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- The Rover Boys in Business - 4/39 -
"Well, we hauled you out of the river," replied Tom, simply.
"You did!" The young man shivered as he glanced at the swiftly-flowing stream. "The bridge-- it was broken, but I didn't notice it in time."
"We tried to warn you," said Sam, "but you were coming too fast."
"I know it, but I-- I----" And then the young man, having tried to get to his feet, suddenly collapsed and became unconscious again.
"Phew!" came from Sam in surprise. "He must be worse off than we thought."
"Perhaps he got struck when he went down," suggested Tom. "See here, there is blood on his hand; it is running down his sleeve!"
"Maybe his arm is broken, Tom. I guess the best thing we can do is to get him to some doctor."
"Why not take him right down to Ashton to Doctor Havens?"
"Good idea; we'll do it."
Tom again took up the unconscious young man, and, with Sam leading the way, both hurried to their automobile. The stranger was deposited on the seat of the tonneau, and then Tom lost no time in turning the machine around and heading for town.
"I wonder who he can be?" remarked Sam, as they sped along.
"I'm sure I don't know," was Tom's reply. Neither of the boys dreamed of the surprise in store for them.
SOMETHING OF A SURPRISE
It did not take the Rover boys long to reach Ashton; and once in town, they lost no time in running their auto to where Doctor Havens resided. They found the house well lit up, and the old doctor in his study, poring over some medical works.
"Saved a fellow from drowning, eh?" he queried, after the lads had explained matters. "Got him out in your auto? All right, bring him right in if you want to-- or wait, I'll go out and take a look at him. Maybe I know who he is and where he belongs." And thus speaking, the doctor went outside.
Sam still had the searchlight in hand, and as the physician approached the automobile, the lad flashed the rays on the face of the stranger, who was still unconscious.
"Why, I've seen that young chap before!" exclaimed Doctor Havens. "He is stopping at the hotel. I saw him there only this afternoon."
"Then perhaps we had better take him over there," suggested Tom.
"By all means, and I'll go with you."
Running into the house, the doctor procured his hand case, and then joined the boys in the automobile. A run of a few minutes brought the party to the hotel, and Sam and Tom lifted the young man out and carried him inside.
The arrival of the party created some consternation, but as only the proprietor of the hotel and a bellboy were present, the matter was kept rather quiet. The young man had a room on the second floor, and to this he was speedily taken, and placed in the care of the doctor.
"No bones broken so far as I can ascertain," said Doctor Havens, after a long examination. "He has cut his forehead, and he also has a bruise behind his left ear, but I think he is suffering more from shock than anything else."
"Did you say you knew him?" questioned Tom.
"Oh, no, only that I had seen him around this hotel."
"What is his name?" asked Sam, of the hotel proprietor, who had followed them to the room.
"His name is Pelter."
"Pelter!" The cry came from Tom and Sam simultaneously, and the brothers looked at each other questioningly.
"Yes, Pelter. Do you know him?"
"What is his first name?" demanded Tom.
"Why, let me see," The hotel man mused for a moment. "I have it! Barton Pelter."
"I never heard that name before," said Tom. "We know a man in----" And then, as Sam looked at him in a peculiar way, he added, "Oh, well, never mind. We don't know this fellow, anyway. I hope he gets over this trouble."
By this time the sufferer had again recovered consciousness, but he was evidently very weak, and the doctor motioned for the Rover boys and the hotel man to leave the room.
"All right, but let us know in the morning by telephone how he is, Doctor," returned Tom; and then the Rover boys and the hotel man went below.
"Can you tell us anything about this Barton Pelter?" questioned Sam, of the proprietor.
"I know very little about him, excepting that he is registered as from Brooklyn, and that he came here three days ago. What his business is in Ashton, I haven't the least idea."
"Is he well off-- that is, does he appear to have much money?" asked Tom.
"Oh, he hasn't shown any great amount of cash around here," laughed the hotel man. "My idea is that he is some sort of a commercial traveler, although he hasn't anything with him but his suitcase."
This was all the hotel man could tell them, and a few minutes later the Rover boys were in their automobile once more and headed back for the scene of the accident.
"We ought to have put up some danger signal, Tom," remarked Sam, while on the way.
"I know it, but we hadn't any time to waste while we had that poor chap on our hands. By the way, do you think he can be any relative of Jesse Pelter, the rascal who knocked me out with the footstool, and who tried his best to rob dad?"
"I'm sure I don't know. One thing is certain: The name of Pelter is not common. Still, there may be other Pelters besides those related to that scoundrel of a broker."
Arriving at the vicinity of the broken bridge, the boys found a farmer with a wagon there. The countryman was placing some brushwood across the road.
"The blame bridge is busted down," said the farmer, "and I thought I ought to put up some kind of a thing to warn folks of it."
"That is what we came for," answered Sam; and then he and his brother related some of the particulars of what had occurred.
"Gee, shoo! You don't mean to tell me that one of them automobiles is down in the river!" gasped the countryman. "I don't see nothin' of it."
"It most be down on the bottom, close to where that end of the bridge settled," answered Sam "I suppose there will be a job here for somebody to haul it out."
"If they want a man for that, I'm the feller to do it," returned the countryman. "Maybe I had better go down to the hotel and see about it."
"Better wait till morning," suggested Tom. "The young man who owns the machine can't see anyone now."
"All right, just as you say."
"Now that this bridge is down, how can we get over the river?" mused Sam.
"Where do you want to go?"
"We were on our way to Hope Seminary. I suppose we can go around to the Upper Road, but it will be four or five miles out of our way."
"It ain't necessary to go that far. You go down stream about half a mile on the Craberry Road, and you can cross The Shallows."
"Isn't it too deep for an automobile?" questioned Tom.
"No, not now. It might be, though, in wet weather."
"I don't know about that," said Sam, and shook his head. "We don't want any accident in the water, Tom."
"Oh, come ahead, we can try it, anyway," returned Tom, who, in spite of the recent happenings, was as anxious as ever to get to the seminary and see Nellie.
Leaving the countryman at his self-appointed task of putting a barrier across the road-- and he had said that he would also, get over to the other side of the river somehow and put a barrier there-- the Rover boys swung around once again in their touring car, and headed for the side road which had been mentioned to them. Soon they reached what was known as "The Shallows," a spot where the river broadened out, and was filled with loose stones and sandbars.
By the rays from the headlights, which they now turned on to their fullest extent, the car was guided into the water. At the edge, they saw several tracks made, undoubtedly, by wagons, and one track evidently made by the anti-skid tires of an automobile.
"Well, if one auto got through, we ought to be able to make it,"
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