Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 6
DICK ENTERS THE TRAP
The young millionaire was hungry, after the three hours spent in the theatre, and, knowing of a restaurant famed for its late suppers, Dick determined to go there, partly to see some of the gayer side of life in New York at midnight, and partly to satisfy his appetite. Accordingly he gave directions to the chauffeur, who, after speeding the machine down Broadway, turned into Twenty-third Street.
As the vehicle swung around the corner a lad, who was crossing the thoroughfare, had to jump nimbly to get out of the way. He reached the curb, and standing there shook his first at the occupants of the taxicab—Dick and the driver.
"What's the matter?" cried the lad who had so nearly escaped being run down. "Ain't the street big enough for you? Or do you want to chase folks up on the sidewalk?"
"Aw, beat it!" retorted the chauffeur, with all the contempt some automobilists feel for pedestrians. He had slowed up at the turn, but was about to turn on more power.
"Wait! Hold on a minute!" cried Dick, leaning forward at the sound of the other lad's voice, and a sight of his face in the gleam of an electric lamp. "How are you, Tim Muldoon?"
For a moment the other stared at the well-dressed youth in the taxicab, for the vehicle had come to a stop. Then over the features came a look of glad surprise.
"Why, if it isn't Mr. Hamilton!" cried the lad in the street. "Who'd ever think to see you here? How are you, Mr. Hamilton?"
"Make it Dick, if you don't mind, Tim," suggested the millionaire's son. "I'm Dick and you're Tim," and the wealthy lad reached out and shook hands with the lad, whom he had once befriended as a "fresh-air kid," and who, later, he had set up in the newspaper business. Tim Muldoon, a typical New York newsboy, had accompanied Dick on a trip out west, to inspect a gold mine, and had been instrumental in aiding him. Our hero had not seen his protégé in some time, though he knew him at once when the auto so nearly ran him down.
"Well, well, Tim," went on Dick. "What have you been doing with yourself since last we met? You've have grown considerable. Is the paper business good?"
"Fine, thanks to the start you gave me, Mr. Ham—I mean Dick. I'm running three stands now, and I have two assistants. I get time to go to night school, now, and I'm studying book-keeping."
Dick had noticed that Tim spoke better language than formerly, for the use of "dis," "dat," "youse" and kindred expressions was almost entirely eliminated from his conversation.
"Where are you going now, Tim?" asked Dick, when they had exchanged some remarks.
"Home. I've just finished work. Have to get ready for the early morning papers soon, though, so I'm bound for home."
"No, you're not!" exclaimed the rich youth. "You're coming to have something to eat with me. It's lonesome dining alone. Come on, hop in and we'll be there in no time. Then I'll run you up home in this buzz-wagon."
"But, Dick, I haven't any decent clothes on. I've been working and——"
"Nonsense! What do I care about clothes? Get in. We'll hire a private room if you're so afraid some one will see you."
"It isn't that, only you——"
"Don't you worry about me; get in."
Tim complied, rather diffidently, and the much-wondering chauffeur started the car again. As it swent along there was another closely following it, and, as the vehicle containing Dick and Tim made various turns and twists through the different streets, to reach the restaurant, the other taxicab did the same. Finally Tim, whose life in New York had made him quick-witted along certain lines, leaned out of the open cab, looked back and said:
"Any of your friends in that machine, Dick?"
"Friends? No. Why?"
"Because it's sticking to us like court-plaster. Say, sport," and Tim leaned forward to the chauffeur, "are you wise to de—I mean the fact that we're being chased?"
"Hadn't noticed it," replied the driver, shortly.
"Well, we are. Is it a fly-cop; or has your license expired?"
"Search me," was the characteristic reply of the chauffeur. "But we'll give 'em a run for their money," and increasing speed, he turned first down one street and up another until, after five minutes' run, the other cab was not in sight.
"We either lost 'em, or else they got wise and dropped back," was Tim's opinion. "But who were they, Dick?"
"I can't imagine, unless they are some cranks who like to look at a chap because he has a little money. Maybe they're fellows who hope to work me for some game like Colonel Dendon did, when he tried to sell me fake mining shares. I've noticed a couple of men who kept rather close watch on me once or twice to-day, but I guess we've lost track of them. Well, here we are; come in and have a good meal."
Dick paid, and dismissed the chauffeur, for other taxicabs could be summoned at the restaurant. As the young millionaire and Tim entered the place another machine came to a stop near the curb, a short distance away.
"Thought they'd fool us, didn't they, Sam?" asked one of the two men who alighted from it.
"They sure did, but it isn't so easy to lose us. We're right after him."
"You're not going to attempt anything to-night, are you?"
"No, I just want!o get the lay of things. I think we can work the racket better from a boat-end, as he'll fall easier for that; so we'll wait a couple of days. We've got lots of time, and the graft is too good to shorten up," after which rather enigmatical words, the two men sauntered ]past the restaurant, inside of which Dick and Tim could be seen seated at a table.
The two friends—friends in spite of the differences in their stations—had a jolly time over their meal, Dick telling Tim something about the proposed yachting trip, and the newsboy, in turn, relating some of his experiences in the great city. True to his promise, Dick insisted on taking Tim home in another auto, which he summoned, and then, rather later than he was in the habit of turning in, the young millionaire sought his hotel well satisfied with his evening's pleasure.
"Well, he's safe for to-night, anyhow," remarked one of two men, as they saw Dick pass through the hotel lobby. "Now we can get some sleep." They had resumed their shadowing from the restaurant.
"Yes, and we'll try the game to-morrow, or next day," responded the other.
Dick's first visit after breakfast was to the office of Mr. Blake, the lawyer. The attorney was not in, but a clerk informed the young millionaire that matters concerning the purchase of the Albatross were proceeding satisfactorily. It would take several days, Dick was told.
"Well, the best thing I can do is to amuse myself," he remarked, as he left the lawyer's office. He strolled back to the hotel, intending to take a bath, and don a new suit he had just received from the tailor. As he went up to the desk to get the key of his room, the clerk handed him a letter, with the remark:
"Messenger left that for you a little while ago, Mr. Hamilton."
Dick read it hastily. It said:
"Dear Mr. Hamilton: I am trying to hurry along matters concerned with the purchase of your yacht. I have seen the present owners, but there appears to be a slight hitch, to use a nautical term. I have another vessel in view, in case we can not get the one you want. I expect to be aboard her this morning. Could you meet me on her? She is the Princess, and is anchored off One Hundred and Eightieth Street. Suppose you run up there? You will find a launch at the dock to bring you out. I think, in case we can not secure the Albatross, that you will like this vessel fully as well. Come if you can.
"Can't get the Albatross!" thought Dick, in dismay. "That will be too bad! I'll never care for any other yacht as I did for her. But I suppose I'd better go and see Mr. Blake. Queer, though, that they didn't tell me in the office how things were. Maybe they didn't know, or this may have cropped up after I left. I'll go and see the other boat, anyhow."
Dick started for the anchorage of the Princess, and, as he was about to engage a taxicab, he bethought himself of the old sailor on the Albatross.
"Widdy would be just the one to take along," reasoned Dick. "He knows all about yachts—more than either Mr. Blake or myself. I've a good notion to go get him, and see what he has to say. Even if we do have to take a different craft from the Albatross, I'd like Widdy to sail with me. I'll go get him."
The old sailor, who knew nothing of the hitch in the arrangements to sell the yacht he was on, was a bit surprised at Dick's proposition, but readily agreed to accompany him. He left one of his on-shore acquaintances in charge of the Albatross.
"But as fer findin' as good a boat as that," said Widdy, waving his hand toward her, as he and Dick were speeding shoreward in a motor launch, "you can't do it. Split my lee scuppers if you can!"
And Dick, with a sigh, agreed with him. His heart was set on the Albatross.
At the foot of One Hundred and Eightieth Street Dick and the old sea dog found a small motorboat in waiting.
"Is this the launch of the Princess?" asked Dick of the man in charge.
"No, it's a public launch, but I can take you out to her in it. There's the yacht, out there. A gentleman on board told me he was expecting a visitor, and I said I'd wait around and bring him out. Are you the one?"
"I expect so," answered the young millionaire, and his eyes were taking in the details of the yacht Princess. He did not like her, at first view. She was too small, and there was none of that trimness about her which marked the Albatross.
"That's nothing but a dinghy with an engine in her," was the contemptuous remark of Widdy, as he relighted his short pipe, which was assuming a black hue, like unto the one he had smashed on deck.
"Well, we'll go aboard," decided Dick. "I want to hear what Mr. Blake has to say."
A few minutes later he and the old salt were ascending the accommodation ladder of the Princess. They were met by a sailor in uniform.
"You'll find him below," he said to Dick, without being asked any questions, and he motioned to an after companionway. Dick started down. Had he but known it the young millionaire was entering the trap set for him.