25. More Telegrams
 

"Who is it from, Tom?"

"Read it out loud!"

Such were the exclamations from Sam and Dick as their brother scanned the telegram in haste.

"Hurrah! they've found it!" broke out Tom. "This is the best yet!"

"Good!"

"Fine!"

"Ring found in inkwell. Perfect condition. Did Miss Laning put it there?

"Clara Parsons."

"This is from Miss Clara Parsons," went on Tom, "the teacher who owned the ring. Here, you can read the telegram if you want to," and he passed the sheet over. The message ran as follows:

"Short and sweet, but it tells the story," was Dick's comment. "Say, I'm mighty glad of this," he added, and his face showed his pleasure. "That clears Nellie, Tom. You'll have to let her know at once."

"I sure will!" exclaimed the brother. "But say, did you notice what Miss Parsons wants to know-- if Nellie put the ring in the inkwell? Talk about nerve!"

"You can't exactly blame her, Tom, because she knew nothing of Royce's visit to the office; and as you sent the message, and you and Nellie are so intimate

"Oh, I understand, Dick; and I shan't blame her. I'm too happy to blame anybody," and Tom's face broke into a broad smile. "I'm going to send a telegram to Cedarville this minute."

"Didn't I tell you gents the ring was there?" broke in Andy Royce. "I told you the truth, didn't I?"

"You did, Royce," answered Dick.

"A'n' wot about it, are you goin' to lemme go?" questioned the former gardener, eagerly.

"Not just yet," broke in Tom.

"Why not? You can't hold me for stealin' when there wasn't nuthin' taken."

"That is true, Royce, but we want you to sign a confession as to just how that ring got in the inkwell. If you don't do that, the seminary authorities may still think it was placed there by Miss Laning."

"Oh, I don't want to put nuthin' off on Miss Laning's shoulders," answered the former gardener. "If you want a confession from me so as you can clear her, go ahead!"

"Ring recovered. Was hidden in inkwell by Royce. We have gardener's confession. Hurrah! Will write particulars.

"Tom."

"Wait here until I've sent that telegram," Tom said, hastily; and rushed off once more to the telegraph office, where he sent the following to Nellie:

"I hope she gets that before she goes to bed to-night," mused the youth. "If she does it will make her sleep so much better."

There was a stenographer's office attached to the Outlook Hotel, and late as it was, the young lady was found at her typewriter, pounding out a letter for a commercial traveler. As soon as this was finished, the stenographer was asked to take down whatever Andy Royce might have to tell. The former gardener was brought in, and repeated the confession he had previously made. This was typewritten as speedily as possible, and then Andy Royce signed the confession in the presence of one of the hotel clerks and a notary who lived at the hotel.

"Now I think that fixes it," said Tom. "Miss Parsons won't be able to go behind that confession."

"Are you goin' to let me go now?" asked the former gardener of Hope.

"Yes, you can go, Royce," answered Tom. "But wait a minute. How much money have you left of that ten dollars my brother's wife let you have?"

For reply the man dove down in his pocket, and brought out some change.

"Eighty-five cents."

"That's all?"

"Yes."

"See here, if I stake you with another ten dollars, will you give me your word not to drink it up?"

"I will, Mr. Rover, I will!" exclaimed Andy Royce, earnestly.

"All right, then, here's the money;" and Tom brought out two five-dollar bills and placed them in the man's hands. "Now look here, unless you can find something to do, you come here and see me again in a few days."

"But see here, Tom," interposed Dick, in a low voice, "I don't think we can use Royce in anyway. Why not let him go? As a gardener he is out of place in a big city like New York."

"I want him to stay here for two reasons," answered Tom. "In the first place I want him on hand in case the authorities at the seminary need him. In the second place, I am going to put the matter squarely up to Miss Harrow. She thought Nellie guilty, and she may have thought Royce worse than he really was. Perhaps I can get her to give Royce another chance. I think he would be all right if he would only let drink alone."

"The same old warm-hearted Tom as of old!" responded Dick. "All right, have your own way about it."

After the former gardener had departed the boys went upstairs to join Dora, and then Tom and Sam sat down to write letters of explanation to Nellie and Grace; and these epistles were posted before the youths retired for the night.

"Oh, how glad Nellie must be to have this weight off her shoulders!" exclaimed Dora. "It must have been awful to be suspected of taking a ring."

"I guess Miss Harrow will be relieved, too," answered Tom. "I wonder where she is stopping in Asbury Park."

"I think I know," returned Dick's wife. "She and some of the other teachers usually go to the Claravale House."

"I'll take a chance and telegraph to her," went on Tom. "It won't cost much and it may relieve her mind. Those folks up at the seminary may wait to send a letter." And going downstairs once more, Tom wrote out another brief telegram, and asked that it be sent off immediately.

"If only we could clear up this mystery of the missing bonds as easily as we did this ring business!" came from Sam, when he and Tom had said good-night to Dick and his wife.

"I'm afraid that's not going to be so easy, Sam. Sometimes I think that we'll never hear a word more about those bonds;" and Tom heaved a deep sigh.

"Oh, but, Tom, if we don't get those bonds back we'll be in a hole!" cried the youngest Rover, in dismay.

"We may not be in a hole exactly, Sam; but we'll have a tough job of it pulling through," was the grim response.

Tom had worried more about the missing ring than he had been willing to admit to his brothers, and now that this was off his mind, he, on the following morning, pitched into business with renewed vigor. He and Dick had their hands full, going over a great mass of figures and calculations, and in deciding the important question of how to take care of certain investments. Sam did what he could to help them, although, as he frankly admitted, he did not take to bookkeeping or anything that smacked of high finances.

"I was not cut out for it, and that is all there is to it," he declared. "But I am willing to help you all I can."

Sam had gone off on an errand, leaving his brothers deep in their figures, when the office boy announced a visitor.

"Mr. Mallin Aronson," said Dick, glancing at the visitor's card. "Oh, yes, I've heard of him before. He and father had some stock dealings a year or so ago. Bring him in."

Mr. Aronson proved to be a small, dark-complexioned man, with heavy eyebrows and a heavily-bearded face. He bowed profoundly as he entered.

"Mr. Richard Rover, I believe?" he said, extending his hand.

"Yes, Mr. Aronson. And this is my brother Tom," returned Dick.

"Very glad to know you;" and the visitor bowed again. "I presume you know what brought me here," he went on, with a bland smile.

"I can't say that I do," returned Dick.

"Your father-- is he not here?"

"No, he is at home sick."

"Is that so? I am very sorry to hear it. Then you are transacting his business for him?"

"Yes, my brother and I are running this business now."

"And yet you said you did not know why I had called," continued Mr. Aronson, in apparent astonishment. "That is strange. Did not your father tell you about his investment in the Sharon Valley Land Company?"

"I never heard of the company before," returned Dick, promptly.

"I heard my father mention it," put in Tom, "but I never knew that he had made any investment in it."

"What? How surprising!" ejaculated the visitor. "He has something like fifteen thousand dollars invested in that concern, for which I have the honor to be the agent. He has another payment to make on the investment, and that payment falls due just a week from to-day. Some time ago he asked me if that payment might not be deferred. I put it up to the managers of the company, and they have now sent me word that the payment will have to be made on the day that it falls due."

"And how much is that payment?" faltered Dick.

"Twenty thousand dollars."