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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 12
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    OVERHEARD IN THE SUMMER-HOUSE

    "Dave, what do you think! I saw Link Merwell this morning!"

    It was Laura who spoke, as she burst into her brother's room, where the youth was looking over the things he expected to take with him on his trip West.

    "You saw Link Merwell!" cried Dave, dropping some collars he held in his hand. "Where?"

    "Down on Main Street, near the post-office."

    "Did he speak to you?"

    "Oh, no, the minute he noticed that I saw him he hurried out of sight around the corner. I followed to the corner, but when I got there he had gone."

    "Was Job Haskers with him?"

    "I didn't see him."

    "Humph! This is interesting, to say the least," mused Dave. He thought of what Nat Poole had told him, and of what Merwell and Haskers had attempted at the Morr homestead. "I'll have to look into this," he added, aloud.

    "Oh, Dave, do you think he'll try to do something more round here--or at the jewelry works?"

    "I'll warn Mr. Wadsworth, Laura, and he can notify the police. But it's queer Merwell should show himself, knowing there is a warrant out for his arrest. Weren't you mistaken?"

    "I don't think so. Of course he had on a slouch hat, drawn down over his eyes, and an unusual suit of clothing, but I am pretty certain it was Merwell."

    "Then Haskers must be here, too. They travel together." Dave heaved a sigh. "It's too bad! I wish they were in China, or at the North Pole!"

    It was two days after Dave's arrival at Crumville and most of the time had been spent in getting ready for the trip to Montana. Roger and Phil were coming to the house that afternoon, and Dave had received a telegram from Shadow Hamilton that he would accompany the tourists as far as Yellowstone Park. The other lads were unable to make the necessary arrangements.

    It was lunch time and Dave lost no time in going to Mr. Wadsworth, who had just come in from his jewelry works. Both of them, accompanied by Dave's father, went into the library to talk the matter over, so that Jessie and her mother might not be disturbed.

    "I'll see the police about this," said Mr. Wadsworth, when he had heard about Merwell. "If possible, we must place this young scamp where that fellow Jasniff is, behind the bars."

    "I wish they could arrest Haskers, too," sighed Dave.

    "I don't see how we can--we have no charge against him," answered the manufacturer.

    It was about three o'clock when Roger and Phil came in. As my old readers know, the senator's son and Dave's sister were on unusually good terms with each other, and the greeting between them was very cordial.

    "But I don't like you for one thing, Roger," said Laura, half reproachfully. "I don't like this idea of Dave going off to look for that lost mine."

    "Oh, we won't be away from you long, Laura."

    "And the danger--not only to Dave but to--to you," went on the girl, and gave him a look that meant much.

    "We'll be careful," answered the senator's son. "But I hate awfully to worry you," he added, in a lower tone.

    For Phil, Laura had some good news, which was to the effect that Belle Endicott, the daughter of the owner of Star Ranch, where the young folks had spent such an enjoyable summer, had written that she would join the party at Livingston, for the trip through Yellowstone Park. Phil had always admired Belle, she was so dashing and so full of fun, and the news was just to his liking.

    "We'll have the best times ever!" he cried. "That is, after Dave and Roger and Shadow and I get back from locating that lost mine!"

    "You talk as if it was going to be the easiest thing in the world to locate the Landslide Mine!" laughed Roger. "I think it is going to be hard work--and we may not get a trace of it."

    "Did you bring those papers and that map?" questioned Dave.

    "I did."

    "Let us go over them now," cried Phil. But this was not to be, for there were other things to attend to just then, and the girls demanded a good share of the boys' attention.

    The following morning found the three youths in a summer-house attached to the Wadsworth estate. This was located down near a tiny brook and was overgrown with vines and bushes. It was a cozy retreat, especially on such a hot day in July, and the boys proceeded to make themselves at home by throwing off their coats and caps.

    "Now let us get down to business on this thing," said Dave; whereupon the senator's son brought forth his papers, and the map of the mining district wherein the Landslide Mine was supposed to be located.

    "That lost mine is supposed to be somewhere along this old trail," said Roger, pointing with his finger. "This trail is known as the Rodman Trail, because a fellow named Billy Rodman discovered it. As near as I can make out, the papers say the mine was on this Rodman Trail, half a mile north of Stony Cut and to the west of the Four Rocks."

    "Huh! That ought to be dead easy to locate," was Phil's comment. "All we have to do is to walk along the trail half a mile beyond Stony Cut and then to the west of the Four Rocks,--and there you are."

    "Exactly, except for two things," replied Roger. "The landslide wiped out Stony Cut and the Four Rocks, too."

    "Oh!"

    "But some one must have some idea where Stony Cut was located," said Dave.

    "My idea is to hunt up that old miner, Abe Blower, and see if he can't locate Stony Cut for us, even approximately, and tell us something about Four Rocks--how it used to look before the great landslide. Then, after we've got that information, we'll start on the hunt."

    "Do you think we'll find Abe Blower in Butte, Montana?" asked Phil.

    "More than likely. He was there some time ago, mother heard. He and Uncle Maurice used to be great chums."

    "And are you sure the mine is valuable?" queried Phil, after a pause.

    "It must be, otherwise my uncle wouldn't have been so anxious about it."

    Again the boys went over the papers and also the map, talking the proposed trip over from various points of view. They all agreed that locating the lost mine would be no easy task.

    "Supposing somebody else locates it?" said Phil, presently. "Couldn't he lay claim to it?"

    "I don't know about that--I suppose so, since the mine is now completely lost."

    "I hope you can find this Abe Blower and get him to go with us," said Dave. "An old prospector like that ought to know that territory well."

    "Blower does know it--so they say."

    "Did you ever meet him?" questioned Phil.

    "No, I never even heard of him until Uncle Maurice died and left his property to mother."

    "Then you don't know what kind of a man he is?"

    "Oh, he must be pretty nice, or my uncle wouldn't have had him for a friend. I've no doubt that he is rough--many of that sort are--but I feel certain----"

    Roger stopped short, as a strange crashing in some bushes back of the summer-house reached his ears and the ears of the others.

    "What's that?" cried Dave. "Some animal?"

    "Hi, what are you doing there?" came, in the voice of the Wadsworth gardener. "Come here, I want to talk to you!"

    "Somebody is in those bushes!" exclaimed Roger, and ran from the summer-house, followed by his chums.

    They were just in time to find Joseph, the new gardener, running after a young fellow who was making his way through an apple orchard on the other side of the brook. Joseph was somewhat stout and not quick of foot, and the young fellow easily outdistanced him, leaped the orchard fence, and hurried down the back road.

    "Who was it, Joseph?" demanded Dave, when the gardener came up, all out of breath.

    "I--don't--know--sir!" gasped the man, puffing for breath. "He--was--hiding--in the bushes back of--the--summer-house."

    "Hiding here!" cried Dave. He looked at his chums. "Can it have been Merwell?" he murmured.

    "Would he dare come here?" asked Phil.

    "He dared to come to Crumville, after he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest."

    "How did that fellow look?" questioned Roger.

    "I didn't see his face, sir," answered the gardener, who had now recovered somewhat. "He had on a soft hat and a brown, baggy suit."

    "That's the way Merwell was togged out, so Laura said!" cried Dave. "Fellows, it must have been Link! Now what do you know about that!"

    "Do you think he heard what we said?" asked Roger, much disturbed.

    "He must have, if he was hiding in those bushes," answered Phil.

    "Wonder how long he was there?"

    None of the boys could answer that question, nor could the gardener enlighten them. Joseph had been coming along the side of the orchard when he had espied the fellow and had called to him, thinking it was some boy from Crumville who had sneaked up to steal some of the orchard fruit. He had been surprised when the fellow dashed away so quickly.

    "Maybe he wasn't alone," suggested Roger. "Let us take a look around."

    This was done, but nobody else seemed to be near. Much disturbed, the three lads walked all over the place, and even down the back road in the direction the intruder had fled.

    "If it was Merwell he must have heard all that was said," remarked the senator's son, gravely.

    "If he did, it won't do him any good," answered Phil. "I don't think he'll hunt for that mine."

    "He may follow us and try to make trouble," returned Dave. "He is very bitter--and so is Job Haskers. They'd put themselves out a whole lot to give us a black eye, so to speak."

    "Oh, I know that."

    Much disturbed, the three youths returned to the house, where Roger put his map and papers in a safe place in his trunk--the one he was to take on the trip West. In the meantime Dave telephoned to the police, telling them that Merwell had been seen in the vicinity of the Wadsworth mansion. He was glad of the fact that Mrs. Wadsworth and the girls had gone out to do some shopping, for he did not wish to alarm them further.

    In the meantime, down the hot and dusty road in the rear of the orchard ran the young fellow who had leaped the fence. It was indeed Link Merwell, sour-faced, and with that same cunning look as of old in his eyes.

    He kept on for fully a quarter of a mile, then suddenly plunged into a strip of woodland. There, beside a large stream of water, were the ruins of an old stone house.

    Link Merwell stopped running and after a stealthy look around, emitted a clear, short whistle. This he repeated twice.

    From behind the ruins of the stone house a man appeared, with a soft hat drawn well down over his forehead. The man was Job Haskers.

    "Back again, eh?" snapped the former teacher of Oak Hall. "Did you do it?" he questioned, curiously.

    "No, I didn't get the chance," answered Link Merwell. He sank on a log and fanned himself with his hat.

    "Humph! Better let it go then. If they see you, they'll be after you."

    "They are after me, Haskers."

    "They are! Then let us get out at once!" And the former teacher plainly showed his nervousness.

    "I'm willing," returned Link Merwell. "I've changed my mind about doing something here," he went on. "We can do something somewhere else--something that will pay us both big."

    "What do you mean?"

    "We can go after a fortune that is coming to Roger Morr's mother. It's the Landslide Mine, and it's lost. Haskers, if we can locate that mine, our fortunes are made! Come on, and I'll tell you all about it while we are getting away from this place. We must go West just as fast as we can make it!"
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    Chapter 12
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