Chapter XIV Days of Waiting - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

As Sam gazed after the vanishing automobile a pang of bitterness swept through his heart. He remembered all that his brother had told him concerning Chester Waltham, and he also remembered that Grace had never mentioned the young millionaire.

"And she knew I was coming over to Hope just as soon as the roads made it safe and pleasant for automobiling," he murmured to himself.

Neither of the young ladies in the tonneau of the car had looked back, so it was more than likely they had not recognized him as he was bending over the hand pump, inflating the new tire.

"But maybe she saw me after all and did not want to let on," he thought dismally. "Maybe she thought I wouldn't recognize her."

What to do next was a problem for the young collegian. If Grace was not at the seminary he had no desire to call there. He continued to work over the tire, and soon it was properly inflated, and he put away the tools he had used. His face was a study, for he was doing some hard thinking.

"Well, I'll go to Hope anyway, and if she isn't there I'll leave my card, so she'll know I called. Then I'll see what she has to say about matters," he told himself; and setting his teeth somewhat grimly he started up the automobile and continued his trip.

At the door of the seminary he was met by a maid, who brought him the information that Miss Laning was out. Then several girls who knew Sam came up, and one of them explained that Grace had gone automobiling.

"She went with Ada Waltham and her brother, Chester," explained the girl student. "You see, Chester has a brand new foreign car--a beauty--and he was very anxious to give his sister and Grace a ride. We thought he might have asked some of us to go along, but he didn't," and the girl pouted slightly.

"You don't suppose they were going to stop at Brill?" questioned Sam, struck by a sudden thought.

"I don't think so, Mr. Rover. Ada said something about riding to Columbia and having dinner there this evening. That, you know, is quite a distance, and the road doesn't run past your college."

"Then I suppose they won't be back till late?"

"They had permission to stay out until ten o'clock," put in another of the girls who were present.

"Oh! I see." As the girls were looking at him rather sharply, Sam felt his face begin to burn. "Well, I hope they have a good time," he added somewhat hastily. "Good-evening," and then turned and walked quickly towards his automobile; and in a minute more was on his way back to Brill.

"I'll wager Grace Laning has got herself into hot water," was the comment of one of the girls, as they watched Sam's departure. "I don't believe he likes it one bit that she went off with the Walthams."

"Humph! You can't expect a girl to hang back when she is asked to take a ride in a brand new automobile, and with such millionaires as Chester Waltham and his sister," broke in another girl. "I just wish I had the chance," she added rather enviously.

In the meantime, Sam was driving along the country road in rather a reckless fashion. His mind was in a turmoil, and to think clearly just then seemed to be out of the question.

"Of course she has a right to go out and dine with the Walthams if she wants to," he told himself. "But at the same time----" And then there came up in his mind a hundred reasons why Grace should have refused the invitation and waited for him to call upon her.

"Hello! you are back early," remarked Spud, when Sam appeared at Brill.

"I thought you were going to make an evening of it."

"I had some bad luck on the road," replied Sam, rather sheepishly. "I had a blowout, and in trying to get the tire off I slipped and went flat on my back in the mud and slush," he continued.

"Is that so? Well, that's too bad, Sam. So you came home to get cleaned up, eh? I thought your girl thought so much of you that she wouldn't care if you called even when you were mussed up," and at this little joke Spud passed on, much to the Rover boy's relief.

The only occupant of Number 25 who seemed to be happy that night was Songbird, who came in whistling gaily.

"Had a fine time with Minnie," he declared--"best time I ever had in my life. I tell you, Sam, she's a wonderful girl."

"So she is, Songbird."

"Of course, you don't think she's half as wonderful as Grace," went on the would-be poet of Brill; "but, then, that's to be expected."

"How did Mr. Sanderson treat you?" broke in Sam, hastily, to shift the subject.

"Oh, he treated me better than he did before." Songbird's face sobered for a minute. "To be sure he feels dreadfully sore over the loss of that four thousand dollars. But I assured him that I and the authorities were doing all in our power to get the money back, and I also assured him that if it wasn't recovered I expected to pay it back just as soon as I could earn it. Of course he thinks I am talking through my hat about earning such a big amount, but just the same I am going to do it just as soon as I graduate from Brill. I'd go to work to-morrow instead of staying here if it wasn't that I had promised my folks that I would graduate from Brill, and as near the top of my class as I could get. If I left now, my mother would be heartbroken."

"Of course your folks know about the loss, Songbird?"

"Yes. I wrote them the whole particulars just as soon as I could, and I've let them know what we are doing now."

"Do they blame you for the loss?"

"My father thinks I might have been a little more careful, but my mother says she thinks it is Mr. Sanderson's fault that he let me get such an amount of money in cash and carry it on such a lonely road. But dad is all right, and in his last letter he said he could let Mr.

Sanderson have a thousand dollars if that would help matters out."
"Had Mr. Sanderson heard any more from old Grisley, or Belright Fogg?"

"Yes. He saw Grisley and the old man said the lawyer was boiling mad because he had agreed to let the mortgage run for another year. Fogg wouldn't accept the five dollars that old Grisley offered him for his trouble, so then Grisley would give him nothing; and there the matter stands."

"He'll get something out of Grisley if he possibly can. My opinion is, since Fogg lost his job with the railroad company, and made such a fizzle of his doings in New York City, he is in bad shape financially and eager to get his hands on some money in any old way possible."

"Have you settled the snowball affair with him yet?"

"No. I'm going to see Dr. Wallington about it to-morrow," answered Sam.

The Rover boy had rather expected some sort of a communication from Grace the next day, and he was keenly disappointed when no letter came and when she failed to call him up on the telephone. Several times he felt on the point of calling her up, but each time set his teeth hard and put it off.

"It's up to her to say something--not me," he told himself. "She must know how I feel over the affair."

When Sam called upon Dr. Wallington, the head of Brill met him with rather an amused smile.

"I suppose you want to see me in regard to that claim of Mr. Fogg's," he said.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I have had one of the professors call on the lawyer and bind him down to just exactly what happened and how badly he was hurt. It seems that he did not go to any doctor at all, although he did see a friend of his, a Doctor Slamper, on the street."

"Doctor Slamper!" cried Sam. "Oh, I remember him. He's the fellow who came here with Mr. Fogg at the time we put in our claim for damages on account of the wrecked biplane."

"Ah, indeed! I remember," and Dr. Wallington nodded knowingly.

"And what does Mr. Fogg want us to do?" questioned Sam.

"At first, as you know, he wanted fifty dollars. Then he came down to twenty-five, and at last to fifteen. Then we brought to his attention the fact that the snowballing contest had taken place on the college grounds, and that it was his own fault that he had become mixed up in the affair. This brought on quite an argument, but in the end Mr. Fogg agreed to accept six dollars, which he said would pay for three consultations with Dr. Slamper at two dollars per consultation," and the good doctor smiled rather grimly.

"And did you pay the six dollars, Doctor?"

"Not yet, Rover. I expected, however, to send him a check for that amount to-morrow, provided you are satisfied."

"I think I'll have to be, Dr. Wallington. I suppose it's rather a cheap way out of the difficulty, although as a matter of fact I don't believe he is entitled to a cent."

"You may be right, Rover. But six dollars, I take it, is not so very large a price to pay for so much fun--I mean, of course, the fun of the snowballing contest in which, so they tell me, you were the one to capture the banners of the opposition."

"You're right, sir. And I'm satisfied, and you can place the amount on my bill," answered Sam; and then he bowed himself out of the doctor's office.

Another day passed, and still there came no word to Sam from Hope. He was very much worried, but did his best not to show it.

"Call for all baseball candidates at the gym to-morrow afternoon!"

announced Bob, during the lunch hour.

"I don't think I want to go in for baseball this spring," returned Sam.

"I heard something of that from some of the other fellows, Sam,"

interrupted Bob. "It won't do. We need you and we are bound to have you."

The roads were now drying up rapidly, and that afternoon Spud asked Sam if he did not want to walk to Ashton.

"I've got a few things I want to get at the stores," said Spud. "Come along, the hike on the road will do you good."

"All right, Spud, I'll go along, for I am tired of writing themes and studying," answered Sam. But it was not his theme and his lessons that worried the boy. Thinking about Grace, and waiting continually for some sort of word from her, had given him not only a heart ache but a headache as well.

When the boys arrived at Ashton they separated for a short while, Spud to get fitted with a new pair of shoes while Sam went to another place in quest of a new cap. The Rover boy had just made his purchase, and was leaving the store to rejoin Spud when he heard some one call his name, and looking around saw Andy Royce approaching.

"I just thought I'd ask you if you had heard anything about that Blackie Crowden yet," remarked the gardener from Hope, as he approached.

"Not yet, Royce. But they have sent out a good description of him, along with copies of his photograph, so the authorities think they will get him sooner or later."

"I've heard something that maybe you would like to know," went on Andy Royce. "I've heard that Crowden was over at Leadenfield, to a small roadhouse kept by a man named Bissette, a Frenchman."

"When was this?" demanded Sam, with interest.

"Either the day of the assault or the day after. Bissette didn't seem to know exactly. I happened to be there buying some potatoes for the seminary--you see Bissette is a kind of agent for some farmers of that neighborhood. I mentioned the robbery to him and spoke about the suspicion about Crowden, and he was very much surprised. He said Crowden was there for a couple of hours using the telephone, and then he left the place when somebody drove up in a cutter."

"Do you mean that Crowden went off with the other person in the cutter?"

"Bissette thinks so, although he ain't sure, because as soon as Crowden went out, Bissette turned to do some work inside and forgot all about him."

"Did Bissette have any idea who the man in the cutter was?"

"He wasn't sure about that either, but he kind of thought it was a lawyer who used to work for the railroad company--a man named Fogg."