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Title: Larry Dexter's Great Search - or, The Hunt for the Missing Millionaire
Author: Garis, Howard Roger, 1873-1962
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Larry Dexter's Great Search - or, The Hunt for the Missing Millionaire" ***

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LARRY DEXTER'S GREAT SEARCH

Or, The Hunt for the Missing Millionaire

by

HOWARD R. GARIS

Author of "From Office Boy to Reporter," "Larry Dexter, Reporter,"
"Dick Hamilton's Fortune," etc.

Illustrated

New York
Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers

1909



[Illustration: "HERE IT IS!" CRIED LARRY. (Frontispiece)]



     *     *     *     *     *     *


Books For Boys
By Howard R. Garis


THE DICK HAMILTON SERIES


   DICK HAMILTON'S FORTUNE
   Or The Stirring Doings of a Millionaire's Son

   DICK HAMILTON'S CADET DAYS
   Or The Handicap of a Millionaire's Son

   DICK HAMILTON'S STEAM YACHT
   Or A Young Millionaire and the Kidnappers

   DICK HAMILTON'S FOOTBALL TEAM
   Or A Young Millionaire on the Gridiron

   (Other volumes in preparation)

   12 mo. Cloth. Illustrated.
   Price, per volume, 60 cents, postpaid



THE YOUNG REPORTER SERIES


   FROM OFFICE BOY TO REPORTER
   Or The First Step in Journalism

   LARRY DEXTER, THE YOUNG REPORTER
   Or Strange Adventures in a Great City

   LARRY DEXTER'S GREAT SEARCH
   Or The Hunt for a Missing Millionaire

   LARRY DEXTER AND THE BANK MYSTERY
   Or A Young Reporter in Wall Street

   LARRY DEXTER AND THE STOLEN BOY
   Or A Young Reporter on the Lakes

   12 mo. Cloth. Illustrated
   Price, per volume, 40 cents, postpaid


Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers New York



     *     *     *     *     *     *



PREFACE


Dear Boys:

I hope you will be glad to read of the further adventures of Larry
Dexter. He has made some progress since you first made his
acquaintance in the book "From Office Boy to Reporter." He has also
advanced in his chosen profession from the days when he did his
first news-gathering for the _Leader_. In this volume he is sent on
a "special assignment," as it is called. He has to find a New York
millionaire who has mysteriously disappeared.

How Larry solved the strange secret, I have woven into a story that
I trust will be liked by all the boys who read it. I have taken many
incidents from real life for this story, using some of my own
experiences while a newspaper reporter as a basis for facts.

The things that happened to Larry are not at all out of the
ordinary among reporters. The life has many strange surprises in it.
If I have been able to set them down in a way that will please you
boys, and if you enjoy following the further fortunes of Larry
Dexter, I shall feel amply repaid for my efforts on this volume.

Yours sincerely,

HOWARD R. GARIS.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                              PAGE

I. THE WRECK                            1

II. ASHORE ON A RAFT                   10

III. THE MAN AT THE HUT                17

IV. RESCUED FROM THE SEA               26

V. LARRY'S SCOOP                       33

VI. A STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE            42

VII. LARRY OVERHEARS SOMETHING         49

VIII. AN INTERVIEW WITH SULLIVAN       57

IX. EVERYTHING BUT THE FACTS           64

X. THREATS AGAINST LARRY               73

XI. A MISSING MILLIONAIRE              81

XII. A BRAVE GIRL                      88

XIII. WHERE IS HE?                     94

XIV. IN THE TENEMENT HOUSE            100

XV. LARRY'S SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT        109

XVI. SULLIVAN'S QUEER ACCUSATION      118

XVII. GRACE GETS A LETTER             125

XVIII. LARRY IS BAFFLED               138

XIX. GRACE ON THE TRAIL               148

XX. LARRY GETS A SCARE                156

XXI. TRACING RETTO                    167

XXII. GRACE IS SUSPICIOUS             174

XXIII. CAPTAIN TANTRELLA ARRIVES      180

XXIV. RETTO IS CAUGHT                 186

XXV. IN THE HOSPITAL                  192

XXVI. A NEW CLUE                      200

XXVII. THE DETECTIVE'S THEORY         208

XXVIII. A TERRIBLE MISTAKE            214

XXIX. IN HIS ENEMIES' POWER           222

XXX. MR. POTTER IS FOUND--CONCLUSION  229



LARRY DEXTER'S GREAT SEARCH



CHAPTER I

THE WRECK


Into the city room of the New York _Leader_ hurried Mr. Whiggen, the
telegraph editor. In his hand was a slip of paper, containing a few
typewritten words. Mr. Whiggen laid it on the desk of Bruce Emberg,
the city editor.

"Just came in over our special wire," said Mr. Whiggen. "Looks as if
it might be a bad wreck. That's a dangerous coast. I thought you
might like to send one of your men down to cover it."

"Thanks," replied the city editor. "I will. Let's see," and, while
he read the message, a score of reporters in the room looked up to
see what had caused the telegraph editor to come in with such a
rush.

This is what Mr. Emberg read from the slip Mr. Whiggen handed him:

"BULLETIN.--S.S. _Olivia_ ashore off Seven Mile Beach, on sand bar.
Big steerage list, some cabin passengers--fruit cargo. Ship badly
listed, but may get off at high tide. If not, liable to break up in
storm. Passengers safe yet.--ASSOCIATED PRESS."

There followed a brief description of the vessel, compiled from the
maritime register, giving her tonnage, size, and when built.

"Um," remarked Mr. Emberg when he had read the short message, which
was what newspaper men call a "flash" or bulletin, intended to
notify the journals of the barest facts of the story. "This looks as
if it would amount to something. I'll send a man down. Have we any
one there?"

"We've got a man in Ocean City," replied the telegraph editor, "but
I'm afraid I can't reach him. Have to depend on the Associated Press
until we can get some one down."

"All right, I'll send right away."

The telegraph editor went back to his sanctum on the run, for it was
near first-edition time and he wanted to get a display head written
for the wreck story. Mr. Emberg looked over the room, in which many
reporters were at work, most of them typewriting stories as fast as
their fingers could fly over the keys. Several of the news-gatherers
who had heard the conversation between the two editors hoped they
might be sent on that assignment, for though it meant hard work it
was a chance to get out of the city for a while.

"Are you up, Newton?" asked Mr. Emberg of a reporter in the far
corner of the room.

"No, I've got that political story to write yet."

"That's so. I can't spare you. How about you, Larry?"

"I'm up," was the answer, which is the newspaper man's way of saying
his particular task is finished.

"Here, then, jump out on this," and the city editor handed the
telegram to a tall, good-looking youth, who arose from his desk near
a window.

Larry Dexter, who had risen from the rank of office boy to reporter,
took in the message at a glance.

"Shall I start now?" he asked.

"As soon as you can get a train. Seven Mile Beach is down on the
Jersey coast, near Anglesea. You can't get there in time to wire us
anything for to-day, but rush a good story for to-morrow. If a storm
comes up, and they have to rescue the passengers, it will make a
corker. Don't be afraid of slinging your words if it turns out worth
while. Here's an order on the cashier for some money. Hustle now,"
and Mr. Emberg scribbled down something on a slip of paper which he
handed to the young reporter.

"Leave the message in the telegraph room as you go out," went on
the city editor. "Mr. Whiggen may want it. Hustle now, Larry, and do
your best."

Many envious eyes followed Larry Dexter as he hurried out of the
city room, putting on his coat and hat as he went, for he had been
working in his shirt sleeves.

Larry went down the long corridor, stopping in the telegraph room to
leave the message which was destined to be responsible for his part
in a series of strange events. He had little idea, as he left the
_Leader_ office that morning, that his assignment to get the story
of the wreck was the beginning of a singular mystery.

Larry cashed the order Mr. Emberg had given him, and hurried to the
railroad station. He found there was no train for an hour, and,
telephoning to the city editor to that effect, received permission
to go home and get some extra clothing, as he might have to stay
away several days.

The young reporter rather startled his mother as he hurried in to
tell her he was going out of town, but Mrs. Dexter had, in a
measure, become used to her son doing all sorts of queer things
since he had started in newspaper life.

"Will you be gone long, Larry?" she asked, as he kissed her
good-bye, having packed a small valise.

"Can't say, mother. Probably not more than two days."

"Bring me some sea shells," begged Larry's brother, Jimmie, a
bright little chap.

"And I want a lobster and a crab and a starfish," spoke Mary, a
sunny-haired toddler.

"All right, and I'll bring Lucy some shells to make beads of,"
answered Larry, mentioning his older sister, who was not at home.

Larry found he had not much time left to catch his train, and he was
obliged to hurry to the ferry which took him to Jersey City. There
he boarded a Pennsylvania Railroad train, and was soon being whirled
toward the coast.

Seven Mile Beach was a rather dangerous stretch of the Jersey shore,
not far from Cape May. There were several lighthouses along it, but
they did not always prevent vessels from running on a long sand bar,
some distance out. More than one gallant ship had struck far up on
it, and, being unable to get off, had been pounded to pieces by the
waves.

By inquiring Larry found that the wreck of the _Olivia_ was just off
a lonely part of the coast, and that there were no railroad stations
near it.

"Where had I better get off?" he asked, of the conductor.

"Well, you can get off at Sea Isle City, or Sackett's Harbor. Both
stations are about five miles from where the ship lies, according to
all accounts. Then you can walk."

"He can do better than that," interposed a brakeman.

"How?" asked Larry.

"There's a station, or rather what remains of it, half way between
those places," the brakeman said. "It used to be called Miller's
Beach. Started to be a summer resort, but it failed. There's nothing
there now but a few fishermen's huts. But I guess that's nearer the
wreck than Sea Isle City or Sackett's Harbor."

"Is there a place I could stay all night?" asked the young reporter.

"You might find a place. It's pretty lonesome. Sometimes, in the
summer, there are campers there, but it's too late in the fall now
to expect any of 'em. We'll stop there for water, and you can get
off if you like."

Larry hardly knew what to do. Still he decided he was sent to get a
story of the wreck, and he felt it would be well to get as near to
it as possible. But there was another thing to think of, and that
was how to get his news back into the _Leader_ office. He must be
near a telegraph station. Inquiry of the trainmen disclosed the fact
that the nearest one was three miles from Miller's Beach.

"Guess I'll chance it," concluded Larry.

"We'll be there in an hour," went on the brakeman. "It's the
jumping-off place, so to speak, and it's not going to be very
pleasant there when the storm breaks."

That a heavy storm was gathering was all too evident from the mass
of dark, rolling clouds in the east. They hung low, and there was a
rising wind.

"I wouldn't want to be on that vessel," remarked the brakeman as the
train, having stopped at a small station, started off again. "It's
beginning to rain now, and it will blow great guns before morning."

Several men, their faces bronzed from exposure to the weather, had
boarded the train. They talked quietly in one corner of the car.

"Who are they?" asked Larry, of the brakeman.

"Life savers, from the Anglesea station. Going to Tatums, I guess."

"What for?"

"Tatums is the life-saving station nearest where the vessel is
ashore. Maybe they are going to help in case she breaks up in the
storm. Tatums is about three miles below where you are going."

Larry began to see that he would have no easy task in getting news
of the wreck, or in transmitting it after he had it. But he was not
going to worry so early in the undertaking. So, when the brakeman
warned him that the train was nearing the water tank, which was all
that remained of interest to the railroad people at Miller's Beach,
the young reporter prepared to alight.

As he went out on the platform the wind increased in violence, and
then, with a rush and a roar, the rain began to fall in torrents.

Larry wished he could stay in the train, as he had no umbrella, but
there was no help for it. He leaped off the platform of the car
almost before it had stopped, and looked for a place of shelter. He
was surprised to see several large buildings in front of him, but
even through the mist of rain he noted that they were dilapidated
and forsaken. He was in the midst of a deserted seaside resort.

He hurried on, being wet through before he had gone a dozen steps.
Then he heard the train puffing away. It seemed as though he was
left all alone in a very lonesome place.

"Hi! Where you going?" a voice hailed him.

Larry looked up, to see a man clad in yellow oilskins and rubber
boots standing in front of him.

"I came down about the wreck," was the young reporter's reply.

"Got any folks aboard? If you have I'm sorry. She's broken her
back!"

"No; I'm a reporter from New York. What do you mean about breaking
her back?"

"Why, she ran away up on the bar at high tide. When it got low tide
a while ago the bows and stern just sagged down, and she broke in
two. They've got to work hard to save the passengers."

"That's a good story," was Larry's ejaculation, but it was not as
heartless as it sounds, for he was only speaking professionally. "I
must get down after it."

"What? With night coming on, the wreck almost half a mile out, and
it coming on to blow like all possessed?" asked the man in oilskins.
"Guess you don't know much about the sea, young man."

"Very little," answered Larry.

A sudden gust of wind, which dashed the rain with great force into
his face, nearly carried the reporter off his feet. He looked about
for a place of shelter.

"Better come with me," suggested the man. "There are no hotel
accommodations here, though there once were. I have a shack down on
the beach, and you're welcome to what I've got. I fish for a living.
Bailey's my name. Bert Bailey."

"Go ahead. I'll follow," returned Larry. "I'd like to get out of
this rain."

"Have to tog you out like me," said the old fisherman, as he led the
youth toward his hut. "These are the only things for this weather."

As they hastened on there came over the water the boom of a signal
gun from the wrecked steamer.



CHAPTER II

ASHORE ON A RAFT


"What's that?" asked the young reporter, pausing.

"She's firing for help," replied the fisherman. "Can't last much
longer now."

"Can't the life savers do anything?"

"They'll try, as soon as they can. Hard to get a boat off in this
surf. It comes up mighty fast and heavy. Have to use the breeches
buoy, I reckon. But come on, and I'll lend you some dry things to
put on."

Five minutes later Larry was inside the hut. It was small,
consisting of only two rooms, but it was kept as neatly as though it
was part of a ship.

In a small stove there was a blazing fire of driftwood, and Larry
drew near to the grateful heat, for, though it was only late in
September, it was much colder at the beach than in the city, and he
was chilly from the drenching.

"Lucky I happened to see you," Bailey went on. "I went down to the
train to get my paper. One of the brakemen throws me one off each
trip. It's all the news I get. I didn't expect any one down. This
used to be quite a place years ago, but it's petered out. But come
on, get your wet things off, and I'll see what I can do for you."

Larry was glad enough to do so. Fortunately he had brought some
extra underwear in his valise, and, after a good rub-down before the
stove, he donned the garments, and then put on a pair of the
fisherman's trousers and an old coat, until his own clothes could
dry.

As he sat before the stove, warm and comfortable after the
drenching, and safe from the storm, which was now raging with
increased fury outside, Larry heard the deep booming of the signal
guns coming to him from across the angry sea.

"Are they in any danger?" he asked of Bailey, as the fisherman
prepared to get a meal.

"Danger? There's always danger on the sea, my boy. I wouldn't want
to be on that vessel, and I've been in some pretty tight places and
gotten out again. She went ashore in a fog early this morning, but
it will be a good while before she gets off. Seven Mile Beach hates
to let go of a thing once it gets a hold."

It was getting dusk, and what little light of the fading day was
left was obscured by the masses of storm clouds. The fisherman's hut
was on the beach, not far from the high-water mark, and the booming
of the surf on the shore came as a sort of melancholy accompaniment
to the firing of the signal gun.

"Where is the wreck?" asked Larry, going to a window that looked
out on the sea.

"Notice that black speck, right in line with my boat on the beach?"
asked Bailey, pointing with a stubby forefinger over the young
reporter's shoulder.

"That thing that looks like a seagull?"

"That's her. You can't see it very well on account of the rain, but
there she lies, going to pieces fast, I'm afraid."

"Why didn't they get the people off before this?"

"Captain wouldn't accept help. Thought the vessel would float off
and he'd save his reputation. The life savers went out when it was
fairly calm, but didn't take anyone ashore. Now it's too late, I
reckon."

As the fisherman spoke a rocket cleaved the fast-gathering blackness
and shot up into the air.

"What's that?" asked Larry.

"She's firing signal lights. Wait and you'll see the coast-guard
send up one in reply."

Presently a blue glare, up the beach not far from the cottage, shone
amid the storm and darkness.

"That's George Tucker, burning a Coston light," explained Bailey.
"He patrols this part of the beach to-night. They may try the boat
again, but it's a risk."

There was an exchange of colored lights between the beach patrol and
those on the steamer. Larry watched them curiously. He tried to
picture the distress of those aboard the ship, waiting for help from
shore; help that was to save them from the hungry waves all about.

"I wonder how I'm going to get news of this to the paper," Larry
asked himself. He was beginning to feel quite worried, for he
realized a great tragedy might happen at any moment, and he knew the
_Leader_ must have an account of it early the next morning, for it
was an afternoon paper. The managing editor would probably order an
extra.

"Couldn't I go down to the life-saving station?" asked Larry. "Maybe
I could go out in a boat and get some news."

"They wouldn't let you, and, if they would, you couldn't send any
news up to your paper from here to-night," replied the fisherman.
"The nearest telegraph office is closed. Better stay here until
morning. Then you can do something. I'll fix you up with oilskins
after supper, if you like, and we'll go out on the beach. But I
don't believe they'll launch the life-boat to-night."

The storm had now settled down into a fierce, steady wind and
dashing rain. It fairly shook the little hut, and the stove roared
with the draught created. Bailey soon had a hot meal ready, and
Larry did full justice to it.

"Now we'll go out on the beach," the fisherman said, as he donned
his oilskins, and got out a suit for Larry. The youth looked like
anything but a reporter when he put on the boots and tied the
yellow hat under his chin, for otherwise the wind would have whipped
it off in an instant.

They closed up the hut, leaving a lantern burning in it, and started
down toward the ocean. Through the darkness Larry could see a line
of foam where the breakers struck the beach. They ran hissing over
the pebbles and broken shells, and then surged back again. As the
two walked along, a figure, carrying a lantern and clad as they
were, in yellow oilskins, loomed up in the darkness.

"Hello, George!" cried Bailey, above the roar of the wind. "Going to
get the boat out?"

"Not to-night. I signalled down to the station, but they flashed
back that the surf was too high. We'll try the buoy in the morning,
if the ship lasts that long, which I'm afraid she won't, for she's
being pounded hard."

"The station where they keep the life-boat is about two miles below
where we are now," Bailey explained to Larry. "We'll go down in the
morning."

Suddenly a series of lights shot into the air from out at sea.

"What's that?" cried Larry.

"It's a signal that she's going to pieces fast!" cried the
coast-guard. "Maybe we'll have to try the breeches buoy to-night. I
must go to the station. They may need my help."

As the beach patrol hurried up the sandy stretch, Larry had half a
notion to follow him. He wanted to see the operation of setting up
the breeches buoy in order to make a good story, with plenty of
details. He was about to propose to the fisherman that they go, when
Bailey, who had gone down to the water's edge, uttered a cry.

"What is it?" called the reporter, hastening to the side of the old
man.

"Looks like a life-raft from the steamer!" exclaimed Bailey. "She
must have broken up. Maybe there's some one on this. Give me a hand.
We'll try to haul it ashore when the next high wave sends it up on
the beach."

Larry strained his eyes for a sight of the object. He could just
discern something white, rising and falling on the tumultuous
billows.

"Come on!" cried Bailey, rushing down into the first line of surf,
as a big roller lifted the object and flung it onward. "Grab it and
pull!"

Larry sprang down the sand. He waded out into the water, surprised
to find how strong it was even in the shallow place. He made a grab
for the dim white object. His hands grasped a rope. At the same time
the fisherman got hold of another rope.

"Pull!" cried Bailey, and Larry bent his back in an effort to snatch
the raft from the grip of the sea.

At first the waves shoved the raft toward them, then, as the waters
receded, the current sucked it out again. But the fisherman was
strong and Larry was no weakling. They hauled until they had the
raft out of reach of the rollers. Then, while there came a wilder
burst of the storm, and a dash of spray from the waves, Bailey
leaned over the raft.

"There's a man lashed to it!" the fisherman cried. "We must get him
to my shack and try to save him! Hurry now!"



CHAPTER III

THE MAN AT THE HUT


With a few quick strokes of his knife Bailey severed the ropes that
bound the unconscious man to the raft. Then, taking him by the
shoulders, and directing Larry to grasp the stranger's legs, they
started for the hut.

"Queer there weren't more to come ashore on that raft," the
fisherman remarked as they trudged over the sand. "It would hold a
dozen with safety. Maybe they were all swept off but this one. Poor
souls! there'll be many a one in Davy Jones's locker to-night I'm
afraid."

"Is he--is he dead?" asked Larry, hesitatingly, for he had never
handled a lifeless person before.

"I'm afraid so, but you never can tell. I've seen 'em stay under
water a good while and brought back to life. You'd best help me
carry him in, and then run for some of the life guards. I'll be
working over him, and maybe I can bring him around."

Through the storm the two staggered with their burden. They reached
the hut, and the man was tenderly placed on the floor near the fire.

"You hurry down the coast, and if you can see any of the guards
tell 'em to come here," Bailey said to Larry. "They can't do
anything for the wreck to-night."

Larry glanced at the man he had helped save from the sea. The
stranger was of large size, and seemed well-dressed, though his
clothes were anything but presentable now. His face was partly
concealed by the collar of his coat, which was turned up, and Larry
noted that the man had a heavy beard and moustache.

These details he took in quickly while he was buttoning his oilskin
jacket tighter around his neck for another dash into the storm.
Then, as he opened the door of the hut to go in search of a
coast-guard, Bailey began to strip the wet garments from the
unconscious man.

Larry was met by a heavy gust of wind and a dash of rain as he went
outside again. He bent his head to the blast and made his way down
the beach, the lantern he carried making fantastic shadows on the
white sand.

He had not gone far before he saw a figure coming toward him. He
waited, and in a few minutes was joined by George Tucker.

"Mr. Bailey wants you to come to his place and help him save a man
who just came in on a raft," said Larry.

"Can't do it, my boy. I was just coming for him to help us launch
the life-boat. We need all the men we can get, though we've got help
from the station below us. Captain Needam sent me after Bailey."

"I don't believe he'll come," said Larry. "He'll not want to leave
the man he pulled from the ocean."

"No, I don't s'pose he will," said George. "He may save a life. But
we've got to try for the steamer. She's going to pieces, and there
are many aboard of her, though I'm afraid there'll be fewer by
morning."

"I'll come and help you," said the reporter. "I don't know much
about life-boats, but I'm strong."

"Come along, then," said the coast guard.

They made their way down the beach, Larry accepting, in the manner
newspaper reporters soon become accustomed to, the new rôle he was
suddenly called on to play.

While he is thus journeying through the storm to aid in saving life,
there will be an opportunity to tell you something about his past,
and how he came to be a reporter on a leading New York newspaper.

Larry's introduction to a newspaper life was told of in the first
volume of this series, entitled "From Office Boy to Reporter." At
the start the youth lived with his mother, who was a widow, and his
two sisters and a brother, on a farm in New York State.

The farm was sold for an unpaid mortgage after the death of Larry's
father, and the little family came to New York to visit a sister of
Mrs. Dexter, as Larry thought he could find work in the big city.

On their arrival they found that Mrs. Dexter's sister had
unexpectedly gone out West to visit relatives, because of the sudden
death of her husband. The Dexter family was befriended by a Mr.
Jackson and his wife, and made the best of the situation. After many
unsuccessful trials elsewhere, Larry got a position as office boy on
the New York _Leader_.

His devotion to duty had attracted the attention of Harvey Newton,
one of the "star" reporters on the sheet, and Mr. Emberg, the city
editor, took a liking to Larry. In spite of the enmity of Peter
Manton, another office boy on the same paper, Larry prospered. He
was sent with Mr. Newton to report a big flood, and were there when
a large dam broke, endangering many lives. Larry, who was sent to
the telegraph office with an account of the accident, written by Mr.
Newton on the spot, had an exciting race with Peter, who was then
working for a rival newspaper. Larry won, and for his good work was
advanced to be a regular reporter.

In the second volume of the series, entitled "Larry Dexter,
Reporter," I told of his experiences as a gatherer of news in a
great city.

In that book was related how Larry, with the aid of Mr. Newton,
waged war against a gang of swindlers who were trying to rob the
city, and, incidentally, Larry himself, for, as it developed, his
mother had a deed to certain valuable property in the Bronx Park
section of New York, and the swindlers desired to get possession of
the land. They wanted to hold it and sell it to the city at a high
price, but Larry got ahead of them.

To further their ends the bad men took away Jimmie, Larry's little
brother, but the young reporter, and his friend Mr. Newton, traced
the boy and found him. Peter Manton had a hand in the kidnapping
scheme.

By the sale of the Bronx land Mrs. Dexter became possessed of enough
money to put her beyond the fear of immediate want; Larry decided to
continue on in the newspaper field, and when this story opens he was
regarded as one of the best workers on the staff of the _Leader_.
His assignment to get the story of the wreck was his first big one
since the incidents told of in the second volume.

At Larry and the coast-guard trudged down the beach the guns from
the doomed steamer were fired more frequently, and the rockets
lighted up the darkness with a weird glare.

"Not much farther now," remarked George, as he peered ahead through
the blackness, whitened here and there with masses of flying spray.

A little later they were at the life-saving station. The place was
in seeming confusion, yet every man was at his post. Most of them
were hauling out the long wagon frame, on which the life-boat
rested. They were bringing the craft down to the beach to try to
launch it.

"Lend a hand!" cried Captain Needam, as Larry and the coast-guard
came in. "We need every man we can get."

Larry grasped a rope. No one paid any attention to him, and they
seemed to think it was natural that he should be there. Perhaps they
took him for Bailey.

The boat was taken down to the edge of the surf. An effort was made
to launch it, but, struggle as the men did, they could not get it
beyond the line of breakers.

"It's no use!" exclaimed the captain. "We'll have to haul her to
Johnson's Cove. Maybe it isn't so rough there."

The wagon, with the boat on it, was pulled back, and then began a
journey about two miles farther down the coast, to a small inlet,
protected by a curving point of land. There the breakers were likely
to be less high, and the boat might be launched.

Larry pulled with the rest. He did not see how he was going to get
his story telegraphed to the paper, but he was consoled by the
reflection that there were no other reporters on hand, and that
there was no immediate likelihood of being "beaten." When morning
came he could decide what to do.

So, for the time being, he became a life saver, and pulled on the
long rope attached to the wagon until his arms ached. It was heavy
hauling through the sand, and his feet seemed like lead.

It was nearly midnight when the cove was reached, and after a
desperate struggle the life-boat was launched.

"Some of you go back and get ready to operate the breeches buoy as
soon as it's light enough!" called Captain Needam, as the boat was
pulled away over the heaving billows toward the wreck, which could
be seen in the occasional glare of a rocket or signal light.

"Might as well come back," said George Tucker to Larry. "Can't do
any more here."

Back through the wind and rain they walked, with half a score of
others. They reached the life-saving station, tired and spent from
their struggle through the storm.

"You can go back to Bailey," said George, as Larry sat down inside
the warm and cozy living-room of the station to rest. "He may need
you."

"I thought I could help here," replied Larry. "Besides, I'd like to
see you work the breeches buoy."

"You'll see all you want of that in the morning," replied the coast
patrol. "We can't do much until daylight. Are you afraid to go back
alone?"

"No," replied Larry.

Back he trudged to Bailey's cabin. It was about three o'clock when
he reached there, and he found the fisherman sitting beside the
table, drinking some hot tea.

"I thought you'd got lost," spoke the fisherman.

"I went to help 'em launch the boat. They needed me. George Tucker
was coming for you, but I told him of the man we saved. How is he?"

"Doing well. He's asleep in the next room. He had been struck on the
head by something, and that was what made him senseless. It wasn't
the water. I soon brought him around. How about the wreck?"

Larry told all he knew. Bailey insisted on the young reporter
drinking two cups of steaming hot tea, and Larry felt much better
after it. Then he and the fisherman stretched out on the floor to
wait until morning, which would soon break.

Bailey was up early, and his movements in the hut as he shook down
the fire and made coffee, aroused Larry.

"We'll get a bit of breakfast and then we'll go down to the
station," said the fisherman. "I guess our man will be all right."

He went outside to bring in some wood. A moment later the door of
the inner room, where the rescued man was, opened, and a head was
thrust out.

"If my clothes are dry I'll take them," the man said, and Larry,
glancing at him, saw that the stranger was smooth-shaven. The
reporter was sure that when he was pulled from the water on the
raft the man had had a heavy beard.

"Why--why--" began the youth--"your whiskers. Did you----?"

"Whiskers?" replied the man with a laugh. "Oh, you thought that
bunch of seaweed on my face was a beard. I see. No, this is the way
I looked. But are my clothes dry?"

Larry took them from a chair near the fire, where Bailey had hung
them. He gave them to the stranger. Larry was much puzzled. It
seemed as if he had stumbled upon a secret. The man shut the door of
his room, A moment later the fisherman called from without the hut:

"Come on! Never mind breakfast! They're going to fire the gun!"



CHAPTER IV

RESCUED FROM THE SEA


Larry paused only long enough to don his oilskins, as it was still
raining hard. The coffee was made, but he did not wait for any,
though he wanted it very much. But he knew he ought to be on the
spot to see all the details of the rescue from the sea, and it was
not the first time he, like many other reporters, had gone on duty,
and remained so for long stretches, without a meal.

Bailey was some distance down the beach. He had on his yellow suit,
which he had donned to go out to the woodshed, some distance from
his hut. Larry caught up to him. He was about to speak of the man at
the hut when the fisherman cried:

"Something's wrong! They're coming up this way with the apparatus!
Must be they couldn't find a good place down there to rig the
breeches buoy."

Larry looked down the beach. He saw through the rain and mist a
crowd of yellow-suited figures approaching, dragging something
along the sand. He looked out to sea and beheld the blotch that
represented the doomed vessel. All thought of the man at the hut
was, for the time, driven out of his mind.

On came the life savers. They halted about a mile from the hut, and
Larry and Bailey ran to join them.

"Did you save any?" called the fisherman to Captain Needam, who was
busy directing the rescue.

"Got some in the life-boat early this morning," was the answer.
"They took 'em to the lower station. We couldn't get back with the
boat. All ready now, men. Dig a hole for the anchor, Nate. Sam, you
help plant the mortar. Have to allow a good bit for the wind. My!
but she's blowin' great guns and little pistols!"

Larry had his first sight of a rescue by means of the breeches buoy.
The apparatus, including a small cannon or mortar, had been brought
from the life-saving station on a wagon, pulled by the men along the
beach. The first act was to dig a deep hole in the sand, some
distance back from the surf. This was to hold the anchor, to which
was attached the shore end of the heavy rope, on which, presently,
persons from the wreck might be hauled ashore.

Once the anchor was in the hole, and covered with sand, firmly
packed down, arrangements were made to get a line to the vessel.

"Put in a heavy charge!" cried Captain Needam. "We'll need lots of
powder to get the shot aboard in the teeth of this wind!"

Several men grouped about the brass cannon and rapidly loaded the
weapon. Then, instead of a cannon ball, they put in a long, solid
piece of iron, shaped like the modern shell, with a pointed nose. To
this projectile was attached a long, thin, but very strong line.

"Are they going to fire that at the ship?" asked Larry, who was not
very familiar with nautical matters.

"They hope to have it land right on deck, or carry the line over,"
said Bailey, who paused in his work of helping the men to lay out
from the wagon parts of the apparatus.

Larry watched intently. Now and then he gazed out to the ship, a
speck of black amid white foam, for the seas were breaking over her.

At the side of the cannon was a box, containing the line, one end of
which was fastened to the projectile. The rope was coiled in a
peculiar cris-cross manner, to prevent it being tangled as it paid
rapidly out when the shot was fired.

"All ready?" called Captain Needam, as he looked at his men.

"Ready, sir," answered George Tucker.

"Put in the primer!" ordered the chief of the life savers. One of
the men inserted a percussion fuse in the touchhole of the mortar.
The captain grasped a lanyard. The men all stood at attention,
waiting to see the effect of the shot.

Captain Needam sighted over the muzzle of the cannon. It was
pointed so as to clear the stern of the ship, but this was
necessary, as the high wind would carry the projectile to one side.

The arm of the captain stiffened. The lanyard tauted. There was a
spark at the breach of the mortar, a sharp crackle as the primer
ignited, and then a dull boom as the charge was fired. Through the
mist of rain Larry saw a black object shooting out toward the ship.
After it trailed the long thin line, like a tail to a kite.

It was scarcely a moment later that there sounded a gun from the
ship.

"Good!" cried Captain Needam. "The shot went true!"

"That was the ship signalling that they had the line," explained
Bailey, shouting the words in Larry's ear.

From the shore to the ship there now stretched out a long thin rope.
Larry had no time to wonder what would happen next.

"Bend on the cable!" cried the captain, and the men quickly attached
a thick rope to the line which the cannon-shot had carried aboard
the _Olivia_. This soon began to pay out, as it was hauled in by
those on the wrecked vessel. In a short time the heavy cable was all
out, and securely fastened to the ship, high enough up so as to
clear the rail. Directions how to do this were printed on a board
which was hauled in with the rope, and, lest those on a doomed ship
might not understand English, the instructions were given in
several languages.

"They have it fast! Rig up the shears!" cried the captain.

Once more his men were busy. They set up on the sand two stout
wooden pieces, exactly like, a pair of enormous shears. The longer
parts, corresponding to the blades, were nearest the ground, while
what answered for the handles were several feet in the air, opened
in "V" shape.

Through this "V" the heavy cable was passed, the one end being fast
to the anchor buried in the sand, and the other being attached to
the ship. By moving the shears nearer to the anchor the cable was
tightened until it hung taut from shore to ship, a slender bridge on
which to save life.

The breeches buoy, a canvas arrangement, shaped like a short pair of
trousers, and attached to a frame which ran back and forth on the
cable by means of pulleys, had been adjusted. To it were fastened
ropes, one being retained by the life savers and one by those on the
ship. All was in readiness.

The breeches buoy was now pulled toward the ship, by those aboard
hauling on the proper line. It moved along, sliding on the heavy
cable, the angry waves below seeming to try to leap up and engulf
it, in revenge for being cheated of their prey.

"Look sharp now, men!" cried the captain. "Get ready to take care
of the poor souls as they come ashore."

The storm still kept up, and the waves were so high that a second
attempt to save some by means of the life-boat, even launching it in
the protected cove, had to be given up. But the breeches buoy could
be depended on.

A signal from the ship told those on shore that the buoy was loaded
with a passenger, and ready to be hauled back. Willing hands pulled
on the rope. On it came through the driving rain; on it came above
the waves, though not so high but what the spray from the crests wet
the rescued one.

"It's a woman!" cried the captain, as he caught sight of the person
in the buoy.

"And a baby! Bless my soul!" added Bailey. "She's got a baby in her
arms!"

And so it proved; for, wrapped in a shawl, which was tied over her
shoulders, so as to keep the water from the tiny form, was an infant
clasped tightly to its mother's breast.

"Take her to the station!" cried the captain, as he helped the woman
to get out of the canvas holder in which she had ridden safely to
shore. "My wife will look after her. Now for the rest, men. There's
lots of 'em, and the ship can't last much longer! Lively, men. Every
minute means a life!"

"I'll take her to the station!" volunteered Larry, for there was
nothing he could do to help now, and he thought he could get a good
story of the wreck from the first person rescued.

"Go ahead!" exclaimed the life savers' captain.

The woman, in spite of her terrible experience, had not fainted.
Still clasping her baby, she moved through the crowd of men, who
cheered her as they set to work again.

"Come with me," said Larry. "We will take care of you!"

"Oh, it is so good to be on land again!" the woman cried. "I am not
a coward--but oh, the cruel waves!" and she shuddered.



CHAPTER V

LARRY'S SCOOP


"Are there many women aboard?" asked Larry, as he moved off through
the rain toward the life-saving station with the rescued passenger.

"I was the only one," was the answer the woman made, in a pronounced
Italian accent. "I am the purser's wife. They made me come first. Me
and the baby," and she put her lips down and kissed the little face
nestled in the folds of the shawl.

"The purser's wife!" exclaimed Larry. "Perhaps your husband will
bring the passenger list with him. I would like to get it. I am a
newspaper reporter," he added.

The woman, with a rapid movement, held out a bundle of papers to
him.

"What are they?" Larry asked.

"The list of passengers! You reporters! I have heard of you in my
country, but they do not such things as this! Go to wrecks to meet
the passengers when they come ashore! You are very brave!"

"I think you were brave to come first across the waves," replied
Larry. "The rope might break."

"I had my baby," was the answer, as if that explained it all.

"Do you think your husband would let me telegraph these names to my
paper?" asked Larry.

"He gave them to me to bring ashore, in case--in case the ship did
not last," the purser's wife said, with a catch in her voice. "You
may use them, I say so. I will make it right."

This was just what Larry wanted. The hardest things to get in an
accident or a wreck are the names of the saved, or the dead and
injured. Chance had placed in Larry's hands just what he wanted.

He hurried on with the woman, who told him her name was Mrs.
Angelino. He did not question her further, as he felt she must be
suffering from the strain she had undergone. In a short time they
were safe at the station, and there Mrs. Needam provided warm and
dry garments for mother and child, and gave Mrs. Angelino hot
drinks.

"Ah, there is my reporter!" exclaimed the purser's wife, when she
was warm and comfortable, as she saw Larry busy scanning the list of
passengers. "He came quick to the wreck!"

"Can you lend me some paper?" Larry asked Mrs. Needam.

"What for?"

"I want to write an account of the rescue and copy these names. I
must hurry to the telegraph office. I left my paper in the
fisherman's hut."

"I'll get you some," said Captain Needam's wife, and soon Larry was
writing a short but vivid story of what had taken place, including a
description of the storm, and the saving of the only woman on board,
with her baby, by means of the breeches buoy. Then he copied the
list of names.

"There's something I almost forgot," said Larry when he had about
finished. "There's that passenger who came ashore on the life-raft.
I wonder who he was? I'll ask Mrs. Angelino."

But she did not know. She was not aware that any one had come ashore
on a raft, for, in the confusion of the breaking up of the ship in
the storm, she thought only of her husband, her baby and herself.

"I can find out later," Larry thought.

He gave the list back to Mrs. Angelino, and then, with a good
preliminary story of the wreck, having obtained many facts from the
purser's wife, Larry set out through the storm for the nearest
telegraph station.

"Don't you want some hot coffee before you go?" asked Mrs. Needam.
"I've got lots--ready for the poor souls that'll soon be here."

Larry did want some. He was conscious of a woeful lack of something
in his stomach, and the coffee braced him up in a way he very much
needed.

It was quite a distance from the life-saving station to the nearest
telegraph office, but Larry knew he must make it if he wanted an
account of the wreck to get to his paper in time for the edition
that day. So he set off for a tiresome trudge over the wet sand. As
he was leaving, several men, who had been brought ashore from the
ship, came to the station. From them Larry learned that part of the
ship was likely to last until all the passengers and crew could be
saved. He then resolved to telegraph the story of the saving of all,
knowing he could make corrections by an additional message later in
case, by some accident, any lives were lost.

To get to the telegraph office Larry had to go back to a point
nearly opposite where the life savers were working, and then strike
inland. As he was hurrying along he came to a little hummock of
sand, from which elevation he could look down on the beach and see
the crowd gathered about the breeches buoy. Out on the bar he could
make out the wrecked vessel. As he stood there a moment he saw some
one detach himself from the crowd and hurry across the intervening
beach.

"That figure looks familiar," thought Larry. "I wonder if that's
Bailey the fisherman?"

He waited a few minutes, and the figure became more distinct.

"It's Peter Manton!" cried Larry. "He's been sent down here to
report the wreck! I wonder what paper he's on? But I guess I haven't
any time to stand here wondering. I've got to beat him to the
telegraph office if I want to get a scoop, though he can't have been
on hand long enough to get much of an account."

Still Larry knew that even a brief and poor account of anything, if
it got in first, was enough to discount or "take the edge off" a
better story told later, and he made up his mind he would "scoop"
Peter, his old enemy.

The representative of the _Leader_ hurried on. Peter caught sight of
Larry, and recognized him in spite of his oilskins. Peter wore a
rain-coat, which was wet through.

"Hold on, Larry!" he cried. "I'm on the _Scorcher_ again. What have
you got?"

It was the newspaper man's way of asking his brother-of-the-pencil
for such information as he possessed. But though, as a general
thing, when several reporters are on a general story, they
interchange common news, Larry was in no mind to share what he had
with Peter. His paper had gone to the trouble to send him down in
good season, a piece of forethought which the other journals'
editors had neglected. Therefor Larry felt that he was not violating
the common practice (though it is against the strict office rules)
if he ignored Peter.

"Haven't time!" he called back.

"Wait a minute!" cried the rival reporter. "I just came down on the
first train, and I walked about five miles to find the wreck. I'm
going to the telegraph office to send my account in for an extra.
We'll whack up on it."

"We'll do nothing of the sort!" exclaimed Larry. "I don't want
anything to do with you." He had never forgiven Peter for his part
in the kidnapping of Jimmie.

"Needn't get huffy about it," remarked Peter. "I want to be
friendly."

Larry thought it was hardly Peter's place to offer to be "friendly"
after the mean part he had played.

"I haven't time to stop now," said Larry. "I'm in a hurry. You'll
have to get along the best you can."

"So that's how you feel, eh?" asked the rival reporter. "Not very
white of you, Larry Dexter. I've only just got back my job on the
_Scorcher_ after they laid me off for getting beaten, and I've got
to make good. But never mind. The beach is free, and I've got as
good a right to the telegraph office as you have. I'd like to see
you beat me."

Larry himself did not just see how he would, but he made up his mind
to attempt it. Peter was now keeping pace with him. There was
nothing for it but to hurry on. Whoever reached the office first and
"filed his copy" would have the right to the wire. Larry resolved
that he would win in the race, even as he had won in the other, at
the big flood, but he knew there was time enough yet. If he started
to run Peter would run also, and the way was too long for a fast
sprint.

The two kept on, side by side, neither speaking. The only sound was
the patter of the rain, and the rustle and rattle of Larry's oilskin
suit.

They passed through the deserted summer resort. It was about a mile
now to the telegraph office. Larry recalled that Bailey had told him
there was a short cut by keeping to the railroad track, and he
turned into that highway, followed by Peter, who, it seemed, had
resolved not to lose sight of his rival.

It was now about nine o'clock, though his activity since early
morning made it seem much later to Larry. He knew he had a good
story safe in his pocket, and he was pretty sure Peter had only a
garbled account, for he could not have gotten the facts so quickly.
Nor did he, Larry was sure, have the passenger list, which was the
best part of the story.

On and on the two rivals trudged silently. They must be near the
office now, Larry thought, and he looked ahead through the rain.
They were in the midst of a little settlement of fishermen's
houses--a small village--but it was nearly deserted, as most of the
inhabitants had gone to the wreck. Larry saw a building on which was
a sign informing those who cared to know that it contained a store,
the post-office and a place whence telegrams might be sent and
received. Peter saw it at the same instant.

"Here's where I beat you!" he cried as he sprang forward on the
run.

Larry tried to follow, but his legs became entangled in the oilskin
coat and he fell. He was up again in an instant, only to see Peter
entering the office. Larry's heart seemed like lead. Had he worked
so hard only to be beaten at the last?

Something spurred him on. He stumbled into the office in time to
hear Peter saying:

"I want to hold a wire for a long despatch to the New York
_Scorcher_. I've got a big account of the wreck."

"Where's your copy?" asked the young man in charge of the clicking
instruments.

"I'll have it ready for you in a minute," replied Peter, sitting
down to a table, and beginning to dash off words and sentences as
fast as his pencil could fly.

"I can't hold any wire for you," said the operator. "If you have any
press stuff to file let me have it. That's the only way you can keep
a wire."

"I'll have it for you in a second," Peter replied as he looked
anxiously at the door.

"That will not answer. I must have copy in order to keep the wire
busy."

"Here it is!" cried Larry, as he entered at that moment and pulled
from his pocket his hastily written account of the wreck, including
the list of passengers. "I'll be obliged to you if you can get this
off to the New York _Leader_ as soon as possible."

"I was here first!" angrily cried Peter.

"But I have his copy first," the operator said. "It is the filing of
the despatch first that counts, not who gets here first. I'll get
this off right away for you," he added, turning to Larry.

And thus it was that Larry got his scoop, for his account took so
long to telegraph that, when the operator began on Peter's, the
_Leader_ had the story in the office, and was preparing to get out
an extra.



CHAPTER VI

A STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE


Remaining only long enough to see that the operator got off the
first part of his story, and finding, on inquiry, that the
telegrapher had no difficulty in reading his writing, Larry started
back to the scene of the wreck. He wanted to learn if all the
passengers and crew were saved, and get an interview with the
captain, if he could.

So he left his old enemy, Peter, there grinding out his story in no
pleasant frame of mind. But it was part of the game, and Larry's
"beat" was a cleanly-scored one, especially as Peter had tried to
win by a trick.

The young reporter found the work of rescue almost completed. The
life savers had labored to good advantage and had brought nearly all
the passengers ashore in the breeches buoy. They were cared for
temporarily at the beach station, though the small quarters were
hardly adequate.

With the bringing ashore of the crew and officers, the captain
coming last, the life savers found their work finished. And it was
only just in time, for, not more than an hour after the commander
had staggered up the beach, worn and exhausted by the strain and
exposure, the after part of the vessel slid from the bar and sank in
deep water.

Larry, who had been introduced to Captain Needam by Bailey, told the
former of his desire for an interview with the commander of the
_Olivia_, and the matter was soon arranged, though Captain Tantrella
was in dire distress over the loss of his ship.

However, he told Larry what the reporter wished to know, describing
how, in the fog, the vessel had run on the sand bar. He related some
of the scenes during their wait to be rescued, told of the high seas
and terrible winds, and painted a vivid picture of the dangers.
Larry wrote it in his best style and hurried back to the telegraph
office.

There was only one passenger missing, and the name of this one,
according to the purser's list, was Mah Retto. The name, though
peculiar, Larry thought, was not dissimilar to scores of others, for
the steamer had on board a cosmopolitan lot of passengers. No one
knew how Retto had been lost.

As Larry was on his way to the telegraph office a sudden thought
came to him.

"That's it!" he exclaimed. "The man who came ashore on the life-raft
is this missing Mah Retto. I'll just stop on my way to the telegraph
office and see him. That will clear it all up, and make every
passenger accounted for."

He hurried on, intending to get a hasty interview with the man at
Bailey's hut, and then go telegraph the rest of his story. The
fisherman was still down on the beach, aiding the life savers to
pack their apparatus for transportation back to the station. As
Larry came in sight of the cabin he saw the raft, on which the
stranger had come ashore, lying just beyond high-water mark.

He entered the hut, expecting to see Retto, as he had come to call
the foreigner, sitting comfortably by the fire. But the rescued man
was not there. Nor was he in the room where he had been put to bed.

"Maybe he's in the woodshed," thought Larry. "I'll take a look."

But he was not there.

"That's strange," Larry mused. "He's disappeared. There is something
queer in this, and I'm going to find it out. But first I must send
the rest of my story."

Larry found Peter Manton still at the telegraph office grinding
away. Larry's first batch of copy had been sent off, as had most of
Peter's stuff. As the representative of the _Scorcher_ handed in the
last of his copy he turned to Larry and said, sneeringly:

"I'll bet I've got a better story than you have."

"Perhaps," was all Larry replied. Then, as Peter went back to the
wreck for more information, Larry wrote, as an addition to his
story, the interview with the captain, finishing with an account of
the missing Mah Retto. He told also of the man who came ashore on
the raft, and who was believed to be the passenger who was
unaccounted for.

"That's a good day's work done," remarked the young reporter, as he
signed his name to the last sheet of copy. "I wonder if they want me
to stay here?"

He wrote a brief message asking Mr. Emberg for instructions. Telling
the operator he would call in about two hours for an answer, Larry
decided he would get some breakfast.

As there was no restaurant in the little hamlet, he thought the best
plan would be to go back to the fisherman's cabin. He wanted to talk
with Bailey about the disappearance of the man they had rescued from
the raft.

The fisherman was at the hut when Larry arrived, and was busy
preparing a meal.

"Guess you feel like eating something, don't ye?" he asked.

"You guessed it right the first time," replied the young reporter,
with a grin.

"And my other company," went on Bailey. "I expect he's hungry."

"He's gone."

"Gone?"

"Yes; I came back here a while ago and there wasn't a sign of him."

"Why, that's queer," returned the fisherman. "I've been so busy
frying this bacon and making fresh coffee I didn't notice it. But
that reminds me, I haven't seen or heard anything of him since I
came in. His clothes are gone, too."

Larry and Bailey made a hasty search through the cabin. There were
few places where a person could conceal himself, and they very soon
found that their late guest was nowhere on the premises.

"Here's something," remarked Larry, as he looked on a small table in
the room where the rescued man had slept. "It looks like a note."

It was a note, written on the fly leaf torn from a book. It read:

"Dear friends. Accept my thanks for saving my life. Please take this
small remembrance for your trouble."

There was no signature to the note, but folded in the paper was a
hundred-dollar bill, somewhat damp from immersion in the sea.

"Well, sink my cuttle-fish!" exclaimed Bailey. "That's odd. A
hundred dollars! That's more than I make in a summer season. But
half of it's yours. I'd like to rescue people steady at that rate."

"It's all yours," said Larry. "I got the story I came down after,
and that's all I want. But I would like to find this Mah Retto, if
that's his name. He doesn't write much like a foreigner, though he
looks like one. May I keep this note?"

"As long as you don't want a share in the hundred-dollar one, I
reckon you can," Bailey replied, with a laugh.

Larry folded the scrap of paper to put in his pocket. As he did so
something bright and shining on the floor attracted his attention.
He stooped to pick it up, finding it was a small gold coin, of
curious design, evidently used as a watch charm.

"I guess our man dropped this," Larry said, holding it out to
Bailey.

"Well, you can keep that, with the note. Perhaps it will help you
solve the mystery," the fisherman said. "I'm satisfied with what I
got."

Larry put the charm in his pocket, together with the note, and was
about to leave the room, when the fisherman, who was lifting from
the corner a box, in which to deposit his money, uttered an
exclamation.

"What is it?" asked Larry.

"Why, it's a man's beard. Somebody's shaved his off and left it
here. How in the name of a soft-shell clam----"

"It's that man!" cried Larry. "I knew he had a beard on when we
pulled him ashore!"

"A beard on?" murmured Bailey, in questioning tones.

"Yes," went on Larry. "When you were outside, getting some wood,
just before you ran down the beach when the life savers came, I was
in here. The man stuck his head from the bed-room and asked for his
clothes, which I gave him. I noticed he was smooth shaven----"

"Why, he had a beard on when we pulled him from the water,"
interrupted the fisherman.

"I was sure he did, but when I asked him why he had shaved it off he
said I was mistaken--said it was only a bunch of seaweed I had
thought was a beard. Then you called me to hurry out, and I forgot
all about it until now. But he must have shaved his whiskers off in
here, and then he disappeared. There's something strange about it
all."

"I rather guess there is," Bailey admitted. "Wonder where he got his
razor? I never use one."

"He must have had it in that small valise he wore, strapped by a
belt, around his waist," Larry answered. "That's probably where he
carried his money. I'd like to get at the bottom of this mystery."

"Well, you newspaper fellows are looking for just such things as
this," said the fisherman with a smile. "It's right in your line."

"So it is," Larry replied. "I'll solve it, too."

But it was some time later, and Larry had many strange adventures
before he got at the bottom of the queer secret that started down
there on the lonely sea coast.



CHAPTER VII

LARRY OVERHEARS SOMETHING


Larry decided that the disappearance of the fisherman's guest was
not a part of the story of the wreck, though the fact that the
passenger was missing was an item of much interest, and he used it.
He made up his mind to tell Mr. Emberg all about the strange
happening when he got back.

Arriving at the telegraph office for the third time, he found a
message from the city editor, instructing him to come back to New
York, as the best of the story was now in, and the Associated Press
would attend to the remainder. Some of the representatives of that
news-gathering organization were already at the scene of the
disaster.

"Your friend got a calling down," volunteered the operator to Larry,
as the young reporter began looking up trains to see when he could
get back.

"How's that?"

"He got a message from his city editor a while ago, wanting to know
why he hadn't secured a list of passengers and the crew. The
message said the _Leader_ had it, and had beaten all the other
papers."

"That's good," spoke Larry. "I worked hard enough for it."

"The _Scorcher_ man wanted me to give him your list, but I wouldn't
do it," the operator went on. "So he's gone out to get one of his
own. But he's too late, I reckon. I'll have my hands full pretty
soon, for there'll be a lot of reporters here. But you're the first
to send off the complete story."

Larry felt much elated. Of course he knew it was due, in part, to
the forethought of his city editor in seeing a possible situation,
and rushing a man to the scene ahead of the other papers. That
counts for almost as much in journalism as does getting a good story
or a "scoop."

Larry received hearty congratulations from Mr. Emberg when he got
back to the _Leader_ office the next day, for, not only had the
young reporter secured a fine "scoop," but he had sent in an
exceptionally good story of the wreck.

"Larry, you did better than I thought you would. You've got the
right stuff in you!" exclaimed the city editor, while the other
reporters, crowding around the hero of the occasion, expressed,
their pleasure at his success. Not one of them but would have given
much to have been in Larry's place.

"Have much trouble?" asked Mr. Newton.

"Well, I had to hustle. Struck something rather queer down there,
too."

"What was it? Some of the men from other papers try to get the best
of you?"

"Only my old enemy, Peter Manton, but I put a crimp in him all
right. No, this was something else." And Larry told of the
disappearance of the man at the hut.

"That is rather odd," agreed the older reporter. "If I were you I'd
tell Mr. Emberg about it, and then you'll be in a position to act on
what information you have, in case anything turns up."

Larry followed this advice. The city editor puzzled over the matter
a few minutes, and then decided nothing could be done at present.

"We'll watch developments in regard to the _Olivia_ wreck," said Mr.
Emberg, "and it may be this mystery will fit in somewhere. If it
does we may get a good story."

But neither Larry nor the city editor realized in what a strange
manner the mystery was to develop.

It was the beginning of the newspaper day in the _Leader_ office.
Reporters were busy writing accounts of meetings they had covered
the previous night, and others were going out on assignments to
police courts, to look up robberies, murders, suicides, and the
hundred and one things that go to make up the news of the day.

"How would you like to try your hand at politics?" asked Mr. Emberg
of Larry, when they had finished their talk about the man at the
hut. "I haven't given you much chance at anything in that line, but
if you're going to be an all-'round newspaper man you'll have a lot
to do with politics."

"I think I'd like it," replied Larry.

Certainly this life was one of variety, one day at the wild scene of
a rescue from a wreck, and the next peacefully sent to talk to some
political leader.

"I want you to go up and have a talk with Jack Sullivan, the leader
of one of the Assembly districts," went on Mr. Emberg. "You've
probably read of the trouble in that district. Thomas Kilburn is a
new aspirant for the Assembly and he's fighting against the
re-nomination of William Reilly. Now Jack Sullivan is the leader of
that district, and whoever he decides to support will be elected.
That's the way politics are run in New York.

"It would be quite an item of news if we could find out whom
Sullivan is going to support. So far he has played foxy and no one
knows, not even the candidates themselves, I believe, though I have
an idea that Sullivan will swing to Reilly."

"How did Kilburn come to be in the race?" asked Larry.

"That's what we newspaper editors would like to know, and it's what
you reporters have to find out for us. There's something back of it
all. Sullivan wants something he thinks either Kilburn or Reilly
can give him, and that's why he's holding back. He'll give his
support to the man who, after he's elected, can give him what he
wants. Now if you could discover whom Sullivan is going to support,
and why, it would make a corking story."

"I'll try," said Larry, a little doubtful of his ability.

"It isn't at all like going down to a wreck and seeing persons
rescued," went on Mr. Emberg. "You've got to nose out your news this
time. A number of reporters have tried to pump Sullivan, but he
won't give up. Go and try your luck. You'll find him in the district
headquarters," and he gave Larry the address.

"Where you going?" asked Mr. Newton, as he passed Larry in the
corridor.

"To interview Sullivan."

Mr. Newton whistled.

"I don't envy you," he said. "I'm afraid you'll fall down this time,
Larry" ("falling-down" being a newspaper man's term for failure).
"We've all tried him, but he's as cute as an old fox. He'll be nice
and polite, but he'll not give you a decided answer, one way or the
other."

"I've got to try," was Larry's reply.

Larry had one advantage on his side. He was a new reporter in the
political field. That was one reason why Mr. Emberg sent him. Nearly
all the other available men on the _Leader_ were well known to the
politicians, they were familiar with them, and, as soon as they saw
these reporters, the politicians were on their guard.

Larry, never before having talked with Sullivan and his friends,
might take them off their guard, and they might let fall something
that would make news, the city editor thought. It was a slim chance,
but newspaper editors are accustomed to taking such.

When Larry entered the headquarters of Sullivan, which were located
in the rear of a large dance hall, he found the place well filled
with men, though it was the middle of the forenoon, when most
persons would have been at work. But the men were politicians of
more or less power, and had plenty of spare time. Besides this was
really their work, though it did not look like very strenuous labor,
for most of them were standing in little groups, talking and
smoking, or sitting in chairs tilted back against the wall.

Here was where Larry's newness gave him an advantage. No one in the
room knew him to be a reporter, or he would have been greeted by
some of the men as soon as he entered, called by name, and thus all
the others would have been put on their guard.

Larry sauntered into the big room as though he belonged there. He
hardly knew what to do, but he decided to look about for a few
minutes and size up the situation. No one paid any attention to him,
and he felt it would be a good plan to see if he could pick
Sullivan out from among the throng.

With this end in view Larry walked from one end of the room to the
other. He did not know that the man he sought was in his private
office, closeted with some of his henchmen. As Larry passed one
group he heard one man in it say:

"Well, Sullivan's made up his mind at last."

"He has, eh?" asked another. "Who is it?"

Larry was all attention at once. This seemed to be the very thing he
had been sent to find out.

"Don't let it get out," went on the man who had first spoken, "but I
understand Tommy has got to wait a while yet."

"Then Billy can probably deliver the goods," the second man added.
"I thought he could. Well, it means a good thing for the district
when they build the new line. If only Potter doesn't go back on his
promise. He's so rich you can't touch him with money, and he's as
foxy as they make 'em. If Billy can work him I don't blame Sullivan
for swinging his way. Now----"

But at that moment one of the men turned and saw Larry. He at once
knew him for a stranger, and quickly inquired:

"What do you want, young man?"

"I want to see Mr. Sullivan."

Larry didn't announce himself as a reporter, for that, he felt,
would have brought him only a polite refusal, on Sullivan's part, to
receive him.

"What for?" went on the man.

"I have a message for him," Larry said.

"You can tell me, I'll see that he gets it."

"It is for him personally," Larry said, for a bold plan had come
into his mind and he determined to try it.



CHAPTER VIII

AN INTERVIEW WITH SULLIVAN


For a moment the man who had questioned Larry stood gazing at him.
Suspicion was in the look, but the reporter never quailed. He was
playing a bold game and he was running a risk, but he was not going
to give up so soon.

"What's your name?" the man asked him.

"Larry Dexter."

That conveyed nothing to his questioner, for Larry had not been long
enough on the _Leader_ to become known in the field of politics.
There were some men in the newspaper business with whom the
politicians were so familiar that they sent for them whenever they
had any news they were desirous of making public. But Larry was not
yet one of these.

"Sam, tell Mr. Sullivan a young man wants to see him personally,"
went on the man who had interrogated Larry. "You can take a seat
over there," he added, pointing to some chairs farthest removed from
the group of which he was a member.

As Larry moved away he heard one of the men remark:

"Wonder if he's a newspaper man?"

"I don't believe so," replied another. "I've never seen him before
and I know most of the reporters in New York. None of the editors
would send a new man to interview Sullivan. He's too tough a bird
for a greenhorn to tackle. I guess he's a messenger from some
broker's office. Maybe Potter sent him."

"I wonder who this Potter is, and what all that talk meant?" Larry
thought to himself as he took a chair, and watched the messenger
enter a small room at the end of the big apartment.

In a little while Sam, who appeared to be a sort of janitor around
the place, came back to inform Larry that Sullivan would see him.

"Now for my game of bluff," said the young reporter to himself as he
entered.

The political leader was sitting behind a desk, littered with
papers. He was a small man, wearing glasses, and looking like
anything but the chief factor of an important Assembly district. Mr.
Sullivan was bald-headed, and had rather a pleasant face, but there
was a look about him that indicated force of character, of a certain
kind, and a determination to succeed in what he undertook, which is
what makes a good politician.

"You wanted to see me?" and the question came in a low voice,
totally unlike the loud tones Larry had, somehow, associated with an
important politician.

Larry felt the eyes of Sullivan gazing sharply at him, as though
they were sizing him up, labeling him, and placing him on a certain
shelf to be kept there until wanted. Sullivan was a good reader of
character, as he showed by his next question.

"What paper are you from?"

Larry started. He wondered how the man knew he was from a paper, for
Larry had said nothing about it. Seeing his confusion Sullivan
laughed.

"Wondering how I took your measure, aren't you?" he asked, and when
Larry nodded he went on: "You have the air of a newspaper man, which
you may consider flattering, as you have acquired it after having
been in the game only a short time. I assume that because it's my
business to know most of the reporters in this city, and I never saw
you before. If you didn't look like a newspaper man I'd size you up
for one, because only a reporter, or some of my political friends,
would come here to see me. You're not the one, so you must be the
other. Now what do you want?" and the politician's voice became
rather sharp.

"I came here to find out if it's true that you're going to support
Reilly because he can deliver the goods from Mr. Potter," Larry
explained, resolving to chance all at once.

Sullivan started, and half arose from his chair. Then he seemed to
recover himself.

"Some one's been talking!" he murmured, and, glancing quickly at
Larry, he asked:

"Who is Mr. Potter? I'm afraid I don't understand you."

"He's the financier interested in the new line," went on Larry,
boldly. "It's going to be a good thing for the district, I
understand. Come now, Mr. Sullivan," he went on, assuming a familiar
air he did not feel, "you might as well own up and give me an
interview about deciding to support Reilly."

For several seconds the leader gazed at Larry, as if seeking to read
his inmost thoughts. Then he spoke:

"You either know too much or too little, Dexter. I guess you're an
older hand at this business than I took you for. Tell me what you
know."

"You tell me what I want to know," Larry said with a smile. "You
probably know all that I do and more, too. But I don't know half as
much as you do about this, though I know enough to print something
in the _Leader_. You might as well come out with it."

Sullivan hesitated. He was wondering how this new young reporter had
discovered information supposed to be a secret among the
politician's closest advisers. Clearly there was a leak somewhere,
and he must play the game warily until he discovered it. Meanwhile,
since part of the truth was known he decided to tell more of it. He
could manage matters to suit his ends if necessary, even after he
gave out the interview for which all the papers in New York were
anxiously waiting.

"Did Mr. Emberg send you to see me?" asked Sullivan.

"He did," Larry answered, wondering how intimate was the
politician's acquaintance with the city editor of the _Leader_.

"Emberg's foxy," went on Sullivan.

"Do I get the interview?" asked Larry.

"You do. I like your nerve, and I'd like to find out where you heard
that about Potter."

Larry did not think it well to say he had merely overheard, in the
politician's own headquarters, a reference to the man, who was a
well-known millionaire and promoter of New York. The truth of the
matter was Larry only used the information that had so unexpectedly
come to him, but he used it in such a way that Sullivan thought he
knew a great deal more than he did.

"I'm going to support Reilly," went on Sullivan. "I don't know that
I have such great influence as the papers credit me with, but what I
have is for my friend, William Reilly. You can say for me that I
think he served well in the Legislature and is entitled to another
term. As for Mr. Kilburn, who I hear would like the nomination, he
is an excellent young man. I know little about him, but I believe he
would do well. But I believe in rewarding good work, and so I am for
Mr. Reilly."

"Do you want to say anything about Potter and the new line?" asked
Larry, though if Sullivan had said anything about them the reporter
would have been decidedly in the dark as to what the politician was
driving at.

"I guess you've got enough out of me for one day," replied Sullivan
with a smile. "It's more talking than I've done in a long while--to
reporters," he added. "Lots of 'em would give a good bit to have
what you've got, and I wouldn't have given it to you, only I think
you're smarter than I gave you credit for. Now you tell me where you
heard about Potter."

"I can't," answered Larry, truthfully enough, for he did not feel
that he could betray one of Sullivan's own men, because of the talk
he had inadvertently overheard. "Sometime I may."

"I'll have to cultivate your acquaintance," the district politician
remarked as Larry went out.

The young reporter hurried to the _Leader_ office, having hastily
jotted down what Sullivan had said. He felt he had secured a piece
of news that would prove a big item that day.

"What luck?" asked Mr. Emberg, rather indifferently, as Larry came
up to the city editor's desk to report.

"I've got the interview."

"I s'pose he gave you a lot of hot air that doesn't mean anything.
See if you can dress it up a bit. We haven't many displays to-day."

"Sullivan is going to support Reilly," announced Larry, quietly.

"What?" almost shouted Mr. Emberg. "Did he tell you that?"

"He did," answered Larry, wondering why Mr. Emberg was so excited.



CHAPTER IX

EVERYTHING BUT THE FACTS


The city room, that had been buzzing and humming with the talk of
several reporters, seemed strangely quiet as Larry gave his answer.
His remarks had been heard by several. The clicking typewriters
stopped, and those operating them looked up.

"Say that again," spoke Mr. Emberg, as though a great deal depended
on it.

"Sullivan is going to support Reilly," repeated Larry. "There's what
he says," and he handed out the brief interview which he had written
on some sheets of paper as he came down in the elevated train. The
city editor glanced quickly over it.

"Are you sure you haven't made a mistake?" he asked.

"I'm positive that's exactly what he said."

"This is a big thing," went on Mr. Emberg. "We have news from Albany
directly contrary to this, but if you're sure you are right I'll use
this. It will make a big sensation. Have you got it all alone?"

"There were no other reporters there that I knew," Larry said.

"Good for you. How in the world did you do it? I never thought you
would. Sit right down and make as much as you can of it. Describe
how he received you, what you said and what he said and all about
it. This is great."

"I stumbled on it," said Larry, and he proceeded to relate what he
had heard about Potter and the new line, though he did not in the
least know what the "new line" was.

"Better and better!" exclaimed Mr. Emberg. "This is what I
suspected. It has to do with the new subway line. If it runs through
the eighth district it will be the making of Sullivan. That's why
he's supporting Reilly, because he thinks Reilly can influence
Potter to run the new subway line in that direction. We must have an
interview with Potter. I'll send some one else out on that. You
write what you have. Here, Mr. Newton, jump out and see if you can
find Potter. It's going to be quite a job, but maybe you can land
him."

"Hamden Potter's in Europe," said a reporter who "did" Wall Street,
and who knew the movements of most of the financiers. "But he's
expected back soon."

"Maybe he's back by this time," Mr. Emberg went on. "Get out on the
job, Newton. Hurry, Larry, it's close to edition-time."

Larry sat down at his typewriter, which he had learned to operate
with considerable speed, and was soon banging away at the keys.

"Shall I put in that about Mr. Potter and the new line?" he called
to Mr. Emberg.

"No, I'll have Harvey attend to that part. You just tell of the
interview in regard to supporting Reilly. Make it a good story."

Larry did his best, and gave a graphic picture of the leader's
headquarters, without touching on how he had come to get the
information which so many other papers and reporters were anxiously
waiting for.

"Here, Tommy!" called the city editor to one of the copy boys, which
position Larry used to fill, "bring me Mr. Dexter's stuff, page by
page, as fast as he writes it. I'll get it upstairs and fix up a
head for it."

Larry smiled to hear Mr. Emberg call him "Mr. Dexter," but, no
matter how familiar an editor may become with his reporters, he
gives even the youngest the title of mister when speaking of him to
the copy boys.

Larry finished the first page of his story, pulled it from the
typewriter and handed it to Tommy, who rushed with it to Mr.
Emberg's desk. The editor glanced over it, made one or two
corrections, changed the wording a bit, and handed it back to Tommy,
who hurried with it to the pneumatic tube, in which it was shot
upstairs to the composing room.

There it was taken from the metal carrier that dropped from the
tube on the desk of the man in charge of distributing the various
pieces of copy to the compositors. This man put a mysterious-looking
blue mark on the first page of Larry's story. This was to identify
it later, and to make sure that all the succeeding pages would be
kept together.

Then the sheet was handed to the first of a long line of
compositors, who were standing in front of the desk of the
"copy-cutter," as he is called. It was close to the hour for the
first edition to go to press, and every one was in a hurry.

The compositor fairly ran to his type-setting machine and began to
operate the keys, which were arranged like those on a very large
typewriter. He did not strike them, as one does who operates a
typewriter, but gently touched them. As he pressed each finger down
the least bit there was a click, and from the rack above the machine
there tumbled down a small piece of brass, called a "matrix." This
contained on one edge a depression that corresponded to a letter.

In a short while enough matrixes had fallen into place to make a
complete line, just the width of one of the columns of the _Leader_.
The compositor looked at the row of matrixes as they were, arranged
before him, read it (no easy task to the uninitiated), took out a
wrong letter and inserted a right one, and then pressed down a
lever.

This lever operated the lead-casting machine at the back. A plunger
was shoved down into a pot of melted lead, kept molten by means of
a gas flame. A small quantity of lead was forced up against the line
of matrixes, which automatically moved in a position to receive it.

The lead was held there an instant to harden, then another lever
automatically removed the solid line of type from its place in front
of the matrixes, a long arm swooped down, took the brass pieces and
returned them to an endless screw arrangement which distributed
them, each one to its proper place, in the series of chutes that
held hundreds of others.

Everything was done automatically after the compositor had touched
the keys and then the lever, so that he was almost finished with the
second line of the story by the time the matrixes of the first were
being returned to their slots by the machine, which seemed almost
human.

Thus Larry's story was set up. In all, five men worked at putting it
into type, and finally the five sections were collected together on
a "galley" or long narrow brass pan. A proof was taken and rushed
down to Mr. Emberg so that he might see it was all right, but by
this time, some typographical errors in the story having been
corrected, men were placing it in the "form" or steel frame which
holds enough type to make a page of the paper. This was soon in
readiness for the stereotyping department.

Larry had not finished the third page of his story before the first
two were in type. He hurried through it, and by the time he had
handed in the last sheet there were men upstairs waiting for it, so
quickly is the mechanical part of newspaper making accomplished.

Finally the story was all in type, the lead lines were in the form,
and, when the latter was filled it was "locked," or tightly
fastened, and was ready for the men who were to take an impression
of the page in damp papier-mache.

This papier-mache, which is also called a matrix, was baked hard by
steam, put in a curved cylinder, melted lead was poured on it and
there was a solid metal page of the paper ready for the great press,
which was soon thundering away, printing thousands of papers, each
one containing, on the front page, Larry's account of the interview
with Sullivan.

Of course many things had been going on meanwhile. Mr. Emberg had
written a "scare head," as they are called, that is a head to be
printed in big letters, and this had been set up by men working by
hand. This was put on the story after it was in the form.

"Guess Newton is having trouble finding Potter," commented the city
editor, when he had finished with Larry's copy. "If we don't hear
from him in five minutes we'll miss the edition."

The five minutes passed, and no word came from Harvey Newton. The
building shook as the giant press started, and Mr. Emberg, shutting
up his watch with a snap, remarked:

"Too late! Well, maybe he'll catch him for the second."

It is often the case that only part of a story gets in the first
edition of a paper. So many circumstances govern the getting of
news, and the sending of it into the office, that unless a story is
obtained, complete, early in the morning it is necessary to make
additions to it from edition to edition in the case of an afternoon
paper.

"Mack, maybe you'd better try to find Potter," went on Mr. Emberg
after a pause, turning to another reporter. "You know him. Tell him
we've got an interview with Sullivan, and ask him what the support
of Reilly means."

Mack, whose name in full was McConnigan, but who was never
designated as anything but "Mack," glanced at the proofs of Larry's
story.

"I guess I'll find him in Donnegan's place," he said, naming a
resort where men of wealth frequently gathered for lunch. "I'll try
there."

"Anywhere to find him," returned the city editor.

"Are you looking for Hamden Potter?" asked an old man, coming into
the city room at that juncture.

"That's what we are," said the city editor. "Why, do you know where
to find him, Mr. Hogan? Have you got a story for us to-day?"

Hogan was an old newspaper man, never showing any great talents, and
he had seen his best days. He was not to be relied on any more,
though he frequently took "tips" around to the different papers,
receiving for them, together with what money he could beg or borrow,
enough to live on.

"I've got a story, yes. I was down at the steamship dock of the Blue
Star line a while ago, and I see Mr. Potter's family come off a
vessel.

"Was he with them? Have you got the story?" demanded Mr. Emberg,
eagerly.

"I've got everything, I guess. I've got all but the main facts,
anyhow. I don't know whether Potter was with them or not. I didn't
think it was of any importance."

"Importance!" exclaimed the city editor. Then he bethought him of
Hogan's character, and knew it was useless to speak. "Everything but
the facts--the most important fact of all," Mr. Emberg murmured.

"Isn't that tip worth something?" demanded Hogan.

"Oh, I suppose so," and Mr. Emberg wrote out an order on the cashier
for two dollars. Poor Hogan shuffled from the room. He was but a
type of many who have outlived their usefulness.

"Jump down to the Blue Star dock, Mack," the city editor said, when
Hogan had gone. "Find out all you can about the Potters--where they
have been and where Mr. Potter went. Hurry now!"

As Mack was going out the telephone rang. It was a message from Mr.
Newton to the effect that he could not find Mr. Potter, and that at
his office it was said he was still in Europe.

"Hurry to his house," said Mr. Emberg over the wire. "I have a tip
that his family just got in on the _Messina_ of the Blue Star line.
I've sent Mack to the dock! You go to the house!"

Thus, like a general directing his forces, did the city editor send
his men out after news.



CHAPTER X

THREATS AGAINST LARRY


Second edition-time was close at hand, but no news regarding Mr.
Hamden Potter had come in from either Newton or Mack. From a
reporter sent to interview representatives of the company
constructing the subway came a message to the effect that none of
the officers would talk for publication.

"What in the world is the matter with Harvey and Mack?" asked Mr.
Emberg, restlessly pacing the floor. Every one in the city room felt
the strain. Every time the telephone bell rang, the city editor
jumped to answer it, without waiting for one of the boys or a
reporter to get to the instrument.

Finally, after several false alarms, the bell rang and the city
editor, grabbing up the portable telephone, cried out:

"Yes? Oh, it's you, Newton. Where in the world have you been? We
only have time for the last edition. Talk fast! What's that? The
Potter family home, and you can't see Mr. Potter? Why not? Tell them
you've got to see him. Send in a message you have something of
importance to tell him. You say you have? And you can't see him?
But you must! Go back and try again. This is the biggest story we've
had in a long while and we can't fall down on it this way!"

He hung up the receiver on the hook with a bang, and once more began
pacing the floor.

"That's queer," he murmured. "There's something strange back of all
this. Potter is up to some game, and so is Sullivan. Come here,
Larry."

Mr. Emberg closely questioned the young reporter as to every detail
of his interview with Sullivan.

"I'm going to write something myself," the city editor announced.
"We've got to have more of this story. I can guess at part of it,
and I'll make it general enough, and with sufficient 'understoods'
in it to save us in case I'm wrong."

He began to write, nervously and hurriedly, handing the sheets over
to his assistant to edit as fast as he was done with them. They were
rushed upstairs, one at a time, as Larry's copy had been.

The last edition went to press without the much-desired interview
with Mr. Potter. The city editor wrote a story, full of glittering
generalities, telling how it was believed that certain forces were
at work in the interest of getting a new line of the subway through
the eighth district, and that Assemblyman Reilly was concerned in
the matter, as was also a certain well-known financier, whose name
was not mentioned, but whom the readers of the _Leader_ would have
little difficulty in recognizing as Mr. Potter.

To show that it was Mr. Potter to whom he was referring Mr. Emberg
added at the bottom of the story, and under a separate single-line
head, a note to the effect that all efforts were unavailing to get
an interview with Hamden Potter, the financier, who that day had
returned from Europe with his family, as Mr. Potter would see no
reporters. It was added that Mr. Potter's connection with the subway
interests might throw some light on the reason for the declaration
of Sullivan for Reilly.

In all this there was no direct statement made, but the inferences
were almost as strong as though the paper had come out boldly and
stated as facts what Mr. Emberg believed to be true, but which he
dared not assert boldly. But as long as they were not made direct
and positive there was no chance for a libel suit, which is
something all newspapers dread.

"There, I guess that will do if Harvey can't get at Potter," spoke
Mr. Emberg when he had finished. "Queer, though, that Potter keeps
himself away from our reporters. He used to be willing enough to
talk."

A little later another telephone message was received from Mr.
Newton, announcing that it was useless to try to see the
millionaire.

"Come on in, then," the city editor directed.

Nor was Mack any more successful. He had learned that the Potter
family had hurried from the dock in a closed carriage and were
driven to their handsome home on the fashionable thoroughfare known
as Central Park, West. No one had seen Mr. Potter, as far as Mack
could learn, and the reporter was not allowed to go aboard the ship,
as the custom officers were engaged in looking over the baggage of
the passengers.

"Well, we've got a good story," said Mr. Emberg late that afternoon,
when work for the day was over. "It's a beat, too."

"Did any of 'em make lifts for it?" asked Mr. Hylard, the assistant
city editor. A "lift," it may be explained, is the insertion of a
piece of news in the last edition of a paper. It is made by taking
one plate from the press, removing or "lifting" a comparatively
unimportant item of news from the form, inserting the new item,
which was received too late for the regular edition, making a new
plate, and starting the press again. It is done rather than print an
entire new edition, and is sometimes used when some other paper gets
a beat or piece of news which your paper must have, or in case of an
accident happening after the last edition has gone to press.

"The _Star_ lifted our story almost word for word," said Mr. Emberg.
"Guess they didn't take the trouble to confirm it. The morning
sheets will probably try to discount it."

Which was exactly what they did. Some had what purported to be
interviews with Sullivan, denying that he had said he was going to
support Reilly. Others showed, editorially and otherwise, how
nonsensical it would be for Sullivan to throw his influence to any
one but Kilburn.

"I hope you haven't made any mistake, Larry," said Mr. Emberg the
next day. "If you misquoted Sullivan it means a bad thing for our
paper."

"I quoted him correctly."

At that moment the telephone on Mr. Emberg's desk rang and he
answered it.

"Dexter?" he repeated. "Yes, we have a reporter of that name here."
Larry was all attention at once. "Who wants him? Oh, Mr. Sullivan?
Is this Mr. Sullivan? Well, this is the city editor of the _Leader_.
I see some of the papers are denying our story. Our account is about
correct, eh? Well, I'm glad of it. Yes, I'll send Mr. Dexter to see
you right away.

"Sullivan wants to see you, Larry," went on Mr. Emberg, hanging up
the telephone receiver. "This may be a big thing. Go slow and be
careful of what he says. Don't let him bluff you."

"You're getting right into politics," said Mr. Newton to Larry, as
the young reporter prepared to go out.

"Yes, and I'm afraid I'll get into water where I can't swim."

"Don't let that worry you. You've got to learn, and in New York
politics is the most important news of all."

Larry found Sullivan in the same place where he had secured the
momentous interview. The Assembly leader nodded to the boy, and then
picked up a copy of the paper which contained an account of the talk
with Sullivan.

"You made quite a yarn of this," Sullivan remarked.

"Yes, it was a good story."

"A little too good," went on the politician. "You got me into hot
water."

"Did I misquote you?"

"No, but you got the information before I was ready to give it out.
I thought you knew more than you did. This last part," pointing to
the generalities written by Mr. Emberg, "this last part shows that
you folks are up a tree. Now I want to know where you heard that
about Potter, and I'm going to have an answer," and Sullivan lost
his calm air and looked angrily at Larry.

"I can't tell you where I got my tip."

"You mean you will not?"

"Well, you can put it that way," replied Larry.

"I'll make you!" and the politician arose from his chair and stood
threateningly over the young reporter. For a moment Larry's heart
beat rapidly in fear. Then he remembered what Mr. Emberg had said:
"Don't let him bluff you." He was sure Sullivan was bluffing.

"Are you going to tell?" asked Sullivan again.

"I am not."

Sullivan banged his fist down on his desk. He shoved his hat on the
back of his head. Thrusting his face close to Larry's he exclaimed:

"Then I'll put you out of business! I'll make the city too hot to
hold you! I'll have you fired from the _Leader_, and no other paper
in New York will hire you! I'll show you what it is to have Jack
Sullivan down on you! I was going to play fair with you. But you
sneaked in here and got information I wasn't ready to give out. Now
you can take the consequences!"

"I didn't sneak in here!" cried Larry. "I came openly. What's more,
you can't scare me! I'm not afraid of you! I know what I did was all
right! Perhaps the _Leader_ knows more than you think. I'm not going
to tell where I got my information, and you can do as you please!"

Sullivan had cooled down. He was a bit ashamed of having given way
to his anger, for usually he kept his temper.

"All right," he said. "It's war between us now. Tell your city
editor he needn't send you to get any more news from me, and when
the _Leader_ wants any favors from Jack Sullivan it can whistle for
'em. I'm done with that sheet. I'll show 'em who Sullivan is!"

Larry turned and went out. It was the first time he had been
browbeaten like this, but he kept his nerve. If he had only known
it, Sullivan was not the first politician to threaten to annihilate
a paper, nor was it Sullivan's initial attempt to scare reporters
into doing what he wanted.

As Larry left the headquarters he met Peter Manton going in.

"Making up another fake interview with Sullivan?" asked Peter, with
a sneer. "You've made a nice mess of it!"

"I didn't make any worse one than you did with that wreck story,"
retorted Larry, who could not forego this thrust at his old enemy.

"I'll get even with you yet," exclaimed the rival reporter, as he
scowled at Larry, and entered Sullivan's private room.

"I wonder what Sullivan will do about it?" thought Larry, as he went
back to the office.



CHAPTER XI

A MISSING MILLIONAIRE


Contrary to Larry's expectations Mr. Emberg was not at all impressed
by Sullivan's threats.

"I've heard talk like that before," the city editor said. "The
_Leader_ will try to worry along without the aid of Mr. Jack
Sullivan. As for you, Larry, don't give it another thought. If he
ever bothers you, or any of his ward-heelers try to make the least
trouble for you, let me know. I guess we have some influence in this
city. Well, I'll look for wholesale denials of your interview from
now on. Sullivan showed his hand too quickly it seems. We must try
for Potter now. Queer how he hangs back when we've got part of the
story."

"Haven't any of the boys been able to find him?" asked Larry.

"Harvey can't get near him, and when he can't no one can. There's
something queer about it. At the house they will give out no
information, except to say that Mr. Potter can't be seen. At his
office the clerks either say that he is engaged or has not come in
yet. I'm beginning to think he's keeping out of the way on purpose."

Mr. Emberg's surmise about the other papers publishing denials of
the Sullivan interview was correct. Those journals which were on the
same political platform as that of the man whose enmity Larry had
incurred proved, to their own satisfaction at least, that Sullivan
could not support Reilly. As for the _Leader_, which was independent
in politics, that paper did not worry over the accusations of
"faking" made against it. Mr. Emberg knew he was right, and he was
planning for a big disclosure when some of his reporters could find
Hamden Potter.

For a time the Sullivan matter was dropped, and Larry found his time
busily occupied in a varied lot of assignments.

One day the young reporter was sent to one of the hotels to
interview a youthful millionaire, who had come to the city from a
distant town in a big touring car, accompanied by a number of
friends.

"Hump! Seems to me I'm assigned to all the millionaire cases," mused
Larry.

The young millionaire was named Dick Hamilton, and he was none other
than the youth who has figured in another series of mine, called the
"Dick Hamilton Series," starting with "Dick Hamilton's Fortune."
Dick had come to New York for the purpose of making an investment
and had had an encounter with a sharper, who had tried to sell him
some worthless stocks.

"Please give me the story," pleaded Larry, and he got the tale in
detail, and what was more, he and Dick Hamilton became so friendly
that the young millionaire promised to keep the story from all other
reporters; so that Larry scored another beat, much to his own
satisfaction and the satisfaction of his friends.

"Keep on and you'll be at the top," said the city editor, and then
he went on: "Here is something else you might look into, Larry. It
might make a fine thing for the Sunday supplement. You can go up
there, get the yarn, and you needn't come back to-day. Write it up
the first thing in the morning."

"What sort of story is it?" asked Larry.

"Why, it's a postal, from an old German, I take it, who says he has
invented a flying machine."

"I guess he's about the only one in ten thousand who has been
successful then," answered Larry, smiling.

"Oh, I don't suppose it amounts to anything," went on Mr. Emberg.
"But it may make a good story to let the old gentleman talk, and
describe the machine. The public likes stories about flying machines
and queer inventors, even if the machines don't work. Get a good
yarn, for we need one for the first page of the supplement. I'll
sent Sneed, the photographer, up later to get some pictures of it."

The city editor handed Larry a postal card, poorly written and
spelled, on which there was a request that a reporter be sent to a
certain address on the East Side, to get a story of a wonderful
invention, destined to revolutionize methods of travel.

It was not the first time Larry had been sent on this sort of an
assignment. Once he had gone to get a story of a new kind of gas
lamp a man had invented, and the thing had exploded while he was
watching the owner demonstrate it. Luckily neither of them were
hurt.

Larry found the address given on the postal was in a dilapidated
tenement, seemingly deserted, and standing some distance away from
other buildings.

When he got there he ran into a reporter named Fritsch, who worked
on a German newspaper.

"Dot inventor vos mofed avay," said the German reporter. "Some
beoples told me he vos krazy."

"Is the house vacant?" asked Larry.

"I dink so. Maype ve walk through him, yah?"

Larry was willing, and together the pair went into the tenement and
upstairs.

As they passed through one of the halls Larry looked up and saw a
man peering down at him over a balustrade. He gave a gasp.

"Vot it is?" questioned the German reporter.

"That man!" cried Larry. He ran up the stairs and tried to catch
the individual, who was running away.

The man was the person he had helped to rescue from the ocean--the
one who had given his name as Mah Retto.

The strange man entered a side room and locked the door. Larry
knocked, but nobody answered his summons.

"Dot vos not der inventor," said Fritsch.

"I know it--but I'd like to see him, nevertheless," answered the
young newspaper man.

A little later the two reporters came down into the street and
separated. Larry went home, but after supper that evening he walked
again in the direction of the lonely tenement. He wanted to see the
policeman, whose post took in that section of the city, and make
some inquiries of him. The officer might be able to throw some light
on the sudden appearance of the strange man.

Larry found the policeman after some search. The officer, as soon as
he learned Larry was from the _Leader_, was very willing to tell all
he knew, for the _Leader_ was a paper that always spoke well of the
police, and the force appreciated this.

"It sure is a queer house," said Patrolman Higgins. "I remember the
time it was filled with families, but they all moved away because
the owner didn't make any repairs. The only person there was a crazy
German who's daffy on airships. He got out to-day."

"I've heard of him," replied Larry. "But is he the only one in
there? I heard there was another man stopping there."

"Now that you speak of it, I shouldn't wonder but what there was,"
answered Higgins. "I saw two lights in there to-night, for the first
time. I've got sort of used to seeing one in the window where the
crazy German is puttering away at his airship, but awhile ago I
noticed a gleam in another part of the house. I took it for a second
lamp the German had lighted, but now that I think of it, seems to me
it was on the other side of the house. I shouldn't wonder but what
you're right."

"Oh, it doesn't matter much," said Larry, who did not want to arouse
too great interest in the matter. "I just thought you might happen
to know him."

"I'll make some inquiries in the neighborhood," the officer went on.
"I don't want that shack to get to be a hanging-out place for
tramps. It was bad enough to have the German there, but he paid his
rent to the owner, who's about as crazy as the airship inventor.
I'll look up this other fellow. Drop around to-morrow night and I
may have some news for you."

"I will," replied Larry, satisfied that he had put his plan into
operation. "It's nothing special, but I had an idea I might get a
story out of the chap." And he went home again.

Larry reported to Mr. Emberg the next morning all the details of the
visit to the strange house.

"If some East Indian chooses to hide himself it can't make much
difference to us," said the city editor. "I judge him to be a native
from that name. I've got another story for you to go out on. It's
about----"

At that instant the telephone on Mr. Emberg's desk rang insistently.
He broke off what he was saying to Larry to grab up the instrument.

"Hello. Yes, this is Mr. Emberg. Oh, is that you, Harvey? What's
that? Reported to the police as missing? Are you sure it's him?
Great Scott! If that's true that's a corking good story! That
explains some things! You take the police end and I'll send some one
up to the house! Good-bye!"

The city editor was excited.

"Here, Larry!" he cried. "Jump right out on this. The police have
just received a report that Hamden Potter, the millionaire
financier, is missing. They tried to keep it quiet, but Harvey got
on to it. Hustle up to Potter's house and get all the particulars
you can. Get a picture of him. Hamden Potter missing!" he went on,
as Larry hurried away on his assignment. "There's something queer in
the wind, that's sure!"

There was--something more strange than Mr. Emberg suspected, and
Larry's assignment was one destined to last for some time.



CHAPTER XII

A BRAVE GIRL


Hamden Potter lived in one of the finest houses in New York. Larry
had often admired it as he walked in the neighborhood of Central
Park, in which vicinity many other New York millionaires have their
residences.

"Now I've got a chance to see the inside," thought Larry, as he sat
in the elevated train, and was whirled along toward his destination.
"That is if they let me in. Guess I'll have my hands full getting
information up there. Still, if I work it right, I may learn all I
want to know."

There are only two general classes of persons from whom reporters
can get news. One class is that which is only too ready to impart
it, for their own ends and interests, and this news is seldom the
kind the papers want. The other class consists of persons who are
determined that they will give no information to the representatives
of the press. This class usually has the very news that the papers
want, and the journals strive all the more eagerly to get it, from
the very fact that there is a desire to hold it from them. Both
classes must be approached in ways best suited to them; the one
that they may not take up a reporter's valuable time with a lot of
useless talk, and the other that they may be tricked into giving out
that which they are determined to keep back. It was to the latter
class that Larry was going that morning. On his way up he was
turning over in his mind the best means of getting what he wanted.

"Some butler or private secretary will come to the door," he
reasoned. "I've got to get in to see a member of the family. There's
only Mrs. Potter and her daughter Grace," for, in common with other
rich men and those in the public eye, Mr. Potter's family affairs
were, in a measure, public property to the New York newspaper world.

As Larry had surmised, his ring at the door was answered by a
stately butler.

"I wish to see Mr. Potter," said the reporter, venturing on a bold
stroke. He had learned several tricks of the trade.

"Mr. Potter is not home," and the door was about to close.

"Will you take a message to Mrs. Potter?" asked Larry quickly.

The door was opened a little.

"What name?" and the butler did not relax his severity.

"It doesn't matter what name. Tell her I have called in reference to
Mr. Potter's absence."

"Come in!" the butler exclaimed quickly.

Larry had gained his first skirmish, in a manner perfectly
legitimate, regarded from a newspaper standpoint. He had called in
reference to Mr. Potter's disappearance--not to give information (as
the butler may have supposed), but to get it.

"This way," said the man. "Mrs. Potter is in the library."

Larry entered through the velvet portieres the butler held aside for
him. He saw, reclining on a couch, a handsome woman, whose face
showed traces of tears. Beside her stood the most beautiful girl
Larry had ever seen. She had brown eyes, brown hair, and a face
that, though it was sad, made Larry think of some wonderful
painting.

"Some one with news of Mr. Potter," the butler announced.

"Oh! Have you come to tell me of my husband?" the lady exclaimed,
sitting up suddenly.

Larry's mind was working quickly. If he took the right means he was
liable to get the information he wanted. On the other hand he was in
a fair way to be shown the door indignantly, for he realized that he
had entered under false pretenses, however honorable his motives
might have been.

"I beg your pardon for intruding," he said, speaking quickly. "I
have come to ask news of Mr. Potter, not to bring it. One moment,"
as he saw Mrs. Potter's face assume a look of anger. "His
disappearance has been reported to the police. They tried to keep
it quiet, but it was impossible in the case of a man of Mr. Potter's
standing. Our paper--the _Leader_--knows of it. In a short time it
will be known to every paper in New York. I think it would be wise
for you to meet the situation, and give me whatever information you
can. We will only be too glad to help you locate your husband, and I
believe there is no better way than by newspaper publicity, even the
police will tell you that. If you could give me a description of the
missing man, when he was last seen, what sort of clothing he wore,
and a picture of him we will publish it in the paper. Thousands of
persons will see the account and will be on the lookout for him.
Believe me, it is the best way!"

Larry paused for breath. He had rattled all that off without giving
Mrs. Potter a chance to stop him, for he wanted to present his case
in the most advantageous light.

"Mamma, I believe he is right!" exclaimed Grace Potter. "I never
thought of it that way before. I thought the newspaper people were
horrid when any one had trouble."

"We are human," said Larry with a little laugh, and Grace smiled,
though her eyes had traces of tears.

"I could not think of discussing your father's affairs with a
reporter," said Mrs. Potter stiffly.

"I don't want to pry into his affairs," returned Larry. "I only want
to help you find him."

"But this publicity is so disgraceful!"

"Not at all, madam. It is a misfortune, perhaps, but other families
have the same trouble. Nothing is thought of it. The newspapers are
the best means of tracing lost persons."

"That's right, mother," interrupted Grace. "I often read
descriptions of persons who have disappeared, and a few days later I
see that they have been found, principally through an account in the
paper. I am sure this young gentleman will help us."

"I will do all I can," said Larry. "So will the other papers, I am
sure. Now when did he disappear? Is this a picture of him?" and he
took one from the library table. "Suppose you let me take this to
have a cut made of it. I will return it," and before Mrs. Potter or
Grace could object Larry had it in his pocket. That is the way
reporters get along sometimes, by taking advantage of every
opportunity. Once lost these golden chances seldom can be seized
again.

Before mother or daughter could answer Larry's question the door
bell rang, and, a moment later, the butler announced:

"Some newspaper reporters, madam!"

"Oh, this is dreadful! I can't see them!" exclaimed Mrs. Potter.
"Tell them to go away. Let them see Mr. Potter's lawyer!"

"Mother, let me attend to this for you," said Grace. "I will see the
reporters. I will tell them all that is necessary. I'm not afraid.
I want to find poor, dear papa!"

"You are a brave girl," murmured Mrs. Potter, as she wiped her eyes.
"I would not dare face them all in our trouble."

Larry agreed with Mrs. Potter's characterization of Grace. It was no
easy task for a girl of eighteen to thus assume the responsibility,
but she had the courage, and Larry admired her for it.

"You had better go to your room, mother," Grace went on. "I will see
the newspaper men in here," she added to the butler who was waiting.
"You may stay," she said, looking at Larry, "and you will learn all
we ourselves know."

Larry realized there was no opportunity for a beat in this matter of
the disappearance of the millionaire, as the news the police get
they give out indiscriminately to all papers. So he was content to
get what information he needed in common with the other reporters.
But he had a picture, and he doubted if all the others would get
one.

The butler showed the reporters in. They were nearly all young men,
about Larry's age, though one or two were gray-haired veterans of
the pencil.

"What is it you wish to inquire about first?" asked Grace, as she
faced the newspaper men, more calmly than could her mother, who had
gone to her room.



CHAPTER XIII

WHERE IS HE?


"When did Mr. Potter run away?" asked a voice from the group of
press representatives, and Larry saw it was his old enemy, Peter
Manton, of the _Scorcher_--a sensational sheet--who had made the
inquiry.

"My father didn't run away!" exclaimed Grace indignantly. "If you
are going on that assumption I shall give you no information at
all."

"That was a mistake," interposed an elderly reporter. "We are only
anxious to know when you last saw him," and someone whispered a
well-deserved rebuke to Peter.

"To begin at the beginning," Grace resumed, "father went abroad with
mother and me several months ago. He was not in good health and his
physician recommended a change of air. We traveled in England and on
the continent, and then went to Italy. My father preceded us there,
as he had some business affairs to look after in Rome.

"When we got to that city we found he had left there, as his
business called him away. He left word that he might have to sail
for this country ahead of us, but would try to meet us in Naples. We
proceeded there, only to find that he had sailed, and he told us to
come over on the next steamer. He promised to meet us in New York.

"We sailed on the _Messina_, expecting my father would meet us at
the pier."

"Did he meet you?" asked Larry, for he recalled that day when he had
secured the memorable interview with Sullivan, in which Mr. Potter's
name played an important part.

"He did not," and there was a catch in the girl's voice. "One of his
clerks did, and said he had received a letter from my father,
stating that he was unavoidably detained, but that he would be with
us soon."

She paused, and pressed her handkerchief to her eyes.

"Well?" asked one of the reporters softly.

"That is all," said Grace. "I have not seen my father since parting
with him at Munich, whence he proceeded to Rome. He has never
communicated directly with us, and we don't know what to think. It
is dreadful!" and she wept softly.

There was a pause of a few seconds, while the girl recovered her
composure. Then the reporters began to ask questions, sparing Grace
as much as possible.

In this way they learned that Mr. Potter's family could give no
description as to was dressed when he disappeared, for quite an
interval had elapsed between the time Grace and her mother had last
seen him, and when they learned that he was gone.

Nor had Mr. Potter communicated with his office or his business
associates, except so far as to send a clerk to meet the steamer.
Before going to Europe he had arranged matters so his affairs could
be conducted in his absence, and his continued failure to come back
worked no harm in that respect. Confidential clerks attended to
everything, and the millionaire's large interests were well looked
after.

So there was really not much that Grace could tell. She said she and
her mother had waited some time, after getting home, hoping Mr.
Potter would come back or communicate with them, but when he had not
done so they became alarmed. They feared he had met with some
mishap, and, after talking the matter over with his lawyers, they
had decided it would be best to report the matter to the police.

"We are much obliged to you," said Larry, when it seemed that no
more questions were necessary.

"We'll do our best, through the papers, to help find your father,"
added a gray-haired reporter.

"Now give us his picture," put in Peter Manton, in a commanding
tone.

"We have none to give out at present," said Grace coldly. "We are
having a number made, showing him as he looked when he went away,
and they will be ready in a few days. The lawyers will attend to
that, if my father is not found in the meanwhile."

"We've got to have a picture now!" exclaimed Peter.

"You shut up!"--thus in a whisper, from another reporter who stood
near the representative of the _Scorcher_. "You don't know when
you've been treated decent. Half the millionaire families in New
York wouldn't even let us inside the door, let alone telling us all
we wanted to know. Dry up!" And Peter desisted after that rebuke.

Larry managed to be the last one of the reporters to leave the
house. He lingered in the hall, and when he and Grace were there
alone he said:

"One thing I forgot to ask. When you got back to the house was there
any evidence that your father had been here ahead of you? Was the
house shut up while you were in Europe?"

"I'm glad you spoke of that," the girl replied. "I had forgotten
about it. Yes, the house was closed all the while we were away, and
opened the day mother and I got back. But, now that you speak of it,
I recollect something that seemed strange at the time. We were a
little worried when father did not meet us at the pier, and I had an
idea that he might have spent some nights in the house, pending our
arrival, though he had said in his letters that if he came over
ahead of us he was going to stop at a hotel. I went to his
room----"

She broke into tears again, and Larry waited, looking out of the big
front doors, for he was embarrassed.

"When I looked over his room," continued Grace, going on bravely, "I
saw something was missing, that I knew was on his dresser when we
left for Europe."

"What was it?" asked Larry.

"It was a little picture of mother and myself. My father was very
fond of it. He must have come to the house and taken it--one of his
last acts before he disappeared. It made me feel very sad when I
thought of it afterward."

"Perhaps he took the picture to Europe with him, and you did not
know it," suggested Larry, who was beginning to develop the
instincts of a detective, as all reporters do, more or less.

"No," said Grace positively. "I remember, I was the last one in
father's room before we sailed for Europe. The carriage was waiting
to take us to the pier, and father went out just ahead of me. He
spoke of the picture then, saying he would leave it to keep guard
over his room until he came back," and once more Grace could not
keep back her tears.

"Could the picture have been stolen?" asked Larry.

"The house was in perfect order when we came in," said the girl.
"Nothing else was missing. It seems as if father took that picture
to--to remind him of us--and--and that we would never see him
again."

"Oh, yes, you will!" exclaimed Larry heartily. "You will find him
all right. Perhaps he has some business matters to attend to out
West, and hasn't time to come home."

"He could have written."

"Maybe he is some place where the mails are infrequent."

Thus Larry tried to comfort Grace, but it was hard work, for the
disappearance of Hamden Potter certainly was strange and difficult
to explain.

"I will let you know if we hear any news," said Larry as he prepared
to go.

"Will you? That will be very kind of you. I thank you very much for
your help. I would never have known what to do if it had not been
for your suggestions. Come any time you have any news for us--and I
hope you will come soon--and often," Grace added with a blush.

Larry's heart beat a little faster than usual, for it was not every
day he received such an invitation to a millionaire's house, nor
from such a pretty girl as Grace.

"Afraid I'll not have much chance, though," he thought to himself as
he went down the steps. "I'll probably be taken off this case after
to-day, and some other reporter will get it. If I had a little more
experience they might let me work on it. Never mind, I'll get there
some day," and with this Larry comforted himself.



CHAPTER XIV

IN THE TENEMENT HOUSE


The story of Hamden Potter's disappearance, as Larry wrote it, made
interesting reading. He used that part about the picture which Grace
had told him, but which the other reporters did not know about. The
photograph of the missing millionaire, which showed a man in the
prime of life, with a large moustache, came out well in the paper,
and as Larry saw the article, on the front page, under a "big head,"
he could not but feel he had done well.

In this he was confirmed by the city editor, who, seeing copies of
the other afternoon papers, as they were brought in to him,
exclaimed:

"Well, Larry, you did fine!"

"How's that?" asked the youth.

"Why you've got 'em all beat on the picture proposition, and none of
'em have that part about his coming back to the house and taking the
miniature of his wife and daughter. That's the best part of the
whole yarn."

"I got that by luck, almost at the last minute, when the others were
gone," said Larry.

"That's the kind of luck that makes big stories," commented Mr.
Emberg. "You might take a run up to the house this evening and see
if there's anything new, and then you can pay a visit in the
morning. I'll have the police end looked after by Harvey, and I'll
send a man to Mr. Potter's office. It's barely possible he may turn
up there any minute. I have an idea that he is temporarily insane
because of his heavy business responsibilities, and that he has
wandered off somewhere. He'll come back in a few days. What do you
think about it yourself, Larry?"

"I hardly know what to think. I never was on a case like this
before. When I first heard about his taking the picture away I
thought maybe he had gone off somewhere to commit suicide, and
wanted it with him."

"No suicide for Hamden Potter," put in Harvey Newton, with a laugh,
as he stood listening to Larry and Mr. Emberg talking. "He has too
much to live for."

"Well, I didn't want to think that," Larry went on. "He has a very
fine wife and----"

"And a beautiful daughter," broke in Harvey. "Look out, Larry, this
is not a love story you're working on."

Larry blushed like a girl, for several times that day he had caught
himself thinking of Grace and how pretty she was.

"Let Larry alone for getting all the facts in the case," said Mr.
Emberg. "I suppose Miss Grace gave you some information?"

"She talked to all the reporters," Larry said. "Mrs. Potter is a
nervous wreck."

"Well, run up any time this evening," went on the city editor. "You
might stumble on some news. You wrote a very good story to-day. Try
again to-morrow. We've beat the other papers on it as it is."

Larry got Mr. Potter's picture back from the art department, where a
cut for use in the paper had been made, and decided that he would
have a good excuse for calling at the Potter residence in going back
to return it as he had promised.

"I wish I had some news to tell her," the young reporter thought as
he went home to supper, "but it's too soon yet. I'd like to be a
detective and see if I couldn't find her father for her. I wonder
where he can be, or why he disappeared? Of course, if he's out of
his mind, as Mr. Emberg believes, that would account for it, but I
don't think he is."

Telling his mother he did not expect to be out long, Larry left the
house early that evening. He intended to go to Mr. Potter's
residence, leave the picture, have a few minutes' talk with Grace,
and then go home by way of the street on which the tenement was
located, where he had undergone the queer experience with the crazy
inventor.

"Maybe the policeman has discovered something new about that
strange man from the wreck," thought Larry.

He found Grace more composed than when he had seen her in the
afternoon.

"Did you bring me any news?" she asked, as she took the picture.

"I'm sorry, but I couldn't. I will, though, if there is any to
bring. I'm sure your father will be found."

"So am I!" exclaimed the girl. "Poor mother is in despair, but I am
not going to give up. If the police can't find him I'm going to make
a search myself. I know a great deal about his business. Father
always said I ought to have been a boy."

Larry thought it would have been a pity, but he did not say so.

"I'll search all over until I find him," Grace went on.

"And I'll help you!" cried Larry, fired to sudden enthusiasm.

"Will you? Really? That will be fine!" and, before she was aware of
what she was doing, Grace had held out her hand. Larry gave it a
firm grip, and the girl blushed.

"I suppose I shouldn't have done that!" she said. "I'm always doing
things on impulse. I don't even know your name. I must call you Mr.
Reporter," and she smiled.

"I'm Larry Dexter," said our hero, blushing a bit himself. "I know
your name, so now I suppose we may consider ourselves introduced."

"I guess so, though it isn't strictly according to form. But never
mind. This is no time for ceremonies. I hope you will have news for
me--soon."

"So do I," answered Larry as he took his leave.

The young reporter was soon in that neighborhood of the city where
was situated the deserted tenement in which he believed there was
some mystery. As he approached the ramshackle old structure he
noticed a figure pacing up and down in front of it.

"If that's the lunatic inventor of the airship I think I'll pass on
the other side," Larry said to himself. It was dark in that section
of the city, the electric lights being few and far between. However,
as the figure approached, and as Larry continued on, the youth saw
he had nothing to fear, for it was that of his friend, Policeman
Higgins.

"Well," asked Larry, as he came up. "Anything new?"

This is the reporter's form of greeting to almost everyone he meets,
and means: "Have you any news for me?"

"Good-evening," replied Officer Higgins. "I was just thinking about
you."

"Nothing bad, I hope."

"No, I was wishing you'd happen along. You remember we were talking
the other night about a strange man that you thought was in here?"

"Yes."

"Well, he's in here now, and I'm going to see what he's up to. The
crazy old professor, with his airship, has moved out, and the house
is deserted except for this new bird. I'm going to raid his nest,
for I suspect he's up to no good. I've been watching his light for
some time, and he's moving around in several rooms. Maybe he's going
to set fire to the place."

"Going to tackle him alone?" asked Larry.

"No, I've telephoned to the sergeant to send me a man to help me go
through the shack, for though I'm not a coward I've no hankering to
go in that shell after dark, knowing a man may be waiting for me
with a knife or a gun."

"I'll stay here and see what happens," said Larry.

"Come along in with us if you like," went on Higgins, for he had
taken a liking to the young reporter. "You may get a story out of
it. Here comes Storg now," he added, as the form of another bluecoat
was seen approaching down the street.

The two officers held a brief consultation. Higgins showed where a
light was nickering back and forth between two rooms on one side of
the building, about the third story up.

"It's been going that way for the last hour," said Higgins. "I'm
going in now. Get your gun ready, Storg. You may not need it, but,
if you do, it's best to have it handy."

Larry followed behind the policemen, his heart beating a little
faster than usual. He was anxious to see the man who was in hiding,
and who, he believed, was the same one he and the fisherman had
rescued from the sea. He believed there was a mystery connected with
the fugitive which would make a good story, even if he was an East
Indian.

"Easy now," cautioned Higgins, but Larry thought it was needless, as
the heavy shoes of the officers made noise enough to awaken the
soundest sleeper.

The bluecoats entered the dark hallway of the tenement. The doors
were void of locks and swung to and fro, creaking on rusty hinges,
as the wind blew them. There was a damp and unpleasant smell in the
house, and now and then came queer sounds, that echoed through the
deserted rooms.

"Nothing but shutters banging," explained Higgins, as his
companion-in-arms started. "They're flapping like a bird's broken
wing, all over the place. Now for our mysterious friend."

But for the fact that both officers carried small pocket electric
lamps, operated by dry batteries, they would have had difficulty in
making their way through the halls and up the stairs, for there were
many holes, caused by rotting boards. As it was they moved along
with some speed, until they came to the third floor.

"He'll be about here somewhere," whispered Higgins, a needless
precaution, as their advance had been already heralded by their
heavy foot-falls.

"There's a light there," said Storg, pointing to the end of a long
hall. Coming from under a door could be seen a faint gleam.

"That's where he is!" exclaimed Higgins. "Come on!"

Larry followed the officers. Their steps echoed through the silent
building. Forward they went until they came to the door beneath
which the light showed. Higgins tried the knob. The portal was
locked.

"Let us in! We're police officers!" he exclaimed.

There was a rustling within the room, but no attempt was made to
open the door.

"Open or we'll break it in!" cried Higgins, and, as there was no
answer, but only silence, he put his big shoulder to the frail door.
There was a crackling sound, a splintering of wood and the hinges
gave way. Higgins fairly jumped into the room as the portal fell in.
Storg followed after him, with his hand on his revolver, ready to
use it should occasion arise. But there was no need, for the room
was deserted, though a candle burning on a mantel showed there had
recently been an occupant in it.

"He's gone!" cried Higgins, looking around.

At that moment there was a sound in the corridor, and somewhere
along its length a door opened.

"He's getting away!" yelled Storg, as he jumped back into the
hallway. Larry followed, and the policeman flashed his electric
lamp.

Then, in the little circle of light cast from the glass bullseye,
Larry saw, running down the stairs, the smooth-shaven man he had
helped pull from the angry sea on the life-raft.

"There he goes! Catch him!" cried Storg, as he clattered down the
stairs after the fugitive.



CHAPTER XV

LARRY'S SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT


"Hold on! Stop!" yelled Higgins, running from the room. "Halt, or
I'll shoot!"

It would have done little good had he done so, for by this time the
mysterious man was in the second hallway, and out of reach of any
possible bullets.

"You stay here and look after things, I'll catch him!" called Storg,
as he raced down the stairs, his light making erratic circles as he
advanced.

"I guess that's good advice," commented Higgins to Larry, who had
remained in the upper corridor. "I'm too fat to run. Let's see what
he left behind."

Back into the room, where the candle was burning, went Larry and the
policeman. A quick survey showed nothing unusual. There were some
old chairs and a table, left probably by the departed tenants.

"He must have had the run of several rooms," Higgins went on. "He
came out of some apartment farther down the hall, and that's how he
fooled us. He was on the watch, and that shows there must be
something queer about him."

"Let's take a look through the other rooms," suggested Larry.

Showing his light Higgins led the way. They went through several
other bare and deserted chambers, but saw no indications that the
stranger had been in them. Presently they came to what had been a
bathroom, though most of the plumbing had been torn out by thieves,
for the value of the lead pipes and the faucets.

"He's been here!" cried Larry, as he pointed to a faint spark in one
corner of the room.

The policeman flashed his electric on it. It proved to be a candle
that had burned down into the socket, the remainder of a wick
smouldering and glowing.

"Yes, and he shaved himself here," the officer added, as he pointed
to a razor, some soap, and pieces of paper on which were
unmistakable evidences that the mysterious man had been acting as
his own barber. "I'd like to catch him," the bluecoat went on. "I'm
sure there's something crooked about him."

"It looks so," agreed Larry. "Maybe Storg will get him."

"I hope so," and Higgins began to make a more thorough search of the
apartment.

There was nothing, however, which shed any further light on the
mysterious man. It was evident, though, that he had lived in the
deserted house for several days, since there were remnants of food
scattered here and there.

"The mystery is getting deeper and deeper," thought Larry. He said
nothing to the policeman about the man being a person who had come
ashore from the _Olivia_. "I'm going to ask Mr. Emberg to let me
work on this case," he resolved, while he followed Higgins from room
to room. "I believe it will be a great story if I can get all the
details."

How much of a story it was destined to be Larry had no idea of at
that moment, though his newspaper instinct, that led him to suspect
there was a strange mystery connected with Mah Retto, was perfectly
correct, as he learned later.

"Well, I don't see that we can learn anything more here," remarked
Higgins when he had been in a number of chambers on the third floor.
"He evidently only used a few of these handsome apartments," and he
laughed as he looked around on the dilapidated rooms, with the
plaster peeling from the walls, the windows half broken, and the
doors falling from their hinges.

"Hark!" exclaimed Larry. "Some one is coming!"

Footsteps sounded in the lower hall.

"That's Storg, coming back!" cried Higgins. "I hope he got his man."

He leaned over the balustrade and called down:

"Any luck, Storg?"

"No, he got away," was the reply. "He's a good runner. I couldn't
keep up to him."

"Never mind," consoled Higgins. "Maybe it's just as well. We'd have
trouble proving anything illegal against him, though I could have
had him held on a charge of vagrancy until I investigated a bit."

The officers, followed by Larry, left the ramshackle structure, with
the wind whistling mournfully through the broken windows, and the
shutters banging, while the doors creaked on the rusty and broken
hinges.

"I wouldn't want to stay there all alone at night," thought the
young reporter, as he started toward home. "A man must have a strong
motive to cause him to hide in there. I'd like to find out what it
is. Perhaps I shall, some time."

Larry spoke of the matter to Mr. Emberg the next day. He said he
thought it might be a good idea to devote some hours to working up
the story, in an endeavor to learn who the queer man was.

"Still puzzling over your East Indian, eh?" asked the city editor.
"Well, there may be something in it, but just now I have something
else for you to do."

"Another flying-machine story?"

"Not exactly. I'm going to give you a special assignment."

Larry was all attention at once. The best part of the newspaper life
is being given a special assignment--that is, put to work on a
certain case, to the exclusion of everything else. Every reporter
dreams of the time when he shall become a special correspondent or
given a special assignment. It means that your time is your own, to
a great extent; that you may go and come as you please; that your
expense bills are seldom questioned, and that you may travel afar
and see strange sights. The only requirement, and it is not an easy
one, is that you get the news, and get it in time for the paper. Of
course, it need not be said that you must let no other paper beat
you, but this seldom occurs, as when a reporter is on a special
assignment he works alone, and what he gets is his. There are no
other newspaper men to worry him.

So, when Mr. Emberg told Larry there was a special assignment for
him, the young reporter's heart beat high with hope. He had often
wished for one, but they had never come his way before, though to
many on the _Leader_ they were an old story.

"What is it?" asked Larry, wondering how far out of town it would
take him.

"I want you to find Mr. Potter, the missing millionaire, Larry,"
said Mr. Emberg.

"Find Mr. Potter?"

"That's it. I want you to devote your whole time to that case. Never
mind about anything else. Find Mr. Potter. There's a big story back
of his going away; a bigger story than you have any idea of. I don't
know what it is myself, but I want you to find out. Now I am going
to give you free rein and full swing. Do whatever you think is
necessary. Get us news. We'll have to have a story every day, for
we're going to play this thing up and feature it. You're going to be
on the firing-line, so to speak. Take care of yourself, but don't go
to sleep. Get ahead of the other fellows and get us news. That's
what we want. That's what makes the _Leader_ a success. It's because
we get the news, and generally get it first.

"I can't tell you where to start, or what to do. You'll have to find
that out for yourself. Get all the information you can from the
family. See some of Mr. Potter's business associates. Have another
interview with Sullivan. Maybe he knows something about it, though I
doubt it.

"At any rate, whatever you do, find Mr. Potter," and at this closing
instruction Mr. Emberg learned back in his chair and looked sharply
at Larry.

"Suppose I can't," and the young reporter smiled.

"'Can't' isn't in the reporter's dictionary," the city editor
replied. "You've got to find him. I don't want to see you fall down.
You've done well, so far, Larry. Now's a chance to distinguish
yourself."

Larry knew that it was. He also realized that he was going to have
his hardest work since he had become a reporter. It was a special
assignment, such as any newspaper man might wish for, but it was not
one that could be characterized as easy.

"I've got my work cut out for me," thought the youth, as he turned
away.

"Here's an order for fifty dollars," went on Mr. Emberg, as he
handed the young reporter a slip of paper. "Take it to the cashier,
and when you want more for expenses let me know. Don't be afraid of
using it if you see a chance to get news, but, of course, don't
waste it. Now go, and find Mr. Potter, but don't forget we must have
some sort of a story every day."

Larry's first act, after receiving his special assignment, was to go
to Mr. Potter's house. Grace received him, and, in answer to his
inquiry, stated that the family had no more news than they had at
first.

"I thought you could tell us something," said the girl in
disappointed tones.

"Perhaps I can, soon," replied Larry. "I'm detailed specially on
this case now," and he told her of his assignment.

"Does that mean you have nothing to do but to search for my father?"

"That's what it means."

"Oh, please find him for me!" exclaimed the girl. "You don't know
how much I have suffered since he has been missing, nor how much my
mother has suffered. It has been terrible! Oh, if you only could
find him for us!"

"Miss Potter," began Larry, who was deeply touched by her distress,
"a newspaper man could have no greater incentive to work than the
duty to which his assignment calls him. More especially in this
case to which my city editor has told me to devote my whole time.
But aside from that I'm going to find your father for your sake and
your mother's. I'll do all I can. I'll work on this case day and
night. I'll find your father for you!"

"Oh!" exclaimed Grace, "you don't know how much good it does me to
hear you talk so! It seemed as if no one cared. Of course my
father's business associates want him to come back, and so do his
friends, but--but they don't wish it as much as my mother does and
as I do! I miss him so much!"

If Larry had not had the injunction laid on him by Mr. Emberg to
urge him on in the search, the appeal by Grace would have been more
than sufficient. Hereafter, he resolved, he would feel somewhat as
did the knights of old when they were commissioned by their ladies
to execute some bold deed.

"Don't worry," he told Grace, as he saw her distress was getting the
better of her. "I'll find him."

"Suppose you can't?"

"There's no such work as 'can't' in my dictionary," replied Larry,
repeating what Mr. Emberg had told him.

Grace smiled at the young reporter's enthusiasm, but she knew she
could have had no better friend, no one who would devote more time
and energy to her cause, and no one who had so strong a motive for
finding the missing millionaire as had this young newspaper
reporter.

While the two were discussing various details of the case there was
a ring at the front door, and, presently, the butler entered the
library.

"Mr. Jack Sullivan to see you, miss," he announced.



CHAPTER XVI

SULLIVAN'S QUEER ACCUSATION


"Whom did you say it was?" asked Grace.

"Mr. Jack Sullivan," repeated the butler. "I asked him for his card,
miss, but he said he hadn't got none. Told me to mention his name,
an' said you'd know him."

"But I don't know him," protested Grace. "I never heard of him in my
life. There must be some mistake. Are you sure he wants, me,
Peterson?"

"He said so, miss, but I'll ask again."

Whereupon the butler, as stiff as a ramrod, went back to the door
where he had left Mr. Sullivan standing.

"He means you, miss," the functionary remarked, as he came back to
the library.

"I wonder what he can want," Grace said, half to herself. "I don't
know any such person. I think there's a mistake. I will see him, and
tell him so."

"Wait a minute," exclaimed Larry. "Perhaps I can explain this. I
think I know Mr. Sullivan."

"Who is he?"

"A political leader of the eighth assembly district."

"What does that mean; I'm dreadfully ignorant of politics," Grace
remarked with a smile. "Poor papa was much interested in them, but I
never could make head or tail out of political matters."

"I have an idea that Sullivan has called here in reference to the
disappearance of your father."

"Why do you think that?" and Grace turned pale. "Do you think he
brings bad news?"

"On the contrary, I think he has come in search of information."

"But how can he be interested?"

Thereupon Larry told of his interview with the politician, based on
what he had overheard in reference to Mr. Potter and the extension
of the subway.

"Wasn't your father interested in building a new line of street
railroad?" he asked of Grace.

"I'm sure I don't know. I never kept track of papa's business
matters."

"I see."

"What ought I to do about this Mr. Sullivan?" Grace asked.

"I think you had better see him," replied Larry.

"I'd be afraid to, alone, and mother has such a headache that she
can't come downstairs. Will you stay in the room with me?" and she
looked appealingly at Larry.

"I'm afraid if I did Sullivan wouldn't talk. He knows me, and
imagines I have done him a wrong, which I have not. I believe he
considers me his enemy. He would probably go away without saying
anything if you met him in my presence."

"But you don't need to be actually present," said Grace, with sudden
inspiration. "Look here, this is a little alcove," and she pulled
aside a hanging curtain and showed a recess in the library wall.
"You can stand in there, and hear whatever he has to say. I'd feel
safer if you were near. Of course there's Peterson, but he's so
queer, and I don't like the servants to hear too much about poor
father's disappearance. Will you stay here and be at hand in case I
want you?"

"Of course I will," replied Larry after a moment's hesitation. "I
have no idea that Sullivan will annoy you. He's too much of a
politician for that. And I may be able to get a clue from what he
says, though I don't imagine he knows where Mr. Potter is."

"Then I'll see him," decided Grace. "Peterson," she called.

"Yes, miss."

"You may show Mr. Sullivan in here."

"In here, miss?" and the butler looked at Larry.

"I said in here."

"Very well, miss."

"Now hide," commanded the girl in a whisper, as soon as Peterson had
gone to the front door, where Mr. Sullivan had been kept waiting, as
the butler evidently thought the caller did not look like a person
to be admitted to the hallway until he had showed his credentials,
or until he had been authorized to come in by some member of the
family.

Larry got behind the curtain. No sooner had the folds ceased shaking
than Mr. Sullivan entered the library. Larry could see him, though
the young reporter himself was hidden from view. Grace remained
standing.

"You wished to see me?" she asked in formal tones.

"Yes, Miss Potter," and Larry noted that Sullivan was ill at ease.
"I called about your father."

"Do you know where he is?"

"No, Miss Potter. How should I?" and Sullivan looked quite
surprised.

"Then why did you come?"

"I came for some information, miss."

"We have none to give you. We have told the police and the reporters
all we know."

"Are you sure?" and at this question Sullivan's bearing became
different. He seemed bolder.

"What do you mean?" demanded Grace.

"I mean just this," went on the politician. "I've got a right to
know where Mr. Potter is. A great deal depends on it. I've got to
find him. Reilly wants to find him. He and Reilly had some deal on,
and it's time it was put through. It's going to make trouble if it
isn't. I want to know where Mr. Potter is?"

"So do we," answered Grace. "If this is all that you came for you
had better leave."

"It isn't all I came for!" Sullivan's voice had an angry ring. "I
don't believe you have told the police or the newspapers all you
know about this thing. I believe----"

"Leave this room!" commanded Grace. "Leave it at once, or I shall
ring for the servants to show you the door! What do you mean?"

"I mean just what I say!" and the politician's voice was angry now.
"I mean that you know where your father is, and that you're only
pretending you don't. It's some game to fool Reilly and me. We'll
not stand for it. I want you to tell me where your father is!"

He took a step toward Grace. She seemed dazed.

"Tell me! Do you hear!" and, probably because he was so excited, the
politician made a movement as if he meant to grasp the frightened
girl by the arm.

"Oh!" she screamed. "Don't touch me! Larry!"

"Quit that!" cried the young reporter, stepping suddenly from behind
the curtain. "That will do, Mr. Sullivan!"

Larry spoke more calmly than he had any idea he could under the
circumstances. He seemed master of the situation.

The very suddenness of Larry's appearance caused Sullivan to recoil
a step. He fairly glared at the young reporter and then looked at
Grace, who was trembling from the words and actions of her rude
visitor.

"You here!" exclaimed the politician, in a whisper. "So that's the
game, eh? I thought the _Leader_ was in on it."

"There's no game at all!" cried Larry, indignantly. "I am here in
the interests of the paper to learn all I can about Mr. Potter's
disappearance."

"Then ask her to tell you the truth!" cried Sullivan, pointing his
finger at Grace. "She knows where he is!"

"I don't! I wish I did!" and Grace faced her accuser with flashing
eyes.

"Don't repeat that remark," said Larry, calmly, though there was a
determined air about him. "You know better than that, Mr. Sullivan,"
and Larry stood fearlessly before the politician. In the unlikely
event of a physical encounter Larry had no fears, for he was tall
and strong for his age.

"It's true!" Sullivan repeated, in a sort of a growl, for he was a
little afraid of the tempest he had stirred up.

"I say it isn't," Larry replied. "I have worked on this case from
the start, and I know as much about it as any one. What's more, I
think you know more than you are willing to admit. I haven't
forgotten the interview you gave me, and which you denied later. I
think there's something under all this that will make interesting
reading when it comes out."

"You--you don't suspect me, do you?" and Larry noted that Sullivan's
hands were trembling.

"I don't know what to suspect," the young reporter answered,
determined to take all the advantage he could of the situation. "It
looks very queer. It will read queerer still when it comes out in
the _Leader_--how you came here to threaten Miss Potter."

"You--you're not going to put that in, are you?" asked the
politician.

"I certainly am."

"If you do I'll----"

"Look here!" exclaimed Larry. "You've made threats enough for one
day. It's time for you to go. There's the door! Peterson!" he
called. "Show this man out!"

Larry was rather surprised at his own assumption of authority, but
Grace looked pleased.

"Yes, sir, right away, sir," replied the butler with such promptness
as to indicate that he had not been far away.

He pulled back the portieres that separated the library from the
hall, and stood waiting the exit of Mr. Sullivan.

"This way," he said, and a look at his portly form in comparison
with the rather diminutive one of the politician would at once have
prejudiced an impartial observer in favor of Peterson. "This way, if
you please."

"You'll hear from me again," growled Sullivan, as he sneaked out.
"I'm not done with you, Larry Dexter!"



CHAPTER XVII

GRACE GETS A LETTER


The door closed after Sullivan. Larry, standing in the library
entrance, watched him leave the house. Then he turned to look at
Grace.

"Oh, that was terrible!" the girl exclaimed, almost ready to cry,
but bravely keeping back the tears. "What a horrid man! What did he
mean?"

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Larry. "I doubt if he does himself.
Mr. Potter's disappearance has evidently sent some of his plans
askew, and he is hardly responsible for what he says or does. Don't
let it worry you."

"I wonder if he knows where my father is?"

"I don't believe he does. If he did he would hardly come here,
hoping to deceive you or your mother. No; Sullivan wants to find out
where Mr. Potter is just as much as we do. Why, I can't tell yet,
but he has a good reason, a strong reason, or he would not have
acted as he did."

"What had I better do?" asked the girl.

"Do nothing. Leave it to me. I will write something for the
_Leader_ that will make Sullivan wish he had stayed away from here."

"Mother doesn't like this newspaper publicity."

"I can imagine it is not very pleasant for her," admitted Larry.
"But it has to be borne if we are going to find your father. The
more the papers print of the affair the better chance there is of
finding him. If he is staying away for some reason he will see what
a stir his disappearance has caused, and will be anxious to arrange
matters so he can come back. If he is being detained against his
will, the publicity will cause his captors an alarm which may result
in their releasing him. So, too, if any one sees him wandering about
they will recognize him by his picture, or by the description, and
inform the police."

"Suppose--suppose he--should be--dead," and Grace whispered the
words.

"Don't think that for a moment!"

"It is over two weeks now since he disappeared, and not one word
have we heard from him."

"Persons have been known to disappear for longer periods than that,
and yet turn up all right," said the young reporter, endeavoring to
find some consolation for the girl. He related several instances of
similar cases that had come to his attention since he had been in
newspaper work.

"Now don't put too much in the paper about Mr. Sullivan--and me,"
said the girl as Larry was going. "There has been sufficient
printed all ready, and some of my friends think I must have a staff
of reporters at my beck and call, to get my name mentioned so
often," and she smiled at Larry.

"I'll not mention you any more than necessary," he promised,
thinking that Grace was much prettier when a smile brought out a
dimple in each cheek.

Larry's description of Sullivan's visit to the Potter house proved
to be what Mr. Emberg described as "a corking good scoop." None of
the other papers had a line about it, of course, for Larry was the
only reporter in a position to get inside information, and Sullivan
was not likely to give out any account of his strange call.

"You seem to be keeping right after all the ends of this story,
Larry," said Mr. Emberg the day after the account of Sullivan's
visit was printed. "That's what we want. Now what sensation are you
going to give us to-day?"

"I don't know. Not a very good one, I'm afraid. I've been to Mr.
Potter's office. There's nothing new there, and I guess I'll have to
fix up a re-hash of yesterday's stuff unless I can strike another
lead. To-morrow I'm going to work on a new plan."

"What is it?" asked the city editor.

"I'm going to the steamship docks and----"

Before Larry could finish the telephone on Mr. Emberg's desk rang,
and, as this instrument has precedence over everything else in a
newspaper office, Larry broke off in the midst of his remark to wait
until Mr. Emberg had answered the wire.

"Yes, he's here, standing right close to the 'phone," he heard the
city editor say in response to the unseen questioner. "Some young
lady wants to talk to you," Mr. Emberg went on, handing the portable
instrument to Larry.

"Young lady to speak to me?" murmured Larry, as he took the
telephone.

"This is Grace Potter," he heard through the instrument.

"Oh, how are you?" called Larry, for want of something better to
say.

"Come right up," Grace said. "I have some news for you."

"What is it?"

"I have a letter from my father!"

"A letter from your father? Where is he? How did it come? Who
brought it? Is he home?"

Larry fired these questions out rapidly. But there was a click in
the 'phone that told him the connection was cut off. Evidently Grace
had no time to tell more.

"Hurry up there!" exclaimed Mr. Emberg, as soon as he understood the
import of the message Larry had received. "This will be a feature of
to-day's story! Hurry, Larry!"

Larry thought the transportation facilities in New York were never
so slow as on that journey to the Potter house. He tried to
imagine, on the way up, what sort of a letter Grace had received
from her father. That it contained good news he judged from the
cheerful note in her voice.

"Things seem to be happening quite rapidly," the young reporter
mused, as he got off at the elevated station nearest to his
destination. "First thing I know I'll find him, and then I'll not
have a chance to see Grace any more."

He dwelt on this thought, half-laughing at himself.

"I guess I'd better stop thinking of her and attend strictly to this
disappearance business," he murmured as he went up the steps of the
Potter mansion. "She's too rich for one thing, and another is I'm
too poor, though I'm earning good wages, and we have some money in
the bank," for the sale of the Bronx land, as related in "Larry
Dexter, Reporter," had netted Mrs. Dexter and her children about ten
thousand dollars.

Larry's ring at the bell was answered by Grace, who, it would seem,
had been on the watch for him.

"I thought you would never come," she said. "I telephoned ever so
long ago."

"I came as fast as I could," Larry responded. "Where is the letter?"

Grace held out to him a small piece of paper. On it was but a single
line of writing. It read:

"Am well. Have to stay away for a time. Don't worry. Will write
again."

It was signed with Mr. Potter's name.

"Are you sure it's from your father?" asked Larry, thinking some
cruel person might be trying to play a joke, or that some
enterprising reporter had sent the message for the sake of making
news. Such things are sometimes done by New York newspaper men,
though their city editors may know nothing about it.

"I couldn't mistake father's writing," replied Grace. "Mamma knows
it is from him, and she is much happier. But we can't imagine why he
has to stay away."

"When did you get this, and how did it come?" asked the reporter.

"The postman brought it a little while ago."

"Where is the envelope?"

Grace handed it to Larry. An inspection of the post-mark showed that
it had been mailed in New York in the vicinity of sub-station Y,
which was on the East Side. It might have been dropped in one of the
many street boxes from which collections were made for that
particular office, or it might have been mailed in the station
itself.

"Not much to trace him by," said Larry. He looked at the envelope
again and saw that there was a small ink blot on the lower left-hand
corner, and that the corner where the stamp was affixed was smeared
as if with some sticky substance.

"Any one would think you were a detective," said Grace, as she
watched Larry examining the envelope. "What does it matter now? We
are sure father is alive, for that note was posted yesterday. That
has made mother and me happy. Of course we want to find him, but I
don't see how you can by that letter. I thought you'd like to know
about it to make a little item for the paper, and I wanted to repay
you for your kindness to mother and me."

"I haven't done anything," Larry replied. "I am only too glad to be
of service to you. But I may be able to find out something by this
envelope."

"I don't see how."

"Will you let me take it to the sub-station?"

"Of course. But what good will that do?"

"I want to ask the sorters and clerks in charge if they remember
having handled it. I may find the carrier who brought it in from the
box, and he can tell in what locality it was."

"But how can they remember when they must handle thousands of
letters every day?"

"Perhaps they cannot, but it is worth trying. You see in that
section of the city are mostly foreigners, who write a peculiar
hand, and use stationery anything but clean or of this quality. This
envelope and paper are of an expensive kind."

"Yes, they are some father had made to order for his private
correspondence. I did not know he took any to Europe with him, but
he must have."

"It may be that a letter carrier or mail sorter took enough notice
of the envelope to remember it," Larry went on. "Besides there is a
small blot on it, and the way in which the stamp is put on shows
that some glue or paste was applied to the envelope. Probably he
used an old stamp which had no mucilage on. To make it fast to the
envelope your father, or whoever posted the letter, would have had
to use some sticky substance, and, in doing so, he has put it on a
little too thick. Some spread out from under the stamp and soiled
the envelope.

"Of course the sorters and carriers don't pay much attention to the
pieces of mail, except to see that they are properly stamped and
addressed, but it's worth trying. This envelope would attract
attention if anything would."

"And you are going to use that for a clue?"

"I'm going to try. It may be useless. If we can find in what
particular locality it was mailed we can have the police keep a
watch for your father. He may mail other letters there."

"But my father is not a criminal. Why should the police watch for
him so particularly. They are keeping a general lookout now, but I
wouldn't like to think they were lying in wait for him."

"It's the only way to find him," said Larry. "Of course it's
unpleasant, but there is evidently some mystery here, and that's the
best way to clear it up."

"But he says he has to stay away for a while," argued Grace. "Maybe
he wouldn't like to be found."

"Of course that point has to be considered," Larry admitted. "But I
take it you and your mother want to find your father, or be in a
position to communicate with him."

"Oh, we do!" exclaimed Grace.

"Then we'll have to ask the police to help us. There is no disgrace
in it. Everyone knows your father is honorable, and if he wants to
disappear that's his business. It is also perfectly right for you to
try to find him, for----" and Larry stopped.

"Well, for what?" asked Grace, seeing the reporter hesitate.

"I don't want to alarm you," Larry went on, "but I was going to say
that there is no way of telling but what some one may have imitated
his writing and forged his name."

"I am sure that is my father's writing," the girl said, earnestly.
"Of course I may be mistaken. I hope not. I prefer to believe that
note is from him. It makes me happier."

"Of course there is only the barest possibility that this note is
not from your father, but we can take no chances. That is why I want
to make a systematic search, beginning at the sub-station."

"And where will it end?" asked Grace.

"I don't know. But after that I am going to the steamship piers of
all the lines that ply between here and Italy."

"What for?"

"I want to see if the captain of any of the steamers recalls any
man answering your father's description having come over with him.
He must have sailed on some steamer, as he is in this country, if
that note is from him."

"That's a good idea," commented Grace. "How I wish I could help you.
Couldn't I? Couldn't I go around with you--that is to the steamer
piers? I've crossed the ocean several times, and I know some of the
captains of the Italian lines."

"Maybe that would be a good idea," said Larry, secretly delighted
with it. "You can come with me to-morrow. I will go to the
sub-station now, and will let you know what I learn. Then we will
make a tour of the piers. You'll be of great assistance to me, for I
know very little about steamers."

"I'm so glad!" exclaimed Grace. "It has been terrible to sit here
day after day and only wait! I wanted to do something to help find
father. Now there is a way! I wish I was a boy--no, I'd rather be a
reporter; they can do so many things," and Grace laughed more
heartily than at any time since her father had disappeared.

"I'm afraid you give us too much credit," replied Larry. "We do our
best, but we don't always get results. Are you sure your mother will
let you go?"

"Of course," Grace replied, in a way that showed she was used to
having her own way. "When will you come for me to-morrow?"

"In the morning."

"I can hardly wait. Now don't forget. I'll be your assistant. Maybe
I could learn enough to be a woman reporter some day."

"I have no doubt you could," Larry responded, as he went out on his
way to the sub-station with the envelope, having telephoned to the
police of the letter and securing a promise that no other reporters
would be informed of it for a while.

As he walked along, his thoughts were busy in many directions. The
receipt of the letter, the clues the envelope offered, the plans for
a search among the ship captains, and, above all, Grace's offer to
accompany him, made Larry speculate on what the Potter mystery was
coming to.

"I wonder what the other fellows on the _Leader_ would say if they
knew I was working this assignment in company with the millionaire's
daughter," said Larry to himself. "I guess I'd better not say
anything about it. They'd make fun of me. I know it's all right to
take her, or I wouldn't do it. Besides, if she knows the captains
she can be of considerable aid to me. Queer, though, for Larry
Dexter, who used to rush copy, to be hunting for a missing
millionaire in company with his pretty daughter."

It was odd, but no other line of activity is so filled with strange
surprises, or brings about such a variety of work, as being a
newspaper reporter of the first class.

Larry struck several snags when he attempted to get information at
the sub-station. In the first place none of the officials in charge
would give him any news about the envelope unless he got an order
from the New York postmaster himself. The government has very strict
regulations in regard to giving out information about mail matter.
But Larry was not daunted. He telephoned to Mr. Emberg, and the
forces of the newspaper were set to work. Certain political wires
were "pulled," and, as there were on the _Leader_ men to whom the
postmaster was under obligations, that official gave the clerks at
the sub-station permission to tell Larry whatever he wanted to know.

"Sorry we had to have so much red tape about it," the sub-station
agent said, when Larry came back with the magical paper that opened
the mouths of the subordinates.

"Oh, that's all right," the reporter said. "I know how it is. Now,
what I want to know is, in what box was that letter posted?" and he
held out the envelope Grace had given him.

"Rather hard to say," spoke the head clerk. "I'll show it to all the
carriers who are in now, and later to those who come in during the
afternoon. They may recognize it. It's a little out of the run of
ordinary envelopes we get in this section of the city."

One after another several carriers scanned the envelope. All shook
their heads, until it came to an elderly man. As soon as he saw the
envelope he exclaimed:

"I brought that in. I remember it very well." "Where did you get
it?" asked Larry, eagerly. "A man gave it to me last night, just as
I was taking the mail from a box down near the river," was the
unexpected reply.



CHAPTER XVIII

LARRY IS BAFFLED


This was much better than Larry had expected. To have the envelope
remembered so soon was good, but to have the carrier who brought it
in say he recalled having received it from the person who mailed the
letter, was better yet.

"What sort of a man was he?" asked Larry, his heart beating high
with hope.

"Why do you ask?" inquired the carrier.

"I'm a reporter from the _Leader_, and I'm trying to locate Mr.
Potter, the missing millionaire," said Larry. "This letter was from
him."

"Then I can't be of much service to you," the postman went on. "This
was given to me by a man who bore no resemblance to Mr. Potter,
whose picture I have lately seen in the papers."

"But what sort of a looking man gave you this envelope?" asked
Larry.

"He was a smooth-shaven man, rather poorly dressed. I'll tell you
how it was. This box, at which I was when the man gave me the
letter, is at the foot of a street leading to the river. It is the
last one I collect from at night. I had taken out all the mail in
the box, and was just locking it up again when some one came up the
street in a hurry. I looked around, for the neighborhood is a lonely
one, and, as I did so, I saw a man come to a halt, as if he was
surprised to see me at the box. I could see he had a letter in his
hand.

"'Come on,' I said, for often people run up to me at the last minute
to have me take letters. 'Come on,' I said, for I was in a hurry.
'I'll take the letter.'

"At that the man pulled his hat down over his eyes and advanced
slowly. He held the letter out to me, and, as he did so, I caught a
glimpse of his face, as the light from a street lamp flashed on it.
I could see he was smooth shaven. I took the letter and put it in my
bag. As I did so the man seemed to melt away in the shadows. I
thought it rather queer at the time, for it seemed as if the fellow
was afraid I'd recognize him. But I'd never seen him before, so far
as I know, so he needn't have been alarmed. I brought the letter to
the office, and as I sorted my mail, I noted that the stamp had been
stuck on with plenty of mucilage. I also saw the blot, and, as the
envelope was unlike any I had ever seen before, as far as size and
quality of paper went, the thing was impressed on my mind.

"That's all I know about it," the carrier finished, "but I'm sure
the man who gave me the letter was not the missing millionaire. I've
seen his picture too many times lately to be mistaken."

"Then who could it have been?" asked Larry.

"That's a hard question, young man," said the carrier. "It might
have been any one else. I think it was a person who didn't care
about being seen, and didn't want to attract any attention. I guess
he would have been better satisfied to have dropped the letter in
the box when no one was looking, but seeing me there he came up with
it before he knew what he was doing."

"If the letter was from Mr. Potter, and it wasn't the millionaire
who mailed it, he must have got some one to do it," the chief clerk
of the sub-station suggested, and Larry was forced to adopt this
idea. He inquired as to the location of the box at which the carrier
stood when he received the missive, and asked in what direction the
man came from. Having learned these facts, and deciding he could
gain nothing more by staying longer at the sub-station, Larry
hurried to the _Leader_ office.

"Well, I've gained something," he said to himself. "I've got a good
story, and I have a slender clue to work on. I must write the story
first, however. Then I'll go back and tell Grace what I learned."

The account of the letter and the circumstances under which it was
mailed created a new sensation in the Potter mystery, and, as on
several other occasions, the _Leader_ scored a beat.

As soon as he had finished the story Larry went to see Grace, whom
he found anxiously waiting for him. She asked a score of questions
as to what he had learned, and the reporter told her all about his
trip to the sub-station.

"What are you going to do next?" she inquired.

"I think I'll go over on the East Side and make some inquiries. Your
father may be staying there," answered Larry.

Going downtown in an elevated train, and taking a stroll through
that populous section, known as the "East Side," Larry soon found
himself in the neighborhood of the box at which the carrier had
received the letter written by Mr. Potter. He took a brief survey of
the locality.

"Not very promising," was his mental comment.

All about were big tenement houses of a substantial kind. They were
built of brick, and from nearly every window a woman's head
protruded, while the street swarmed with children. It was a
neighborhood teeming with life, for it was the abode of the poor,
and they were quartered together almost like rabbits in a warren.

For want of something better to do, Larry strolled down one side of
the street, at the end of which was located the letter box which
formed such a slender clue. Then he walked up the other side,
looking about him idly, in vain hopes of stumbling on something that
would put him on the track.

It was late in the afternoon, and the streets were beginning to
fill with workers hurrying home, for the day's labor was over. As
Larry strolled along, rather careless of his steps, he collided with
a man in front of a big tenement building.

"Excuse me," murmured the reporter.

"I beg your pardon," the man said, grabbing hold of Larry to prevent
them both from falling, so forceful had been the impact. "I was
looking to see if my wife was watching for me. She generally looks
out of the window to see me coming down the street, and then she
puts the potatoes on."

"I guess I wasn't looking where I was going," said Larry, as he
disengaged himself from the man's grip. "I was--why, hello, Mr.
Jackson!" he exclaimed.

"What! Why, bless my soul if it isn't Larry Dexter!" and the man
held out his hand. "Why, I haven't seen you in a long time. How's
your mother and the children?"

"Fine. How's Mrs. Jackson?"

"She's well. There she is looking out of the window, wondering why I
don't come home to supper. You must come in and see her. Come, and
stay to supper."

The man Larry had thus unexpectedly met was the one in whose flat
Mrs. Dexter and the children had stayed the first night they had
come to New York, and found that the sister of Larry's mother, with
whom they expected to remain, had suddenly moved away. The Dexter
family, sad and discouraged at the loss of their farm, would have
fared badly on their arrival in the big city had not Mrs. Jackson
and her husband befriended them.

While Larry was getting a start in the newspaper work the Dexter
family had lived in the same tenement with the Jacksons, and they
had become firm friends. Larry and his mother since then had moved
to other quarters, and had, for some time back, lost trace of their
acquaintances.

"I didn't know you lived here," said Larry when he had recovered
somewhat from his surprise at seeing Mr. Jackson.

"We haven't lived here long. I got a better position in this part of
the city, and as I like to be near my work I moved here. We like it
quite well, but it's rather crowded. However, almost any place is in
New York. But you must come in to supper. Mrs. Jackson will be
anxious to hear all about your folks. I can see her making signs to
me to hurry up. I suppose the potatoes are all cooked and the tea
made."

Larry did not require much urging to accept the kind invitation. He
wanted to see his friends again, and he thought they might be able
to give him some information concerning the people of the
neighborhood.

"Because it's the best place in the world to hide in. If I wanted to
drop out of sight I'd go about two blocks away from here and keep
quiet. No one would ever think of looking for me so near my home."

"I hope you don't contemplate anything like that," said Larry with a
laugh.

"No, indeed. But New York is the best hiding place, and you can
depend on it, Mr. Potter is here."

"You haven't seen him in the neighborhood, have you?" asked the
reporter, glad of the opportunity which gave him a chance for that
question.

"No, I can't say that I have. If they'd offer a reward I might take
time to hunt for him," and Mr. Jackson laughed. "I can't afford to
turn detective as it is now," he added. "It's too hard to get a
living."

Larry spent the evening with his friends, keeping the talk as much
as possible, without exciting suspicion, on the Potter case. In this
way he learned considerable about the persons living in the
immediate vicinity of the Jacksons, for Mrs. Jackson was fond of
making new acquaintances.

But in all this there was no clue such as Larry sought. There were
any number of men, concerning whom there seemed to be some mystery,
but none answered the description of Mr. Potter.

"There are a queer lot of people in this tenement," said Mr.
Jackson, during the course of the talking. "All of 'em have some
story hidden away, I guess. Especially one man."

"Who is he?"

"Nobody knows," replied Mr. Jackson. "He came here one night, and
seemed quite excited. Let's see, it was Thursday night, I remember
now. He acted as though he was afraid some one was after him."

"Thursday night," thought Larry. "That was the night the man got
away from the deserted tenement."

"My wife and I were sitting here," continued Mr. Jackson, "when all
at once a knock sounded on the door. I opened it, and there was this
man. He asked if I had any rooms to rent. I hadn't, but I told him I
had a spare bed, for I saw he was respectable. He seemed glad to get
it, and paid me well, though I didn't want to take the money. But he
seemed to have plenty."

"What was queer about him?" asked Larry, beginning to take an
unusual interest in what his friend was saying.

"Well, the excitement he seemed to be in, for one thing. And
another, he had just been shaved. I could see the talcum powder on
his cheeks. I thought it strange that a man who had time to shave or
get shaved should be in such a hurry. But it wasn't any of my
affair, so I said nothing."

"What became of him?" Larry was quite eager now. He seemed to be on
the verge of discovering something; if not of the Potter mystery
then of the other, that cropped up every now and again--that of the
man he had helped save from the wreck.

"He went away the next morning," Mr. Jackson resumed. "I didn't see
him again until the next night. Then he told me he had a room in
this tenement."

"Where?" inquired the young reporter.

"On the floor below--a front room, at the end of the corridor. But
are you going to call on him?" and Mr. Jackson looked somewhat
surprised at Larry's eagerness.

"Maybe I could get a story out of him," replied the reporter
non-commitally. "Have to be always on the lookout, you know."

"Well, I guess you'll not get much out of this man," said Mr.
Jackson. "He hardly speaks to me, though he doesn't seem cross or
ugly. Only there's some mystery about him. I'm sure of that."

"If he's Mah Retto I'm positive there is," thought Larry. "And it
looks as if it might be that fellow."

Not wishing to seem too keen on the scent of the queer man, the
newspaper youth changed the subject. In a little while he said he
had better be going home, as he had not told his mother he would be
out late. He promised to ask Mrs. Dexter to call on Mrs. Jackson,
and, with many good wishes from his friends, he left.

"Now for a try at the room on the next floor," said Larry in a
whisper, as he found himself in the corridor. "It's only a slim
chance, but a reporter has to take all that come his way."

He found the room Mr. Jackson had described, and knocked on the
door. There was a sound from within, as though some one had arisen
from a chair. Then a voice asked:

"Who's there?"

"Does Mah Retto live here?" asked Larry, determining on a bold plan.

Hardly had he spoken the words when the door was quickly opened.



CHAPTER XIX

GRACE ON THE TRAIL


Larry saw, standing before him, framed in the doorway from which
streamed the glare from a big reading lamp, the man of mystery--the
fellow who had escaped from the tumble-down tenement--the man he and
Bailey had pulled ashore on the life-raft.

"Are you Mah Retto?" asked Larry again, rather at a loss for
something to say, when he saw the strange man confronting him.

The mysterious one looked at Larry for several seconds. He seemed
much excited, and in doubt as to what to do. Then, seeming to arrive
at a sudden decision, he quickly closed the door, and Larry heard
the key turned in the lock.

"Not much satisfaction in that," muttered the young reporter. "That
was him, though. I wonder what I had better do?"

Larry stood in the hallway, undecided. He wanted another opportunity
to see and speak to the man he believed was Mah Retto, but he
considered it would not be wise to knock again on the door. The
occupant of the room either would not answer or would order him
away.

"I'll have to come again," Larry said to himself. "I've learned one
thing, anyhow, and that is where he lives."

The young reporter went to the office of the _Leader_ early the next
morning. He found Mr. Emberg on hand, and told the city editor the
plans for the day; that of making a tour of the steamship piers. Mr.
Emberg thought this was a good idea, and complimented Larry on his
work thus far.

"I ran across my old friend, the East Indian, last night," Larry
said, as he was leaving. "I'm going to work him up for a story when
I get through with this Potter case."

"Don't do it until then," advised Mr. Emberg. "I want you to devote
all your attention to the missing millionaire. The East Indian story
will not amount to much or I'd put another man on it. You may get a
yarn for the Saturday supplement out of it, but even that's
doubtful."

Larry thought differently, but he did not say so. Nor did he mention
that he was going to take Grace Potter with him on his tour of the
docks. He had an idea that the city editor might object, or laugh at
him, and Larry did not care to have that happen. He felt he was
doing right, and he knew there could be no serious objection to the
daughter of the missing man aiding in a search for her parent.

Larry found Grace waiting for him. She was quietly dressed, and wore
a heavy veil, so that no one in the street would recognize her,
since her picture had been published in several papers, and there
might be comments from the crowd if the daughter of Mr. Potter was
seen out in company of a newspaper reporter.

"Anything new?" asked the young lady, for she had taken to greeting
Larry in that newspaper fashion.

"Not much. I didn't learn anything of consequence by my trip to the
East Side last night. I'm not done there, however. Now we'll try the
piers, and see what sort of a 'pull' you have with the captains of
the vessels."

"We may not find many captains," Grace said, "unless their ships are
about to sail. Still it is worth trying. Shall we start?"

"I'm ready any time you are," Larry answered. "What did your mother
say?"

"She objected a bit at first, but I soon convinced her it was for
the best."

Larry thought it would not have been hard for Grace to have
convinced him that almost anything was for the best. She looked
quite trim in her dark dress, with her glossy hair held snugly in
place by her veil.

As they went down the steps of the mansion Larry saw a man, who was
standing on the other side of the street, move rapidly away, as if
he had been watching the house. The young reporter uttered an
exclamation before he was aware of it, and Grace quickly asked:

"What's the matter?"

"I--I saw some one," Larry replied.

"Any one would think it was a ghost from the way you act," the girl
went on, with a little laugh. She was in much better spirits than
any time since her father had disappeared, for the chance of helping
to search for him, and the change, from sitting idly in the house
waiting for news, was a welcome relief.

"No, it wasn't a ghost. It was a man I'd like to have a chance to
talk to," Larry went on.

"Would he give you--er--a 'story'? Is that what you call it?"

"That's right. Yes, I believe he could give me a story," and Larry
looked in the direction the man had gone. He was no longer to be
seen. "A very good story," he added, for the man was the same one he
had surprised in the tenement the night before--the man of the
life-raft.

However, he could not leave Grace to go in search of the strange
individual, and it was more important, as Mr. Emberg had said, to
stick to the Potter case. The other could wait.

"All the same I'd like to know what he was doing in this
neighborhood," thought Larry. He puzzled over the matter for several
seconds as he and Grace went along.

On the way downtown the two discussed their plans. There were not
many Italian steamship lines to visit, but it might take some time
to see the captains of all the boats at present in port. Some of
the commanders would be at their hotels pending the loading of their
vessels.

"Have you made up your mind what you want to ask them?" inquired
Larry, as they were nearing the station where they intended to get
off.

"What I want principally to know is if a person answering my
father's description came over with them lately. I want to find out,
in case he did, how he acted, and if he gave any hint of being in
trouble."

"That may be a good clue to follow," Larry sad. "Now we'll make our
first attempt."

It ended in failure, for though they found the captain of the
Italian steamer they boarded in the cabin of his vessel, he could
not aid them. He was very polite about it, and seemed quite sorry
that he could be of no service.

It was the same in a number of other cases. Some of the captains
remembered Grace, for she had crossed with them once or twice, but
none of them recalled a man answering Mr. Potter's description
making the voyage with them recently.

The last place they visited was the dock of the line to which the
wrecked _Olivia_ belonged. This line Grace had never traveled on,
but she had a letter of introduction to the manager from the captain
of the _Messina_, on which she had made her last trip. The
commanders of two steamers of this company were in port. One of them
was at the dock, for his vessel was about to sail.

To him Grace made her inquiries, but fruitlessly. She turned away,
rather disappointed. There was but one more chance left. The other
captain was at his hotel, not far away, for seamen like to remain
near the water front.

"We'll go there," said Larry, "and then I must get back to the
office, and write my story for to-day's paper."

"I wish you had some better news," spoke Grace. "But I am afraid
Captain Padduci, whom we are now going to see, will prove as
disappointing as the rest."

"We'll hope for the best," remarked Larry. "I wish----"

But what he wished he never told, for at that instant his attention
was attracted by a voice. It was that of a man who stood at the
small window of the steamship office. The window was one which he
and Grace had just stepped away from, after inquiring as to where
Captain Padduci's hotel was.

If the voice attracted Larry the sight of the man himself did more
to rivet his attention. For the first glance showed him the inquirer
was none other than the mysterious individual, Mah Retto.

"I would like to inquire where I can find Captain Tantrella of the
steamer _Olivia_," the man asked of the clerk.

"The _Olivia_ is lost," replied the steamship clerk.

"I know it, but I would like to see the captain. He was saved, I
believe."

"Yes, he was. He commands a freight ship now. She's due in port in
a few days. The _Turtle_ is her name. You can come around when she
gets in."

The mysterious man turned away as though disappointed. As he did so
he caught sight of Larry, and instantly he hurried out of the
office.

Larry was greatly excited. He was convinced, more than ever, that
there was something in this man's actions that made him an object of
suspicion. He felt that he must follow the fellow, but he could not
leave Grace. He looked around for her, but she had gone to the
ladies' dressing room to adjust her veil and hat, which had been
blown about by the high wind. She came back presently, to find Larry
much agitated.

"What is the matter?" she asked.

"Nothing much," replied Larry. "I just saw my queer stranger again
and----"

"You'd like to follow him, and you don't want to leave me," put in
Grace with quick wit. "Now run right along. I can go to that hotel
all by myself and see Captain Padduci. I'm not a bit afraid. I once
traveled from London to Paris alone. You hurry after him, and I'll
see the captain. I'll telephone you the result of my interview. You
can come up and see me this evening, and we'll talk over some more
plans."

"That will be good," Larry said, "but are you sure you won't mind me
leaving you?"

"I can get along all right," replied Grace. "Of course I'd like to
have you come along, for I believe you understand this matter better
than I do, but I want you to find that other man and get your
story."

Larry was inclined both ways, but he knew it would be better to
hurry after Mah Retto, as Grace could make all the necessary
inquiries of Captain Padduci.

"Until to-night, then," the young reporter said, as he hurried out
of the steamship office, and Grace turned to go to the captain's
hotel.

Reaching the street Larry saw, some distance ahead of him, the form
of the man whose actions so puzzled him, and who had led him such a
baffling chase.

"Here is where I get you," thought Larry, as he hurried on.



CHAPTER XX

LARRY GETS A SCARE


Through the crowded street the young reporter ran, bumping into
several persons, and causing them to mutter more or less impolite
exclamations about youths who trod on the toes of innocent
pedestrians.

Larry could catch occasional glimpses of his man, and he noted that
Retto looked back every now and then to see if he was being
followed.

"Oh, I'm after you, my East Indian friend," Larry remarked to
himself. "I'm going to have an accounting with you now. There's
something queer about you."

No sooner had Larry given expression to this last sentence, speaking
somewhat aloud, as was his habit when thinking intently, than he
slipped on a banana pealing and fell down with a force that jarred
him all over.

"I'll have to be more careful," thought Larry, as he got up and
found that no bones were broken. He started off again after Retto.
"I wasn't looking where I was going, thinking so much of Retto.
Where is he now? He must have got quite a way ahead."

He had; so far that Larry could no longer see him. The reporter
tried to peer through the ever-shifting crowd, for a glimpse of
Retto, but with no success.

"He's gone," he murmured. "However, I know where he lives and I'll
go there at once. No! I've got to get a story in for to-day's paper
about Mr. Potter. I haven't much time before the first edition.
Guess I'd better telephone it in, and let Mr. Emberg have one of the
men fix it up."

In his eagerness to catch Retto, Larry had rather lost sight of his
more important duties, and, as he looked at his watch, he found he
had no time to spare if the _Leader_ was to have a story that day.

He looked for the blue sign, indicating a public telephone station,
and saw one a few doors down the street. On his way there he ran
over in his mind the points of the story. It would be based on the
search and inquiry among the steamship captains.

"I've got to say it resulted in nothing," Larry remarked to himself.
"Hold on, though. Suppose Grace gets a clue from Captain Padduci?
I'll be in a pretty mess if she does, and I telephone in that we
found out nothing. Wish I hadn't chased after that East Indian. I
should have stayed with Grace until we got through.

"No help for it, though. So here goes. I wish I'd done as Mr. Emberg
said and let the Retto matter drop. But it seemed too good to lose
sight of."

He soon had the _Leader_ office on the wire, and, a few seconds
later, was talking to Mr. Emberg. He was rather surprised at what
the city editor said.

"What's the matter with you, Larry?" was the inquiry that came
through the telephone. "We've been waiting for you. Have you seen
the _Scorcher_?"

"No. Why?" asked Larry, an uneasy feeling coming over him. There
seemed an atmosphere of "beat" about him, and he was afraid of Mr.
Emberg's next words.

"Why, they've got a big story about Mr. Potter being home," went on
the city editor. "They say he is concealed in the house, and has
been ever since the scare."

"That's not true!" replied Larry. "I was at the house this morning,
and he wasn't home. I've been all around the steamer piers and got
no trace of him. I just left his daughter, and she would know if he
had been home all this while."

"Well, they've got the story," repeated Mr. Emberg, with the
insistence that city editors sometimes use when they fear their
reporters have been beaten. "I sent Harvey up to the house in a
hurry to make inquiries. The _Scorcher_ got out an extra. Where have
you been?"

"I just finished the tour of the docks."

"Well, you'd better go up to the house and make sure. It looks
queer."

"I'll bet that story came from Sullivan," said Larry. "He's sore on
us, and would do anything to get even. He wants to find Mr. Potter,
you know."

"I hope you're right," and Mr. Emberg's voice was not as cordial as
it usually was. "Let me hear from you soon again. I'll have one of
the men fix up something for the first edition. You tell him about
the inquiries made of the ship captains."

Larry's heart was like lead. To have worked so hard, and then to
have another paper come out with a "scare" story about Mr. Potter's
return, was discouraging.

"That story's a fake," he decided, as he prepared to telephone in
the result of his morning's work. "I'll prove it is, too, and make
them take back-water."

Larry's story of the trip to the steamship offices was not very
interesting reading, for it was but a record of failure. He realized
that, but there was nothing else to print and the paper had to have
something. It was not Larry's fault, for even a reporter on a
special assignment cannot provide fresh and startling news every
day, though all newspaper men try hard enough for this desirable
end.

After Larry had telephoned in all the information he had, he hurried
uptown to the Potter house. He found Grace had just come in, and, to
Larry's relief, she had not been successful in getting any news from
Captain Padduci. In a few words the reporter told what the
_Scorcher_ had printed.

"We must deny that at once!" exclaimed Grace. "I wonder why they
print such untruths!"

"For one reason, because the _Scorcher_ is trying to live up to its
name and give the public 'hot' news," replied Larry, "and, for
another, because Sullivan has some end to gain. He stands in with
the _Scorcher_ men, and I think my old enemy, Peter Manton, is
responsible for this."

"What can you do to offset it?" asked Grace.

"I can have a signed statement from you or your mother in our last
edition."

"A signed statement?"

"Yes, a little interview with you, in the form of a communication,
with your name at the foot, denying that your father is at home.
This will take the wind out of the _Scorcher's_ sails."

"Then I'll give you the interview at once. What shall I say?"

Larry told her, and in a few minutes the message was being dictated
over the Potter telephone to Mr. Emberg.

"I'm glad to hear this, Larry," the city editor said. "We had quite
a scare. I thought they had you beaten, even though Harvey came back
and said Mrs. Potter sent down word there was no truth in the
_Scorcher_ yarn. You certainly had us scared."

"I was frightened myself," admitted Larry, with a laugh.

"This will make story enough for to-day, unless you find Mr.
Potter," Mr. Emberg went on. "Now lay pipes for something for
to-morrow."

"I will," Larry replied, though he did not in the least know what
new features he could "play up."

At that instant the bell rang, and a whistle indicated that the
letter carrier was at the door. Grace answered it. She came back on
the run, a missive in her hand.

"It's from my father!" she exclaimed, as she tore open the envelope.

Larry watched Grace while she read the letter. It was short, for she
had quickly finished with it and turned to the reporter.

"He's written about you!" she exclaimed.

"About me?"

"Yes. Listen," and Grace read:

     "'I am well. Still have to remain away. Don't try to find me. Will
     be home soon. Tell Larry Dexter to give up. He's chasing me too
     close.'"

"Chasing him too close!" exclaimed Larry in bewilderment. I only
wish I was! I haven't the least clue to his whereabouts. I wonder
what he means? Is that his writing?"

"I can't be mistaken in that," Grace replied. "It is just the same
as the other letter was."

"Let me see," and the young reporter examined the envelope. It was
similar to that containing the first note which had come from Mr.
Potter, save there was no blot on it and the stamp showed no excess
of mucilage.

"I'll take this to the sub-station," Larry went on. "It was probably
mailed in the same place as was the other. I'll see if the carrier
had any such experience as he did with the former note."

"I think it would be a good plan," Grace answered. "Oh, this is
beginning to wear on my nerves! As for mother, she is almost ill
over it. Her physician says if father is not found soon he cannot
say what will happen to mother."

"Still she must know your father is safe."

"That is the worst of it. She will not believe these notes are from
him, or, rather, she believes he is held captive somewhere and is
forced to write them. Nothing I can say will make her think
differently. She is wearing herself to a shadow over it."

"We must do something!" exclaimed Larry.

"Yes; but what?" asked the girl. "You are working hard and I am
doing all I can, but our efforts seem to amount to nothing. What
more can we do?"

"I'm trying to think of a plan," Larry responded. "The search of the
steamship piers gave us no clue; the police here have not been able
to find a trace. We can try one thing more."

"What is that?"

"You can hire private detectives. Sometimes, in cases of this kind,
they are better than the police, as they assign one man, who devotes
all his attention to the search, while the police, as a rule, don't
bother much to find missing persons."

"Then I'll hire the best private detectives to be had!" exclaimed
Grace. "Where ought I to go?"

Larry named an agency, that he had heard was first-class, and
offered to take Grace to the office. The reporter knew one of the
men on the staff, as he had once written a story in which he
figured, and the officer had been grateful for the mention of his
name. Detectives, even private ones, are prone to vanity in this
respect, as a rule.

"I don't like to take up so much of your time," objected the girl,
as Larry prepared to go with her to the detective agency.

"My time is yours in this case. I have nothing to do for the
_Leader_ but to find your father. This is part of the work."

"I wouldn't think it could pay a newspaper to put one man
exclusively on a case like this."

"The editors think it does. In the first place it makes some news
every day, and the papers have to have news. Then if I should happen
to find Mr. Potter, it would be a big advertisement for the
_Leader_, and that is what all the New York papers are looking for.
The better advertised they are the better prices they can charge for
the advertisements printed in them, for it's from the advertisements
that a newspaper makes its money. Besides, I've promised to find
your father for you and I'm going to do it!" Larry looked very
determined.

"My! I never supposed newspaper work was so complicated," said
Grace, with a little sigh. "Now let's go to the detectives. I'm
almost afraid. It sounds so awful to say 'detective.'"

Larry found the man he knew in the office of the agency, and the
latter introduced him to the chief. The reporter explained the
reason for the visit, and Grace added a plea that they do all in
their power to locate Mr. Potter.

"I thought you'd come here sooner or later," said the chief with a
smile. "Most folks do when they find the regular police don't give
enough attention to the cases. It's not the fault of the police,
though. They have so much to do they can't give much time to a
single case. But of course we can. Now then, tell me all about it."

Which Grace, aided by Larry, proceeded to do. The chief listened
intently, and asked several questions. He took the two letters which
Grace had from her father and looked carefully at them.

"Do you think you'll be able to do anything?" asked the girl
anxiously. The strain was beginning to tell heavily on her.

"Of course we will!" exclaimed the chief, heartily. "We'll find your
father for you, you can depend on it!"

Larry did not want to tell her that the chief was thus optimistic
in regard to every case he undertook. It was a habit of his, not a
bad one, perhaps, and it did little harm, for nearly all of his
clients wanted cheering up.

"What do you think about this, young man?" asked the chief, turning
suddenly to Larry.

"In regard to what, Mr. Grover?"

"Where do you think Mr. Potter is? I understand you've been working
on this case. In fact, I have all your stories clipped from the
_Leader_."

Larry had not forgotten about Retto, and he determined to pay the
fellow another visit.

With him, to think was to act. He soon found himself going up the
stairs of the tenement house, and presently reached Retto's door.
His knock brought no response, and he stood for a moment, undecided
what to do. Then a bold idea came to him.

"I'll try the door and see if he's home," he said. "If he isn't,
there's no harm done. If he is, I can explain it somehow."

Larry, after a moment's hesitation to listen for any possible
movement on the other side of the portal, tried the door. It opened
easily for him, though it needed but a glance to show that the
apartment was empty and vacated. All the furniture was gone.

"He's skipped!" exclaimed Larry, as he struck a match and looked
around. "I guess he was afraid I'd find him. Well, I am more
determined than ever that I'll land this man. I wonder if he left
any clues behind?"

He lighted a jet of a wall fixture, for the gas had not been shut
off. In the glare he saw a scrap of paper lying on the floor. He
picked it up. As he glanced at it he gave a cry of astonishment.

"Who would have thought it!" exclaimed Larry to himself. "Of all the
strange things! I wonder I didn't connect him with the case before!
This explains why he was in front of the house."

For, the paper he had picked up was part of an envelope like those
which had contained the letters Grace received from her father. And
on the scrap was her name, but the envelope had been spoiled by a
blot of ink in writing the address. It had been torn up and thrown
away, to remain a mute bit of evidence.

"Mah Retto knows Mr. Potter!" exclaimed Larry. "Retto is the man who
mailed the letters for the missing millionaire. If I find him I can
make him tell me where Mr. Potter is! Now to trace my mysterious
East Indian friend!"



CHAPTER XXI

TRACING RETTO


Larry took another survey of the apartment to see if there were any
more clues that might aid him. But the one that had so unexpectedly
come to his hand was all he found. The place showed evidences of
having been hastily vacated.

"I'll see Mr. Jackson," he decided. "Perhaps he can tell me
something. He was interested in this queer man."

He lost no time in going to the rooms of his friends. They were glad
to see him, and asked a number of questions about his mother,
sisters and brother. But Larry, as soon as he could, turned the
subject to Retto.

"He's gone," he told Mr. Jackson.

"I supposed he had. I saw the janitor taking his things from the
room this morning."

"Do you know where he went to?" asked the young reporter eagerly. "I
want to find him."

"I haven't the least idea."

"I wonder if the janitor would know," Larry went on.

"He might. Perhaps the man left his address with him, in order that
letters might be forwarded. I'll go downstairs with you and
introduce you to the janitor."

That functionary was unable to throw any light on where Retto had
gone. Evidently, for the time being, the chase had come to an end.

Larry made his way to the nearest elevated station and rode in the
direction of the Potter home. He had no definite plan in mind, and,
more from a whim than anything else, he decided to walk past the
house. He did not expect it, but he had an idea--a very faint
one--that he might see Grace. Of course, if he saw her at the
window, where she sometimes sat, it would be no more than polite to
go in and tell her what the carrier had said about the second
letter.

When Larry got in front of the Potter house he was disappointed to
see that it was in darkness. It was about ten o'clock, and he knew
the family was in the habit of retiring early, especially since Mr.
Potter's disappearance.

As he strolled past on the other side of the street, looking in vain
for a glimmer of light, or the sight of a girlish face against the
window pane, he passed into the deep shadow cast by a big tree on
which shone an electric arc light in front of the Potter house. The
blackness was quite deep, in contrast to the illumination on both
sides of the tree, for electric lamps have the property of casting
dense shadows. If Larry had been looking straight in front of him
perhaps it would not have happened, but he was staring at where
Grace lived, and the first thing he knew he had walked full tilt
into a man who was hiding in the darkness behind the big tree.

"Oh--ugh!" grunted Larry, for the breath was knocked from his body
by the sudden impact.

"What's the matter? What are you doing?" inquired the man angrily.
"Why don't you look where you're going?"

The collision had swung him out of the shadow into the light, where
he stood blinking. Larry recovered his breath, and then, at the
sight of the man, gave a low-voiced cry of astonishment.

"Mr. Sullivan!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, it's you, is it, Dexter!" remarked the politician. "Are you
following me? Are you spying on me? If you are I'll have you
arrested!"

"I'm not following you or spying on you!" retorted Larry. "But you
seem to be hiding here. What do you want? What are you in front of
Mr. Potter's house for?"

He was determined to follow up his advantage, and to show Sullivan
that he was not in the least intimidated by him. Clearly there was
something in the wind when the district political leader was hiding
behind trees watching the house of the missing millionaire.

"Look here!" exclaimed Sullivan, and he had moved back until he was
in the shadow. "You go along and mind your own business; do you
hear? Move along now!"

"I guess I have as good a right as you have to remain on the
street. And this sidewalk is just as public as any in New York, even
if it is in the millionaire section. What are you hiding for? Do you
expect to see Mr. Potter come walking down the steps? If you do I'll
wait, too. I'd like to see him."

"You think you're very smart because you're a reporter," retorted
Sullivan, becoming more and more angry as he saw he could not
intimidate Larry. "Let me tell you you're making a big mistake. I
have some power in New York, and I warn you that I'll use it if you
don't stop interfering with me. You've made me trouble enough. Now
you be off, or I'll call a policeman and have you arrested."

"You can't," replied Larry. "I haven't done anything except to run
into you, and that was an accident, caused by you being in the
shadow."

"I'll show you what I can do. The police of this district know me,
and they'll do anything I say."

"You might have 'pull' enough to have me arrested," Larry admitted,
"but I wouldn't stay locked up long. A telephone message to the city
editor of the _Leader_, and a word from him to some one higher up
than a policeman, would bring about a change. And I don't think
you'd like to read the story in the paper the next day, Mr.
Sullivan."

The politician was silent. He knew Larry had the best of the
argument. For, though the Assembly leader had some power in New
York, he was only a "small fry" when it came to an important matter,
such as he knew would result if Larry was taken into custody. He
contented himself, therefore, with growling out threats against
Larry in particular and all newspaper men in general.

"You'll interfere with me once too often," said Sullivan. "I warn
you, young man. You're making a big mistake. There's more behind
this matter than you have any idea of."

"I know there is," replied Larry quickly. "That's why I'm working so
hard to clear up the mystery. I want to find out what your part is
in the disappearance of Mr. Potter."

"My part? What do you mean?"

"You know well enough what I mean. You are interested in Mr. Potter.
You want him to come back. Now what for? Has it anything to do with
the new line? Does it concern your friends, Kilburn and Reilly?
That's what I want to know and what I'm going to find out. You're
playing a deep game, Mr. Sullivan, but I'll beat you at it!"

Larry was quite surprised at his own eloquence, and the manner in
which he bid defiance to the leader of the assembly district.

"Hush!" exclaimed the politician. "If you say another word I'll
knock you down!" and he advanced toward Larry as though he intended
to carry the threat into execution. "Keep quiet, I say!"

"Are you afraid of having the truth told?" asked Larry speaking a
little louder. It seemed that Sullivan was worried lest some one
might overhear the talk. The streets, however, were deserted at this
time.

"Never you mind!" retorted Sullivan. "You've said enough, so that
I'll not forget it in a hurry, and Jack Sullivan is a bad man to
have for an enemy, let me tell you."

"I don't doubt that, but I'm not afraid of you. I believe you know
something of Mr. Potter's disappearance, and I'm going to find out
what it is. You are waiting here with some object in view, and I'm
going to discover it."

"Get away from here!" ordered Sullivan, hardly able to speak because
of his anger.

"I'm going to stay as long as I like."

"Move on!" exclaimed the politician. "Get away or----"

He emerged from the shadow and approached Larry. The man's face
showed how wrought up he was, and though he was not much taller or
stronger than Larry he had a man's energy, and would prove more than
a match for the lad if it came to a fight. And it looked now as
though he was going to resort to desperate measures in order to
accomplish his ends.

"I'm going to stay until I see what you're up to!" said Larry
firmly, bracing himself to meet the expected attack.

Sullivan doubled up his fists and drew nearer to the youth. He
raised his arm, as though to strike. The two were beyond the shadow
of the tree now, and in plain view.

Sullivan's fist shot out, but Larry was watching and cleverly dodged
it. The politician overreached himself, lost his balance, and, his
fist meeting nothing more solid than air, he pitched forward and
fell on the sidewalk.

Larry swung around, ready to meet his opponent when he should come
back to the attack. At that instant a window, in a house across the
street, opened, and a voice the young reporter knew was Grace's
called:

"Larry! Larry! Come here!"

He started to run across the thoroughfare, but, as he did so, he saw
another man emerge from behind a tree, next to the one where
Sullivan had been concealed. And, as the light from an arc lamp
gleamed on this man's face, Larry saw it was that of Mah Retto.

The young reporter paused, undecided what to do. Across the street
he could see Grace in the raised window, waiting for him--for what
he did not know. But, even as he looked at her, he saw Retto running
off down the street. In an instant Larry's mind was made up. He took
after Retto as fast as he could run.



CHAPTER XXII

GRACE IS SUSPICIOUS


Retto headed for Central Park, and as Larry saw him pass the
entrance he realized that it was going to be as hard to follow the
man as though he had disappeared in the midst of a crowd, especially
since the park was not well lighted.

"But I've got to follow him," thought Larry. "It's my best chance. I
must find out where he has moved to. I wonder what Grace wanted? And
I wonder what Sullivan's game was? My, but the questions are coming
too thick for me. I'll have to get an assistant."

By this time he had entered the park. Ahead of him he could hear the
running feet of the man he was pursuing. The big recreation ground
was almost deserted.

"I don't believe he dare run very fast," reasoned Larry, as he
slackened his pace. "If he does a policeman will be sure to stop him
and ask questions, and I guess Retto will not relish that. I have a
better chance than I thought at first. After all, I don't see why he
is so afraid of me. All I want to do is to ask him where he gets the
letters from Mr. Potter. He must know where the millionaire is
hiding, and it looks as if Mr. Potter had been in Retto's room at
the Jackson tenement, or else how would the envelope get there?
That's it! I'll bet the missing millionaire has been hiding with
this East Indian chap! I never thought of that until now!"

Having walked for fully a quarter of a mile Retto came to a sudden
stop, and so did Larry, hiding in the shadow of a tree. Retto
listened intently, and, of course, heard no pursuing footsteps. This
apparently satisfied him, for he proceeded more slowly.

"He thinks I've given up the chase," thought Larry. "I'll let him.
Maybe he'll go home all the quicker, and, after I learn where he is
stopping, I can go back and see what Grace wanted."

Larry's surmise proved correct, and his wish soon came to pass. The
man, evidently believing that he was safe, emerged from the park to
the street, for the whole pursuit had gone on not far from the
thoroughfare, and just within the boundary of the city's breathing
spot. Larry, keeping in the shadows, watched him.

He saw Retto give one more cautious look around and then, crossing
the highway, enter a hotel nearby. It was a fashionable one, and
Larry wondered how the man, who had, hitherto, only lived in
tenements, could afford to engage rooms in such a place as this.

"Maybe he's only doing it to throw me off the track," the reporter
reasoned. "I'll just wait a while and see if he comes out."

He waited nearly an hour, hiding in the shadows of the park and
keeping close watch on the entrance to the hotel. He did not see
Retto emerge, and then he decided on a new plan.

"I'll inquire if he is stopping there," he said to himself. "If he
is I'll wait until to-morrow before acting. I'll let him think
everything's all right. It's the best way."

Sauntering into the hotel lobby he found no one but the night clerk
on duty, though there were a few sleepy bell-boys sprawled on a
bench. As soon as the clerk saw Larry approaching the desk he swung
the registry book around, and, dipping a pen in the ink, extended it
to the reporter.

"I didn't come to stay," said Larry, with a smile. "I want to
inquire if there is a Mr. Mah Retto stopping here?"

"There is," replied the clerk. "Would you like to see him? He just
came in a little while ago."

"No; not to-night," Larry replied, his heart beating high with hope.
He had run down his man. "I wasn't sure of his address, and I
thought I'd inquire. I'll call and see him to-morrow."

The clerk, having lost all interest as soon as he found Larry was
not to be a guest of the hotel, did not reply. The bell-boys, seeing
their visions of a tip disappearing, resumed their dozes, and Larry
walked out. He was impressed by the clerk's manner. Clearly Retto
was a man of means and not as poor as Larry had supposed.

"So far so good," he murmured. "Now to go back and see what Grace
wanted--that is if it isn't too late."

It was nearly eleven o'clock, but Larry had an idea that Grace would
still be up. It was rather an unusual hour to make a call, still all
the circumstances in this case were unusual, and Larry did not think
Grace would mind.

He saw a light in the Potter house as he approached it. Thinking
perhaps Sullivan might be in the vicinity Larry walked up and down
on the other side of the street, peering in the shadow of the tree
where he had had his encounter with the politician, but Sullivan had
evidently gone away.

"Why didn't you come when I called you?" asked Grace, as she
admitted Larry to the library.

"I wanted to," the young reporter replied, "but I had to take after
a person who I believe knows where your father is, and I couldn't
stop without losing sight of him. I have some news for you."

"And I have some for you," exclaimed Grace, "Let me tell mine
first."

"All right," agreed Larry, with a smile. "Go ahead."

"Well, I was sitting in the window to-night, looking out on the
street, and feeling particularly sad and lonely on account of
father, when I saw a man sneaking along on the other side. I saw him
hide behind a tree, and I resolved to keep watch. There have been
some burglaries in this neighborhood recently, and I wasn't sure
whether he was a thief or a detective sent here to watch for
suspicious characters. Well, as I sat there watching I saw you come
along and talk to the man behind the tree."

"How long had he been there when I came along?"

"Oh, for some time, but don't interrupt, please. You can ask
questions afterward. When I saw you talking to the man I knew it
must be all right, and I was beginning to think he was a detective.

"Then I noticed another man sneaking along. He, too, hid behind a
tree, next to the first man. I thought this was queer until I
remembered you told me that detectives usually hunt in couples, and
I thought he was another officer from headquarters. I thought so
until mother, who, it seems had been looking out of her window in
the front room upstairs, called to me.

"She asked me if I had seen the two men come along, and, when I said
I had, she wanted to know if I didn't think there was something
queer about the second man. I said I didn't notice particularly, but
just then the man stepped out into the light, and I had a good look
at him."

"Was there anything suspicious about him?"

"There certainly was!" exclaimed Grace, earnestly. "As soon as I saw
him I thought sure it was my father. He had his back toward me, and
he looked exactly like papa. Mother saw it, too, and she cried out.
Just then the man turned and I saw he was smooth-shaven, and his
face didn't look a bit like my father's.

"Then I saw you and that other man--Mr. Sullivan, I then knew him to
be--step into the light. I saw he was going to hit you, and I raised
the window and called. I wanted to ask you to see who the second man
was--the one who looked so much like my father. I called, but you
didn't seem to hear."

"I heard you," replied Larry, "but I couldn't stop. I wanted to take
after the man--the same man you were suspicious of. I traced him
through the park."

"Did you find him? Who is he? Where is he? Is he--is he? Oh, Larry,
don't keep me in suspense----"

"I'm sorry to have to tell you he isn't your father," Larry replied,
gently, as he saw the girl's distress. "But I think he knows where
your father is. He goes by the name of Mah Retto, and I helped save
him from the wreck of a vessel on the Jersey coast. See, I found
this in his room, a little while before he disappeared," and he held
out to Grace the torn envelope with her name on it.

"My father's writing!" she exclaimed.

Larry heard some one descending the stairs and coming toward the
library.



CHAPTER XXIII

CAPTAIN TANTRELLA ARRIVES


"Grace! What is the matter?" exclaimed a woman's voice, and looking
up Larry saw Mrs. Potter.

"Nothing, mother," replied the girl. "This is Mr. Larry Dexter. He
just brought me some news. Oh, mother, that wasn't papa we saw out
in the street!"

"I knew it, dear, as soon as I saw his face."

Larry felt rather uncomfortable, for Mrs. Potter and Grace showed
signs of emotion.

"I was telling your daughter," he said to Mrs. Potter, "that I think
I have located the man who knows where your husband is."

"Oh, I hope you have," exclaimed Mrs. Potter. "This suspense is
awful. Who is he? Where is he?"

Larry related the circumstances of his chase after Retto, telling
how he had located the man at the hotel.

"I'll go and see him to-morrow," he said, "before he has a chance to
get away. He does not suspect that I know where he is."

"Why not go now?" asked Mrs. Potter.

"I'm afraid he would see no one to-night. It is very late, and he
would suspect something if any one sent up word they wanted to see
him. He would at once connect it with the chase I had after him. But
I think I fooled him. I am sure he can clear up this matter in a
short time, once I get into conversation with him."

"I'll go with you," said Grace, with sudden energy. "I will make him
tell where my father is."

Larry thought he could best deal with Retto alone, but he did not
want to tell Grace so. However, her mother got him out of what might
have been an embarrassing position.

"I'd rather you wouldn't go, Grace," she said. "There is no telling
what sort of a person this Retto is. His name sounds foreign."

They talked for some time about the curious circumstances connected
with the disappearance of the millionaire, and when a clock struck
the hour of one, Larry arose with a start.

"I had no idea it was so late!" he exclaimed. "I must hurry home, or
mother will be worried. I will call to-morrow and let you know what
success I have."

"Do, please," said Mrs. Potter.

"And come early," added Grace, as she accompanied Larry to the door.
"Don't let that horrid man stab you with an East Indian poisoned
dagger," she went on with a little laugh, as she got out of hearing
of her mother.

Larry promised, and then hurried off down the street to the nearest
elevated railway station. He was up early the next morning, and
wrote out the story of the day's events, including the encounter
with Sullivan, and the chase after Retto. He touched as lightly as
possible on his own and Grace's parts in the affair, but there was
enough to make interesting reading, and he knew no other paper would
have it.

"This is good stuff, Larry," complimented Mr. Emberg, when the
reporter had turned his story in at the desk. "What next?"

"I'm going to see Retto," was the answer. "I'll make him tell where
Mr. Potter is."

"You were right about your East Indian friend," admitted the city
editor. "I had no idea there was a story like this connected with
him; least of all that it concerned the missing millionaire. Keep
right after him. Let us hear from you in time for the first edition.
Whatever you learn from Retto will make the leading part of to-day's
account."

"I'll telephone in," said Larry, as he hurried from the city room.

Larry anticipated meeting with some difficulty in getting Retto to
talk. He knew the man must have a strong motive for aiding Mr.
Potter. Probably the millionaire was paying him well to serve him,
to mail letters occasionally, and keep him informed as to how the
search for him was progressing.

"There are lots of ends to this that I don't understand," said Larry
to himself as he was on his way to the hotel where the mysterious
man was stopping. "This mystery seemed to start with the wrecking of
the _Olivia_, yet I don't see how I can connect Mr. Potter with
that. He must have met Retto in New York after the rescued men came
here. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking Mr. Potter is in New York now. He
may be some distance off, and depending on Retto to look after his
interests. If that's so it would explain why the East Indian was
hanging around the house. He wanted to see that Grace and her mother
were well, so he could report to the millionaire.

"Yet if that was so, I can't see how Mr. Potter could write in the
letter, as he did, that I was getting too close to him? Yes, there's
something very strange in all this, but maybe it will soon be
cleared up."

Thus Larry hoped, but he was doomed to disappointment. For, when he
inquired at the hotel desk for Mr. Retto, and said he would like to
see him, the clerk replied:

"Mr. Retto left early this morning. He gave up his room. I don't
know where he went."

"I've got it all to do over again," the young reporter thought as he
strolled out into the street. "I'll never have such luck again. If
he watches the house after this he'll do it in a way that won't give
me a chance to catch him. Well, I've got to go back and tell Grace I
made a fizzle of it. Too bad, when they're hoping so much on the
result of this visit!"

Larry purchased a morning paper from a newsboy on the street, and
glanced at it idly, as he strolled along. His eye lighted on the
column devoted to shipping news, and, almost unconsciously, he saw
among the "arrivals," the _Turtle_, of an Italian line. At once a
train of thought was started in his mind.

"The _Turtle_," he mused. "That's the freight ship that Captain
Tantrella, formerly of the _Olivia_, commands. That's the captain
Retto was inquiring about the day Grace and I made the tour of the
steamer offices. He wanted to meet him. Well, Captain Tantrella is
in now. I wonder if Retto could have left the hotel to go and see
him?"

Larry puzzled over it for a few minutes. Several ideas came to him,
but they were confused, and he did not know which line to follow.

"Why should Retto want to see Captain Tantrella?" he asked himself.
"Is it possible that Retto is a criminal and had to escape from the
sinking ship? It looks so. But if he has done something that would
necessitate him keeping out of the way, how can he aid Mr. Potter?
It's too deep for me. But I know what I'll do. I'll go and see
Captain Tantrella. He'll remember me, for I interviewed him about
the wreck.

"I'll ask him who Retto is. He'll know him, for he was probably one
of the first-cabin passengers. That's what I'll do. I think I'm on
the right track now."



CHAPTER XXIV

RETTO IS CAUGHT


Larry's slow walk was suddenly changed to a quick one as a plan of
action was unfolded in his mind. He hurried to the elevated station
and was soon on his way downtown to the office of the steamship line
to which the _Turtle_ belonged.

"Guess I'd better stop and telephone to Mr. Emberg about Retto
skipping out again," thought the young reporter. "He can add it to
the story. Then I can tell him of my present plan."

The city editor was soon informed of what Larry intended to do, and
said he thought it was a good idea.

"But keep in touch with us, Larry," cautioned Mr. Emberg. "We want
all the news we can get on this thing. There's a rumor that the
_Scorcher_ is going to spring something to-day on the Potter story."

"Probably something Sullivan has given out to offset the story he
knows I'll have about him," commented Larry. "But I'll be on the
lookout and let you know what happens."

Larry was soon at the steamship office, and inquired whether the
_Turtle_ had docked yet.

"She is making fast now," replied the clerk.

"May I go aboard her?"

The clerk hesitated. Then Larry announced who he was, and said he
wanted to have a talk with Captain Tantrella.

"Oh, you're the reporter who wrote up the wreck of the _Olivia_,"
the clerk replied, with a smile. "I've heard about you. Yes, I guess
you can go aboard. I'll write you out a pass."

With the necessary paper as a passport, Larry walked down the long,
covered dock, alongside of which the freight steamer was being
warped into place. There was no bustling crowd of passengers, eager
to get ashore to welcome and be welcomed by even more eager
relatives and friends. But there was a small army of men ready to
swarm aboard the _Turtle_ and hurry the freight out of her holds, in
order that more might be placed in to be sent abroad. There was a
confusion of wagons and trucks, and the puffing of donkey engines,
seemingly anxious to begin lifting big boxes and bales from the dark
interior of the ship.

Larry was among the first to go up the gang plank when it was run
ashore. A ship's officer stopped him, but allowed him to proceed
when he saw the pass.

Larry found Captain Tantrella in his cabin, arranging his papers,
for there is considerable formality about a ship that comes from one
country to another, and much red tape is used.

"Ah, it is my newspaper friend!" exclaimed the commander when he
saw Larry. "Have you interviewed any more captains who have been
wrecked?"

Though he spoke with an air of gayety Larry could see the captain
was sad at heart, for, though it was not his fault that the _Olivia_
had gone ashore, Captain Tantrella had been more or less blamed, and
had been reduced in rank. Passengers do not, as a rule, care to sail
in a ship under the command of one whose vessel has been lost. So
poor Captain Tantrella was now only in charge of a freighter, and he
felt his disgrace keenly.

"Do you remember a passenger named Mah Retto, who sailed with you on
the _Olivia_?" the reporter asked.

"I remember him; yes. A queer sort of man. He said but little on the
whole voyage. But was he not lost? I remember we could not find him
when we had all been landed from the wreck."

"He came ashore first of all," replied Larry. "A fisherman and I
helped save him from a life-raft," and he told the circumstances.

"Queer," murmured the captain. "I have often thought of that man. He
seemed to have some mystery about him."

Larry gave a brief account of the case he was working on.

"What I want to discover," he added, "is whether you know of any
reason why Retto should be anxious to see you?"

"To see me?"

"Yes. He was at the steamship office a few days ago inquiring when
your ship would come in, and when he saw me he hurried away. Since
then I have not been able to catch him."

"Ah! I know!" exclaimed the captain suddenly. "I just thought of it.
I have a package belonging to him."

"A package?"

"Yes. He came to me when we were a few days out and said he wanted
me to keep a package for him until we got to New York. I took it and
put it with my papers."

"Then I suppose it was lost with the _Olivia_?"

"No; I brought it ashore with me when I saved my documents and a few
valuables from the wreck. I have it at my hotel. That is why he is
anxious to see me. He wants to get his package back. I am glad I
have it."

"Do you know anything about the man?" asked Larry.

"Hardly anything. I met him for the first time when he was a
passenger on my ship. But now, if you have no objections, we will go
ashore. I must file my reports. After that I will be glad to see you
at my hotel, and answer any questions you care to ask."

"Well, I guess you've told me all you can," said Larry, feeling a
little disappointed at the result of his interview. "I'm much
obliged to you."

"If you want to get into communication with this man, I have a
plan," suggested the captain.

"What?" asked Larry, eagerly.

"He will probably call at my hotel to claim his package. When he
comes you could be on hand."

"But there is no telling when he will come."

"That is so, but you could take a room at the hotel and be there as
much as possible. I think he will come as soon as he learns that my
ship is in."

"That's a good idea. I'll do it!" exclaimed Larry.

"Then let's hurry ashore, and you can make your arrangements while I
finish up the details of the indents, bills of lading, custom lists
and so on," Captain Tantrella said.

The two walked down the gang plank on to the covered dock. The
tangle of wagons, horses and men was worse than ever. Part of the
cargo was being taken out and carted away.

"Watch out for yourself that a horse doesn't step on you," cautioned
the captain.

It was a needful warning, for the animals, drawing big, heavy
trucks, seemed to be every-where. As the two proceeded to thread
their way through the maze there came a hail from somewhere in the
rear and a voice called:

"Captain Tantrella!"

The commander turned, and so did Larry. The young reporter saw a
man hurrying along the dock toward where the commander of the
_Turtle_ stood. Evidently he had not seen the captain come to a
halt, for he called again:

"Wait a minute, Captain Tantrella!"

Then a curious thing happened. The man caught sight of Larry,
standing beside the ship commander. He halted and turned to run. As
he did so a truck drove up behind him and blocked his retreat.

"It's Mah Retto!" exclaimed Larry, as he caught sight of the man's
face.

An instant later there came a warning shout from the driver of the
truck. He reined his horses back sharply, but not in time. Retto had
stepped directly under their heads. The off animal reared. The man
stumbled and fell beneath its hoofs.

Then, with a cry of terror, which was echoed by a score of men who
saw the accident, Retto appeared to crumple up in a heap. The
forefeet of the big steed seemed to crush him before the driver
could back the animal off. Then came silence, Retto lying without
moving on the planking of the dock.

"Caught at last," murmured Larry, as he rushed forward.



CHAPTER XXV

IN THE HOSPITAL


Instantly the confusion that had reigned on the dock became worse.
Men ran to and fro shouting, no one seeming to know what to do.

"We must help him!" cried Captain Tantrella, shoving his papers into
his pocket. "Come!"

He and Larry fought their way to the man's side. A crowd surrounded
him, but no one offered to do anything. The truck driver had
dismounted from his high seat and was quieting his frightened
horses.

"It wasn't my fault," he cried. "He ran right under their feet."

"One side!" exclaimed a loud voice, and a burly policeman shouldered
his way through. "What's the matter? Give the man some air."

Retto did not look as though he would ever need air again. He seemed
quite dead.

"Let me get at him!" called Captain Tantrella. "I know something of
medicine."

"Shall I call an ambulance?" asked Larry of the police officer. "I
know how to do it."

The bluecoat nodded, glad to have help in the emergency. Then he
proceeded to keep the crowd back while the captain knelt down beside
the unfortunate man.

"Bad cut on the head," the commander of the _Turtle_ murmured.
"Fractured, I'm afraid. Leg broken, too. It's a wonder he wasn't
killed."

The captain accepted several coats which were hastily offered, and
made a pillow for the man's head. He arranged the broken leg so that
the bones would be in a better position for setting, and then, with
a sponge and a basin of water which were brought, proceeded to wipe
away the blood from the cut on Retto's skull.

The crowd increased and pressed closer, but by this time more
policemen had arrived, and they kept the throng back from the
sufferer, so that he might have air.

It seemed a long time before the ambulance, which Larry summoned,
made its arrival, but it was only a few minutes ere it clanged up to
the pier, the crowd parting to let it pass. In an instant the
white-suited surgeon had leaped out of the back of the vehicle
before it had stopped, and was kneeling beside Retto.

With deft fingers he felt of the wound on the man's head.

"Possible fracture," he said in a low voice. "Double one of the leg,
I'm afraid," as he glanced at that member. "Lend a hand, boys, and
we'll get him on the stretcher."

There were willing enough helpers, and Retto was soon in the
ambulance and on the way to the hospital, the doctor clinging to the
back of the swaying vehicle as it dashed through the streets, with
the right of way over everything on wheels.

"Here's news in bunches," thought Larry, as he saw the ambulance
disappearing around a corner. "I must telephone this in, and I guess
it will be a beat. To think that after all that I have Retto where I
want him. I'm sorry, of course, that he's hurt, but I guess he can't
get out of the hospital very soon. I'll have a chance to question
him. Then I'll make him tell me where Mr. Potter is, and that will
end my special assignment. I'll not be sorry, either. It's been a
hard one, though I'm glad I got it, for the experience is fine."

Thus musing Larry looked for a telephone station and soon the story
of Retto's accident was being sent over the wire to the city editor.

"This will make a fine lead for our Potter story," said Larry, as he
finished telling of the accident.

"I've got another plan," said Mr. Emberg.

"What is it?"

"Do you think anyone else knows who Retto is? I mean anyone on the
pier who saw him hurt?"

"I think not. Captain Tantrella might, but other reporters are not
likely to connect him with the case."

"Then this is what I'm going to do. I'll use the story of the
accident separate from the Potter story. We'll say an unidentified
man was run down on the pier. If he has a fractured skull he'll not
be able to tell who he is, and he has probably taken good care that
there are no papers in his clothes by which his name can be learned.

"If we state that the injured man is the mysterious Retto, who is
mixed up in the Potter case, we'll have every reporter in New York
camping out at that hospital waiting for a chance to get the
information from him. If we keep quiet we may be able to get it
ourselves without any of the others knowing it. We'll try that way,
Larry. It's a risk, but you've got to take risks in this business."

The young reporter admired the generalship of his city editor, who
could thus plan a magnificent beat. Larry saw the feasibility of the
plan. If he kept his information to himself no one would know but
what the injured man was a stranger in New York, and that he was
connected with the Potter case would be farthest from the thoughts
of any reporters who were working on the missing millionaire story.

"You must camp on his trail, Larry," Mr. Emberg went on. "As soon as
you hear from the hospital people that he is in shape to talk, get
in to see him. You can truthfully claim to be a friend and
acquaintance, for you once helped to save his life. If you get a
chance to talk to him, ask where Potter is, and let us know at once.
We'll get out an extra, if need be. Now hurry over to the hospital
and let us hear from you as soon as possible. Get a good story and a
beat."

"I only hope I can," murmured Larry, as he left the telephone booth
and started for the hospital to which Retto had been taken.

He had a slight acquaintance with the superintendent of the
institution, and when he explained his errand the official agreed to
let Larry in to see the man as soon as the nurses and surgeons had
finished dressing his injuries.

"How is he?" asked Larry.

The superintendent called over a private telephone connected with
the ward where Retto had been taken:

"How is the patient just brought in from the pier? Comfortable, eh?
That's good."

Then he turned to Larry:

"I guess you can go up soon," he added. "Can you give us his name,
and some particulars? He was unconscious when he came in," and the
superintendent prepared to jot down the information on his record
book.

This was a complication Larry had not foreseen. If he gave the
superintendent the fugitive's name, any other reporters who came to
the hospital to inquire about the injured man would at once connect
Retto with the Potter mystery, and the _Leader's_ chance for a beat
would be small indeed. What was he to do? He decided to take the
superintendent partly into his confidence.

"I know the name he goes by," he said, as the beginning of his
account, "but I do not believe it is his right one. I think it is an
alias he uses."

"Never mind then," the superintendent interrupted, much to Larry's
relief. "If it's a false name we don't want it."

"I believe it is," Larry added, and he was honest in that statement,
for he felt that Retto was playing some deep game, and, in that
case, would not be likely to use his right name.

"We don't want our records wrong," the head of the hospital resumed.
"We'll wait until he can tell us about himself."

The telephone bell rang at that juncture, and the superintendent
answering it told Larry the patient was now in bed and could be
seen.

"Don't get him excited," cautioned the official. "I want to get some
information from him about himself when you are through."

It is sometimes the custom in New York, in accident cases, to allow
reporters to interview the victims, when their physical condition
admits of it. So it was no new thing for Larry to go into the
hospital ward to speak to Retto. He passed through rows of white
cots, on which reclined men in all stages of disease and accident.
There was a sickish smell of iodoform in the atmosphere, and the
sight of the pale faces on either side made Larry sad at heart.

"There's your patient," said a nurse who was with him, as she led
Larry to the bed where Retto reclined under the white coverings
that matched the hue of his face. "Now don't excite him. You
newspaper men don't care what you do as long as you get a story, and
sometimes all the work we nurses do goes for nothing."

"I'll be careful," promised Larry.

The nurse, who had other duties to keep her busy, left Larry at the
bedside of the mysterious man. He was lying with his eyes shut as
Larry approached.

"Mr. Retto," called the reporter.

There was no response.

"Mr. Retto," spoke Larry, a little louder.

At that the man opened his eyes.

"Were you calling me?" he asked. Then he caught sight of Larry, and
a smile came on his face.

"Well, you've found me, I see," was his greeting. "Only for that
team I'd been far away."

"I suppose so. But now you're here, for which I'm sorry; I hope you
will answer me a few questions."

"What are they?" asked the man, and a spasm of pain replaced his
smile.

"I believe you know the secret of Mr. Potter's disappearance," said
Larry, speaking in a low tone so none of the other patients would
hear him. "I want you to tell me where he is."

At the mention of Mr. Potter's name Retto raised himself in bed. His
face that had been pale became flushed.

"He--he--is----" then he stopped. He seemed unable to speak.

"Yes--yes!" exclaimed Larry, eagerly. "Where is he?"

"He--is----"

Then Retto fell back on the bed.

"He has fainted!" cried the nurse, running to the cot. "The strain
has been too much for him," and she pressed an electric button which
summoned the doctor.



CHAPTER XXVI

A NEW CLUE


Larry moved to one side. The unexpected outcome of his interview had
startled him. He did not quite know what to do.

The doctor came up on the run and made a hasty examination of the
patient. Then he sent for another surgeon. Larry heard them talking.

"What is it?" he asked of his friend the nurse.

"His skull is fractured," she said in a low voice. "They did not
think so at first, but now the symptoms show it. They are going to
operate at once. It is the only chance of saving his life."

"There goes my story," thought Larry, regretfully.

It was not that he was hard-hearted or indifferent to Retto's
sufferings. Simply that his newspaper instinct got ahead of
everything else, as it does in all true reporters, who, if they have
a "nose for news," will make "copy" out of even their closest
friend, though they may dislike the operation very much.

"You had better go," the nurse advised Larry. "You will not be able
to see him again for some time--no one will be allowed to talk to
him until he is on the road to recovery--if we can save him. He has
a bad fracture."

Much disappointed, Larry left the hospital. It was hard to be almost
on the verge of getting the story and then to see his chance slip
away.

"I'm sure he was just going to tell me where Mr. Potter is," thought
the reporter. "Now it means a long wait, if I ever find out at all
from him."

He told Mr. Emberg what had happened. The city editor decided to
follow out his first plan, of not connecting the accident at the
pier with the Potter mystery.

"If he has to be operated on for a fractured skull," Mr. Emberg
remarked to Larry over the wire, "he will be in no condition to tell
his name, or give any information for some time. The story is safe
with him. Now you'd better get busy on some other line of the case.
The _Scorcher_ is out, but they only have a scare yarn, without any
foundation, to the effect that Mr. Potter is still in Italy, and
that his family knows where he is."

"That's all bosh!" exclaimed Larry.

"That's what I think," the city editor said. "Now get on the job,
Larry, and arrange to give us a good story for to-morrow. Keep watch
of Retto, and as soon as the doctors will let you see him try again,
though of course it may not be for several days."

Larry was all at sea. He hung up the telephone receiver with a
vague feeling that being a reporter on a special assignment was not
all it was cracked up to be.

"Easy enough to say get a good story for to-morrow," he remarked to
himself, "but I'd like to know how I'm going to do it? The
story--the only story there is--is safe with Retto, and he can't
tell it."

"What shall I do?" Larry asked himself. "Let me think. I guess I'd
better go see Captain Tantrella and ask him to keep mum about Retto
until I have another chance at the man. Then I'll--I'll go and tell
Grace. She'll want to know all about it."

He found Captain Tantrella at his hotel, having finished all the
details connected with the docking of the _Turtle_. The commander
readily agreed to keep quiet concerning Retto's identity, since the
captain had no desire for further newspaper notoriety.

"I will do more than this," he declared. "I will give you the
package belonging to that queer man. I have to sail again soon, on a
long voyage, and he might need it before I come back. You can give
it to him if he recovers. If he does not--well, the authorities can
open it. It may contain money or something that will tell about the
poor fellow. I leave it with you."

Larry was glad to get possession of the package that seemed of such
importance to Retto. He wished he could open it, as he thought he
might get a clue to the connection between the millionaire and the
mysterious man, but he knew he would have no right to do that. Also
it would give him a sort of claim on Retto, and, by returning the
package, he could have a good excuse for going to see him.

"Now to tell Grace," remarked Larry, as he left Captain Tantrella.
"I'm sure she'll be anxious to hear the news."

The millionaire's daughter was indeed glad to see Larry. She had
read the first edition of the _Leader_, and wanted to know if there
was anything further to tell.

"I hoped to be able to give you some definite news," replied Larry,
in answer to her questions. Then he related the scene in the
hospital.

"Poor man!" exclaimed Grace. "I wish I could go and see him."

"I'm afraid they wouldn't let you," said the reporter. "I called up
the place just before I came here and they said the man was still
under the influence of ether, though the operation was over."

"Was it a success?"

"They think so, but it will be some time before he will be able to
talk to anyone about your father. We shall have to be patient."

"It is so hard," complained Grace, and Larry agreed with her. He did
not yet see how he was going to get a story for the next day's
paper--that is, a story which would have some fresh features in it.

"I don't suppose you have anything new to tell me?" he asked of
Grace.

"Not much. I have had another letter from my father. It came a
little while ago."

"Is it the same as the others?"

"The contents are, but the envelope is different. He says he will
soon be home, and tells us not to worry."

She gave the missive to Larry. He looked at the post-mark, and saw
that it had come from a downtown sub-station.

"This was mailed near the steamer pier!" he exclaimed. "Close to
where Retto was hurt. He must have posted it just previous to the
accident. I wish I had known this before."

It was too late now, and Larry gazed regretfully at the envelope.
Clearly, Retto had not been far from Mr. Potter at the time of the
accident. Perhaps the missing millionaire was hiding downtown in New
York.

"I must make some inquiries in that neighborhood," thought Larry, as
he arose to go.

"Another thing," Grace said. "That man Sullivan was in front of the
house again this morning."

"I must see him!" exclaimed Larry. "I'll make him tell what his
object is. This thing has got to end!"

He was fiercely determined that he would force some information
from the politician. Evidently Sullivan had a game on hand which the
reporter had not yet succeeded in fathoming. "I'll hunt him up at
once!" he added, as he bade Grace good-bye.

"Be careful," she cautioned. "He is a dangerous man."

"I will," Larry promised.

But he could not find Sullivan. For once that wily politician denied
himself to reporters, and kept out of their way. He was sought by a
number of newspaper men, for the matter of a candidate for the
eighth assembly district was again to the fore, and the henchmen of
Kilburn and Reilly were making rival claims as to Sullivan's
support.

"Where is Sullivan?" was the cry that went up, and in the next two
days that became almost as much of a mystery as the disappearance of
Mr. Potter.

"Get busy, Larry," advised Mr. Emberg, and Larry did his best to
follow the advice.

Three weeks passed, and Sullivan was not found. His family professed
not to know where he was, and the best newspaper men in New York
could not find him. Larry was working on the case with all the
energy he had thrown into the Potter disappearance.

Meanwhile the young reporter kept a close watch on the hospital
where Retto was. The operation had been a success, but the patient
was in a fever, during which he was out of his mind. He could not
recognize anyone, much less talk intelligibly. Larry made several
calls at the institution, but it was of no use.

"You can't see him," said the nurse, when he had paid his usual
visit one day, "but he is much better. I think by the day after
to-morrow you can talk to him. His fever is going down and he has
spells when he talks rationally. There was another man in to see him
to-day."

"I thought you said no one could visit him."

"Well, we made an exception in this case. The man was a private
detective, searching for a missing man, and he wanted to see all the
patients. He looked at your friend last, and went off, seemingly
quite excited."

"What missing man was he looking for?" asked Larry.

"A Mr. Potter. Seems to me I've read something about him in the
papers. He's very rich."

"Mr. Potter!" exclaimed Larry. "The detective must be from the
private agency," he added to himself. Then aloud: "Did he recognize
Mr. Ret--er I mean the man with the fractured skull?" and he waited
anxiously for the nurse's answer.

"He seemed to, but I was called away just then."

"I know how Mr. Potter looks," Larry went on. "He has a moustache,
and the man here is smooth-shaven."

"No, the patient has a moustache and a beard now," the nurse
replied with a smile. "They grew since he has been in the hospital."

A sudden idea came to Larry. An idea so strange that it startled
him. He dared not speak of it. He believed the detective held the
same theory.

"I'll call again," he said, thanking the nurse for the information
she had given him. "I must see Grace at once," he murmured, as he
left the hospital. "Strange I never thought of that. A beard and a
moustache! The private detective! I wonder if he recognized Retto? I
must hurry. Oh, if this should prove true!"

He hurried to an elevated station and was soon on his way to Grace's
house.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE DETECTIVE'S THEORY


Bounding up the steps three at a time Larry rang the bell of the
Potter residence. He thought the door would never be opened, and,
when the stately butler did swing back the portal the young
reporter, not waiting to ask for anyone, stepped into the hall.

"No one at home," the servant remarked with a smile, for he had
gotten to be on quite friendly terms with Larry.

"No one home?"

"No. Mrs. Potter and Miss Grace have gone to Lakewood, N.J., for a
few days. Mrs. Potter was quite ill, and the doctor advised a change
of air, so she suddenly decided to go."

"When are they coming back?"

"I can't rightly say. In a few days, I expect. I was told to tell
you that if anything important occurred you could write to them.
Here is the address," and the butler gave Larry a slip of paper.

"I wonder whether I ought to telegraph?" thought Larry to himself.
"I think this is very important, yet I am not sure enough of it
myself. I can't see Retto until the day after to-morrow. I had
better wait until then. If my suspicions are confirmed I will send a
message, in case they are not back by that time."

Larry was about to leave the house when he saw a man coming up the
front steps. He recognized him as a member of the private detective
agency which he and Grace had visited.

"Is Mrs. Potter home?" asked the man of the butler, who was standing
in the opened front door, while Larry remained in the shadow of the
hall.

"No, she has gone to Lakewood."

"Lakewood! That's too bad!" exclaimed the man.

"Is it anything important?" inquired the butler.

"I think I have located Mr. Potter," was the answer. "I am a private
detective, hired by Miss Grace Potter. I came to see if she or her
mother would accompany me to try to identify a man I believe is the
missing millionaire."

"Where is he?" asked the butler.

"In a hospital, quite badly hurt."

"Mr. Potter in a hospital! Badly hurt!" cried the servant in alarm.
"What shall I do? Can't they bring him home?"

"We must be sure it is him," the detective went on. "The description
answers pretty well, but it would take a member of the family to
make sure. So there's no one home, eh? Well, that's too bad. I
wanted to test my theory that the hospital patient is the missing
millionaire."

"You can telegraph to them," suggested the butler. "I have the
address."

"That's what I'll do," the detective replied. "I'll tell them what I
have discovered. They can get here to-morrow and we'll see if he's
the right man."

The officer took the address the servant gave him and hurried away.

"Did you hear that?" cried the butler to Larry. "Mr. Potter is
found!"

"I hope it proves true," the reporter replied. "That is just what I
came about, but when I found Mrs. Potter gone I didn't know what to
do. I had rather the detective would take the responsibility of
telegraphing. Perhaps the man in the hospital is not Mr. Potter?"

"Do you know him?" asked the butler.

"I have met him several times," replied Larry, "but I did not know
he was Mr. Potter. It just dawned on me that he might be."

"Well, well, how strange it all is," murmured the butler. "Who would
have thought it? Well, we can't do anything until to-morrow."

"No, I guess not," answered Larry, as he went down the steps.

His mind was in a tumult. More and more he was coming to believe
that the mysterious man in the hospital was the missing millionaire.

"That's what he meant when he said I was following him too close,"
mused Larry. "And I never suspected it! How glad Grace will be! What
a story I shall have! I wish I had discovered him myself, without
any help from the detective agency, but it will make good reading,
anyhow. I must arrange it so we can get a scoop out of it."

His first act was to go to the office of the paper and tell Mr.
Emberg what had occurred. The city editor was much excited by the
news.

"That will make a great yarn!" he exclaimed. "I hope your friend
Grace soon comes back with her mother and makes the identification
complete. We must do nothing to hasten matters or some other paper
will get on to the game and spoil our story."

"Even the hospital people don't suspect yet," said Larry. "They
don't know who their patient is--not even his assumed name."

"I guess things are coming our way. We'll clear up the Potter
mystery and the Sullivan disappearance at the same time. I believe
Sullivan is in with Mr. Potter on some deal. It begins to look
suspicious. The friends of Reilly and Kilburn are all at sea. They'd
give a thousand dollars to know which way Sullivan was going to
jump."

Larry paid an early visit to the hospital the next day to see how
matters were progressing. His friend, the nurse, greeted him with a
smile.

"I guess you can have an interview with your mysterious
acquaintance now," she said. "He is much better than we expected,
and, for the first time since the operation, talks rationally. We
have not questioned him yet. We are not as curious as you newspaper
men are."

"Well, we have to be," responded Larry. "Can I go up now? Has the
man who was here yesterday been back?"

"Yes to your first question, and no to the second. You can go up.
The superintendent left word to that effect. He is quite friendly to
you."

Larry started for the ward where Retto was. His heart was beating
strangely. He felt that he was on the verge of solving the secret of
the millionaire's disappearance and restoring to Grace her father.

As he approached the bed where Retto reclined he was motioned back
by another nurse on duty there.

"He has just fallen asleep," she said. "When he awakens again you
may speak to him. He has been writing a letter."

Larry was disappointed. He looked at the man who had played such an
important part in the disappearance of the millionaire, and who, he
believed, was destined to assume a much more important rôle. The
patient's beard and moustache had grown since the accident, and the
smooth-shaven man was no more. Instead, Larry saw before him a
person who, as he recalled the photographs of Mr. Potter, bore a
remarkable resemblance to the millionaire.

Of course, Mr. Potter had only a moustache and no beard, but aside
from that Larry was positive that, lying on the bed in front of him,
was Grace's father.



CHAPTER XXVIII

A TERRIBLE MISTAKE


How Larry wished the patient would awaken so he could question him!
But the invalid showed no signs of it, and was in a deep slumber.

"That will do him more good than medicine," said the nurse. "He will
probably sleep for several hours."

"Several hours," repeated Larry in dismay.

"Yes, they often do."

"Then there is no use in me waiting," he said. "I'll come back
again. When I do I may bring his daughter with me."

"I hope you do," the nurse replied. "I have felt so sorry for the
poor man. He seemed to have no friends ever since he has been here.
Who is he?"

"I don't want to say for sure, until I get his daughter to identify
him," Larry said, for he did not want the story to get out before
the _Leader_ had a chance to print it.

He decided he would go to the Potter house and see if Grace had
returned yet in response to the telegram sent by the detective. He
felt sure she would start immediately on receipt of the message.

In this he was correct, for when he got to the millionaire's home
Grace herself answered his ring.

"Oh, Larry! Tell me quick!" she exclaimed. "Where is he? Is he badly
hurt? What is the matter? Do you think it is really he?"

"I hope so," Larry said. "Where is your mother?"

"She stayed in Lakewood. I didn't tell her anything about it, for
fear it would prove a disappointment. The telegram from the
detective came to me and I made up my mind to come home alone and
clear matters up before I told mother. She needs a rest, as she is
very nervous.

"But now I am here, you must take me to the hospital at once. The
telegram said he was in a hospital. How did it happen? Is he badly
hurt?"

"I think he is almost well."

"But how did they discover him? Who did it? How did it come about?"

"It will take some time to answer all the questions," replied Larry
with a smile. "I'll tell you all I can on the way to the hospital.
My mysterious friend, Mah Retto, it seems, has turned out to be your
father."

"Then he was the one I saw in front of the house that night, and I
thought it was father," said Grace. "His smooth-shaven face deceived
me, but I was sure I could not mistake his figure."

"There have been a good many surprises in this case," Larry
admitted. "I've often been fooled myself."

"Let's hurry to the hospital," suggested Grace. "I'd rather go with
you than with that detective. He is to be here at eleven o'clock,
and it's only ten now. Let's hurry away."

Larry agreed, and they left the house. Grace explained that she had
caught the first express out of Lakewood that morning and had been
home only half an hour when Larry called.

They were so busy talking over all the details of the queer case
that they arrived at the hospital much quicker than they
anticipated.

"Here we are," said Larry, as he led the way up the broad stone
steps of the institution.

"I'm almost afraid to go in," remarked Grace, her voice showing a
nervous dread. "It seems so strange. I'm quite frightened, Larry."

"Don't think of anything but that you're going to see your father,"
the reporter replied, reassuringly. "He'll be so glad to see you. I
believe he would have been home long before this if it had not been
for the accident."

Larry entered the office of the institution. No sooner had he
stepped inside than he was made aware that something unusual had
occurred. Nurses and doctors, with anxious looks, were hastening
here and there. Orderlies and messengers were hurrying to and fro,
and there was a continuous ringing of signal and telephone bells.

"Must have been an accident and a lot of patients bought in," said
Larry, for he had seen such activity in hospitals before when a
number of injured persons required treatment at once.

"Oh, how terrible!" exclaimed Grace. "Do you suppose many are
killed?"

"I hope not. But it looks as if something very unusual had
happened."

Just then Larry saw the nurse who had been at the bedside of the
patient whom he and Grace had come to see.

"I've brought his daughter," he said to the uniformed attendant.
"May we go up now?"

The nurse seemed confused.

"I don't know--I'll see!" she remarked. "Here is the superintendent.
Perhaps you had better speak to him," and she whispered something to
the official.

"There's something wrong about Mr. Potter!" was Larry's first
thought. "I wonder if he could have suddenly died?"

Even Grace, unaccustomed as she was to hospital scenes, was aware
that all was not as it should be.

"Oh, Larry!" she exclaimed. "What is the matter? Have they taken him
away?"

"I don't know," the reporter answered in a low tone. "I'll soon find
out."

The superintendent approached them.

"You wanted to see that patient who was brought in from the
steamship pier?" he inquired. "We've never been able to obtain his
name."

"I can tell you what it is," answered Larry. "We have every reason
to believe he is Hamden Potter, the missing millionaire, and this
young lady's father. May we see him?"

"Hamden Potter!" exclaimed the superintendent.

"That's who he is," declared Larry. "He went by the name Mah Retto
while he was away. May we go up now?"

"I am sorry," said the superintendent slowly, "but that patient
escaped from the ward about half an hour ago, and we have not been
able to trace him!"

"Escaped!" cried Larry.

"My father gone again!" gasped Grace.

"Too bad, but that's what has happened," the superintendent
repeated. "The nurse left him sleeping quietly, and went downstairs
to get some medicine. When she came back he was gone."

"But how could he go out without any clothing?" asked Larry.

"He got some clothing," the head of the institution replied. "In the
bed next to him was a patient who was to be discharged as cured
to-day. That man's clothes were brought to him and laid out on a
chair beside the bed. While he was in the bathroom Mr. Potter, as
you call him, got possession of the clothes, put them on, and
walked out. Several patients saw him go, but said nothing, as they
thought it was all right. When the nurse got back she missed your
friend and gave the alarm."

"Can't you tell in what direction he went?" asked Larry.

"So far we have been unsuccessful. We have made inquiries outside,
but so many persons are passing in the street that it has been
impossible to trace him."

"Was he able to walk very far?" the reporter asked.

"He was strong; much stronger than the usual run of patients who are
recovering from such a wound as he had. He must have been more fully
recovered than we thought. He had written a letter, the nurse tells
me, and this is also gone. Probably he was temporarily out of his
mind, and went out to mail the missive. It is a strange occurrence."

"My poor father!" exclaimed Grace. "I thought I had found him, and
now he is missing again."

Larry did not know what to do. It was a curious state of affairs. He
had been so sure of uniting Mr. Potter and Grace, but now all his
plans had come to nothing. Then, too, there was the paper to be
considered. Mr. Emberg would expect him to send in the story of the
mysterious disappearance of the hospital patient. Yet Larry did not
like to leave Grace while he went to telephone. He was in a curious
predicament.

"We will send out a general alarm if we do not find him soon," the
superintendent went on. "Occasionally delirious patients wander from
the wards while the nurses are temporarily absent, but they are
always found hiding in some part of the hospital. We have not yet
completed the search. Only once in a great while do they get outside
the institution. Yet Mr. Potter may have."

"Then we may never find him again," spoke Grace.

"Don't worry," Larry advised, as cheerfully as he could. "He'll come
back."

"I'll never see him again!" and Grace was on the verge of tears.
"Oh, this is terrible!"

Just then there was heard a confusion of sounds in the corridor
outside of the superintendent's office. The latter went to the door,
and through the opened portal Grace and Larry heard some one
exclaim:

"He's come back!"

"Maybe that's him!" cried the reporter.

The superintendent returned to his office.

"I have a pleasant surprise for you," he exclaimed. "The patient has
come back. He says he went out to a telephone."

"Is he--is he all right?" asked Grace.

"Better than ever. The little trip seemed to do him good. Here he
is."

He threw open the door he had closed. There, standing in the
corridor, was the man Larry had known as Mah Retto--the man he
believed was Mr. Potter. The patient was smiling at the reporter.

"There is your father, Grace," said Larry.

The girl gave one look at the man confronting her. She seemed to
sway forward, and became deathly pale----

"That is not my father!" she cried, as she fell in a faint.



CHAPTER XXIX

IN HIS ENEMIES' POWER


"Quick! Catch her!" cried the hospital superintendent, springing
forward, but it was Larry who put out his arms and kept Grace from
falling to the floor.

"Here, nurse," called one of several physicians who had gathered in
the corridor when the news spread that the missing patient had
returned. "Look after her, please. Carry her into the receiving
room."

"Who is she?" asked the patient, who had caused such a stir, and to
whom no one seemed to be paying any attention in the excitement
caused by Grace's swoon. The man had not caught a good look at the
girl.

"She is Grace Potter," replied Larry, glancing curiously at Mah
Retto.

"Grace Potter? Hamden Potter's daughter?" The man seemed greatly
excited.

"Yes. She came here expecting, as I did, to meet her father. I
thought you were Mr. Potter. She says you are not."

"No, I am not," replied the man.

"Then who are you? Where is her father? You know! I am sure of it!"
Larry was upset over the mistake he and the detective had made.

"I did know where Mr. Potter was," and as he made that answer Retto
gave every evidence of being under a great strain. His hands shook
with more than the weakness of his illness. He was paler than the
white hue caused by his confinement in the hospital.

"Why? Have you lost track of him?"

"I am afraid so. Listen, young man, perhaps you can help me. Let us
get to some place where we can talk. I have strange news for you."

"Then you know me?" and the young reporter looked somewhat
surprised.

"I couldn't very well help it, with the way you have kept after me
lately. But we have no time to lose. Something most unexpected has
happened. Mr. Potter is in the hands of his enemies!"

"Then he is found?"

"Yes, in a way, but he might better be lost!"

"What do you mean?"

"Come in here and I will tell you."

Retto led the way to a small room off the main corridor.

"What does this mean?" asked the hospital superintendent.

"I will explain later," replied Retto. "Just now it is very
necessary that I have a talk with this young man."

The superintendent turned away and Retto closed the door. He sat
down in a chair, and Larry could see that he was trembling from
weakness.

"I must talk quickly," he said, "for I am still very ill. I made a
desperate effort to go out in order to get in communication with Mr.
Potter. I mailed him a letter and then called him up on the
telephone----"

"Then you know where he was!" burst out Larry.

"I did, but I do not now. Listen, and don't ask too many questions
yet. All will soon be explained, if it is not too late. I am Mr.
Potter's friend. He took me into his confidence when he found it
necessary, for very strong reasons, to disappear. I agreed to help
him and do exactly as he wanted me to. He has been hiding across the
Hudson River, outside of the legal jurisdiction of New York State. I
was in touch with him by telephone and otherwise up to the time of
my accident on the pier. Since then, of course, I have not been able
to hold any communication with him. As soon as I had the chance,
which came for the first time to-day, I got out and called him on
the telephone. I was told by the man, with whom he had been staying,
that, about an hour ago, some men came and took him away."

"Some men took him away?"

"Yes. Men whom I recognized, by the description, as his enemies--as
men who have an interest in getting Mr. Potter into their power. He
has been trying all this while to keep out of their way. Now they
have him!"

"But what's to be done?" asked the young reporter.

"I don't know," replied Retto, hopelessly. "Everything was going on
all right until those horses knocked me down."

Larry was conscious of a strange sensation. It was partly due to his
impetuosity he felt that Retto had been injured. Larry partly blamed
himself for Mr. Potter's present plight, since through the
reporter's instrumentality the millionaire's friend had not been
able to keep in touch with him.

"I'll find him!" exclaimed Larry. "Tell me what to do! I'll trace
him!"

"If I was only stronger!" said Retto. "I'm so weak that I couldn't
walk another block. I'd like to get after those scoundrels who have
Mr. Potter!"

"I'll get after them!" cried the youthful newspaper man, thinking
more of Grace just then than he did of his assignment. "Tell me
where to go!"

"I can only tell you where Mr. Potter was hiding," went on Retto.
"That was in a little house just outside of Jersey City. The men
must have gone there after him. Possibly you can trace them from the
house."

"Tell me how to get to the place!"

Retto gave the necessary instructions.

"I'm going over there!" exclaimed the young reporter.

"What are you going to do with Grace?"

"That's so! I forgot about her. I'll take her along!" and Larry
sprang to his feet in his enthusiasm and started for the door.

"Can she stand the trip?"

"She's a brave girl! She'll be glad to go!"

"Then you'd better hurry. Every minute is precious. Great things
hang on this. If Mr. Potter's enemies force him to do certain
things, which he has been trying to avoid doing, the consequences
will be very bad for many persons. Hurry, Dexter!"

"I'll start at once. I wonder if Grace is better?"

The young reporter and Retto left the small room. Larry soon found
that Grace had recovered from her swoon. Rapidly he told her of what
he proposed doing. With her he would go to Jersey City and try to
trace the missing millionaire.

"And we'll find him!" he added, with vigor.

He went downstairs to telephone to Mr. Emberg of the new and
unexpected turn the case had taken.

"Keep right after it, Larry!" said the city editor. "Find Mr. Potter
and get the story!"

As the _Leader_ reporter turned to go upstairs he saw, entering the
hospital, a young man whom he recognized as Hans Fritsch, the German
newspaper man he had met at the lonely tenement.

"What are you doing here?" asked Larry, noting that his friend was
attired in an automobile suit.

"I comes to see how gets along a friend of mine. He is here sick. I
have a day off from mine work and I comes in my new automobile.
After dot I goes me for a nice ride. Come along!"

"Where are you going?" asked Larry, a sudden idea coming into his
head.

"Ofer by New Jersey. Dere is goot automobiling roads."

"Are you going to Jersey City?"

"Sure. I goes by dot on der ferry. Den I skips out by der Plank
Roat, und maybe I goes me out to der Oranges Mountains. I am just
learning to run my car goot!"

"I'll go with you!" cried Larry. "Have you room in your car for
two?"

"Surely! For four, if you likes to bring 'em. My mother, who is in
Germany, und quite vell off, send me der car for a birthday present,
odervise I should not haff him. Reporters here do not get monies
enough to buy automobiles!"

"I'll be with you in five minutes!" exclaimed Larry, hurrying off to
tell Grace.

"I am ready as soon as I see how my sick friend is," declared the
German reporter. "Den we go quick like de wind, und haff a goot
time!"

"Yes, and maybe a hot pursuit!" said Larry under his breath, for he
had determined on a bold plan. He would, in Fritsch's auto, give
chase to the captors of Mr. Potter.



CHAPTER XXX

MR. POTTER IS FOUND--CONCLUSION


There was a throbbing of the motor, a grinding and shrieking as the
clutch was thrown in, a trembling to the car as Fritsch advanced the
spark and opened the gasolene throttle still wider and the
automobile, bearing the German reporter, Larry and Grace, was off.

"Here are some goggles!" said Fritsch, handing back two pairs to his
passengers. "You vill need dem when ve goes like de wind. If I had
known I was to haff a lady I would get a dust coat."

"It doesn't matter," replied Grace, her eyes shining with the
excitement. "I want to find my father."

"Your father?"

Then Larry explained. He could safely do so since the German paper
did not come out until the morning of the next day, and Fritsch
could not "beat" him.

Faster speeded the auto. They went over the Hudson River on a ferry
boat, and, as soon as Jersey City was reached, the car was sent
along as fast as the law allowed.

"I wonder if I can get on their trail?" thought Larry, as he
watched the houses skim by, and held himself in his seat, beside
Grace, to avoid the jouncing and swaying caused by the uneven
streets.

"Do you think ve vill haff a race?" asked the German, as they neared
the house where Mr. Potter had been hiding.

"Maybe. I hope so, anyhow."

"I don't."

"Why? Don't you want to help find Mr. Potter?"

"Yes, but I am of nervousness yet in my new car. I haff never raced,
und I might do some damage."

"Let me run her," suggested Larry. "I've had some experience with
autos, and I guess I can manage yours. I ran one like this several
times when I was out with Mr. Emberg."

"Den take der vheel," went on Fritsch. "I comes back wid Miss Potter
und you can race."

"Oh, Larry! Can you do it?" and Grace looked a little alarmed.

"Of course I can," and the young reporter spoke confidently.

The car was stopped and the change made. Larry soon found he could
manage the various levers all right, and that the car responded
readily to his guiding hand.

"This must be the place," he said, after they had ridden for half an
hour at as high speed as they dared, considering the fact that
there were policemen on every other block.

He stopped the car in front of a house that seemed to be
uninhabited. It answered the description Retto had given, and Larry
knocked on the door. After several minutes the portal opened a
crack, showing that it was held by a chain.

"Is Mr. Potter here?" asked Larry, though he knew the missing
millionaire was not. The man who had opened the door looked
suspiciously at the inquirer. "It's all right," the young reporter
went on. "I come from Mr. Retto. I want to aid Mr. Potter."

"You're too late," was the answer. "They've got him into their
clutches. They'll work their game before he knows that everything is
all right, and that it is safe for him to show himself. If they had
only waited half an hour all would have been well. I just got
another telephone message from Retto, saying that all matters were
satisfactorily adjusted, and that there was no further need for Mr.
Potter to hide. But he doesn't know this. I have no way of telling
him, and he'll sign the papers before those men will let him go."

"Tell me in which direction they went and I'll go after them!" cried
Larry. "They can't have gone far, and we can overtake them in the
auto!"

"They have a car, too," replied the man. "A fast one. They managed,
by a trick, to get Mr. Potter into it. If I could only get word to
him he could laugh at their efforts! If I could only send him a
message!"

"What is the message?" asked Larry.

"It is this. 'The money is safe!'"

"Is that all?"

"That's all, but how can you get it to him?"

"Didn't you hear anything that might give you a clue to where the
men were going?"

"Somewhere out toward the Orange Mountains. That's all I know. They
are going to the home of some lawyer or judge, I believe. There is
some legal matter involved."

"Then that's where we'll go!" decided the young reporter, as he
hurried back to the auto and told Grace and Fritsch what he had
heard.

"On to de mountains!" cried the German reporter. "My car is yours!
It will climb de biggest hills on der high gear, und ve will catch
de scoundrels!"

Once more they were off. They took the Plank Road to Newark, and, on
inquiring in the latter city, learned that a car, answering the
description of the one Mr. Potter had been taken off in, had passed
about half an hour before.

"That's not so bad!" exclaimed Larry. "We can catch 'em, I guess!"

"I hope so!" murmured Grace.

"If my car doesn't beat de oder one I gives up riding," remarked
Fritsch, with proper pride in his machine.

They passed through Newark, and were soon on the road leading to
Orange, at the foot of the mountains. The highway was conducive to
speed, and Larry "let her out several notches," as he expressed it,
at the same time keeping watch for policemen on motorcycles, who
were alert to nab the unwary auto speeders.

Every time they saw a car in front of them they were anxious until
they saw it was not the one they wanted. They passed a number of
machines, and when Orange was reached they had not been successful.

"Now for a mountain climb!" exclaimed Larry, as he slowed down the
engine to give the water a chance to cool off before attempting the
ascent. "Will it do Eagle Rock hill, Fritsch?"

"I think so," replied the German. "I never tried it, but de circular
says it vill do it."

Eagle Rock hill is known far and wide as one of the steepest ascents
up which an automobile can be sent. Many cars have to take it on the
low gear, or go as slowly as possible. Even then it is a strain.

"Suppose we should overtake them there?" suggested Grace.

"Ve'd catch 'em!" exclaimed the German, with a confidence born of
admiration for his car.

On and on they chugged. At the foot of the long, steep slope Larry
set the levers on second gear, as he did not want to take any
chances with the auto. Up and up they went, their eyes strained
through the dust for the sight of a green car, for that was the
color of the machine in which rode the men who had taken Mr. Potter
away.

"Hark!" exclaimed Grace, suddenly. "It sounds like an auto just
ahead of us!"

"It is," declared Larry, whose quick ear had caught the chug-chug of
a motor.

An instant later they had rounded a turn. There, in front of them,
climbing the steep hill, was a green car. In it could be seen four
men.

"That's them!" cried Larry.

"Open her up! Throw in the high gear!" yelled Fritsch, who was now
as enthusiastic and as interested in the chase as were either of his
companions. "Let her rip!"

"Will she stand it?" asked Larry, shouting the words over his
shoulder to Grace and Fritsch in the tonneau.

"Sure!"

There was a grinding noise as Larry threw in the high-speed gear.
The auto hung back for an instant because of the sudden change. The
motor seemed to groan at the unexpected load thrown on it. Then,
like a gallant horse responding to the call of its rider, the car
leaped ahead.

"Hurrah!" cried Larry. "She'll do it! We'll catch 'em!"

The distance between the two cars was lessening. Those in the green
machine seemed unaware of the approach of their pursuers.

"Can you see your father?" asked the German of Grace.

"I'm not sure. It looks like him!"

She stood up in the tonneau, holding to the back of the seat in
front of her to steady herself against the swaying of the car.

Just then Larry blew a blast on the horn. As the deep tone responded
to his pressure on the big rubber bulb the men in the green machine
looked back. At the sight of one of the faces Grace cried.

"It's father! It's father!"

Above the noise made by the two autos the millionaire heard his
daughter's voice. He stood up and, leaning over the back of the
seat, waved his hand to her. Then one of the men sitting beside him
forcibly drew the millionaire down.

"Oh! We must get to him!" cried Grace. "They may do him some harm!
Hurry, Larry!"

"Shove her over a few more notches!" cried Fritsch. "She'll take
more gasolene!"

Larry obeyed the instructions of the German reporter. The car seemed
to feel new life and leaped ahead. The distance from the other car
was steadily growing less. Fritsch's confidence in his machine was
not misplaced. But the men in the green car were making efforts to
escape. The chauffeur had advanced his spark, and the car was taking
the steep grade almost as well as was that of the pursuers.

"Can't we catch them?" cried Grace, in an agony of doubt and fear.

Larry narrowly watched the green car. He saw that in spite of the
efforts of the driver it was losing speed.

"We'll do it," he said, quietly.

Then Larry tried a trick which had come into his mind almost at the
last moment. Keeping his car going as fast as possible he steered it
so as to pass the other auto. He knew he had speed enough to do it,
and realized that he must act quickly, as they were almost at the
summit of the hill.

Closer and closer the two cars came together, that driven by the
young reporter gaining. Now the front wheels overlapped the rear
ones of the green machine--now they were at the side door of the
tonneau--now the two tonneaus were even! This was what Larry wanted.

Slowing down his engine the least bit, so as to keep in pace with
the other machine and not pass it, he called across to Mr. Potter,
as the two autos raced side by side:

"Mr. Potter, I bring you a message from your friends!"

"What is it?"

"It is this! 'The money is safe!'"

"Good!" cried the millionaire. "Now I don't care what these
scoundrels do!"

"Father! Father!" cried Grace.

"Stop that machine!" yelled Larry to the chauffeur of the green
car.

"You can't make me!" retorted the man.

"Jump into our car!" cried Fritsch to Mr. Potter. "You can do it!"

The two machines were close together, and so evenly were they
running that they seemed to be standing still, side by side. The
millionaire arose and endeavored to get out of the tonneau, and into
that of the auto in which sat his daughter.

"No, you don't!" exclaimed one of the men beside him, and he took
hold of Mr. Potter.

"Let me go!" called the rich man. "I'm not afraid of you now.
There's no longer any reason for me to remain in hiding!"

"You can't go until you sign those papers!" cried another of the
men.

"Stop that car!" shouted Larry again.

"Let's see you make me!" was the impudent retort of the man at the
wheel.

"I'll make you!" declared the young reporter.

He gave a quick motion to the steering wheel. Then he shoved the
levers over, and pressed down the pedal that cut out the muffler and
slightly relieved the strain on the motor. Fritsch's car shot ahead.
Larry steered it directly in front of the green machine, and kept
just far enough in advance to avoid a collision.

"Get out of the way!" shouted the driver of the emerald car.

"Now I guess you'll stop!" retorted the young reporter.

The road suddenly narrowed. Larry gradually slowed up his car. There
was no room to pass, and the other machine had to slacken up also.

Larry suddenly shut off his power and put on the brakes. His machine
came to a gradual stop. There was a bump behind and the other had
collided with it, but not enough to cause any damage.

"There! I guess you'll stop now!" exclaimed Larry, as he leaped from
his seat and hurried back to the green car.

But the men did not await his coming. With a shout to his companions
the chauffeur of the rear auto leaped out. The others followed his
example, leaving Mr. Potter alone in the automobile.

"Father! Father!" cried Grace.

"Is this really you, Mr. Potter?" asked the reporter, hardly able to
believe that he had found the missing millionaire.

"That's who I am!" exclaimed the man whom Larry had sought so long.
Mr. Potter entered the other machine and clasped Grace into his
arms. "I'm back from my enforced exile," he went on. "Now you can
send the story to your paper."

"I must get to a telephone!" cried Larry, his newspaper instincts to
the fore again, now that he had successfully covered his special
assignment.

"Get back into my car," suggested Fritsch. "Dere is a telephone at
de top of der hill. I'll drive you now so long as de race is ofer!"

"And we won!" cried Grace. "Oh, father! How glad I am to have you
back!"

"How glad I am to get back!" replied Mr. Potter.

Larry sat beside the German reporter, who took his place at the
steering wheel. The other car was left where the men had abandoned
it. They had disappeared into the woods on either side of the road,
and never troubled Mr. Potter again.

"Why did you disappear, Mr. Potter?" asked Larry, who had to have
some facts to telephone in, as it was near first edition-time.

"It's a long story to tell, young man," replied the millionaire,
"and quite complicated. Briefly, I had to disappear in order to save
a number of widows and orphans from losing what little money they
depended on for a living. As you have probably guessed, I am
interested in many financial matters. One was the building of an
extension of the subway. Hundreds of widows, and guardians of
orphans, had bought stock in this enterprise, as it was sold by
popular subscription.

"While abroad I learned there was a scheme on foot to involve me in
certain legal difficulties, and it might even cause my arrest in
order to get me to do certain things that would force the price of
the subway stock down, and so bankrupt many innocent persons. To
prevent this I determined to disappear, without even the knowledge
of my family. How I managed it I will tell you later. Matters were
going along all right until Retto, whose real name, you might as
well know, is Simonson, suddenly disappeared. I did not know what to
do, nor how matters, with which I had entrusted him, were
progressing. But it wasn't his fault. I wonder what happened to
him?"

Larry explained about Mr. Simonson's accident, of which Mr. Potter
was ignorant.

"When these men, my enemies, unexpectedly appeared to-day at the
house where I had been hiding ever since I disappeared, asked me to
appear in a New Jersey court, I had to go with them," went on Mr.
Potter. "It was in the nature of an arrest, and I did not dare
disobey. They wanted to take me before a Supreme Court Justice in
his home on the mountain and make me sign certain papers.

"But you came along in the nick of time. When you gave me that
message to the effect that the money was all right, I knew that the
affairs of the subway had been so arranged that the stock would not
go down and the widows and orphans would not suffer. I was willing
then to appear in court, as the schemes of the scoundrels, who had
practically kidnapped me, could amount to nothing. But it seems
they didn't wait to see what the outcome would be. I'm much obliged
to you, Larry."

"So am I," added Grace, with a smile.

"I'd do it all over again for the sake of getting such a good
story--and--er--of course, finding you and helping your daughter,"
Larry finished. "Now to telephone this in."

Mr. Emberg could hardly believe the news that Larry fairly shouted
over the wire.

"Found him, you say! Good for you, Larry. It'll be a great beat!
Wait a minute! I'll let Harvey take the story. Talk fast. Give us
enough for the first edition, and then, for the second, get the
whole story from Mr. Potter. This is a corker!"

What a scene there was in the _Leader_ office then! Mr. Newton
grabbed up paper and pencil and rushed to the telephone booth to
which Larry's wire had been switched so that the story could be
taken with fewer interruptions. Page after page of notes did Mr.
Newton scribble down, as Larry dictated the dramatic finding of the
missing millionaire during the automobile chase.

"That'll do, Larry!" cried Mr. Newton, when he had the first half of
the story. "I'll get one of the other boys to take the rest while I
grind this out on the machine."

So the young reporter dictated the remainder of the account to
another person in the _Leader_ office, while Mr. Newton was
pounding away on the typewriter at his section.

Thus it went on in relays. The first part of the story was in type
before Larry had finished his end of it. Then, as there was no more
time to get anything further in for the first edition, Larry went
back to where he had left Mr. Potter, Grace and Fritsch in the
automobile. Mr. Potter gave the young reporter some additional
particulars.

He explained that he had learned, while in Europe, of a mix-up in
New York politics that involved his company, which was building the
new subway line. Sullivan, Kilburn and Reilly were factors in the
game, and the control of the assembly district would go to whoever
could bring about the opening of the new subway route through it.

Mr. Potter repeated, more at detail, how there was likely to be a
big law-suit over the matter, which would tie up operations for a
year, and which would force down the price of the stock so that many
small investors would lose all they owned.

"I had promised Sullivan to do as he wanted, in case he supported
Reilly," Mr. Potter went on. "Later I found I could not do as I had
agreed without getting tangled up in the legal conflict. They wanted
to serve certain papers on me, and get me into the jurisdiction of
the law courts, so I decided, in order to protect those who were
unable to protect themselves, to disappear. I was aware that a
wrong construction might be placed on it, that it would subject me
to much criticism, that it would be hard and that it would cause
distress to my family and friends. But there was no other way in
which I could aid the helpless, so I decided to do it."

The millionaire explained how he had sailed from Italy under an
assumed name, after arranging there with his friend, Mr. Simonson,
to precede him to New York, do certain work, and keep him informed
of how matters went. Simonson took the name Mah Retto, which had a
foreign sound, and could be depended upon to deceive Mr. Potter's
enemies. Mr. Simonson was of dark complexion and looked like an East
Indian. The name was formed from some of the letters making up the
millionaire's name. Retto's handwriting was very similar to that of
Mr. Potter's, and easily passed for it, even under the scrutiny of
Grace and her mother. The man himself bore a remarkable resemblance
to the millionaire and nearly deceived Grace once.

Most unexpectedly, some of Mr. Potter's enemies got on the trail of
Retto, and he learned they would be waiting for him when he landed
in New York. He decided to elude them.

He was aboard the _Olivia_ when the ship struck on the bar, and
resolved to take a desperate chance and come ashore on a life-raft.
He did, and Larry and Bailey rescued him. Then followed his shaving
off of his moustache in the fisherman's hut to make a good disguise,
and Larry's subsequent chase after him. Once Larry had been close on
Mr. Potter's trail. The millionaire was in Retto's room the night
Larry called on the mysterious man in the Jackson tenement, and this
explained the reference in the letter to the young reporter being so
"close" after Mr. Potter.

Sullivan, it was explained, had an idea that Grace or her mother
knew where Mr. Potter was hiding, and was much disappointed because
the rich man could not carry out the original plan of political
action.

"I think Sullivan will show himself, now that he knows I have been
found," said Grace's father. "He has been looking for me on his own
responsibility, I understand. I have straightened matters out so
that he can support Reilly as he promised to do, Larry, in that
interview he gave you. I think that was all he wanted me to come
back for.

"Sullivan used to go up and watch my house," Mr. Potter went on. "He
thought I was there, I suppose. Retto also watched it, but for a
different purpose. I sent him up to catch glimpses of my wife and
daughter, to see if they were all right, as I did not dare venture
into that neighborhood for fear of being recognized. I had their
miniatures, however. The night I reached New York I went to the
house and got them. I remained in the suburbs of Jersey City most of
the time, as, until to-day, the scoundrels did not have matters so
arranged that they could legally serve papers on me in New Jersey.
They must have taken a last desperate chance this morning, but,
thanks to you, Larry, they were foiled."

In Fritsch's auto, after Larry had finished telephoning in the
story, the little party returned to New York. They took Mr.
Simonson, or Retto, from the hospital to Mr. Potter's house. There
he explained his part in aiding the millionaire. Larry gave him back
the papers he had secured from Captain Tantrella, and the curious
gold coin Mr. Simonson had lost from his watch chain in the
fisherman's hut.

Mr. Simonson told his employer how he had tried to run away from
Larry that day on the pier, as matters were then not yet ripe for a
disclosure, and how he had fallen under the horses' feet.

"When you came to see me in the hospital," he went on to Larry, "I
was about to send for Mr. Potter, for I felt I was in bad shape and
that the mystery might now come to an end. Then I became
unconscious, was delirious for three weeks, and the next I knew was
when the nurse told me this morning that the day after to-morrow you
were coming to see me. I decided I must communicate with Mr. Potter.
But when I called him up, I was startled when I was told by the man
in whose house he was hiding that his enemies had him."

"But Larry got me away from them," went on Mr. Potter, with a happy
laugh. "This ends the mystery of my disappearance."

"I must telegraph mother the good news," said Grace. "She is in
Lakewood. I had also better notify the private detective that he
need no longer work on the case."

"We'll go to Lakewood and surprise your mother," said her father. "I
need a rest after my hard work in keeping away from Larry Dexter.
I'll telephone the detective agency. I suppose the manager will be
disappointed that a newspaper man beat him," which was exactly how
the manager felt.

The young reporter, bidding Grace and her father good-bye, returned
to the office of the _Leader_, going down in Fritsch's auto.

"Well, you have given us some news!" exclaimed Mr. Emberg. "Look at
that!"

He held up the paper, the front page of which was almost all taken
up with the story of the missing millionaire.

"I suppose that ends my special assignment, then."

"This one is finished," spoke the city editor, "but I may have
another for you."

"What kind?"

"I'll tell you later."

Those of my readers who want to know what Larry's next assignment
was may learn by reading the fourth volume of this series, to be
called: "Larry Dexter and the Bank Mystery, or, A Young Reporter in
Wall Street." In that story we shall follow the young reporter
through adventures which were exciting in the extreme.

The _Leader_ beat every other paper in New York on the Potter story,
and Larry was the hero of the occasion. The next day he located
Sullivan and cleared up that end of the case.

"I suppose you'd like to take a short rest?" said Mr. Emberg to the
young reporter a few days later. "You had quite a strenuous time of
it in that automobile race."

"I guess I could stand a little vacation."

"Then you shall have it."

Larry wondered where he would spend the vacation, but the matter was
settled for him. When he got home that night he found a telegram
awaiting him. It was from Grace Potter, and read:

"Can't you come down to Lakewood for a few days? Mother and father
would be glad to see you. So would I."

Larry went.





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