After that the talk became general, and quite unconsciously Dick and Dora strolled off by themselves, down towards a tiny brook that flowed past the campus grounds.
“You must be very careful, Dora, now that Crabtree is at liberty,” said the eldest Rover boy. “I wouldn’t have him run off with you again for the world,” he added, tenderly.
“I shall watch out, Dick,— and I’ll make the others watch out, too.” And then, as he squeezed her hand, she added, in a lower voice: “How is that other matter coming along?”
“Not very well, Dora,” and Dick’s face became more serious than ever.
“Can’t your father manage it?”
“I don’t think so. You see, he isn’t in very good health— he breaks down every once in a while. Those business matters worry him a great deal.”
“Can’t your uncle help him?”
“No, Uncle Randolph means well, but he is no business man— he showed that when he allowed those men to swindle him out of those bonds,” went on Dick, referring to an event which has been related in detail in “The Rover Boys on the Farm.”
“But what can you do, Dick?” questioned the girl, earnestly.
“I think I’ll have to quit college and take up the matter myself,” answered Dick Rover.
The end of the “Dartaway”
“Quit college? Oh, Dick, do you want to do that?”
“Not exactly, Dora— and yet I don’t think I am exactly fitted for a professional career. That seems to be more in Tom and Sam’s line. I like business, and I’d enjoy getting into something big, something worth while. I think I could handle those matters, if father would only let me try. And then there is another thing, Dora,” went on the youth, looking squarely into his companion’s face. “Perhaps you can guess what that is.”
She blushed deeply.
“What?” she whispered.
“I want to marry you, and take you some place where I know you’ll be safe from such creatures as Crabtree and Sobber and Larkspur— and I want the right to look after your mother, too.”
“Oh, Dick!” And she clung tightly to his arm.
“Aren’t you willing, Dora?”
“Yes.” She looked at him frankly” “Yes, Dick, whenever you say.”
“And your mother——”
“Mamma depends upon me in everything, and she has told me to do just as we thought best.”
Dick gave a swift look around. Nobody was in sight at that moment. He pressed Dora to him.
“You best and dearest sweetheart in all the world!” he cried, in a low tone. “Then I can depend on you? We’ll be the happiest couple in the whole world!”
“Indeed, yes, Dick!” And Dora’s eyes fairly beamed with happiness as she snuggled closer to him. “But about your father,” she continued, a moment later. “I am selfish to forget him. Then he is not so well?”