Dick Hamilton's Fortune/6



Dick was keenly disappointed, not so much at the news of the loss of his money as he was over the fact that his first investment had proved a failure. He began to realize that it was not as easy to make money as he had supposed, even if you have a large amount to invest.

"It's too bad," continued Mr. Bruce. "Of course I did not know when I sold you the land that the factory was liable to go up near it."

"Oh, it's not your fault," replied Dick. "I guess the best thing I can do is to sell out and look for another investment. What do you think?"

"I believe I would do that. I'll sell the land for you and get the best price I can. When I first heard about it I tried to get the fertilizer concern to buy it, but they had all they wanted and stopped right next to your property. It's too bad."

"Well, it might be worse," said Dick cheerfully. "It's not going to make me poor, that's one consolation."

But, as he started up his runabout again, bidding the agent good-bye, his mind was busy with thoughts of what line he ought next to invest in so that he might fulfil the conditions of his mother's will.

"I guess I'll let real estate alone after this," he said. "It's too risky until you know what's going to be built on the property next to yours."

But the somewhat disappointing thoughts over his failure were soon dispelled when he saw the fine motor boat the firm had secured for him from the factory. It was complete in every detail, from a small whistle, worked by compressed air, to two small folding bunks in which passengers could sleep should the craft remain out on Lake Dunkirk all night.

Dick arranged to have the boat taken to the lake and floated, and, a few days later, he had the pleasure of starting it up for the initial spin. It ran at fast speed, and beat several more powerful boats.

Dick did not enjoy this pleasure all alone. He invited Guy Fletcher, Simon Scardale, Frank Bender, Fred Murdock and Chandler Norton, the latter known as "Bricktop," because of his red hair, to take a trip with him.

"This is great!" exclaimed Frank, as the boat cut through the water. "Say, Dick, you're all right, even if you are a millionaire's son and have money to burn."

"In fact, he's all the better for it," put in Guy, who had resolved to be very friendly to that fortunate youth. "Three cheers for Dick Hamilton!"

"Drop that!" commanded Dick, who disliked Guy's manner.

But the boys responded heartily, and if Guy and Simon joined in with sneers in their hearts, which did not show on their faces, they alone were aware of it.

"Here, where are you going, Frank?" asked Dick, a few minutes later as he saw one of his guests climbing out on the narrow bow of the boat.

"Watch me," replied Frank Bender, and, a moment later, he was standing on his head in his rather insecure place, his feet waving aloft in the air.

"Come back here!" cried Dick, as he slowed down the engine. "Do you want to fall off and drown?"

"No," replied Frank, as he assumed his normal position.

"But, you see, I never stood on my head on a motor boat before and I wanted to do it. I want to get all sorts of practice, for I'm going to join a circus some day, and there's no telling what stunts they may want me to do."

"Oh, you and your circus!" exclaimed "Bricktop." "You're always talking about it!"

Which was the truth, for Frank took every chance that came to him to indulge in acrobatics of one form or another. He was continually turning cart wheels, standing on his head or his hands, twisting himself into knots, from which it seemed impossible that he could ever get loose, or bending himself until he resembled an animated horse shoe. He was "as limber as an eel," the boys used to say.

"That's all right," responded the amateur circus performer, "I'll be in a show some day, with a suit of green and gold spangles, and you fellows will be paying money to see me. All except Dick. I'll give him a free pass."

"Thanks," answered Dick with a laugh, as he started the engine on full speed again.

"Say, wouldn't it be great if we could only make a trip to New York this way," remarked Fred Murdock.

"Yes, this boat would look nice traveling over dry land the best part of the way," said Dick with a smile. "If this lake only opened into a river or a canal we might do it, but it's out of the question now."

"Why don't you go in your automobile?" suggested Simon, with a curious look at Guy.

"That's so, I never thought of it," replied Dick. "I believe I will if dad will let me."

"Take us along?" asked Frank. "Maybe I could get an engagement there in one of the theatres. I can do quite a lot of turns now."

"My car's too small for this bunch," replied the millionaire's son.

"Hire a touring car; you have lots of money," spoke up Guy, with a covert sneer.

"Good idea!" exclaimed Dick, not noticing the tone of the remark. "I believe I will. Would you fellows all go?"

"Would we!" was shouted in a chorus. "Don't ask us twice," said Fred.

"All right; it's a go!" went on Dick. "I'll see about it at once."

With Dick, to think was to act shortly afterward, and that night he asked his father for permission to take a crowd of his friends to the metropolis, which could easily be reached in a day by using a swift touring car.

"Besides," added Dick, as an added reason for the permission being given, "I may hear of some investment there."

"What's the matter with the land you bought?" asked Mr. Hamilton.

"Oh, that failed," and Dick told the story of the fertilizer factory.

"Well, it's a good lesson to you, my son," was all Mr. Hamilton said by way of reproof. "No, I've no objection to you going to New York. Hire the car you wish, and be sure they supply a good driver. You're not quite capable of managing one of those ponderous machines yet. But be careful. Don't go to buying any gold bricks," and he laughed.

"No danger," replied Dick. "I've cut my eye teeth."

It was arranged that they should start in three days. Dick engaged the largest and finest car in the garage of a neighboring city, and told his friends to get ready.

"Are you going?" asked Guy of Simon, the day before that set for the trip.

"Am I? Well, you can make up your mind to that. I can see something good in this for us."

"Good? What do you mean?"

"Money, of course."

"Don't get the idea that Dick is going to distribute five-dollar gold pieces along the route, Simon."

"I'm not; but I've got a plan of my own. If this wealthy young greenhorn doesn't drop a few hundreds in New York, and if I don't get my share, I'm very much mistaken. You can just as well have some as not."

"How you going to do it?"

"That's my secret," replied Simon, with a wink. "I didn't live five years in New York for nothing. I've got some friends there who will help me. Just you wait."

"But you want to be careful. Dick is no fool, even if he is wealthy."

"Don't you worry. I know what I'm about."

The pair, who were well matched, whispered for some time together, and when they separated, Simon, with many winks, gave his companion renewed assurances that Dick's trip to New York would prove financially beneficial to both of them.

Guy knew little of Simon, who had come to Hamilton Corners about six months before this story opens. He had met him in the billiard room, where several youths of the town, who might better have been at something else, frequently gathered. Simon never appeared to work, but generally had plenty of money.

He dressed flashily, and his conversation was filled with allusions to this or that "sport." Guy, who aspired to be thought a gilded youth of the city, rather than a plain country lad, with a father moderately well off, at once made fast friends with Simon.

Because of the business relations of Dick's and Guy's fathers, the two lads had been more or less friendly for several years, and, when Guy took up with Simon, Dick did not hesitate to admit him to his house, where the boys frequently assembled to play billiards or other games, or practice in the fine gymnasium Mr. Hamilton had provided for his son.

Thus, though Dick was aware of the rather sporty character of Guy and Simon, he was frank and pleasant with them, for he was a youth of rather free and easy ways, in spite of his wealth.

Dick would have been glad to take all his boy friends of Hamilton Corners with him to New York, but the capacity of the automobile was limited to seven; so, besides Dick, Simon and Guy, there went along "Bricktop," Frank Bender and Walter Mead.

Early on the appointed morning the big touring car, in charge of a skillful driver, drew up in front of Dick's house, where the boys had assembled.

"Get in!" called Dick, from the window of his room. "I'll be right down as soon as I can get my valise shut. I've got to say good-bye to Grit. Poor fellow, he knows something's in the wind and he's trying to break his chain to come along. But I'm afraid something will happen to him in New York, so he's got to stay home."

"He thinks as much of that dog as if it was a brother," remarked Guy with something of a sneer, as the five youths entered the tonneau, for Dick had elected to ride with the driver.

"I don't blame him," said "Bricktop." "Grit's a dog worth having."

"I hope Dick brings plenty of money along with him," whispered Simon to Guy, as they followed Frank Bender into the machine.

"Why?" asked Guy, also in a whisper.

"Because I've got everything all planned for a neat trick. I guess he'll not bring back as much as he takes away. I heard from my friend in New York. He'll meet us at the hotel, and then—well, we'll see what will happen."

Dick came running down the steps of the mansion.

"Good-bye!" he called to his father. "Yes, I'll be careful—good-bye!"

There was a tooting of the automobile horn, a throbbing of the powerful engine, a grinding sound as the gears were thrown into place, and the boys were off on their trip to New York, Dick with his heart full of happiness and anticipation, while Simon and Guy were thinking over the plot they had made to get away from the millionaire's son a little of his wealth.