Chapter XII. Off for New York
 

"Boys, you must take care and not get into trouble."

"And as soon as you have word of your father let us know."

Thus spoke Aunt Martha and Uncle Randolph, as the three Rover boys stood ready to say good-bye. The automobile was already at the door and their suitcases were in the tonneau.

"We'll take care of ourselves," said Dick. "And as soon as we get any word we'll let you know. And remember, Uncle Randolph, if any word comes to the farm you are to forward it at once to the Outlook Hotel."

"Yes, I'll remember that," answered the uncle.

The boys kissed their aunt, who shed silent tears at their departure. To Aunt Martha the great metropolis was a wonderful as well as dangerous place.

"Good-bye!" cried Tom, and was the first to climb into the automobile, getting into the driver's seat. Jack Ness was to go with them as far as Oak Run, to bring the touring car back.

The other lads climbed in, and all those left at the farm waved them an adieu. Then Tom threw in the dutch, and off they sped, down the lane to the main road. Soon a cloud of dust hid them from view.

"It's awful, Randolph!" murmured Mrs. Rover to her husband. "New York is such a busy place-- and there are so many wicked people in it!"

"The boys know how to take care of themselves," answered Randolph Rover. "Why, they even took care of themselves when they were cast away on that island in the Pacific Ocean," he added, referring to happenings which I have related in detail in the volume entitled "The Rover Boys on Land and Sea."

"True-- but-- but I am nervous about this trip. And then, what can have happened to Anderson?"

"That I don't know. Maybe a street car or an automobile ran over him. They have such accidents in New York every day, so I've been told."

"I know it! Oh, it is terrible, this suspense!" And Mrs. Rover walked away, the tears still coursing down her cheeks.

In the meanwhile the touring car was making good time along the road to Oak Run. At Dexter's Corners they stopped at the post-office for letters. There were three-- one for each boy, but not one was postmarked New York. They were from the girls at Brill.

"Glad to hear from the girls," said Sam. "But, just the same, this time I'd rather get word from New York."

"So would I," added Dick.

"Ditto here," echoed Tom, with a long-drawn sigh.

Without waiting to read the communications, the lads kept on to the Oak Run depot. They could hear the train coming through the hills and presently it glided into sight and up to the station.

"Good luck to ye!" shouted Jack Ness, as they boarded one of the cars. And then he turned back towards the farm with the touring car.

The train was not more than half filled, so the three youths had but little difficulty in getting seats. They turned one of the seats over, so that they might face each other, and put their suitcases in the racks overhead.

"Guess we might as well read our letters," said Dick, as soon as they were settled. He was anxious to learn what Dora had written. He had asked her to write to her mother concerning their proposed marriage.

"Just what I say," added Tom, and soon he and Sam had settled back, following their big brother's example.

The communication from Dora was quite long and Dick enjoyed it so thoroughly that he read it twice before stowing it away in his breast pocket. The girl stated that her mother had left everything to her own judgment and that she, in turn, was willing to leave everything to Dick.

"Dear, dear Dora!" he mused. "The sweetest girl in all the world! I only hope I prove worthy of her!" And then he sat back and pictured to himself the happy home they would establish as soon as everything could be arranged. Had it not been for the cloud concerning his father, Dick would have been the happiest youth in the world.

"Well, they are not doing much at Hope," remarked Sam. "Society meetings, fudge patties, and grinding away at themes."

"Just what Nellie writes," answered Tom. "Well, you can't expect much fun when you are trying to get an education!" And he sighed, as he thought of what was before him at Brill. In a way, he envied Dick his opportunity to break away and get out into the business world.

It had been too early to get supper before leaving home-- although their aunt had offered it-- so about seven o'clock the lads went into the dining car attached to the train. They found a table for four vacant and took possession, and presently ordered what they wanted.

"Hello! look there!" exclaimed Tom, in a low voice, after looking around the dining car, and he pointed to a man at one of the tables for two.

"It's that lawyer who settled for the smashed biplane," returned Sam. "Must be going to New York, too."

"Most likely his profession takes him to the city quite often," remarked Dick.

"Wonder if he'll speak to us if he sees us," ventured Sam.

"I don't know and I don't care," came from his big brother. "I didn't like him at all-- he was too crafty-like."

Their food served, the boys fell to eating with that gusto that characterizes youths who are still growing. They had about half finished when Dick felt himself touched on the arm. At his side stood Belright Fogg.

"Taking a little trip, eh?" remarked the railroad lawyer, with a bland smile.

"Yes," answered Dick, shortly.

"To New York, I suppose?"

"Yes."

"Well, you got settled about that flying machine, didn't you?" went on the lawyer, and dropped into the vacant seat opposite Dick, on the side where Tom sat.

"We did-- but we had some trouble," replied Tom.

"That was a mistake-- to remove the machine," said Belright Fogg. He gazed at the boys a moment. "I understand you sold the wreck for quite a price," he continued.

"We didn't get as much as we wanted," said Sam. "We are still quite something out of pocket."

"But not as much as the railroad company!" The lawyer gave a brief chuckle, which surprised the lads. "Oh, it's all right, so far as I am concerned," he continued. "Maybe you'd be interested to know that I no longer represent that road."

"You don't?" and now Dick was interested.

"No, I handed in my resignation three days ago," answered Belright Fogg. He did not add that he had been asked to resign by the head of the railroad company, because of irregularities in his accounts and because of several professional shortcomings.

"Going to give up law?" asked Tom, for the want of something better to say.

"Not at all, my boy. I am going down to the city to practice my profession. There is a much larger field for my abilities down there than up here," Belright Fogg answered, loftily.

"Yes, New York is pretty large," responded Tom, dryly.

"I expect to open my offices in a few days," went on the lawyer. "If you ever have any business down there, come in and see me. I will mail you one of my cards," and with another bland smile, and a bow, he passed out of the dining car.

"Oh, my, but we are some pumpkins!" murmured Tom. "First thing you know he'll be putting all the other lawyers in New York out of business."

"I shouldn't want him for a lawyer," remarked Sam. "He doesn't impress me very favorably."

"Handed in his resignation, eh?" mused Dick. "More than likely he had to do it. No, I shouldn't want anything to do with him."

The boys finished their meal, and after paying the bill, returned to their former seats. They looked around for Belright Fogg, but he was evidently in some other car of the train.

It was dark, so they could see little of the country through which they were passing. At one station at which they stopped, a newsboy came through the train, crying his wares, and Dick purchased several metropolitan evening papers and handed them around.

"Nothing but politics, a murder, a big auto race, and a new war in Central America," remarked Tom, thumbing over his paper. "How tired the reporters must get of writing about the same kind of things every day."

"They must have exciting times getting the news, sometimes," returned Sam.

"Here's an advertisement that will interest you," remarked Dick, and he pointed to the bottom of a page. "Pelter, Japson & Company advertise themselves as brokers and dealers in high-class Western securities, and they offer stock in that Sunset Irrigation Company. That's the company dad was interested in."

All of the boys read the advertisement carefully, but it added nothing to their stock of knowledge. Then they looked the newspapers over some more, and finally threw them away.

"Wish we were in New York," sighed Sam. He was growing tired, having been on the go since early morning.

"We'll be there inside of half an hour," returned Dick, after consulting his watch.

Presently the long train rolled into the city and came to a stop at One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street. Then they rolled on and on, through the city, past block after block of apartment houses, stores and offices, and private dwellings.

"Talk about a bee hive!" murmured Tom. "You can't beat New York City, no matter where you go!"

"Well, Chicago is a close second," answered Dick.

"And St. Louis and Philadelphia, and some other cities," put in Sam. "Ours is a big country and no mistake."

The passengers were already getting their belongings together, and in the parlor cars the porters were brushing off the people and, incidentally, pocketing various tips. Then the train rolled into the Grand Central Depot, now called the Grand Central Terminal.

"Last stop!" was the cry, and the boys piled out, each with his suitcase. The sleepy crowd moved along the long platform, in the glare of the electric lights, and through the depot into the busy street.

"Cab!" "Taxi!" "Carry your baggage!" Such were some of the cries which greeted the boys' ears as they emerged on Forty-second Street. The clang of the street car gongs added to the din, and newsboys were everywhere, crying the latest editions of the afternoon papers.

"I'll get a taxi to take us down to the hotel," said Dick, and soon the brothers were in a taxicab, with the suitcases in front, next to the driver. "Outlook Hotel," he ordered, and away they moved, out of the maze of vehicles, for certain thoroughfares of the metropolis are crowded nearly every hour out of the twenty-four.

"Somebody told me that New York never sleeps, and I guess that is true," remarked Sam. "It is half-past twelve and look at the people!"

The taxicab turned over into Fifth Avenue and sped down that noted thoroughfare for about ten blocks. Then it made another turn westward and reached Broadway, and almost before they knew it, the boys were at the main entrance to the Outlook Hotel.

Leaving the driver to turn the baggage over to the hotel porters, Dick paid the fellow and hurried into the building, with Tom and Sam at his heels. They found the night clerk and his assistant at the desk.

"I am Richard Rover," said Dick, to the head clerk.

"Oh, yes, Mr. Rover," was the answer. "I am glad you have come."

"Have you any word about my father?" went an Dick, quickly.

"Nothing, Mr. Rover. We have made all sorts of inquiries, but we haven't learned a single thing, excepting that he walked out of this hotel alone and didn't come back."