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Another Surprise








From: Dave Porter In The Gold Fields

The boys had listened to all that was said, and now they lost no time in
filing into Mr. Fordham's bedroom.

Job Haskers stared at them in amazement, and his face dropped in
consternation.

"Porter!" he gasped. "And Morr and Lawrence! Wha--what does
this--er--mean?"

"Perhaps you know as well as we do," answered Dave, sharply.

"You have been spying on me!"

"We are here by permission of Mr. Fordham," returned Roger.

"How did you know I was to call?"

"Never mind about that," put in Phil. "We are here, and that is enough."

"And we know all about what you are trying to do," added Dave.

"This is a plot--a plot against me--to ruin me!" spluttered the former
teacher of Oak Hall. "Oh, you needn't try to disguise it! I know all of
you!"

"We have no plot against you, Mr. Haskers," replied Dave, calmly. "If
your business is perfectly legitimate----"

"Never mind about that!" interposed Job Haskers, hastily. He jammed the
paper and his fountain pen in his pocket. "You can't make a fool of me!
You have been following me up, and you mean to--to--do what you can
to--er--get me into trouble." He backed towards the doorway.

"What is your hurry, sir?" asked Mr. Passmore, and he quietly placed
himself in front of the door.

"Let me pass! Let me pass!" shrilled Job Haskers, and now he looked
thoroughly scared.

"Don't you wish to talk this matter over?" questioned Mr. Fordham,
wonderingly.

"No, sir. I am not going to stay here to be made a fool of!" cried the
former instructor. "Let me pass, I demand it!" he added, to Bert's
father.

"Oh, all right, if you insist," answered Mr. Passmore, and stepped
aside. At once Job Haskers threw the door open and retreated to the
hallway.

"Just wait, you young scamps! I'll get even with you for this!" he
exclaimed, shaking a long finger at Dave, Roger, and Phil. "I'll show
you yet! You just wait!" And with that threat he literally ran down the
hallway and down the stairs and out of the hotel.

"Say, he's some mad, believe me!" was Roger's grim comment.

"I think he is more scared than anything else," returned Dave. "He acted
as if he thought we had trapped him in some way."

"Just how it struck me," put in Phil. "He certainly didn't lose any time
in getting away, did he?" and the shipowner's son grinned broadly.

"He had a guilty conscience," was Mr. Passmore's comment. "Mr. Fordham,
I think you can congratulate yourself that he has left."

"I think so myself, sir," replied the old gentleman. He looked kindly at
Dave and his chums. "It looks to me as if you had saved me from being
swindled," he continued. "If he had a fair sort of a proposition I think
he would have stayed."

"I think so myself," added Mr. Passmore. "Just the same, supposing I
look into this Sunset Company for you?"

"As you please, Mr. Passmore. But I doubt if I care to invest--after
what I have heard and seen of this fellow, Haskers," answered the old
gentleman.

The matter was talked over a little more and then the boys and Bert's
father departed, first, however, receiving the warm thanks of Mr.
Fordham for what they had done. In the foyer of the hotel the chums fell
in with Bert.

"Say, I saw that Haskers fellow shoot out of the hotel in a mighty
hurry," he said. "You must have made it hot for him."

"We did," answered Dave. "Where did he go?"

"Up the lake road, as fast as he could walk."

"I wonder where he is stopping?" mused Phil.

"We might take the auto and follow him?" suggested the senator's son.
"There is no hurry about our getting home."

"Let's do it!" cried Dave, for he was as curious as the others
concerning the former teacher of Oak Hall.

"If you don't mind I'll go along," said Bert.

So it was arranged, and letting Mr. Passmore know of their plans they
soon got ready for the trip.

"Now, don't get into any trouble," warned the rug dealer, as they were
about to depart. "That fellow Haskers may be like a rat--very ugly when
cornered."

"We'll keep our eyes open," answered Dave.

Soon the touring-car was rolling over the lake road, in the direction
Job Haskers had taken. The storm had left the road a trifle muddy in
spots, but that was all. Overhead the sky was blue and the sun shone
brightly.

Less than a quarter of a mile was covered when those in the touring-car
saw a figure ahead they knew to be Job Haskers. He was walking along
more slowly now, his head bent down as if in deep thought.

"I suppose he is trying to figure out what to do next," was Phil's
comment. "Wants to locate another sucker--if he can."

"Such a man ought to be in jail," said Bert "He may rob some poor fellow
and do it in a legal way, too,--so that the man won't be able to get
back at him."

Roger had slowed down, so that the touring-car kept well behind the
former teacher. Presently the boys saw Haskers turn up a side road, one
that led to a small hotel, standing on a hill overlooking the lake.

"He's going to the Fenton House," said Bert. "Maybe he is stopping
there."

"Possibly," returned Dave.

Slowly following the man, they saw Job Haskers enter the hotel and walk
in the direction of the reading-room. Roger stopped the car and turned
to the others.

"Well, what's the next move?" he asked. "Want to go in?"

"What's the use?" asked Phil. "We'd only have a lot of words with him.
He's got a right to stay here if he wants to."

"Let's go in anyway," said Dave. "You must know somebody here," he
continued, turning to Bert.

"Oh, yes, I know several young fellows and girls," answered the lad who
was spending the summer at the lake.

"Then we can pretend to be calling on them," put in Roger.

Leaving the touring-car standing in the road, the four youths entered
the hotel. They glanced into the reading-room, and noted that over a
dozen persons were present. Then Dave gave a low cry.

"Look, boys! What do you think of that?"

He pointed to one corner of the reading-room, where two persons sat on a
leather couch, one with a newspaper in his hand.

"Why, it's Link Merwell!" gasped Phil. "Merwell as sure as you're born!"

"How did that rascal get here?" murmured Roger.

"Who is it?" asked Bert, curiously.

"That fellow who is on the couch with Haskers," whispered Dave. "He used
to go to school with us at Oak Hall, and then he had to leave, and after
that he and a fellow named Jasniff robbed Mr. Wadsworth's jewelry
works."

"Oh, yes, Roger told me about that. You fellows followed the rascals to
Cave Island, didn't you?"

"Yes, and we caught Jasniff, but Merwell got away."

"Then why not have him locked up right now?" demanded Bert.

"It's what we ought to do," declared Phil.

"Haskers and Merwell must be in with each other," was Dave's comment.
"Maybe Merwell is trying to sell some of that Sunset Company stock,
too."

"Wonder if we can't hear what they are saying?" said Roger. "It might
help us to make out a case against them."

"We can go around to that side window and listen," suggested Phil, and
pointed to the window in question.

This was quickly agreed upon, and the four boys left the hotel and
walked out on a gravel path close to the window. As the day was warm,
the window was wide open.

"No, it was a frost!" they heard Job Haskers say, in harsh tones.

"He wouldn't buy the stock?" queried Link Merwell.

"Worse than that, Merwell. I was trapped, and I had all I could do to
get away."

"What do you mean?"

"Do you know who was there, with that old man, when I went to see him?"

"I have no idea."

"Three of the boys you hate--Porter, Morr, and Lawrence."

Merwell started back in consternation.

"You don't mean it--you are fooling!"

"It's the truth. They were there and ready to have me arrested, I
suppose. I got out in a hurry." Job Haskers gave a deep sigh and wiped
the perspiration from his forehead.

"Did--did they follow you?" asked Link Merwell, nervously.

"I don't think so--I didn't give them time. Oh, this is too bad! I
expected to get a lot of money from that old man," and Job Haskers shook
his head, sadly.

"I told you it wasn't safe to stay around here," was Merwell's comment.
"Why not go out West with me? It will be much safer there, I am sure."

"My funds are low."

"I'll stake you, as the miners say."

"How much money have you?" asked Job Haskers, a bit more hopefully.

"Enough to take us both West. I made dad come down--he sent the money
order this morning, and I just got it cashed. I told him if he didn't
come down I'd have to give myself up to the police, and that would
disgrace the whole family."

"I see." The former teacher of Oak Hall gritted his teeth. "Oh, how I
wish I could do something to punish Porter and those others!"

"Humph! you don't wish that any more than I do," replied Link Merwell,
scowling. "I'm going to do something some day, mark my words!" he added,
vindictively.

At that moment the agent for a big observation car that ran around the
lake approached the boys on the gravel path beneath the window.

"Wouldn't you young gentlemen like to take a nice ride this afternoon?"
he asked, in a business-like tone. "A fifty-mile ride in our new
observation touring-car, visiting all the points of interest around the
lake, and taking in Creswood, Lighton, and Tomkins' Mill--a two-hours'
ride for one dollar." And he held up a handful of tickets.

"We don't want any ride," answered Dave.

"We have our own touring-car," added Roger, pointing to the car.

"Oh, I see, all right," said the man, and passed on, to hunt for
customers elsewhere.

When the man had started to speak his voice had carried into the
reading-room, and much surprised to think others were so near, both
Haskers and Merwell had gotten up from the couch to glance out of the
window.

"Well, I never!" gasped Merwell.

"They must have followed me after all!" groaned Job Haskers.

The youth who had been mixed up in the robbery of the jewelry works
grabbed the former teacher by the arm.

"We can't stay here--at least I can't!" he whispered, hoarsely. "I am
going to dust!" And out of the reading-room he glided, and Job Haskers
followed him.

"Where shall we go?" asked the former teacher, his shaking voice showing
how much he was disturbed.

"I don't know--but I won't stay here," returned Merwell. "Have you much
baggage? I have only a Gladstone bag."

"I have a suit-case, that is all."

"Then let us pack up and get out by the back way. We can pay our bills
later. Come on, there is no time to spare!"





Next: A Gathering Of Oak Hall Boys

Previous: A Trap For Job Haskers



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