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- The Rover Boys at School - 5/38 -


To procure a rope was no easy matter, for nothing of that sort was at hand, and the nearest farmhouse was some distance away. Yet, without thinking twice, Dick set off for the farmhouse, arriving there inside of five minutes.

"I need a rope, quick, Mr. Darrel," he said. "My brother is in the middle of the Humpback Falls on a tree, and I want to save him."

"Why, Dick Rover, you don't tell me!" cried Joel Darrel, a farmer who had often worked for Randolph Rover. "Sure I'll get a wash line this minute!" and he ran for the kitchen shed.

Luckily the line was just where the farmer supposed it would be, and away went man and boy, Dick leading, until the river bank was again reached.

"There he is, Mr. Darrel. How can we best help him, do you think?"

The farmer scratched his head in perplexity.

"Hang me if I jess know, Dick," he said slowly.

"If we try to pull him straight to shore the current will carry him over the rocks in spite of the line."

"How long do you suppose the line is?"

"It is fifty yards, and all good and strong, for I bought it of Woddie only last week."

"Fifty yards -- that is a hundred and fifty feet. Do you see that spur of rock just above there?"

"I do."

"Is it more than a hundred and fifty feet from that rock to the tree?"

"Hardly; but it's close figuring."

"Let us try the line and see."

Both walked up to the spur of rock they had in view. It jutted out into the river for several yards, and was rather wet and slippery.

"Take care, or you'll go in too," cautioned Joel Darrel. "Shall I throw the rope out?"

"You might try it," answered Dick. "I'll hold fast to your leg," and he squatted down for that purpose.

The line was uncoiled and thrown three times, but each time it fell short and drifted inshore again.

"Hurry up!" suddenly yelled Sam. "The tree is beginning to turn, and it will break loose before long."

"Let me try a throw," said Dick, and took the wash line. As he made the cast, Tom came up on a walk, his head tied up in a handkerchief.

"Where is Sam?"

"Out there," said Joel Darrel, and watched the casting of the line with interest. Again it fell short, but Dick's second throw was a complete success, and soon Sam held the outer end of the line fast.

"It reaches, and we have about fifteen feet to spare," said Dick joyfully. "Sam, tie it around you." Scarcely had the word left the younger brother's lips than the tree upon which he rested wobbled and went over, and he found himself thrown into the foaming water.

"Pull away, all hands!" cried Dick, and hauled in desperately, while Joel Darrel did the same. Tom was not equal to the task, but contented himself with holding fast to Dick's coat, that his elder brother might not slip from the rock.

It was no light work to get Sam up the first rise of the rapids, but once this rise was passed the rest was easy by comparison. They pulled in steadily, and presently the boy reached the rock and came up, looking very much like a dripping seal as he clambered to safety.

"Thank fortune, you are safe!" cried Dick when it was all over; and Tom said "Amen," under his breath. Joel Darrel looked well satisfied as he coiled up the wash line.

"It was a narrow escape," he remarked presently. "You want to be careful how you try to cross the river at this point. What were you doing on the tree?"

"I was after a thief," answered Sam, and then he looked at Dick and Tom. "Where is he?"

"Gone," returned Dick.

"A thief!" ejaculated Joel Darrel. "Whom did he rob?"

"He robbed me."

"Do tell, Dick! When?"

"About half an hour ago. I was coming from the Corners with the mail, when he pounced on me near our berry patch and knocked me down. He took my pocketbook and my watch, but Sam and Tom came up, and we chased the fellow and got the pocketbook back."

"But he kept the watch?"

"Yes."

"Was it a good one?"

"It was a gold watch that my father paid sixty-five dollars for -- and the chain was worth ten; and, what is more, the watch was one my father used to wear; and as he is gone now, I thought a good deal of it on that account."

"That's natural, my boy. But where did the thief go?"

"Came across the river about quarter of a mile above here."

"Then he had a boat?"

"Yes -- a craft painted brown, with a white stripe around her."

"That's Jerry Rodman's boat. He must have stolen her in the first place to cross to your side."

"More than likely."

"But where did he go after he crossed the river?"

"Into the bushes, I guess. You see, Tom went overboard from the tree and got struck, and I went to his assistance, so I didn't notice exactly. I want to get back now and follow the rascal."

"I'll go along."

"I wish you would."

"In that case I won't try to keep up with you," put in Tom. "My head is aching fit to split."

"Yes, you may as well take it easy," answered Dick. "But, say, why not, walk up to the river road and see if the rascal heads in this direction?"

"So I will, Dick. Will you go too, Sam?"

It was arranged that Sam should accompany and they set off immediately, while Dick and Joel Darrel ran along the river bank to where the rowboat had been abandoned.

Down where it was muddy it was easy to trace the tramp's footprints, and they led through a meadow and across a cornfield, coming out at a side road leading to the town of Oak Run.

"Well, where to next?" questioned the farmer, as he and Dick came to a halt.

The youth shook his head. "It's so dry here the footprints are lost," he returned slowly.

"That's true, Dick. But I reckon he went to Oak Run."

"Why?"

"Because he could catch a train from there which would take him miles away -- and I guess that is what he wants to do just about now."

"There is something in that."

"Besides, you know, the other end of the road ends up in the woods. He wouldn't go there."

"I had best start for Oak Run, then."

"I'll go along."

The distance was a mile and a half, and they thought they would have to walk it, but hardly had a dozen rods been covered than they heard the sound of wagon wheels, and a grocery turn-out and came into sight driven by a boy Joel Darrel knew well.

"This comes in just right," observed Darrel to Dick. "Hi there, Harry Oswald. Give us a lift to Oak Run, will you?"

"Certainly, Mr. Darrel," answered the grocery boy, and brought his store wagon to a stop. The farmer leaped to the seat, and Dick followed.

On the way Harry Oswald was made acquainted with the situation, and he drove along with all possible speed. They were just


The Rover Boys at School - 5/38

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