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

   Chapter 4 CLANCY REACHES LOS ANGELES.

Owen Clancy's Happy Trail; Or, The Motor Wizard in California By Burt L. Standish Characters: 9124

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The Renfrew House was a very modest hostelry in South Hill Street. Hiram stopped there because the establishment was in Hill Street, and he believed in omens. Incidentally, too, he preferred the Renfrew to the Alexandria or the Hayward because the rates on the American plan were two dollars a day.

It was about eleven o'clock Monday morning when Clancy entered the lobby of the Renfrew House. The lobby was crowded, bell hops were hustling back and forth, and the place was as busy as a high-class establishment.

Clancy stood at the counter, caught the clerk's eye, and asked for Hiram Hill. The clerk, who had curly hair, and parted it squarely in the middle, forthwith gave the newcomer his full and complete attention.

"You a friend of that guy's?" the clerk asked.

"Yes," acknowledged Clancy.

"Then I'm mighty glad you showed up."

"Why?"

"Well, I think he's locoed and needs a keeper. About every day he does some fool thing."

Clancy grinned.

"What has he done to-day?"

"Nothing yet, but he's due to break out 'most any minute. You wait around a spell and you'll-"

The clerk was interrupted by a wild whoop of "Dad! here's Hiram!" Clancy looked in the direction from which the yell came and saw a little group of people heaving around the lobby in excitement.

"That's him, now!" cried the clerk. "What did I tell you?"

The motor wizard hurried toward the scene of the commotion. He found a fat man pounding a dent out of the crown of a shabby silk hat, and mumbling wrathfully.

"Get an officer!" shouted the fat man. "I don't know but I'm robbed!"

Hiram Hill stood in front of the aggrieved gentleman, stood and stared at him blankly.

"I–I thought you was my dad," murmured Hiram.

"Your dad?" repeated the fat man, glaring. "You ought to be arrested for that, anyhow. I refuse to be insulted, by gorry! What's your name, anyhow?"

The fat man was feeling about his person, making sure that his watch, pocketbook, and other person property were safe.

"That mole on the back of your neck," explained Hiram, "was what caused me to make the bobble."

"Well," snorted the fat man, walking off, "don't make any more bobbles around me, or there'll be trouble. It's my opinion that you're crazy."

The crowd set up a laugh. Clancy elbowed his way to Hill's side and took him by the hand.

"Howdy, Hiram?" said he.

"Clancy!" exclaimed Hill. "Say, the sight of you is good for sore eyes! I just been hankerin' for a friend."

"You need a guardeen more'n a friend," remarked some one.

Hill began to bristle and to look around in search of the one who had spoken. Clancy grabbed his arm, and drew him away down the lobby to a couple of leather chairs.

"What's the matter with you, Hiram?" the motor wizard asked.

"I reckon my nerves have got twisted, Clancy," Hill answered. "I'm all in a twitter, seems like. Ever since I piped off dad in that automobile last Saturday mornin' I haven't been able to look around without seein' some un I think's him. Queer, ain't it? I'm all flustered."

"Better put the clamps on your nerves, Hiram, or you'll be in jail the first thing you know."

"How's the shoulder?"

"Coming along in fine shape."

"I didn't know whether you'd be able to answer that there telegram of mine in person, and if you was able, I didn't know whether you would."

"Look here, Hiram," said Clancy, "didn't I tell you I'd help you find your father if you'd keep mum about what Lafe Wynn did?"

"Uh-huh."

"Well, I always try to pay my debts."

"Got any trace o' Gerald Wynn, Burton, and Katz yet?"

"No."

"Then that fifteen thou' is gone for good?"

"I'm afraid so. But let's not talk about that. You say you're hot on the trail of your father. Tell me about it."

Hiram started with the Chinese procession at Sixth and Main Streets. Very earnestly he told how he had disrupted the dragon, and he described other events that happened down to the point where he found himself with the extra Stetson in his hand.

"That hat," declared Hiram, "sure belonged to dad. I got it away from him somehow, and I hung to it all the while my wits was woolgatherin' and I was bein' toted to a drug store. Then I- Say, what you laughin' at?"

Clancy had been enjoying Hill's recital to the limit it would be hard to mix six dozens of eggs, a Chinese dragon, and a runaway monkey into a small-sized riot and not get a little fun out of it. The sober, matter-of-fact way in which Hiram narrated the details added to the humor of the story.

"Never mind what I'm lau

ghing at, Hiram," sputtered Clancy, wiping his eyes. "You say you found something under the sweatband of that Stetson. What was it?"

"A card. Here it is."

Hill thrust a hand into one of his pockets and drew forth an oblong square of pasteboard. This he handed to his companion.

"Sr. J. Lopez," was the name on the card, followed by the address: "Avalon, Catalina Island, California." Then in the lower left-hand corner, were the words: "Representing the Fortunatus Syndicate, of Tia Juana, Mexico."

"What do you make out of this, Hiram?" the motor wizard asked.

"What do you make out of it?" countered Hill.

"If you are sure the Stetson belonged to the man in the automobile–to the man whom you thought was your father-"

"I'll take my solemn Alfred on that!"

"Well, if this is the man's business card, it proves that the man is J. Lopez–and he can't be your father."

"That's not his business card, Clancy."

"How do you know?"

"There was two gilt letters pasted in the crown o' that Stetson, and them letters was 'U. H.' Sabe? My dad's name is Upton Hill."

Clancy was suitably impressed.

"Well, who's this J. Lopez and the Fortunatus Syndicate?" he inquired. "Those are two things we ought to find out."

"I'm wise to the Fortunatus Syndicate, all right," said Hill. "You remember I was down in Tia Juana, that time I got hornswoggled out o' five hundred dollars by Gerald Wynn. Well, I heard about this Fortunatus Syndicate while I was in the place. Some Americanos are planning a gambling resort, just across the boundary line, and they call their company the Fortunatus Syndicate."

"And your dad's mixed up with it, Hiram? That doesn't speak very well for him."

"Maybe he's mixed up in it, and maybe he isn't. I wouldn't go and connect him with any gamblin' syndicate just because I found that there card under the sweatband of his Stetson. What do you allow is the thing for us to do? My hand's on the table, Clancy, and I want you to help me play it."

"Strikes me," said Clancy reflectively, "that the best move is to go across to Catalina Island and talk with this man Lopez."

"I allowed we'd better, advertise in the papers," remarked Hill. "We could use the Lost and Found Column."

"How?"

"Well, we could say, 'Lost–One man about fifty with a squinch eye, a Roman nose, and a mole on the back of his neck. Answers to name of Upton Hill. Communicate with Hiram Hill, Renfrew House, City.' And then we could put in another, like this: 'Found–One black Stetson, initials "U. H." in crown. Picked up corner Sixth and Maine time the chink dragon went to pieces. Communicate with Hiram Hill, and so forth.' I don't see any use in huntin' up this Lopez."

"Your father must have, business, with Lopez, Hiram, or he wouldn't be having the Mexican's card. Would he?"

"I reckon not."

"It's likely your father is over at Catalina now. If we go to the island and hunt up Lopez, there's a chance of our locating Upton Hill–or the man you think is Upton Hill."

"Maybe you're right," said Hill.

"I don't think advertising would do any good. Your supposed father didn't seem very enthusiastic about meeting you, the time you landed on him in the automobile."

Hill's cross eyes blinked.

"It was the way I come at him," said he. "I been thinkin' since. There was a hull lot of excitement, and I'll gamble dad didn't have time to get the run o' what was happenin'. He didn't have no good chance to be affectionate."

"I suppose not," returned Clancy, trying hard to keep a straight face. "The trail seems to be a pretty warm one, all right, and- Where are you going?"

Clancy broke off his remarks to grab hold of Hiram and restrain him. The tow-headed chap had suddenly leaped out of his chair like a restive wild cat.

"Ain't that dad over yonder?" he asked. "I see a feller that seems to be built on the same lines of the photograft, but–n-n-no," he finished musingly, "that feller's a Mexican."

"Letter for you, Mr. Hill," said a bell boy, coming across the lobby from the clerk's desk.

Hill took the letter wonderingly, stared at it, tore it open, and then sank into a chair while he read the communication. Presently he began to breathe hard, and to gurgle in his throat.

"I knew the old man didn't have a marble heart," he muttered joyfully. "I reckoned he'd come around, if I'd only give him time enough. The trail's a short one, Clancy, and it leads to San Diego instead of to Catalina. There," and he thrust the letter into the motor wizard's hand, "read that."

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