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- The Rover Boys on the Ocean - 3/38 -
"I'm glad you saw the mix-up, Mr..."
"Martin Harris is my name. I'm an old boatman around here -- keep boats to hire, and the like. And who is this I'm to take ashore?"
"My name is Sam Rover. These are my two brothers, Dick and Tom."
"Do you know who it was ran into you?"
"It was the Falcon, a yacht owned by a Mr. Fenwick. His son and a man he called Bill Goss were aboard."
At this Martin Harris drew down his mouth. "A bad set, those. I know 'em well."
"And we know, Fenwick, too," put in Dick, "He's a regular sneak."
"That's right -- takes after his father, who did his best to defraud me in a boat deal. And that Bill Goss is a sneak, too, and worse," and Martin Harris shook his head decidedly.
"Well, we can't talk about those people now," said Dick. "We're in a mess and must get out of it the best way we can. As you are an old boatman, what would you advise us to do?"
"Come ashore with me and then get Dan Haskett to take your boat in charge and fix her up. He can stop that leak somehow and pump her out and have her all right inside of twenty-four hours."
"Where can we find this Haskett?"
"Come into my boat and I'll take you to him."
The rowboat was now close at hand, and one after another the Rover boys stowed themselves away in the craft. Then Martin Harris took up the oars and started for the river bank. He turned down the stream a bit and landed them at an old dock over which hung the sign: "Daniel Haskett, Boat Builder and Repairer jobs Promptly Attended to -- Charges Small."
Dan Haskett proved to be an elderly man, who was somewhat deaf, and it took the boys some time to make him understand the situation.
"We've had a smash-up," began Dick.
"Cash up?" said the deaf man. "Cash UP to what?"
"We've had a smash-up!" repeated the boy in a louder tone. "We want our boat mended."
"What's ended?" asked the boat builder. "Your boat?"
"Almost ended," roared Tom. "We-want you-to-fix-up-our-boat," he yelled.
"Oh, all right. Where is she?"
Dick pointed with his finger, and at once the boat builder understood. "There's a hole in her side," bawled the boy. "We want it patched up."
"All right; I can do that."
"Can we have her by tomorrow?"
"How's that?" And Dan Haskett placed his hand to his ear.
"Can-we-have-her-by-tomorrow?" yelled Dick.
"I guess so. I'll have to see how badly she is damaged first."
Haskett got out a small boat of his own and, taking Dick with him, rowed over to the wreck. He pronounced the injury small and said the boys could have their boat by noon the next day. The charges would be twelve or fifteen dollars.
"We'll be getting off cheaper than I thought," said Tom, on Dick's return. "Ought to come out of Mumps' pocket."
"That's so," added Sam. "By the way, I wonder what he meant by saying we were dogging him?"
"I can't say," replied Dick. "But I've been thinking that he can't be up to any good, or he wouldn't be so suspicious."
"Just exactly my idea!" burst out Tom. "Do you know what I half imagine?"
"That Mumps is cruising around waiting for Dan Baxter to join him."
"But Baxter went to Chicago."
"He won't stay there -- not as long as his father is in the East. He will be back before long, if he isn't back already."
"But he took that money belonging to hi! father."
"What of that? His father can't do anything against him, for he himself is worse than his son, as we all know. Besides, his father is most likely still in the hospital."
"If you young gentlemen want to sail around until tomorrow noon, I can take you out in one of my boats," remarked Martin Harris. "I've got a first-class yacht, the Searchlight, that I can let you have reasonably."
"Thanks, but I would just as lief stay on shore until our boat is mended," answered Dick. "But I want to pay you for what you did for us," he added.
"Oh, that's all right."
But the boys thought otherwise, and in the end gave Martin Harris two dollars, with which the boatman was highly pleased.
"Remember, I saw that accident," he said, on parting. "I can prove it was the Falcon's fault."
"We'll remember that," answered Dick.
From time to time they had watched the Falcon's course until the yacht had disappeared down the river.
After a short debate the brothers decided to put up at a hotel which stood not far away, on a high cliff overlooking the noble Hudson.
"We've been on the water for nearly two weeks now," said Dick, "and to sleep in a real bed will be something of a novelty."
As it was in the height of the summer season the hotel was crowded; but some guests were just departing, and they managed to get a fairly good room on the second floor. This had a double bed, and a cot was added, to accommodate Sam; Dick and Tom sleeping together, as usual.
It was supper time when the boys arrived, and as soon as they had registered and washed up and combed their hair, they descended to the spacious dining room, where fully a score of tables were set.
"This way, please," said the head waiter, and showed them to a table at one side, overlooking one of the wide verandas of the hotel.
"I'm as hungry as a bear!" exclaimed Tom. "You can't serve us any too quick," he added, to the waiter who came up to take their orders.
"Yes, sah, do the best I can, sah," grinned the colored man. "What kind of soup, please?"
"I'll have ox-tail -- " began Tom, when he happened to glance out of the window. As his gaze fell upon a man sitting in an easy chair on the veranda he uttered a low whistle. "By jinks, boys, look! Josiah Crabtree, as sure as you're born!" he whispered.
JOSIAH CRABTREE FREES HIS MIND
Then individual to whom Tom referred had been a former master at Putnam Hall, but his disagreeable ways had led to his dismissal by Captain Putnam.
Josiah Crabtree was a tall, slim individual, with a sharp face and a very long nose. During the past term at Putnam Hall he had been very dictatorial to the Rover boys, and it must be confessed that they had made life anything but a bed of roses for him. Crabtree had been very desirous of marrying a certain widow by the name of Stanhope, but the marriage was opposed by Dora, the widow's daughter, and as Dick was rather sweet on Dora, he had done all he could to aid the girl in breaking off the match, even going so far as to send Crabtree a bogus letter which had taken the teacher out to Chicago on a hunt for a position in a private college that had never existed. Dick knew that Crabtree was comparatively poor and wished to marry the widow so that he could get his hands on the fortune which the lady held in trust for her only child.
"It is Crabtree," said Dick, as he gave a look.
"I wonder how he liked his trip to Chicago?" laughed Sam. "Perhaps the Mid-West National College didn't suit his lofty ideas."
"Hush! don't let him hear you talk of that," returned Dick. "He might get us into trouble."
"What kind of soup, sah?" interrupted the waiter, and then they broke off to give their order, and the waiter hurried off to fill
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