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- The Motor Boys on the Pacific - 6/31 -
case of necessity.'"
"Well, then, open it," suggested Bob. "This is a case of necessity. Where's it from?"
"Boston, but I don't recognize the writing."
"Open it," called Jerry.
Ned did so, and, as he read, he uttered a cry of astonishment.
"Well if this isn't a queer thing," he said. "Did you ever see such a coincidence? This letter is from Professor Uriah Snodgrass, and listen to what he says: 'Dear Mr. Slade, or Ned. I write thus as I want one of you to read it in a hurry, and one of you may be away from home. You remember the last I saw of you and your chums (this part is for Ned) was in Florida. There I secured the rare butterfly I was looking for, and, through that success I was able to obtain a position with a Boston museum, to travel all over the world for them, collecting valuable specimens. I have been here for only a few weeks, but I already have a commission. I am soon to start for California, in search of a Cornu batrachian.'"
"A 'Cornu batrachian'!" exclaimed Bob. "For the love of tripe, what's that?"
"California!" murmured Jerry. "I guess the fates want to pile it up on us."
"Say, is that 'Cornu batrachian' anything like a mountain lion?" asked Bob.
"Wait," counseled Ned. "He explains. 'The Cornu batrachian,' he says, 'is what is commonly called a horned toad. I must get several fine specimens, and I thought you boys might be making another trip, and could go with me. I would be very glad of your company. Please let me hear from you. My regards to Mrs. Slade.'"
"Well, wouldn't that tickle your teeth!" exclaimed Bob, more forcibly than elegantly. "And we can't go!" he added with a groan.
"Think of the fun we'll miss by not being with Professor Snodgrass," went on Ned.
"And with the Seabury family," chimed in Jerry.
"It's tough!" exclaimed Ned. "And school opens Monday!"
At that moment there was a whistle out in the street and a ring at the door bell.
"The postman again," said Ned. "I wonder what he wants?"
He went to the door.
"Here's a letter I forgot to give you," said the mailcarrier. "It got out of place in my bundle, and I didn't discover it until I was quite a way up the street."
"That's all right," answered Ned good-naturedly. "From the Board of Education," he murmured, as he looked at the printing in the upper left hand corner. "I wonder what they are writing to me about?"
He opened it and drew out a printed circular. As he re-entered the room where his chums were he gave a cry of delight.
"Listen to this!" he called, and he read:
"'To the pupils of the Cresville Academy. It has been discovered, at the last moment, that a new heating boiler will be needed in the school. The tubes of the old one are broken. It has been decided to replace it at once, and, as it will be necessary to do considerable work about the building, thereby interfering with the proper conducting of studies, the school will not open for another month, or six weeks, depending on the length of time required to install a new boiler.
"'Therefore pupils will kindly not report on Monday morning, as originally intended, but will hold themselves in readiness to begin their school work shortly after the receipt of another circular, which will be sent out as soon as the building is in proper shape. The faculty earnestly recommends that all pupils apply themselves diligently to their studies during this unlooked-for, unfortunate, but wholly necessary lengthening of the vacation season. By applying to their respective teachers pupils will learn what studies to continue.'"
"Whoop!" yelled Bob.
"O-la-la!" cried Ned after the fashion of some Eastern dervish.
"Say! That's great!" exclaimed Jerry. "A month more of vacation!"
"Now we can go to California with Professor Snodgrass, and help him catch horned toads!" added Ned.
"And visit the Seabury family," supplemented Jerry. "Oh, boys, this is simply immense! Things are coming our way after all!"
PROFESSOR URIAH SNODGRASS
THE sudden and unexpected news that they need not begin their school studies on Monday morning fairly startled the boys, at first. They read the circular over again, to make sure they were not mistaken.
"Why didn't I get one?" asked Bob, rather suspiciously.
"Probably it's at your home now," suggested Ned.
"And I ought to have one, too," said Jerry.
"You came away before the letter carrier arrived," went on Ned. "Maybe you'd better go see. It might-- it might be a mistake-- or a joke."
"Don't say that!" exclaimed Bob. "I'm going to see if I have a letter like yours."
"So am I," decided Jerry. "It might, as you say, Ned, be a joke, though it looks genuine."
To make sure, Jerry and Bob hurried to their homes. There they found awaiting them circulars, similar to the one Ned had. To further convince them, as Jerry and Bob were returning to Ned's house, they met Andy Rush, a small chap, but as full of life as an electric battery.
"Hello!" he exclaimed-- "Great news-- no school-- boiler busted-- thousands of teachers killed-- great calamity-- fine-- horrible-- terrible-- don't have to study-- longer vacation-- steam pipes blown out-- clouds of steam-- no heat-- freeze up-- burn to death-- great-- Whoope-e-e!"
"Did you ever take anything for that?" asked Jerry calmly, when Andy had finished.
"Dasn't! if I did I'd blow up! But say-- it's great, isn't it? Did you get a circular too?" and Andy showed one. "It's fearful-- terrible-- no school--"
"Come on," urged Jerry to Bob. "He'll give us nervous prostration if we listen to him any longer," but they need not have hurried, for Andy, so full of news that he could not keep still, had rushed off down the street, hopping, skipping and jumping, to spread the tidings, which nearly every Academy pupil in Cresville knew by that time.
Now the motor boys could discuss a Californian trip in earnest, for they knew their parents would let them go, especially after Mr. Seabury's invitation, and the letter from Professor Snodgrass. In the course of a few days Jerry received another missive from Nellie Seabury.
This letter informed Jerry, and, incidentally, his two chums, that she, with her sisters and father, had settled in a small town near the coast, not far from Santa Barbara, and on a little ocean bay, which, Nellie said, was a much nicer place than any they had visited in Florida.
"Father likes it very much here," she wrote, "and he declares he feels better already, though we have been here only a week. He says he knows it would do him good to see you boys, and he wishes-- in fact we all wish-- you three chums could come out here for a long visit, though I suppose you cannot on account of school opening. But, perhaps, we shall see you during the next vacation."
"She's going to see us sooner than that," announced Bob, when Jerry had read the letter to him and Ned.
"Did you write and tell her we were coming?" asked Ned, his two friends having called at his house to talk over their prospective trip.
"No, I thought we'd wait and see what Professor Snodgrass had planned. Perhaps he isn't going to that part of California."
"That's so," admitted Bob. "Guess we'll have to wait and find out. I wish he'd call or write. Have you heard anything more about damages for our smashed boat, Jerry?"
"No, I saw Mr. Hitter the other day, and he advised me to wait a while before writing again. Something queer happened while I was in his office, too."
"What was it'?"
"Well, you remember the man who got off the Boston express that day, and acted so strange about his boxes of stuff he wanted shipped to the Pacific coast?"
"Sure," replied Ned and Bob at once.
"Well, through some mistake one of the boxes was left behind. Mr. Hitter, had it in his office, intending to ship it back to the man, for it wasn't worth while to send one box away out west, but it fell and burst partly open. The box was in one corner of the room, and, while I was there Mr. Hitter's dog went up to it and began sniffing at it. All at once the dog fell over, just as if he'd been shot. He stiffened out, and we thought he was dead, from having eaten something poisoned he found on the floor."
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