The Rover Boys on Land and Sea/Chapter 4

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"What a land of plenty!"

It was Tom who made the remark.

The Rover boys were on their way to Santa Barbara, after having spent three weeks at San Francisco and vicinity. They had received word that Dora Stanhope and her mother and the two Laning girls were at the fashionable watering place, and they were anxious to meet their old friends

On sped the luxurious train, over hills and through the valleys, past heavy woodlands and by rich fruit farms. It was a scene which interested them greatly, and they never tired of sitting at the windows, gazing out.

Presently the car door opened and a tall young fellow, carrying a valise, stepped inside and walked down the aisle. As he came closer Dick Rover leaped up.

"Bob Sutter!" he cried, with a smile of pleasure. "Who would ever dream of meeting you out here?"

"Is it really Dick Rover?" questioned the newcomer, as he shook hands. "And Tom and Sam, too! I must be dreaming. Is Putnam Hall on its travels?"

"We are on our travels," replied Tom, also shaking hands, followed by Sam. "But what are you doing here?"

Bob Sutter, a former scholar at Putnam Hall, smiled broadly.

"I live in California now. My father is interested in real estate in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. Our home is in Santa Barbara."

"That is where we are going," came from Sam.

"What are you doing—just traveling around?"

"Yes; we thought we'd put in time until the Hall opens again."

"I heard it had been closed. Too bad! If you are going to Santa Barbara, you must call and see me by all means," went on Bob Sutter.

"To be sure we will," said Tom, and his brothers nodded.

"We were going down there now to call on the Stanhopes," said Dick. "They have come here for the benefit of Mrs. Stanhope's health, and Nellie and Grace Laning are with them. I guess you know them all."

"I know the Laning girls, and I think I did meet Miss Stanhope once—at a football game. I'll be glad to meet them again. But tell me about yourselves."

Bob Sutter sat down, and soon all were talking at a lively rate. The newcomer was astonished to hear of the doings of Dan Baxter.

"The Baxters always were a hard crowd," he said. "I hope you'll get back your stuff some time."

It was late at night when Santa Barbara was reached, yet many of the hotels were a blaze of light from top to bottom. At the depot the Rover boys parted with Bob Sutter, but promised to call upon him in a day or two.

"I've got a fine yacht," said Bob Sutter. "Some time I want to take you for a trip."

"Just what we were wishing for!" cried Tom. "Just name your time, that's all."

"How will next Monday suit?"

"Will your yacht hold us?" asked Sam.

"The Old Glory will hold ten passengers on a pinch," answered Bob Sutter.

"Then you don't sail the craft alone."

"I can sail her in fair weather. But father makes me take an old sailor named Jerry Tolman along with me. Jerry is a character—a regular old salt, and I love to have his company. And that makes me think! Why can't we make up a party and go out? You can bring the three girls you are going to visit, and I can bring my cousin, Mary Parloe."

"Now you are talking!" shouted Sam. "What a jolly trip it will be!"

The proposal met with immediate approval, and it was decided that the boys should meet not later than Saturday afternoon to complete arrangements.

The Rover boys had received word that Mrs. Stanhope had rented a furnished cottage not far from one of the leading hotels. The lady was very nervous, and did not like too much noise and confusion about her. Meals were brought in from the hotel, which made it very pleasant.

When the three boys drove up in a carriage from the depot, three girls came rushing out to greet them. The three were Dora Stanhope and her two cousins, Nellie and Grace Laning.

"So here you are at last!" cried Dora Stanhope, as she gave Dick's hand a tight squeeze.

"We almost made up our mind you had missed the train," said Nellie Laning to Tom, giving him a bright smile as she spoke.

"How fine you are looking," said Grace to Sam. "Traveling must agree with you."

"Traveling does agree with us," said Sam.

"We would have been here sooner, only we stopped to talk to an old schoolmate," said Dick, and then he told about Bob Sutter.

"Oh, I remember Bob Sutter," said Nellie. "We went on a straw-ride together once—before you came to Putnam Hall," she added, to Tom.

"I know him, too," put in Grace. "He's a nice boy."

"Of course he is," said Sam pointedly.

"But he isn't as nice as some boys," went on Grace in a lower tone, and giving Sam an arch smile that made him feel very happy.

They were soon in the cottage and greeting Mrs. Stanhope, who had been lying on a couch. The lady greeted them in a motherly way that made them feel more at home than ever. She thought a great deal of the Rover boys, and especially of Dick, and did not object in the least to the marked attention Dick bestowed upon her only child. As my old readers know, the Rover boys had, in the past, done mother and daughter more than one valuable service.

The boys were fortunate in obtaining rooms in the hotel close to the cottage, which would make it possible for them to run in and out as they pleased.

"It's like old times to be together again," said Tom, when he and his brothers were re tiring that night. "And, as Mrs. Stanhope is feeling so well, I guess we can have lots of fun."

And fun they did have. There were bathing in the surf, and lawn tennis, and dancing at the hotel in the evening, and also lovely walks and drives, and once they went out on horseback to a large fruit farm some miles away, and were royally entertained by some of Bob Sutler's friends. Bob Sutter and his cousin, Mary Parloe, went along, and proved first-class company.

The idea of a trip on Bob's yacht suited every body, and it was decided that the whole party should go out early Monday morning, taking old Jerry Tolman with them. They were to load down well with provisions and visit not only several points along the coast, but also one or two of the islands lying twenty-five to thirty miles south of Santa Barbara.

The Rover boys had already inspected the Old Glory and found her to be a first-class yacht in every respect. The craft was about sixty, feet in length and correspondingly broad of beam. She carried a tall mast, but the lead in her keel was amply sufficient to keep her from going over unless under full sail in a very heavy wind. The cabin was fairly large and richly furnished, for the Sutters were a family of means, and desired everything of the best.

If the boys liked the yacht they also liked the man who had charge of her, bluff and hearty Jerry Tolman—Captain Jerry, as Bob Sutter called him. He was truly an old salt, having sailed the ocean since his tenth year, on both whalers and merchantmen. Captain Jerry lacked a book education, but he was naturally shrewd, and far from being a fool.

"Downright glad to meet ye, my hearties," he said, when the boys were brought on board. And he gave each hand a grip like that of iron. "Want to look over my lady, eh? Well, she's a putty one to inspect, take my word on't." And he showed them over the craft with pleasure. They found the yacht clean "as a whistle," and each particular bit of brasswork polished like a mirror.

By Saturday evening all was ready for the trip. On Sunday morning the Rover boys went to church with the Stanhopes and the Lanings, and rested in the afternoon.

They were just about to go to supper, when a note came for Dick. It was from Bob Sutter and ran as follows:

"My Dear Dick: My cousin and I have been in an accident. We went driving to church this morning and the horse ran away and threw us both out on the rocks. Miss Parloe had her collar bone broken, and I broke my left ankle. Kindly come and see me if you can."

"An accident!" cried Tom. "That is too bad."

"Let us all go and see him," suggested Sam, and this plan was carried out.

They found that Bob Sutter was resting easily on his bed. The doctor had set the broken ankle, and put it in plaster, and he had told Bob that he must keep quiet for several weeks.

"This ends that yacht trip, so far as I am concerned," said Bob ruefully.

"Never mind, we can wait until you get well," said Dick cheerfully, although he did not expect to remain at Santa Barbara more than ten days longer.

"No, I don't want you to wait," answered Bob Sutter. "My cousin won't be well, so they tell me, for several months, and I won't want to go without her. I've been thinking that
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you had better take the trip without us. Captain Jerry can easily run the yacht with your aid."

"That's very kind of you," said Tom. "But we'd rather have you along."

The matter was talked over for an hour. The Rover boys knew that Dora, Nellie, and Grace would be sorely disappointed if the yacht trip was given up. At last they decided to accept Bob Sutter's kind suggestion and make the trip without the company of the young owner and his cousin; and then they withdrew, wishing Bob a speedy recovery.