Chapter VI. Hunting for Dick.
 

"Dick must be drowned."

It was Tom who spoke, addressing Sam and Aleck Pop.

For hours they had searched among the floating lumber for some sign of the missing one, and the only thing that had been found was Dick's cap, caught in a crack of one of the timbers.

"It's awful!" murmured Sam. His face was white and he was ready to cry, for Dick was very dear to him.

"Perhaps dat steamboat dun pick him up," suggested Pop. He wanted to say something comforting.

"I pray to Heaven she did," murmured Tom. "I suppose the best thing we can do now is to steer for Cleveland."

"Yes, that's the only hope left," answered Sam. "If he was floating around here we would surely have spotted him before this with the glass."

The course was changed, and toward nightfall they came in sight of Cleveland, and learned where they could tie up, at a spot close to where the steamer had made her landing.

Their first inquiries were at this point, and from a longshoreman they quickly learned that two persons had been picked up by the steamer, a big man and a young fellow.

"It must be Dick!" cried Sam.

"Where did they take the young fellow?" questioned Tom.

"A man and a big boy came from the steamer and took charge of him," answered the longshoreman.

"Don't you know where they went?"

"No; most likely to the hospital. The young fellow was in pretty bad shape. They got in a coach."

"Did the other man who was saved go along?"

"No; he's all right, and is around here looking for you folks--so he told me. He--here he comes now."

The longshoreman pointed to Luke Peterson, who had just appeared at the upper end of the dock. Both Sam and Tom ran to meet him.

"So you are Dick Rover's brothers," said Peterson, as he shook hands. "Glad to know you. Yes, your brother is all right, although mighty tucked out by the exposure. He fell in with a couple o' friends on the steamer, and they took him up to the Commercial Hotel."

As Peterson was curious to know how Dick was faring, he agreed to accompany Sam and Tom to the hotel, and all three boarded a handy street car for that purpose.

"I wish to see my brother, Dick Rover," said Tom to the clerk at the desk.

"Not stopping here, sir," was the reply, after the clerk had consulted the register.

"I mean the young man who was hauled out of the lake and was brought here feeling rather sick."

The clerk shook his head. "No such person here."

Sam and Tom stared in astonishment, and then turned to the lumberman.

"The friends who were with him said they were going to bring him here," said Luke Peterson. "And I promised to send you after 'em as soon as I spotted ye."

"I don't understand--" began Tom, and then turned swiftly to Sam. "Can this be some of Arnold Baxter's work?"

"It may be. Mr. Peterson, how did the man who was with my brother look?"

As well as he could Luke Peterson described Arnold Baxter, and also Dan. Tom gave a low whistle.

"I'll wager poor Dick has fallen into the hands of the enemy," he cried.

"What enemy?" questioned the lumberman.

In as few words as possible Tom and Sam explained the situation, concluding by saying they had discovered Arnold Baxter on the steamer. The story made Luke Peterson look very grave.

"Reckon we let your brother git into the wrong hands," he observed.

"The question is, where did they take Dick?"

"That's so, where?"

"Evidently they didn't come here at all."

"Perhaps, if I could find that coach driver, I might learn somethin'."

"That's so--let us find him by all means."

But to find the driver was not easy, and by midnight the search was abandoned. Much dejected, Sam and Tom returned to the Swallow, and Luke Peterson accompanied them. Peterson was also downhearted, having heard nothing of the tug which had been towing the lumber raft or of his friend Bragin.

"I'll notify the police in the morning," said Tom, and did so. He also sent a telegram to his father, telling of what had happened. The police took up the case readily, but brought nothing new to light.

"I'm going to interview every cabby in town," said Tom, and proceeded to do so, accompanied by Luke Peterson and Sam.

At five o'clock in the afternoon they found the coach driver who had taken Dick from the dock.

"The man said they had no rooms vacant at the Commercial Hotel," said the coach driver. "So he had me drive the party to Dr. Karley's Private Sanitarium."

"Where is that?"

"On the outskirts, about a mile and a half from here."

"Can you take us there now?"

"Sorry, but I've got a job in quarter of an hour."

"We'll pay you double fare," put in Sam. "Get somebody else to take that other job."

To this the coach driver readily agreed, but to make the arrangement took time, and it was six o'clock before they were on the way to Dr. Karley's place.

When they reached the sanitarium they found the building dark, with the shutters on the ground floor tightly closed. Dr. Karley answered Tom's summons in person.

"Yes, the parties were here," he said smoothly. "But I could not accommodate them, and so they went elsewhere."

"Elsewhere?" echoed Tom.

"Exactly, sir."

"But our coach driver says they got off here. He was the one who brought them."

At this announcement the face of the physician changed color for an instant. But he quickly recovered himself.

"Well--er--they did get off here, as the sick young man wished to rest. When I said I couldn't accommodate them the older man went off and got another coach, and all three went off in that."

"To where?"

"I do not know, although I recommended the general hospital to them."

"They did not go to any of the city institutions."

"Then perhaps they went to a hotel."

"We have inquired at every hotel in town."

The little old doctor shrugged his bony shoulders. "I am sorry, but I can give you no further information."

"How was the sick young man when he was here?"

"He didn't appear to be very sick. Had he been bad I would have certainly done more for him."

"And you haven't the least idea where they went to?"

"I have not."

"It's mighty strange," was Tom's blunt comment. "Do you know who the sick young man was?"

"I haven't the slightest idea. I never ask questions unless they are necessary."

"He was my brother, and those fellows who had him in charge are his enemies and up to no good."

"Indeed!" And Dr. Karley elevated his shaggy eyebrows in well-assumed surprise.

"I am bound to find my brother, and if you know anything more you had better tell me," went on Tom bluntly.

The random shaft struck home, and the old doctor started back in dismay.

"Why--er--surely you do not--er--suspect me of--ahem--of anything wrong?" he stammered.

"I want to get at the truth. Which way did they go when they drove off?"

"Directly for town."

"And when was this?"

"Inside of half an hour after they got here."

"Did they give any names?"

"No. It was not necessary, since I could not take them in."

"Your place doesn't seem to be very crowded."

At this the physician glared angrily at Tom.

"Boy, it seems to me that you are growing impudent!" he cried. "I am not accustomed to being addressed in this fashion. I think I had better bid you good-night."

The two were standing in the hallway, and now the doctor opened the door to signify that the interview was over.

"All right, I'll go," muttered Tom. "But I am going to get to the bottom of this affair, don't you forget that." And then he hurried out and rejoined Sam and Peterson at the coach.

"He may be telling the truth," said the coach driver, on hearing what Tom had to say. "But, all the same, I was driving around these streets for a good hour after I left here, and I saw no other rig with those men and your brother in it."

"I am inclined to think the doctor is humbugging us," answered Tom. "But the thing is to prove it."

"Perhaps you had better watch the place for a while," suggested the lumberman.

"Do you know anything of this doctor--what sort of a reputation he has?" asked Sam of the driver.

"His reputation is none of the best," was the answer. "He has been in court twice because of the people he treats."

"Then he wouldn't be above helping Arnold Baxter--if he was paid for it," said Tom.

All entered the coach and drove off around the nearest corner.

Then Tom and Sam got out and walked away, intending to come up at the rear of the sanitarium.

Presently a carriage appeared in view, driven by a man who, in the gloom, appeared strangely familiar, despite his false beard.

"Arnold Baxter!" cried Sam. "Hi, there, whoa!"

He ran toward the carriage and caught the horse by the bridle. Tom followed, and the man, who was just returning from taking Dick to the Peacock, was brought to bay.