Chapter XIX Getting Ready for the Tour - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

"And now for the grand tour!"

"That's the talk, Sam! We ought to have the best time ever," returned his brother Tom.

"Just to think of such an outing makes me feel five years younger," came from Dick Rover. "I like work as well as any one, but a fellow has got to break away once in a while."

"And to think we are going away out to Colorado Springs and Pike's Peak!" burst out Dora.

"And all the way in our automobiles!" added Nellie. "I hope we don't have any breakdowns."

"So it's decided that we are to start Monday morning, is it?" asked Dick's wife.
"Yes, Dora, provided it is clear," answered Sam. "Of course there is no use of our starting our trip in a storm. We'll probably get enough rain while we are on the way."

"Look here, Sam, don't be a wet blanket!" cried Tom, catching his younger brother by the shoulder and whirling him around. "This trip is going to be perfectly clear from end to end. I've ordered nothing but sunshine and moonlight," and at this remark there was a general laugh.

The young folks were assembled on the lawn in front of the old Rover homestead at Valley Brook. About two weeks had passed since Grace and Sam had graduated, and during that time the various arrangements for taking the tour to the West had been completed by the Rover boys. In the meantime, Fourth of July had been spent in Cedarville, at the Laning homestead, where all had had a glorious time.

"I'm awfully sorry that Songbird and Minnie can't go with us on this trip," remarked Dick, "but I know exactly how poor Songbird feels."

"Yes, he told me he felt he had to go to work," returned Sam. "He wants to do his best to earn that four thousand dollars."

"That's some job for a fellow just out of college to undertake," was Tom's comment. "What is he going to do for a living?"

"He has had a place offered to him by his uncle. He is to start at fifteen dollars a week, and he says his uncle will advance him as soon as he learns something about the business."

"They haven't heard any more about that Blackie Crowden or the missing money?" questioned Nellie.

"Not a word. And it looks to me now as if they never would hear anything."

"More than likely that fellow has got out of the country," was Dick's comment. "Especially if he has learned that the police are after him."

"Oh, you can't tell about that," broke in Tom. "He may be hiding within a mile or two of where the crime was committed."

It had been decided that the touring party should take two automobiles--that belonging to the Rovers and a new machine which was the property of Mrs. Stanhope, Dora's widowed mother. The party was to consist of Dick and Tom and their wives, Sam and Grace and Mrs. Stanhope and Mrs. Laning. Uncle Randolph and Aunt Martha had also been invited to go along, but both had declined, stating that they preferred to remain on the farm.

"I have some important scientific data on farming to gather," had been Randolph Rover's explanation, "and, besides that, I must oversee the building of that new addition to the house;" for since the marriage of Dick and Tom it had been decided to build a large wing on the old homestead, so that the young folks might be accommodated there whenever they cared to make a visit.

Aleck Pop, the faithful old colored servant of the Rovers, was still at the farm, as was Jack Ness, the man of all work, and both did all they could to aid the boys and girls to get ready for the tour.

"It's most won'erful how you young gen'lemen has done growed up," was Aleck Pop's comment. "It don't seem no time at all sence you all was boys at Putnam Hall," and he grinned broadly, showing a mouthful of ivories.

"And to think two of 'em are married now and settled down!" added Jack Ness. "I can't hardly believe it. First thing you know we'll have a lot of young Rovers runnin' around this farm."

"Well, if they is any young Robers aroun' yere, I's gwine to serve 'em jest like I served the others," answered Aleck Pop, and then went off, nodding his head vigorously to himself.

The only drawback to the proposed tour, so far as Sam was concerned, was the fact that Chester Waltham and his sister Ada were going to accompany them as far as Colorado Springs. Then the Walthams proposed to continue to the Pacific Coast, while the Rovers were to return to the East.

"Are those two people going in a big touring car all by themselves?"

questioned Sam, when he heard of this arrangement.

"They are not going to take the touring car, Sam," answered Grace. "Ada wrote me that her brother had purchased a new runabout--a very speedy and comfortable car--and they are going to use that instead."

"Humph! I don't see why they had to stick themselves in with our crowd,"

grumbled the youngest Rover. "Why didn't they take the trip by themselves?"

"Well, maybe I am to blame for that," answered Grace. "I told Ada all about our proposed trip, and said I was sorry that she couldn't go with us. You must remember she treated me very nicely while we were at the seminary, especially after Dora and Nellie left."

"Oh, I don't object to Ada," answered Sam. "Just the same, I think it would be nicer if we could go off by ourselves. Chester Waltham and his sister don't seem to fit in with us exactly."

"Well, I think Chester Waltham is a very nice young man, and certainly he has given me some splendid rides," answered Grace, and then walked off to join the others, leaving Sam to do some thinking which was not altogether agreeable.

The start was to be made from the farm, and the Walthams had written that they would be on hand early, stopping for the night at the hotel in Cornville, some miles away.

On the Friday before the Monday set for the start, all three of the Rover boys went down to New York City, to the offices of the newly formed Rover Company in Wall Street. They found their father in charge, and also several assistants, and everything seemed to be in good running order. Dick and Tom went over a number of business matters with their parent, and Mr. Rover declared that he could get along very well without the boys for at least a month or six weeks.

After the visit to the offices Dick and Tom took Sam up to their apartments on Riverside Drive, where they packed a number of things wanted by themselves and Dora and Nellie.

"Certainly a beautiful location," remarked Sam, as he walked to one of the front windows, to gaze out on the Hudson River.

"It certainly is a fine place, Sam," answered Tom, "and Nellie and I enjoy it just as much as Dick and Dora do." Tom looked at his younger brother questioningly. "I suppose now that you have graduated, Sam, you and Grace will be joining us here some day?"

"I don't know about that, Tom." Sam's face flushed painfully. "You see I--I----" and then he broke off, unable to proceed.

"You don't mean there is anything wrong between you and Grace, do you?"

demanded the brother, coming closer. Dick had gone to another room and so was out of hearing.

"I can't say that anything is wrong exactly, Tom," returned Sam, hesitatingly. "You see, I--I----"

"Is it that Chester Waltham?" demanded the other, quickly.

Sam nodded. "Of course I can't blame him, and I can't blame Grace, for the matter of that. It isn't every girl who gets the chance to marry a young millionaire."

"What! Has he proposed to her?" cried Tom.

"Oh, no, I don't think that, Tom. But he has been very friendly."

"Well, I wouldn't stand for it, Sam. I think Grace ought to marry you, and I would tell her so and have it settled."

"That's all well enough to say, Tom. But just the same I haven't any right to stand in her light. I haven't got any such money to offer her as this millionaire----"

"Rot! You've got enough money to make any girl comfortable, and that is all that is necessary. You go on in and win!" and Tom clapped his younger brother on the shoulder encouragingly. Then Dick entered, along with a maid left to take care of the apartments, and the talk came to an end.

While the boys were doing this, the girls had gone to Cedarville, and there assisted Mrs. Stanhope and Mrs. Laning in getting ready for the tour. Dora's mother had a hired chauffeur to run her car, and this man was to bring the party to Valley Brook in the Stanhope machine.

"I am very glad you are going, Mother," said Dora to her parent. "I am sure this trip will do you a world of good." For Mrs. Stanhope was not in the best of health and sometimes grew quite nervous when left too long to herself.

"It will be a wonderful trip, no doubt," answered the mother, "and I am sure I shall enjoy it greatly, especially with all you young folks along to brighten matters up."

"It will certainly be a wonderful tour for me," declared Mrs. Laning, who had always been more or less of a home body. "Gracious! Why, I can remember when I used to think a trip of ten or twenty miles on the steam cars was wonderful. Now just to think of our going hundreds and hundreds of miles in an automobile!"

"The most wonderful part of it to me is that we can afford to have you take such a trip as that, Mother," chuckled John Laning. "Sakes alive!

when I was a young man the height of my ambition was to own about fifty acres free and clear, along with a couple of horses and half a dozen cows. And now look at us--here we own over three hundred acres, got over fifty head of cattle, over two thousand chickens, and the finest orchards in this part of the state. I tell you we've got a lot to be thankful for," he added with great satisfaction.

"But I'll miss you, John, while I'm away," said his faithful wife.

"Don't you worry about me, Mother. I'd just as lief stay here and see all them big crops a-comin' in," announced the farmer. "That's fun enough for me. You go ahead with the young people and enjoy yourself.

You've been in harness long enough and you deserve it."

Mr. Laning had had his ears wide open during the visit of his daughters and Dora, and before his wife and the others left for Valley Brook he called Mrs. Laning aside.
"What's this I hear about Grace going out with a young millionaire named Waltham?" he asked, curiously.

"I can't tell you much more than what you've already heard, John," she answered.

"I thought Grace had her eyes set on Sam Rover," went on the husband, looking sharply at his wife.

"That is what I thought myself. But it seems this young millionaire has been calling on his sister at Hope, and he's been taking his sister and Grace out in his automobile and acting very nicely about it. Grace seems to be quite taken with him."

"Huh! A young millionaire, eh? Maybe he's only amusing himself with her.

You had better caution her about him."

"No, John, I don't think that would do any good. In fact, it might do a great deal of harm," declared the wife. "Grace is old enough to know what she is doing."

"Yes, but if she has made some promises to Sam Rover----"

"I am not sure that she has made any promises. Sam has been very attentive to her,--but just because Tom married Nellie is no reason why Grace should marry Sam."

"Oh, I know that. But, somehow, I thought they had it all settled between 'em, and I certainly like Sam. He's a nice, clean-cut boy."

"Yes. I like Sam, too." Mrs. Laning heaved a deep sigh. "But, just the same, we had better not interfere. You know how it was when we got married," and she looked fondly at her husband.

"You bet I do!" he returned, and then put his arm over her shoulder and kissed her gently. "Well, let us hope it all comes out for the best," he added, and walked off to go to work.