“I’ll take your word for it,” murmured Bob. “But now come in and let’s see about our arrangements.”
The professor, who had been invited to be a guest at Ned’s house, pending the start for the west, entered, placing his valise of specimens in a safe place in the hall. Then he and the boys discussed matters. Mr. Slade came in, soon after the arrival of the scientist, and announced that he had, in accordance with a previous arrangement, purchased the boys’ tickets.
“All you’ve got to do is to pack up and start,” said Mr. Slade. “I’m not going to give you any advice, for you ought to be able to take care of yourselves by this time. I know you will be safe as long as you are with the professor.”
“Thank you,” said the scientist with a bow.
The professor’s arrangements for the western trip were complete and it did not take the boys long to get ready. By the end of the week the last valise had been packed, trunks were checked on ahead and, one morning, the boys started.
They were to proceed to Los Angeles, and from there were to go down the coast by land to the small town of San Felicity, where Mr. Seabury and his daughters had rented a bungalow.
“Now for a good time!” exclaimed Ned, as the train pulled out of the Cresville depot. “I’ve always wanted to visit California, and now I’m going to.”
“We certainly ought to enjoy ourselves,” agreed Jerry.
The travelers made good time to Chicago, little of incident occurring on the trip. When they got to the Windy City, they found they would have to wait several hours for a connecting train, and they put in the time seeing the sights.
When they returned to the depot they found the professor busy over some scientific book, sitting as undisturbed in the station, filled as it was with shifting crowds, as if he was in his quiet study at the museum.
“The train will be here in about fifteen minutes,” he informed the boys. “Better sit down and wait.”
The three chums were rather tired, and were glad enough to take their places on the comfortable benches.
“Chicago is a great place,” announced Bob. “That restaurant, where we had dinner—”
“Can’t you say something that hasn’t got any eating in it?” asked Ned. “You’re the limit, you are.”
“Well,” said Bob, “they certainly had fine pie in that place. I wish—”
He stopped suddenly, as Jerry help up his hand to indicate silence.
“What’s the matter?” asked Ned in a whisper, as he leaned forward. “See some new kind of a bug for the professor?”
“I overheard that man back of us speaking,” replied Jerry in a low tone, nodding his head to indicate where he meant. The benches were arranged so that travelers occupying them sat back to back. “His voice sounded like one I’ve heard before, but I can’t place it. I thought maybe you’d remember. We may have met him on our travels. I can’t see his face until he turns around.”