The motor boys started for home the next day, and thought they were going to make it in good time, but they had a tire accident on the road, when about twenty-five miles away, and decided to stay in the nearest village over night, as they had no spare shoe for the wheel.
As they left their car by the roadside, and tramped into the town, to send word to the nearest garage, they saw a cloud of dust approaching.
“Here comes a car,” said Bob. “Maybe we can get help.”
As the machine drew nearer they saw that it was painted green, and, a moment later, Noddy Nixon had brought his auto to a stop, and was grinning at them.
“Had a break-down, eh?” he asked. “That’s a fine car you have, ain’t it?”
“We can beat you!” exclaimed Ned.
“Yes you can! Not in a thousand years if I hadn’t gone off the track! Want any help? Well, you’ll not get it, see? Bye-bye! I’ll tell ’em you’re coming,” and, with an ugly leer, the bully started off.
“I wouldn’t take help from him if I had to walk ten miles without my supper,” said Bob firmly, and that was a strong saying for the stout youth.
The motor boys found a good hotel in the village, and the next day, when their car had been repaired, they resumed their journey, arriving at home about noon.
“There’s some mail for you, Jerry,” said Mrs. Hopkins, as her son came in, after putting the auto in the barn. “It’s from California. I didn’t know you knew any one out there.”
“Neither did I, mother. We’ll see who it’s from.”
He tore open the letter, read it hurriedly, and gave a cry of mingled delight and surprise.
“It’s from Nellie Seabury!” he said. “She says they are in lower California, traveling about, looking for a good place to stay at for a few months for their father’s health. When they locate she wants— that is Mr. Seabury— wants us to come out and see them. Oh, I wish I could go— I wish we could all go!”
“Perhaps you can,” suggested his mother with a smile. “California is not so far away. But I suppose you’ll have to wait until next vacation.”
“Yes, I suppose so,” admitted Jerry. “And that’s a long ways off— a long ways.”
“The time will soon pass,” said his mother. “But tell me about your auto trip. Did you have a good time?”
“Fine, and we beat Noddy Nixon in a great race.”
“I wish you wouldn’t have anything to do with that young man,” said Mrs. Hopkins. “You have nothing but trouble when you do.”
“I guess he’ll not want much more to do with us,” returned Jerry. “We manage to beat him every time. But I must go find the boys. This will be great news for them— this letter from the Seabury family.”
“I thought it was from— Nelly.”
“So it is— but it’s all the same,” answered Jerry with a blush.