“Wish you success, boys!” cried Stanley after them.
“Yes, indeed,” added Spud. “Keep up a stout heart. Maybe it’s all right, after all. There may be some mistake somewhere.”
At the farm
“Oak Run! All out for Oak Run!”
It was the familiar cry of the brakeman of the train, as the cars rolled into the little station at which the Rover boys were to alight. The ride from Ashton had been without incident. They had had to make two changes, and had fretted not a little over a delay of half an hour at one junction point.
“There’s old Ricks!” cried Sam, motioning to the station master, who was looking after some baggage. “Remember the fun we had with him on our last trip here, Tom?”
“Indeed, yes,” was the reply, and the fun-loving Rover grinned a little.
“No time for fun now,” put in Dick, quickly. “We want to get home just as soon as possible.”
From one of the telegraph offices along the line the boys had sent word ahead, and at the station they found Jack Ness, the hired man, who had brought the family touring car.
“Glad to see you back,” said the hired man, touching his cap.
“Any news, Jack?” asked the three, in one voice.
“You mean from your father?”
“No,” and Jack Ness shook his head slowly “Not a line for several days. Your aunt an’ uncle are worried ’most to death.”
The boys leaped into the touring car, Dick taking the wheel and Sam getting in beside him. Tom and the hired man occupied the tonneau, with the baggage. Away they went, in a cloud of dust, over the frail bridge that spanned the river and through the village of Dexter’s Corners. Then they struck the country road leading to Valley Brook farm, their home. Dick increased the speed to thirty miles an hour— all the car would stand on such a highway.
“Say, we’ll have an accident!” cried Jack Ness, in alarm. “It ain’t safe to run so fast, nohow!”
“Sit still, Jack; Dick knows what he is doing,” commanded Tom. “We want to get home just as soon as we can.”
“Well, I don’t blame ye fer wantin’ to git home,— but I don’t want to git kilt!” murmured the man of all work.
Farm after farm was passed and also a patch of timber land. Then they swept around a turn and came in sight of Valley Brook, with its broad fields and its gurgling brook flowing down to Swift River.
“There’s Aleck!” shouted Sam, pointing to a colored man who was standing at the entrance to a lane. He waved his hand and Alexander Pop, one of the servants, and a man who had made many trips with the Rovers, took off his hat and waved in return.
As he swung up to the broad piazza of the house, Dick honked the automobile horn. At once the door flew open and Mrs. Rover ran out, followed by her husband.