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    Chapter 13

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    Chapter 14
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    "You gave somebody my suit-case!" cried the senator's son, while a number of tourists gathered around, to learn what was going on.

    "Yes, sah!" returned the colored porter of the car. Plainly he was much distressed. "He had an order, sah," he added, and fumbled in one pocket after another, at last bringing out a crumbled bit of writing paper. "Here it is, sah!"

    Roger took the slip and read it, with Dave and Phil looking over his shoulders. The sheet read as follows:

    "Porter, Car Medora: Deliver to bearer my suit-case. Roger A. Morr."

    "This is a forgery--I never wrote it!" cried the senator's son. "It's some swindler's trick!"

    "I--I didn't know you didn't write it," faltered the porter. "I axed the man where you was and he said you was visitin' his house and wanted to show him something you had in the case."

    "Do you know what I think?" exclaimed Dave. "I think this is the work of Link Merwell!"

    "Yes, and Job Haskers," added Phil. "They are working together."

    "But why did they steal my suit-case?" asked Roger. "Do you suppose----?" He stopped short, for strangers were about. He was on the point of mentioning the map and instructions he carried for locating the Landslide Mine. Dave and Phil, as well as Ben and Shadow, understood.

    "Did you have anything in the case outside of your clothing?" whispered the shipowner's son.

    "Only a few things of no importance," answered Roger. He tapped his breast pocket. "Those papers are here, and my money is here, too."

    "Good!" murmured Dave. "Then Merwell and Haskers will be sold--outside of getting your clothing."

    The porter was closely questioned, but could give no very good description of the man who had presented the order for the suit-case.

    "I was busy--waitin' on an old lady wot was sick," he explained. "I jess read that order and got the suit-case, and he went off in a hurry. I'm mighty sorry I let him have the bag. But he had the order, all signed," and the porter rolled his eyes mournfully.

    "I can't say that I blame you," answered Roger. "But after this----"

    "I won't give away nuffin to nobody," cried the porter, quickly.

    The matter was talked over for several minutes, and then it was time for the train to leave Chicago. The paper looked as if it might be in Link Merwell's handwriting and the boys concluded that he was the guilty party. Probably he had come to the train, knowing our friends were away on the sight-seeing tour, and possibly he had been disguised, maybe with a false mustache, or wig, or both. The porter was almost certain the man had worn a heavy black mustache.

    "Well, all I lost was one suit of clothes, some shirts and collars, a few neckties and some underclothes, and a comb and brush, and toothbrush," remarked Roger, when the train was once more on its way. "It's a total loss of about sixty dollars."

    "Maybe you can make the railroad pay it," suggested Shadow.

    "Perhaps. But I am thankful that those rascals didn't get what they were after. They must have thought I carried those papers in the suit-case." Such was indeed the truth, and it was Merwell who had forged Roger's signature and gotten the traveling bag. It may be added here that, later on, the railroad company offered to pay for the loss of the suit-case and its contents, doing this very promptly when it was learned that the loser was the son of a United States senator.

    On and on rolled the excursion train, and after the excitement attending the loss of the suit-case was over, the boys and girls settled down to enjoy themselves. Dave and the other lads loaned Roger such things as he needed, until he could get at his trunk in the baggage-car.

    The next morning found the train in St. Paul, and there the tourists spent a day, riding around the city and visiting Minneapolis, which is but a short distance away. By nightfall they were on board once more and bound for Livingston, a small place, where a branch-line runs a distance of about fifty miles southward to Gardiner, the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park. At Livingston, Dave and his chums were to separate from the others and keep on westward to Butte, where they hoped to fall in with Abe Blower, the old miner and prospector.

    "Oh, Dave, it won't be long now before we separate!" said Jessie with a sigh. It was the second day of the trip after leaving St. Paul, and the two were by themselves on the observation end of the train.

    "Well, I don't think it will be for long," he said, as cheerfully as possible. "We'll soon join you in the Park."

    "I--I wouldn't mind it so much if it was not for that Link Merwell--and that old Haskers!" continued the girl. "Oh, Dave, you must be careful!" and she caught him by the arm.

    "I'm going to keep my eyes open for them," Dave answered, and, as nobody was looking, he caught her hand and gave it a tight squeeze. "Will you miss me, Jessie, while I am gone?" he continued, in a low tone.

    "Terribly!" she whispered.

    "I'll miss you, too. But it sha'n't be for long that I'll be away--I promise you that."

    "Oh, you must find the mine if you can, Dave. I rather think the Morrs are depending on it. Laura said Roger looked very much worried when he got that letter in St. Paul."

    "Yes, matters are not going well with the senator's affairs--I know that, Jessie. If he gets out of politics he'll have to do something else. Finding this lost gold mine would be a big lift for the whole family."

    Then Laura came out, in company with Roger, and soon the others followed. It was a perfect day, as clear as could be, and off in the distance could be seen the mountains.

    "Going to shoot any bears out there in the Park?" asked Shadow, of Dunston Porter, with a grin.

    "Hardly, Shadow, since outsiders are not allowed to carry firearms," replied Dave's uncle. "Only the United States soldiers are armed in the Park."

    "Somebody told me the bears were tame enough to eat out of your hand," said Phil.

    "Maybe they are, but I shouldn't advise anybody to feed them that way," answered Mr. Porter. "A bear isn't naturally a sociable creature."

    It had been decided that Dunston Porter should go into the Park with the ladies and the girls, letting the boys shift for themselves in the search for Abe Blower and the lost Landslide Mine. An hour before the time for parting came Dunston Porter called Dave, Roger, and Phil to him, in a car that was practically vacated at the time.

    "Now, I want to caution all of you to be careful," said the old hunter and traveler. "This isn't the East, remember. It's the West, and in some places it is as wild and woolly as can be. But I don't think you'll have any trouble if you mind your own business and keep your eyes open. Don't rely too much on strangers, and I think it will be wise for all of you to keep together as much as possible. Don't show any more cash than you have to. And remember, you can always reach us in the Park, by telegraph or long-distance telephone."

    "We'll try to take care of ourselves," said Dave; and then his uncle continued to give the youths advice, on one subject or another, until it was time to get ready to leave the train.

    "Livingston!" was the cry presently, and the excursion train rolled into the long depot. It was to stop there for fifteen minutes and then proceed to Gardiner.

    "There is Belle!" cried Laura.

    "I see her!" put in Phil, and was the first to reach the platform and shake the girl from Star Ranch by the hand. Belle Endicott looked the picture of health, and was glad to greet them all.

    "Sorry we can't visit awhile," said Roger.

    "We'll do that after we come back," added Phil.

    "Well, good-by everybody!" cried Dave, shaking hands with many, an example followed by those who were to go with him.

    "Wish I was going on that hunt for the mine with you," said Ben, who had to remain with his folks.

    "So do I," added Shadow, who was to stay with Ben.

    "Never mind, we'll rely on you to look after the girls," answered Dave.

    "Oh, we can do that," said Ben, with a grin.

    "Say, that puts me in mind of a story," cried Shadow. "No reflection on the girls here," he added, hastily. "Once on a time a young minister paid a visit to some relatives in the country. He got a letter stating they'd be glad to have him come and would he attend a picnic in the woods and help to take care of four girls. He wrote back that he would be delighted. When he arrived and started for the picnic he found the four girls waiting for him--four old maids from thirty to forty years of age!" And at this joke a smile went around, in which the girls joined.

    Soon the last of the good-bys had been said. The girls were on the observation end of the last car, and as the train rolled onward towards Yellowstone Park they waved their handkerchiefs and the boys on the platform swung their caps. Then the train slowly disappeared from view.

    "Well, here we are," said Phil, with something like a sigh.

    "We've got an hour to wait before that train comes along for Butte," said Roger, consulting his watch.

    "How far is Butte?" went on the shipowner's son.

    "About a hundred miles, as the crow flies," answered Dave. "But I guess it is longer by the railroad, and we'll have some climbing to do--to get into the Rockies."

    "Say, supposing we ask the men around here if they saw anything of Merwell and Haskers?" suggested the senator's son.

    "It won't do any harm," answered Dave.

    Inquiries were made of the baggage-master, a ticket-seller, and half a dozen other men around the depot. But none of them remembered having seen the pair mentioned.

    "They probably kept out of sight," was Dave's comment. "They would be afraid we were on their trail, or that we had telegraphed ahead about them."

    From the station-master they learned that their train was two hours behind time, and would not reach Butte until late that night. This being so, they left their baggage on check at the depot and took a stroll around, looking at the sights. Then they found a small restaurant and got what they called supper, although it was not a very good meal.

    When the train came along it proved to be crowded, for there had been a sale of public and private lands not far away and many of the disappointed would-be buyers were on board.

    "We can't take any through passengers," said the conductor, and waved the boys back.

    "We only want to go to Butte," answered Roger.

    "Oh, all right then. Take the forward car, next to the baggage-car. But I don't think you'll find any seats. We are swamped because of the land sale."

    The boys ran forward, after making sure that their baggage was tumbled into a baggage-car. As the conductor had said, the cars were overcrowded, and they had to stand up in the aisle. A number of the men were smoking and they continued to do so, even though it was against the rules.

    "Pretty rough-looking crowd," whispered Phil, after the train had started.

    "Not all bad," was Dave's comment. "But some of them are certainly the limit," and he nodded towards one crowd that were talking loudly and using language that was anything but choice. In this crowd one fellow in particular, a tall, thin, leathery individual, called by the others Sol Blugg, seemed to be a leading spirit.

    About half an hour had passed, and the conductor had just gone through collecting tickets, when the man called Blugg pushed up alongside another man who sat on the arm of a rear seat.

    "Say, do you know what Staver jest told me?" he exclaimed.

    "No, what?" demanded the other man.

    "He says as how he is almost sure Abe Blower put this crimp in our land deal," responded the man called Blugg.

    "Abe Blower!" exclaimed the other. "Say, maybe thet's right. Blower ain't got no use fer our crowd. Well, if he did it, he better look out!"
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