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Chapter 11

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.

Victor Appleton

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