MoboReader > Literature > Owen Clancy's Happy Trail; Or, The Motor Wizard in California


Owen Clancy's Happy Trail; Or, The Motor Wizard in California By Burt L. Standish Characters: 10518

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"How's the shoulder, Clancy?" Doctor Ferguson asked, as the young motor wizard walked into his office.

"I know it belongs to me," was the smiling reply, "every time I make a move, but I guess it's coming along all right at that, doc."

"No reason why it shouldn't. You're as tough as a piece of whalebone, and a little nick like that can't put you on the retired list. Sit down here–I've got a few words to say to you."

The doctor indicated a chair close to his desk, and then sank back in his own seat with the air of one who is about to say something weighty and important.

"Don't you try to scare me about anything, doc," said Clancy apprehensively, as he slid into the chair.

"Tush!" and the physician wagged his head. "You haven't got sense enough to be scared at anything. That's the main trouble with you. It's two weeks since you went to Wickenburg and got in front of that bullet. We kept you in bed for a week, and now you have been on your feet for another week. So far as the wound is concerned, Clancy, you are all right, but so far as something else is concerned, you are all wrong." Ferguson's eyes narrowed and he leveled a forefinger at his patient. "What happened, up there at Wickenburg?" he demanded.

"What happened?" repeated Clancy. "Why, you just spoke of that. I got in front of a bullet."

"Stop, trying to play horse with me!" went on the doctor sourly. "Something took place between you and your partner, Lafe Wynn, at Wickenburg, and I want to know what it was."

Clancy stiffened.

"That's a personal matter, Doctor Ferguson," he answered, "and I don't have to explain it to anybody."

"Well, you needn't get hot about it. There's something on your mind, and it's holding back your complete recovery. I'm asking questions and talking from the standpoint of your physician. If I knew the nature of the thing that bothered you, very possibly I could take means to counteract it."

Clancy was impressed by Ferguson's shrewdness. Yet he had no intention of revealing the cause of his secret worry.

How could he tell Ferguson, or anybody else, what really happened at Wickenburg? Only two or three people knew that Lafe Wynn had forged Clancy's name to a check and had absconded with that money, and with all the cash assets of the firm of Clancy & Wynn. Only two or three knew how Clancy had trailed Wynn to Wickenburg and had sent him back to Phoenix to take charge of the Square-deal Garage, as usual, while he–Clancy–was in bed in the other town for a week.

Apparently all was the same as it ever had been between the two partners. In this instance, however, surface indications were not to be trusted.

Clancy's confidence in Wynn had been rudely shattered. The motor wizard had spared his partner–had been generous with him, in fact, far beyond his deserts. This was not particularly on Wynn's account, but on account of Wynn's mother, an old lady who had come to Phoenix on the very day Wynn had absconded.

Mrs. Wynn, proud of the business success her son had made, had come to him so that he might make her a home in her declining years. Clancy had not the heart to tell the old lady the exact situation, and he had gone to Wickenburg to get Lafe and make him return to Phoenix.

Wynn knew that Clancy had spared him on his mother's account. This knowledge caused a restraint between the two partners, all the greater because Wynn's forgery, and defalcation had wiped out all the cash assets of Clancy and the firm–some fifteen thousand dollars which had not been recovered.

Clancy would not tell all this to any one, for fear it might reach Mrs. Wynn. And he was anxious that Wynn should have another chance, without letting the one error of an otherwise blameless life weigh in the scales against him.

"I'll get along, doctor," observed Clancy. "I'll bet all the fretting I do won't land on me so hard you can notice it."

"Confound it," burst out the doctor, "I do notice it! You've got to get away from things for a while. Take the Happy Trail, Clancy, and run it out. I reckon you can afford it–after the way you held up that street-car company."

"Happy Trail?" echoed Clancy; "what's that?"

"It's the carefree road of pure and unadulterated joy," explained Ferguson solemnly. "It takes you out of yourself, gives you new scenes and experiences, and finally you wake up feeling better than you ever felt before in your life."

"Lead me to it!" said Clancy.

"I wish I could," was the answer, "but I can't. A Happy Trail for you might be a mighty miserable one for me, and vice versa. You'll have to find it for yourself, Clancy, but when you do find it, hit it hard!"

"That's a fine prescription–I don't think," laughed Clancy, getting up to leave. "You tell me what I must do, but don't tell me how I'm to do it."

"I'm as frank with you as you are with me," growled Ferguson. "Good-by!"

Clancy got back to the Square-deal Garage to find the whole force of employees moving the repair shop over to the garage known as the Red Star.

In order to keep Rockwell, of the Red Star, from driving the Square-deal place out of business, Clancy had been forced to buy the building and lot that housed the establishment belonging to him and Wynn. He had consummat

ed this deal for ten thousand dollars, paying three thousand dollars down and getting time on the balance at seven per cent. And the mortgage had come due just before Wynn had absconded with all the cash resources. A stroke of luck alone had saved Clancy.

The street-car company had suddenly developed a need for the property he had bought. Judge Pembroke, a friend of Clancy's, did the negotiating, with the result that the premises sold for twenty thousand dollars.

The judge, knowing that Clancy & Wynn would have to move and must have some place to go, had secured an option on the Red-star establishment for four thousand dollars. So Clancy had financed the tottering affairs of Clancy & Wynn, had bought Rockwell's old place, and the transfer was in progress.

Lafe Wynn was overseeing the removal. When Clancy entered the garage, Lafe turned abruptly on his heel and walked into the office. Clancy followed him.

"What's the matter with you, Lafe?" inquired Clancy. "Why do you take pains to avoid me, all the time? We can't get along like that–and remain partners."

A look of suffering filled Wynn's face.

"Owen," said he, with an effort, "every time I look at you I think of what I am–a thief and a forger, only saved from the penitentiary by your generosity. It isn't a pleasant thought for a man who wants to be independent. If I could undo the wrong I did you–if I could-"

"You can–some time," said Clancy. "After you are able, you can pay me back my just proportion of that fifteen thousand."

"After I am able!" murmured Lafe sarcastically. "That will be a matter of years, Owen. I can't feel like this for years without going crazy. If I could find my rascally brother, Gerald, I–I might induce him to give back the money."

"Never," returned the motor wizard shortly. "Your brother Gerald has probably got rid of the money by this time. There were two to help him spend it, remember–Bob Katz and Hank Burton. Those three would make it fly."

There were extenuating circumstances about what Lafe Wynn had done. The extenuating circumstances were wrapped up in his unscrupulous brother. Gerald had told Lafe a pretty fiction about needing money to save him from dishonor–and Lafe had covered himself with dishonor in order to help Gerald. No sooner had Lafe secured the money than he and his two cronies had taken it and made good their escape. This was when Clancy had been wounded. At the time, he was seeking to help Lafe save the fifteen thousand dollars.

"I have got to make that loss up to you somehow," muttered Lafe, "and I've got to do it soon. My conscience will send me to a madhouse, if I don't."

Clancy studied his partner curiously for a few moments.

"Lafe," he went on presently, "you and I have got to get away from each other for a while. We are simply millstones around each other's neck. You can't look at me without thinking you owe me the biggest part of fifteen thousand dollars, and I can't look at you without thinking how you betrayed my confidence."

"You can get rid of me, Owen, in about two shakes," said Wynn. "Kick me out. I haven't any right to be one of the firm, anyhow."

The motor wizard shook his head.

"You've got to hang on and make good in the place where you lost out," Clancy returned. "You've got to do this for the sake of your mother, who thinks so much of you. We've got to allow a little time, you know, for us to get back on our old footing. I need a change. Ferguson says so, and I have a feeling that he knows what he is talking about. I-"

A boy came into the office that moment with a telegram. He knew the motor wizard by sight, and went directly to him.

"This is for you, Mr. Clancy," said he.

Clancy signed for the message, tore it open, read the contents, and laughed.

"By thunder," he cried, "here's just the thing!"

"What do you mean?" asked Wynn.

"It's a hurry-up call from Hiram Hill. You remember Hiram?"

Wynn winced. "Yes," said he, "I remember Hiram Hill quite vividly."

"He left Phoenix for the coast several weeks ago, carrying on his search for his father. I always thought that search of Hiram's was more or less of a joke–and I haven't any positive information yet that it isn't–but here's a message asking me to come to Los Angeles at once. Hiram says that he is 'hot on the trail,' and that I promised him to help him find his father–which is true."

Clancy arose with sudden determination in his voice and manner.

"Wynn," he continued, "I'm going to leave you here to get Clancy & Wynn started in the old Rockwell garage. It will give you plenty to occupy your mind. While you're hard at it, I'm going to soldier and have a good time. Here's where I hit the Happy Trail!"

"What in the deuce is the Happy Trail?" queried Wynn.

"Ferguson will tell you about it. I'm going with Hiram on a wild-goose chase, and I'm hoping to have some fun. When I come back, old man, I want you to be feeling differently, and I expect to be feeling differently myself. This afternoon I am starting for the Pacific coast, and if Hiram and I, between us, can't stir up a few thrills, and corral a little enjoyment, then I've got another guess coming. Lafe, I'm for the Happy Trail, and I'm going to hit it hard!"

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