Betty Gordon in the Land of Oil/Chapter 25
"Ninety thousand dollars!" repeated Bob incredulously. "Why, that is a thousand dollars an acre!"
"He is sure they will drill many paying wells," said Miss Charity. "To think that this fortune should come in our old age! You can go to school and college, Bob, and Sister and I will never be a burden on you. Isn't it just wonderful!"
She went off into a happy little day-dream, and presently the conference broke up, and Miss Hope and the two men came out on the porch. Mr. Vernet proved to be a jolly kind of person, intensely interested in oil and oil prospects, and evidently completely satisfied with his purchase.
"Here's the young man I have to thank," he commented, shaking hands with Bob. "If those sharpers had got hold of the place, they would have forced me to buy at more than a fair risk, or else sold the land in small holdings and we should have had that abomination, close drilling. I'm grateful to you, my lad, for outwitting those slick schemers."
Miss Hope persuaded the two men to stay to dinner, and she and Miss Charity fairly outdid themselves in their cooking. Afterward Mr. Gordon took Mr. Vernet back to the oil fields, depositing in the Flame City bank for Miss Hope the check for twenty-five thousand dollars he had given her the day before, and the larger check she had received that morning.
"We're rich, Sister, rich!" said Miss Charity, drying the dinner dishes and so overcome that she dropped a china cup which crashed into tiny pieces on the floor.
"Well, don't break all the dishes," advised Miss Hope, with dry practicality. "You can't buy a pretty cup in Flame City if you are a millionaire."
Bob's head was full of plans for his education, and in the days that followed he often spoke of his future. Mr. Gordon listened and advised him frequently, and Bob grew fonder of him all the time.
Clover was brought back from the Flame City stable where Betty had left her, and they resumed, their riding, Mr. Gordon hiring a horse and often accompanying them.
"You know, the aunts have never seen the oil fields," said Betty one day, as they were slowly riding home from the fields where they had seen the largest new well in operation for the first time. "Don't you think they would be interested, especially as their own farm will be an oil field next year?"
"We'll take them on a sightseeing trip " promised Mr. Gordon instantly. "I can get a comfortable car, I'll come for you all to-morrow morning. They'll enjoy having dinner at the bunk house, and we'll show them the workings of the whole place. Imagine a person who has lived in this oil country and hasn't seen a well!"
The program was carried out, and the Misses Saunders thoroughly enjoyed the long day spent among the wells. They thought the machinery wonderful, as indeed it was, and marvelled at the miles of pipe line.
Grandma Watterby, as might be expected, was delighted with the turn of events, and Betty and Bob spent a day with her, telling her all that had happened.
"It's better than a book," she sighed contentedly. "If Emma would only go around more, I'm sure she could find interesting things to tell me. 'Fore I was crippled with rheumatism, I used to know all that was goin' on."
The Watterbys had bought a car, and Bob was eager for his aunts to have one. They preferred to wait until it was decided where they were to spend the winter, and in this Mr. Gordon concurred. He had been made, at the request of the two old ladies and backed by the old country lawyer who had known their father, the guardian of Bob, who would not inherit his share of the ninety thousand dollars, of course, until he was twenty-one. Bob himself was very much pleased to be a ward of Betty's uncle, feeling that now he "really belonged," as he happily said.
"Who do you suppose this is from?" asked Betty, waving a letter at Bob one morning not long after their visit to the oil fields with the aunts. "You'll never guess!"
Bob looked up from his book. He was luxuriously stretched under a tree, reading.
"From Bobby Littell?" he ventured.
"Bob Henderson, can you read the postmark from where you are?" Betty looked disappointed for a moment. "Oh, well, I might have known you would have guessed it. It is from Bobby. Want to hear a little bit?"
"I don't mind," conceded Bob graciously, keeping a finger in his book.
"She says they've been to Atlantic City for a month," explained Betty. "That is, Bobby, Esther, Louise and Mrs. Littell. Mr. Littell could spend only a week with them. And now the girls are going to boarding school. Listen.
"'Louise and I are going away to school this fall, and though Esther is crazy to go, too. Dad says he must have one of us at home, so I think she will have to wait a year or two. Louise and I have been to Miss Graham's for three years, and I don't see why it isn't good enough for Esther till she is as old as we are. But you know she always wants to do everything we do. Oh, Betty, wouldn't it be too lovely for words if you should come to boarding school with us? Please ask your uncle, do. You can't spend the winter in Oklahoma, can you? And if you are going to school I know you would like the one we're going to. It is so highly recommended, and Mother personally knows the principal. I tell you—I'll see that a catalogue is sent to you, and you show it to your uncle. Libbie thinks maybe she will go.'
"And she winds up by saying that her father and mother send their love, and they all want to know how you are and if you found your aunts," concluded Betty, folding the letter. "I must write to Bobby and tell her your good luck."
"Do you want to go to boarding school?" asked Bob. "Where is this place she's so crazy about—in Washington?"
"I don't know just where, but I don't think it is very near Washington," answered Betty carelessly. "Of course I'd love to go to boarding school. Do you suppose Uncle Dick would be willing?"
Mr. Gordon, when consulted, promised to "think it over," and as Betty knew that none of his plans for the next few weeks were definitely settled and that the Littell girls would not go off to school before the middle of October, she was content to wait.
"Your education and Bob's are matters for serious thought," he told them more than once. "In some ways I think you are further advanced than most girls and boys of your age, but in other branches you will have to work hard to make up, Bob especially, for rather desultory training. I'll have a long talk with you both just as soon as I get some business matters straightened out."
So Bob and Betty put the school question aside for serious discussion, and proceeded to enjoy the days that followed. If any one is interested to know whether Betty did go to boarding school with the Littell girls and how Bob went about getting the education so long unfairly denied him, the answer may be found in the next volume of this series.
Mr. Gordon was still obliged to be away for several days at a time, and Betty and Bob continued to stay with Bob's aunts. They made very little change in their mode of living, Miss Hope remarking that she "never was one to spend money; she liked to know it was in the bank, in case of need, but the older I get, the less I want." As for help, there was none to be had for any amount of money, so Bob took care of the live stock till it should be sold. The oil company was to take over the farm the first of October.
"What a perfectly grand time we have had after all," remarked Betty to Bob one day, after a ride into the country.
"Yes, everything seems to be coming our way," said the boy, with satisfaction. "Gee, I never dreamed I'd be so rich!"
"Oh, you'll be richer some day, Bob. And wiser, too. Now you've got the chance for an education I hope to see you a great lawyer or a doctor or an engineer—or something or other like that," and Betty gazed at him hopefully.
"All right, Betty," he answered promptly. "If you say so, it goes—so there!"
And here let us leave Betty Gordon and say good-bye.