21. Days Of Anxious Waiting

Another week passed without bringing anything new to light concerning the missing bonds. During that time the Rover boys received two visits from the headquarters' detectives, and were again subjected to innumerable questions.

"We're on a new tack," said one of the sleuths. "I think we'll be able to report something to you in a few days."

"You can't do it too quickly," returned Dick.

"Oh, I know that," answered the detective, with a short laugh; and then he and his companion backed themselves out.

"Say, Dick, I don't take much stock in those fellows," was Tom's comment. "They are good at talking, but it looks to me as if they didn't know where they were at."

"Exactly the way I look at it!" broke in Sam.

During that time the boys also received visits from several private detectives, all anxious to take hold of the case, but none of them willing to do so without first receiving a generous retainer.

"I am not going to pay out anything in advance," Dick told one of these fellows- - a shabby looking chap. "You locate the bonds, and you'll be well paid for it."

"I don't work unless I'm paid for it," snapped the detective, and left the offices quite indignant.

"I suppose we could get a thousand detectives on this case if we were willing to put up the money," said Tom.

"It might pay to hire some first-class man," ventured Sam, "but not that sort."

"I'll call up Mr. Powell and see what he thinks of it," answered Dick. And a little later he was in communication with Songbird's uncle over the telephone.

"It wouldn't do any harm to put some first-class man on the case," said the lawyer. "If you wish me to do so, I'll put you in touch with the best detective agency in the city."

As a result of this talk, the Rovers obtained the address of a detective whose name is well-known in every large city of the United States. This man called on them the following day, and went over the case very carefully with the youths. He examined the safe and the combination lock, and then had a long talk with Kitty Donovan and her father and her mother, and also a talk with the old man who kept the little fruit stand downstairs.

"I'll do all I can, Mr. Rover," he said, when he re-entered the offices, "but you mustn't expect too much. This is certainly a mystery."

"Mr. Bronson is the most intelligent detective I've seen yet," said Sam, after the man had departed. "He handles the case as if it was a strict business proposition."

"That's what I like to see," declared Tom. "The other kind of detective is good enough for a dime or a half-dime story book, but he never makes any success of it in real life."

It must not be supposed that now they were in New York, Tom and Sam had forgotten the Laning girls. They had written to Nellie and Grace, forwarding the letters to Cedarville because Hope Seminary was on the point of closing for the season.

"Letters for both of you!" cried Dora, when they and Dick appeared at the hotel one evening after a rather strenuous day in the offices, where all had been busy forming their plans for further investments.

"Good for you, Dora!" answered Tom, and held out his hand eagerly.

"Now wouldn't you like to have it?" she answered mischievously, holding a letter just out of his reach.

"Where is mine?" demanded Sam.

"Oh, I thought you wouldn't want that so I tore it up," she answered, with a twinkle in her eyes.

"If you don't give me that letter, Dora, something is going to happen to you," went on Tom; and now he caught her by the wrist. "You know the forfeit-- a kiss!"

"All right, take your letter, Mr. Can't-Wait," she returned, and handed him the missive.

"But you said you had one for me!" broke in Sam. "Come now, Dora, don't be mean."

"Oh, Sam, it's only a bill."

"A bill! You are fooling!" And then as his face fell, she did not have the heart to tease him longer, and brought the letter forth from her handbag.

As the lads had anticipated, the communications were from Grace and Nellie. In them the girls said that the session at the seminary was over, and that the day previous they had returned to their home on the outskirts of Cedarville. Both had passed in their examinations, for which they were exceedingly thankful.

"But they haven't found that four-hundred-dollar diamond ring yet," said Sam, after he had finished his letter. "It certainly is a shame!"

"It's as great a mystery as the disappearance of our bonds," was Dick's comment.

"What has Nellie to say about it, Tom?" questioned Dora, anxiously; for even though she was married and away from them, her two cousins were as dear to her as ever.

"She doesn't say very much," answered Tom. "No one has seen or heard anything about the ring."

"But what of Miss Harrow? How has she treated Nellie since the fire?"

"She says Miss Harrow has not been very well, and consequently did not take part in the final examinations. Now the teacher has gone to Asbury Park, on the New Jersey coast, to spend the summer."

"Perhaps that mystery never will be solved," said Sam. "It's a jolly shame, that's all I've got to say about it!"

After dinner that evening, as it was exceedingly warm, none of the young folks felt like staying in the hotel. Dick proposed that they take a stroll up Broadway.

"We can walk till we get tired," he said, "and then if you feel like it, we can jump into a taxi and take a ride around Central Park before we retire."

"That will be nice," returned Dora; and Tom and Sam said it would suit them, too.

As usual, upper Broadway-- commonly called The Great White Way-- was ablaze with electric lights. As the young folks strolled along, the great, flaring advertising signs perched on the tops of many of the buildings interested them greatly.

"I heard yesterday that some of those signs cost ten thousand dollars and more," observed Sam. "What a lot of money to put into them!"

"So it is, Sam. But think of all the money some firms spend in newspaper and magazine advertising," answered Dick.

"Some day we'll have to do some advertising ourselves," put in Tom. "That is, after we get our business in first-class running order."

"And get our bonds back," added Dick.

"Oh, say, let's forget those bonds for just one night!" entreated Sam. "I haven't been able to get a good night's sleep since I came here because of them."

The portion of Broadway where they were walking, is lined with innumerable theaters and moving picture places. They had passed on less than three blocks further, when Sam suddenly caught Tom by the arm.

"Here we are, Tom!" he exclaimed, somewhat excitedly. "Here's that moving picture."

"So it is!" returned Tom, and immediately became as interested as his younger brother. They had come to a halt before a gorgeous moving picture establishment, and on one of the billboards they saw exhibited a flashy lithograph, depicting two men struggling in a rowboat with a third man on the shore aiming a gun at one of the others. Over the picture were the words: "His Last Chance. A Thrilling Rural Drama in Two Reels."

"What is it, Tom?" questioned Dora.

"Why, that's the moving picture play we told you about-- the one that we got into at the Oak Run railroad station," explained the youth. "That picture you see there was taken along the river bank back of our farm. Another picture shows the railroad station at Oak Run, with old Ricks in it, and still another ought to show the railroad train with Sam and me on the back platform. Let us go in and see it."

"Why, yes, I want to see that by all means!" declared Dick's wife. "Won't it be funny to see you boys in a moving picture!"

"Well, I don't know about this," returned Dick, hesitatingly; and he looked rather quickly at Tom. "Are you quite sure, Tom, that you want to go into a moving picture show?" he went on. He had not forgotten how Tom had once gone to a moving picture exhibition, and been completely carried away by a scene of gold digging in faraway Alaska, nor how his poor brother had for a time lost his mind and wandered off to the faraway territory, as related in detail in "The Rover Boys in Alaska."

"Oh, don't you fear for me, Dick!" cried Tom, hastily. "My head is just as good as it ever was and able to stand a hundred moving picture shows. Come on in, I'll get the tickets;" and without waiting for an answer, Tom stepped up to the little ticket booth and secured the necessary pasteboards.