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A Question Of Stocks








From: Dave Porter In The Gold Fields

"Some rain, believe me!"

It was Dave who uttered the remark, as the touring-car commenced the
long and dangerous descent of Sugar Hill. A sheet of water was dashing
against the wind-shield, which had been raised as high as possible.

"I wish it was driving the other way," answered Roger, who was peering
forward. "It covers the glass so I can hardly see."

"Better take it slow," suggested Dave.

Another flash of lightning lit up the scene, accompanied by a crack of
thunder that made some of the boys crouch down for a second. Then came
more wind and more rain.

"I hope the wind and lightning don't throw a tree down across the
roadway," cried Phil, loudly, to make himself heard above the fury of
the elements.

"We've got our eyes open!" answered Dave. "I'll look over the
wind-shield," he added, to Roger, and lifted a corner of the front
curtain for that purpose.

"You'll get wet, Dave."

"Not a great deal, and I'd rather do that than have an accident," was
the reply.

Roger had thrown the car into low gear, so that the power was really
acting as a sort of brake. Slowly they slid along, over the wet stones
and dirt. Then came a sharp turn, and the senator's son slowed down
still more. The touring-car skidded a distance of several feet, and all
held their breath, wondering if they would go down into a small gully,
or waterway, that lined the road on one side. But in another moment that
danger was past, and all breathed more freely.

But almost immediately a fresh peril confronted them. At another turn
Dave sent up a warning cry:

"Brake up, Roger, there's a tree or a big limb ahead!"

Through the rain-covered shield the senator's son saw the obstruction.
He set both the hand-brake and the foot-brake, and all heard the wheels
and the chains scrape over the stones and dirt. But the car could not be
stopped, and two seconds later crashed into the tree limb, a branch of
which came up, striking the wind-shield and cracking it.

"Look out for that glass!" yelled Bert, in fresh alarm. "Don't get any
in your eyes, Roger!"

The youth at the wheel did not reply. Dave, quick to act, seized a
lap-robe that was handy and held it up in front of Roger, who did not
dare to leave the wheel. Then came a jingle of glass, but the pieces
fell at the feet of the boys in the front of the car. The automobile
itself slid on another ten feet, dragging the tree limb with it.

"Say, that was a narrow escape!" muttered Phil, when the danger seemed
over.

"We'll have to see how much damage has been done," declared Dave.

He crawled from the car and Roger followed. The other boys were also
coming out in the storm, but the senator's son stopped them.

"No use in all of us getting wet," he said. "I don't think the damage
amounts to much. A mud-guard is bent and the hood is scratched and the
glass broken, but I guess that is all. But we'll have to get the limb
from under the car before we can go ahead again," he added, after an
inspection.

"Can't you leave it as it is and use it as a drag down the hill?"
questioned Bert.

"I wouldn't do that," advised Dave. "It might hurt some of the machinery
under the car. I think we can get it out somehow, Roger."

Both set to work, in the wind and rain. It was far from a pleasant task,
and despite the fact that each had donned a dust-coat, both were pretty
well soaked before the limb was gotten away from the car. Then Roger
made another inspection of the automobile.

"I think it's O. K.," he said. "Anyway, we'll try it." And then they
cranked up once more; and the journey was continued.

It was a slow trip, and at each turn on the hill the senator's son came
almost to a stop. He was thinking they might meet a wagon coming the
other way, but neither vehicle nor person appeared. Sometimes the
visitors at the lake went to Sugar Hill for a picnic, but evidently the
concert, and the thoughts of a possible storm, had kept them away this
day.

"Down at last!" cried Roger, presently, and a moment later the
touring-car rolled out on the smooth and broad highway that connected
with that running around Lake Sargola.

"And I am mighty glad of it," declared Phil, as he breathed a deep sigh
of relief.

"Now for the hotel, and there I will see if I can't get you fellows some
dry clothing," said Bert. "I guess each of you can wear one of my suits.
You are both about my size."

They took the shortest route to the hotel, arriving there fifteen
minutes later. Roger ran the automobile to the porch and allowed the
others to alight and then took the car to the hotel garage.

"Well, I am glad to see you boys back!" exclaimed Mr. Passmore. "How did
you come to break the wind-shield?" And then he listened with interest
to the story the lads had to tell.

"Can't they stay here to-night, Dad?" asked Bert, a little later, when
Roger came in. "I want to let them have some of my dry clothing, and it
is storming almost as hard as ever."

"Certainly, they can stay, if they will and we can get rooms for them,"
replied Mr. Passmore.

The matter was talked over, and Roger called his parents up on the
telephone. A big room containing two double-beds chanced to be vacant in
the hotel, and the lads took that. Then Dave and Roger donned some
clothing that Bert loaned them while their own garments were being dried
and pressed. A little later all went into the dining-room for dinner.

"This will knock out the concert for to-night," remarked Bert, during
the meal.

"Yes, and we can be glad we attended this afternoon," answered Dave.

"They are going to have a dance here this evening," said Mrs. Passmore.

"Oh, we don't want to go to any dance!" cried her son. "They are not
dressed for it, and besides, I've got it all arranged. We are going to
bowl some games--Roger and I against Dave and Phil."

"Very well, Bert, suit yourself," answered the mother. "But if you wish
to dance, perhaps I can introduce your friends to some of the young
ladies."

But the boys preferred to bowl and so went to the basement of the big
hotel, where there were some fine alleys. They bowled five games, Dave
and Phil taking three and Roger and Bert two. In one game Dave turned a
wide "break" into a "spare," and for this the others applauded him not a
little.

The games over, the boys washed and then went upstairs to watch the
dancing. Bert and Phil danced a two-step with some young ladies that
Bert knew. Just as they started off, Dave caught Roger by the arm.

"What is it, Dave?" asked the senator's son, quickly.

"Maybe I'm mistaken, but I just thought I saw Job Haskers!"

"Where?" and now Roger was all attention.

"Going into the reading-room with another man."

"Humph! Say, let us find out if he is really here."

"He isn't staying here, I know that."

"How do you know?"

"I asked the clerk."

While speaking the two youths had walked away from the ballroom of the
hotel. Now they found themselves at the entrance to a long, narrow
apartment that was used as a writing and smoking room for men. Half a
dozen persons were present, several writing letters and the others
talking in low tones and smoking.

In an alcove two men had just seated themselves, one an elderly person
who seemed somewhat feeble, and the other a tall, sharp-faced individual
who eyed his companion in a shrewd, speculative manner.

"That's Job Haskers, sure enough," murmured Roger, as Dave pointed to
the sharp-faced man. "Wonder what he is doing here?"

"Well, he has a right to be here, if he wishes," returned Dave.

The two former students of Oak Hall stood at one side and watched the
man who had been their teacher for so long and who had proved himself
dishonorable in more ways than one.

"Unless I am mistaken, he is trying to work some sort of a game on that
old gentleman," whispered Dave, a few minutes later. "See how earnestly
he is talking, and see, he is bringing some papers out of his pocket."

"Oh, it may be all right, Dave," replied the senator's son. "Not that I
would trust Job Haskers too far," he added, hastily.

The two lads continued to watch the former teacher of Oak Hall. He was
still arguing with the old gentleman and acted as if he wanted to get
the stranger to sign a paper he held in his hand. He had a fountain pen
ready to be used.

"I'm going a little closer and look into this," said Dave, firmly.
"Perhaps it's all right, but that old man may not know Haskers as we
do."

"We can go around to the back door; that is close to the alcove,"
suggested Roger, who was now as interested as Dave in what was taking
place.

By walking through a narrow hallway the boys reached the door the
senator's son had mentioned. This was within a few feet of the alcove,
and by standing behind the door Dave and Roger could hear all the former
teacher and the elderly gentleman were saying.

"It's really the chance of a lifetime," urged Job Haskers, with great
earnestness. "I never knew of a better opportunity to make money. The
consolidation of the five mills has placed the entire business in the
hands of the Sunset Company. If you sign for that stock you'll be doing
the best business stroke you've done in a lifetime, Mr. Fordham."

"Maybe, maybe," answered the old gentleman, hesitatingly. "Yet I really
ought to consult my son before I do it. But he is in Philadelphia. I
might write----"

"Then it may be too late," interposed Job Haskers. "As I told you
before, this stock is going like wildfire. And at thirty-five it's a
bargain. I think it will be up to sixty or seventy inside of a month--or
two months at the latest. You'd better sign for the hundred shares right
now and make sure of them." And Job Haskers held out one of the papers
in his hand and also the fountain pen.

Roger and Dave looked at each other and probably the same thought
flashed through the minds of both. Should they show themselves and let
the elderly gentleman know just what sort of a man Job Haskers was?

"I guess we'd better take a hand----" commenced Dave, when he paused as
he saw the old gentleman shake his head.

"I--I don't think I'll do it to-night, Mr. Haskers," he said, slowly.
"I--I want to sleep on it. Come and see me again in the morning."

"The stock may go up by morning," interposed the former teacher of Oak
Hall. "It went up day before yesterday, two points. Better bind the
bargain right now."

"No, I'll wait until morning."

"Well, when can I see you, Mr. Fordham?" asked the other, trying to
conceal his disappointment.

"I'll be around about ten o'clock--I don't get up very early."

"Very well, I'll call at that time then," said Job Haskers. "But you
might as well sign for it now," and again he held out the paper and the
pen.

"No, I'll wait until to-morrow morning," answered Mr. Fordham, as he
arose. "It's time I retired now. I--I'm not as strong as I once was."

"I am sorry to hear that. Well, I'll be around in the morning, and I am
sure you will realize that this is a good thing, after you have thought
it over," said Job Haskers, with calm assurance, and then he and the
elderly man left the room. Dave and Roger saw them separate in the main
hall of the hotel, the old gentleman going upstairs, and Job Haskers out
into the storm.





Next: A Trap For Job Haskers

Previous: Caught In A Storm



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