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Caught In A Storm








From: Dave Porter In The Gold Fields

"Some class to Roger's driving!" cried Phil, as the little touring-car
swept along, in the direction of Lake Sargola. "Roger, if you ever want
a recommendation as a chauffeur----"

"We'll give it to him on gilt-edged paper," finished Dave, with a grin.
"But, I say, don't make the turns quite so swift," he added, as they
swept around a curve at such speed that he was thrown up against Phil.

"Don't get scared--I know this car as well as Mary knew the tail of her
lamb," responded the senator's son, gayly. "Why, we are only making
thirty-five miles an hour," he added, half reproachfully.

On and on they rolled, up hill and down dale, and through several
villages. At one spot they went through a flock of chickens, that
scattered in all directions. Not one was touched, but an old farmer
shook a hay-rake at the boys.

"Kill my chickens an' I'll have th' law on ye!" he yelled.

"Never came within a mile of 'em!" cried Roger, gayly, and then the car
whirled out of hearing.

As they passed on, the lads frequently looked at the sky. But the
clouds, that had been gathering, appeared to drift away to the
northward.

"Maybe the storm is going around us," suggested Phil.

"I hope so," answered Dave. "I don't like to travel in an auto in wet
weather--too much danger of skidding."

A little later they came in sight of the lake and the first of the
cottages, and then they ran up to one of the big hotels. A young fellow
on the veranda waved his hand to them.

"There is Bert, now!" cried Roger. And then the young fellow, who had
been telephoned to early in the morning, ran down the steps to meet
Roger and was speedily introduced to the others.

"It's going to be a dandy concert this afternoon," said Bert Passmore.
"The bandmaster is going to play one of his new marches and a medley of
patriotic airs, as well as a piece called 'A Hunt in a Storm.' They say
it's fine."

"I hope they don't have to play it in a storm," returned Dave, with
another look at the sky.

"Oh, that storm has gone the other way," answered Bert Passmore. "They
often do up here."

"Did you get tickets?" asked Roger.

"Sure; and I've reserved seats for you at our table, too, for lunch, and
for dinner to-night, if you'll stay."

"I don't know about to-night, Bert. But I'm thankful to you, just the
same. After the concert we want to give you a ride around the lake."

"That will be fine!"

The car was put under the hotel shed, and the boys went in the hotel to
prepare for lunch. Mr. and Mrs. Passmore were present and were
introduced, and a little later all sat down to eat.

There was an amusement park not far from the hotel and the band concert
was to be given there, in a large pavilion that was open on the sides.
As it was but a short distance away, the boys allowed the car to stay in
the shed and walked to the place. A big crowd was collecting, and by the
time the concert commenced, the spot was jammed with people.

"It's a lucky thing your friend got reserved seats for us," observed
Dave to Roger. "Just look at the crowds coming in!"

Phil had gone off--to get some programs. Now, as he pushed his way to
his seat, his face showed unusual excitement.

"Guess whom I saw!" he gasped, as he sat down.

"Who was it?" demanded his chums, quickly.

"Job Haskers."

"Never!" cried Roger.

"What is he doing here?" demanded Dave.

"I saw him for only a moment," explained the shipowner's son. "He was
right in the crowd and I couldn't follow him."

"Was he alone?" asked Dave, with increasing interest, for he had not
forgotten the trials and tribulations this former teacher of Oak Hall
had caused him.

"I don't know that, either--there were so many people around him."

"Maybe you were mistaken, Phil," said Roger.

"Not much! I'd know Job Haskers out of a million."

"I think we all would," murmured Dave. "Did he see you?"

"I don't think he did. He was over there--that's all I know about it,"
and Phil pointed with his hand into a crowd on their left.

"We can take a look around for him between the parts and after the
concert," said Dave; and then the brass band struck up and the concert
began.

The various musical numbers were well rendered, and encores were
numerous. The concert was divided into two parts, with fifteen minutes
intermission, and during that time the boys from Oak Hall and Bert
walked around, the former looking for Job Haskers. But if the former
teacher of Oak Hall was present the boys failed to locate him.

During the second part of the concert came the wonderful new march and
the fantasy, "A Hunt in a Storm," and both came in for prolonged
applause. Then came a medley of national airs, ending with the "Star
Spangled Banner," at which the audience arose; and the performance came
to an end.

"Wasn't it fine!" cried Roger, enthusiastically.

"Yes, indeed," answered Dave, warmly. "I am glad we came over."

"Couldn't have been better," was Phil's comment.

"Quarter after four," said Roger, consulting his watch. "Bert, we can
take you around the lake with ease before we start for home."

"Yes, and you can have dinner with us, too, before you go," was the
reply. "Now don't say 'No', for father and mother expect it, and so do
I."

"All right, then, we'll stay," answered Roger, after a look at Dave and
Phil. "We can start for home about eight o'clock, or half-past."

The boys walked back to the hotel shed and got out the touring-car.
Bert took the vacant seat beside Roger, and away the party bowled over
the highway that ran around Lake Sargola.

"I wish we had a car," said Bert. "But dad won't get one, because, last
summer, a friend of his was killed in an automobile accident."

"Well, that's enough to take the nerve out of any one," was Dave's
answer.

The car rolled on, and Bert asked about the doings of the boys at Oak
Hall, and told of life at the technical training school which he
attended. They had almost circled the lake when Roger slowed down.

"What do you say to a trip to the top of Sugar Hill?" he asked.

"Sugar Hill?" cried Bert. "Can you go up that hill with this car?"

"Sure!" was Roger's prompt reply. "It's pretty steep, I know, but I'm
sure I can make it."

"It's a fine view from there, Roger. But the hill is pretty steep
towards the end."

"Oh, I'm not afraid of it." The senator's son turned to the others.
"What do you say?"

"I'll go anywhere," declared Phil.

"Same here," laughed Dave. "But don't be too long about it, Roger."

"Why?"

"I think that storm is working its way back again."

"Oh, nonsense, don't be a croaker, Dave! It won't rain in a year of
Mondays!" cried the senator's son, and then he put on speed once more,
and headed the touring-car for Sugar Hill.

The place mentioned was an elevation about a mile back from the lake. It
was almost a mountain in size, and the road leading to the top was
anything but a good one, being filled with ruts and loose stones. But
the engine of the car was powerful, and it was not until they were
almost to the top of the hill that Roger had to throw the gears into
second speed.

"Some climb and no mistake!" murmured Dave. "Can you make it, Roger?"

"Top or bust!" was the laconic answer.

Scarcely had the senator's son spoken when there came a loud report from
the front end of the car.

"A blowout!" gasped Phil.

"The front tire on this side has gone to pieces!" announced Bert. "Will
you have to stop?"

"Can't--not here!" announced Roger, grimly. And then he shut his teeth
hard and turned on more gasoline. Up and up they bumped, the burst tire
cutting deeply into the rough stones. But the power was there, and in
less than thirty seconds more the car came to a standstill on the level
top of Sugar Hill.

"Phew; that was a narrow shave!" remarked Bert, as the boys got out of
the car. "Roger, what would you have done if you couldn't go ahead?
There wasn't room to turn."

"I knew there wasn't room, Bert; that's the reason I made the car go
up," was the reply. "It was a bad hole to get caught in."

"I guess it cost you the shoe," remarked Dave, as he examined the
article. "Pretty well cut up."

"It was an old one, anyway, Dave. Now we'll have the pleasure of putting
on one of those new ones," and he smiled grimly, for he did not like
that task any better than does any other autoist.

"Oh, we'll all help," cried Phil. "It won't be so bad, if we all take
turns at pumping in the air."

"Wish I had one of those new kind of machine pumps on the car," answered
Roger. "But I haven't got it, so it's got to be bone labor, boys." And
then the damaged wheel was jacked up and a new shoe with its inner tube
was put on and inflated. All told, the job took the boys a full
half-hour, for the new shoe was a tight fit and did not want to go over
the rim at first.

"Hello, what do you know about this!" cried Phil, as they were finishing
the blowing up of the tube. "It's raining!"

"Yes, and look how black it is getting over yonder!" exclaimed Bert. "We
are in for a storm now, sure!"

"I was almost certain we'd catch it," said Dave. He unscrewed the pump
from the wheel. "Roger, we had better get back to that hotel just as
fast as we can."

"My idea, exactly, Dave, for I don't want to be caught on this hilly
road in a storm."

"Better put the top up," advised the shipowner's son. "It's going to
pour in a few minutes."

"And hadn't we better put on the chains, too, Roger?" questioned Dave.
"It may be dangerous work going down the hill if it rains hard."

"Yes, we'll put up the top and put on the chains," was the quick reply
of the senator's son. "You fellows attend to the top and I'll see to the
chains."

By the time the top had been put up and fastened it was raining
steadily. Also, the wind was beginning to blow, showing that the
downpour was liable to become worse.

"Fasten the side curtains, Phil; I'll help with the chains!" sang out
Dave, and while the shipowner's son and Bert fastened the curtains, so
as to keep out the driving rain, our hero aided Roger.

"You'll get wet, Dave; better get in the car," panted Roger, who was
working as rapidly as circumstances permitted.

"No wetter than you," answered Dave, and then he pulled the second
chain in place and fastened it. Both boys got into the touring-car just
as a heavy crash of thunder sounded out.

"Phew! listen to that, and look at the lightning!" cried Phil. "Say, if
you are ready, Roger, we had better get out of here!"

"If you can only get back to the hotel," murmured Bert, anxiously. "If I
were you I'd not think of going home until the storm clears away."

"Back to the hotel will be enough for me," answered Roger. "All ready?"
he asked, for he had already cranked up.

"All ready," answered Dave, who had gotten on the front seat, thus
allowing Bert and Phil the better shelter of the tonneau of the car.

The senator's son started up the automobile and made a circle on the top
of the hill. Then, just as there came another flash of lightning and a
loud crash of thunder, the boys began the long and perilous journey down
the rough road leading from Sugar Hill.





Next: A Question Of Stocks

Previous: Dave Porter's Past



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