Chapter VI At the Sanderson Home - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

It was just about supper time when Sam, accompanied by Spud, drove into the lane beside the Sanderson farmhouse, which was lit up from end to end.

Evidently Minnie Sanderson, the pretty daughter of the farmer, had been on the watch, for as they approached the house she came out on a side piazza to meet them.

"Why, Songbird! what kept you so long?" she cried, and then added: "Who's that with you?"

"It isn't Songbird, Minnie," answered Sam, after he sprang out of the cutter, followed by Spud. "We've got some news for you."

"Oh, Sam Rover!" exclaimed the girl. "And Will Jackson! Whatever brought you here? Where is Songbird--do you know anything about him?"

"Yes, we do; and that is what brought us here," answered Sam.

"Oh, Sam! you don't mean that--that something has happened to John?"

faltered the girl, turning pale.

"Yes, something did happen, Minnie, but don't be alarmed--he isn't hurt very much. Come into the house and we'll tell you and your father all about it."

"Hurt! Oh, are you sure it isn't serious? Now please don't hold anything back."

"I'll give you my word, Minnie, it isn't serious. The doctor said he would be as well as ever in a few days, but he is rather knocked out, and the doctor said he had better not try to come here. So then he asked Spud and me to come."

While Sam was speaking he and Spud had led the girl back into the house.

She was very much agitated and her manner showed it.

"But what was it, Sam? Do tell me. Did that horse run away with him? I know John isn't much of a driver, and when he gets to composing poetry he doesn't notice things and becomes so careless----"

"No, Minnie, it was not that. Where is your father? We'll go to him and then we'll tell you the whole story."

"What's this I hear?" came from the dining-room, where Mr. Sanderson rested in a Morris chair, with his sprained ankle perched on a footstool. "Where is John? And what about that money he was to get for me?"

"Good evening, Mr. Sanderson," said Sam, coming in and shaking hands, followed by Spud. "We've got some bad news for you, but please don't blame Songbird--I mean John--for I am sure he was not to blame."

"That's right!" broke in Spud. "What happened might have occurred to any of us. I think we ought to be thankful that Songbird--that's the name we all call John, you know--wasn't killed."

"Oh, but do tell me what did happen!" pleaded Minnie.

"And what about my money--is that safe?" demanded Mr. Sanderson.
"No, Mr. Sanderson. I am sorry to say the fellow who attacked Songbird got away with it."

"Gone! My four thousand dollars gone!" ejaculated the farmer. "Don't tell me that. I can't afford to lose any such amount. Why! it's the savings of years!" and his face showed his intense anxiety.

"Oh, so John was attacked! Who did it? I suppose they must have half killed the poor boy in order to get the money away from him," wailed Minnie.

"We might as well tell you the whole story from beginning to end,"

answered Sam, and then, after he and Spud had taken off their overcoats and gloves, both plunged into all the details of the occurrence as they knew them.

"And he was hit on the head and on the chin! Oh, how dreadful!" burst out Minnie. "And are you positive, Sam, it was not serious?"

"That is what Dr. Havens said, and he made a close examination in the presence of Dr. Wallington."

"He ought to have been more careful," said Mr. Sanderson, bitterly.

"But, Pa! how could he have been?" interposed the daughter.

"Oh, in lots of ways. He might have placed that money inside of his shirt," answered the father. "It don't do to carry four thousand dollars around just as if it was--a--a--book of poetry or something like that,"

he added, with a touch of sarcasm.

"Pa, I think it's real mean of you to talk that way!" flared up Minnie.

"John told me that he didn't much like the idea of bringing that four thousand dollars in cash from the bank, but he undertook the errand just to please you."

"Humph! Well, I was foolish to send him on the errand. I should have got some man who knew how to take care of such an amount of cash."

"Mr. Sanderson, I don't think it's fair for you to blame Songbird,"

broke in Spud. "He did the best he could, and, of course, he had no idea that he was going to be attacked."

"It's all well enough for you to talk, young man," broke out the farmer, angrily; "it wasn't your four thousand dollars that was stolen. I wanted that money to pay off the mortgage on this farm. It's due to-morrow, and the reason I wanted cash was because old Grisley insisted on cash and nothing else. He lost a lot of money in the bank years ago, and that soured him, so he wouldn't take a check nohow. Now what I'm going to do if I can't pay that mortgage, I don't know. And me down here with a sprained ankle, too!" he added with increasing bitterness.

"You'll have to tell Mr. Grisley to wait for his money," said Sam. "When he learns the particulars of this affair he ought to be willing to wait."

"If I could only walk I'd get on the trail of that thief somehow,"

muttered Mr. Sanderson. "It's a shame I've got to sit here and do nothin' when four thousand dollars of mine is floatin' away, nobody knows where."

"We have notified the police and sent telegrams ahead, just as I told you," answered Sam. "I don't see what more we can do at present.

Songbird was attacked so suddenly that he isn't sure that the fellow who did it is the same fellow he saw around the Knoxbury bank or not. But if he is the same fellow, we have a pretty fair description of him, and sooner or later the authorities may be able to run him down."

"Oh, I know the police!" snorted the farmer. "They ain't worth a hill of beans."

"Well, Songbird told me to tell you that if the money is not recovered, he will do all he can to make good the loss," continued Sam.

"Make good the loss? Has he got four thousand dollars?" questioned the farmer, curiously.

"Oh, no! Songbird isn't as wealthy as all that. He has only his regular allowance. But he said he'd work and earn the money, if he had to."

"Humph! How is he going to earn it--writing poetry? They don't pay much for that kind of writing, to my way of thinking."

"Now, Pa, please don't get so excited," soothed the daughter. "Let us be thankful that John wasn't killed. If he had been, I never would have forgiven you for having sent him on that errand."

"Oh, now, don't you pitch into me. Minnie!" cried the father. "I've lost my four thousand dollars and that's bad enough. If I can't pay that mortgage, Grisley may foreclose and then you and me will be out of a home."

"Nothing like that will happen, Mr. Sanderson," said Sam.

"I don't know why."

"The mortgage is on this farm, isn't it?"


"Is it the only mortgage you have, if I may ask?"

"It is."

"And what do you consider the farm worth?"

"Well, I was offered eight thousand dollars for it last year, and I refused to sell."

"Then I think it will be an easy matter to arrange to have the mortgage taken up by somebody else. Possibly my father or my uncle will do it."

"Will they?" demanded Mr. Sanderson, eagerly. "Well, of course, that would be some help, but, at the same time, it wouldn't bring my four thousand dollars back," he added glumly.

After that Minnie demanded to know more concerning Songbird's condition, and the two youths gave her every possible detail.

"If I had a telephone here I might send word to Ashton to find out if they had tracked that rascal yet," said Mr. Sanderson. "But they asked so much money to put a telephone in over here I didn't have 'em do it."

"Where is the nearest telephone?" questioned Spud.

"Nothin' closer nor the railroad station at Busby's Crossing."

"That's only half a mile away," put in Sam. "We might drive over there now and see if there is anything new."

"You wait until you have had your supper," interposed Minnie. "It's all ready. I was expecting John, you know," and she blushed slightly.

"But if your father is anxious to get word----" began the Rover boy.

"Oh, I suppose you might as well wait and have somethin' to eat first,"

said the farmer. "That will give the authorities time to do somethin', if they are goin' to."

In the expectation of having Songbird to supper, Minnie, with the aid of a young hired girl, had provided quite an elaborate meal, to which it is perhaps needless to state the young collegians did full justice. Then the youths lost no time in driving off in the cutter to Busby's Crossing, where they were lucky enough to find the station agent still in charge, although on the point of locking up, for no more trains would stop at the Crossing that night.

The boys first telephoned to the college and to Ashton, and then to Dentonville and the railroad stations up the line. To get the various connections took considerable time, and to get "information that was no information at all," as Spud expressed it, took much longer still. The sum total of it was that no one had been able to trace the man in the heavy overcoat and with the heavy fur cap, and no one had the slightest idea about what had become of that much-wanted individual.

"It's going to be like looking for the proverbial pin in the haystack,"

remarked Spud.

"It's too bad," returned Sam, gloomily. "I did think we'd have some sort of encouraging word to take back to Mr. Sanderson."

"Say! he's pretty bitter over the loss of that money, isn't he, Sam?"
"You can't blame him for that. I'd be bitter too."

"It looks to me as if he might make Minnie break with Songbird if that money wasn't recovered."

"Possibly, Spud. Although he ought to know as well as we do that it was not Songbird's fault."

"I'm glad to see Minnie sticks up for our chum, aren't you?"

"Oh, Minnie's all right and always has been. She thinks just as much of Songbird as he does of her. Once in a while she pokes a little fun at his so-called poetry, but Songbird doesn't mind, so it doesn't matter."

When the boys returned to the farmhouse Minnie ran out to meet them, and from their manner saw at once that they had no news worth mentioning.

They could see that the girl had been crying, and now it was all she could do to keep from bursting into tears again.

"Oh, Minnie, you ought not to take it so hard," said Sam, kindly. "Of course, to lose four thousand dollars is a terrible blow, but maybe they'll get the money back some way, or at least a part of it."

"It isn't the money, Sam," cried the girl, with something like a catch in her voice. "It's the way papa acts. He seems to think it was all John's fault. Oh! I can't bear it! I know I can't!" she suddenly sobbed, and then ran away and up the stairs to her bedroom, closing the door behind her.