Chapter XXVI Sam Frees His Mind - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

In spite of his fun-loving disposition, Tom Rover was a very wise young man, so as soon as he saw Grace resting on his brother's shoulder he promptly turned away, to interview the farmer and his wife who lived in the farmhouse and who had answered the girl's knock on their door.

"I can't tell much about the accident," said Mr. Akerson. "Me and my wife were just goin' to bed when the young lady knocked on the door and begged us to take her in, and then asked if we had a telephone. She said she had been in an automobile breakdown, but she didn't give us many particulars, except to say that she thought the front axle of the machine was broken."

"Well, a broken axle is bad enough," was Tom's prompt comment. "They are lucky that no necks were broken."

"The poor girl was dreadfully shook up," put in Mrs. Akerson. "She just went on somethin' terrible. I had all I could do to quiet her at first."

"Didn't the young man come here with her?" questioned Tom.

"No. She said she had left him down on the road with the machine. She said he was all worked up over the accident."

"I should think he would be," returned Tom, and said no more on the subject. Yet he thought it very strange that Chester Waltham had not accompanied Grace to the farmhouse and thus made certain that help was summoned.

Tom and his brother had entered the sitting-room of the farmhouse. Next to it was a lit-up dining-room and to this Sam and Grace had walked, the latter between her sobs telling of what had happened.

"Oh, Sam, it was dreadful!" cried Grace. "Mr. Waltham was so reckless. I couldn't understand him at all. When I said I would ride with him I supposed we were going right back to the hotel. But on the way he said it was too fine a night to go in yet, and begged me to go a little farther, and so finally I consented. Then he drove the car on and on, ever so many miles, until we reached Dennville."

"But if you didn't want to go that far, Grace, why didn't you tell him?"

"I did--several times. But he wouldn't listen to me. Of course, I didn't want to act rude, and when I told him to turn back he only laughed at me. Then, when we got to Dennville, and I told him that I positively would not go any farther, he said, 'Oh, yes, you will. We are going to have a good, long ride. I am going to make you pay up in full for not riding with me before.'"

"The mean fellow!" murmured Sam. "I'd like to punch him for that."

"Oh, but, Sam! that wasn't the worst of it," went on the girl; and now she blushed painfully and hung her head. "Then he started up on this side road and he ran the car as fast as ever. I was dreadfully scared, but he only laughed and told me to enjoy myself, and when the car bumped over some stones, and I was thrown against him, he put his arm around me and--and he did his best to kiss me!"


"But I didn't allow it. I pushed him away, and when he laughed at me I told him that if he tried it again I would box his ears. Then, just after we had passed this place, he reached over and caught hold of me and tried to pull me toward him. Then I boxed him, just as I had said I would. That made him furious, and he put on a burst of speed, and the next minute there was a terrible bump and a crash, and both of us were almost thrown out of the car. The wind-shield was broken and also, I think, the front axle, and he was scratched in several places. Oh, it was awful!" And again Grace hid her face on Sam's shoulder.

"Well, it served him right if he got hurt and if his runabout was ruined," was the youth's comment. He drew Grace closer to him than ever.

"Then you didn't really care for him?" he whispered.

"Oh, Sam, Sam! how can you ask such a question?" she murmured.

"Because I didn't know. I thought---- You see, he--he is a millionaire, and----"

"Why, Sam Rover! do you think that money would make any difference to me?" and now she raised her face to look him full in the eyes.

"I am mighty glad to know it hasn't made any difference," he returned quickly; and then caught and held her tight once more.

"I suppose you young men are goin' back to help the fellow with his busted machine," remarked Mr. Akerson to Tom.

"I--I suppose so," returned Tom, slowly, and then looked toward Sam and Grace.

"Oh, I don't want to go back!" cried the girl, quickly. "I want to return to the hotel in Larkinburg."

"All right, I'll take you back, Grace," answered Sam. "If you say so, we'll leave Waltham right where he is."

"I think it would be the right thing to do, Sam, under ordinary circumstances," was the reply. "But then we mustn't forget about Ada.

She will be greatly worried if I come back and let her know that we left her brother out here on the open road with a broken machine."

"I'll tell you what we'll do, Grace. You stay here and Tom and I will go down and see what Waltham has got to say for himself." He turned to the people of the house. "She can stay here a little longer, can't she?

We'll make it all right with you."

"Certainly she can stay," answered Mr. Akerson. "And there won't be anything to pay outside of the telephone toll, and that's only twenty cents."

"Please don't stay too long," implored Grace, as the two Rovers hurried away.

"Not a minute longer than is necessary," returned Sam.

On the way down the hill to where the accident had occurred Sam gave his brother the particulars of the affair, not mincing matters so far as it concerned Chester Waltham.

"I was thinking that that was about the way it would turn out," was Tom's dry comment. "With so much money, Waltham thinks he can do about as he pleases. I reckon now, Sam, you are sorry you didn't talk to Grace before."

"I sure am, Tom!" was the reply, and Sam's tones showed what a weight had been taken from his heart. "I'm going to fix it up with Grace before another twenty-four hours pass."

"That's the way to talk, boy! Go to it! I wish you every success!" and Tom clapped his brother on the shoulder affectionately.

Even though all the lights were out, it did not take the two Rovers long to locate the disabled runabout, which rested among some stones on the side of the highway. As Grace had stated, the wind-shield was a mass of smashed glass, and the front axle had broken close to the left wheel.

"They can certainly be thankful they didn't break their necks," was Tom's comment, as he walked around the wreck.

"Waltham doesn't seem to be anywhere around here," returned Sam. "Wonder where he went to?"

Both looked up and down the highway, and presently saw a figure approaching from down the road. It proved to be Chester Waltham. He was capless and walked with a limp.

"Hello! Who are you?" challenged the young millionaire, and then as he drew closer he added: "Oh, the Rovers, eh? Did Grace get you on the 'phone?"

"She did," answered Sam, and then added sharply: "You've made a nice mess of it here, haven't you?"

"Say, I don't want any such talk from you," blustered the rich young man. Evidently he was in far from a good humor.

"I'll say what I please, Waltham, without asking your permission,"

continued the youngest Rover. "You had no right to bring Miss Laning away out here against her wishes. It was a contemptible thing to do."

"You talk as if you were my master," retorted Chester Waltham. "This isn't any of your affair and you keep out of it."

"We are perfectly willing to keep out of it if you say so, Waltham,"

broke in Tom. "We came down here merely to see if we could help you in any way. But I see your front axle is broken, and you will have to get the garage people to help you out with that."

"Where's Grace?" asked the young millionaire. The subject of the broken-down runabout did not seem to interest him.

"She is up at the farmhouse on the hill," answered Tom.

"And we are going to take her back to the Larkinburg hotel in our auto,"

added Sam.

"Oh, all right, then, go ahead and do it."

"Do you want to ride with us?" questioned Tom.

"I don't know that I do. I'll stay here and take care of my runabout. If you'll tell my sister that I'm all right, that is all I want."

"Very well, just as you say," answered Tom. He took his brother by the arm. "Come on, Sam, there is no use of wasting time here."

"I'll be with you in a minute, Tom," was the younger brother's reply.

"You go on ahead, I want to say just a few words more to Waltham."

"No use of your getting into a fight, Sam," returned Tom in a low voice.

"There won't be any fight unless he starts it."

Tom walked slowly up the road, and Sam turned back to where Chester Waltham had settled himself on the mud-guard of the broken-down runabout.

"See here, Waltham, I want to say a few words more to you," began Sam, and his tone of voice was such that the young millionaire leaped at once to his feet. "I want to warn you about how you treat Miss Laning in the future."

"To warn me!" repeated Chester Waltham, not knowing what else to say.

"Exactly! Up at the farmhouse she told me all of what took place between you. She was all unstrung and quite hysterical. Now this won't do at all, and I want you to know it. After this if you are going to travel with us you've got to act the gentleman and treat her like a lady."


"No 'humph' about it. I mean just what I say. If you don't behave yourself and don't treat her like a lady I'll--I'll----"

"Well, what will you do?" sneered Chester Waltham.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," and now Sam shook his finger in the young millionaire's face. "I'll give you the soundest thrashing you ever had in your life!"

"Ah! do you mean to threaten me?"

"I certainly do."

"When it comes to a thrashing, maybe two can play at that game,"

observed the young millionaire; but it was plainly to be seen that Sam's decided stand had disconcerted him.

"All right, Waltham, I'll be ready for you. But remember what I said. We came out here to have a good time, and I am not going to allow you to spoil it for Miss Laning or for anybody else."

"Humph! you make me tired," sneered the rich young man. "Go on, I don't want to be bothered with you any longer. The whole bunch of you is too namby-pamby for me. I think my sister and I could have a much better time if we weren't with you."

"As far as you personally are concerned, you can't leave us any too quickly to suit me," returned Sam.

"Is that so? Well, I guess you can call it off then so far as my sister and I are concerned. But if you think, Rover, that you have seen the last of this affair you are mistaken," went on the young millionaire, pointedly. "You think you are going to run things to suit yourself, don't you? Well, I'll put a spoke in your wheel--a spoke that you never dreamed of! You just wait and see!" and then Chester Waltham turned back and sat down once more on his wrecked runabout, leaving Sam to walk up the road to rejoin Tom in a very thoughtful mood.