“Well, Dick, here we are in San Francisco at last.”
“Yes, Tom, and what a fine large city it is.”
“We’ll have to take care, or we’ll get lost,” came from a third boy, the youngest of the party.
“Just listen to Sam!” cried Tom Rover. “Get lost! As if we weren’t in the habit of taking care of ourselves.”
“Sam is joking,” came from Dick Rover. “Still we might get lost here as well as in New York or any other large city.”
“Boston is the place to get lost in,” said Tom Rover. “Got streets that curve in all directions. But let us go on. Where is the hotel?”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” came from Sam Rover.
“Cab! carriage! coupe!” bawled a cabman standing near. “Take you anywhere you want to go, gents.”
“How much to take the three of us to the Oakland House?”
“Take you there for a dollar, trunks and all.”
“I’ll go you,” answered Dick Rover. “Come on, I’ll see that you get the right trunks.”
“I think we are going to have some good times while we are on the Pacific coast,” observed Tom Rover, while he and Sam were waiting for Dick and the cabman to return.
“I shan’t object to a good time,” replied Sam. “That is what we came for.”
“Before we go back I am going to have a sail up and down the coast.”
“To be sure, Tom. Perhaps we can sail down to Santa Barbara. That is a sort of Asbury Park and Coney Island combined, so I have been told.”
Dick Rover and the cabman soon returned. The trunks were piled on the carriage and the boys got in, and away they bowled from the station in the direction of the Oakland House.
It was about ten o’clock of a clear day in early spring. The boys had reached San Francisco a few minutes before, taking in the sights on the way. Now they sat up in the carriage taking in more sights, as the turnout moved along first one street and then another.
As old readers of this series know, the Rover boys were three in number, Dick being the oldest, fun-loving Tom next, and sturdy-hearted Sam the youngest. They were the only offspring of Anderson Rover, a former traveler and mine-owner, who, at present, was living with his brother Randolph and his sister-in-law Martha, on their beautiful farm at Valley Brook, in the heart of New York State.
During the past few years the Rover boys had had numerous adventures, so many, in fact, that they can scarcely be hinted at here. While their father was in the heart of Africa, their Uncle Randolph had sent them off to Putnam Hall Academy. Here they had made many friends among the boys and also among some folks living in the vicinity, including Mrs. Stanhope and her daughter Dora, a girl who, according to Dick Rover’s idea, was the sweetest creature in the whole world. They had also made some enemies, the worst of the number being Dan Baxter, a fellow who had been the bully of the school, but who was now a homeless wanderer on the face of the earth. Baxter came from a disreputable family, his father having at one time tried to swindle Mr. Rover out of a rich gold mine in the West. The elder Baxter was now in prison suffering the penalty for various crimes.
A term at school had been followed by an exciting chase on the ocean, and then by a trip through the jungle of Africa, whence the Rover boys had gone to find their long-lost father. After this the boys made a trip West to establish their parent’s claim to the gold mine just mentioned, and this was followed by a grand trip on the Great Lakes in which the boys suffered not a little at the hands of the Baxters. On an island on one of the lakes the Rover boys found a curious casket and this, on being opened, proved to contain some directions for locating a treasure secreted in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains.
“We must locate that treasure,” said Tom Rover, and off they started for the mountains, and did locate it at last, but not before Dan Baxter had done everything in his power to locate it ahead of them. When they finally outwitted their enemy, Dan Baxter had disappeared, and that was the last they had seen of him for some time.
The Rover boys had expected to return to Putnam Hall and their studies immediately after the winter outing in the Adirondacks, but an unexpected happening at the institution of learning made them change their plans. Three pupils were taken down with scarlet fever, and rather than run the risk of having more taken sick, Captain Victor Putnam had closed up the Academy for the time being, and sent the pupils to their homes.
“The boys will have to go to some other school,” their Aunt Martha had said, but one and another had murmured at this, for they loved Captain Putnam too well to desert him so quickly.
“Let us wait a few months,” had been Dick’s suggestion.
“Let us study at home,” had come from Sam.
“Let us travel,” Tom had put in. “Travel broadens the mind.” He loved to be “on the go” all the time.
The matter was talked over for several days, and Tom begged that they might take a trip across the continent and back, using some of the money derived from the old treasure. At last Anderson Rover consented; and two days later the three boys were off, going by way of New York City, on the Chicago Limited. They had spent two days in the great city by the lakes, and then come direct to the Golden Gate city.
“I wonder if we will meet anybody we know while we are out here,” said Tom, as the carriage continued on its way.
“If we get down to Santa Barbara I think we’ll meet somebody,” answered Dick, and he blushed just a trifle. “I got a letter in Chicago, as you know. It was from Dora Stanhope, and she said that she and her mother were traveling again and expected to go either to Santa Barbara or Los Angeles. Her mother is not well again, and the doctor thought the air on the Pacific coast might benefit her.”
“Oh, my, but won’t Dick have an elegant time, if he falls in with Dora!” cried Sam. “Tom, we won’t be in it.”
“Now don’t you start to tease me,” returned Dick, his face redder than ever. “I guess Dora always gave you a good time, too.”
“That’s right, she did,” said Tom. And then he added: “Did she say anything about the Lanings?” For the Laning girls, Nellie and Grace, were cousins to Dora Stanhope, and Tom and Sam thought almost as much of them as Dick did of Dora.
“To be sure she did,” replied Dick. “But I guess it’s — well, it’s a secret.”
“A secret!” shouted Sam. “Not much, Dick! Let us in on it at once!”
“Yes, do!” put in Tom.
“But it may prove a disappointment.”
“We’ll chance it,” returned Tom.
“Well then, Dora wrote that if she and her mother could find a nice cottage at Los Angeles or Santa Barbara they were going to invite Nellie and Grace to come out and keep house with them for six months or so.”
“Hurrah!” cried Sam enthusiastically. “I hope they come. If they do, won’t the six of us just have boss times!” And his face glowed with anticipation.
“We can certainly have good times if Mrs. Stanhope’s health will permit,” said Dick. “Here we are at the hotel.”
He uttered the last words as the carriage came to a stop at the curb. He leaped out and so did the others; and a few minutes later found them safe and sound in the hotel. They were assigned to a large room on the third floor, and hither they made their way, followed by their trunks, and then began to wash and dress up, preparatory to going down to the dining room, for the journeying around since breakfast had made them hungry.
“I think I am going to like San Francisco,” said Tom, as he was adjusting a fresh collar and gazing out of the window at the same time. “Everything looks so bright and clean.”
“They have some pretty tall buildings here, the same as in Chicago and New York,” came from Dick, as he, too, gazed out of the window.
“Oh, all the big cities are a good deal alike,” put in Sam, who was drying his face on a towel.
“San Francisco is a mighty rich place,” continued Tom. “They are too rich even to use pennies. It’s five cents here, or a bit there, or two bits for this and two bits for that. I never heard a quarter called two bits in New York.”
“I’ve been told that is a Southern expression, and one used in the West Indies,” said Dick. “The early Californians — My gracious!”
Dick broke off short and leaned far out of the window, which they had opened to let in the fresh spring air.
“What’s up?” queried Tom. “Don’t fall out.” And he caught his elder brother by the arm.
“I must have been mistaken. But it did look like him,” said Dick slowly.
“Look like whom?” asked Sam, joining the pair.
“Dan Baxter! Here?” shouted the others.
“I am pretty sure it was Dan Baxter.”
“Where is he?” asked Tom.