Chapter IX In Which Tom Arrives - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

Tom Rover, tall and broad-shouldered, looked the picture of health as he came toward his younger brother and Songbird. He smiled broadly as he shook hands with them.

"Why, Tom! What brings you here?" remarked Sam. "You didn't write about coming on."

"Oh, I thought I'd just drop in and surprise you," returned Tom. "You know I can't quite get used to being away from Brill," he continued, with a grin.

"Want to get back to your studies, I suppose," was his brother's dry comment. "Well, come ahead; you can help me on a theme I am writing on 'Civilization in Ancient Central America.'"

"Wow! that sounds as interesting as a Greek dictionary!" cried Tom.

"Thank goodness! I don't have to worry my head about themes any more.

But just the same, Sam, don't make any mistake. I am as busy these days as I ever was in my life, trying to help Dick and dad to put our new organization on its feet."

"And how is that getting along?"

"Fine. We incorporated this week and have our papers, and now I am the secretary of The Rover Company," and Tom strutted around with his thumbs under his arms. "Some class to me, eh?"

"And what is Dick?" questioned Songbird, curiously.

"Oh, Dick is treasurer," answered Tom. "Dad, of course, is president, but he expects to hold that position only until Sam comes in. Then Dick is to become president; myself, treasurer; and Sam, secretary."

"Say! that's all right," responded the youngest Rover, his face showing his satisfaction.

"That is, provided you want to come in, Sam. Dad doesn't want you to give up your idea of becoming a lawyer unless you want to."

"Oh, I might become a lawyer and remain secretary of the company too,"

was the answer. "One thing is sure, if you and Dick are going to remain in that company you'll have to take me in."

"Well, what's the news?" went on Tom. "Had any fun lately? How is Grace?" and he looked rather sharply at his brother.

"Oh, Grace is all right," answered Sam. He hesitated a moment. "I suppose you didn't get the letter I sent to you and Dick yesterday--the letter about Songbird here?"

"Why no. I left the office night before last."

"Songbird is in trouble, Tom," returned the brother. "Are you going up to the college? If you are you can go with us in the automobile and we'll tell you all about it on the way."

"Yes, I'll go up, and I might as well take my grip with me, for maybe I'll stay over until to-morrow if they have room for me," and thus speaking Tom turned back to the railroad station to get his dress-suit case. The three youths were soon on their way to Brill, and as Sam manipulated the car he and Songbird gave the new arrival the details concerning the attack. Tom, of course, listened with deep interest.

"That's a rank shame, Songbird!" he cried, at the conclusion of the narrative. "I know just how you feel. If I could get my hands on that Blackie Crowden, I think I'd put him in the hospital first and in prison afterward."

"I told Songbird not to worry as far as the money was concerned," went on Sam. "If that old fellow who holds the mortgage won't wait for his money, I told Songbird that I thought we could get our folks to advance the cash."

"Sure thing!" responded Tom, promptly. "You give me the details and I'll see about the money when I go back."

"Mr. Sanderson said he would know about it early next week," answered Songbird. "He expects a visit from old Grisley and Belright Fogg."

"My gracious! You didn't tell me anything about Fogg being connected with this," burst out Sam.

"I forgot all about it," answered Songbird. "It seems that as soon as old Grisley heard the money was stolen and that it wasn't likely the mortgage would be paid, he hired Belright Fogg to take the matter up for him. He is an old man and very excitable, and he somehow got the notion that Mr. Sanderson would try to swindle him in some way. So he got Belright Fogg in the case, though as a general thing he has no more use for lawyers than he has for banks."

"Well, he's very foolish to put his case in the hands of such a fellow as Belright Fogg. Tom, I guess you'll remember the trouble we had with that fellow."

"I sure do, Sam!"

"And Sam had more trouble with him," cried Songbird. "Don't forget how you hit him in the head with a snowball."

"That's right. In the excitement of the attack on you, Songbird, I forgot all about that," answered the youngest Rover. "I suppose he is laying back to bring that up against me."

They soon reached the grounds surrounding Brill, and Tom looked at the college buildings with interest.

"Looks almost like home to me," he said somewhat wistfully. "My, but I had some good times here! I wish I had been on deck for that snowballing contest."

"Sam was the hero of that occasion, according to all accounts," answered Songbird. "He captured the banners of the freshies and sophs, you know."

As the automobile rolled into the grounds a number of students recognized Tom and waved friendly greetings to him. Leaping out, he was soon surrounded by a number of his old chums, all of whom wanted to know where he had been keeping himself and how long he was going to stay with them.

"Can't stay longer than to-morrow noon," he announced. "You know I'm a business man now," and he puffed up and grinned in a manner that made all of the others smile.

"You just came in time, Tom," cried Spud. "Your old friend, William Philander Tubbs, who has been away on business to Boston, got back here this morning."

"What! My old friend Tubby here? I'll be glad to shake his flipper,"

announced Tom, and grinned more than ever as he recalled the practical jokes that had been played at different times on the dudish student who had been mentioned.

Of course the students present wanted to know what had been learned by Sam and Songbird on the trip to Center Haven, and many were the speculations regarding Blackie Crowden.

"The authorities ought to be able to catch that fellow now that you have his photograph and a good description of him," remarked Stanley. "It would be a good idea to send that description and photograph broadcast."

The boys reported to Dr. Wallington, and Tom went with them. The head of Brill was glad to see his former student, and readily consented to allow Tom to remain with the others that night, an extra cot being put into room No. 25 for that purpose.

"Are those the banners you captured, Sam?" questioned Tom, when the boys entered the room, and as he spoke he pointed to two banners which were nailed up on the wall.

"Yes, Tom, those are the ones we captured," was the reply of the youngest Rover, with considerable pride. "The freshies and sophs wanted them back the worst way, but I told them there was nothing doing, that I intended to keep them at least until I graduated. They sent a committee to me to get the banners, and I can tell you that committee was pretty sore when they went away without getting them."

"You watch out that they don't take those banners on the sly, Sam."
"Oh, Songbird and I are looking out for them. Didn't you notice we had the door locked? We always lock up now, and no one has a key but the janitor, and we have cautioned him not to let any one in here without our permission."

"I'll tell you what I'd like to do to-night," said Tom. "I'd like to smuggle something to eat into this room and give some of our crowd a spread, just for the fun of it."

"All right, I'm willing, Tom," answered his brother. "Of course you'll have to keep rather quiet about it, because I don't want to get into the bad graces of any of the monitors or of Dr. Wallington. I want to graduate next June with the highest possible honors."

It was arranged that while Songbird and Sam studied some necessary lessons, Tom was to return to Ashton in the automobile and bring back a number of things which would be needed for the proposed spread. Tom took Spud and Stanley with him. Out on the campus the three came face to face with William Philander Tubbs.

"Hello, Tubblets, old boy!" cried Tom cordially, as he caught William Philander by the hand. "How are you making it these days?"

"I--er--er---- How do you do, Rover?" stammered the dudish student.

"Why, I am--er--am quite well, thank you. I thought you had left college?"

"Oh, I couldn't leave it for good, you know, Tubby, my dear. They wouldn't be able to get along without me."

"Why--ah--why--ah--somebody told me you were going into business in New York."

"That's right, Tubbette."

"Oh, Rover! please don't call me by those horrid nicknames any longer,"

pleaded William Philander. "You promised me long ago you wouldn't do it."

"Only a slip of my memory, my dear Philander Williams. I really----"

"No, no! Not Philander Williams. My name is William Philander."

"That's right! so it is. It's always been Philander William--No, I mean Willander Philiams--no, that isn't it either. My gracious, Tubblets, old boy! what have you done with the front handles of your cognomen, anyway? You twist me all sideways trying to remember it."

"Really, how odd! My name is William Philander Tubbs. That's easy enough."

"If I had it engraved in script type on a visiting card and looked at it daily, maybe I would be able to remember it," answered Tom, mournfully.

"You know my head was never very good for history or anything like that.

However, now that I know that your name is Philander Tubblets Williams, don't you think you'd like to ride down to Ashton with us? We are going to have a little spread to-night, and I want you to help me pick out the spaghetti, sauerkraut, sweet potato pie, Limburger cheese, and other delicacies."

"Oh, by Jove! do you really mean you are going to have those things for a spread?" gasped William Philander.

"That is, if they are just the things you like," returned Tom, innocently. "Of course, Stanley here suggested that we have some fried eel sandwiches and some worm pudding. But I don't know about such rich living as that."

"Eel sandwiches! Worm pudding!" groaned William Philander, aghast. "I never heard of such things! Why don't you get--er--er--some cream puffs and chocolate eclares and er--and--er--and mint kisses and things like that, you know?"

"Not solid enough, my dear Willie boy. The boys love substantials. You know that as well as I do. Of course we might add a few little delicacies like turnips and onions, just for side dishes, you know."

"I--I--really think you had better excuse me, Rover!" exclaimed William Philander, backing away. "I am not feeling extra good, and I don't think I want to go to any spread to-night," and William Philander bowed and backed still farther.

"Oh, all right, Philly Willy," responded Tom, dolefully. "Of course if you don't want to participate you don't have to, but you'll break our hearts if you stay away. Now you just come to room twenty-five to-night and we'll give you the finest red herring and mush ice cream you ever chewed in your life," and then he and his chums hurried away in the automobile, leaving William Philander Tubbs gazing after him in deep perplexity.