The Rover Boys on the Ocean/8
THE SEARCH FOR DICK.
"Dick is taking his time, that's certain."
The remark came from Sam, after the boys who had been left in the alleyway had waited the best part of half an hour for the elder Rover's reappearance.
"Perhaps he has found something of interest," suggested Frank.
"And perhaps he has fallen into a trap," put in Tom. "I've a good mind to hunt him up."
"If you go I'll go with you," said Sam.
"I don't want to be left out here alone," said Frank. "Let us wait a little longer."
The best part of an hour passed, but of course nothing was seen or heard of Dick.
"I shan't wait any longer," began Tom, when they saw the front door of the tenement opened and two men hurried forth. Both had their hats pulled far down over their eyes and had their coat collars turned up, even though the night was warm.
"Out of sight!" cried Sam in a low voice, and they dropped down behind the stoop of the second tenement.
"One of those men was Buddy Girk!" ejaculated Tom, when the pair had passed up the alley-way.
"And don't you know who the other was?" demanded Sam. "It was Dan Baxter's father!"
"Impossible, Sam. Arnold Baxter is in the hospital, and—"
"It was Dan Baxter's father, as true as I'm born, Tom. No wonder he walked with a cane! Am I not right, Frank?"
"I don't know, I'm sure—I don't remember Dan's father. But that was Buddy Girk, beyond a doubt."
All of the boys were considerably excited and wondered if it would be best to follow up the vanishing pair.
"I'd do it if I was certain Dick was safe!" cried Tom. "I'm going to hunt for him," he added, and before the others could stop him he entered the tenement. He stumbled around the lower hallway for several minutes and then called out softly:
"Dick! Dick! Where are you?"
No answer came back, and he continued his search. Then, lighting a match, he mounted the rickety stairs and called out again.
"Phat are ye a-raisin' such a row about?" demanded an Irish voice suddenly, and a front-room door was thrown open. "Can't ye let a dasent family slape?"
"I'm looking for my brother," replied Tom. "Sorry to disturb you. Have you seen anything of him?"
"Sure an' I don't know yer brother from the side av sole leather, b'y. Go 'long an' let me an' me family slape," replied the Irishman.
"I've got to find my brother, sir. I'm afraid he has met with foul play. He came to see the men who just went out."
"Oh, is that so now? Foul play, is it? I thought thim newcomers was up to no good. I heard 'em carryin' on in their room a while ago."
"Which room is it, please?"
"There ye are—the wan on the lift. Is the dure open?"
Tom tried the door. "No, it's locked—the two men just went out." He raised his voice. "Dick! Where are you? Dick!"
"If yez call like that yez will have the whole tiniment aroused," said the Irishman. "An' it's a bad crowd on the nixt flure, I kin tell ye that."
"I can't help it—I am bound to find my brother," replied Torn desperately.
Disappearing for a moment, the Irishman came out half dressed and with a lighted candle in his hand. By this time Sam and Frank had followed Tom to the upper floor. Soon several men and women put in an appearance, including Dutch Jake.
"Who vos dot poy you vos look for?" asked the aged German. "Vos he der von vot was standin' by dis door apout an hour ago?"
"I guess so," said Tom.
"Dem mans vot got dis room open der door und took him inside."
"Took him inside!" burst out Sam and Tom simultaneously.
"Yah," replied Dutch Jake, but failed to add that he had had anything to do with the capture. "Von of dem say dot poy vos stole some money alretty."
"It was a cock-and-bull story to make him a prisoner," said Tom. "I'm going to find him—if I can," and he threw himself on the door with all of his strength. At first the barrier refused to budge, but when Sam and Frank also pushed, it gave way with a bang, hurling the trio to the floor inside.
By this time the excitement had been communicated to the next tenement in which lived Caleb Yates, the landlord of the two buildings. Yates, a sour-minded old man, lost no time in dressing and coming over, armed with a night-stick.
"What does this disturbance mean?" he demanded in a high-pitched voice. "Who broke this door in?"
"We did," replied Tom boldly. "We want to find my brother," and he related how Dick had disappeared.
"I know nothing of your trouble with my tenants," said Caleb Yates. "But I won't have my property destroyed."
"I'm going to find my brother if I have to turn the house upside down."
"And I am going to find him, too," put in Sam. "Do you know that the men who have this room are thieves, and that one of them broke jail at Rootville?"
"I don't believe your yarn, boy—they looked like very respectable gentlemen, both of them. You had better go about your business after you have paid me for breaking down the door. You shan't ransack their property."
"If you stop us I'll call in the police and have you arrested," came promptly from Tom.
This threat nearly took away Caleb Yates' breath. "Arrested!" he gasped.
"Yes, arrested. My brother came in here, and is missing. Those two men are our enemies. If you want to keep out of trouble you will help us to hunt up my brother."
"That is just what you had better do, sir," added Frank.
"And who are you?" demanded the irate landlord.
"I am Frank Harrington, son of Senator Harrington."
At this unexpected announcement the jaw of the landlord dropped perceptibly. "Why—er—I didn't know you were Senator Harrington's son," he stammered.
"I think if you wish to keep out of trouble you had best aid us all you can. The young man we are after came in here a short while ago and has utterly disappeared. I am afraid he has met with foul play."
"But Mr. Arson and Mr. Noble are gone."
"Is that the names they were known under?"
"Their right names are Girk and Baxter. They left the building just before we came up."
"What was your brother doing here?" asked Caleb Yates in a calmer tone.
"He was not my brother, but my warmest friend. He was tracking the short man, the fellow whose name is Girk. Girk once robbed him of his watch."
"I see. And you are sure of your men? If you are, search away, for I want no shady characters in these houses."
The search began immediately, several of the inmates of the tenements taking part. Everything in the room Girk and Baxter had occupied was turned topsy-turvy, but no trace of Dick was brought to light until Tom looked under the table.
"Here's his pocket-knife!" he cried, and held the article up. "This proves that he came in here beyond a doubt."
"Yes; but where is he now?" put in Sam. "They couldn't have spirited him away."
"He can't be far off," said Frank.
Again was the search renewed. The men had had one large room and one small apartment, where were located a dilapidated bed and a small writing table. On the table lay some writing material and several scraps of paper, but they were of no value.
The search through the rooms and hallways of the tenement lasted fully an hour. By this time the tenants who had gathered began to grow sleepy again, and one after another went back to their apartments.
"I don't think you are going to find anything," remarked Caleb Yates. "To my way of thinking, that boy must have followed the two men when they left."
"He couldn't do that without our seeing him," said Sam.
"And why not? Here's a back door, remember—and it's pretty dark outside."
"That may be so," returned Tom, shaking his curly head in perplexity. "It's too bad we didn't follow Girk and Baxter up—at least as far as the street."
"Perhaps Dick is at our house waiting for us to come back," put in Frank. "Let us go home and see. We can come back early in the morning." He looked at his watch. "Do you know that it is after two o'clock? I'm afraid my father will worry about me."
They talked the matter over and decided to return to Frank's home without further delay.
It was a silent trio that walked the streets, which were now practically deserted. Tom and Sam were much worried and Frank hardly less so, for the senator's son and Dick had been warm friends for years.
When they reached the mansion they found Senator Harrington pacing the library nervously.
"Well, here you are at last!" he cried. "I was wondering what had become of you."
He listened to their tale with close attention.
"No, Dick has not come in," he said—"at least, I think not. Run up to the bedrooms, Frank, and see."
Frank did as requested, and soon returned.
"No, he isn't about," he said disappointedly.
"It's mighty queer what became of him."