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    Chapter 1

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    THE LANDSLIDE MINE

    "Roger, that sounds like a fairy tale--a real gold mine belonging to your mother lost through a landslide!"

    "So it does sound like a fairy tale, Dave; but it is absolutely true. The mine was owned by my uncle, Maurice Harrison, of Butte, Montana, and when he died he left it to my mother, who was his sister. On the day he died there was a big landslide in the mountains, where the mine was located,--and that was the end of the mine, as far as my folks were concerned."

    "You mean you couldn't find the mine after the landslide?" asked Dave Porter, with deep interest.

    "That's it," answered Roger Morr. "The opening to it was completely covered up, and so were the stakes, and several landmarks that showed where the mine was located."

    "But why didn't you tell of this before, Roger?" asked a third youth of the group seated on the lawn of Senator Morr's country estate. "Did it just happen?"

    "No, Phil, this happened last fall, about nine months ago. The reason I didn't mention it to you and Dave was because my folks wanted it kept quiet. From what my uncle said in his will, the mine must be very valuable, and my folks didn't want any outsiders to re-discover the mine and set up a claim to it. So they started a search on the quiet--hiring some old miners and prospectors they could trust. But the search has been in vain."

    "Couldn't they discover the mine at all?" queried Dave Porter.

    "No, the landslide was too heavy and too far-reaching. The old miners told my father it was the biggest landslide known in Montana. One prospector said he thought the mine must now be a hundred feet or more underground."

    "Had your uncle worked it at all?" questioned Phil Lawrence.

    "Not much, but enough to learn that it was a valuable claim. It was in a district that had been visited by landslides before, and so he called it the Landslide Mine."

    "Well, your uncle could be thankful for one thing--that he wasn't in the mine when that big slide took place. But you said he died anyway."

    "Yes, of pneumonia, on the very day the slide took place. Wasn't it queer? Dad and mother went out to Butte, to the funeral--Uncle Maurice was an old bachelor--and then they heard his will read and learned about the mine."

    "And they couldn't get any trace at all, Roger?" asked Dave, as he stopped swinging in the hammock he occupied.

    "Nothing worth following up. One of the miners thought he had a landmark located, but, although he spent a good deal of money digging around, nothing came of it. You see that big landslide seemed to change the whole face of the country. It took down dirt and rocks, and trees and bushes, and sent them to new resting places."

    "Perhaps the mine was washed away instead of being covered up," suggested Phil.

    "No, all those who have visited the locality are agreed that the entrance to the claim must have been covered up."

    "Say! I'd like to hunt for that mine!" cried Dave Porter, enthusiastically.

    "So would I," returned Roger Morr, wistfully. "I know my mother would like to have somebody find it--just to learn if it is really as valuable as Uncle Maurice thought."

    "Well, if you two fellows go West to look for that mine you can count on having me with you," put in Phil Lawrence. "We were going to decide on what to do for the next two months. If Roger says the word----"

    "Oh, I could do that easily enough," said the senator's son. "But Dave wrote that he had something up his sleeve. Maybe his plans won't fit into this."

    "But they just will fit in!" cried Dave. "At least, I think they will," he added, more slowly. "You say this mine is located in Montana?"

    "Yes."

    "Well, that isn't very far from Yellowstone Park, is it?"

    "No--in fact a corner of the Park is in Montana."

    "Then, while the others were taking the trip through Yellowstone Park we could go out to that mining district and try to locate this missing mine," went on Dave, with a smile.

    "What are you talking about, Dave?" questioned his two chums, in a breath.

    "I'm talking about a personally-conducted tour of the Park that some folks in and around Crumville are getting up. Mr. Basswood, Ben's father, is at the head of it. It's a sort of church affair. They have got my folks interested, and my Uncle Dunston says he will go, and so will Laura, and Mrs. Wadsworth, and Jessie, and half a dozen others you know. They thought maybe we boys would want to go, too."

    "Wow! All to the merry!" cried Phil, and leaping out of the willow chair he occupied, he turned a "cart-wheel" on the lawn. "Say, this fits in better than a set of new teeth, doesn't it?" he went on, enthusiastically.

    "When is this grand tour to come off?" asked Roger.

    "It starts about the middle of July--just two weeks from to-day. The plan is to spend about four weeks in and around the Park, seeing everything thoroughly. You know there are some fine, comfortable hotels there, and folks like Mrs. Wadsworth don't like to travel in a hurry."

    "Going through the Park would certainly be a great trip," said Roger. "And especially with the girls."

    "We could travel with them as far as--let me see, what's the name of the place--oh, yes, Livingston. That's where they leave the main line of the railroad to go on the little branch to the Park."

    "Well, if they spent four weeks in the Park that would give us plenty of time to hunt for the mine," said Phil, thoughtfully. "But it would be a big job."

    "And a dangerous one," added Roger. "Remember, where there have been several landslides there may be more. Fact is, when I spoke to my dad about going out there, he shook his head and said I had better keep away--that the search ought to be conducted by experienced men who understood the lay of the land and all that."

    "Oh, we could be careful," returned Dave, impulsively. The idea of going in search of the lost mine appealed to him strongly.

    "Sure, we'd be careful," added Phil. "Aren't we always careful? All aboard for the Landslide Mine, say I! Come on, if you are going!" And he grinned broadly.

    "Better wait until after lunch," returned the senator's son, dryly. "We might have something you'd like to eat, Phil."

    "All right, just as you say." The other youth dropped back into a wicker chair. "Say, doesn't it just feel good to think that we have graduated from Oak Hall and don't have to go back?" he added, with a sigh of satisfaction.

    "I'm glad I have graduated, but I am not so glad that I am not going back," answered Dave. "We had some good times at the Hall."

    "So we did--dandy times!" cried Roger. "I tell you, I shall miss Oak Hall a great deal. I shall miss our friends and also our enemies."

    "Speaking of enemies, I wonder what ever became of old Job Haskers," said Phil.

    "I don't know and I don't want to know," came from Dave. "I never want to see that good-for-nothing teacher again. I am glad, on account of the fellows left at Oak Hall, that the doctor discharged him."

    "So am I," put in the senator's son. "Just the same, Dave, Haskers will try to get square with us if he ever gets the chance."

    "Oh, I know that. But I don't intend to give him the chance."

    "Speaking of our enemies, I wonder what ever became of Link Merwell," said Phil. "He seems to have dropped out of sight completely."

    "I rather imagine he has left the country," returned Roger. "For if he was around at all, some of the school fellows would be sure to hear of him. Say, he certainly was a bad egg."

    "Yes, but not as bad as Nick Jasniff," said Dave. "I am glad they locked that fellow up. He was an out-and-out criminal."

    "Let us drop those fellows and get back to this lost mine," interrupted Phil. "If we are really going out to Montana we ought to make some sort of preparations for the trip."

    "Oh, we've got two weeks to do that in, Phil," answered Roger. "And please to remember, Fourth of July is coming, and I am expecting several of the other fellows here to help celebrate. We can fix it up about that western trip after the Fourth."

    "Who are coming, Roger, did you hear?" asked Dave.

    "Shadow Hamilton for one, and perhaps Buster Beggs and Luke Watson. I asked some of the other fellows, but they had other engagements. Old John went down to the post-office for letters a while ago. Maybe he'll bring news."

    "Here he comes now," cried Dave, as he saw a colored man-of-all-work coming along the road that ran in front of the Morr estate. "And he's got a bundle of letters."

    All three boys ran across the broad lawn to meet the colored man.

    "Any letters for me, John?"

    "Don't forget me!"

    "Who's the pink envelope for?"

    "Letters fo' all ob yo' young gen'men, I 'spect," returned the man-of-all-work. "Mebbe yo' kin sort 'em out better'n I kin, Massa Roger," he added. "My eyesight ain't no better'n it ought to be." And he handed the bunch of mail over to the senator's son.

    "One for Phil and two for Dave," said Roger, looking the mail over. "And four for myself. Pretty good. Here, John, take the rest into the house."

    Without ceremony the three chums returned to their resting place on the shady lawn and began the perusal of their letters.

    "Mine is from my father," said Phil. "He is going to take a trip on one of his ships to Nova Scotia and he wants to know if I wish to go along."

    "One of these letters is from Gus Plum," said Dave. "He is going to Europe with his folks. The other letter is from--er--from Crumville."

    "I'll wager it is from Jessie Wadsworth," remarked Phil, slyly. "Come, Dave, what does the lady fair say?"

    "Sends her best regards to both of you," answered Dave, blushing. "She writes mostly about that proposed trip to Yellowstone Park, and wants to know if you fellows are going along."

    "One of these letters is from Luke Watson and he will be here to-morrow," said Roger. "And another is from Shadow and he is coming, too. And this one--well, I declare! Just listen to this! It's from Buster Beggs." And Roger read as follows:

    "I will be along for the Fourth. I've just had a letter from Sid Lambert, that new fellow from Pittsburg. He says he knows Link Merwell and met him about a week ago. He says Merwell is very bitter against you and Porter and Lawrence. Merwell was going West on some business for his father and then he was coming East. I would advise you and your chums to keep your eyes peeled for him. He can't show himself, for fear of arrest, and that has made him very vindictive. Sid tried to get his address, but Merwell wouldn't give it, and he left Sid very suddenly, thinking maybe that some one would put the police on his track."
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