15. A Telegram Of Importance
 

The Rover boys were horrified by what they saw, and for the instant they neither moved nor spoke. They saw the small man in the boat look over the side into the stream where his assailant had plunged from sight, then this fellow caught up a single oar that remained in the craft, and commenced to paddle quickly to shore.

"Oh, Tom, they have killed him!" gasped Sam, on recovering from the shock.

"It certainly looks like it, Sam," returned Tom. "If he wasn't shot dead, he must be drowned. Come on!" and, heedless of possible danger, Tom scrambled down from the rocks and hurried towards the men, with Sam close behind him. They had not yet reached the pair. on the river bank, when, to their amazement, they saw the burly individual who had gone overboard, reappear at a point further down the stream. He was swimming lustily for shore.

"Hello! He can't he so badly hurt!" exclaimed Tom. "Look at him strike out!"

"Maybe he was only scared, and went overboard to escape a second shot," suggested Sam.

"Hi! you fellows over there!" yelled the man who carried the gun. "Was that all right?"

"It looked so to me, although you were a little slow about it," came from the shore of the island; and now, glancing in that direction, Sam and Tom saw two men. One had what looked to be a megaphone in his hand, and the second stood behind a high, thin camera with a handle attached, set on a tripod. At the sight of the camera, both youths stopped short. Then Tom looked at his brother and began to snicker.

"Sold! What do you think of that, Sam?"

"Why, they are only taking a moving picture!" exclaimed the younger Rover. "Talk about a sell, Tom! That's one on us."

"Don't let them know how we were sold," returned the brother, quickly. "If it leaked out we'd never hear the end of it."

"Right you are! Mum's the word!" And it may be added here that the boys kept their word, and said nothing to those at home about how they had been fooled.

By the time they reached the man in the boat and the fellow with the gun, the individual who had gone overboard was coming up the river bank, dripping water with every step.

"Say, was that all right?" he demanded, as he stripped off his coat and wrung the water from it. "I hope it was, because I don't want to go through that again, not even for the extra five dollars."

"So you are taking moving pictures," remarked Tom, pleasantly. "That was sure a great scene."

"Oh, so you saw it, did you?" returned the man with a gun. "I thought we were here all alone," and he did not seem to be particularly pleased over the boys' arrival.

"Going to take some more pictures here?" questioned Sam.

"That's our business," answered the man in the boat, crustily.

"Well, maybe it's ours, too," returned the youngest Rover, quickly, not liking the manner in which he had been addressed. "This land belongs to my folks."

"Oh, is that it?" cried the man, and now he looked a bit more pleasant. "Are you the Rovers?"

"Yes."

"No, we are about done with our picture taking in this vicinity," continued the man in the boat. The next picture in this series is to be at the railroad station at Oak Run."

"Say, I would like to get into some of those movies," remarked Tom. "I imagine it would be a lot of fun."

"Not if you've got to go overboard as I did," grumbled the man who was wet. "Talk about the strenuous life, this takes the cake! Why, in the past ten days, I have gone over a cliff, rescued two women from a burning tenement house, climbed a rope hanging from a burning balloon, and fallen off a moving freight car. Can you beat that for action?"

"Certainly some stunts!" answered Tom. "But one must get a lot of fun out of it."

"Oh, sure! Especially when one of the women you are saving from the burning house gets nervous for fear the flames will reach her, and grabs you by the ear and nearly pulls it off," growled the moving picture actor.

"Say!" yelled the man with the megaphone. "Aren't you coming over here to get us?"

"Of course," returned the man in the boat, hastily. "Bill, give me that other oar," he went on, and having secured the blade, he lost no time in rowing over to the island. In the meanwhile, the fellow with the camera had dismounted the moving picture machine and folded up the tripod, and was ready to depart.

"Would you mind telling me what this picture is going to be called?" asked Sam. "We would like to know so, if we see it advertised anywhere, we can take a look at it."

"This is scene twenty-eight from 'His Last Chance,'" answered the man with the gun.

"All right, we'll take a chance on 'His Last Chance' when we get the chance," answered Tom with a grin, and at this play on words the moving picture men smiled. Soon they had packed all their belongings, and, getting into the boat, they started down the stream for a landing some distance below.

"We're a fine set of heroes," remarked Sam, grinningly, as he and Tom walked back in the direction of the swimming hole. "Wouldn't it have been rich if we had rushed in to save that fellow in the boat, and spoiled the picture."

"Don't mention it, Sam," pleaded Tom. "That sure was one on us." And then both laughed heartily over the way they had been fooled.

Reaching the swimming hole, it did not take the youths long to get into the water. Remembering what Jack Ness had said about being careful, they moved around cautiously.

"Here is a tree root that ought to be removed," remarked Sam, after diving down. "A fellow could easily catch fast on it."

DANGER!

Look Out for the Tree Roots!

"Maybe we had better put up a danger sign," suggested his brother, and getting out a note book he carried, he tore a page from it and wrote as follows:

"There! That ought to do some good," he went on, as he pinned the notice fast to the nearest tree trunk. The boys enjoyed their swim thoroughly. They indulged in many monkey-shines, and also had a little race to the opposite bank and back. This race was won by Tom, but Sam proved a very close second.

"Now then, I guess we had better hurry home, or we may be late for lunch," said Sam, after consulting his watch. "It is quarter of twelve."

Much refreshed, the lads started back for the farmhouse. They were still some distance away when they saw Jack Ness hurrying towards them.

"I say, gents!" called out the hired man. "You're wanted at the house right away."

"What's the matter, Jack?" demanded Tom, quickly. "Is father worse?"

"No, it ain't that, Master Tom. It's a telegram what come for you."

"A telegram?" repeated Sam. "Do you know where it is from?"

"Your uncle said it was from Mr. Dick."

"Then there must be important news," said Tom, and without further words both youths started on a swift gait for the house. Their aunt and uncle saw them coming, and ran out on the back porch to meet them. Their aunt held up her hand warningly.

"Now don't make any noise, boys," she pleaded. "We must not disturb your father."

"What is it? What's the news?"

"It's a telegram from Dick," answered their Uncle Randolph. "I can't quite make it out, but, evidently, it is very important. Here it is."

"If possible, I want Sam and Tom to come to New York at once. Very important. Do not alarm father.

"Richard Rover."

He fumbled in the pocket of his coat, and brought forth the yellow envelope and handed it to Tom. Taking out the telegram, the youth read it, with Sam looking over his shoulder. It ran as follows:

"What do you make of this, Tom?" asked Sam, after he had read the telegram several times.

"I don't know what to make of it, Sam. But one thing is certain: Dick needs us. Something out of the ordinary has happened."

"That is just what I think, boys," put in their uncle. "Maybe I had better go with you," he added, nervously.

"No, no, Randolph. You stay here with me," pleaded his wife. "The boys can attend to the New York matters better than you can." She knew her husband well, and realized that he was decidedly backward when it came to the transaction of business matters of importance. He was wrapped up in his books and his theories about scientific farming and was a dreamer in the largest sense of that word.

"Very well, my dear, just as you say," answered the uncle, meekly.

"Boys, you won't disturb your father, will you?" continued their Aunt Martha, anxiously. "You know the doctor said he must not be disturbed under any circumstances."

"Have you told him about this telegram?" questioned Sam.

"Not a word."

"Then we had better keep still. We can tell him that we want to go to New York just to see Dick and Dora," put in Tom. And so it was arranged.

By consulting a new timetable, the boys found they could make a good railroad connection for the metropolis by taking a train that left Oak Run at three- thirty o'clock. This would give them about three hours in which to get lunch, pack their suitcases, and bid good-bye to their father.

Mr. Rover was somewhat surprised when his sons told him that they were going to New York to see Dick and his newly-made wife, but they smoothed matters over by stating that they found it rather dull on the farm.

"We'd like to go if you can spare us," said Sam.

"Oh, yes, boys, go by all means if you would like to," returned Mr. Rover, quickly. "I can get along very well. Your Aunt Martha is a splendid nurse-- and you mustn't forget that I have Aleck."

"An' you can depend upon Aleck, ebery time, sah," put in the colored man, with a broad grin that showed all of his ivories.

"We are going to try to surprise Dick," said Tom. "We are going to take the afternoon train." And then, after a few more words with their father, and without letting him suspect in the least why they were going to New York, the two lads bade him an affectionate farewell and left the room.

"Better take a good supply of clothing along, Sam," remarked Tom, when they were packing up. "There is no telling how long we'll have to remain in the city."

"What do you suppose it is all about, Tom?" questioned the younger brother, anxiously.

"It's about business, that's certain. More than likely Dick has run into more trouble." But how great that trouble was, neither of the boys realized.