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    Chapter 2

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    SOMETHING OF THE PAST

    At the announcement of the hired girl that their sons had let loose in the farmhouse a thousand mice--more or less--the three Rover brothers looked at each other enquiringly.

    "Another joke--and so soon!" gasped Sam Rover.

    "That certainly is the limit!" broke out Dick Rover, as he started for the house.

    "If I find Andy and Randy have been up to another trick right on top of this water-hose nonsense, I'll give them a tanning they won't forget in a hurry," added Tom Rover; and then he and Sam followed Dick up the back porch and into the kitchen.

    To the readers of the former volumes in these two "Rover Boys Series," Dick, Tom and Sam Rover will need no special introduction. For the benefit of others, however, let me state that the sober-minded and determined Dick was the oldest of the three, with the fun-loving Tom coming next and sturdy Sam being the youngest. They were the sons of one Anderson Rover, who, when not traveling, made his home at Valley Brook Farm, in New York State, living there with his brother Randolph Rover and wife Martha.

    While Dick, Tom, and Sam were quite young, and while their father was off exploring in the interior of Africa, the three Rovers had been sent to Putnam Hall Military Academy, where they had made a few enemies and likewise a host of friends, including a manly and straight-forward cadet named Lawrence Colby. After many adventures both at school and in various portions of the globe, they had graduated from Putnam Hall with honor and then entered Brill College.

    At that time, Mr. Anderson Rover, who had long since returned from Africa, was not in the best of health. He had numerous business interests both in Wall Street, New York City, and in the West to take care of, and presently it was found necessary that Dick leave college and take charge of business matters for his parent. In this task Dick was soon aided by Tom, leaving Sam the only member of the family to graduate from Brill.

    While at Putnam Hall the three Rovers had become acquainted with three charming girls, Dora Stanhope and her cousins, Nellie and Grace Laning. This acquaintance had ripened into loving intimacy; and when Dick went into business he took Dora Stanhope for his life-long partner. A little later Tom was married to Nellie Laning, and, after he had left Brill and joined his brothers in conducting their father's various business enterprises, Sam married Grace Laning.

    With the aid of Mr. Anderson Rover and some others, The Rover Company was organized with offices on Wall Street, New York City. The company dealt in stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investments; and Dick was now president, with Tom secretary and Sam treasurer. The company had been prosperous from the start, although on several occasions enemies had done their best to give the concern a black eye.

    When they were first married, Dick and his beautiful wife Dora had begun housekeeping in a cosy apartment in the metropolis, and they had presently been followed by Tom and Sam. But two years later the three brothers had a chance to buy a beautiful plot of ground on Riverside Drive facing the noble Hudson River, and on this they built three fine houses adjoining each other, Dick living in the middle house with Tom on one side and Sam on the other.

    Before the happy young folks moved into the new homes, Dick and Dora were blessed with a little son, who later on was named John, after Mr. John Laning. Later still, this couple had a daughter, whom they named Martha, after Aunt Martha of Valley Brook Farm. Little Jack, as he was called in those days, was a wonderfully bright and clever lad with many of the clear-minded qualities which had made his father so successful in life.

    About the time young Jack was presented with a baby sister, Tom and Nellie Rover came forward with twin boys, one of whom was named Anderson, after his grandfather, and the other Randolph, after his uncle. Andy and Randy, as they were always called for short, were exceedingly bright, each taking after his father, Andy always saying things that were more or less funny and Randy playing tricks whenever he got the chance. They were truly chips off the old block, and Tom knew it, although outwardly he professed to be ignorant of the fact.

    "Those twins will be some boys when they grow up," was old Anderson Rover's comment, when the lads were less than five years old. "They're just as full of fun now as Tom ever dared to be."

    "So they are," answered his brother Randolph. "My! my! what will they ever do with them when they get a little older?"

    "I sha'n't mind," said Aunt Martha, her eyes beaming brightly. "That is, if they are really and truly as good-hearted as Tom has always been. He certainly was the worst of the lot when it came to playing jokes, but no lad ever had a better heart than Tom--not one!"

    About the time that Tom began to boast about his twins, Sam and Grace came along with a beautiful little girl, whom they named Mary, after Mrs. Laning. About a year later the girl was followed by a boy, and this sturdy little chap was named Fred, after Sam's old school chum, Fred Garrison.

    Living so close together, the four boys and the two girls were brought up almost like one big family. The girls were all but inseparable, and the boys could generally be found together, either studying, playing, or having a good time.

    When the time came to set the children to studying, Martha and Mary were placed in a private school for girls located but a short distance from their homes. It was thought best, however, at the start to send the boys to a public school, and this was done. For three years matters went along very well, and during that time The Rover Company prospered far beyond the expectations of those in charge. But then Andy and Randy, becoming a little older, began to exhibit their talent for playing tricks, and usually they were seconded in these efforts by Jack and Fred. Once or twice all of the boys were reported by the school principal for this, and each time the lads were remonstrated with by their fathers in such a manner that, as young Andy expressed it, "it was far more comfortable to sit down standing up than it was any other way."

    "I think I'll have to do something with those twins," said Tom Rover to his wife, after the boys had been reported for more tricks. "The school they go to doesn't seem to be strict enough." And thereupon he had sent the boys to a private establishment further uptown.

    Jack and Fred had begged their parents that they might be allowed to do likewise; and at this private school the four cousins had been kept until the close of the Spring term the preceding June. To the credit of this school it must be said that the boys advanced rapidly in their studies. Their deportment, however, was apparently no better than it had been before, and as a consequence Tom Rover was more worried than ever, while Dick and Sam began to wonder secretly whether it would not be advisable to separate their sons from the mischievous twins.

    One day Dick broached this subject to his offspring. At once young Jack set up a wild remonstrance.

    "Oh, Dad! don't take me away from Andy and Randy and Fred!" he pleaded. "Why, we are just like brothers! I wouldn't know how to get along without 'em."

    "But I'm afraid Andy and Randy are leading you into bad habits," returned Dick Rover.

    "I don't think so, Dad. Anyway, I've heard folks say that Andy and Randy are no worse than their father used to be--and you never wanted to be separated from Uncle Tom, did you?"

    At this question Dick Rover's face took on a sudden sober look. "No; I never wanted to be separated from your uncle, that's true," he said. "But I tell you what we did used to do. When his pranks got too wild I and your Uncle Sam used to hold him in."

    "All right then, Dad. I'll tell Fred about this, and we'll see what we can do towards holding in Andy and Randy;" and there, after some more talk along the same line, the matter was allowed to rest.

    Young Jack was as good as his word, and during the remainder of that Spring term at the private school in New York City, Andy and Randy were as well behaved as could possibly be expected from two red-blooded lads.

    It had been planned by the Rovers that the Summer should be spent by all the young folks and their mothers at Valley Brook Farm, the fathers to come down from time to time, and especially over the week ends. Since Dick, Tom, and Sam had become married the farm had been enlarged by the purchase of two hundred additional acres. The farmhouse, too, had been made larger, with the old portion remodeled, and a water system from the rapidly-growing town of Dexter's Corners, as well as electric lighting, had been installed. A telephone had been put in some years previous.

    At first after their arrival at their grandfather's home, the four boys had been content to take it easy, spending their time roaming the fields, helping to gather the fruit, of which there was great abundance, and in going fishing and swimming. But then Andy and Randy had found time growing a little heavy on their hands, and one prank had been followed by another. Some of the tricks had been played on Jack and Fred, and they, of course, had done their best to retaliate, and this had, on more than one occasion, brought forth a forceful, but good-natured, pitched battle, and the fathers and the others present had had all they could do to hold the boys in check.

    "I never saw such boys," was Mary Rover's comment to her brother Fred. "Why can't you behave yourselves just as Martha and I do?"

    "Oh, girls never have any good times," answered Fred. "They just sit around and primp up and read, and do things like that."

    "Indeed!" and Mary tossed her curly head. "I think we have just as good times as you boys, every bit; but we don't have to be rough about it;" and then she ran off to play a game of lawn tennis with her cousin Martha.

    The time was the middle of August, and as the summer was proving to be an unusually warm one, all the older Rovers were glad enough to take it easy on the farm, they having earlier in the season been down to the seashore for a couple of weeks. Dick, Tom and Sam had each taken a week off at various times, and all managed to get down to the farm early every Saturday afternoon, to remain until Sunday night or Monday morning.

    And it was late on a Saturday afternoon, when the ladies and the girls had gone to Dexter's Corners to do some shopping, and while the fathers were busy reading and writing, that the events occurred with which the present story opens.

    As Dick Rover ran into the farmhouse he heard a slight scream coming from the sitting-room. The scream was followed by exclamations from two men, and then a wild thumping as if someone was hitting the floor with a cane.

    "It's a mouse--several of 'em!" came in the voice of Grandfather Rover.

    "Oh, my! oh, my! wherever did they come from?" exclaimed old Aunt Martha.

    "Never mind where they came from, I'll fix 'em," asserted old Randolph Rover, and then followed another thumping as he rushed around between the chairs and behind the sofa, trying to slaughter some of the scampering mice with his heavy walking stick.

    "Where are they? Where are those mice?" demanded Tom Rover, giving a hasty glance around the kitchen.

    "There is one--under the sink!" ejaculated his brother Sam, and catching up a stove lifter he let fly with such accurate aim that the unhappy rodent was despatched on the spot.

    "I see another one back of the pantry door," said Tom Rover a moment later, and then made a dive into the pantry. Here, in a side closet, the door of which was partly open, he saw a broom and grabbed it quickly. Then he made a wild pass at the mouse, but the rodent eluded him and scrambled over the kitchen floor and into the sitting-room.

    "Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Did you ever see so many mice?" came in a wailing voice from Aunt Martha. She had clambered up on a chair and stood there holding her dress tightly around her feet.

    "It's another of those boys' tricks, that's what it is," asserted Grandfather Rover. "They ought to be punished for it."

    "Yes. But we've got to get rid of these mice first," answered his brother.

    Then Randolph Rover, seeing a mouse scampering across the side of the room, threw his walking stick at it with all his force. But his aim was poor and the walking stick, striking the edge of the table, glanced off and hit a fish-globe, smashing it to pieces and sending the water and the goldfish flying in every direction.
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