Chapter XIII Sam on the Road - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

The next few days were very busy ones for Sam because he had a number of important classes to attend, and he was hard at work finishing his theme on "Civilization in Ancient Central America." It was impossible to call on Grace, and so he did nothing to find out the truth about Chester Waltham because he did not wish to ask the girl about this over the telephone, nor did he see his way clear to expressing his thoughts on paper.

Sunday came and went, and Monday morning brought a letter to the youngest Rover which he read with much interest. It was from Belright Fogg, a long-winded and formal communication, in which the lawyer stated that he had been under medical treatment because of being hit in the head by a snowball thrown by Sam, and he demanded fifty dollars damages.

If the same was not paid immediately, he stated that he would begin suit.

"Anything wrong, Sam?" questioned Songbird, who was present while Sam was reading the letter. "You look pretty serious."

"Read it for yourself, Songbird," was the reply, and Sam passed the communication over.

"Well, of all the gall!" burst out the would-be poet of Brill. "Fifty dollars! Of course you won't pay any such bill as this?"

"Not so you can notice it," returned Sam, sharply. "If he had sent me a bill for five dollars or less I might have let him have the money just to shut him up. But fifty dollars! Why, it's preposterous!"

"What do you propose to do?"

"I won't do anything just yet. I want time to think it over and to talk it over with some of the others and, maybe, with Dr. Wallington."

When they heard of this demand for money from the rascally lawyer, Stanley and Spud were as angry as the others.

"I don't believe he's entitled to a cent," came from Stanley. "We were having that snowballing contest on the college grounds, and while the highway runs through that end of the grounds, I believe Fogg passed through there at his own peril, as a lawyer might put it. If I were you, Sam, I'd put the whole case up to Dr. Wallington, and I'd remind the doctor of your former trouble with Fogg, and let him know just what sort of an underhanded rascal he is."

"All right, Stanley, I'll do it," answered Sam. "I'll go to the doctor immediately after classes this afternoon. Will you go along?"

"Of course, if you want me to."

Four o'clock found them at the door of the doctor's study. He looked at them rather curiously as they entered.

"Well, young men, what can I do for you?" he questioned pleasantly.

"I've got into some trouble over that snowballing contest," answered Sam; and, sitting down, he gave the head of Brill the particulars of the occurrence, and then produced the letter received from Belright Fogg.

"Hum!" mused the worthy doctor, as he knitted his eyebrows. "He must have been pretty badly hurt."

"I don't think he was hurt at all, Doctor," interrupted Stanley. "I was present, and so were a number of the other students. Mr. Fogg had his hat knocked off, and that was about all. He wasn't stunned or anything like that. He talked to Sam just as rationally as I am talking to you, and all those standing around heard him. Of course, he was very angry, not only because he had been hit but because the fellow who had thrown the snowball was Sam Rover. He, of course, remembered how the Rovers foiled his plot to do them out of what was coming to them when their flying machine was wrecked on the railroad, and also how they got the best of Fogg and a company of brokers in New York City."

"Yes, yes, I remember about the wrecked flying machine," returned Dr.

Wallington. "I know nothing about this affair in New York."

"Well, it was a very serious matter, and Fogg came pretty close to going to prison," answered Sam, and gave a few details, as already related in the volume entitled "The Rover Boys in New York."

"Very interesting, Rover, very interesting indeed," murmured the head of Brill. "But even that did not excuse your hitting this man in the head with a snowball and hurting him."

"There is another point I would like to mention," said Stanley. "We were having the contest on the college grounds, and Mr. Fogg was struck on the roadway where it runs through our grounds."

"Ah! I see. That might make a difference. The highway is more or less of a public one, it is true, but it has never been turned over to the county authorities, so it really forms a part of our grounds still. But of one thing I wish to be sure, Rover--did you aim at Mr. Fogg, or was the snowballing unintentional?"

"I didn't see him at all," answered Sam. "Some of the fellows rushed behind the bushes and I simply let drive along with a number of others.

Then Fogg appeared and claimed that I had hit him in the head. I rather think he tells the truth, although I am not positive."

"In that case he would have to prove that you were guilty. Besides that, if it came to a matter of law, he would have to prove actual damages, and I do not see how he could claim fifty dollars if he was not hurt more than you say. If you wish, you can leave the whole matter in my hands and I will have it investigated."

"Thank you very much, Doctor Wallington," returned Sam, warmly. "This lifts a load off my mind. Of course I will pay whatever you settle on;"

and so the matter was allowed to rest.

A thaw had set in and the snow began to disappear rapidly from the roads and fields around Brill. There was a good deal of slush, which rendered some of the highways almost impassable, so that it was not until a week later that Sam had an opportunity to visit Hope. In the meantime, however, he had sent a nice little note to Grace in which no mention was made of the Walthams. He had looked for an answer but none had come.

"Where bound, Sam?" questioned Songbird, when he saw his roommate getting ready to use his automobile.

"I'm going for a run to Hope. Do you want to come along?" and Sam's eye had a twinkle in it.

"You might run me around to the Sanderson place. It won't take long in the auto," returned the would-be poet. "If I can get there, I won't mind walking back this evening. I've been wanting to go for a long while, but the roads have been so poor I couldn't make it."

"All right, Songbird, come ahead," was Sam's answer; and a little later found the pair on the road.

It did not take long to reach the Sanderson farm, and as they entered the lane Sam tooted his horn loudly.

"I've brought you a visitor, Minnie!" cried the Rover boy, as he brought the machine to a standstill. "Here is somebody I know you won't want to see, but I'm going to leave him here nevertheless," and he grinned broadly.

"Oh, John!" burst out the farmer's daughter, and blushed deeply. She came forward and shook hands with both youths. "I am more than glad to see you."

"I am on my way to Hope, so I won't come in," went on Sam. "How is everything, Minnie?"

"Oh, about as usual," answered the girl, and then went on: "Of course you know all about what Tom did for us? It was splendid!"

"You haven't heard anything more regarding the money?"

"Not a thing, Sam. I thought maybe you had something to tell," and the girl turned from Sam to Songbird.

"We have sent out the photographs and the description of Blackie Crowden," answered the latter. "They are going to the police in all the large cities, so if Crowden turns up at all he'll be arrested sooner or later."

After a few more words Sam left the Sanderson place and headed directly for Hope.
Although he would not admit it even to himself, the youngest Rover was a good deal worried. What Tom had told him concerning Grace and the Walthams had been continually in his mind, and time and again he had wondered how he should broach the subject to Grace and what the answer of the girl would be.

"Of course she's got a right to go out with whom she pleases," he told himself. "But still I thought--well I thought it was all fixed between us, that's all."

Sam was so occupied with his thoughts that he paid scant attention to the running of the automobile. As a consequence he went over a number of sharp stones, and a minute later there came a loud report from the rear of the machine.

"A blowout! Confound the luck!" he exclaimed, as he brought the automobile to a standstill. "And just when I was in a hurry to get to Hope!"

There was nothing else to do, so, stripping himself of his overcoat and donning a jumper, Sam got out, taking with him some of the tools from under the automobile seat. It was a tire on one of the rear wheels which had blown out, and this wheel he now jacked up for the purpose of putting on a new shoe and inner tube. As luck would have it, the tire that had been cut fit very tightly, so that it was all the Rover boy could do to get it off the rim. He tugged and twisted, perspiring freely, but it was some time before he could even get the injured shoe started.

"If I can't get it off, what ever am I to do?" he mused. "I must be at least half a mile from even a telephone, and the nearest garage is at Ashton. At this rate I'll never get to Hope."

He continued to work over the tire, at last doing his best to pound it off with a bit of iron and a hammer. Then he gave a final wrench, which brought the tire off so suddenly that Sam was sent flat on his back in the dirt and slush of the road. It was an occurrence to try anybody's patience, and Sam arose in anything but a happy frame of mind. His back was covered with mud, and a good deal of the slushy water had penetrated to his skin.

"Ugh! of all the rank luck!" he muttered, as he shook himself. "If I ever get this wheel mended I'll be a fine sight to present myself at a fashionable ladies' seminary. Why in the world didn't I look where I was driving, instead of rushing right over such a prime collection of rough stones?"

But finding fault with himself did not mend matters, and so, casting the cut tire aside, Sam unstrapped one of the extra shoes he carried and got out another inner tube.

As if everything was to go wrong that afternoon, the new shoe proved to be as small as that which had been taken off, and as a consequence Sam had to work like a Trojan for the best part of half an hour before he finally got it into place.

"And now I've got to pump it up by hand," he observed to himself, grimly, as he remembered that the power pump which had been installed on the engine was out of order and could not be used. Then he brought out the hand pump and set to work to fill the new tire with air.

Sam had the tire about three-quarters pumped up and was working away as vigorously as his somewhat exhausted condition would permit when he heard a honking of an automobile horn, and the next moment a machine came in sight around a turn of the highway. The car was a large and powerful one of foreign make, and was driven by a young man stylishly dressed, in a full suit of furs, and wearing automobile goggles. Behind him were two young ladies, also wearing furs, and with veils covering their faces.

"Tough luck!" sang out the young man at the wheel of the passing car, and he waved one hand pleasantly towards Sam.

The youth had been bending over the hand pump, but now, as the other automobile swept by, he straightened up suddenly and stared with open eyes after the vanishing turnout. He had not recognized the young man who was running the machine, but he had recognized the two young ladies in the tonneau of the car.

"Ada Waltham! And that was Grace with her!" he murmured. "And if that's so, it must have been Chester Waltham who was running the car!"