Chapter VIII. The Rover Boys in New York
 

The more the Rover boys talked about the treasure hunt the more enthusiastic they became, until, as Tom expressed it, they were "simply boiling over with enthusiasm."

"It will be a grand thing for the Stanhopes and the Lanings if we do locate that treasure," said Sam. "Mr. Laning has some money, but I know he'd like more, so he wouldn't have to farm quite so hard."

"And Dick wants to get all he can for Dora, I'm certain of that," said Tom, with a merry glance at his elder brother.

"How about you getting the Laning share for Nellie's benefit?" retorted Dick, his face growing red. "I reckon the boot is as long as the shoe."

As the Rovers had plenty of money it was an easy matter to arrange for the expenses of the trip. Mrs. Stanhope wanted to pay a share, but Anderson Rover said she had better wait until the treasure was found.

Inside of three, days word was received from all those who had been asked to participate in the search. Mr. Laning said that he could not leave his farm very well, but that his wife and two daughters would go. Mrs. Stanhope and Dora said they would pack immediately. Fred Garrison was visiting Hans Mueller and the two sent a telegram as follows:

"You couldn't hold us back if you tried. Where shall we meet you?"

"That's like Fred," said Dick. "I am awfully glad he is to be with us --and glad Hans will come, too."

The last telegram to come in was from Songbird Powell. The reply of the would-be poet of Putnam Hall was characteristic:

"Tell me where,
And I'll be there,
On the run
For lots of fun."

"If that isn't Songbird!" exclaimed Sam, laughing, as he read the telegram. "Had to talk in rhyme even over the telegraph wire!"

It was finally decided that the whole party should meet in Philadelphia about the Fourth of July, which was now less than a week off. They should go directly to the steam yacht, and the voyage was to begin as soon as all arrangements were completed.

"I wish to stop off at New York for a day," said Anderson Rover. "If you boys want to go with me you may do so."

"That will suit me," answered Dick, and his brothers said the same.

It had been agreed that no outsiders should be told of the treasure hunt, so nothing was mentioned but a summer trip on a steam yacht. The day the Rovers and Aleck Pop left the farm was a clear one, and all were in the best of spirits. The colored man drove to the depot with Jack Ness and the trunks and dress suit cases, and all of the others went in the carryall, Randolph Rover driving and Mrs. Rover giving the boys final instructions about taking care of themselves.

"I shall miss you very much," she said, with tears in her eyes. Her lively nephews were as dear to her as if they were her own sons.

"You'd better go along, Aunt Martha," said Dick.

"We'd like it first rate," added Sam.

"It might help us to keep out of mischief," came from Tom, with a bright smile.

"No, I'll stay at home with your uncle, boys. But do take care of yourselves, and come home safe."

"Oh, there will be no danger in this trip," said Dick, but he was mistaken--there was to be great peril and of an unusual kind. If the treasure hunters could have seen what was before them they would not have started off in such a confident frame of mind.

The train was a little late, but presently it rolled into the station and the trunks and other baggage were hoisted aboard. Then came the final embraces and the boys climbed up the steps, followed by their father and Aleck.

"Hurrah, we are off at last!" cried Tom, and waved his cap enthusiastically. The others did the same, and then the train started and Oak Run quickly faded from sight. As the boys settled down in their seats a lad came from another car and moved swiftly toward them.

"Songbird, by all that's lucky!" cried Dick, and caught the other by the hand.

"I thought you'd be on this train," answered Songbird Powell. "I got your wire last night that you would stop off at New York. I am going to stop, too--to see an uncle of mine on a little business."

"Then you'll travel with us to Philadelphia?" queried Sam.

"Sure."

"Good! Tom was just saying he'd like some of the others along."

"When I got your invitation I danced a jig of delight," went on Songbird. "I just couldn't help it. Then I sat down and wrote--"

"A piece of poetry about it thirty five stanzas long," finished Tom.

"No, Tom, there are only six verses. You see I couldn't help it--I was so chuck full of enthusiasm. The poem begins like this:

"'Twas a peaceful, summer night,
When all the stars were shining bright,
There came a rap on our house door
Which made me leap from bed to floor.
To me had come a telegram
From my old chums, Dick, Tom and Sam
Asking if I had a notion
To sail with them upon the ocean.
To skim along on waters blue--"

"And then and there get seasick, too," finished Tom. "Don't forget to put in about the seasickness, Songbird--it always goes with a voyage, you know."

"Seasick!" snorted the would-be poet. "Who ever heard of seasickness in a poem? The next line is this:

"And see so many sights quite new,
To rest in quiet day by day
And watch the fishes at their play."

"That's the first verse. The second begins--"

"Save it, Songbird, until we're on the yacht," interrupted Sam. "We'll have more time to listen then."

"All right," answered the would-be poet cheerfully. "I want to fix up some of the lines anyhow. I've got 'harm' to rhyme with 'storm' and it doesn't quite suit me."

"Never mind--a storm often does great harm," said Dick. "You can easily fix it up by throwing out both words, you know."

After that the talk drifted around to the matter of the treasure hunt and Songbird was given some of the details, in which he became much interested. He declared that he thought the trip on the steam yacht would be even more interesting than the one on the houseboat had been.

"We're after something definite this trip," he said. "We've got something to look forward to specially if that Sid Merrick starts a rival hunt."

"We want to get ahead of Merrick," answered Dick. "We want to locate Treasure Isle and get the gold and jewels before he knows what we are up to."

"What's the name of the steam yacht."

"The Rainbow."

"That's a good name, for a rainbow is a sign of good promise," was Songbird's comment.

The party had to make one change of cars and had their dinner on the train. They arrived at the Grand Central Depot at half past two o'clock and the Rovers went to a nearby hotel, taking Aleck with them, while Songbird hurried off to transact his business with his uncle.

Mr. Rover had to meet some men who were interested in his mining ventures in the far west, and so, after accommodations had been obtained, he hurried off, leaving the boys to their own devices.

"Let us take a stroll down Broadway," suggested Sam, to whom the sights of this busy thoroughfare were always interesting.

The others were willing, and they passed through Forty second street to Broadway and then turned southward. The street was filled with wagons, trucks and trolley cars, and the sidewalk appeared to "overflow with folks," as Sam said. At one point a man was giving some sort of an exhibition in a store window and here the crowd was so great they had to walk out into the gutter to get past.

"I can tell you one thing," remarked Dick. "There is after all but one New York and no other city is like it."

The boys walked slowly as far as Union Square and then sat down on one of the park benches to rest. Nearly all the benches were filled with people and in idle curiosity Dick began to scan the various types of men present, from bright, brisk clerks to fat and unshaved bummers, too lazy to work.

"Hullo!"

Dick uttered the exclamation so abruptly that Sam and Tom were startled.

"What do you see?" queried both.

"Look there!"

They gazed in the direction Dick pointed out and on a distant bench saw a youth of about Tom's age, but heavier set, talking to a man who wore a rusty suit of brown and a peculiarly shaped slouch hat.

"Why, that's Tad Sobber!" cried Tom.

"So it is," added Sam. "Who is that fellow with him?"

"I don't know, although his figure looks somewhat familiar to me," answered Dick.

"What can Tad be doing in New York?" questioned Tom. "Do you suppose he is down here with Sid Merrick?"

"Perhaps."

"Let's go over and see what he has to say for himself," suggested Sam. "Maybe he'll run away when he sees us."

All of the boys were curious to know what the former bully of Putnam Hall might have to say for himself and they strode over to the bench upon which Sobber and the man in brown were sitting. They came up behind the pair.

"I can't give you any money, Cuffer," they heard Tad Sobber say. "You'll have to wait till my Uncle Sid gets here."

"When will he get to New York?"

"To morrow."

"That fellow is Cuffer, the man who ran away from us at the old mill!" cried Dick.

"Let us catch him and hand him over to the police," returned Tom.

In his excitement he talked rather loudly and this attracted the attention of Cuffer and Tad Sobber.

"The Rovers!" cried Sobber, leaping to his feet in consternation. "How did they get down to New York?"

"Who did you say?" questioned Cuffer, and then looking at the three youths his face blanched. "We must get away from here, and be quick about it!"

He started to run and Dick and Sam went after him. The chase led to the lower end of the little park, and then Cuffer crossed Fourteenth street, and amid the crowd bound homeward for the day, pushed his way in the direction of the Third Avenue elevated railroad station.

In the meantime Tad Sobber started to run in another direction. But before he had taken a dozen steps Tom was on him and had him by the arm.

"Stop, Sobber," he said shortly.

"I won't! You let me go, Tom Rover."

"I'll not let you go," answered Tom, firmly. "And if you don't stand still I'll call a policeman and have you arrested."