Dave Porter in the Far North/Chapter 17
ON THE NORTH SEA
Both Dave and his chum were startled by the sudden interruption, and for the moment did not know what to say. They looked at the old man and then at Nick Jasniff. The latter turned pale and seemed thoroughly ill at ease.
"Who says a relative of mine is dishonest?" repeated the old man, and now he strode up to Dave and raised the cane over the youth's head.
"If you refer to this boy as your relative, I say he is dishonest," answered Dave, stoutly.
"And so do I," added the senator's son.
"Nicholas dishonest! It cannot be! There must be some mistake."
"I am sorry for you, sir, but there is no mistake," returned Dave.
"Who are you, sir?"
"My name is David Porter. I come from the United States. Nicholas and myself and my friend here all attended the same boarding school."
"The place called Oak Hall?"
"Yes, sir. I presume you are Mr. Philip Chesterfield."
"I am, and I am a great-uncle to Nicholas." The old man lowered his cane. "What do you know of Nicholas?" he questioned, curiously.
"I know a great deal, Mr. Chesterfield. If you care to hear the story I will tell it to you."
"Don't you listen to him. Uncle Phil," stormed Nick Jasniff, in increasing fear. "He'll tell you nothing but a bundle of lies."
"I can prove every statement I make," answered Dave.
"Dave will tell you nothing but the truth," added Roger.
"Who are you, young man?"
"My name is Roger Morr."
"He is the son of United States Senator Morr," added Dave.
"Ah, indeed!" The fact that Roger's father occupied a high political position seemed to have considerable effect on Philip Chesterfield.
"They are a couple of fakirs!" cried Nick Jasniff. He knew not what else to say.
"Nicholas, be silent. I will listen to their story, and then you can have your say."
"If you are going to listen to them, I'll get out," stormed the runaway, and edged for the door.
"No, you don't; you'll stay here!" exclaimed Dave, and blocked the way. "I came all the way from America to catch you, and you are not going until I get through with you."
A brief war of words followed, which came to an end when the old gentleman locked the door. Then he had Dave and Roger tell their tale in full, after which he asked a number of questions. Nick Jasniff wanted to break into the conversation a number of times, but was not permitted to do so.
"Nicholas, if this is true, you are a young scoundrel, and I do not want you in my house another day!" exclaimed Philip Chesterfield. "I shall send a telegram to your father at once, asking him to come on."
"Where is Mr. Jasniff?" asked Dave.
"In Italy—he went there for his wife's health."
"Did Nicholas tell you anything about my folks?" went on Dave.
"Nothing excepting that he had met a Mr. Porter and his daughter, and that the father had sailed for Norway and the daughter for the States."
"Then that news must be true," said Roger. "Dave, the best thing you can do is to go to Christiania at once."
"Exactly my way of thinking, Roger."
"And about Nick——?"
"You shan't do anything to me!" roared the runaway. "I won't stand for it."
"I shall notify the authorities in America where you are," answered Dave. "Then they can do as they please in the affair."
A little later Dave and Roger left the mansion, Philip Chesterfield bidding them a formal goodbye. Nick Jasniff was sullen and looked as if he wanted to kill both boys.
"He'll get back at us some day, if he can," observed the senator's son, as they drove back to Siddingate.
Arriving at the town, the two youths took the first train back to London proper. Here they found that to get to Christiania they would have to take a train to Hull and from there try to obtain passage on some vessel bound for the Norwegian capital.
"It's only a four hours' ride to Hull," said Dave, consulting a time-table. "I can get there to-night, if I wish."
"All right, let us take the first train."
"Do you want to go to Hull to see me off, Roger?"
"I am not going to see you off, Dave."
"What do you mean?"
"I am going with you—If you'll have me."
"But what will your folks say?"
"They won't mind—so long as I keep out of trouble. I told father we might go further than England."
"I'll be pleased to have you along."
They settled up at the hotel, and quarter of an hour later were at the station. At the "booking office," as it is called in England, they procured tickets for seats in a first-class coach, and soon the train came along.
"It seems funny to be locked up in such a coach as this," remarked Dave. "I must say, I like our style of open car best."
They were soon leaving the smoky and foggy city of London behind and rushing northward. Only two stops were made, one at Leicester and the other at Sheffield.
"Here is where the celebrated Sheffield cutlery comes from," observed Roger, as the last stop was made. "If we were going to stop over I'd buy a pocket-knife for a souvenir."
"Remember, we must get some picture postals at Hull," answered Dave, who had not forgotten the promise made to Jessie. He had already sent her over a dozen cards.
Hull is one of the main seaports of England, and ship-building and sail-making are great industries there. In the harbor were a great many steamers and sailing vessels, bound for ports all over the world.
Dave was in a fever of anxiety. He had been unable to ascertain when the expedition in which his father was interested was to start northward from Christiania, and, as a consequence, he wanted to reach the Norwegian capital city with the least possible delay.
"It will be just my luck to arrive there after the expedition has left," he half groaned to his chum.
"Let us hope for the best, Dave."
As late as it was, the two youths skirmished around and finally learned that a steamer would leave Hull for Christiania two days later. On this they booked passage, and then Dave hurried to the nearest telegraph office and sent a cablegram to Christiania, addressed to his parent. The message ran as follows:
"That ought to hold him," said he to Roger.
"Of course it will—if he gets it, Dave."
The message sent, the two boys looked around for a hotel, and then obtained a decidedly late supper. When they retired, Roger slept "like a top," as he expressed it, but Dave lay awake for hours, wondering what the future held in store for him. Now that he seemed so close to his father he could scarcely wait for the time to come when they should meet face to face.
Roughly estimated, the distance from Hull to Chrlstiania Is about six hundred miles. As it was winter, the harbor of the Norwegian capital was frozen up, so the steamer could not go further than Dröbak, a seaport eighteen miles south of the capital. Owing to the wintry weather Dave learned that It would take three full days to make the voyage.
It was not particularly cold on leaving Hull, but as soon as the steamer struck the full sweep of the winds on the North Sea the thermometer went down rapidly.
"Phew! but this is cold!" ejaculated Roger, as he buttoned his coat tightly. "It's like being down on the coast of Maine."
"Just wait until we get to Norway—there is where you'll find it cold," was Dave's reply. "Maybe we'll have to invest in fur overcoats."
"Well, I am willing," answered the senator's son, with a laugh. Fortunately, both boys had been supplied with considerable cash and ample letters of credit, so that monetary matters did not bother them. Before leaving Hull, Dave supplied himself with an English-Danish Self-Educator, and on the ship both he and Roger studied the volume with interest.
"I want to know a few words," said the senator's son. "It is awful to be in a country when you're not able to speak a word of the language."
On the second day of the voyage the two boys got something of a scare. They heard an explosion and then a great cloud of steam spread over the vessel.
"Something has burst, that's certain!" cried Dave. "Let us go on deck and see what is wrong."
They hurried out on the main deck and there found a great number of passengers, all in a state of excitement. A few were on the point of leaping overboard, thinking the ship was going to sink. But the officers were cool and collected, and did all in their power to restore confidence.
"Nothing serious has occurred," was the announcement one of the officers made, in the presence of Dave and his chum. "A steam-pipe burst and one of the engineers was scalded, that is all. The pipe will be repaired as quickly as possible."
"Will this delay us much?" asked Dave.
"That I cannot say," was the answer.
The rest of the day passed quietly enough. The steamer moved along slowly, for the engines were badly crippled. Dave, thinking only of the time in which he might reach his destination, walked the deck impatiently.
"I'll wager this means another day," said he to his chum.
"More than likely," was the reply. "Well, since it can't be helped you'll have to make the best of it."
"Yes, I know, Roger, but I'd give almost anything to be in Christiania now."
"I can appreciate how you feel. I'd be the same way, if I were in your place, Dave," was the kindly answer of the senator's son.
That night a heavy snowstorm came on, and by morning all around the ship was completely shut out of sight. The steam-pipe had now been mended, but the engines had to be kept down at a low speed for fear of running into some other craft. The foghorn was blown constantly, and occasionally came an answering sound from another vessel. Once they ran close to a three-masted schooner, and then the bell on that ship was rung with a loud clamor.
"That was a narrow escape," said Dave, after the schooner had drifted from sight.
Towards night the snowstorm increased in violence. The wind piped merrily over the deck of the steamer and the boys were glad to remain inside. They turned in early, since there was nothing else to do.Dave could not sleep at first, but presently dropped into a hght doze. When he awoke he
sat up with a start. He had heard a strange noise, but now all was silent. He called to Roger, but received no reply. Then he called again and got up and lighted the room.
"Roger, where are you?" he repeated, and then looked toward his chum's berth. To his amazement the berth was made up as if it had never been occupied, and Roger was gone.