Chapter IV. The Disastrous Result of a Trick
 

"She's gone!"

"Yes; and I wonder where to, Tom?"

"I don't believe the yacht will go very far," said Sam. "Maybe old Crabtree merely wants to see what sort of a sailing craft she is."

"We can watch here for a while," returned Dick.

They sat down on a rock and waited, in the meantime discussing the strange situation. They could reach no conclusion but that Josiah Crabtree had some plot he wanted to put into execution. "And it's something underhand, too," was Dick's comment.

At last they grew tired of waiting and almost fell asleep. This being the case they returned to the hotel and made their way to the bed chamber. Soon each was sleeping soundly.

When they awoke the sun was shining brightly -- and it was half-past seven o'clock. "All up!" shouted Tom, and dragged Sam out by the foot. Soon they were dressed and made their way to the dining room.

They had scarcely seated themselves when Josiah Crabtree came in and was shown to a seat directly opposite the boys. He did not notice them at first and began to eat a dish of oatmeal silently and rapidly.

Tom nudged Sam, and the younger Rover nudged his oldest brother, and a snicker went up. At this Josiah Crabtree glanced at them carelessly. Then he started back in amazement.

"Why - er - why - ahem - so it is you!" he stammered. "Er -- where did you come from?"

"We came from our bedroom," answered Tom promptly. "Where did you come from, Mr. Crabtree?"

"Why - er -- don't be impertinent, Rover. I might say that I came from my bedroom too."

"I thought you came from the river," remarked Dick carelessly.

"From the river?

"Yes."

"You are -- ahem, mistaken, my lad. I have not been near the river -- at least, not since I came up from New York on the boat."

"Stopping here for the summer?" put in Sam.

"I do not know as that is any of your business, Samuel. I am no longer a master at Putnam Hall and when I left that place I washed my hands of all those connected with that place."

"A good thing for the Hall, sir," came from Tom.

"Don't be insulting, Rover. You go your way and I'll go mine."

"As you please, sir. You spoke to us first."

"I'll take good care and not do it again. But this looks as if you were following me up."

"That's what Mumps said," cried Sam, before he had stopped to think twice.

"Ha! So you have met Mum -- I mean John Fenwick?"

"We met him on the river."

"And he said you had been following him?"

"Never mind, Mr. Crabtree, we won't talk any more," put in Dick, with a warning glance at Sam. He turned to the waiter. "Some fish, please, trout; and see that the biscuits are warm."

"Nes, sah," grinned the negro.

Tom at once took the cue. "It's going to be a warm day," he said to Dick.

"I wonder how sailing was last night," put in Sam slyly.

At this Josiah Crabtree looked as black as a thundercloud.

"You boys have been playing the sneak on me!" he cried. "Take my advice and beware of what you do in the future."

"I wasn't talking to you," retorted Sam.

"Kindly keep your remarks to yourself."

By this time others were coming to the table, consequently the cross-fire of words had to come to an end. Josiah Crabtree finished his repast as speedily as possible and strode out of the dining room in high but suppressed anger.

"He's a corker," remarked Tom. "I believe he'd half kill us if he dared."

"I guess he hasn't forgotten how I stopped him from maltreating Dora Stanhope," said Dick. "I wish I knew if he had been around their place since he came back from the West."

"Of course he has been back," said Tom. "And he'll marry Mrs. Stanhope yet -- see if he don't."

"Not if I can help Dora prevent it," said his elder brother firmly.

Breakfast finished they walked out to learn what had become of Crabtree. They were just in time to see him leaving the hotel, valise in hand.

"He's off," said Tom. "I wonder where he is bound?"

"Let us follow him and find out," returned Dick,

This did not prove to be an easy matter, for at the foot of the hotel grounds Josiah Crabtree jumped into a stage which was in waiting, bound for the depot.

"He's off on the train, I guess," said Sam, and the others were inclined to agree with him.

Down at the river shore nothing could be seen of the Falcon, and they concluded that Mumps had also taken himself off.

The morning was spent around, the hotel, in reading the newspapers and taking it easy out on the beautiful lawn.

"Hullo, here's a novelty!" cried Tom presently, and pointed to an Italian who was coming up to the hotel. The fellow had a small hand organ and a trained bear and two monkeys. The monkeys were dressed in red, white, and blue, and sat on the bear's back as he trotted along.

"He's going to give us a performance," said Sam, as the Italian came to a halt in the center of the grounds.

"There they go!"

The music started, and at once the bear reared himself on his hind legs and began to dance. In the meantime the monkeys climbed to the bear's head and began a little dance of their own.

"Now for a little sport," whispered Tom, and started for the hotel.

"Be careful of yourself!" warned Dick; "That bear looks as if he wasn't to be trifled with."

But Tom did not heed him, his whole mind being bent on having a laugh at the expense of the Italian and his animals. Going around to the kitchen of the hotel, he procured a couple of sugar cakes, pierced them with pinholes, and filled them up with pepper.

When he returned he found that a crowd had gathered and the Italian was passing around the hat. While Sam and Dick contributed several cents, Tom gave the bear one bun and divided the other between the two monkeys.

"Cheep! cheep!" went the monkeys, as if highly pleased.

"You're right, they are cheap," grinned Tom. "Hope you like the flavor."

The monkeys began to eat ravenously, for they were nearly starved. But they had not swallowed many mouthfuls before they noticed something wrong. Then one threw his bun at Tom in a rage. A second later the other monkey leaped back on the bear's head and began to dance and scratch wildly, in the meanwhile scattering the bun crumbs in all directions.

"Hi! hi! whata you do to de monks?" demanded the Italian. "You letta de monks alone!"

"I'm not touching, the monks," replied Torn, and slipped out of sight in the crowd.

By this time the bear had swallowed the larger portion of the bun given to him. It was the more peppery of the two, and it brought tears to the beast's eyes. With a roar of rage he, turned and shook the monkey from his head and leaped away from his keeper, dragging his chain after him.

The monkeys were evidently not used to seeing the bear in an ugly mood, and at once they sought safety by getting out of his reach. One leaped into a tree and ran like a cat to the top, while the second pounced on the shoulder of an elderly damsel, who looked exactly what she was, a hot-tempered old maid.

"Oh, dear!" screamed the elderly damsel. "Take the horrid thing off! Take it off this minute!"

"Come here, Jocko!" roared the Italian. "Come, Jocko!" and he held out his hands.

But Jocko had no intention of coming. Instead he clung the closer, his two forefeet in the lady's hair. The hair was largely false, and all of a sudden a long switch came loose and fell to the ground.

At this the damsel screeched at the top of her lungs and, caught at the hair. The monkey cried, too, in concert, and then a young man rushed in to the rescue. But Jocko's blood was up, and, leaping to the young man's shoulder, he tore off his straw hat and began to pull it to bits. Then, with the hat still in his possession, he made a leap to the tree and joined his brother at the top.

By this time the uproar was general, and it seemed to anger the bear still more. He had been rushing over the lawn, upsetting easy chairs and benches, but now he charged straight for the crowd.

"Look out for the bear!"

"The beast is going mad and will chew somebody up!"

"Shoot him, somebody, before we are all killed!"

Such were some of the cries which rang out. The Italian turned pale with anger and alarm.

"No shootta Marcus!" he cried. "No shootta heem. He de goodda bear!"

"Then catch him!" put in the proprietor of the hotel. "Catch him and tie him up."

But this the Italian could not do, and when the bear headed for him he fan as hard as anybody present. Around and around the grounds fled the people, some rushing for the, hotel and the others to the stables and to a large summer house. The bear made first for one and then another, but at last halted in front of the stable, which now contained the Rover boys, two ladies and an elderly man, and two colored hostlers.

"Shut the doors!" cried Dick, but his words were unnecessary, for the colored men were already closing them. The bar had scarcely been dropped into place when the bear hurled himself with all force against the barrier.

"He is going to break in the door!" cried one of the ladies.

"Let us go upstairs," said the elderly gentleman, and lost no time in leading the way.

There was a back door to close, and one of the negroes started for this. But just as he got close to the door he saw the bear coming, and, uttering a wild yell, he too made for the stairs.

Tom was close at hand, and it must be confessed that he felt thoroughly sorry over what he had done. "I'm responsible for all of it," he groaned. Then, as the bear stepped close to the back door, he got behind the barrier and tried to shove it shut.

The result was a surprise for both boy and bear, for as the beast made a leap the edge of the door caught him, and in a twinkle the animal was held fast by the neck between the door and its frame.