Dick Hamilton's Cadet Days/Chapter 2

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Following Dick's reading of the telegram there was silence among the campers. They all imagined something had happened to Mr. Hamilton, Dick's father, and they hesitated to give voice to their thoughts.

"Well, I'd offer to take you home in my chariot," said Henry Darby, with a suggestion of a smile, "only I know you'd be two days on the road. Though it might be a good thing," he added "for your father would hear us coming long before he could see us, with the way this old iron rattles. I wish some one would invent noiseless scrap iron."

"Do you—do you s'pose your father is—is hurt?" asked Walter, finally putting into words what all the others thought.

"Not a bit of it," replied Dick, stoutly. "Dad knows me well enough to say right out what he means. He wants me home, for some reason or other, but I don't know what it can be," and he looked at the telegram in a puzzled sort of way, as if the slip of paper would solve the mystery for him.

"Maybe—maybe he's lost all his money," suggested Frank "and you've got to give up the camp."

"No, I guess there's no danger of dad losing all his money so quickly," relied the young millionaire. "He had plenty when I came away, two weeks ago, and he's got so many investments that he couldn't lose it all at once, even if he tried. No, it's something else. I wonder what it is?"

"I s'pose the best way to find out, is to go and ask him, about it," suggested Henry.

"That's it," assented Dick. "I could telegraph, but he might be away from home, and wouldn't get it. I guess I'll have to leave camp, fellows."

"Then we'll go, too," said Bricktop.

"No, there's no need of that. I invited you out for three weeks, and that time isn't up yet. You might as well stay. Hannibal will cook for you, and if I can come back I will. Otherwise you stay here and enjoy yourselves."

"We won't enjoy ourselves very much if you leave," said Walter regretfully, and the others echoed his sentiment.

"Well, that's a compliment to me," declared Dick, with a smile, "but I guess you'll manage to exist. Now I wonder how I'd better go? Henry, I s'pose I could ride with you to the village, and take a train."

"I should advise you to," remarked the young iron merchant. "This nag went to sleep four times coming out, and he's snoring now. No telling what he'll do on the way back. He seems to like life in the woods. I guess he must have been a wild horse once, and he's going back to nature."

"He's not very wild now," observed Bricktop, tickling the animal with a switch. "He won't even move."

"No, it takes quite a while to get him started," said Henry. "Usually I have to begin the day before, to get him into action. No, Dick, I shouldn't advise you to ride with me."

"What's the matter with the motor boat?" asked Frank. "You can go to the village in that."

"That's so," agreed Dick. "You fellows can take me over, and bring her back. We'll do it."

"Well," remarked Henry, as he began to take in the slack of the reins, preparatory to starting the horse, "I guess I'll be going. I hope you find everything all right at home, Dick."

"I guess I will. Probably this has something to do with business matters. But, say, don't you want a bite to eat? We just finished grub, and there's a little that these cannibals didn't stow away."

"Well, I do begin to feel the need of something," said the young dealer in old iron. "The crackers and cheese I got in the village weren't very filling."

"Tie your horse, and sit down to the table. Hannibal-and-half-a-dozen-other-names will get you something. Ho! Rastus!" called Dick.

"No need to tie this horse," said Henry with grim smile, "If I did he'd imagine he was home in the stable, and go so sound to sleep that it would take two days to wake him. I'll just put some oats down in front of him, and, maybe he'll rouse up enough to eat them. That will keep him from taking naps."

The youthful iron merchant did this, and, while he was making a bountiful meal from what the colored cook set before him, Dick was preparing to start for home, wondering, meanwhile, why his father had sent for him so suddenly.

Those of you who have read the first book of this series entitled "Dick Hamilton's Fortune," will need no introduction to the millionaire youth and his chums. But you boys and girls who have not previously met him, may desire a little introduction.

Dick Hamilton was the only son of Mortimer Hamilton, of Hamilton Corners, not far from New York. The town was named after Mr. Hamilton because he was financially interested in many of the industries of the place. He was president of the national bank, owned large woolen mills, a brass foundry, a lumber concern, and was head of a railroad and a trolley line that added much of importance to the place. Mr. Hamilton counted his fortune by the millions, and his son, who had inherited a large sum from his mother, was also the possessor of substantial bank accounts.

In the first volume there was told how, on a certain birthday Dick came into control of a large part of his wealth, subject to a peculiar condition of his mother's will. That is, he was to make, inside of a year, a wise and paying investment of some of his funds, under penalty of losing control of his fortune for a time, and having to live with a miserly uncle.

This uncle, Ezra Larabee by name, of the town of Dankville, was Mrs. Hamilton's brother. One of the conditions of her will was that Dick should spend a week with his uncle before entering into possession of the money, that he might see what sort of a life he was likely to lead, in case he did not comply with the provisions.

Dick had a miserable time at Mr. Larabee's. He was not allowed to have any fun, and his uncle even objected to him walking on the paths, for fear he would disturb the newly-raked gravel.

Dick returned home, determined to make a paying investment if only to escape his uncle's clutches. He did make several investments, by buying real estate, some stock in a milk company, and some shares in a gold mine. But they all turned out badly, and, while investigating the mine by means of which he had been swindled, he had, with his chums, some exciting adventures.

In Hamilton Corners, dwelt "Hank" Darby, a shiftless sort of man, and his son, Henry, who was as energetic as his father was lazy. Henry started to make money, in a small way, by collecting scrap iron, and selling it, but his shiftless parent nearly brought the business to grief. Dick became interested in Henry's efforts, and, as the young millionaire had plenty of money, he loaned Henry two hundred and fifty dollars, to buy out the iron business of a man who wished to retire. "Hank" Darby, with an exaggerated idea of his own importance, elected himself president of the old iron company, made Dick treasurer, and Henry secretary.

Dick gave little thought to the money he had loaned his young friend, but the time came when it was to prove of great benefit to him. One after another his various investments failed, and he saw the time approaching when he must go to live with his miserly uncle. His last venture was to invest five hundred dollars in an airship, the inventor of which hoped to win a government prize, which he promised to divide with Dick. But the airship blew up, and Dick saw his next birthday dawn, without, as he thought, having made his paying investment.

Uncle Ezra, who was much opposed to his nephew having so much money, came, according to agreement, to get Dick to take him to Dankville with him. But, at the last moment, something quite unexpected happened and it was found that Dick had, after all, complied with the terms of his mother's will, and he was, therefore, allowed to keep control of his fortune. But, as told in the first volume, there were still other stipulations with which he must comply.

Following the events told of in "Dick Hamilton's Fortune," our millionaire hero had completed his course at a local academy. When summer came he took some of his chums off to camp in the woods, and it was there that Henry, who was still in the old iron business, found him.

"Well, I guess I'm ready," remarked Dick, as he came from his tent, one of several that formed the camp. "I'll not take any of my things, for I may be able to come back and finish out the vacation."

"I certainly hope so," said Bricktop fervently.

"Same here," added Walter and the others.

By this time Henry had made a good meal, and, as his horse showed some signs of life, he remarked that he thought he would start, before the beast got to sleep again.

"Did you gasolene the motor boat, Rastus?" asked Dick of the colored cook.

"Yais sah, Massa Dick."

"All right. Now see that these poor kids don't get hungry while I'm gone. Let 'em take pieces of pie to bed with 'em, to keep 'em quiet."

"Ho! Ho! Massa Dick. Deed an I will. Pie to bed wif 'em! Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho!"

The boys entered the motor boat, leaving Hannibal in charge of camp, and they soon reached the village, whence Dick could take a train for home.

"Now, fellows, enjoy yourselves," he called to them, as they watched him board the train at the depot. "I'll come back if I can. Better practice that triple summersault, Frank."

"I will. I'll stump you, when you come back."

"I wish I didn't have to leave them," thought Dick, as he settled himself in his seat. "I wonder what dad wants of me? But there's no use worrying. I'll be home in about two hours."

He exhibited his pass, on which he was traveling, as his father was president of the railroad, and then sat looking at the scenery, vainly wondering, in spite of his efforts not to dwell on it, why he had been summoned home.

"Well, Dick," greeted his father, when the young millionaire entered the house. "You got back sooner than I expected."

"Yes, dad. I started as soon as I got your message. I hope nothing is the matter."

"Nothing serious. The fact is I have to leave for Europe next week——"

"For Europe! And are you going to take me?"

"No, I'm sorry to say I can't. But I have other plans for you, which I hope you will like. I unexpectedly received a call to England, to settle some large financial matters in which I am interested, and, as I shall have to be gone six months or more I decided to close the house up and let the servants go. As that would make no place for you to stay, unless you boarded, which you might not like, I decided to send for you, and tell you what I propose. The reason I telegraphed for you is that I will be so busy after to-day that I will have no time to attend to anything."

"What are you going to do with me?" asked Dick.

"You remember," went on Mr. Hamilton, "that in her will, your mother specified, in addition to making a good investment, that you must attend a military academy——"

"That's so!" cried Dick. "I'd forgotten about that. Say, when can I go? This beats camp!"

"Not so fast," cautioned his father. "There are certain conditions to be fulfilled. Your mother had peculiar ideas regarding money. She wished her son to become a success in spite of it. So she provided, under certain penalties, which you will learn of later, that you were to go to a good military academy to complete your education.

"There, as I told you once before, though you may have forgotten it, you are to become popular with the students in spite of your wealth. You are to make your own way without the aid of your millions. And this is no easy matter. While many persons have a false notion of wealth, by far the larger class attach to it only the importance it deserves. A rich lad can, to a certain extent, become popular, but he will never have the real, solid friends that some youth not so well off would win. So you've got to make friends in spite of your money."

"That ought to be easy," said Dick, but he was to find it a harder task than he had supposed it would be.

"So, as I have to go away, and close up the house," went on Mr. Hamilton, "I have arranged that you are to go to the academy a little ahead of time, about two weeks before the term opens. That will give you a chance to find your way around the place."

"Where is it?"

"It is the Kentfield Military Academy, located in one of the middle western states, and is near Lake Wagatook. Colonel James Masterly, a friend of mine, is the superintendent, and I have written to him concerning you. He gave me permission to send you on ahead of time, and that is what I propose to do. You will have to get ready to go at the end of this week. I hope you do not object."

"Not in the least, dad. We were having lots of fun at camp, but I'll have more fun at Kentfield. Shoulder arms! present arms! Halt! parade rest! Wow! Say, dad, this is the best yet!"

"Wait until you've spent a term there," advised his father.

"If I don't have to start until the end of the week, I might as well go back to camp," said Dick, when he had calmed down a bit.

"Just as you like. From now on I shall be too busy to see much of you, but I will make all arrangements."

"All right, dad. I'll go back to camp then. I can get a late train," and Dick went to see what time it left, meanwhile whistling a succession of military airs, from "The Girl I left Behind Me," to "Yankee Doodle."

He reached camp late that night, somewhat to the surprise of his chums, and they spent the next few days in crowding in as much pleasure as possible. When it became time for Dick to leave, the others decided to go back home with him, as the three weeks were nearly up.