Dick Hamilton's Fortune/22
OFF FOR THE WEST
Mr. Hamilton glanced at his son. Dick was all excited over the events of the last hour and by the sudden desire that had come to him.
"You go to Nevada?" repeated the millionaire.
"Yes, dad, and look up this mining business. I could see the lawyer and find out whether we have been swindled. The trip would do me good," he added, with a smile.
"I haven't any doubt of that, Dick," replied his father. "And, after thinking it over, I don't know but you could make whatever investigation would be needed. I think I'll let you go. How soon can you be ready?"
"Well, there's no such rush as that. If we've been swindled, finding it out now isn't going to help matters any. If, on the other hand, as I hope may be the case, the mines are all right, there's no need of hurrying out there. You'd better make good preparations for the trip. It isn't going to be much fun traveling alone."
"But, dad, I needn't travel alone. I was thinking I could take some of my chums with me. Bricktop, Frank Bender and Walter Mead would think it bully fun to go along. Why couldn't I take them?"
"I suppose you could if their parents did not object. They would be your guests, of course—that is, you would have to pay all expenses."
"I'd be willing to. I've got two thousand dollars invested in the Dolphin mine, and I've got to spend some more to see if I've thrown that money away. I might as well have some fun out of it, if I can."
"Four lads will make a nice party. I'll have Mclverson go to the depot and get some time-tables. Meanwhile you had better get the fresh-air boys back to Sunnyside. It's getting near supper-time, and the matron may be worried about them."
"Say, is youse really goin' out where they make gold mines?" asked Tim Muldoon, as he and Dick went back to the automobile, around which the other lads, having spent all their money, and seen all the sights, were waiting. "Are youse goin' out West among de Indians an' cowboys?"
"Well, yes, but I guess there aren't any Indians left."
"Sure dere is! Didn't I read about in a book? It's a crackerjack! I'll lend it to youse. It's 'Three-Fingered Harry; or, De Scourge of de Redskins!'"
"No, thanks," answered Dick, with a laugh. "I wouldn't read such trash if I were you. There are very few Indians left out West and they're too scarce to kill off."
"Well," spoke Tim, with a sigh, "it's in de book. Say," he added, "does it cost much to go out West?"
"Well, I'm not sure just how much it does take, but I guess it's rather costly."
Tim sighed heavily.
"What's the matter?" asked Dick.
"I've got three dollars an' nineteen cents salted down in de dime savings bank," replied the newsboy. "I was savin' it fer a new overcoat, but I'd rather go out West. How far could I go fer three dollars an' nineteen cents? Could I travel wit youse as far as it lasted?"
The boy looked wistfully at Dick, and there was a world of longing in the blue eyes of Tim Muldoon as they met the brown orbs of the millionaire's son. Then Dick came to a sudden resolve.
"Would you like to go with me and the other boys?" he asked.
"Would I? Say, Mr. Dick, would a cat eat clams? Would I? Don't spring dat on me agin," he added, with an attempt at a laugh. "I've got a weak heart an' I might faint. It's back to little ole N' York an' Hester Street fer mine, I guess."
"No," said Dick. "I mean it. You may have rendered me and my father a great service, Tim, in telling us about Vanderhoof. If he proves to be what you say he is, a swindler, it is a good thing we found it out when we did. We may be able to save some of our money. If you can arrange to go I'll take you out West with me. Do you think you can?"
"Can I go? Well, I should say I can. Where's me ticket? I ain't got no trunk to pack."
"But what will your folks say?"
"I ain't got no folks, Mr. Dick. I'm all dere is," and, though he spoke flippantly, there was a suspicion of tears in Tim's eyes.
"Then, if the matron who brought you here says it is all right, you shall go," decided Dick.
Dick was actuated by two motives. He wanted to give pleasure to the little waif, to whom he had taken a great liking, and he also felt that Tim might be of service to him. If Vanderhoof turned up out in Nevada, it might be well to have Tim on hand to confront him. Then, too, Tim was a bright, quick lad, and Dick felt he would be useful on the trip.
Dick returned his charges to Sunnyside, and the matron, after hearing of the plans for the western trip, readily consented that Tim should go. He was an orphan, she explained, who had been taken in charge by a philanthropic society in New York. The boy was good-hearted and honest, she said, and had proved that he could be trusted. While his talk might be a bit rough and slangy a true heart beat under Tim's patched but neat jacket.
In spite of the prospective trip Dick did not forget the fresh-air children. It was found that it would require several days to get the through tickets for Yazoo City, and, in the meanwhile, the millionaire's son arranged for a big outdoor clambake for the youngsters. He and the three boys, whom he had invited to make the long journey with him, attended, and helped the waifs to have a good time—if they needed such assistance, which was doubtful.
Then, after arranging for another lot of the little unfortunates to come to Sunnyside when the first crowd had reached New York, Dick bade good-bye to those into whose lives he had been able to bring much happiness because of his wealth.
Tim was taken to the Hamilton mansion, where he was fitted up in a manner that made him think he had fallen heir to some vast treasure, such as those he read about in dime novels.
"If me Hester Street friends could see me now," he murmured, as he looked at the new suit Dick had bought him, "dey would sure take me for a swell."
"Don't think too much of good clothes," warned Dick.
"Well, it's de first time I ever had any to t'ink about," replied Tim, "an' youse must let me look at dem till I gits used to 'em," which Dick laughingly agreed to do.
"I hear you're going out West," remarked Henry Darby to Dick, when he met him on the street the day before that set for the start.
"Yes. Going to look up some gold mines," and Dick laughed.
"If you find any lying around loose, or one that no one else wants—or even an old one that someone has thrown away—why just express it back to me," requested Henry. "I'd rather have a good gold mine than this old metal business, I think."
"How is it going?" asked Dick.
"Pretty well. Say, I don't think I ought to keep that hundred-dollar check you sent me for telling you that I'd seen Grit in the man's wagon."
"Of course you've got to keep it!" exclaimed Dick. "I would have paid it to the first person who gave me the right clue, and I'm sure I couldn't give it to anyone I like better than you."
"It certainly came in mighty handy," said Henry.
"I had a chance.to buy up the refuse from an old boiler factory just before I got it and I hadn't any cash. Dad had taken all the surplus. He's got some scheme on hand, and he won't tell me what it is. He says there's lots of money in it. There may be," went on Henry, with an odd smile, "but what's worrying me is whether dad is going to get the money out of it. That's mostly the trouble with his schemes. There's thousands of dollars in 'em, but the cash generally stays there for all of him. But maybe this one will turn out all right. I hope so, because he's got all the surplus. But I used the hundred dollars to buy some old iron, and I think I can dispose of it at a profit. Well, I hope you have good luck."
"Thanks," answered Dick. "I'll remember what you said about a gold mine."
"Well, I'll not insist on a gold mine," called back Henry, as he started his horse up, a task that required some time, for the animal seemed to take advantage of every stop to go to sleep. "I'm not prejudiced in favor of a gold mine. A good-paying silver mine will do pretty nearly as well."
"I'll remember, Henry. Good-bye until I get back."
Early the next morning Dick and his four boy friends were on their way to the West. Their train was an express and the first stop was at a large city, where several railroads formed a junction. As the boys were looking from the window of the parlor car, Tim, who managed to take his eyes away from the gorgeous fittings long enough to notice what was going on up and down the long station platform, suddenly uttered an exclamation, and grabbed Dick's arm.
"Look! Dere he is!" he whispered.
"Vanderhoof! Colonel Dendon! Bond Broker Bill!"
"Where? I don't see anyone."
"Dat slick-lookin' man, wid de brown hat on," and Tim pointed to him.
"But he hasn't any black moustache," objected Dick, thinking Tim's imagination was getting the best of him.
"Of course not. He's cut it off. But I'd know him anywhere by dat scar on his left cheek. Dat's de swindler all right!"
As Dick looked he saw that the man with the brown hat did have a large scar on his cheek. It had been hidden by the moustache before.
Then, just as the train pulled out, the man looked toward the parlor car. His eyes met Dick's, and, an instant later, the man with the scar was on the run toward the telegraph office.