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    Chapter 14

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    Chapter 15
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    IN BUTTE

    Dave overheard the conversation between the two rough-looking men in the crowded car, and so did Phil and Roger. All glanced at each other suggestively.

    "Do you think they are talking about the Abe Blower we want to find?" asked Roger of Dave, in a whisper.

    "More than likely, Roger," was the answer. "It is not likely that there are two Abe Blowers in this part of the country. It's not a common name, like Smith."

    "Listen," whispered Phil, for the two men had begun to talk again.

    "I lost a lot of money by havin' thet land deal fall through," growled the fellow called Blugg.

    "So did I," responded the man on the arm of the car seat. "We all did."

    "If Abe Blower knows we are on his trail he'll keep out o' sight."

    "Maybe; although Blower wa'n't never the fellow to take backwater," responded the other, doubtfully.

    "We'll git him yet; see if we don't," was the savage response. And then followed some conversation in such a low tone that the boys could not hear what was said.

    But it was easy to surmise one thing, which was that these men hated Abe Blower most cordially. And because of this, and because they had heard that Blower was a strictly upright, honest man, the chums concluded that these fellows in the car had been trying in some manner to put through some land deal that was not strictly fair, and that Abe Blower had foiled their designs.

    Presently a third man, a fellow named Larry Jaley, joined the others. All were very bitter against Abe Blower, and each vowed that he would "git square" with the old prospector sooner or later. From their talk the boys learned that the men, along with some others of the crowd, were stopping in Butte at the Solid Comfort House, a place that, so they afterwards learned, bore a very shady reputation. Nothing was said about where Abe Blower was stopping, and the youths did not dare to inquire, for fear of making the men suspicious.

    "They might think we were friends of Blower sent to spy on them," said Phil. "They must know we have heard some of their talk."

    "If Abe Blower is so well known in Butte it ought to be an easy matter to find him," returned Dave. "We can look for him in the directory and the telephone book, and ask for him at the hotels and mining offices."

    "And remember, I have one of his old addresses," said Roger. "Maybe the folks at that place know where he has gone."

    It was dark when they rolled into the railroad station at Butte, a typical western mining city, with a population of about thirty-five thousand souls.

    "No use in trying to do anything to-night," said Roger, who was tired and knew his chums must be the same. "We'll go to some first-class hotel and start on our hunt for Blower in the morning."

    "Yes, I'm dead tired," answered Phil, who had been yawning for the last hour.

    The boys had the address of a good hotel, and were soon on the way to the place. They saw the man called Sol Blugg start off down a side street with his companions.

    "I wish we would run into Link Merwell and Job Haskers," remarked Dave, as they hurried towards the hotel.

    "What good would that do?" demanded the senator's son.

    "Then I'd know they hadn't left Butte to look for that lost mine."

    "Humph! you don't suppose they are going to find it all in a minute, do you, Dave?" asked Phil.

    "No, but an idea just struck me."

    "What?" asked both of the others.

    "Supposing Merwell and Haskers should hunt up Blower and see what he had to say about the lost mine."

    "Phew!" cried Roger. "Do you think they'd dare?"

    "They might. They have done some pretty bold things lately. Link is real reckless."

    Roger came to a halt on the pavement.

    "Maybe we had better hunt for Abe Blower right away," he declared.

    "Oh, come on, and get to bed," yawned Phil. "Where are you going to look for him this time of night?"

    "I don't know, exactly. But we could make some inquiries."

    "Let us go to the hotel first," said Dave. "Then, after we have secured rooms, we can hunt around, if we want to."

    A little later they found themselves at the hotel, where they secured two rooms with a bath. At the desk they asked the clerk if he knew an old miner and prospector named Abe Blower.

    "Seems to me I've heard the name," replied the clerk. "But I can't just place it. You might ask Tom Dillon, over yonder. He knows all the old-timers in Butte," and the clerk pointed to a man who sat in a corner of the hotel lobby, reading a newspaper.

    Tom Dillon, round-faced and white-haired, put down his paper and smiled as the boys came up and addressed him. He was an old-time miner, who had "struck it rich," and who had known how to take care of his wealth.

    "Sure, I know most of the old-timers!" he exclaimed, genially, in reply to Roger's question. "Who are you looking for?"

    "Let me introduce myself first," said Roger. He gave his name and also those of his chums. "I am the nephew of the late Maurice Harrison, of this place."

    "You don't tell me! Maurice's nevvy, eh? Then you must be the son o' Senator Morr, o' the East?"

    "Yes."

    "Glad to know ye! Put her there, young man!" And Tom Dillon shook hands cordially all around. "Yes, I knowed your uncle well--we did a bit of prospectin' together onct. It broke me all up to hear how he died--so many o' the old-timers droppin' off."

    "It was a great shock to our family," replied Roger. "Perhaps you know what brought me to Butte," he continued, looking at the old miner, questioningly.

    "To settle up the estate, I reckon."

    "In a way, yes. I suppose you have heard about that lost mine?"

    "What, the Landslide? Sure. An' she's gone fer good, lad; don't bank on ever findin' it ag'in, for if you do, well, I think ye'll be disapp'inted." And Tom Dillon shook his head slowly.

    "You really think it can't be found?" asked Dave.

    "I ain't sayin' that. But chances are all ag'in it. Whar that mine was located, the big landslide changed the hull face o' nature, an' all kinds o' landmarks have been teetotally lost."

    "Well, I am going to do what I can," put in Roger. "And my two chums are going to help me. But I was going to ask you a question. The clerk suggested that we ask you. Do you know an old miner named Abe Blower?"

    "Sure."

    "Can you tell me where he is now?"

    "He lives with an old lady named Carmody, on the other side o' town. She is some kind o' a relative of his, and came on from the South to keep house fer him. But he ain't home much. He spends most of his time prospectin'. Seems like he can't give it up."

    "I wish you'd give me his address," said the senator's son, and, having received it, put it down in a note-book.

    As late as it was, it was decided to walk across town to where Abe Blower resided, and the three boys set out without delay.

    "I'd get a cab, if any was around," said Roger, who saw how tired Phil was.

    "Maybe, Phil, you had better go to bed and let Roger and me go to Blower's home," suggested Dave.

    "No, if you go, I'll go too," declared the shipowner's son, who never cared to be left behind when anything was going on.

    The place where Abe Blower resided was down at the end of a side street, which, at this hour of the night, was dark and deserted. They had some little difficulty in finding the right number. The house stood back from the street, and not a single light shone within it.

    "Everybody gone to bed," announced Dave. "It seems like a shame to wake them up."

    "I'll wait till morning," announced the senator's son. "Now we know just where the place is, we can come here directly after breakfast." And so it was settled.

    At the hotel Phil found himself so tired that he pitched into bed with scant ceremony. After the long trip on the train, Dave felt that he needed a bath and took it, followed by Roger. Then all went sound asleep, not to awaken until daylight. Then Phil took a good "soak," as he called a bath, and all dressed for an early breakfast. In the dining-room they met Mr. Dillon.

    "Find Abe last night?" asked the old miner, with a smile.

    "We located the house and are going over there right after we eat," answered the senator's son. "And by the way, Mr. Dillon," he continued. "Do you know any men named Blugg, Jaley, and Staver?"

    "Do I!" cried Tom Dillon. "Sure I do, an' so do lots of other folks in these diggin's. What do you know about 'em?"

    "We met them on the train."

    "Don't ye have nothin' to do with that crowd, lads. They ain't the sort you want to train with, nohow."

    "We are not going to train with them," said Dave.

    "We thought they were pretty hard customers," added Phil.

    "They mentioned Abe Blower and one of them said he thought Blower had queered some sort of a land deal they were trying to put through," continued Roger.

    "Is that so! Well, if Abe did that I give him credit for it, I sure do. Those fellers are swindlers, pure an' simple. But they generally work in sech a way that the law can't tech 'em. I ain't got no use for 'em--and I reckon Abe ain't neither," went on the old miner, vigorously. And then he sat down to breakfast with the boys, telling them much about Butte, and the mining country around it, and about what dealings he had had with Roger's uncle.

    "A square man he was," he said. "And a great pity the way he dropped off and had his mine lost by a landslide."

    The meal over, the three boys lost no time in walking over to the other side of the city, where Abe Blower lived. They found the front windows of the house open and an elderly woman was sweeping off the front stoop with a broom.

    "Good-morning," said Roger, politely. "Is this Mrs. Carmody?"

    "Yes, I'm Mrs. Carmody," was the reply, and the old lady looked questioningly into Roger's face. "I don't seem to remember you," she went on.

    "We never met before, Mrs. Carmody," answered Roger, and introduced himself and his chums. "I came to see Mr. Abe Blower."

    The woman looked quite bewildered, so much so that the boys were astonished. She dropped her broom.

    "Did you say you was Roger Morr?" she gasped, looking at the senator's son.

    "Yes."

    "Then what brought you here--lookin' fer Abe?"

    It was now Roger's turn to be surprised.

    "Why do you ask that?" he questioned. "I came because I want to have a talk with him, and maybe get him to help me look for a lost mine."

    "Well, I never!" gasped Mrs. Carmody, and looked more bewildered than ever.

    "Isn't Mr. Blower here?" asked Dave. A sudden idea had sprung into his mind.

    "Of course he isn't here. I--I--don't understand this at all--really, I don't."

    "Don't understand what?" asked Roger.

    "Your bein' here, after the letter Abe sent yesterday afternoon. Didn't you say your name was Roger Morr?"

    "Yes."

    "Then you went off with Abe, didn't you?"

    "Me?" cried Roger. "Why, I have never seen him as yet."

    "Never seen him!" gasped Mrs. Carmody. "Well, I never! Of all the queer things! What can it mean?" And she walked to a chair on the stoop and sank down heavily.
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