Dick Hamilton's Steam Yacht/Chapter 8

CHAPTER VIII


A FIGHT IN THE DARK


There were many busy days for Dick, following his purchase of the Albatross. He received word from Captain Barton that the coaling and provisioning of the craft were proceeding satisfactorily, and that a good crew had been signed.

Dick had invited Tim Muldoon to go on the trip, and the newsboy agreed, after arranging with a younger brother to look after his business. Henry Darby also planned to accompany the young millionaire, a clerk in Mr. Hamilton's office agreeing to have an eye to the old iron business. Bricktop Norton was to drive the horse and collect scrap for Henry.

Dick invited a number of his military academy chums to make the cruise with him, but he received several letters of regret, the lads stating that vacation plans, previously made by their parents, would not permit them to accept the young millionaire's hospitality. Paul Drew was to go and Captain Innis Beeby, the cadet commander of Company C, wrote that he might meet Dick in Savannah, Georgia, if the yacht would stop there on the way to Cuba.

"Of course, we'll stop for Beeby," said Dick to Paul Drew, who had arrived at Hamilton Corners a few days before the date set for the departure for New York.

"Yes, Beeby's good fun. We'll have a swell time on this trip, Dick."

"I hope so. I want the fellows to enjoy themselves."

Uncle Ezra paid another visit to Dick's house, though it must have cost him a pang to part with the money for a railroad ticket. He said he had come to make one more appeal to Dick's father, not to allow the youth to squander his fortune on a yacht.

"It's too late. Uncle Ezra," exclaimed Dick, gaily. "I've bought the yacht, and we shall sail in a few days."

"Well, of all the senseless, wasteful proceedings—But there, I'm done expostulating—I'm—I'm going to——"

But the churlish old man stopped short, and closed his thin lips like a steel trap. There was a dangerous, crafty look in his eyes, which boded Dick no good, but the young millionaire did not see it.

The night before the wealthy lad and his friends were to leave for the metropolis, there to go aboard the yacht, in company with Tim Muldoon, Dick found he had to go down-town to send some telegrams, one to Captain Barton and another to the lawyer, Mr. Blake. Paul Drew, who, with Frank Bender and Henry Darby, was at Dick's house, volunteered to accompany him, but our hero said he would run down with Grit, and hurry back, leaving his friends to amuse themselves.

It was rather a dark night, with a promise of a storm, and when the wealthy lad started out he wished that he had not gotten a puncture in his auto tire that day, so that he might have used the car. But he had not had the tube repaired, and the machine was out of commission.

"But we don't mind the walk, do we, Grit?" asked the lad, and the dog whined an answer.

The messages sent, Dick started back home, hurrying along, for the first few drops of rain were falling, and indicated a heavy storm to come. The wind was blowing hard, and, after an effort to keep his umbrella right side out, Dick gave it up, furled the rain-shield, and tramped on through the drizzle, with Grit splashing at his heels.

As the young millionaire turned the corner of a dark street, before emerging into the thoroughfare that led to his house, he collided full tilt into a man who suddenly seemed to jump from behind a tree.

"I beg your——" began Dick, contritely, though it was not his fault.

The next instant, and before the youth had a chance to finish his apology, he felt himself seized from behind by a second man, while the one who had leaped out in front of him placed his hand over his mouth. Dick felt himself being borne backward. He struggled to maintain his footing, and struck out blindly.

He felt his fists land on soft bodies, and once an exclamation of pain escaped his assailants.

"We've got him!" a voice whispered. "Where's the rig?"

Dick partly squirmed loose, and wrenched the man's hand from over his mouth.

"Take 'em, Grit!" he cried, and there was a rush of feet, while a savage growl told Dick that his faithful dog, who had lingered somewhat behind, was about to attack the footpads.