30. Mrs. Tom Rover-- Conclusion
 

"And you got back all the bonds, Dick? How, splendid!"

It was Dora who uttered the words, shortly after the arrival at the Outlook Hotel of the three Rovers. Dick had had the japanned box under his arm, and now held it up in triumph.

"Yes, we've got them all back, and those that don't go to the bank as collateral security for a loan are going to a safe deposit box," answered Dick. "I won't take any more chances with an office safe."

"Especially not that office safe," put in Sam, pointedly.

"And what are you going to do with Jesse Pelter?" questioned Nellie.

"We are going to put him where he belongs-- in prison," answered Tom. And it may be as well to state here that in due course of time Jesse Pelter and his partner in crime, Grimes, alias Haywood, were tried and sentenced to long terms in prison. At this trial it was brought to light that Barton Pelter had known about the hole in the back of the safe, but had had absolutely nothing to do with the taking of the bonds. Jesse Pelter was very bitter against his nephew for exposing him, but the Rovers told the young man that he had done exactly right, and he said that he thought so, too. As soon as the trial was over Barton Pelter returned to the Middle West, where he did fairly well as a traveling salesman for the cracker company.

The next few days following the recovery of the bonds proved busy ones for the Rovers. Some of the bonds were put up at a bank as collateral security for a substantial loan, and with this money Dick took care of the Sharon Valley Land Company investment, and also the investment brought to his attention by Mr. Powell.

"Now we are on the straight road once more!" declared Dick, after these matters and a number of others had been cleared up.

"And I'm mighty glad of it," returned Tom, with a beaming face. "I think we all ought to go off and celebrate. What's the matter with a trip to Coney Island, or something like that?"

"Wow! I thought he was going to suggest a honeymoon trip for himself and Nellie," cried Sam, mischievously.

"Say, young man, don't get so previous!" retorted Tom, growing red in the face. "Just the same, that's coming a little later," he added, quickly.

"Provided Nellie is willing," went on the youngest Rover, teasingly.

"Oh, don't you worry about that, Sam. By the looks of things you'll be in the same boat some day."

"Well, a fellow might do worse," answered Sam, coolly.

The days to follow were full of combined business and pleasure for the boys. When they were not at the office they were with the girls, and all took numerous trips to various places of amusement in and out of the metropolis. As was to be expected, Tom was the life of the party, and the way he "cut up" was "simply awful," as Nellie declared.

"Well, I can't help it," was the way the fun-loving Rover explained his actions. "I've got to let off steam or 'bust,'" and then he did a few steps of a jig, finishing by catching Nellie up in his arms and whirling her around in the air.

"But I don't expect to do much in business," wrote Mr. Rover. "I am going to leave that entirely to Dick and Tom. I understand that Tom expects before a great while to get married, and when that happens I want to form The Rover Company, and take him and Dick in with me, Sam, of course, to come in later, after he has finished at college, although he won't have to take an active part unless he wishes to do so. My best love to all of you, and may you have no more trouble."

Of course the boys had lost no time in sending word to the folks at Valley Brook Farm that all business complications had been straightened out, and that everything at the offices was running smoothly. In return came back word that Mr. Anderson Rover was feeling stronger than ever, and hoped ere long to be well enough to visit the city.

"Dear old dad!" murmured Tom, when he had perused this communication, and for a moment his voice grew husky and his eyes moist.

Now that it had been definitely settled that Tom and Nellie were going to be married, Sam wanted to know if the date couldn't be set early enough so that he could be on hand before returning to Brill. This bolstered up Tom's plea for an early ceremony, and it was decided that the wedding should come off the first week in September.

Then followed great preparations on the part of Nellie and the others. Mrs. Laning and Mrs. Stanhope came down to New York, and numerous shopping tours were instituted, in which the boys had no part. Then the Lanings and Mrs. Stanhope returned to Cedarville, and Tom and Sam went back to the farm.

During those days, as busy as they were, Nellie and Tom had not forgotten Andy Royce. Letters had been exchanged between the young folks and those in authority at Hope Seminary, and at last it was arranged that the gardener should be taken back and given another chance. He promised faithfully to give up drinking.

The Rover boys had also had several visits from Josiah Crabtree. They had found out that the former teacher of Putnam Hall was practically down and out, and, although he was not deserving of their sympathy, all felt sorry for him, and so not only did they give him the fifty dollars as Dick had promised, but they also presented him with a new outfit of clothing. Then Josiah Crabtree departed, to accept the position as a teacher which had been offered to him.

"Where are you going to live after you are married, Tom?" questioned Sam. "Are you going to the Outlook Hotel, too?"

"Not much, no hotel life for me!" returned Tom. "Nellie and I talked it over with Dora and Dick, and we have taken an apartment together on Riverside Drive, a pretty spot overlooking the Hudson River. We are going to keep house together, and we'll all be 'as snug as a bug in a rug.'"

"Oh, that will be fine!"

"Some day, Sam, I suppose we'll be taking in you and Grace," went on Tom, with a grin. "Well, we'll do it even if we have to get a larger apartment."

It had been decided that the wedding should take place in the Cedarville Union Church-- a little stone edifice where Dick and Dora had been married, and which for years had been the church home of the Lanings and the Stanhopes. Nellie and Tom had a host of friends, and it was a question how so many could be accommodated in such a small building.

"Well, if they can't get in, they'll have to stand outside," said Tom, when talking the matter over. "We'll do the best we can." And then the invitations to the affair were addressed and sent out.

As was to be expected, the wedding presents were both numerous and costly, rivalling those received by Dora and Dick. Mr. Anderson Rover duplicated the silver service given to his oldest son, and Dick and Sam joined in forwarding a handsomely decorated dinner set. As Uncle Randolph and Aunt Martha had given Dick a set of encyclopedias, they sent other books to Nellie, but not forgetting a specially-bound volume of the uncle's book on scientific farming. In addition to all this came a bankbook from Mr. Anderson Rover with an amount written therein that was the duplicate of the amount he had presented to Dora and Dick.

"I knew he'd do it, Nellie," said Tom, when, with their heads close together, the pair looked at the bankbook. "It's just like dad."

"It's too perfectly splendid for anything, Tom!" returned the girl, her eyes beaming. "When I get the chance I'm just going to hug him to death!"

Nellie and Grace had always been Mrs. Stanhope's favorite nieces, and now that lady sent a set of beautifully embroidered linen, some of which had been in the Stanhope family for several generations. And to this gift Mr. and Mrs. Laning added some cut glass dishes of the latest design. Then came from Captain Putnam of the school which the boys had attended so many years, a revolving bookstand, and with it a box of books, each volume from some particular youth who in the past had been a cadet at Putnam Hall-- twenty-four volumes in all, each with a name in it that brought up all sorts of memories to Tom as he read it.

"One of the nicest gifts the Old Guard could have given me!" was Tom's comment. "It must have been some job to get that set of books together. Why, some of those fellows are miles and miles away! They are scattered all over the United States."

Many of the students at Hope had remembered Nellie, and even Miss Harrow sent her a small water-color picture. From the boys of Brill came half a dozen presents-- some useful and some ornamental. Even Tom's former enemy, Dan Baxter, who was now his friend, had not forgotten him, and sent a pair of napkin rings, suitably engraved. Tom's own present to his bride was a magnificent diamond brooch, which pleased Nellie immensely.

And then came the great day, full of sunshine and with a gentle breeze blowing from the West. Tom and his family, including his father, who now felt almost as strong as ever, were located at the old Stanhope home with a number of their friends, while many of Nellie's relatives and friends were stopping with the Lanings at their farm. Other friends of both the young folks were located at the Cedarville Hotel.

To follow the time set by Dick and Dora, it had been decided to hold the wedding at high noon. As before, the church was decorated with palms brought up from Ithaca. Soon the guests began to assemble, until the little edifice was crowded to its capacity. Captain Putnam was there in full uniform, and with him over a score of cadets. From Brill came at least a dozen collegians led by Spud and Stanley. Even William, Philander Tubbs was on hand, in a full-dress suit of the latest pattern, and with a big chrysanthemum in his buttonhole. There were several bridesmaids led by Grace, while Sam was Tom's best man. The wedding party was preceded by, a little flower girl, and a little boy beside her who carried the wedding rings on a pillow.

Nellie was on her father's arm, daintily attired in white charmeuse with her tulle veil trimmed in orange blossoms, and her girl friends declared that she was the prettiest bride they had ever seen. The ceremony was a short one, and at the conclusion Tom gave his bride such a hearty smack that every one present had to smile.

"A fine wedding, don't you know!" was William Philander Tubbs' comment, when a number of the guests were on their way to the Laning home, in carriages and automobiles.

"Yes. And Tom has got a fine girl!" answered Songbird.

"Where's the poetry for the occasion, Songbird?" queried Stanley.

"Oh, I am reserving that for the wedding dinner," was the answer. And it may be mentioned here that at the proper time the would-be poet recited an original poem of half a dozen verses, written in honor of the occasion.

"Say, Dick, we've got to give Tom a send-off," whispered Sam to his big brother, after the Laning home had been reached.

"We sure will give him a send-off!" returned Dick, who had not forgotten what had taken place when he and Dora had departed on their honeymoon.

"I wish I didn't have to go back to Brill," went on the youngest Rover, rather wistfully, and with a sigh.

"Oh, your term at college will soon come to an end, Sam. You may have lots of fun." What fun Sam did have, and what further befell the boys will be related in the next volume of this series, to be entitled "The Rover Boys on a Tour; Or, Last Days at Brill College."

The wedding dinner, participated in by all the relatives and a great number of friends, was a huge success. An orchestra had been engaged for the occasion, and after the meal there was dancing by the young folks for several hours, both indoors and on the broad veranda of the homestead.

"Where are you going on your wedding tour, Tom?" asked Spud.

"We haven't decided yet," was the quick reply. "We're thinking something of going to the north pole, but we may go to the moon instead;" and at this answer there was a general laugh.

"They are going to slip away if they can," was Sam's comment to half a dozen of his chums, a little later. "We'll have to be on our guard."

All of the young folks had provided themselves with rice, confetti, old shoes, and strips of white ribbon with which to celebrate the occasion-- the ribbon being for the purpose of decorating the young couple's baggage. Sam had also provided a placard which read: "Are we happy? We are!" and this was nailed to Tom's trunk.

"Where are they?"

This was the cry that went up in the middle of one of the dances. Tom had slipped off into a side room, and Nellie had followed. Now both of the young folks were missing.

"They are going out the back way!" cried Dick.

"Everybody watch the stairs and the doors!" exclaimed Sam. "We mustn't let them get away from us!"

There was a general scramble, commingled with shrieks of laughter as the young folks did their best to locate the missing couple. Then of a sudden came a wild toot from an automobile horn.

"There they are!"

"Come on, everybody!"

There followed a wild scramble from the house to the lane leading to the roadway. In the lane was an automobile belonging to the Cedarville garage, and run by a chauffeur. On the back seat were Tom and Nellie, waving their hands gaily.

"Good-bye, everybody! Sorry we have to leave you so soon!" yelled Tom.

"We'll be back some day! Good-bye!" added Nellie.

"After them! After them!" yelled Dick and Sam; and then all of the young folks hurried up the lane, pelting those in the automobile with rice and old shoes.

"We might go after them in another auto," suggested Spud.

"You'll never catch that machine," returned one of the Putnam Hall cadets. "That's the fastest car around Cedarville. Tom knew what he was doing when he hired it."

The automobile with the newly-married pair had already reached the highway. Those left behind waved their hands gaily, and Tom and Nellie, standing up in the tonneau, waved in return. Then with another loud toot of the horn the automobile dashed onward, and disappeared around a turn of the road.

"Well, good-bye to them, and may they be happy!" said Anderson Rover, who stood on the veranda watching the departure.

"Yes, I think they deserve to be happy," answered Mrs. Laning, who stood beside him, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Nellie is a good girl, and Tom is a good boy in spite of his liking for fun. I do hope they get along in life!"

"Come on back and finish the dance," said Sam to Grace. And then catching her arm tightly, he whispered: "It is our turn next, isn't it?"

"Maybe, Sam," she returned, in a low voice Already the band was striking up, and soon the young folks had resumed their dancing; and here for the time being we will leave them, and say good-bye.

THE END