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- The Rover Boys in New York - 5/40 -
"Tell us all about it," supplemented Grace.
"We can't tell you any more than what we have heard," answered Sam. "We just got word ourselves this morning."
Then the boys told their story and answered innumerable questions which the girls put to them.
"This will be bad news for mother," said Dora, to Dick. "She is afraid of Josiah Crabtree, and always has been-- because of his strange hypnotic power."
"I don't think he will dare to show himself-- at least, not for a while, Dora," he answered. "He knows only too well that the jail is waiting to receive him."
"That strange man with the bushy eyebrows and the pointed chin must have helped him to get away," was Nellie's comment.
"So we think," answered Tom.
"But who was he?" questioned her sister.
"That's a conundrum we can't answer," returned Sam. "I think he was waiting around with that auto, and as soon as the fire started Crabtree saw the chance he wanted and got out."
"Maybe Crabtree started the fire?" suggested Dora.
"No, that was purely an accident-- so the jailer says. The wind blew a curtain against a lamp and the burning curtain fell into some excelsior in a box of new dishes. The excelsior made quite a blaze and a lot of smoke, and everybody in the jail was badly frightened for a while."
After that the talk became general, and quite unconsciously Dick and Dora strolled off by themselves, down towards a tiny brook that flowed past the campus grounds.
"You must be very careful, Dora, now that Crabtree is at liberty," said the eldest Rover boy. "I wouldn't have him run off with you again for the world," he added, tenderly.
"I shall watch out, Dick,-- and I'll make the others watch out, too." And then, as he squeezed her hand, she added, in a lower voice: "How is that other matter coming along?"
"Not very well, Dora," and Dick's face became more serious than ever.
"Can't your father manage it?"
"I don't think so. You see, he isn't in very good health-- he breaks down every once in a while. Those business matters worry him a great deal."
"Can't your uncle help him?"
"No, Uncle Randolph means well, but he is no business man-- he showed that when he allowed those men to swindle him out of those bonds," went on Dick, referring to an event which has been related in detail in "The Rover Boys on the Farm."
"But what can you do, Dick?" questioned the girl, earnestly.
"I think I'll have to quit college and take up the matter myself," answered Dick Rover.
THE END OF THE "DARTAWAY"
"Quit college? Oh, Dick, do you want to do that?"
"Not exactly, Dora-- and yet I don't think I am exactly fitted for a professional career. That seems to be more in Tom and Sam's line. I like business, and I'd enjoy getting into something big, something worth while. I think I could handle those matters, if father would only let me try. And then there is another thing, Dora," went on the youth, looking squarely into his companion's face. "Perhaps you can guess what that is."
She blushed deeply.
"What?" she whispered.
"I want to marry you, and take you some place where I know you'll be safe from such creatures as Crabtree and Sobber and Larkspur-- and I want the right to look after your mother, too."
"Oh, Dick!" And she clung tightly to his arm.
"Aren't you willing, Dora?"
"Yes." She looked at him frankly" "Yes, Dick, whenever you say."
"And your mother----"
"Mamma depends upon me in everything, and she has told me to do just as we thought best."
Dick gave a swift look around. Nobody was in sight at that moment. He pressed Dora to him.
"You best and dearest sweetheart in all the world!" he cried, in a low tone. "Then I can depend on you? We'll be the happiest couple in the whole world!"
"Indeed, yes, Dick!" And Dora's eyes fairly beamed with happiness as she snuggled closer to him. "But about your father," she continued, a moment later. "I am selfish to forget him. Then he is not so well?"
"He is fairly well, but he gets a bad spell ever so often, and then to attend to business is out of the question. But that isn't the worst of it. He has gotten tangled up in some sort of financial scheme with some brokers in New York City and it is worrying him half to death. He has told me something about it, but I don't know half as much as I'd like to know."
"Then you must find out, Dick, and help him all you possibly can," declared the girl, promptly.
"I'm looking for a letter from home every day-- I mean one telling about these financial affairs. As soon as it comes I'll know what to do."
All too soon the boys' visit to Hope Seminary had to come to an end. Sam and Tom returned to the biplane and gave the motor a brief "try-out," which noise reached Dick's ears just as he was trying to break away from Dora. He gave her a last hug and a kiss and then ran to join his brothers.
"The best of friends must part, as the hook said to the eye!" sang out Tom, merrily.
"I believe you are anxious to leave us!" returned Nellie, teasingly.
"Sure thing!" he retorted, promptly. "I planned to get away an hour before I came." And then she playfully boxed his ear, at which he chased her around the biplane and gave her a hearty smack just below her own pretty ear.
"Tom Rover!" she gasped. But, somehow, she looked pleased, nevertheless.
"A11 in the family!" sang out the fun-loving Rover, coolly. "As the lady said when she kissed her cow."
"Who is going to run the Dartaway back?" questioned Sam. "I think it's my turn at the wheel."
"It's rather dark, Sam," answered Dick. "But you can try it-- if you want to."
"All right-- I think I can see as much as you or Tom," responded the youngest Rover. "If I get off the course, and you find it out, let me know."
Darkness was settling down when the boys finally bid the girls good-bye and flew away. "Beware of old Crabtree!" sang out Dick.
"We'll watch out!" answered Nellie.
"Indeed we will!" came from Dora and Grace.
"If you catch sight of him, have him arrested!" yelled Sam, and then the biplane sailed out of hearing.
Sam knew how to handle the Dartaway almost as well as did Dick and Tom, and as there was but little wind, and the flying machine appeared to be in good condition, the others did not doubt but what Sam would make a fine flight of the trip.
"Keep a little to the south," called out Dick, after Hope had been left behind and when they were sailing over some broad fields. "If you do that you can follow the old turnpike for quite a distance."
"I thought I'd run for the railroad tracks," answered the lad at the steering wheel.
"You can do that later-- after we pass that big farmhouse with the four barns."
Running along in the air is a different proposition from running on the ground, and the air-man has to be careful about the lay of the land below him or he will soon go astray from his course. The earth looks altogether different when viewed from the sky from what it does when looked at from a level, and when an air-man is five or six hundred feet up he has all he can do to make out what is below him.
It had begun to cloud up a little and this made it darker than ever. After following the turn-pike for nearly two miles, Sam veered slightly to catch the railroad tracks and the gleam of the signal lights.
"I can follow the lights best of all!" he shouted, into Dick's ear. "It's too dark to see the road."
"All right, follow the railroad right to Ashton," answered the oldest Rover boy, naming the town that was the railroad station for Brill College.
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