'll think it over first."

"Then I'll hold the shares and look for you to-morrow," returned Jesse Pelter, somewhat disappointedly. He loved to get his hands on another's money at the first interview. "Please come in after lunch," he added. "I have an important engagement for the morning."

With the map and prospectus and list of names in his pocket, Tom left the offices. He saw that the man with the pointed chin and heavy eyebrows was not present. The force consisted of Mr. Pelter, the office boy, a girl at a typewriter, and a very old man who was at the books.

"Japson must be keeping out of the way," mused Tom, as he descended to the street. "I wonder if it was he or old Crabtree who talked to Pelter over the 'phone?"

Tom soon rejoined his brothers and all three walked away from the vicinity of Wall street. The youth told of his interview with the broker, and of the talk he had overheard while Jesse Pelter was at the telephone.

"They must have been talking about father!" cried Dick, eagerly.

"Maybe they have him a prisoner on a boat!" added Sam.

"It looks that way to me," said Tom. "And I know what I think we ought to do," he continued.

"So do I," answered Dick, quickly. "Watch this Pelter to-morrow, when he leaves his home, and see where he goes to."

"Right you are."

"Where does he live?" questioned Sam.

"I don't know, but we can easily find out."

The boys presently passed an office building in which there was a large telephone station, and there they hunted up Jesse Pelter's home address.

"He lives up in the Bronx," said Dick, taking down the street and number. "We can find out up at the hotel how to reach the place. Let us go back to the Outlook and see if there is any letter from home. Maybe we'll get more news about that financial loss mentioned in that telegram."

CHAPTER XVIII

ON THE HUDSON RIVER

When the boys returned to the Outlook Hotel they found several letters awaiting them. There was one each from the girls and also a communication from Songbird, written partly in verse, and telling of matters at Brill.

But the letter that interested them most just then was one from their Uncle Randolph, in which he explained something of the financial matters mentioned in the telegram. Their uncle was not a good business man, and often got his statements mixed, but from the communication the boys learned the truth.

There were two matters of importance— the irrigation scheme and the purchase of a large tract of land which would be benefited by the flow of water, when the irrigation plant was put into operation. In both of the schemes the Rovers held large interests— that is, they held what were called options, for which Anderson Rover had put up large sums of money, and he had likewise induced some friends to let him put up money for them. In order to clinch their hold on the two business propositions Anderson Rover must sign certain papers and have them delivered to the right parties inside of the next three days. Should he fail to do this, then his options on the property would terminate, and Pelter, Japson & Company would be able to step in and gain control. The brokers had at first tried to gain control by getting Anderson Rover to assign his interest in the options, but this the boys' father had refused to do.

"And now that father wouldn't turn the control over to them, they have had him kidnapped, so that he can't sign those papers and serve them," said Dick. "The case is as plain as day."

"And they got old Crabtree to manage the kidnapping," put in Tom.

"But how did they know about Crabtree?" asked Sam.

"Most likely he has been mixed up in some of their shady transactions of the past," replied Dick. "When he got in jail, he sent for Japson and made him fix it up so he could escape. That fire helped the rascals. Then both came down to New York, and all hands hatched the plot to put dad out of the way."

"Poor dad! If only we knew he was safe!" murmured Tom.

"That's just it— he may be suffering terribly!" added Sam.

"I think we'll find out something definite to-morrow— when we follow Pelter," said Dick. He, too, was greatly worried.

The evening proved a long one to the boys, even though they spent some time in penning letters to the girls and to the folks at home. Dick had received a most sympathetic letter from Dora, in which the girl stated that she wished she was with him to help him.

"Dear Dora!" he murmured, as he placed the letter in his pocket. "I wish all this trouble was over, and we could be married and go off on our honeymoon!"

The boys had found out from the hotel clerk how to reach the address in the Bronx, as the upper portion of New York city is locally called. They could take a subway train to within two blocks of Pelter's home.

They were up bright and early, and after a hasty breakfast went out to a nearby store, where all purchased variously-colored caps of the automobile variety, and also some automobile goggles.

"We'll pass for chauffeurs in a crowd," said Dick. "The goggles will change our appearance, even if we only wear 'em on our foreheads."

They were soon on a subway train and being whirled northward. The train was an express, making but few stops, and almost before they knew it, the guard called out their station.

Dick had consulted a street map at the hotel, so he knew exactly how to turn. They easily located the apartment house in which Jesse Pelter resided, and then stopped at a nearby corner to await his appearance.

"We have got to be very careful how we follow him," said Dick. "If he spots us, it will be all up with us. I think Sam had better go first. I will follow, and Tom, you can bring up the rear. And let us all act as if we were perfect strangers to each other."

Then came a wait of nearly half an hour. At last they saw the front door of the apartment open and several men came out. Two of the men turned in one direction and the other man hurried off alone.

"There he is— there's Pelter!" cried Dick, in a low voice. "Now, Sam, see to it that he doesn't get out of your sight."

"I'll do my best," answered the youngest Rover, and walked off after the broker.

As Jesse Pelter hurried along he consulted his watch. Then he hastened his steps, making his way to the nearest railroad station. He boarded a train, and the boys followed, Sam getting in the same car with the broker and Dick and Tom entering the next car, but keeping in sight of their brother.

A number of stations were passed and then the broker left the train and the boys did likewise. On the street Jesse Pelter called a cab that was handy and entered it.

"Say, this looks as if we might lose him!" cried Dick, in alarm. Then he chanced to see another cab, and hurried to it, waving for Tom and Sam to do the same. He ordered the driver to keep the first turnout in sight, but not to get too close.

"I can do that with ease," said the driver, with a broad grin. "It's Jerry Dillon's cab, and Jerry's horse is no good at all."

The two cabs rolled on for several blocks, and then the first turned in the direction of the Hudson River. It halted near the railroad, and Jesse Pelter sprang to the ground. He paid the driver of the cab and dismissed him. Then he hurried along the railroad on foot.

"I guess he is going up to the dock yonder," Said Tom, while the boys got out.

"Looks like it," answered Dick.

All left the cab and hurried after Jesse Pelter, who was now all but out of sight. He passed between two buildings and the boys followed him slowly.

"Wait!" cried Dick presently. "Look!"

"Why, it's Crabtree!" exclaimed Sam, as another figure came into view— that of a heavily-bearded man with a slouch hat.

"Exactly," returned Dick. "Now keep back, or we may spoil everything," he continued, cautiously.

The three boys saw Pelter and Josiah Crabtree converse earnestly for several minutes. The man who had escaped from jail pointed to a big bundle he carried and Pelter nodded. Then both walked slowly across the railroad tracks to a dock jutting out into the Hudson.

At the dock lay a rowboat, with a man who looked like a sailor at the oars. Pelter and Crabtree climbed down into the boat, which was quickly shoved away. Then the sailor took up the oars and commenced to row out into the broad river.

"Now we are stumped!" murmured Tom, as he and his brothers watched the departure of the rowboat from behind a shed at the inner end of the dock.

"Let us watch that rowboat as far as we can," returned Dick. "I don't believe they intend to row very far."

"Maybe they are going to one of the vessels anchored out yonder," remarked Sam.

"More than likely."

The sailor was pulling up the stream, close to the shore, and the brothers could watch him with ease. The tide was running out and the oarsman had all he could do to make any headway.

"If he is going to keep to the shore, we might follow him on foot," suggested Tom, after several minutes had passed, and while the rowboat was still clearly in view.

"He is turning out now!" cried Dick. "See, I think he is making for yonder two-masted schooner."

The rowboat had turned out and in a few minutes more the boys felt certain it was headed for the schooner.

"Oh, if we only had a rowboat!" groaned Tom.

Dick did not reply. He was watching a steam tug that had come up the river. A line had been thrown from the tug to the schooner and made fast.

"The steam tug is going to tow her down the river!" exclaimed Sam. "Oh, Dick, what shall we do?"

"Dad may be on that schooner!" supplemented Tom.

Dick gazed up and down the stream. A rowboat was coming along, manned by two boys. Dick gave the lads a hail.

"Hi! want to earn a dollar quick?" he asked.

"How?" questioned both lads, in a breath.

"See that schooner? We want to get on board of her as quickly as possible."

"All right— but let us see the dollar first," answered one of the lads, shrewdly.

The rowboat came to the dock and the three Rovers leaped on board. Dick produced a dollar bill, and the boys commenced to row with all the power at their command.

In the meantime the first rowboat had reached the schooner's side and the men and the sailor had gone on hoard. The boat was tied fast to the stern and orders were given to the captain of the tug to go ahead.

"Stop! stop! You rascals!" cried Tom, as the schooner commenced to move down the Hudson. And in his anger he shook his fist at those on the vessel.

At first the actions of the boys attracted no attention. Then there was a stir on the rear deck of the craft.

"Somebody in a rowboat, calling to you," remarked the captain of the schooner, to Josiah Crabtree.

"To me?" exclaimed the former teacher, in surprise. "I will see about this."

He hurried to the stern of the schooner. The rowboat with the Rovers had now come quite close. Josiah Crabtree gave a start.

"Can it be possible?" he gasped.

"What is it?" asked Jesse Pelter, who had stepped up.

"Those young men in yonder boat! Unless I am mistaken they are Anderson Rover's sons!"

"Is it possible!" ejaculated the broker. "Oh, there must be some mistake."

"No, no! I know them well! And see, they are motioning to us! They want us to stop!"

"They must have seen and followed us!" said the broker, and his manner showed his sudden fear.

"Want to take those fellows on board?" questioned the captain of the schooner.

"No! no!" cried Josiah Crabtree. "Tell the captain of the tug to hurry up! That we er— that we must make better time!"

"I will, sir," said the captain of the schooner, and hurried forward to give the necessary order.

A big steamboat was passing up the river and the wash from this sent the rowboat containing the Rover boys dancing up and down. The lads at the oars headed the craft to meet the rollers, and the schooner passed further and further away.

"They are leaving us!" groaned Sam. "Oh, what luck!"

"Mr. Rover!" yelled Dick, at the top of his lungs. "Are you on board? Rover! Anderson Rover! It's Dick! Dick!"

For fully a minute no answer came back. Then there was a commotion on the deck of the schooner and a man appeared, clad in a torn suit of clothing and hatless.

"Dick! Where are you?" was the exclamation, and the man rushed to the stern of the craft. "Dick! And Tom and Sam! Help me!"

"It's father!" yelled Dick. "Stop that schooner! Stop her, I say!"

"Get back there!" exclaimed Josiah Crabtree, catching Mr. Rover by the arm. "Get back, I say! Help me, somebody! This man is crazy!"

He and Jesse Pelter hustled Anderson Rover back, and then the boys saw their father disappear from view. Swiftly the tug and the schooner gathered headway. The boys shouted in vain. They looked around for some other boat to come to their aid, but none was in sight. Then the schooner passed down the Hudson River and the Rover boys were left in the rowboat, gazing at each other in dismay.

CHAPTER XIX

THE SEARCH FOR THE SCHOONER

"Anyway, we have got the name of the schooner," remarked Sam, after a moment of silence. "She's the Ellen Rodney."

"And we ought to be able to follow her somehow," added Tom.

"We must!" cried Dick. "Let us get to shore and see what we can do."

"Don't we get that dollar?" queried one of the boys who rowed the boat.

"Yes," answered Dick, and handed the money over. "Now get us to shore as quickly as possible."

"If you want to catch that schooner, why don't you go downtown after her?" asked the second boy of the rowboat.

"Just what I was thinking of doing," answered Dick. "I think we can get down there ahead of them. The only question is, Can we get anybody down there to go out after the schooner?"

"You can get a boat at the Battery, if you're willing to pay for it. Plenty of tug captains down there looking for jobs."

"Then we'll get to the Battery as fast as possible," said Tom.

The boys who had been rowing the boat were tired, so Tom and Dick took the oars, and thus the little craft was speedily brought back to the dock from which it had started.

"You can get an elevated train over there," said one of the boys, pointing with his hand. "It will take you right to the Battery."

The Rover boys lost no time in leaving the dock and crossing the railroad tracks. Then they fairly ran to the nearest station of the elevated railroad. Dick purchased the tickets and dropped them in the box. Then came a wait of several minutes on the platform.

"Train for South Ferry!" called out the guard, as a rumble was heard.

"Does that go to the Battery?" questioned Dick.

"Sure."

The boys piled on board and away swept the line of cars, on the way downtown. But it was a local train, making all the stops, so their progress was not as fast as they wished.

Here and there, through the cross streets, they caught sight of the glistening river, with its numerous craft. Once Tom thought he saw the Ellen Rodney, but at that distance he could not he sure.

At last the train swept around a curve into the Battery, as the little park at the extreme lower point of the great metropolis is called. Here were located several ferries and also some shipping offices, as well as the Aquarium. Dick almost ran to the nearest shipping office.

"I want to stop a schooner that is coming down the Hudson River," he said, to the clerk in charge. "Can I hire a boat around here to take me out?"

"Anything wrong?" asked the clerk, curiously.

"Yes, very much wrong."

"In that case, why don't you put the harbor police on the job?"

"Can I get them handy?"

"Yes, the office is up there," and the man pointed it out.

"Thanks," returned Dick, and headed for the place in question, with Tom and Sam at his heels.

An officer was in charge of the office of the harbor police and he listened with interest to what the boys had to tell.

"This is certainly a serious matter," he said, when they had finished. "Those men are actually kidnapping your father— in fact, they have already kidnapped him. We'll have to get after them."

"You have a boat handy?"

"Yes, several of 'em."

The officer touched a bell and another man in uniform appeared. He was given some instructions, and then the second man told the Rover boys to follow him. He led the way to a dock where a steam tug lay, the smoke pouring from the funnel.

"Quick work here, Andy!" he cried, to an officer on board. "We've got to catch a schooner coming down the river— the Ellen Rodney. Do you know her?"

"I've seen her," was the answer, from the tug officer.

"The fellows on board the schooner are kidnapping the father of these boys. I reckon it's a serious case— a money affair," he added, in a lower tone.

"Who is the man?"

"Anderson Rover is his name. If you find him, and the boys make a charge, place all hands under arrest."

"I will."

The steam tug was fully manned, carrying a crew and several police officers. The Rover boys were told to get aboard, and the tug was headed out into the Hudson, or, as here called, the North, River.

"You don't suppose they have passed here. do you?" questioned the captain of the tug.

"I don't think so— unless that towing tug was an extra fast one," answered Dick.

"They wouldn't dare to run too fast, with so many ferryboats crossing the river. It would be too dangerous."

The police tug swept out into the bay and then started slowly up the river, moving from one shore to the other. The police officer in charge had a pair of glasses and he used these on the various craft that came into view, and also allowed the boys to use them.

"Ought to be along soon," said Tom, after a quarter of an hour had passed. "It took us quite some time to get down here, you know."

"Maybe they didn't come down the river," suggested the officer.

"Didn't come down?" cried Sam. "What do you mean?"

"Maybe they thought you would come down here and wait for them and so changed their plans and went up the river instead."

"That's so!" exclaimed Tom. "They might do that."

"Well, if they went up the river, we ought to be able to catch them sooner or later," put in Dick.

"Let us hope so," returned the officer.

Soon they had passed up the river to a point opposite the Twenty-third Street ferries. Here a number of boats were moving up and down the stream, and from the Hoboken shore a big trans-Atlantic steamer was coming out, to start on its trip across the ocean.

"That looks like her!" cried Sam, pointing to a craft behind the trans-Atlantic steamer.

"So it does!" returned Tom.

They made a semi-circle, other boats giving way to the police tug. But when they got closer to the schooner in question, all the Rover boys uttered a cry of dismay. It was a craft similar to the Ellen Rodney, but that was all.

"Either we missed her or else the schooner went up the river," said Dick, at last.

"Looks that way," returned Tom, with a sigh.

They continued to move up the stream, scanning each shore closely. They passed numerous boats, but not one that looked like the craft they were after.

"Well, here we are, at the spot where Crabtree and Pelter got aboard," said Dick, a while later. "So, either we have missed them, or else the Ellen Rodney went up the river instead of down."

The boys were much disheartened, for they had thought that the police tug would surely locate the craft and that they would thus be able to come to their father's rescue. They scarcely knew what to do next.

"I'll go up the river a bit further, if you say so," said the police officer in charge of the tug.

"Perhaps we had better run down first and make another search on our second trip," suggested Dick. "I shouldn't like them to get out into the Bay and give us the slip."

The tug was turned back, and a little later they reached the vicinity of the Battery once more. Then began another search up the river, from shore to shore, as before. But not a trace of the schooner could be found.

"Must have gone up the river," said the police official. "We'll try it for a way and see."

This they did, the police tug moving from side to side as before.

"This is the end of it, so far as we are concerned," said the officer in charge of the tug, at last. "We don't go up the river any further than this."

"All right then," answered Dick, much disheartened. "I guess the only thing for you to do is to put us ashore."

"Sorry we couldn't find that schooner. Of course, if you'll make a regular charge against these men we'll send word up the river to be on the lookout for them."

"We'll make the charge," answered Dick.

The steam tug turned in on the New York City side and the Rover boys went ashore.

"I'll make the regular charge a little later," said Dick. "It may be that I'll have some men in the city arrested first." And then he and his brothers moved off, after receiving instructions from the police official as to what might be best to do.

"Are you going to have Japson arrested?" asked Sam.

"If I can find him. But I guess he'll keep out of sight for the present, Sam. You must remember one thing— these rascals only want to keep dad a prisoner for three days. After that they will let him go— and then it will be too late to save that property."

"Would that be so if we could prove that dad had been kept a prisoner?" asked Tom, with much anxiety.

"I don't know. Another thing, they may make dad sign certain papers. Don't you remember Pelter said over the telephone that he would 'make him do it'? They'll force father into something— if they can."

"Well, what's our next move?" asked Sam, impatiently.

"As it is after noon, we had better visit a quick lunch room and get a bit to eat. Then I think we had better hire some private tug to take us up the river. I am almost certain now that the Ellen Rodney went that way."

"If she went up the river she might go all the way to Albany," said Tom.

"Possibly, but I think those rascals would be too afraid to do that. They'll leave the schooner at the first chance they get, and take father with them."

The boys did not have to walk far before they came to a small shedlike building displaying the sign, "Quick Lunch." They entered and ordered some sandwiches, pie, and coffee. While they were eating they questioned the proprietor about some craft to take them up the river.

"We are hunting for a schooner," explained Dick. "We don't know just where she is. We'll pay somebody well for finding her for us."

"I know a young fellow who owns a motor-boat," said the quick lunch man. "He could take you anywhere you'd want to go."

"Just the thing!" cried Dick, quickly. "Where is that fellow?"

"He ought to be here now— he generally comes in about noon for sandwiches and coffee."

"I wish he would come now," murmured Sam.

After that they did not hurry their lunch, hoping the owner of the motor-boat would appear. He came in ten minutes later— a bright, cheery individual, not much older than Dick.

"Sure I can take you anywhere along the river, if you are willing to pay for it," said he, in answer to a question from the oldest Rover boy. "Just give me time to get a mouthful and I will be with you."

"Let us take some lunch along," suggested Tom. "There is no telling how long this search will last."

"We might take a little," answered Dick. "But I don't think we'll be on the river long."

Ten minutes later the crowd was on the way to the river, to a dock where lay the motor-boat. It was not a very elegant craft, but it had a good engine and could travel well— and that, just then, meant everything to the Rover boys. A bargain was struck for the run, and the boys and the owner got aboard. And then the search for the schooner was begun anew.

CHAPTER XX

A MINUTE TOO LATE

"Well, this looks like a wild goose chase, Dick."

It was Sam who spoke, from the bow of the motor-boat. For over two hours they had been moving up the Hudson River, slowly, scanning one shore and the other with care. They had noted many boats, but nothing that looked like the schooner for which they were so eagerly searching.

"They had a pretty good start of you," said John Slater, the owner of the motor-boat. "Maybe they are up to Nyack or Haverstraw by this time."

"Well, all we can do is to keep on and watch out," said Tom, with a sigh. His disposition, for fun seemed to have entirely left him.

Another half hour went by, and they came in sight of a number of lumber barges, all heavily loaded. The barges were being towed by a big tug.

"I know the captain of that tug," said John Slater. "We might ask him about the schooner."

"A good idea," answered Dick.

They were soon close to the steam tug and the motor-boat owner waved his hand to the captain of the larger craft, who waved in return.

"I want to find a schooner named the Ellen Rodney!" shouted John Slater. "Did you pass her, Captain Voss?"

"I did," was the answer. "She was opposite Nyack, heading in to shore."

"Opposite Nyack!" exclaimed Dick, "How far is that from here?"

"Not more than two miles," answered John Slater, as he turned his motor-boat up the river again.

"We ought to be able to catch them now!" cried Sam, his face brightening a bit.

"Wish we had the police along," remarked Tom. "Bringing those rascals to terms may not be as easy as you imagine."

"I've got a gun on board," said John Slater. "A double-barreled shotgun I keep on hand to guard against river thieves. I use it to go gunning with, too."

"Good! Better bring it out and let us look at it," returned Dick.

The weapon was produced and found to be in good condition and loaded. It was placed on one of the seats, an oilskin raincoat being thrown over it to hide it from view.

"We won't use force unless it is necessary," said Dick, grimly.

They soon came in sight of Nyack, but nothing that looked like the schooner came into view.

"Maybe they went further," suggested Sam. "Their turning in might have been a bluff— to throw us off the trail."

"Or they may have sent a message ashore— maybe a message to Japson!" cried Dick.

"Of course they would want to put him on guard— and put those at the offices on guard, too," murmured Tom.

They continued on up the river, with their eyes ever on the alert. It was now growing late in the afternoon and the sky was clouded, as if a storm was coming.

"Look!" cried Dick, suddenly, and he pointed ahead and to the right.

"The schooner, sure enough!" said Tom. "And see, a rowboat is alongside!"

"Maybe we are just in time," added Sam. "I hope so."

Without delay, the motor-boat was headed in the direction of the Ellen Rodney. As they drew closer they saw but one man on the deck of the schooner,— a burly fellow who looked like a sailor.

"Schooner ahoy!" shouted Dick, as they ran alongside.

"Ahoy, the motor-boat!" cried the burly man, coming towards them.

"Are you the captain?"

"No, the captain is ashore," was the short answer.

"I'll come aboard," said Dick, and without waiting for another word from the man he made his way to the deck, followed by Tom. He had already directed Sam to remain in the motor-boat with John Slater, to summon assistance if necessary.

"What do you want here?" demanded the burly man, surlily.

"I guess you know well enough," answered Dick, shortly. "Where is that man who is a prisoner?"

"You mean the crazy man?"

"He isn't crazy, and you know it."

"Those men who had him in charge said he was crazy," grumbled the burly individual.

"Where is he?"

"What is that to you?"

"Everything. That man is my father, and they have kidnapped him. Maybe you know that kidnapping is a State's prison offense," added the oldest Rover boy, sharply.

"Humph! I ain't had nothing to do with any kidnapping, young fellow," growled the man. "I'm the mate o' this schooner, that's all. If anything is wrong, you'll have to see the captain about it."

"You say he went ashore?"

"Yes."

"Did those men and my father go with him?"

"All of 'em went, yes."

"Who was left here besides you?"

"Those two dago sailors, that's all," and the mate pointed to two men who lay on the forward deck, asleep.

"Are you willing to have me take a look around?" went on Dick, after a pause.

"You'll have to wait till the captain gets back," answered the man, doggedly. "If there is anything wrong I don't want to be mixed up in it."

"If you want to keep out of trouble you'll help us all you can," put in Tom. "This is a serious business."

"I don't know a thing about it," and the man shrugged his shoulders.

Without another word Dick walked across the deck and descended into the cabin. The burly man's face clouded and he made a move as if to follow him.

"You stay here," said Tom, and put his hand in his hip pocket, as if about to draw some weapon.

The man changed color and shifted uneasily.

"All right, have your own way," he said. He was a coward at heart, and as he had not been in the plot against Anderson Rover he did not wish to get any deeper into the trouble.

It did not take Dick long to convince himself that his father was not on board the schooner. He called his parent's name, and then passed swiftly through the cabin and several staterooms and also a cook's galley. He saw where somebody had been locked in one of the staterooms, for the compartment was in disorder and the door was marred and cracked.

"Dad must have struggled to get away," he murmured. "I hope they didn't hurt him."

When Dick came on deck he found Tom guarding the burly man. The two sailors were still asleep— or pretended to be.

"Nothing doing below," he announced. "I guess they took him ashore."

"We might as well go ashore, too, then," said his brother. "We are wasting valuable time here." He turned to the mate. "Will you tell us where they went? It will be to your interest to open your mouth."

"They mentioned the old Blue Horseshoe Tavern," growled the burly mate. "But I don't know if they went there."

Dick said no more, but hurried over the side, followed by Tom. As he left the schooner the fun-loving Rover could not help but bring from his hip pocket an extra handkerchief and flourish it at the mate.

"There's my gun, how do you like it?" he cried, with a grin.

"Go to grass!" grunted the burly fellow, and scowled deeply.

In a few words the pair told Sam what they had learned. The motor-boat was headed for a nearby dock, and a few minutes later the Rovers leaped ashore.

"I don't know if I will need you again or not," said Dick to John Slater.

"If it wasn't for watching my boat I'd go along," said the motor-boat youth. "I am interested in this case."

"Here is your money. But I wish you would hang around a while," went on Dick, paying him.

"I sure will hang around, and I'll watch that schooner."

"Good! Our address in New York is the Outlook Hotel," said Dick.

The boys saw nobody around the dock, which was in the rear of a small lumber yard. They walked through the yard to an office in front. A road ran out of the side of the yard and the boys wondered if the men they were after had taken that.

Nobody but a boy of fifteen was in the office, clicking out a letter on an old typewriter.

"The boss ain't around— he had to go to New York on business," he announced, as soon as the boys appeared. "Want to leave an order for anything?"

"We are looking for some men who came ashore a while ago," said Dick. "Did you see 'em?"

The boy shook his head.

"Ain't nobody been here all afternoon," he said.

"Do you know anything of a place called the Blue Horseshoe Tavern?"

"Sure I do. It's up on the post road— the place where all the auto parties stop," was the knowing reply.

"How far from here?"

"Not over a quarter of a mile."

"Which way?"

"I'll show you," and the boy reached for his cap. Going outside, he led them from the yard to a road running up a hill.

"Keep right on that till you get to the Blue Horseshoe," he said. "You can't miss it, because it's the only place around here."

They thanked the lad and hurried on. By this time it was quite dark and a few drops of rain had begun to fall.

"The Blue Horseshoe Tavern must be one of the old-time roadhouses that has had a revival of business since auto parties became popular," said Dick, as he and his brothers trudged along. "I wonder what those rascals will tell the proprietor?"

"Most likely the same old story— that dad is crazy," answered Tom. "That's Crabtree's favorite game."

They had just turned a curve in the road and come in sight of a low, rambling tavern, when they saw a big touring car of the enclosed pattern coming towards them. To avoid the machine, which was being driven rapidly, they leaped to the side of the road.

As the touring car came closer, they saw that two men sat on the front seat,— the driver and a man who had his hat pulled far down over his face and his coat collar turned up.

"Look!" yelled Tom, pointing to the man beside the driver.

"Look into the car!" yelled Sam.

The automobile rolled on, lost to sight in less than a minute, around the bend of the road. It was headed in the direction of New York City.

"The man on the front seat with the driver was Pelter!" exclaimed Tom.

"And dad was inside the car!" gasped Sam.

"You are right," returned Dick. "And Crabtree and another man was with him. Dad looked as if he had his hands bound behind him."

"What shall we do now?"

"How can we follow that car?"

"How did they get that auto so quick?"

"I think I know how they got the auto," said the oldest Rover boy, after a pause. "There must be a garage at the tavern. Come on and see. Maybe we can get another auto and follow that car!"

CHAPTER XXI

CAPTAIN RODNEY'S TESTIMONY

It was raining steadily when the three Rover boys reached the Blue Horseshoe Tavern, an ancient hostelry standing at the junction of two main roads. In the rear was a barn, and a big carriage shed which had been converted into a garage. The youths headed for the latter place and entered quickly, to get out of the downpour.

A colored man came forward to see what they wanted.

"Can we hire a car here, and at once?" questioned Dick.

"Sorry, boss, but we ain't got no car in jest now," answered the colored man. "I expect one back in about an hour."

"The car that just went out?" demanded Tom.

"Yes, sah."

"Can't you get us any sort of a car?" pleaded Sam.

"Ain't got nuffin' in 'ceptin' a roadster, an' that won't run— sumthin' the matter with the carburetor."

"Are you sure that other car will be back in an hour?" demanded Dick.

"I think so. The gents as took it said they didn't want to go more than ten miles."

"All right, we'll wait till the car gets back," answered Dick, struck with a sudden idea.

"But, Dick, we'll lose valuable time," whispered Sam.

"Perhaps not, Sam. If we got a car now we wouldn't know where to go. If that driver comes back and takes us——"

"Oh, I see."

"Fine!" murmured Tom.

"You call us as soon as that car shows itself," said Dick, to the colored man. "We'll be in the tavern."

"Yes, sah," was the reply, and the man readily pocketed the quarter that the oldest Rover tossed to him.

The boys ran to the tavern by a side entrance which was not far from the shed. They walked along a porch until they came to some windows opening from a dining room.

"Look in there!" cried Tom, coming to a halt.

The others did as directed and saw, at one of the tables, the man they had seen on the deck of the Ellen Rodney. "It's Captain Rodney," went on Tom, who had learned the name from the schooner's mate.

"And he is alone, which proves that the others were in that auto with dad," returned Sam.

"I'm going to interview him!" cried Dick. "And maybe I'll have him arrested."

All three boys walked into the dining room of the tavern and took seats at the same table with the master of the schooner. He started, and was about to spring to his feet, when Dick stopped him.

"Sit where you are," said the oldest Rover boy, sternly. "If you attempt to leave I'll call the police."

"What do you— er— mean?" stammered the man, and he looked decidedly uncomfortable.

"I reckon you know who we are, Captain Rodney," said Tom.

"I don't."

"We are Anderson Rover's sons," said Sam.

"Never heard of that man," faltered the captain.

"You had him a prisoner only a short while ago."

"Oh, you mean that crazy man who was aboard my schooner? I thought his name was Brown."

"See here, Captain Rodney, you can't fool us, so you had better not try," said Dick, sternly. "You know the game those men are trying to play. They are going to prison for it,— and you'll go, too, if you are not careful."

"What! you threaten me!" roared the man, growing red in the face.

"I do."

"I can have the law on you for it."

"Go ahead, the sooner the better," responded Dick, coolly. "Those men are rascals and you know it. Now, I am going to give you one chance— just one," went on Dick, looking the master of the Ellen Rodney squarely in the eyes.

"What do you mean?"

"As I said before, those men are rascals. They abducted my father, and you aided them. I can prove it. As soon as we rescue my father we are going to prosecute those rascals. If you want to save your own skin you had better help us all you can."

At these plain words the face of Captain Rodney became a study.

"They told me he was a crazy man— a brother to one of the others— and they wanted to get him to some sanitarium."

"If that was so, why did they run away?"

"I didn't know they ran away— until just now."

"You started to go down the river," said Tom.

"Why did you change your mind and come here?"

"They chartered the schooner for a week— I was under their orders."

"Where were they going at first?"

"Down the Jersey coast and back. They said they thought a little ocean air would do the crazy man good before they put him in the sanitarium. I own up that I was suspicious, but they claimed everything was straight."

"They were going to take my father down the coast for several days so that he could not sign important papers," returned Dick. "It is a well-laid plot to do our family out of a great deal of money and dishonor my father."

"Well, I ain't in it, I give you my word. I chartered my vessel to 'em, that's all."

"We will take you at your word, then. But you must tell all you know about them and their plans," said Dick, after a pause.

"And if I do that, will you— er— drop the charge against me?" questioned the master of the Ellen Rodney, eagerly.

"If you don't, we are going to have you

placed under arrest as soon as we can get an officer."

"Don't do that! I never had any trouble before and I don't want it now. I'll help you all I can— if what you say its true, and that man is your father."

After that the captain was quite willing to talk, and he told how Crabtree and Japson had come to him and questioned him about the schooner, and finally chartered the craft for a week. They had at first wanted to pay him at the end of the time, but he had insisted upon receiving his money in advance and it was then paid over. He had been told that the strange man was Crabtree's brother, who had gone crazy because of the loss of his money in a Western irrigation scheme.

"They said they would take him down the coast for three or four days, to brace him up a bit. Then we were to run in at Absecon, near Atlantic City, and land all hands. They said they would go from Atlantic City to Lakewood, where the sanitarium was located."

"Probably they intended to let him go at Absecon and then deny that they had ever touched him," said Dick.

"Maybe— I don't know anything about that," replied the captain.

"But how did you come to change your plans?" asked Tom.

"When you came out in that rowboat and the crazy man— excuse me, I mean your father— cut up so, they hustled him back to one of the state-rooms," went on Captain Rodney. "Then they had a long talk. I think they were afraid you would go down the river by train and try to head them off "Which we did," murmured Sam.

"After a while Pelter and Japson came to me and said they must come up the river— that a sister of the crazy man lived up here, and they must visit her before they went down the coast. I was suspicious, but what could I do? I had chartered my vessel and I had my money, so I obeyed orders. Then we came up here as fast as we could. The steam tug was dismissed, and we came ashore to this place. Then they hired an auto and went off— and that's all I know about it."

"You don't know where they went?" cried Dick.

"No more than what they said— that they were going to the crazy man's sister."

"Which was false," muttered Tom.

"What were you to do?" asked Dick.

"They told me I might sail up the river to Newburgh and wait there for a telegram."

After that the captain talked freely. But what he had to say shed but little more light on the subject. The boys came to the conclusion that he had been dragged into the plot without knowing what it was, but that he had been willing to lend his help, provided he was well paid for it.

"When the proper time comes I shall want your testimony," said Dick, at the conclusion of the interview. "In the meantime I advise you to have no more to do with those fellows."

"They shan't come near the schooner, even if they did charter her," growled Captain Rodney.

CHAPTER XXII

HOT ON THE TRAIL

The boys had no appetite, but as they were in the dining room they ordered a light lunch and paid for it. Then they saw an automobile come splashing through the mud of the road.

"There is that car!" cried Sam, as be recognized the driver.

The boys ran out and made their way through the rain to the garage. The enclosed touring car had just entered and the driver had shut off the power. The wind shield had been up, but the man had gotten quite wet and stood shaking the water from his coat.

"Here's the car!" cried the colored man, coming forward.

"So I see," returned Dick. He turned to the driver. "Pretty bad traveling, I imagine."

"You bet! The road is a mass of slippery mud. I came near skidding half a dozen times."

"Where did you go?" and Dick stepped closer to the chauffeur.

The man started and looked at the oldest Rover boy sharply.

"What's that to you?" he asked, shortly.

"Everything. We want to go to the same place."

"And as quickly as you can get us there," added Tom.

The chauffeur surveyed the three Rovers in amazement. Then he took off his coat and shook it briskly.

"Sorry, but I can't take you," he said, slowly. "I've got another job in— er— in half an hour."

"You are going to take us," said Dick, firmly. "And right away. What did those men pay you?"

"What is that——"

"How much— out with it? I haven't any time to spare."

"Ten dollars."

"All right. You'd like another ten, wouldn't you?"

"Sure. But——"

"Ten dollars to get us to the same place inside of twenty minutes," went on Dick, and showed a roll of bankbills.

"Can't do it— in this slippery weather," answered the man, his eyes glistening at the sight of the money. "Make it in half an hour."

"All tight then."

"I'll put on the chains," cried the chauffeur, and brought out the anti-skidding chains for the rear wheels. The boys got the colored man to assist him, and the chains were soon adjusted. Then the car was backed out of the garage and the three Rovers leaped inside.

"Now, don't lose a minute," said Dick.

"I won't. But we are taking chances on this road, sir, I can tell you that."

It was still raining steadily, and the highway was a mass of oily mud,— a splendid compound upon which to skid. On and on rushed the touring car at a rate of speed varying from twenty to thirty-five miles an hour.

"I could eat this road up if it was dry," shouted the chauffeur. "The machine is good for fifty miles an hour."

"Well, don't climb a tree, or a stone wall," cautioned Dick, grimly.

Ordinarily the Rover boys might have been anxious because of such wild riding, but now every thought was centered on their father. How he was faring, and would they be able to rescue him?

Twice the touring car made dangerous lurches to one side, once fairly brushing some trees which lined the roadway. But the driver stuck to his post, and gained the middle of the roadway again, and rushed on as rapidly as ever.

"I'll wager he doesn't own the machine," muttered Sam. "If he did, he'd be more careful of it."

"Well, he owns his own neck," returned Tom, grimly. "So maybe he'll be careful of that."

They passed through several small villages, the inhabitants gazing out curiously at the rushing and swaying car. Then they took to a side road, where the traveling was worse than ever.

Suddenly the car made a turn. They had struck a rut in the road and even the chains did not save them. Around swung the automobile. There was a grinding of the brakes and the power was shut off. Then came a jar that sent the Rover boys in a heap.

"Something has happened sure!" cried Tom, who was the first to get up.

They looked out of the door of the enclosed car. They had come up to a mass of bushes beside the road, and the left front wheel had struck a rock and was twisted around. The mud guard on that side had crumpled up.

"I guess the journey is over— so far as this car is concerned," muttered Dick, as he leaped out, followed by his brothers.

The chauffeur was trying his steering wheel. The right wheel responded, but that which had hit the rock did not.

"Out of commission!" he said, with a frown. "I was afraid something would happen."

"If it's only the steering gear it won't cost much," said Dick. "How much further to that place?"

"Not over half a mile."

"Then we'll walk it!" cried Tom.

"Of course," added Sam.

"Ain't you going to pay me!" exclaimed the chauffeur, in dismay. "I did my best."

"Yes, I'll pay you," responded Dick. "And give you an extra five for the repairs. Now tell us just where that place is, and what sort."

"It's a country home,— a white place, set in a lot of trees,— with a wind mill back of the barn. Got a green hedge in front— the right side of the road— you can't miss it."

"Did you hear the name of the owner?"

"Belongs to one of the crowd— man named Japson. It's an old country home that was in his family for years. He don't live there, but it's furnished, I understand."

The boys said no more, but as soon as the chauffeur was paid, they set off through the rain. It was a disagreeable journey, and but little was said. All wondered what would be best to do when they reached the place for which they were bound.

"I wish we had the sheriff and his posse with us, as we had when we rounded up those rascals at Plankville," said Tom.

"Or if we only had John Slater's shotgun," added Sam.

"Never mind. As I understand it, we are three to three," said Dick. "And we can arm ourselves with heavy sticks," which they presently proceeded to do, tearing up some bushes for that purpose.

It was not long before they came in sight of a long, high hedge. Back of it was a white house, surrounded by numerous old trees. Over the trees showed the top of an old wind mill, used for pumping water from a driven well.

"Think we had better go right up to the door and knock?" asked Sam, as they halted at the edge of the hedge.

"No, I think we had better spy around a little at first," answered his big brother.

All crawled through a gap in the hedge and, skulking from tree to tree, gradually neared the house. Near one of the windows grew some bushes, and they crept along to these. Then Dick looked through the window.

He saw Pelter and Japson seated at a table, going over some legal papers. Nobody else was visible.

"Perhaps Crabtree took father to some other place, after the chauffeur left!" thought the youth, in dismay.

The window was closed, so the boys could not hear what was being said. They consulted among themselves, and walked around the house, being careful to keep well under the windows, which were rather high.

"Here is a cellar door, let us try that," said Tom, and he raised it up, and almost before they knew it, they were in the cellar under the building.

Above them they could hear footsteps and a murmur of voices. Evidently Josiah Crabtree had joined the brokers.

"You stay here and I'll investigate further," said Dick, after a pause, during which he had espied a stairs leading upward to the rear of the house.

He mounted the stairs and came out into a wide kitchen. No one was present, nor did any fire burn in the big stove. From the kitchen a door led to a dining room, which, in turn, led to a sitting room. In the last-named room were the three men.

"Do you think he'll raise a row?" Pelter was asking.

"He can't raise much of a row, with that towel bound over his mouth," replied Josiah Crabtree.

"It's lucky we had this place to come to," put in Japson. "I only hope they don't get on our trail and follow us."

"I don't think they will follow us here," said Pelter. Then followed a murmur, as he and the other broker went over the legal papers on the table.

Dick wondered what he had best do next. He gazed around the kitchen and saw a small side door, opening on an enclosed stairs leading to the second floor. He went up the stairs noiselessly.

CHAPTER XXIII

THE RESCUE

The oldest Rover boy had reached a rapid conclusion. This was that his father was not on the first floor of the house, nor in the cellar. Consequently, if he was in the building at all— and Dick believed he was— he must be somewhere upstairs. While the three rascals were in the sitting room he intended to make a quick investigation.

With his stick still in his hand, in case of attack, Dick reached the second floor and entered a small bed chamber. Opening from this was a second room, containing a cot. Beyond the rooms was a closet, and that was all.

"Too bad! This stairs leads only to a kitchen addition!" murmured the boy. "How can I get into the main house? Why didn't they cut a door through?"

He looked out of a window and saw the roof of a porch. At the end of the roof was another window, one of a room in the main building. Without hesitation Dick raised the sash of the window at which he stood and stepped out on the porch top. Soon he was at the other window.

It was locked, but the catch was not a strong one, and with the blade of his pocketknife he easily pushed it back. Then the sash came up and he stepped into the bedroom beyond.

The room was empty and the bed showed that it had not been used for some time. Dick crossed the apartment and opened a door leading to a wide hallway. From downstairs came a murmur of voices. The rascals were still in consultation.

Swiftly the oldest Rover boy passed from one room to another of the big house. Each was empty, and in the last he came to a halt, somewhat dismayed. Then he thought of an enclosed staircase he had noticed, leading to the next floor, and he hurried to this.

The third floor of the building was but an open garret, piled high with old furniture and discarded things generally. The two windows were covered with dirt and cobwebs, and as it was dark outside, because of the rain, Dick could see but little.

"Father!" he called softly. "Father, are you here?"

He listened and heard a tapping, coming from one end of the garret. He moved over in the direction and struck a match. Then he gave a cry, half of gladness and half of dismay.

His parent was there, bound to an upright of the garret floor. He had his hands behind him, and a towel was tied over his mouth. With deft fingers Dick unloosed the towel, and then he cut his father's bonds with his pocketknife.

"Oh, Dick! How glad I am that you have come!" gasped Anderson Rover, when he could speak. "That towel nearly smothered me!"

"Did they hurt you any, Dad?" asked the boy anxiously.

"Not so very much, Dick. We had several rough and tumble fights,— when I tried to get away from them. But they were too many for me. Have they gone?"

"No, they are in the sitting room below, talking matters over."

"And you came here all alone?" asked Mr. Rover, stretching his cramped limbs.

"No, Tom and Sam are down in the cellar. I told them I would come upstairs and investigate."

"Good! Then we are four to three. I am glad to know that. It will make it easier to get away from them."

"Have you done anything for them— I mean, signed any papers, or anything like that?" asked the son, anxiously.

"No. They wanted to keep me from signing certain papers that must be signed inside of two days, Dick."

"I know it."

"They also wanted me to sign other documents, and Crabtree said if I didn't do it he would leave me here to starve!"

"The rascal!" muttered Dick. "We have got to get him back to jail, that's sure! Are you sure you are well enough to go with me, Dad? "

"I— I think so, Dick. But this has been an awful strain on me," sighed Anderson Rover.

He was very pale, and the hand he placed on Dick's shoulder trembled greatly.

"After this you must let me attend to business for you," said the son. "I am old enough to do it. You need a complete rest."

"Yes, Dick, but your college career——"

"We'll talk about those things later, Dad. First, I want to get you away from here, and in a safe place. Then we'll attend to Crabtree, Pelter and Japson," added Dick, grimly.

"The business matters have been too much for me— I realize it now," sighed Anderson Rover. "I must take a rest— a good, long rest. They would not have gotten the best of me if I had been stronger."

"Come," said Dick. "Don't make any noise if you can help it," he added, in a whisper.

He guided his parent, and both tiptoed their way to the second floor of the dwelling. Then they entered the bed chamber opening on the top of the porch, and so made their way down to the kitchen and then into the cellar.

"Father!" cried Sam and Tom, simultaneously, and rushed to embrace their parent.

"My boys!" murmured Anderson Rover, and the tears stood in his eyes. Never before had he realized how much they were to him.

"Come on— no time to talk now," said Dick, in a low voice. "We'll get away from here first."

"But those rascals—" began Sam.

"We'll take care of them, Sam, never fear."

The boys led their father from the cellar and across the back yard to the barn. From the barn a lane ran to the main road. The lane had a hedge that practically hid it from the house.

"Wait here, in the barn," said Dick. "But keep out of sight."

"Where are you going?" asked Tom.

"To watch on the road for a wagon or an auto, to take us to the nearest town or railroad station."

"Going to leave those men here, Dick?"

"Not much! I thought Sam might take dad back to New York, while you and I had it out with Crabtree and the others."

"Good! I'm with you!" cried Tom.

Dick posted himself on the highway, and presently saw a covered wagon approaching, drawn by a spirited team. The driver was a young man, evidently from some nearby town.

"Going to town?" asked Dick, as he stopped the fellow.

"Yes, want a ride?" and the young man smiled.

"I don't, but another fellow, my brother, and my father, do," said Dick. "If you'll take them, we'll pay you."

"All right," was the answer. "Come right along."

"How far is it to the railroad station?" went on Dick.

"About two miles."

"Will you take 'em over?"

"Sure— I'm going there myself."

Dick hurried back to the barn, and soon Sam and Mr. Rover were in the wagon. Before Sam left his big brother gave him some instructions in private. Then the wagon went on through the rain.

"Thank heaven! dad is safe!" murmured Tom, when the wagon had disappeared. "I hope Sam doesn't let him out of his sight until those business affairs are settled up."

"He is going to take him to the Outlook Hotel first," answered Dick. "But he is going to do more than that, Tom— if it is possible."

"What?"

"I told him to stop in that town and send some help here— a police official, or a constable, or some men. Crabtree has got to go back to jail, and I think we ought to have Pelter and Japson locked up, too— although that may depend upon what father may have to say."

"Then we can't do anything until somebody gets here from town," said Tom, somewhat disappointedly.

"We can watch those rascals and listen to what they are talking about," returned Dick.

Both boys returned to the barn, to get out of the rain. Then they sneaked to the cellar of the house and up to the kitchen, and then to a little storeroom next to the dining room. From the storeroom they could catch much of the conversation coming from the three men in the dining room.

There were some matters Dick and Tom did not understand. But from what was said they learned that Japson was a distant relative of Josiah Crabtree and the two had been in several shady transactions together. Crabtree had agreed, if aided in his escape from the Plankville jail, to assist the brokers in making Anderson Rover a prisoner and keeping him such until he signed certain documents and until the time had passed when he could no longer take up the options which were so valuable to the Rovers and their friends.

"Well, I think these documents are all right," the boys heard Jesse Pelter say, presently. "Now we can turn them over to Belright Fogg and tell him to go ahead."

The boys looked at each other in amazement. Belright Fogg! The lawyer who had tried to outwit them in their claim against the railroad company because of the smashed Dartaway! Was that fellow mixed up in this game also? It looked like it.

CHAPTER XXIV

FROM A GARRET WINDOW

"This is getting interesting!" whispered Tom.

"I should say so," murmured Dick.

"That must have been what was bringing Belright Fogg down to New York City."

"It looks like it."

"Well, if he is mixed up in this he can get pinched with the rest of the rascals."

"Right you are."

After that the boys listened to more of the talk between the brokers and Josiah Crabtree. From what was said it was easy to guess that the plotters expected to make quite a large sum of money out of their evil doings.

"But you have got to get Rover's signatures to those papers," said Jesse Pelter.

"We'll do it!" cried Josiah Crabtree. "Even if we have to starve him into it."

"I hope those boys didn't come after the schooner," muttered Japson.

"I reckon Captain Rodney will know how to throw 'em off the scent," returned Crabtree.

"We were lucky to find that automobile at the tavern," went on Pelter.

Some more talk followed and then Japson exclaimed:

"Why can't we make Rover sign those papers now? Maybe we can scare him into it."

"We might try," answered his partner, slowly.

The men arose and Japson lit a lantern, for he knew it was dark in the garret. Then, one behind the other, they filed out into the hallway and went upstairs.

"They are going to find out something pretty soon!" chuckled Tom.

"Come on, let us follow 'em, Tom," answered his brother. "I've got a new idea."

"What is it?"

"Perhaps we can lock 'em in that garret until help arrives."

"Just the cheese, Dick! I remember there was a lock on the door,— and maybe we can fasten it in some other way, too— so they can't break out."

"They can't get out by the windows— they are too high from the ground."

By this time the three men were mounting the garret stairs. They had to pass around a pile of furniture to get to where Anderson Rover had been kept a prisoner.

"Quick now!" cried Dick, as the men disappeared from view. He closed the garret door and turned the key in the lock. "Get a chair or two, Tom, so we can wedge the door fast."

Tom understood, and ran into a nearby room, to bring out a square table. The stairway to the garret ran from a right angle of the wall, so that the table could be stood up against the door, with the bottom of the four legs against the wall opposite. Some books chanced to be handy, and the lads were able to place these against the wall under the feet of the table legs, thus wedging the door fast.

"Now I reckon they'll have their own job getting out!" cried Tom, grimly.

"Go to a front window and watch the road," ordered his big brother. "If you see any help coming, call them."

Tom at once departed, to station himself at the window of one of the front bed chambers. By this time a clattering of feet could be heard on the garret stairs.

"He has locked the door on us!" came a cry in Jesse Pelter's voice.

"How did he get free?" asked Japson. "I thought we tied him good."

"He cut the ropes!" cried Josiah Crabtree. "But how he got hold of his knife to do it, I can't guess."

Dick had to smile to himself. Evidently the rascals thought his father had liberated himself and turned the tables on them.

"Hi, Rover! Are you out there?" called Jesse Pelter. "If you are you had better unlock that door."

To this call Dick did not answer.

"He must have run away!" exclaimed Japson. "Break the door down! We must catch him!"

"That's the talk!" added Josiah Crabtree, in great excitement.

"Touch the door at your peril!" cried Dick, sharply. "I am armed and I will stand no nonsense!"

"Who is that?" asked Japson.

"That wasn't Rover's voice," added his partner.

"I think I know who that is," answered Josiah Crabtree, and his voice commenced to tremble. "Dick Rover, is that you?" he called, faintly.

"Yes. Don't you dare to touch that door, Crabtree," replied Dick.

"Is it Dick Rover?" questioned Pelter.

"Yes."

"Anderson Rover's oldest son? The one who was in the rowboat with the others?"

"Yes."

"Then we have been followed after all!" shouted Japson, hoarsely. "We have been trapped!"

"You've hit the nail on the head," called out Dick. "Now, don't touch that door, or it will be the worse for you."

"Is he alone?" whispered Pelter.

"No, I am not alone!" answered Dick. "Hi, Tom, am I alone?" he called.

"Not much!" answered Tom. "We are all on deck here, and all armed. You just sit still and suck your thumbs until the officers come," he added, dryly.

"The officers!" shrieked Josiah Crabtree, and was so overcome that he sank down on one of the steps of the stairs.

"See here, Dick Rover," said Jesse Pelter, after a pause. "Let us see if we can't— er— patch this up somehow."

"You can do your patching-up after you are in jail, Mr. Pelter."

"If you have me arrested, boy, you will be sorry for it!" growled the broker.

"We can ruin your family, and disgrace your father," added Japson. "Better let us go and fix this up without the police."

"No, I am going to have you locked up," replied Dick, determinedly. "As to what charge will be brought against you, I'll have to consult my father about that first."

"You lock us up and you'll get nothing out of us!" growled Japson. "We can ruin your family, and we'll do it!"

"Can't we get out another way?" asked Josiah Crabtree, in a whisper.

"I don't think so," said the owner of the house. "We can go up and look around."

All returned to the garret floor and walked to one window and the other. The distance to the ground was all of twenty-five feet, too far for any of them to risk a drop.

"We might make a rope of these old blankets," suggested Jesse Pelter. "Talk to Rover at the door while I try it."

His partner went back to the door, while the others commenced to make a rope by tearing a blanket into strips and tying the ends together. The back window was raised and the rope lowered.

"Nobody in sight!" cried Crabtree, looking down. "Oh, I trust we can get away from them!" He saw a term in prison staring him in the face.

"Don't lose any time!" cried Japson. "Here, tie the end fast to that old bed. Now let me get out!"

"I'll go first!" cried Josiah Crabtree, and shoved the broker aside. With trembling hands he grasped the improvised rope and slipped out of the window.

In the meantime Dick commenced to suspect that all was not right and called to Tom.

"Go below and outside and look at those windows," he said. "If they try to drop, shy some stones at 'em!"

"I will!" answered Tom, and ran down the stairs three steps at a time. He looked up at the front of the house but saw nothing unusual. Then he dashed to the rear.

"Hi! stop!" he called out, as he saw Josiah Crabtree dangling just under the garret window. "Get back there, or I'll fire at you!" And looking around, Tom saw a sharp stone and picked it up.

As he did this there was a sudden tearing sound, and the blanket-rope parted at the point where it passed over the window sill. Josiah Crabtree uttered a wild yell of terror and clutched vainly at the sill and the clapboards under it. Then he came tumbling to the ground, doubling up in a heap as he did so. Tom expected him to arise and run, but he lay still where he had fallen.

"He's hurt, seriously hurt!" muttered the youth. "Maybe he's killed!"

CHAPTER XXV

WHAT HAPPENED TO TOM

Tom glanced up, to see the white face of Jesse Pelter peering down upon him.

"You had better let us out of this!" cried the broker, hoarsely.

"You stay where you are— if you know, what is best for you!" returned Tom.

"Is he dead?" went on the broker, referring to Crabtree.

"I don't know."

The youth ran up to the former school teacher and turned him over. As he did this Josiah Crabtree gave a gasp and a groan and opened his eyes.

"Oh! Oh! what a— a fa— fall!"

"If you hadn't tried to get away it wouldn't have happened," returned Tom, briefly. He could have but little sympathy for such a hardened rascal.

Josiah Crabtree sat up and then tried to get to his feet. There was a cut on his forehead from which the blood was flowing.

"Oh! oh!" cried the man and put his hand to his left leg. It was twisted under him in a peculiar fashion. To get up on it was impossible, and Crabtree fell back with a cry of pain and fright.

"My leg! It is broken! Oh, what shall I do? Rover, please help me!" And the former teacher turned a look of genuine misery on Tom.

"Let me examine it," said the boy, in a more kindly tone. He approached the man and felt of the injured limb. By the way it was doubled up Tom felt certain it must be broken, perhaps in two places.

"I don't know what I can do," said Tom. "I guess you need a doctor. I'll carry you to the barn, if you say so— or into the house."

"Can't you— you——" began Josiah Crabtree, and then another look of pain crossed his face and he fainted.

Alarmed, Tom picked up the tall, thin form and carried the man into the house, for it was still raining, although not as hard as before. He placed Crabtree on an old couch in the sitting room and, getting some water, laid a wet cloth over his bruised and swelling forehead. Knowing but little about broken limbs, he did not attempt to do anything for the broken leg but placed that member out in a somewhat straight position. He called up to Dick and told his brother of what had happened.

"Keep the other fellows up there, Tom!" yelled back the big brother. "Don't let 'em get away!"

At this Tom ran out of the house once more. With the fall of Crabtree had come the greater portion of the blanket-rope. Pelter had disappeared from the window, and evidently he and Japson were in consultation.

"See here, Rover, we want to talk to you!" called out the broker, reappearing at the window a minute later. "Call your brothers."

"What do you want?"

"We want to fix matters up with you."

"You can do that after you are in jail."

"You'll gain nothing by having us arrested."

"That remains to be seen."

"We have got the upper hand in those deals with your father and if you have us locked up we won't let go— no matter what happens," put in Japson.

"We'll make you let go," returned Tom, with determination. "You fellows have reached the end of your string, and the sooner you realize it the better it will be for you."

"Bah! Do you think we'll give up the things we have fought so hard to get? Not much!"

While Japson was speaking Pelter had stepped back into the garret. Now he came again to the window, at the same time whispering to his companion.

"Hello, Dixon!" he called, as if to somebody behind Tom.

As was but natural, the youth below turned quickly, thinking some friend of the broker's had appeared. The moment Tom turned, Pelter hurled something down at him. It was an old wooden footstool, and it struck the youth squarely on the head. Down went poor Tom in the grass, senseless.

"Now is our time!" exclaimed Pelter. "Quick, with that other rope!"

A second rope, also made from sections of a blanket— but stronger than the first— was produced. As the lower end struck the ground, Pelter commenced to slide down, closely followed by his partner. Evidently they were both willing to risk their lives in an effort to escape. The thought of going to jail filled them with grim terror.

Reaching the ground, neither of the men hesitated an instant over what to do next. The man who owned the place knew it thoroughly, and he turned in the direction of the barn, and his partner went after him. They crossed a back lot, and then, coming to a side road, took to that, running as fast as their wind and strength permitted.

In the meantime Dick, hearing Crabtree groaning, came down in the sitting room to look at the sufferer. The man was still flat on his back.

"Oh, my leg!" he groaned. "Oh my leg! Can't you get a doctor?"

"Perhaps,— later on," answered Dick.

"Oh, Rover, I never thought I would come to this!" whined the criminal. "Oh, the pain!"

"We'll do what we can for you, Crabtree. You had better lie still for the present."

Dick listened in the hallway. As nobody seemed to be at the garret stairway, he ran outside, to learn how Tom was faring.

"Tom! Tom! What happened to you?" he cried, in horror, when he beheld his brother on the ground. Then he saw the footstool and a cut on Tom's head and understood what had occurred. The dangling rope told the rest of the story.

"They have gotten away!" he groaned. "And after all our efforts to hold them prisoners until help came! Too bad!"

He wanted to go after the brokers, but just now his concern was entirely for his brother.

He turned Tom over and then ran for some water. When he returned Tom was just opening his eyes.

"Dick! Some— something hi— hit me!" gasped the hurt one.

"They threw that wooden footstool at you, Tom. I'm afraid you're badly hurt."

"Am I? I— I feel mighty queer," returned Tom, and then he closed his eyes again.

Dick was now more alarmed than ever. He carried his brother to the dining room, and laid him on some chairs, with a doubled-up blanket from a bed for a pillow. He washed Tom's head and bound it up as best he could. Once or twice the injured youth opened his eyes for an instant, but he did not make a sound.

"It was a fearful blow,— it must have been!" thought Dick. "I hope they didn't crack his skull!"

Josiah Crabtree was still groaning in the next room, but Dick paid little attention to the man. Nor did he think of the rascals who had escaped. All his thoughts were centered on Tom.

"If I only knew where to get a doctor," he mused. Then he ran out of the house by the front door and looked up and down the road.

A carriage was approaching, containing three men. As it drew closer Dick saw that one of the men wore a shining badge on his coat and carried a policeman's club.

"Want me here?" he cried, on catching sight of the youth.

"Are you a policeman?"

"I am."

"Then come right in."

The policeman and the other two men followed Dick into the house. The youth took them first to where Josiah Crabtree lay.

"There is a man who escaped from the jail at Plankville. He tried to get out of a garret window and had a fall. I guess his leg is broken."

"If that's the case, he won't need much watching from me," replied the policeman, grimly.

"The other two rascals who were with him got away, after hitting my brother with a footstool and hurting him quite badly. Here he is. Can I get a doctor anywhere around here?"

"Doctor Martin lives up the road about half a mile," said the man who had driven the carriage.

"Will you get him for me, just as soon as you can?"

"I will," said the man, and went off at once after the physician.

While he was gone Dick told his story to the policeman and the other man, who was a local constable. Both listened with interest, and said they would make a hunt for Pelter and Japson.

"They may go back to New York," said Dick. "If they do, telephone down there to have them arrested." And he gave the address of the brokers' offices.

It was about half an hour later when Doctor Martin, and elderly physician, arrived. Dick escorted him at once to where Tom lay, still in a semi-conscious state.

"A bad case, I am afraid," said the doctor, after a brief examination. "His skull may be fractured. We had better get him to the hospital at once!"

CHAPTER XXVI

DICK TAKES THE REINS

It was long after dark before an ambulance could be brought to the old house. Tom was still unconscious, in fact he had not even opened his eyes for the past half hour. Dick's heart was filled with fear. Was it possible that his brother, so full of fun and high spirits, was so badly hurt that he was going to die?

"No! no! Not that!" groaned poor Dick, and sent up an earnest prayer to heaven that Tom might be spared.

The doctor had said that Josiah Crabtree's leg was broken in two places, above and below the knee. The physician had done what he could for the sufferer, and Crabtree was to be removed to the hospital after Tom was taken there.

Neither the policeman nor the constable had come back to the house, so Dick did not know whether or not the brokers had been captured. To tell the truth, he hardly thought of the men, so anxious was he concerning Tom's condition.

"Can I go to the hospital with you?" he asked, when they were about to take Tom away.

"If you wish, Mr. Rover," said the ambulance doctor. "Hop up on the seat with the driver." And Dick did so.

It was a drive of several miles and during that time Dick said but little. Once Tom roused up, to murmur something about his head, but that was all.

As soon as the hospital was reached, Tom was placed in a private room, Dick asking for such accommodations.

"Do your best for my brother," said he, to those in attendance. "Don't let money stand in the way. I'll see that all bills are paid."

"We'll have the best doctor we can get for your brother," answered the physician in attendance, and then he sent for a specialist.

After that there was nothing to do but to wait. Dick went down to the office and called up the Outlook Hotel in New York by telephone. He found that Sam had just arrived there with his father, and told his younger brother of what had occurred.

"Don't worry father too much about it," said he. "Maybe it will all come out right in the end— anyway I hope so." And then he told Sam to get the police to watch the offices of Pelter, Japson & Company, and also look out for Belright Fogg.

Before the specialist arrived to care for Tom, the ambulance came back with Josiah Crabtree. The former teacher of Putnam Hall showed his cowardly nature by groaning dismally every time he was moved. He was placed in a public ward, and those in attendance were told that he was an escaped prisoner and must not be allowed to get away again, under any circumstances.

"He won't try it himself for a good many weeks," said one of the doctors, grimly. "Those breaks are had ones. He'll be lucky if he gets over them."

At last the specialist came and took charge of Tom. For over an hour Dick waited for a report on his brother's condition. When the specialist came to the youth he looked unusually grave.

"Your brother's case is a peculiar one, Mr. Rover;" said he. "I do not find any crack in the skull. But he has received a great shock, and what the outcome of that will be I cannot say."

"You don't think he will— will die?" faltered Dick, hardly able to frame the words.

"Hardly as bad as that, Mr. Rover. But the shock has been a heavy one, and he will need close attention for some time. I will come in again to-morrow morning and see him."

"Well, do your best," said Dick, brokenly,

"I always do that," answered Doctor Garrison, gravely.

There were no accommodations for Dick at the hospital, so he found a room at a hotel several blocks away. From the hotel he sent another telephone message to Sam, telling him what the specialist had said. Then he asked Sam if he would come up.

"If you'll do that I can go down and help father," he added.

"All right— I'll come up to-night or first thing in the morning," said Sam.

It was eight o'clock in the morning when the youngest Rover boy appeared. He was as anxious as Dick concerning Tom, and both waited for the specialist to appear and report. Tom had regained consciousness for a few minutes, but that was all.

"He is no worse," reported Doctor Garrison. "I hope to see him improved by this afternoon. I will call again about three o'clock." And then he left directions with the nurse as to what should be done.

"This is terrible, Dick!" murmured Sam, when the brothers were alone, in the room at the hotel. "Poor Tom! I can't bear to see him lay as he does!"

"I feel the same way, Sam," answered Dick. "But I think I ought to go down to New York and help father with his business affairs. He isn't well enough to do anything alone."

"That's true, Dick; and this news about Tom has upset him worse than ever."

A little later they separated, Sam promising to send word both to New York city and to Valley View farm as soon as there was any change in Tom's condition. Dick hurried to the railroad station and a little later got a train that took him to the Grand Central Depot.

The youth found his father at the rooms in the Outlook Hotel, he having promised to remain there until Sam returned, or Dick arrived. Mr. Rover looked much careworn, and Dick realized more than ever that his parent was in no physical or mental condition to transact business.

"You ought to return to the farm and rest, Father," said he, kindly.

"I must fix up these papers first, Dick," was the answer. "But tell me about poor Tom! Oh, to think that those villains should strike him down that way!"

"They are desperate and will stop at nothing now," answered the son.

Then he told as much as he could about his stricken brother. Anderson Rover shook his head sadly.

"I am afraid he will never get over it, Dick!" he groaned.

"Let us hope for the best, Father," answered the son, as bravely as he could.

Then he questioned his father about the investments in the Sunset Irrigation Company and in the lands out west, and soon the pair were going over the matters carefully.

"I think we need the services of a first-class lawyer— one we can trust absolutely," said Dick.

"But where can you find such a lawyer?" asked the father.

"Oh, there must be plenty of them." Dick thought for a moment. "One of my best chums at Putnam Hall and at Brill was John Powell— Songbird. You know him. He has an uncle here, Frank Powell, who is a lawyer. The family are well-connected. Perhaps this Frank Powell may be the very man we need. I can call him up on the telephone and find out."

"Do as you think best, Dick," sighed Mr. Rover. "From now on I shall leave these business matters in your hands. I realize that I am too feeble to attend to them properly."

Dick lost no time in communication with Mr. Frank A. A. Powell, as his name appeared in the telephone book. When the youth explained who he was the lawyer said he would be glad to meet the Rovers. His office was not far from the Outlook Hotel, and he said he would call at once, Dick explaining that his father was not feeling very well.

Mr. Powell's coming inspired Dick with immediate confidence. He was a clean-cut man, with a shrewd manner but a look of absolute honesty.

"My nephew has often spoken of you," he said, shaking hands with Dick. "I shall be pleased to do what I can for you."

"It's a complicated case," answered Dick. "My father can tell you about it first, and then I'll tell you what I know, and show you all our papers."

A talk lasting over an hour followed. The lawyer asked many questions, and studied the various documents with interest.

"From what I can make out, Mr. Rover, that concern— Pelter, Japson & Company— are a set of swindlers," said he, at last. "If I were you I'd close down on them at once, and with the heaviest possible hand. To give them any leeway at all might be fatal to your interests."

"Do as you think best,— with Dick's advice," returned Mr. Rover. "I am going to leave my business affairs in his hands after this," he added.

"Then we'll go ahead at once!" cried the lawyer. "I will draw up the necessary papers and you can sign them. We'll get after that whole bunch hot-footed!"

"And don't spare them," added Dick, thinking of poor Tom. "They deserve all that is coming to them."

"And they'll get it," said the lawyer, briefly.

CHAPTER XXVII

DAN BAXTER GIVES AID

The next morning was a busy one for Dick. He visited the lawyer's office at an early hour and then went to the police station.

"We are watching those offices in Wall Street," said the officer at the desk in the station. "But so far neither Pelter nor Japson has shown himself. The clerks say they are out of town one in Boston and the other in Philadelphia, but can't give any addresses."

"Well, don't let up on the watch," replied Dick. "We want to get them if it can possibly be done. I may have another charge to make against them," and he told of how Tom had been struck with the footstool and was now in the hospital.

"They sure must be rascals," returned the man at the desk. "Well, we'd do all we can. But maybe they've cleared out for good."

Towards noon came a telephone message from Sam to the hotel. Dick had just come in and he answered it.

"Tom is a little better," said the youngest Rover. "He is conscious and has asked about dad and you. He has taken a little nourishment, too."

"What does the doctor say about the case?" questioned Dick, anxiously.

"He said it is a strange case and that he will watch it closely. I heard him say to the nurse to watch Tom very closely."

"Why, that he was so low?"

"No, that he might go out of his mind. Oh, Dick, wouldn't that be awful!" and Sam's voice showed his distress.

"You mean that he might go— go insane, or something like that?"

"Yes,— not for always, you understand, but temporarily."

"Well, all they can do is to watch him, Sam. And you keep close by, in case anything more happens," added Dick, and then told his brother of what had been done in the metropolis towards straightening out the business tangle.

Mr. Powell was to see some people in Brooklyn regarding the land deal in which Anderson Rover held an interest, and he had asked Dick to meet him in that borough at four o'clock. At three o'clock Dick left the Outlook Hotel to keep the engagement.

"You had better stay here until I get back, in case any word comes in about Tom," said he to his father.

"Very well, Dick; I shall be glad of the rest," replied Anderson Rover.

He had already given the particulars of how he had been kidnapped while on his way to meet Japson. The broker had come up accompanied by the disguised Crabtree, and he had been forced into a taxicab and a sponge saturated with chloroform had been held to his nose. He had become unconscious, and while in that condition had been taken to some house up in Harlem. From there he had been transferred to the Ellen Rodney on the evening before the boys had discovered his whereabouts.

"They treated me very harshly," Mr. Rover had said. "Mr. Crabtree was particularly mean."

"Well, he is suffering for it," Dick had answered. "Sam telephoned that his leg was in very bad shape and the doctors thought he would be a cripple for life."

To get to Brooklyn Dick took the subway, crossing under the East River. He did not know much about the place, but had received instructions how to reach the offices where he was to meet Mr. Powell and the others.

There was a great rush on the streets, owing to a small fire in the vicinity. Dick stopped for a minute to watch a fire engine at work on a corner, and as he did so, somebody tapped him on the shoulder.

"Dick Rover! of all people!" came the exclamation. "What are you doing in Brooklyn?"

Dick turned quickly, to find himself confronted by a tall, heavy-set youth, dressed in a business suit.

"Dan Baxter!" he cried. "How are you?" and he shook hands.

As my old readers well know, Dan Baxter was an old acquaintance of the Rover boys. When at Putnam Hall he had been a great bully, and had tried more than once to get the best of our heroes. But he had been foiled, and then he had drifted to the West and South, and there the Rovers had found him, away from home and practically penniless. They had set him on his feet, and he had gotten a position as a traveling salesman, and now he counted the Rovers his best friends, and was willing to do anything for them.

"Oh, I'm pretty well," answered Dan Baxter, with a grin. "My job agrees with me."

"What are you doing, Dan?"

"Oh, I'm still selling jewelry— doing first-rate, too," added the former bully, a bit proudly.

"I am mighty glad to hear it."

"How are you and the others getting along, Dick?" went on Baxter curiously. "Thought you were at Brill College."

"I'm here on business," and Dick gave the other a brief account of what had happened.

"Sorry Tom got hurt and hope he will come out all right," said Dan Baxter, sympathetically. "But who are those men you mentioned?"

"A firm of brokers; named Pelter, Japson & Company."

"What!" ejaculated Dan Baxter. "Did you say Japson?"

"Yes, Dan. Do you know him?"

"Sure I do. He used to be in a jewelry firm in Albany. They tried to stick our firm— but we shut down on 'em. But that isn't all, Dick. I saw Japson to-day— not two hours ago."

"You did? Where?" And now Dick was all attention.

"I visited a— er— a lady friend of mine. She lives in an apartment house near Prospect Park. I might as well tell you that some day we are going to be married. Well, when I was coming out of the place I saw Japson go in— he and two other men."

"Dan, show me that place— and do it as quickly as possible!" cried Dick. "Come on— don't tell me you can't. I'll pay you for your time!" And Dick caught the other youth by the arm.

"I'll do it willingly, Dick, and there won't be any time to pay for, even if it takes a week!" cried Dan Baxter. "I am glad to be able to do you a favor, indeed I am!" And he gazed admiringly at the oldest Rover boy. "Just you come with me."

Dan Baxter led the way to the nearest elevated station and they ran upstairs to the platform and soon boarded a car bound for the vicinity of Prospect Park.

"The young lady lives in the Nirwick Apartments," explained Baxter. "It is a big place, with elevator service. I don't know to which apartment Japson went, but maybe the elevator man can tell us."

"Describe the other two men to me, if you can, Dan."

The young traveling salesman did so, and Dick came to the conclusion that one of the men must have been Pelter. The identity of the third was a mystery.

"Maybe it was that Belright Fogg," thought the youth. "Well, I'll soon find out— if they are still at the apartment house— and I hope they are."

At last the elevated train reached the proper station and Dick and Baxter alighted. The latter led the way for a distance of two blocks.

"There is the apartment," said Baxter, pointing the building out. "If you want those men arrested, hadn't you better call a policeman or two?"

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