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- The Rover Boys on the Ocean - 5/38 -


"All right, come ahead."

Mumps led the way down the rocky steps and Josiah Crabtree followed, moving slowly that he might not fall. Creeping to the edge of the cliff, the Rover boys saw the pair reach the Falcon and go on board.

"Now what is in the wind?" said Dick, as soon as the pair were out of hearing.

"That's a conundrum," replied Tom. "I'll wager one thing though -- old Crabtree is up to no good."

"I believe you are right. I wish we could hear the rest of what is going on."

"Can't we get close to the yacht?" suggested Sam. "See, the sky is clouding over. I don't believe they will see us going down the stairs."

They talked the plan over for a moment, then began to descend the steps, keeping as low down as possible and close to some brush which grew up in the crevices of the stones. Soon the river bank was gained at a point not over fifty feet from where the yacht lay.

They halted behind a large stone close to the water's edge. By straining their eyes in the darkness they saw Mumps, Crabtree, and Bill Goss in earnest conversation in the stern of the vessel. A low murmur came to their ears, but not a word could be understood.

"We must get closer," was Dick's comment, when to the surprise of all they saw the sailor hoist the mainsail of the Falcon. A gentle breeze was blowing, and soon the yacht was leaving the shore. They watched the craft until the gathering darkness hid her entirely from view.

CHAPTER IV

THE DISASTROUS RESULT OF A TRICK

"She's gone!"

"Yes; and I wonder where to, Tom?"

"I don't believe the yacht will go very far," said Sam. "Maybe old Crabtree merely wants to see what sort of a sailing craft she is."

"We can watch here for a while," returned Dick.

They sat down on a rock and waited, in the meantime discussing the strange situation. They could reach no conclusion but that Josiah Crabtree had some plot he wanted to put into execution. "And it's something underhand, too," was Dick's comment.

At last they grew tired of waiting and almost fell asleep. This being the case they returned to the hotel and made their way to the bed chamber. Soon each was sleeping soundly.

When they awoke the sun was shining brightly -- and it was half-past seven o'clock. "All up!" shouted Tom, and dragged Sam out by the foot. Soon they were dressed and made their way to the dining room.

They had scarcely seated themselves when Josiah Crabtree came in and was shown to a seat directly opposite the boys. He did not notice them at first and began to eat a dish of oatmeal silently and rapidly.

Tom nudged Sam, and the younger Rover nudged his oldest brother, and a snicker went up. At this Josiah Crabtree glanced at them carelessly. Then he started back in amazement.

"Why - er - why - ahem - so it is you!" he stammered. "Er -- where did you come from?"

"We came from our bedroom," answered Tom promptly. "Where did you come from, Mr. Crabtree?"

"Why - er -- don't be impertinent, Rover. I might say that I came from my bedroom too."

"I thought you came from the river," remarked Dick carelessly.

"From the river?

"Yes."

"You are -- ahem, mistaken, my lad. I have not been near the river -- at least, not since I came up from New York on the boat."

"Stopping here for the summer?" put in Sam.

"I do not know as that is any of your business, Samuel. I am no longer a master at Putnam Hall and when I left that place I washed my hands of all those connected with that place."

"A good thing for the Hall, sir," came from Tom.

"Don't be insulting, Rover. You go your way and I'll go mine."

"As you please, sir. You spoke to us first."

"I'll take good care and not do it again. But this looks as if you were following me up."

"That's what Mumps said," cried Sam, before he had stopped to think twice.

"Ha! So you have met Mum -- I mean John Fenwick?"

"We met him on the river."

"And he said you had been following him?"

"Never mind, Mr. Crabtree, we won't talk any more," put in Dick, with a warning glance at Sam. He turned to the waiter. "Some fish, please, trout; and see that the biscuits are warm."

"Nes, sah," grinned the negro.

Tom at once took the cue. "It's going to be a warm day," he said to Dick.

"I wonder how sailing was last night," put in Sam slyly.

At this Josiah Crabtree looked as black as a thundercloud.

"You boys have been playing the sneak on me!" he cried. "Take my advice and beware of what you do in the future."

"I wasn't talking to you," retorted Sam.

"Kindly keep your remarks to yourself."

By this time others were coming to the table, consequently the cross-fire of words had to come to an end. Josiah Crabtree finished his repast as speedily as possible and strode out of the dining room in high but suppressed anger.

"He's a corker," remarked Tom. "I believe he'd half kill us if he dared."

"I guess he hasn't forgotten how I stopped him from maltreating Dora Stanhope," said Dick. "I wish I knew if he had been around their place since he came back from the West."

"Of course he has been back," said Tom. "And he'll marry Mrs. Stanhope yet -- see if he don't."

"Not if I can help Dora prevent it," said his elder brother firmly.

Breakfast finished they walked out to learn what had become of Crabtree. They were just in time to see him leaving the hotel, valise in hand.

"He's off," said Tom. "I wonder where he is bound?"

"Let us follow him and find out," returned Dick,

This did not prove to be an easy matter, for at the foot of the hotel grounds Josiah Crabtree jumped into a stage which was in waiting, bound for the depot.

"He's off on the train, I guess," said Sam, and the others were inclined to agree with him.

Down at the river shore nothing could be seen of the Falcon, and they concluded that Mumps had also taken himself off.

The morning was spent around, the hotel, in reading the newspapers and taking it easy out on the beautiful lawn.

"Hullo, here's a novelty!" cried Tom presently, and pointed to an Italian who was coming up to the hotel. The fellow had a small hand organ and a trained bear and two monkeys. The monkeys were dressed in red, white, and blue, and sat on the bear's back as he trotted along.

"He's going to give us a performance," said Sam, as the Italian came to a halt in the center of the grounds.

"There they go!"

The music started, and at once the bear reared himself on his hind legs and began to dance. In the meantime the monkeys climbed to the bear's head and began a little dance of their own.

"Now for a little sport," whispered Tom, and started for the hotel.


The Rover Boys on the Ocean - 5/38

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