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Title: Jimmy Kirkland and the Plot for a Pennant
Author: Fullerton, Hugh S.
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 "Jimmy Kirkland and the Plot for a Pennant" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Frontispiece: "Now kick his shins"]



JIMMY KIRKLAND

AND THE

PLOT FOR A PENNANT


BY

HUGH S. FULLERTON



ILLUSTRATED BY

CHARLES PAXSON GRAY



PHILADELPHIA

THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1915, by

JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY


PRINTED IN  U. S. A.



  To

  CHARLES A. COMISKEY

  The man to whom, more than all others, the honesty
  and high standard of professional baseball is
  due, this little volume is dedicated with the sincere
  regard of a student to his preceptor.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

      I.  PANTHERS OR BEARS?
     II.  A MIRACLE CALLED MCCARTHY
    III.  HOPE FOR THE BEARS
     IV.  "KOHINOOR" MEETS BETTY
      V.  THE TEMPTER
     VI.  ADONIS MAKES A DEAL
    VII.  MCCARTHY MEETS HELEN
   VIII.  IN THE DEEPER WATERS
     IX.  BALDWIN GETS INTO THE PLOT
      X.  WILLIAMS CAUGHT IN THE NET
     XI.  MCCARTHY IN DISGRACE
    XII.  MCCARTHY DEFIES BALDWIN
   XIII.  MCCARTHY BALKS THE PLOTTERS
    XIV.  "TECHNICALITIES" ON THE JOB
     XV.  BALDWIN BAITS A TRAP
    XVI.  MCCARTHY MAKES A CALL
   XVII.  THE FIGHT IN THE CAFÉ
  XVIII.  TWO MISSING MEN
    XIX.  SWANSON TO THE RESCUE
     XX.  HIDDEN FOES
    XXI.  FAIR PLAY
   XXII.  A VICTORY AND A DEFEAT
  XXIII.  KIDNAPPED
   XXIV.  BAITING A TRAP
    XXV.  MCCARTHY DISAPPEARS
   XXVI.  BALDWIN SHOWS HIS HAND
  XXVII.  SEARCHING
 XXVIII.  WILLIAMS STANDS EXPOSED
   XXIX.  FOUND
    XXX.  A RACE TO SAVE THE DAY
   XXXI.  THE PLOTTERS FOILED
  XXXII.  REJOICING



ILLUSTRATIONS


"NOW KICK HIS SHINS" . . . . . . . . . . . . Frontispiece

BALDWIN STARED AT THE SLENDER YOUTH

THE MEN LEAPED OUT

"FOURTEEN MILES IN TWENTY-ONE MINUTES"



JIMMY KIRKLAND AND A PLOT FOR A PENNANT


CHAPTER I

_Panthers or Bears?_

The defeat in the opening game of the final series of the season
between the Panthers and Bears had been a hard blow to the championship
hopes of the Bears, and its effect was evident in the demeanor of the
players and those associated with them.  It was the second week in
September.  Since early in May the Blues, the Panthers and the Bears,
conceded to be the three strongest teams in the league, had struggled
day by day almost upon even terms, first one team leading by a narrow
margin, then another, until the interest of the country was centered
upon the battle for supremacy.

Then, with the Blues holding the lead by the narrowest of margins,
Maloney, their premier pitcher, strained his arm, and the Blues, in
despair, battled the harder only to overtax the strength of the
remaining pitchers, so that the team dropped rapidly into third place,
still hoping against hope to get their crippled pitching staff back
into condition for the finish.

It seemed that the four-game series between the Bears and Panthers
probably would prove the crisis of the year's efforts, and decide the
question of supremacy.  On the eve of the commencement of that series
the Bear hopes had received a shock.  Carson, the heaviest batter, the
speediest base runner and one of the most brilliant outfielders in the
league, had fractured a leg in sliding to a base, and was crippled so
seriously that all hope of his recovery in time to play again that year
was abandoned.

Until the day the news that Carson could not play again during the
season became public, the Bears had been favorites, but with their
hardest batter crippled, and Holleran, the substitute, known to be weak
against curve pitching, their hope seemed destroyed.  Manager William
Clancy, of the Bears, his kindly, weather-beaten face wearing a
troubled expression, in place of his customary cheerful grin, was
investigating.  The defeat of the Bears in the first game with the
Panthers had revealed to all the vital weakness of the holders of the
championship, and Clancy, as he sat nibbling the end of his penholder
in the writing room of the hotel, faced a discouraging situation.

Across the table from him a slender girl, attired in a close-fitting
street gown, was writing rapidly, covering many sheets of hotel
stationery with tall, angular hieroglyphics as she detailed to her
dearest friend at home the exciting events of the day.

"Betty," said Manager Clancy, looking up, "if you and Ellen are ever
going to get ready you'll have to start."

"I'm ready now, Mr. Clancy," the girl responded brightly, lifting her
head until she revealed the perfect curve of her firm chin, and smiled,
"I left Mother Clancy in the rooms sewing on some buttons.  She will be
ready soon."

At that moment a slender youth, easy in movement, almost graceful in
his confident carriage, entered the hotel lobby.  Something in his
bearing gave evidence that he was accustomed to association with
persons of refinement.  His closely cropped, curling hair, sandy to the
point of redness, attracted attention to his well-formed head, set well
upon a pair of shoulders so wide as to give him the appearance of
strength, in spite of the slenderness of his waist and the lightness of
his body.  His face was freckled and the uplift of his nose added to
the friendly impression created by his blue eyes.  His clothes were
almost threadbare and his shoes were worn, but his linen was clean and
his appearance neat.  The youth hesitated, glancing from group to group
of the players, as if trying to decide which one to approach.

"Silent" Swanson, the giant shortstop, who had earned his nickname
because he was the noisiest player on the field, was standing talking
with "Noisy" Norton, the second baseman, so called because he seldom
spoke either on or off the field, and Adonis Williams, the star
left-handed pitcher of the team.  The newcomer's eyes fell upon this
group, and his face lighted as he observed that Williams's hair was
only a shade darker than his own.  As if deciding quickly, he walked
toward the group.

"You are Williams, are you not?" he inquired easily, smiling in a
friendly manner.

"That's my name, but most people add a mister to it," responded
Williams sneeringly.

The red-headed youth flushed and the smile died out of his eyes.

"I beg pardon, Mister Williams," he said, quietly; "I was seeking
Manager Clancy.  Perhaps you can tell me where to find him?"

"It isn't very hard to find Clancy," responded Williams.  "We can't
lose him."

"Perhaps you would be so kind as to point him out to me.  I never have
had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Clancy."

Neither of them had observed that Swanson and Norton had drawn aside to
permit the girl who had been in the writing room to pass on her way to
the elevator.  Evidently she overheard the youth's inquiry, for she
hesitated just as Williams laughed in an ugly manner and said:

"If you don't know him you'd better peddle yourself somewhere else.  He
won't be in a mood to talk to hoboes to-night."

Before the slender youth could speak, the girl stepped forward and said
quietly:

"Pardon me, but I overheard you inquiring for Manager Clancy.  He is in
the writing room."

Her brown eyes flashed with anger, her lips were set tight and her
sun-browned cheeks flushed as she passed quickly on toward the
elevator, not waiting to respond to the thanks of the slender youth,
who had removed his hat quickly to utter his gratitude.  Then, turning
toward Williams, who stood flushed and angry, his blue eyes narrowed
and he said:

"Just for that, I'll kick you on the shins in the club house and dare
you to fight."

"What?  You will, huh?" spluttered the astounded pitcher.

He would have said more, but before he could recover, the newcomer,
smiling oddly, turned and walked toward the writing room and held out
his hand to the famous Clancy, for six years leader of the Bears.

The slender youth stood with extended hand while Manager Clancy gazed
up from his writing.

"Mr. Clancy?" he asked, smiling.

"Yes.  Sit down," responded Clancy, his intention of rebuffing the
intruder changing as he saw the smile.  "What can I do for you?"

"I read in the evening papers," replied the youth, still smiling
easily, "that Carson broke a leg, and that, to win the pennant, you
must find an outfielder who can hit."

"Perhaps you also read that I'd like to find a diamond about the size
of my head," responded Clancy, sarcastically.

"The paper also said that you might switch Pardridge from third base to
the outfield if you could find a hard-hitting infielder."

"Possibly the paper also said that if I found the diamond I'd move my
gold mine to make room for it."  Clancy restrained himself from further
comment, feeling uncertain because of the quiet confidence of his
visitor.

There was a pause, the veteran manager studying his caller and the
slender youth sat smiling as if expecting Clancy to resume the
conversation.

"Well?" said Clancy, glancing at his half-finished letter as if to hint
that his time was entirely too valuable to be wasted discussing
academic impossibilities with entire strangers.

"Well," replied the visitor, smiling, "I'm it."

"You're what?" asked the astonished manager.

"The third baseman who can hit."

"When shall I move the gold mine?"  Clancy's voice was dangerously
quiet.

"To-morrow, if you like."

Clancy sat gazing at his visitor as if undecided as to whether he
should explode in wrath, laugh at some joke too deep for him, or
believe the slender youth was in earnest.

"Say, kid," he said slowly after studying the youth for a moment, "I
admire your nerve, anyhow.  If you have half the confidence on a ball
field that you have off it, you'll be a wonder.  Where did you ever
play ball?"

A troubled expression came over the boy's face.

"Mr. Clancy," he said, quietly, "if you take me you'll have to do it
without asking questions.  I can play ball, and it's up to me to make
good at something.  All I ask is a chance to prove to you I can play.
It will not cost you a cent to find out."

"Done anything?" Clancy asked, sharply.

"Criminal?  No," responded the boy, flushing.

"Ever signed a professional contract?"

"No."

Clancy studied him as if trying to decide what to do.  Then, raising
his voice, he called:

"Oh, Sec.  Come here a minute."

A tall man, his hair gray, his face wearing a frown of perpetual worry,
came from the hotel lobby.

"Mr. Tabor," said Clancy, without rising, "this is Mr. Jimmie McCarthy,
who is to have a try-out with us at third base.  Room him with the
players.  You aren't stopping anywhere else, are you?"

The last question was directed to the surprised youth.

"No--I'm broke," answered the youth, flushing quickly.

"I'll fix you up in a moment," said the secretary in friendly tones as
he shook hands with the youth.  "Wait until I finish settling up with
the baggage man."

The secretary hastened from the room, and the boy turned impulsively to
the manager.

"Mr. Clancy," he said in a tone of gratitude, "I want to thank you--I
don't know how.  I was broke--ball playing is about all I'm good at.
How did you know I didn't want to use my own name?"

"I figured you might want to forget it for a time, anyhow," said
Clancy.  "McCarthy is a good name and it fits your eyes."

"I can't tell you how grateful I am," said the boy impetuously.  "I'll
make good for you.  I've failed trying to make a living.  Baseball is
the only thing they taught me at college that I'm good at, and when I
read that you needed a third baseman I"----

"College man, eh?" asked Clancy quickly.  "Well, I won't hold that
against you or tip it off.  Don't thank me.  If you make good I'll be
the one to give thanks."

The youth turned to follow the secretary as if to hide a little mist
that came into his eyes, and he left Manager Clancy gazing thoughtfully
after him and nibbling the end of his penholder.

"It would be a miracle," said Clancy to himself.  "But I've got a hunch
it will come true.  He's bred right--tell it from his looks.  He's
game, light on his feet; good shoulders, and--and--and a pair of eyes."



CHAPTER II

_A Miracle Called McCarthy_

Thirty thousand persons, banked in the great grandstands and massed
upon the field seats, roared with increasing excitement as from every
direction solid streams of humanity poured toward the park to witness
the second game of the series between the Bears and the Panthers.

The batting practice of the teams had ended and the Bears trotted out
upon the field.

"Who is that red-head practicing at third?" inquired "Chucky" Rice, the
veteran reporter of the Panthers.

"Name is McCarthy, a busher Clancy picked up somewhere.  He is to have
a trial this fall--after the pennant fight is over," said Koerner, of
the _Globe_, who traveled with the Bears.

"Looks sweet on ground balls," commented Rice, watching the slender,
graceful athlete, who was occupying Pardridge's place at third base.
"Where did Clancy find him, Tech?"

The question was addressed to "Technicalities" Feehan, the odd little
reporter who had traveled with the Bears for twenty years.

"I have not been informed," responded Feehan, adjusting his glasses and
watching McCarthy closely.  "He came to the hotel last night and asked
for a try-out.  Did you see him hit?"

"Yes," replied Rice.  "Hits right-handed and he cracked two on the
nose.  Will he play?"

"Clancy hardly will take a chance with him at this stage," replied
Koerner.

McCarthy tossed his glove to the veteran third baseman and ran toward
the plate to bat grounders to the infielders.  He was not aware of the
fact, but Clancy had been watching him keenly during the entire
practice and had asked Kennedy, the star catcher, to keep an eye on the
recruit and report how he liked his actions.

"Handles himself like a ball player," commented the catcher.  "He hit a
curve ball {22} with a snap swing that had a lot of drive in it and he
gets the ball away like a flash when it hits his hands."

"He takes things easily," said the manager.  "I haven't seen him fight
a ball yet.  Blocks it down and recovers in plenty of time.  If this
game didn't mean so much"----

The game went against the Bears from the start, the break of the luck
seeming always to favor the Panthers.  Twice, with runners perched on
second and third, Holleran had hit feeble grounders to the infield, one
resulting in a runner being caught at the home plate and one in an easy
out at first that finished an inning in which the Bears had threatened
to amass a half dozen runs.

The seventh inning started with the Panthers leading 3 to 1, and the
Bears seemingly beaten beyond hope of recovery.  An error, followed
quickly by a base on balls and a successful sacrifice bunt put Bear
runners on second and third bases with but one out and Holleran coming
to the bat.  Clancy signaled him, and an instant later Umpire Maxwell
announced:

"McCarthy batting for Holleran.  McCarthy will play third base,
Pardridge in left field."

McCarthy came to the batter's box quickly, swinging a long, light bat.
He let a fast ball cut across the plate just at his shoulders and only
glanced inquiringly at the umpire when it was called a strike.  The
next one was a quick-breaking curve, seemingly coming straight at him.
He stepped slightly forward, snapped the long bat against the ball and
drove it down the left field foul line; two runners sprinted across the
plate, and the score was tied.

"That auburn baby can hit them curves," commented Rice.  "He certainly
called the turn and waded into that one."

The game went into the ninth, then the tenth, the pitchers working
harder and harder and the teams batting behind them without a break to
bring the victory that meant so much to them.

Jimmy McCarthy was the first batter for the Bears.  From an unknown
recruit he had become the sensation of the game, and thousands were
asking who he was.  Twice he had hit Cooke's fast "hook curve," and hit
it hard, and Cooke, remembering, shook his head as his catcher signaled
for another curve.  The recruit watched him, and, with a sudden jerk of
his belt, he stepped into position.  The first ball was fast and across
his shoulders, as Cooke had placed it twice before.  This time instead
of taking the first strike McCarthy met the ball squarely and drove it
on the line over the first baseman's head.  He turned first base, going
at top speed, although already McKeever, the Panther's right fielder,
known as one of the greatest throwers in the league, was in position to
field the ball.

The roar that arose from the crowd was chopped short as McCarthy
sprinted for second base.  An instant of tense uncertainty was followed
by a swelling murmur of protest, disappointment and rage.

From the dust cloud just commencing to settle around second base two
forms were emerging, and, as the dust drifted away, the crowd had a
glimpse of a tableau.  Tommy Meegher, second baseman of the Panthers,
was disentangling his stocky form from the knot of arms and legs, and
arising from the prostrate body of McCarthy, whose desperate slide had
turned a base hit into a two-bagger.  Stooping over them, his hands
outspread, signifying that the runner had reached the base in safety,
was Randy Ransom, crouching, in order better to see under the dust
cloud raised by the hurtling bodies of the players.

A salvo of grudging applause greeted McCarthy as he arose and brushed
the dust from his gray striped traveling uniform, an outburst that was
followed by a frenzied spasm of enthusiasm from the Bear followers.

On the Bears' bench Manager Clancy grinned for the first time in three
days.

"I believe that kid will do," he said to Kennedy.  "He called the turn
on that fast ball, just met it, and turned first on his stride.  He
slid under Meegher clean.  Lay one down now," he added, addressing the
order to Norton.

The skill of Noisy Norton as a sacrifice hitter was well known to the
spectators in the stands, but better known to the tense, anxious
infielders of the Panthers, who crouched, watching his every motion as
he came to the batter's position.  Norton stepped into position,
shortened his hold upon the bat and glanced quickly around the infield
as if noting the position of each man.  Suddenly he started, as if in
surprise, and glanced toward the Bears' bench.  Manager Clancy nodded
his head affirmatively and again Norton crouched, shortening his grip
upon the bat still more, and slowly churned the inoffensive air with
it.  The Panther infielders, alert to detect the plan of attack to be
tried by the Bears, had caught the rapid exchange of glances, and they
crept a step or two closer to the batter, poising ready to leap forward
to field any ball pushed toward them from Norton's bat.

The plan of assault to be tried seemed clear to the thousands of
spectators.  It appeared certain that a sacrifice bunt was to be
attempted; that the third baseman of the Panthers was to pretend to
field the ball, but that, instead, he would return to third base the
moment Norton bunted, permitting Cooke, the pitcher, to try to reach
the ball in time to throw to third to catch McCarthy there instead of
throwing to first to retire Norton.

Cooke pitched fast and straight over the plate, intending to make
Norton push the ball back to him, or into the air for a fly out.
Norton, however, struck viciously, but without making an effort to hit
the ball, swinging his bat in order to handicap the catcher in his
effort to catch the ball and make a throw.  McCarthy had started at
full speed the instant Cooke had commenced to wind up to pitch the
ball, and was in full flight toward third base.  Before Nixon's throw,
delayed and hampered by Norton's tactics in striking, reached third,
McCarthy slid behind the base, his feet outstretched to hook the bag as
he threw his body outward to prevent Randall, the third baseman, from
exercising his deadly skill in blocking runners away from the base.

A moment later Norton drove a long fly to the outfield, and McCarthy,
waiting until it was caught, sprinted across the plate with what proved
to be the winning run.

"Crossed--and by a busher," lamented Kincaid, of the Panthers, as the
teams started off the field after the finish of the game, walking
slowly because of the press of humanity overflowing from the stands.

"What do you think of that kid, Slats?" inquired Manager Clancy, as
they walked together toward the club house.

"He's a ball player, if he don't swell," responded Hartman,
laconically.  "He pulled that steal of third wise.  He figured we
wouldn't expect a busher to try to steal at that stage--and we didn't.
He's a wise head for a kid."

"Looks good to me," replied Clancy.  "He slipped Norton a signal not to
hit, but to let him steal--and I almost fell off the bench when I saw
it.  I expected him to toss the game away."

"Where'd you get him?" demanded Hartman.

"He wished himself onto me," grinned Clancy.  "He told me he could play
ball and I believed him."

A swarm of reporters descended upon the headquarters of the visiting
team, striving to discover something of the history of the slender,
red-haired youngster whose coming had revived the waning pennant hopes
of the Bears.  McCarthy was not to be found.  He had slipped away after
dinner without telling anyone his plans.  The reporters descended upon
Manager Clancy, demanding information concerning his find.

"It's a secret, boys," responded Clancy to their insistent questions.
"He is nom de plume and habeas corpus.  The only place I ever heard of
him playing ball was in Cognito."

"Suppress the comedy and ease us the legit," pleaded Riley, who wrote
theatricals when he was not inventing English in the interest of
baseball.  "I can't find any record that will fit him."

"Boys," said the veteran manager, growing serious, "I don't know a
thing more about him than you do.  I don't know where he ever played;
it never was in organized ball, or I would know where he comes from and
who he is.  He strolled in here last night, told me he could play ball
and wanted a chance to show me that he could."

"That was considerable demonstration to-day," commented Rice.  "How do
you know he's square?"

"By looking at him," replied Clancy steadily.  "If I needed any more
evidence, he was offered $500 to sign a Panther contract after to-day's
game and told them he'd stick to me--and we haven't even talked about
salary."

"What'll we call him?" asked one reporter.

"Say," replied Clancy, enthusiastically, "I dreamed last night that I
had found a pot of gold wrapped up in a million-dollar bill, with a
diamond as big as my hand on top of it.  Call him Kohinoor."

So Kohinoor McCarthy sprang into fame in a day as the mystery of the
league.



CHAPTER III

_Hope for the Bears_

The Bears were joyous again.  They scuffled, joked, laughed and romped
joyously as the team gathered in the railway station to make a hurried
departure for the city of the Pilgrims on the evening after the final
game of the series with the Panthers.  Three victories out of four
games played with the Panthers instead of the dreaded three defeats had
lifted the Bears back practically to even terms with their rivals.  All
they had hoped for after the injury of Carson was to divide the series
with the Panthers, and it was due to the sudden appearance of Kohinoor
McCarthy that the victories were made possible.

All the notoriety that suddenly was thrust upon McCarthy had failed to
affect him, although Manager Clancy watched his "find" anxiously, and
pleaded with the newspaper men not to spoil him.  No trace of the
dreaded affliction known as "swelled head" had revealed itself, and
because McCarthy was able to laugh over the wild stories printed
concerning him, Clancy breathed more easily.

During the celebration McCarthy, who had made it possible, stood apart
from the others, feeling a little lonely.  McCarthy stood watching
them, smiling at their antics with a feeling that he was an intruder.
The truth was that the Bears had welcomed him from the start.  He had
won their admiration on the field and the undying friendship of Silent
Swanson by his conduct in the club house on the afternoon after the
close of his first game.  It was that incident that made for him a chum
and an enemy, who were destined to play a big part in his career.

When the players raced off the field after that victory, striving to
escape being engulfed in the torrent of humanity that poured from the
stands, McCarthy was caught, with a few others, and delayed.  When he
reached the club house the substitutes and the reserve pitchers already
were splashing and spluttering under the showers.  McCarthy walked to
where Adonis Williams, already stripped to the waist, was preparing to
take his shower, and without a word he kicked the pitcher on the shins,
a mere rap, but administered so as to leave no doubt as to its purpose.

"Here----.  What did you do that for?" demanded Williams.

"I told you in the hotel, when you insulted me, that I'd do it.  Will
you fight?"

McCarthy's blue eyes had grown narrower, and a colder blue tint came
into them.

"I'll break you in pieces, you ---- ---- ---- you," Williams spluttered
with rage.

"Drop that talk and fight," challenged McCarthy, stepping into a
fighting attitude.

Just then McCarthy received help from an unexpected source.  Swanson,
the giant of the team, broke through the circle of players that had
formed in expectation of seeing a fight.

"You're all right, Bo," he roared, throwing his huge arm around the
shoulders of the recruit.  "You're perfectly all right, but he won't
fight you."

"I'll smash"----

"Naw, you won't, Adonis," said the giant, contemptuously.  "I think he
can lick you, anyhow, but you had it coming.  Now kick his other shin,
and after that Adonis will apologize."

The suggestion raised a laugh, and eased the situation.  The battle
light in McCarthy's face changed to a smile.

"I'll forego the kick," he said.  "I had to make good after what I told
you in the hotel.  I'm perfectly willing to let it drop and be friends."

He extended his hand frankly, but Williams, still scowling, did not
take it.

"Never mind the being friends part of it," he said.  "But if you don't
want trouble, just lay away from me after this."

"Here, young fellow," said Clancy, who had arrived at the club house in
time to see the finish of the altercation; "I'll do all the fighting
for this club.  Understand?"

"Yes," replied McCarthy, slowly, without attempting to explain.

"What do you think of my gamecock, Bill?" asked Swanson,
enthusiastically.  "Adonis insulted him in the hotel last night and the
kid promised to kick him on the shins.  He was just making good.  He
offered to shake hands and call it all off, but Adonis wouldn't do it.
He's my roommate from now on.  I'll have to take him to keep him from
fighting every one."

The giant's remark caused another laugh, as his record for fights
during his earlier career as a ball player had given him a reputation
which obviated all necessity of fighting.

The majority of the Bears had accepted McCarthy as one of their own
kind after that, and Swanson adopted him.  With Swanson he seemed at
home, but the others found him a trifle shy and retiring.  He was
friendly with all excepting Williams and Pardridge, who resented his
occupation of third base while pretending to be pleased.  Yet with the
exception of Swanson and Kennedy he made no close friends.  The
admiration of the rough, big-hearted Swede shortstop for the recruit
approached adoration and he was loud and insistent in voicing his
praises of McCarthy.

The train which was bearing the Bears away from the city of the
Panthers drew slowly out of the great station, plunged through a series
of tunnel-like arches under the streets, and rattled out into the
suburbs, gathering speed for the long night run.  Inside the cars the
players were settling themselves for an evening of recreation.  Card
games were starting, the chess players were resuming their
six-month-long contest, and McCarthy sought his berth and sat alone,
striving to read.  In the berth just ahead of his seat the quartette
commenced to sing.

The Bears possessed a quartette with some musical merit and musical
knowledge.  Kennedy, the quiet, big catcher, had a good baritone voice
and it showed training.  Norton, who seldom spoke, but always was ready
to sing, led, and Swanson was the bass, his voice deep and organ-like,
making up in power and richness much that it lost in lack of training.
Madden, the tenor, was weak and uncertain yet, as Swanson remarked, "He
can't sing much, but he is a glutton for punishment."

When the quartette started to sing, McCarthy dropped his book and sat
gazing out into the gathering twilight, listening to the strong,
healthy voices.  Lights commenced to flash out from the farm houses and
the haze settled in waving curtains over the ponds and the lowlands.
He was lonely, homesick at thought of other voices and other scenes and
the joyousness of his new comrades seemed to depress rather than to
lift his spirits.

Berths were being prepared for the night.  Already in several the weary
and the lame were reclining, reading.  Others, worn by the strain of
the day's game, were getting ready to draw their curtains.  The trainer
and his assistant were passing quietly from berth to berth, working
upon aching arms and bruised muscles, striving to keep their valuable
live stock in condition to continue the struggle.

The quartette sang on and on, regardless of the lack of an audience,
for no one in the car appeared to be listening.  They sang tawdry
"popular" songs for the most part, breaking into a ribald ragtime
ditty, followed by a sickly sentimental ballad.

Kennedy's voice, without warning, rose strong and clear almost before
the final chord of the song over which the quartette had been in
travail had died away.  Kennedy had a habit, when he wearied of the
songs they sang, of singing alone some song the others did not know;
some quaint old ballad, or oftener a song of higher class.  For a
moment the others strove vainly to follow.  Then silence fell over them
as Kennedy's voice rose, clearer and stronger, as he sang the old words
of Eileen Aroon.

"Dear were her charms to me."

His voice was pregnant with feeling.

"Dearer her laughter--free."

Kennedy was singing as if to himself, but as he sang a voice, strong
and fresh, like a clear bell striking into the music of chimes, joined
his and sang with him the words:

"Dearer her constancy."

The card players suddenly lost interest in their game, dropped their
hands and turned to see who was singing.  Players who had been reading
and those who had been vainly striving to sleep poked their heads
between curtains of the berths, the better to listen.

On and on through the haunting, half-pathetic minors of the old song
the clear, sweet tenor and the strong, well-modulated voice of Kennedy
carried the listeners.  McCarthy, leaning toward the window and gazing
out upon the moonlight as if under its spell, sang on in ignorance of
the interest his voice had aroused in the car.

The song ended.  For a moment the silence in the car was so complete
that the clicking of the wheels upon the fish plates sounded sharply.
Then Swanson, with a yell, broke the spell.  Hurdling the back of the
berth he descended upon the startled McCarthy, who seemed dazed and
bewildered by the outburst and the pattering applause that it started.

"Yeh, Bo," yelled Swanson, giving his diamond war cry.  "Yeh, Bo,
you're a bear.  Hey, you folks, throw Maddy out of the window and make
room for this red-headed Caruso.  Why didn't you tell me you could
sing?  The quartette is filled at last!"

Flushed and laughing in his embarrassment, McCarthy was borne up the
aisle and deposited in the place of honor in the quartette.

Suddenly the scuffling and boisterous laughter ceased, and the players
drew aside, apologetically, to make room for an eager, bright-eyed
girl, whose face was flushed with pleasure, but who advanced toward
McCarthy without a trace of embarrassment.  McCarthy, glancing at her,
recognized the girl who had directed him to Manager Clancy on the
evening of his first appearance in the Bear camp.

"I was coming to say good-night to father," she said quickly, "and I
heard you sing.  I want to thank you."

She extended her hand and smiled.  McCarthy stared at her in a
bewilderment.  Some memory of long ago stirred within him.  He recalled
in a flash where he had seen the face before; the face that had come
into his boyhood at one of its unhappiest hours.  He had dreamed of the
face, and the memory of the kind brown eyes, filled with sympathetic
tenderness, never had left him.  She was the same girl.  He realized
suddenly that he was staring rudely and strove to stammer some reply to
her impulsive thanks.

"Oh, I say," he protested.  "It was nothing--I wasn't thinking"----

"You sang it beautifully," she interrupted.

"The song is one of my favorites.  I did not know Mr. Kennedy knew it."

"Used to sing it at home," said Kennedy, as if indifferent.

"Thank you," McCarthy stammered, partly recovering his poise.  "It is
good of you to like it.  I seldom sing at all.  The song made me forget
where I was."

"You must sing for us," she said simply.  "The boys will make you.  I
am certain that after you feel more at home among us you will give us
that pleasure.  Good-night--and thank you again."

The girl smiled and McCarthy, stuttering in his effort to reply,
managed to mutter good-night as she passed into the next car.

"It's a pink Kohinoor now," said the relentless Swanson, as he observed
the flushed face of the recruit.  "All fussed up, isn't he?"

"Oh, cut it out," retorted McCarthy, striving to cover his
embarrassment by ball field conversational methods.  "A fellow might be
expected to be a little bit embarrassed with a lot of big stiffs like
you standing around and never offering to introduce a fellow."

"I forgot it, Kohinoor," said Kennedy quickly.  "I forgot you never had
met her.  She is Betty Tabor, Sec's daughter, and one of the best
little women in the world.  Even Silent is a gentleman when she is with
the team."

"I'm always a gent, Bo," declared Swanson indignantly.  "I took a night
school course in etiquette once.  Any one that ain't a gent when she is
around I'll teach to be a gent--and this is the perfessor."

He exhibited a huge, red fist and smote the cushions of the berth with
a convincing thud.

"I'll introduce you properly to-morrow," volunteered Kennedy.  "Come on
and get into the quartette.  We'll try you out."

McCarthy surrendered more to conceal his agitation than because he felt
like singing.

The quartette sang until the bridge players grew weary of the game and
the tired athletes who preferred sleep to the melody howled
imprecations upon the vocalists.

For a long time after McCarthy climbed into his berth he remained
staring into the darkness, striving to recall the outlines of a face
set with a pair of friendly brown eyes that lighted with a look of
eager appreciation.  He remembered the little dimples at the corners of
the mouth, and the wealth of soft, brown hair that framed the oval of
her face.  He blushed hotly in the darkness at the thought of his own
rather threadbare raiment, and he decided that he would evade an
introduction until he could secure money from Manager Clancy and
recover the clothes he had left in an express office.

He found himself striving to compare her face with that of another.

"She is not as pretty as Helen is," he told himself.  "But it's
different somehow.  Helen never seemed to feel anything or to
understand a fellow, and I'm sure Betty--Betty?  I wonder if that is
her real name--I'll sing for her as often as she will listen."

And, after a long reviewing of the past that was proving such a mystery
and which the baseball reporters were striving in vain to explore,
McCarthy muttered: "I've made a fool of myself," and turned over and
slept.



CHAPTER IV

_"Kohinoor" Meets Betty_

The train was speeding along through the upper reaches of a beautiful
valley when McCarthy awoke.  As he splashed and scraped his face in the
washroom he found himself torn between desire to hasten the
introduction which Kennedy had promised and to avoid meeting the girl.
He glanced down at his worn garments, wondering whether or not the girl
had observed them.  He went forward to the dining car with sudden
determination to avoid the introduction.  The dining car was crowded,
and the table at which Swanson was eating was filled.  McCarthy
stopped, looked around for a vacant seat.  There seemed to be only
one--and at that table Miss Betty Tabor was breakfasting with Manager
Clancy and his wife.

"Good morning," said the girl, smiling brightly.  "There is a seat
here.  My father had to hurry away.  Mr. Clancy will introduce us."

Clancy suspended his operations with his ham and eggs long enough to
say:

"Miss Taber, Mr. McCarthy.  Kohinoor, this is the old lady."

"I heard Mr. McCarthy sing last night," said the girl, acknowledging
the informal presentation.  "He sings well."

"So I should guess," remarked Clancy dryly.  "Swanson has been
bellowing his praise of it until everyone on the train thinks we have
grabbed a grand opera star who can hit 400."

McCarthy found himself talking with Miss Taber and Mrs. Clancy and
laughing at the quaint half brogue of the manager's buxom wife as if
they had known each other all their lives.  Clancy himself had little
to say.  The conversation had drifted to discussion of the country
through which the train was running and McCarthy suddenly ceased
talking.

"I always have loved this part of the valley," said Miss Taber.  "When
I was a little girl father brought me on a trip and I remember then
picking out a spot on the hills across the river where, some day, I
wanted to live.  I never pass it without feeling the old desire.  Have
you been through this country before?"

The question was entirely natural, but McCarthy reddened as he admitted
it was his first trip.

"And what part of the world do you come from?" asked Mrs. Clancy.

"I'm from the West," he responded.  "Probably that is why I admire this
green country so much."

"What is your home town?" persisted Mrs. Clancy.

Miss Taber, scenting an embarrassing situation, strove to change the
subject, but Mrs. Clancy refused to be put off.

"Why is it you are ashamed of your home and play under another name,
boy?" she demanded.

"Why do you think my name isn't McCarthy?" he parried.

"The McCarthys aren't a red-headed race," she said, her brogue
broadening.  "Ye have Irish in ye, but ye're not Irish.  Is baseball
such a disgraceful business ye are ashamed to use your name?"

"Of course not, Mrs. Clancy," he responded indignantly.  "It is a good
enough business--but--but--Oh, I can't explain."

"This mystery business is a big drawing card," remarked Manager Clancy,
endeavoring to ease the situation.  "They flock to see him because each
one can make up his own story.  Let him alone, mother.  Don't spoil the
gate receipts."

"Let him alone, is it?" she asked, turning upon her husband.  "'Tis for
his own sake I'm speaking.  They'll be saying you've done something bad
and wicked and are afraid to use your own name."

"What isn't true cannot hurt anyone," he replied quickly.  "I have not
committed any crimes."

"Mother is a good deal right about it," remarked Clancy quietly.  "A
baseball player is a public person.  The fans are likely to say
anything about a player, and the less they know the more they will
invent."

"I believe Mother Clancy is right," said Miss Taber, seeing that her
effort to turn the conversation had failed.

"But there really isn't anything to tell--anything any one would be
interested in.  It's a private matter," protested McCarthy.

"Listen, boy," said the manager's wife.  "I've been with the boys these
many years.  They are all my boys, even the bad ones, and I don't want
any of them talked about."

"There is nothing to talk about," he contended, irritated by the
persistency of the manager's wife.

"They're already saying things," she responded, leaning forward.
"They're a saying that you've done something crooked--that you've
thrown ball games----"

"Oh," ejaculated Miss Taber.  "They wouldn't dare!"

"I'd like to have someone say that to me," McCarthy said, flushing with
anger.

"Hold on, mother," interrupted Clancy.  "I'm managing this team----Let
up on him.  Where do you hear that kind of talk?"

"I heard it in the stands," she argued earnestly.  "They were saying
you knew all about it.  If you deny it they'll tell another story and
if you keep quiet they'll think its a confession.  Tell them what you
are and where you came from, boy."

Her voice was pleading and her interest in his welfare was too real not
to affect him.

"I'm sorry, Mother Clancy," he said gratefully, unconsciously adopting
the term he had heard Betty Tabor use.  "There is nothing I can tell
them--or anyone--now."

"It's sorry I am, Jimmy," she responded sadly.  "If it's anything ye
can tell me come to me."

"I see I have another adopted son," remarked Clancy teasingly as he
winked at Miss Tabor.  "Ellen mothers them all, as soon as she learns
their first names--even the Swede."

"'Tis proud I'd be to have a son like Sven," she said, defendingly.

The breakfast ended rather quietly and McCarthy returned to his seat in
the players' car dispirited.  In his heart he knew that Mrs. Clancy had
spoken the truth.  He knew, too, that Betty Tabor held the same opinion
and, somehow, her opinion of him counted more than that of all the
others.

"If I only could explain," he kept thinking.  "They have no right to
ask," he argued with himself.  "Why do they suspect a man just because
he refuses to tell them all his private affairs?"

McCarthy was settling himself to resume reading when Adonis Williams
came down the aisle and sat down in the other half of the seat.
Williams looked at him patronizingly for an instant, and in a rather
sneering tone said:

"Just a friendly little tip, young fellow.  Keep off my preserves and
you'll get along better with this club."

"I don't quite understand you," replied McCarthy, his eyes narrowing
with the anger aroused by the air of superiority assumed by the pitcher.

"I was watching you during breakfast," said Williams.  "Don't get it
into your head that because you happened to play a couple of good games
of ball you can run this club and do as you please."

"Hold on a minute," retorted McCarthy, flushing with anger.  "If you
have any grievance against me say so.  Don't beat around the bush.  I
don't know what you are talking about."

"I wanted to tip you off to keep away from the young woman you ate
breakfast with."

McCarthy's eyes flashed angrily, and he started to rise, but controlled
himself with an effort.

"Only muckers discuss such things," he said, coldly.

"Well, we're going to discuss it," retorted Williams, who rapidly was
working himself into a rage.  "That young lady is going to be my wife,
and I don't care to have her associating with every hobo ball player
that joins the team."

McCarthy clenched his fists and started to his feet, but gritted his
teeth and kept control of his temper.  "You're to be congratulated--if
it is true," he said slowly, his tone an insult.  "Men cannot fight
over a woman and not have her name dragged into it.  Drop that part of
it and to-night I'll insult you and give you a chance to fight."

"Any time you please," replied Williams, rather taken aback.  "I think
you're yellow and won't dare fight."

He swaggered down the aisle, leaving McCarthy angry, helpless and
raging.  He was boiling with inward anger when Swanson slid down into
the seat with him as the train entered the suburbs of the Pilgrim City.

"Smatter, Bo?" asked Swanson, quickly observing that something was
wrong.  "I saw Williams talking with you.  Has he been trying to bluff
you?  Don't mind him.  He has been as sore as a Charley horse ever
since you joined the team, and he won't overlook a chance to start
trouble."

"He has started it all right," replied McCarthy, savagely.  "We're
going to fight to-night and I'll"----

"Steady, Bo, steady," warned Swanson, dropping his voice.  "That's his
game, is it?  He won't fight any one.  He heard Clancy warn you not to
fight and he is trying to get you in bad.  I know his way."

"I told him I'd fight," responded McCarthy, worriedly.  "Now I'll have
to.  I don't know anything I'd enjoy better."

"I'd like to second you and make you do it," responded the giant.  "But
it would be playing into his hands if you punched him.  Leave him to
me.  I'll fix his clock."

Swanson's methods were all his own.  The repairing of Williams's
timepiece took place in the big auto 'bus that carried the players from
the train to their hotel.  Swanson, wise with long experience in such
matters, secured a seat across the 'bus from Williams, and when the
vehicle rolled onto smoother streets he addressed the pitcher.

"Hey, Adonis," he said in tones Manager Clancy could not fail to hear,
"trying to take out your grouch on Kohinoor, eh?  You lay off him or
count me in on anything that comes off."

"That sneak been tattling and crying for help, eh?" sneered Williams.
"I wasn't going to hurt him."

"You're right, you're not," retorted Swanson.  "He didn't tell me.  I
saw you trying to start something with him, and I've seen you do it to
too many other kids not to know what you were up to."

"Who's talking fight?" demanded Clancy sharply, turning to scan the
players until his eyes rested upon Williams's flushed and angry face.

"Nobody is going to fight," said Swanson easily.  "Adonis has been
trying to bully Kohinoor and stir him up.  I guess he thought he could
put over his bluff because you told Kohinoor not to fight."

"Adonis, you cut that stuff out or I'll take a hand in it myself," said
Clancy, whose ability and willingness to fight had earned him a
reputation during his playing days.  "You've had a grouch for a week or
more.  As for you, Kohinoor, don't think you can fight your way through
this league.  The first thing you have to do is to learn to stand
punishment and keep your temper."

"No fresh prison pup can swell up and try to cut into my affairs,"
muttered Williams, sullen under the rebuke.

McCarthy sprang up to avenge the fresh insult, but before he could act
or speak he was forestalled.

"Oh," said Clancy sharply.  "So you're the fellow who has been making
that kind of talk?  I've been trying to find out where it came from.
One more bit of that kind of conversation will cost you a bunch of
salary."

"I've heard it everywhere," muttered Williams, taken aback by the
sudden defense of the recruit by the manager.

"Well, don't hear any more of it," snapped Clancy, and McCarthy,
feeling he had emerged with the honors, discretely maintained silence.

"What started Adonis after you this morning?" asked Swanson, as he
hurled garments around the room and wrought disaster to the order of
his trunk as he hunted pajamas.

"Guess he was just trying to start something," responded McCarthy,
still reading.

"Girl?" inquired Swanson.

"What makes you think that?"

"He was mad when he saw you at breakfast with Betty.  He's jealous of
everyone who talks to her."

"She's a dandy girl," said McCarthy, generously.  "I don't much blame a
fellow for being jealous when he is engaged to a girl like that."

"Engaged to Betty Tabor?  That stiff?" ejaculated Swanson.  "Say, did
he spring a line of talk like that on you?  Why, he has been crazy
about her for three years, but she knows what he is, and she won't talk
to him any more than to be polite."

"I thought it was odd," commented McCarthy, his heart becoming
strangely lighter.

"Don't make any mistake, though," added Swanson earnestly, as he turned
out the lights.  "You've stirred up a bad enemy.  He won't fight you
openly; but keep an eye on him."

Swanson's warning fell upon deaf ears.  McCarthy's attack of blues was
cured, and he fell asleep to the music of street car wheels that seemed
to say: "She isn't engaged, she isn't engaged," as they rolled past the
hotel.



CHAPTER V

_The Tempter_

The Bears were coming into their hotel after the first game of the
series with the Pilgrims.  The throng in the lobby pressed forward,
forming a lane through which they were compelled to run the gauntlet of
curious and admiring eyes.  Easy Ed Edwards was smiling sardonically as
he noted the little display of hero-worship, and he watched the
procession of battle-stained athletes until Adonis Williams entered.
The handsome, arrogant pitcher was laughing as he strutted for the
benefit of the onlookers, but, as his eyes met the cold, steady gaze of
the gambler, his laugh gave way to a look of alarm.  Edwards nodded
coldly and motioned with his head for the player to come to him.
Williams crossed the lobby to the cigar stand and held out his hand.
Edwards did not seem to observe the extended hand, but turned coldly to
the case and said:

"Have a cigar?"

"Thanks," said Williams, nervously.  "What brings you out here, Ed?"

"Business," replied the gambler chillingly.  "Business concerning
you--and others.  Come to my room to-night."

"Can't--I was going out.  Had an engagement," Williams faltered, as he
dropped his eyes to avoid meeting those of Edwards.

"I want you in my room to-night," said Edwards coldly, ignoring the
refusal.

"You seem to think you have a mortgage on my life," said Williams,
angered by the tone and manner of the gambler.

"Well--on your baseball life, I have," responded the gambler without
changing a muscle of his face.

The pitcher started to flare into anger, then paled and his eyes
dropped under the gambler's steady gaze.

"Well," he said, uncertainly, "I've got to dress, I'll see you later."

"Better drop in early.  You'll probably pitch to-morrow and you must
keep in condition."  Edwards' tone was ironic as he added for the
benefit of the clerk who was handing him his change: "The race is
getting warm and you can't be too careful of your condition."

What happened in the gambler's room that evening was never known to any
save the two who were present, but shortly after 11 o'clock Williams
came downstairs white and shaking with passion, and went in to the bar.
He emerged nearly an hour later, flushed and unsteady, just in time to
encounter Manager Clancy, his wife, Miss Taber and McCarthy, chatting
and laughing as the men bade the women good-night at the elevators.
Clancy, catching sight of him, remarked:

"Hello, Adonis.  Better hit the hay.  You work to-morrow."

Williams turned away and said: "All right."  But when the manager and
McCarthy entered the elevator Williams returned to the barroom, and
when, at 1 o'clock, the bar closed, he went unsteadily to his room,
after informing the bartender that he was the best pitcher in the world.

The Bears faced the Pilgrims for the third game of the series before a
huge Saturday crowd, attracted by the announcement that Puckett, the
star pitcher of the Pilgrims would pitch against Adonis Williams.  The
teams battled brilliantly for three innings, although Williams was wild
and unsteady.  Twice sharp work by the infielders prevented the
Pilgrims from scoring, and when the fourth inning commenced the crowd
was cheering the Pilgrims wildly and encouraging them to drag down the
Bears from their proud position at the head of the-league.  Manager
Clancy, crouching forward near the players' bench, was watching
Williams closely, and every few moments his worried frown and quick
gesture showed that he was not pleased with the manner in which his
best left-hander was working.  Between innings the manager talked in
low tones with Kennedy, who was catching, seeking to discover why
Williams seemed wild and what was the matter with his curve ball.

"Get out there and warm up a bit, Will," said Clancy to Wilcox, his
reliable veteran.  "They're likely to get after Adonis any minute."

To those in the stands it seemed as if Williams was pitching just as
well as was his rival, but both teams knew that he was not in his best
form, and that it was luck and fast fielding, rather than good
pitching, that was saving him from being batted hard.  The Pilgrims
attacked him in each inning with confidence born of the certainty that
sooner or later their hard drives would begin to fall in safe ground,
while the Bears played the harder to prevent the start of a rally.

The break came in the sixth inning.  A base on balls to the first
batter gave the Pilgrims the opening for which they had been waiting
and they rushed to the assault like soldiers upon a breached wall.
Douglass, the next batter, hit a line single to right so hard that the
runner going from first was compelled to stop at second.  Instead of
delaying and steadying himself while planning a system of defense,
Williams commenced pitching as rapidly as he could get the ball away
from his hand.  Almost before the batter was in position he pitched a
fast ball straight over the plate and the batter bunted down toward
shortstop.  McCarthy was racing upon the ball, ready to scoop it in
perfect position for a throw.  Williams attempted to field the ball
which either McCarthy or Swanson could have handled.  Williams touched
the ball with his groping fingers just before McCarthy, stooping and
going at full speed, scooped it and tried to snap it to second base.
The ball left his hand just as he crashed with terrific force into
Williams.  Both men reeled and went down, stunned and dazed.  The ball
flew wild and rolled on into right field.  One Pilgrim progressed to
the plate.  Douglass, who had been on first, dived safely to third,
while only Swanson's fast recovery drove the batter back to first.

Williams arose, hurt and furious, and while McCarthy was striving to
struggle to his feet the pitcher aimed a vicious blow at his head.
Swanson's arm was interposed just in time to stop the blow, and before
Williams could strike again players of both teams and the umpires
rushed in and prevented further hostilities.  The shaken and bruised
players recovered and resumed play in a short time, and another safe
hit and an out sent two more of the Pilgrims scurrying across the
plate.  Against the three run lead caused by the mix-up between the
pitcher and third baseman the Bears fought desperately.  Puckett was
pitching one of his cleverest, most studious games and, although the
Bears strove again and again to start a counter rally, he held them
helpless and the Pilgrims won the game 3 to 1.

A sore and disappointed team crowded into the big auto 'bus after the
game.  They were depressed and silent, for the Panthers had won and the
teams again practically were tied for the lead of the championship
race.  This knowledge that they had thrown away a game to a second
division team which they expected to beat four times was bad enough,
but that the Pilgrims should have won from Williams for the first time
in two seasons made the dose more bitter.  No word of blame for any one
was uttered.  But McCarthy, bruised and nursing a cut on his forehead,
grieved and refused to be comforted.

"That was a great play you tried to make, Kohinoor," remarked Manager
Clancy just before the 'bus reached the hotel.  "I like to see a player
try to get the runners nearest home.  If you had forced that fellow at
second, as you tried to do when Adonis cut into the play, the next hit
never would have got through the infield, and the chances are we'd have
had a double play and won the game."

These were the first words of praise Manager Clancy ever had said to
him, and he felt better.

The players had been invited to attend a performance at a theater that
evening.  After dinner they were grouped around the lobby of the hotel,
when Edwards strolled through, going toward the desk.  Manager Clancy
glanced at him in surprise and a worried look came over his face.

"I wonder what that crook is doing out here?" he remarked to a group of
players.  "You fellows keep away from him.  It's worth a player's
reputation for honesty to be seen with him."

As Edwards turned from the desk he glanced quickly at Williams, caught
his eye and beckoned slightly with his head.  Williams suddenly pleaded
that he was too weary to attend the performance and remained in the
hotel, declaring his intention of retiring early.  As soon as Manager
Clancy, escorting the women of the party, left the hotel, Williams
ascended to Edwards' room.

"See here, Ed," he said, "you're putting me in a dickens of a hole.
Clancy is sore on you.  He said he would fine any player who talked to
you.  I was afraid he'd see you tip me to come up.  If he gets on I'll
lose a bunch of salary.  I had to sneak to come up here."

"I wanted to talk to you," replied the gambler.  "I told you last night
that the Panthers must win this pennant.  I stand to lose close to
$80,000 if they don't.  Of course they may beat you, but I want to make
it a sure thing and clean up on it."

"You ought to be feeling better about it to-day," said the pitcher, in
an aggrieved tone.  "We lost to a dub club with me pitching.  What more
do you want?"

"It wasn't your fault that you lost," retorted the gambler coldly.
"You tried hard to win it and you might have won if you had kept away
from that bunted ball."

"I'd have thrown him out at first easily if that four-flush third
baseman hadn't bumped me," snapped Williams, his pride hurt.

"Sure you would," sneered the gambler.  "You'd have thrown me out of
about $160,000 just to have a better average.  You had a chance to lose
that game without any trouble and you're sore because you did lose it."

"Why shouldn't I be?" demanded Williams.  "If we win my part of the
world's series money will be close to $4,000--enough to settle what I
owe you and pay my bills."

"Now look here, Williams," said the gambler, laying aside his cigar and
leaning forward across the table.  "You stand to win just enough to pay
your debts and you'll be broke all winter, without a sou to show for a
year's work.  If the Bears lose I'll cancel all you owe me and make you
a present of as much as the winning players get out of the world's
series.  You get me?"

"Why, you d--d crook."  Williams leaped from his seat threateningly.
"You want me to throw the championship?"

"Sit down, you fool," snarled the gambler, viciously.  "Do you want me
to let Clancy know who tipped it off that Carson's leg was broken?  Do
you want me to tell him you got $500 for tipping it to that Panther
bunch of gamblers?"

"Now listen to sense," continued Edwards, more quickly, "you saw to-day
how easily you can lose a game and blame the other fellow.  You can use
your head and get rich instead of being in debt.  If you don't like
McCarthy, all you have to do is to make him lose games for you.  The
papers will yell, 'Hard luck,' you'll get money and I'll clean up a
fortune."

"You can't make a crook of me," whined Williams.  "Wanting me to throw
down a bunch of good fellows"----

"Oh, shut up.  You make me sick," sneered the gambler.  "All you have
to do is to make a sure thing out of a doubtful one.  You'll be
protecting yourself and getting even with a fellow you hate."

"I won't do it."  Williams was at bay and defiant.

"All right," said Edwards sharply, "then to-morrow Clancy will get some
news that will start something."

"Aw, say, Ed, you wouldn't cross a fellow like that?" whined Williams.

"Wouldn't I?  Perhaps you think I'll let go of all that money and not
fight?  I'm starting home to-morrow.  I won't see you any more.  I am
depending on you to deliver--or I'll protect myself."

"I won't do it."  Williams was desperately defiant.

"Yes you will--when you think it over," Edwards replied easily.  "Let's
have a drink."  He rang the bell and smoked in silence while Williams
sat sullenly defiant.

"I tell you I wouldn't do it for all the money in the game," declared
the pitcher.

"Here comes the boy," said the gambler.  "I'll watch the score of the
next game you pitch to see what you do."



CHAPTER VI

_Adonis Makes a Deal_

The after theater crowd was trooping into the lobby of the hotel in
laughing, chattering groups and drifting steadily toward the café, in
which already gay parties were gathered at the tables.  Manager Clancy
and his wife, with Secretary Taber and his daughter, came together and
they stood undecided, the men urging that they go to the restaurant for
a lunch before retiring, and Miss Taber, laughing, declaring that too
much pleasure in one day was bad for them.  At that moment Williams, a
little flushed, swaggered across the lobby, and, lifting his hat,
advanced toward the group.  The girl smiled pleasantly in response to
his greeting, but as he spoke again she stiffened indignantly and
retired a step involuntarily, as she saw he had been drinking.

"So you prefer that red-headed prison bird to me?" he asked in sneering
tones.

Betty Tabor flushed, then turned pale and facing the handsome, half
drunken fellow, she gazed at him steadily until, in spite of his
swaggering attitude, he grew uneasy and dropped his eyes.  Then she
spoke.  She spoke just one word, vibrant with all the scorn and anger
in her being.

"Yes."

Without a glance at him she turned and stepped into the waiting car,
leaving Williams staring blankly in the elevator well.  The cold scorn
of the girl's single word had stung him more deeply than a volume of
rebuke would have done.  Half maddened by jealousy and drink he turned
to cross the lobby, forgetting to replace his hat, and Clancy, whose
attention had been attracted by the pitcher's pursuit of the girl,
grasped him by the shoulder and said sternly:

"Williams, if you take another drink to-night it will cost you a
month's pay."

The manager turned to rejoin his wife, and Williams, seething with what
he considered a double dose of injustice, walked unsteadily across the
lobby.  He sat down and meditated over his wrongs.  He thought of
Edwards and his offer and rising quickly he walked to the telegraph
office and wrote a message, for which he paid as he handed it to the
night operator.  Clancy, who had been talking with friends, was waiting
for an elevator and saw his pitcher writing the message.  His forehead
knitted into a worried frown as he turned and slowly walked toward the
elevator again, whistling, as was his habit when he was seriously
disturbed.  Clancy determined to watch his left-hander.  He did not
speak of the matter to anyone, having decided to await developments.
He watched Williams closely during the remaining games against the
Pilgrims, which the Bears won easily, and during the trip to the city
of the Maroons, where Williams was to pitch the opening game of the
series.

The Bears and Panthers were fighting upon an unchanged basis, only a
fraction of a game separating them in the league standing.  With but
eighteen more games remaining on the schedule for the Bears, and
nineteen for the Panthers, the race was becoming more desperate each
day and the nervous strain was commencing to tell upon some of the men.
Clancy was nursing his players, knowing that one disheartening defeat
might mean a break that would lead to a succession of downfalls.  The
more he watched Williams the stronger his conviction that something was
amiss.  Williams was not acting naturally and his demeanor when with
the other players was a puzzle to Clancy.

He selected Williams as the pitcher in the first game against the
Maroons with the purpose, being determined to find whether or not the
pitcher was in condition, and he sent Wilcox, his best right-handed
pitcher, out to warm up so as to be ready to rescue Williams at the
first sign of distress.

"What's the matter with Adonis?" inquired Manager Clancy, as his
catcher and principal adviser returned to the bench after the second
inning.

"His curve is breaking slow and low and on the inside corner of the
plate to the right-handers," replied Kennedy.  "I can't make him keep
it high and out."

"Make him use his fast one or he'll get Kohinoor killed with one of
those line smashes," ordered Clancy quietly.  "Watch him closely, and
if he is loafing, signal me."

The third inning and the fourth reeled away without a score, and in the
first half of the fifth a base on balls, a steal by Norton and a
crashing drive by Pardridge gave the Bears a score and the lead.
Caton, one of the heaviest hitters of the Maroons, started their half
of the inning, and as he stepped into position Kennedy crouched and
signaled.  Williams shook his head quickly and pitched a curve that
broke on the inside corner of the plate.  Caton drove the ball with
terrific force straight at McCarthy, who managed to knock it down and
hold the batter to one base.  The next batter sacrificed, and Ellis, a
right-handed slugger, came to bat.  Again Kennedy signaled for a fast
sidearm ball, pitched high, and again Williams shook his head and
curved one over the plate.  Ellis struck the ball with one hand and
sent a carroming down to Swanson, who failed in a desperate effort to
throw out the runner.  With men on first and third the Bears' first and
third baseman came close to the plate to cut off the runner, while the
shortstop and second baseman remained in position to make a double play
or to catch the runner stealing.  Burley, the giant first baseman of
the Maroons, was at bat, a man noted for his ability to hit any ball
pitched close to him.  Williams sent a strike whizzing over the plate.
Again the catcher ordered a fast ball, and he pitched a curve that
Burley fouled off for the second strike.  Kennedy, perplexed and
anxious, ran down to consult with the pitcher.  Williams sullenly
assented to the order to pitch high and out and waste two balls.
Instead, he threw a curve, low, close to the batter's knees and barely
twisting.  Before Kennedy's cry of anger rose the bat crashed against
the ball, which flashed down the third-base line, struck McCarthy on
the arm, then on the jaw, and he went down like a poled ox, the ball
carroming away toward the stand.  Before it was recovered one Maroon
had scored and the others were perched on second and third.

Time was called and players rushed to assist the injured third baseman.
Kennedy threw off his mask and ran to the bench.

"I signaled him and told him to pitch fast and waste two," he said to
Manager Clancy.  "He nodded that he would and then crossed me and
lobbed up an easy curve inside the plate."

"Don't say a word," cautioned Clancy, as McCarthy, still dazed, but
recovering, was helped to his feet.  "Keep ordering him to pitch fast
and outside.  Signal me if he disobeys again."

McCarthy got onto his feet unsteadily, while the trainer worked with
his numb and aching arm.  He winced with pain as he tried to throw to
see how badly his arm was damaged.  While he was walking slowly back to
the bag, testing his arm anxiously, McCarthy had the second shock.  The
cheering in the stands drew his attention, and as he glanced toward the
crowd he saw a girl.  She was sitting in one of the field boxes between
two men and she was staring straight at him.  McCarthy lifted his cap,
as if acknowledging the tribute to the crowd, but really in salutation
to the girl, who flushed angrily.  A wave of resentment stirred
McCarthy.  He strove to think that she had failed to recognize him, yet
feeling that the cut was deliberate.

Play had been resumed, but McCarthy's mind was not upon it.  A sharp
yell from Swanson aroused him from his reverie just in time to see a
slow, easy bounding ball coming toward him.  He leaped forward, fumbled
the ball an instant, recovered and threw wild.  Two runners dashed
home, the batter reached second.  McCarthy was thoroughly unnerved.  A
few moments later he permitted an easy fly ball to fall safe in left
field without touching it.  His errors gave the Maroons two more
scores, and, although the Bears rallied desperately late in the game,
it was too late, and they were beaten 5 to 3.

A sullen crowd of players climbed into their 'bus under punishment of
the jeers of the crowd that gathered to see them start back to their
hotel.  McCarthy, with his shoulder and head aching, but with his heart
aching worse, sat with his chin drawn down into the upturned collar of
his sweater, refusing to be comforted.  The Bears were in second place,
half a game behind the Panthers, and he, McCarthy, had lost the game.
Williams was smiling as if pleased and McCarthy blazed with anger.



CHAPTER VII

_McCarthy Meets Helen_

"Come to the hotel parlor at eight this evening.  I wish to see you."

The note, hastily scribbled on hotel letter paper, was awaiting him
when Kohinoor McCarthy entered the hotel after the disastrous game.  He
recognized the angular scrawled writing at a glance.  Since the moment
his eyes had met those of Helen Baldwin during the game he had been
thinking hard.  Her behavior had hurt him and the thought that she
deliberately had refused to recognize him stung his pride.  The note
proved she had recognized him on the field.  Either she was ashamed of
his profession or did not want the men with her to know that she knew
him.

McCarthy ate a hurried dinner and paced the lobby of the hotel.  He was
anxious to meet the girl, yet he felt a dread of it, an uncertainty as
to the grounds on which their acquaintanceship should be resumed.  For
nearly half an hour he waited, growing more impatient with every minute
and wondering whether there had been a mistake.  His mind was busy
framing a form of greeting.  When last they met it had been as
affianced lovers.  Now----  A rustle of soft garments brought him to
his feet and he stepped forward with outstretched hand to meet the
tall, slender girl who came leisurely from the hallway.  Her mass of
light, fair hair framed a face of perfect smoothness.

"Helen," he exclaimed quickly, "this is a pleasant surprise."

"I wish to talk with you, Larry," she replied without warmth, as she
extended a limp hand, sparkling with jewels.

"It is good to see you, Helen," he exclaimed, a bit crestfallen because
of her manner.  "What brings you East?  I was nearly bowled over when I
saw you to-day.  I thought you did not know me, but I see you did."

"Surely you did not expect me to bow to you there," she responded.
"Did you desire all those people to know that I had acquaintances in
that--that class?"

"Then you chose to cut me deliberately?" he asked.

"Don't be foolish, Larry," she replied.  "A girl must think of herself
and I did not choose to have my companions learn that I was acquainted
with persons in that--profession, do you call it?"

"Well, if you are ashamed of my profession"--he said hotly.

"Nonsense," she interrupted him.  "I simply did not desire to have
people see me speak to a person who earns his living sliding around in
the dirt on his face.  That is what I wanted to see you about.  What
new prank is this?  Are you seeking notoriety?"

"I am earning my living," he said.  "Baseball is the only thing I could
do well enough to make money."

"Earn your living?" The girl's surprise was sincere.  "You haven't
broken with your Uncle Jim, have you?"

The girl's eyes grew wider with surprise, and her tone indicated
consternation.

"I have--or, rather, he has--cut me off," the boy explained rather
sullenly.  "I tried to find a job--thought it would be easy here in the
East, but no one wanted my particular brand of ability, and I tried
something I knew I could do."

"Then you--then your uncle"--the girl's consternation was real, and she
hesitated.  "Then our engagement"----

"I thought that was broken before I left," he replied.  "You said you
wouldn't marry me at all if I told Uncle Jim."

"I thought you would be sensible," she argued.  "Everyone at home
thinks you are sulking somewhere in Europe because of a quarrel with
me.  Why didn't you write to me?"

"After our last interview it did not seem necessary," he said.

"Oh, Larry," the girl said, pouting, "you've spoiled it for both of us.
If you had done as I wanted you to do everything would have been happy,
and now you humiliate me and all your friends by earning your living
playing with a lot of roughs."

"They're a pretty decent lot of fellows," he responded indignantly.

"Why did you do it?" she demanded, on the verge of tears from
disappointment and annoyance.

"I quarreled with Uncle Jim," he admitted.  "I told him I wanted to
marry you, and he told me that if I continued to see you he'd cut me
off."

"And you lost your temper and left?" she concluded.

"Just about that," he confessed.  "He told me I was dependent upon him,
and said I'd starve if I had to make my own living.  Of course, I could
not stand that"----

"Of course," she interjected stormily.  "I told you that he hated all
our family, but that if we were married he would forgive you."

"I couldn't cheat him that way," he replied with some heat.  "Besides
you had broken with me.  I knew he hated your uncle--but I thought if
he knew you"----

"He would have," she said, "if you had given him a chance."

"I told him I could make my living--a living for both if you would have
me," he confessed.

"Playing ball?"  Her tone was bitter.  "And you had an idea you would
come East and make your fortune and come back and claim me?"

"I did have some such idea when I left," he confessed.  "It wasn't
until I was broke and unable to find work that I realized how hopeless
it was to think of you."

"I couldn't bear being poor, Larry," the girl spoke with some feeling.

"We were poor once.  Be sensible.  Go back home and make up with Mr.
Lawrence--and when I return"----

"I am making a good salary," he said steadily.  "I can support two.  If
you care enough"----

"I couldn't marry a mere ball player," she said, shrugging with disdain.

"You used to like it when I played at the ranch and at college," he
retorted angrily.

"That was different," she argued.  "There you were a hero--but here you
are a mere professional."

"But you attend games," he protested.

"I had to to-day.  I am on my way to visit Uncle Barney for the summer,
and his friend insisted upon taking us to the game."

"Oh, see here, Helen," he protested.  "He's your uncle, but everyone
knows he is crooked in politics and in business.  Why do you accept his
money?"

"He is very good to me--and I cannot bear to be poor again."

"Then you will not"----

"Be reasonable, Larry," she interrupted.  '"You know I cannot marry a
poor man."

"Then it was only the money you cared for," he said bitterly.  "Uncle
Jim said it was, and I quarreled with him for saying it--and it was
true."

"You put it coarsely," she said coldly.  "You cannot expect me to give
up the luxuries Uncle Barney provides for me and marry a ball player.
Unless you make it up with your uncle I shall consider myself free."

A stifled exclamation, like a gasp of surprise, startled them, and a
rustle of retreating garments in the adjoining parlor caused McCarthy
to step quickly to the doorway.  He was just in time to recognize the
gown.  He realized that Betty Tabor had overheard part of the
conversation, and he wondered how much.

"Some eavesdropper, I suppose," Miss Baldwin remarked carelessly.

"She came by accident, probably to read, and departed as soon as she
realized it was a private conversation," he said warmly.

"Then you know her?" she asked quickly.

"Yes," he replied, realizing he had betrayed undue interest in the
defense.

"Who is she?" the girl demanded.

"One of the women with the team, daughter of the secretary," he
explained, striving to appear unconcerned.

"Is she pretty?"

"Why--yes--I don't know.  She is very pleasant and nice looking."

"Rather odd, isn't it, a woman traveling with a lot of tough ball
players?"

"You are unjust," he exclaimed indignantly.  "She is with her father
and Mrs. Clancy.  Besides, the ball players are not tough--at least
none of them is while she is with the club."

"You seem ready to rush to her defense," she remarked with jealous
accents.

"Of course, I cannot let you think she is not a nice girl."

"Of course not"----her tone was sarcastic.  "Traveling around the
country with a crowd of men and eavesdropping in hotel parlors."

"She would not do such a thing.  You must not speak of her in that
way," he stormed indignantly.

"I congratulate her upon having captured so gallant a champion," she
mocked.

They were verging upon a sharper clash of words when a big man, heavy
of jaw and red of face, strolled into the parlor, not taking the
trouble to remove his hat.

"Oh, here you are, Helen," he said.  "I've been looking everywhere.
Time to start or we'll be late to bridge."

"Uncle Barney," said the girl, rising, "this is Mr.--oh, I forget.
What is it you call yourself now?--McCarthy.  I knew him when he was at
college.  He plays on some baseball team--one of those we saw to-day.
Mr. McCarthy, this is my uncle, Mr. Baldwin."

"I have heard of you often, Mr. Baldwin," said McCarthy coolly,
although fearful that Baldwin might remember him.

"You're McCarthy, the new third baseman, eh?" asked Baldwin, without
offering his hand and merely glancing at the boy.  "Saw you play
to-day.  Too bad you threw that game away."

"I"----McCarthy started to offer defense.

"We must be going, Helen," said Baldwin.

The girl extended her hand carelessly.

"We hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again," she said.

Baldwin, with a curt nod to the player, turned to leave the parlor and
McCarthy, seizing the opportunity, said:

"As a favor, Helen, do not reveal my identity.  Your uncle did not
recognize me as the boy he saw play on the Shasta View team."

"You need not fear," she responded rapidly.  "And, Larry, please be
sensible.  Go home and make it up with Mr. Lawrence--and you may hope.
And," she added in a low tone, "beware of that girl."

She hurried after her uncle, who had stopped and turned impatiently,
leaving McCarthy staring after her and frowning.  After all, he thought
bitterly, his uncle was right.  All she cared for was the money and not
for him.  He had quarreled with his uncle, his best friend, who had
taken care of him since his childhood and who had made him his heir--on
account of her.  He was free.  Yes, he was free.

He found himself wondering that he was happy instead of bitter over the
loss of Helen Baldwin.  He knew now he never had loved her.  With a
thrill of gladness came the thought of Betty Tabor.  His jaw set, the
fighting look came into his blue eyes and he saw his way clearly.  He
was not free.  His duty was to the Bears.



CHAPTER VIII

_In the Deeper Waters_

Two defeats at the hands of the Maroons sent the Bears into the final
game of the series desperately determined to win.  Their pitching staff
was exhausted from the effort to stop the team which they had expected
to beat easily.

The game was a brilliant exhibition of defensive playing on the part of
the Bears, who were driven back by the hard hitting of the Maroons.  In
spite of the fierce batting of the Maroons the magnificent defensive
work of the Bears held their rivals to two runs, while by their
brilliant and resourceful attack and skilful inside work they had
scored three runs on five scattered hits, and at the start of the
eighth inning were holding grimly to their lead of one run.

McCarthy, spurred by determination to redeem himself for the errors of
the preceding games, was giving a wonderful exhibition of third-base
play.  The knowledge that Helen Baldwin, her uncle and a group of
friends were sitting in one of the field boxes directly behind him
urged him to greater efforts.  It was his long hit in the sixth inning,
followed by a clever steal of third, that had enabled the Bears to gain
the lead which they were holding by their fast work on the infield.

The Bears failed to score in their half of the eighth, and the Maroons
opened with a fierce assault upon Klinker that threatened to break down
the Bears' inner wall of defense.  Swanson's brilliant stop and throw
of a vicious drive checked the bombardment, but a safe drive and a
two-base hit went whizzing through beyond the finger tips of the diving
infielders, and there were runners on second and third bases, one out
and a hit needed to turn the tide in favor of the Maroons again.

The infield was drawn close in the hope of cutting off the runner from
the home plate.  It was desperate baseball, and, as the infielders
advanced to the edge of the grass, each man knew that a line smash, a
hard-driven bounder between them, or even a fumble, probably meant the
destruction of their pennant hopes.

The ball was hit with terrific force straight at McCarthy, who threw up
his hands and blocked desperately.  The ball tore through his hands,
struck his knee with numbing force and rolled a few feet away.  He
pounced upon it and like a flash hurled it to Kennedy at the plate, so
far ahead of the runner who was trying to score that he turned back
toward third, with Kennedy in pursuit.  Swanson had come up to cover
third, and the runner from second base stood at the third bag watching
the play, ready to dash back if the runner, trapped between third and
the plate, managed to elude the pursuers and regain third base.
Kennedy passed the ball to Swanson, and as the runner turned back,
Swanson threw to McCarthy, who had fallen in behind Kennedy, leaving
the pitcher to cover the plate if the runner broke through in that
direction.  The runner started to dodge, but McCarthy, without an
instant's hesitation, leaped after him and drove him hard back toward
third base, so hard that the runner went on over the bag and ten feet
beyond before he could stop.  Like a flash McCarthy leaped sideways,
touched the other runner who was starting back to second base, and,
with a fierce dive, he threw his body between the base and the runner
who had overslid it and tagged him.

Before he could scramble to his feet to claim the double play he heard
Clancy, excited in spite of his long experience, shouting: "Good
boy--nice work."  As the umpire waved both runners out the crowd,
bewildered for an instant by the rapidity with which McCarthy had
executed the coup, commenced to understand and broke into a thundering
round of applause as he limped toward the bench.

With that attack staved off, the Bears held the Maroons safe in the
ninth and closed the final Western trip of the team with a hard-earned
victory.  They started homeward that evening with confidence renewed
and the men hopeful.

The Bears were scheduled to stop en route to the home grounds to play a
series of three games against the Travelers, a team low in the standing
of the clubs, but one of the most dangerous of all.  It was a slow but
heavy-hitting aggregation, and at times more dreaded than were the
stronger clubs.  The series was a critical one for the Bears as, after
that, they would return to the home grounds to play all the other
games, with the exception of two against the Blues.

McCarthy was happier and more interested than he had been since he
joined the Bears.  Restlessly he awaited an opportunity to talk with
Betty Tabor.  Since his interview with Helen Baldwin he had been
strangely jubilant for a young man who had just been discarded by the
girl to whom he was engaged.  He wondered how much of the conversation
Betty Tabor had overheard, and worried about it.  He wanted to explain
to her who Miss Baldwin was and how he had happened to be talking with
her, yet he knew it would seem presumptuous for him to broach the
subject.  Why should Betty Tabor think enough of him to be jealous?
Yet, in spite of this, he decided that, at the first opportunity, he
would mention meeting Helen Baldwin.

He went to bed annoyed and with an odd sense of being wronged.  He
determined to see the girl at breakfast and almost decided to confide
in her the secret of his past life.  But he did not see her at
breakfast.  After a restless night he was among the first in the dining
car and he loitered, but the girl, usually one of the earliest risers,
slept late, and when the train reached the city of the Travelers she
went with Manager Clancy and his wife in a taxicab, while McCarthy was
bundled with the other players into the big auto 'bus.  He failed to
catch a glimpse of her during luncheon and was in a bad humor when the
team made an early start for the ball park.

The game was a runaway for the Bears.  They piled up such a large score
during the early innings that Manager Clancy was able to take out
Morgan in the sixth and send Shelby, a second-string pitcher, to finish
the game, saving up more strength and skill to use at the finish.

It was a jubilant crowd of players that returned to the hotel after the
game.  They sang and laughed and were happy again.  They had won, and
during the afternoon the Panthers, overconfident, had suffered two
defeats by the Maroons, leaving the teams again practically tied for
the lead.

McCarthy spent the evening loitering around the hotel lobbies, still
hoping for an opportunity to see Miss Tabor, and she failed to appear
at dinner and was not with Mr. and Mrs. Clancy when they started out
for a car ride.  He wandered aimlessly around until, abandoning his
quest, he went to his room disconsolately.  It was not yet eleven
o'clock, but Swanson was preparing for sleep.  As McCarthy came into
the room he stopped to laugh.  The giant shortstop was in his pajamas,
on his back in the bed.  With one bare foot he was holding a sheet of
paper against the head board, and with a pencil grasped between the
toes of the other foot he was laboriously striving to write.

"What was you trying to do, Silent?" asked McCarthy, laughing harder.

"Figuring my share of the World's Series receipts," responded Swanson,
laboring harder.  "Clancy said he'd fine any one of us caught with a
pencil in his hand doping out these statistics," said Swanson, "and I
just had to know."

They were ready to settle down for the night when the telephone rang in
the connecting room.  The door between the rooms was ajar, and Swanson
sprang from bed to respond to the call.

"Hello!" he said.  "Hello!  Yes, this is Williams's room, but he isn't
in just now.  What?  Oh, yes, I understand.  I'll tell him.
Hello--hold a minute, here he is now."

"Hey, Adonis," Swanson called to the pitcher, who was just entering the
room from the hallway.  "Someone wants you."

He handed the receiver to Williams carelessly and walked back into the
room, where McCarthy was stretched upon the bed reading.  His face was
working rapidly as if trying to tell McCarthy something by lip signals.

"I'm tired," said Swanson in a loud tone; "let's sleep late in the
morning."  Then approaching McCarthy's bed he said in a whisper:
"Listen.  Try to catch what he says."

"Hello!  Yes, this is Williams," said the pitcher brusquely.  Then his
voice changed suddenly.  "Yes, Ed, I know you.  To-night?  Aw, say, Ed,
I've got to have sleep!  Can't it wait?  I'll be there in a quarter of
an hour."

He hurried out of the room, and before the door slammed behind him
Swanson had leaped from bed and was dressing with great haste.

"Kohinoor, that was Easy Ed Edwards calling him."

"What are you going to do?" inquired McCarthy.

"Get a move on yourself," ordered the giant.  "Something is up and I
want to know what it is.  Wait a minute," he added as if by sudden
inspiration, and ran to the telephone.

"Hello," he said to the operator.  "Can you tell me where that call for
Mr. Williams came from just now?  He has forgotten which hotel he is to
meet his friend at.  Thank you," he said after a moment's wait.

"Hurry.  He's going to the Metropolis Hotel," he ordered.  "We must
catch up with him."

They dressed with the speed of men accustomed to changing clothing four
or five times a day, and before Williams had been five minutes on his
way they were racing for the elevator.  Swanson, hastily leaping into a
waiting taxicab, ordered the driver to make all possible speed to the
corner nearest the Metropolis Hotel.

"What is up?" asked McCarthy, as they settled back in the cushions of
the taxi as it lurched over the pavement.

"There is something funny going on in this ball club," said Swanson.
"And I am going to find out what it is.  Whatever it is, Williams is
mixed up in it.  I want to find out why he is meeting Edwards to-night
and what is up."

"What do you think?" asked McCarthy.

"I haven't got it figured out," said Swanson, scratching his head.
"There has been something wrong for two weeks.  Ever since you joined
the club Williams hasn't been natural.  He acts mysterious off the
field and worse than that on it.  He has only won one of his last three
games, and ought to have lost them all the way he pitched."

The taxi jerked to a stop at the corner opposite the hotel, and
Swanson, after reconnoitering carefully, led the way across the street
and into the café.

"I used to know this place like a book when I was hitting the booze,"
he said.  "They'll be in here--or I don't know Williams.  Let's take
the corner booth so we can see who comes in and goes out."

Five minutes later two men came through the swinging doors from the
hotel lobby.  Swanson could see them, but McCarthy was out of the range
of vision.  Swanson drew back deeper into the booth.

"Who is it?" inquired McCarthy in a whisper.

"Sh--h!  It's Williams and Edwards.  They're going into the booth next
to us.  Put your ear close to the partition.  I'd give a farm to hear
them."

The players sipped their soft drinks, while in turn they strove to hear
what was passing in the next booth.  Occasionally they could
distinguish a voice, but the words were unintelligible.  Ten minutes of
vain listening ensued.  Then a heavy man in evening clothes hurried
into the café, and after a hasty glance into the booths entered the one
in which Edwards and Williams were waiting.

"I wonder who that fat man is?" whispered Swanson.

"It's a lucky thing he didn't recognize me," replied McCarthy in low
tones.  "That's Barney Baldwin, the broker and politician, one of the
big men of this part of the country--and a crook."

"Whew," whistled Swanson.  "Let's sneak.  We can't hear anything--and
the water is getting deep."



CHAPTER IX

_Baldwin Gets into the Plot_

The events that led up to the midnight conference between Barney
Baldwin, Ed Edwards and Adonis Williams in the booth at the Metropolis
Hotel that night would have been of vast interest to several millions
of baseball enthusiasts had they known of them.

They started with the arrival of Easy Ed Edwards in the city of the
Travelers.  He had run down to watch the game between the Bears and the
Travelers in rather a pleasant frame of mind.  His plans for a huge
gambling coup seemed to be working out well, and, with the Panthers
holding a lead of a game and a half, with but eleven more games to be
played, he was adding to his line of wagers.  The double defeat of the
Panthers and the easy victory of the Bears had placed a new aspect on
the league race, with the Bears again favorites.  Edwards had left the
baseball park in the middle of the game in a frenzy of anger.  It was
too late now for him to attempt to lay off his bets, and he stood to
lose more than $100,000 if his plans to have the Panthers win the
pennant from the Bears went astray.  It was in this mood that he
returned to the hotel and commenced to make drastic plans.  In the
lobby of the hotel he encountered Barney Baldwin.

"Hello, Barney," he said, shaking hands with the broker.  "What brings
you down?"

"Hello, Ed," replied the big man cordially.  "Let's have a drink.  I've
been away a month out West visiting the family.  Brought my niece on
East with me.  Just got home and heard that things are going wrong, so
I ran over here last night to see what sort of cattle have been
breaking up my political fences while I've been gone.  What brings you
over here?"

"Baseball--ran down to see the game to-day.  Rotten game."

"Didn't know you were interested in baseball," said the politician.
"I'm pretty well satisfied with the situation--both my clubs up there
fighting for the lead, and I'm getting it coming and going."

"Both your clubs?" ejaculated the gambler.  "I knew you had some stock
in some club.  How much of the Bears and Panthers do you own?"

"Well, I can control both in a pinch.  I don't pay much attention to
them.  I let the fellows I hire as presidents of the clubs do the
worrying."

"If you own both these clubs you and I can do a little business," said
the gambler, lowering his voice.  "Come on up to my rooms and we'll
have our drinks sent up there where we can talk."

"I haven't much time, Ed," protested Baldwin.  "I want to meet some of
the boys down here and learn how the political situation is stacking
up."

They ascended to Edwards's rooms and when they were seated the gambler
rang for wine, and, leaning forward, said:

"You want your man, Hoskins, to go to the Senate when the Legislature
meets this winter?"

"Why--not exactly--my political plans are rather indefinite.  Hoskins
is an acceptable man"----

"Oh, chop it," said the gambler sharply.  "There's no use for us to try
to fool each other.  You want to put Hoskins over and you know you're
going to have a deuce of a time crowding him through."

"Admitting that to be the case, what then?"

"I think I can push it over for you," the gambler said easily.  "Up
home I've got four members of the Legislature where they will do what I
say--and perhaps can handle two others.  With those four your man would
go over--if you've lined up as many members as the papers say you have."

"Rather early to count noses," Baldwin started to protest.  "We may
line up several others"----

"Nothing doing!" exclaimed Edwards sharply.  "You've got all you
can--the others are lined up either with the high brows or against you
under Mullins.  I can deliver four, possibly six, of Mullin's votes
that he counts as sure."

"What do you want out of it?"  The politician was interested at last.

"Does it make any difference to you whether the Bears or the Panthers
win?" Edwards put the question as if casually.

"It don't make any difference to me," Baldwin retorted curtly.  "I'm
not a bit interested in baseball--except to make money out of the
teams.  I bought the stock as part of a political deal--to help someone
out--and it turned out a good investment.  What has that to do with it?"

"Baldwin," said the gambler, leaning forward again and speaking in low
tones, "you see to it that the Panthers beat the Bears out in that
pennant race, and I'll deliver you at least five votes for your man."

"That's easy," remarked Baldwin.  "I can turn that quickly enough, but
I don't see where you get off."

"You make it a sure thing and I'll tend to my own part of it," said the
gambler.  "I'll get mine, but I'm not so certain you can do it as
easily as you think."

"Why not--don't both clubs belong to me?"

"Sure they do," said the gambler, "but baseball is a hard thing to
monkey with.  You've got to handle it carefully, for if the fact came
out we'd be in such hot water we'd both scald."

"Nonsense," said Baldwin testily.  "I'll call the presidents in,
explain what I want and let them do it."

"Keep off that stuff," warned the gambler.  "You don't seem to know
much about this game.  If you tried to tell Clancy to lose this pennant
he'd run straight to some reporter, and the whole country would be up
in arms.  I shouldn't wonder if they'd lynch you."

"Then how do you propose having it done?" asked the political boss, for
once willing to listen to advice.  He had no qualms of conscience.  To
him baseball meant a game, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of
persons in all parts of the country were vitally interested either in
the Bears or the Panthers did not count with him.  He only sought the
easiest and safest way to accomplish his ends without arousing
suspicion.

"I have one of the Bears fixed," said Edwards.  "But I'm afraid of him.
He is crooked and willing to deliver, but he is yellow--lacks
courage--and he is likely to fail to deliver just when I need him most.
The first thing I want you to do is to help stiffen this fellow's
backbone.  After that we'll try to get at someone else.  If you say
it's all right and promise to protect them we will find it easier."

"This must be a big thing for you, Edwards," suggested Baldwin as
another drink was served and the waiter departed.

"I don't mind telling you that if the Bears win I'll almost be
smashed," replied the gambler angrily.  "I was fool enough to play the
game myself.  I picked the Panthers to win and made a lot of scattering
bets all summer.  Then Carson, the Bears' third baseman, broke a leg.
They tried to keep it quiet as long as possible.  I had a friend in the
club who tipped off to me an hour after it happened that Carson's leg
was smashed in two places.  I jumped right in and plunged, thinking
that without Carson the Bears hadn't a chance.  Then along comes this
blanked red-head and turns it all upside down."

"What red-head?"

"McCarthy--that kid third baseman.  He's been winning games right along
that they ought to have lost, and it looks as if the Bears will win out
anyhow--unless you can stop them."

"McCarthy, eh?" Baldwin smiled patronizingly for the first time.  "My
boy, don't worry.  You may know baseball better than I do--but you've
hit something I know about.  I think I can handle this McCarthy.  I
believe you can get ready to deliver those votes.  I must be going now."

"I'm going to send for that pitcher I've got fixed, to-night," said
Edwards.

"Have him down about ten, or a little later," suggested Baldwin
genially as he arose to leave.

It was the arrival of Baldwin in the barroom to attend the meeting with
Adonis Williams and Easy Ed Edwards that Silent Swanson and Kohinoor
McCarthy saw--and it was well for McCarthy's peace of mind that he did
not hear what transpired at that meeting.



CHAPTER X

_Williams Caught in the Net_

Baldwin, by nature, was pompous and patronizing.  In his capacity as
political boss, representing certain more or less questionable
financial interests, he distributed political patronage with an air of
one bestowing great favors personally.

Baldwin's rise to riches and to a certain degree of power had been a
strange one.  He had been a bartender, and had by a certain selfish
economy and "touching the till" acquired sufficient money to purchase
the saloon in which he was employed from the honest German who had
trusted him almost to the verge of bankruptcy.  Certain wealthy men and
some others interested in public utilities had seen in Baldwin a proper
catspaw, and, in a small way, had used him in politics.  From that he
had developed quickly into an official collector of graft money from
disorderly houses, saloons, and gamblers.

Baldwin had become more and more independent financially and more
powerful politically as he learned the game.  He was shrewd and quick
to learn.  His share of the collections became larger and larger until
in time he was admitted to the higher circle of graft, and, having
served his apprenticeship, he had others to collect for him and take
the greater risk of going to prison.  Eventually, by cunning catering
to big interests, he became the political boss of his city, stockholder
in several public utilities, and head of a brokerage firm, which he
maintained more to account for his possession of wealth than to do
business, although favored in many instances in bond deals.  His
purchase of stock in baseball clubs had been incidental.  He knew
little of the game and cared less.  He was satisfied with the large
returns on the stock and avoided publicity in advertising himself as
owner of either team through fear of causing an increase in the demand,
"Where did you get it?"

Easy Ed Edwards, while waiting in the booth of the Metropolis Café, had
told Adonis Williams the name of the man for whom they were waiting.

"Now get wise, Adonis," he advised, in friendly tones.  "I'll tip you
to something no one outside a few is on to.  Baldwin owns this club
you're pitching for, and he owns the Panthers.  I had it from him
to-night that he wants the Panthers to win the pennant this season.
You toss off a game or two to help him and you'll be strong with him
for life.  You know he holds this State in his vest pocket."

"Ain't I trying my best?" said Williams.  "Clancy won't let me work
often now.  He was working me to death until a couple of weeks ago and
now he's always saving me for some other team.  I asked him to get in
to-morrow.  Maybe I'll work.  If I do I'll make good and lose it."

"Here he comes now," said Edwards in a low tone as Baldwin came
pompously into the barroom in search of them.  "I'll talk and let you
hear what he wants."

"Ah, here we are," said Baldwin pompously, as he discovered them.
"Order a bottle of wine, Ed, and introduce me to your friend."

He already was well warmed with drink and looser and less cautious in
his conversation than customary.

"Glad to meet you, Williams," he said as Edwards went through the
formalities of introduction.  "I've seen you pitch.  Had a good season?"

"Fair," said Williams, striving to appear modest.  "I've won twenty-six
and lost eleven--some of them tough ones, especially lately."

"Sorry to spoil your record, my boy," said Baldwin patronizingly, "but
you must lose a few more for the interests of all concerned."

"Not so loud, Baldwin," warned Edwards.

"All right, all right," assented Baldwin unvexed.  "Let's have another
bottle.

"Now, young fellow," he continued in a low tone when the drink was
served, "you know who I am.  I don't forget my friends.  That's my
motto.  Anyone who does anything that helps me, or helps a friend of
mine"----

He paused to wave his hand indicating that Edwards was the friend.

The man was half drunk and too loose with his talk to please the more
cautious gambler.

"Adonis here is all right," said the gambler suavely.  "I don't blame
him for being a little bit cautious.  You see, Barney, Adonis wasn't
sure the big men behind the game wanted it to go that way and I don't
blame him.  I wanted him to understand how the owners feel."

"I'm wise, I guess," said Williams, warming with the wine.  "All I need
is the chance, and I'll make the Panthers win it."

"You understand," Baldwin said pompously, "it won't do at all for
owners to have anything to do with the games; that's the reason I don't
care to have my name mentioned in connection with the Bears or the
Panthers, but in this case it is to all our interests to have the
Panthers win.  My boy, I'll take care of you well, if you deliver the
goods."

"You may count on me.  We have ten more games to play, and I ought to
work three, maybe four.  I can lose two or three and make it a cinch."

"That's the talk," said Baldwin genially.  "You know which side your
bread is buttered on."

"Yes," remarked Edwards, "he does--but he wants it on both sides.  He's
had chances already to end this race, and won instead of losing."

"I couldn't help it," retorted Williams.  "You know, Ed, I tried to
lose, but that red-headed four-flush was lucky enough to keep me from
it.  You know I don't dare to make it too raw.  Clancy might get
suspicious."

"This McCarthy seems to be the trouble maker all 'round," suggested
Baldwin.  "With him eliminated it ought to be easy, hadn't it?"

"Him a good ball player!" ejaculated Williams angrily.  "Say, he's a
bum.  He's just lucky."

"I don't want any more such luck," sneered Edwards.  "The next time
you're in there you lose the game right--you hear?  Let them get a big
bunch of runs right quick so no one can save the game."

"Maybe Clancy won't let me pitch," objected the star whiningly.  "I
can't make him let me pitch."

"I'll see to that," said Baldwin casually.  "I'll see the president in
the morning and have him tell this Clancy to let you pitch.  Then he'll
put you in."

"Don't be too certain of that," said Edwards.  "Clancy usually runs the
team to suit himself--and he plays to win."

"You leave that to me," replied Baldwin complacently.  "I usually get
what I want.  Meantime, I think I can fix this young fellow Mac.  I'll
have a little talk with him in the morning."

"Don't let him find out that you know either of us," warned Edwards.
"He's a pretty cagey young fellow from what I hear."

"Trust me for that," said the big man.  "I've handled wise fish before
now, and landed them without using a net."

"You know anything about him?" inquired Williams.

"Yes--and no.  Anyhow I am pretty close to someone--a woman--who knows
him and knows all about him."

"I wish I did," snarled Williams, now growling mean from the effects of
drink.  "Who's the woman?"

"She's someone whose name won't appear in this matter," replied the
politician reprovingly.  "She's a relative of mine.  I think he is in
love with her and she turned him down cold.  Let's have another bottle
and break up the party."

"He was in love with her?" asked Williams eagerly, as a plan for
revenge flashed through his mind.

"I believe so," said Baldwin carelessly.  "Family affair.  Never heard
the details.  Of course she couldn't marry a fellow of that class."

The three men emerged from the booth, Williams and Baldwin flushed and
unsteady from the drink, Edwards cold and revealing not a trace of the
wine.

"Williams, you'd better go out the front door," he said quietly.  "It
wouldn't do for you to be seen around the lobby with us at this hour."

Fifteen minutes later Swanson and McCarthy, in their beds, heard
Williams enter the adjoining room unsteadily and hastily prepare for
bed.



CHAPTER XI

_McCarthy in Disgrace_

Events crowded upon each other rapidly the following day.  The first
was a telephone call soon after breakfast that summoned Manager Clancy
to the Metropolis Café.

"Hello, Mac," said Clancy gladly.  "How you hittin' em?  Haven't seen
you in an age.  How's tricks?"

"Pretty good, Bill.  You're looking fine," replied McMahon, manager of
the café, who in his youth had played ball on the team with the now
famous Clancy.  "I was worried about something I heard this morning and
thought I'd send for you.  I couldn't come up."

"What is it?  Let's have a drink--make mine grape juice."

"When I came down this morning Johnny, the night man, told me one of
your players was in here until after midnight last night," said the old
ball player.

"Which one?" demanded the manager angrily.

"He didn't know him, except that he was a ball player.  He was a
sandy-haired fellow, rather slender and wiry looking."

"McCarthy--maybe," said the manager thoughtfully and worried.  "I
didn't think that bird would do it.  Something funny."

He had leaped at the identification.

"That isn't the worst of it, Bill," continued McMahon, "that fellow was
with Easy Ed Edwards and a big fat guy in a dress suit."

"What?" demanded Clancy, starting indignantly.  "Sure of that?"

"Johnny knows Ed Edwards.  They sat in the booth over there and had
four quarts of wine, and the player was pretty well lighted up when
they got out."

"Thanks, Mac," said Clancy worriedly.  "This is tough news at this
stage of the game.  I'll have to take a look into it."

Clancy, his weather-beaten face furrowed with a heavy frown, walked
slowly back to the hotel.

President Bannard, of the Bears, was waiting for him in the lobby.

"Good morning, Bill," he said.  "You're out early.  I wanted to see
you."

"Had some business downtown and went out an hour or so ago," replied
the manager.  "What's the woe?"

"Who's going to pitch to-day?" asked the president.

"I don't know.  I never decide in advance," responded the manager
carelessly.  "Guess it will be either Wilcox or Williams--whichever one
looks best warming up."

"If it's all the same to you," said the president diplomatically, "I
wish you'd let Williams work."

"Why?" demanded Clancy, on the defensive in an instant.

"It's this way, Bill," explained the president.  "You know I don't own
this club.  I've got most of my money in it, but another fellow has
control of the stock.  He is going to the game and he asked me to let
Williams pitch, as he never has seen him work."

"Williams hasn't been very steady in his last three games," remarked
the manager thoughtfully.  "I don't want to risk this pennant to please
anyone, no matter if he owns the whole league."

"Well, you said yourself that your choice was between Williams and
Wilcox, so I can't see it makes any difference."

"You know I don't like to announce pitchers ahead of time," said the
manager.

"It seems to me the owner ought to have a right"----

"Now look here, Bannard," said Clancy sharply, "when I signed this
contract it was with the agreement that I was to run the business on
the ball field and let your end of it alone.  I'm perfectly willing to
oblige a stockholder, but I'm going to win this pennant, and I'll do
what I please with the playing end of the game.  If Adonis looks good
warming up he'll go in, if he don't I'll send someone else to the
slab--and that goes."

"Well--have it your own way"; the president had surrendered entirely to
the aggressive manager.  "Put him in if you can, and if you can't I'll
explain that he wasn't right--twisted himself or something."

Clancy went to his room puzzled and annoyed and, as usual, he sought
advice and enlightenment by consulting Mrs. Clancy, whose abundant good
nature and portliness formed a striking contrast with his seriousness
and slenderness.

"Willie," she said, laying down her sewing after Clancy had stood at
the window, whistling and gazing out for ten minutes without saying a
word.  "Well, Willie--who has broken a leg or sprung a Charlie horse
now?"

"Nothing much, mother," said the big manager quietly.  "Nothing
much--just worrying a little over the way things are going."

"Bill Clancy," she ejaculated indignantly.  "Do you think you can fool
anyone with that talk?  Do you think I could live with you eighteen
years, come next Martinmas, and not know when you're in trouble?  Tell
your old lady what it is."

"Sure, mother," he said fondly, coming to put his arm around her waist.
"Haven't you enough troubles of your own?"

"Me have troubles?"  She was indignant.  "Nothing troubles me but
worrying over those pesky boys of yours.  What's wrong now, Willie?"

"One of the boys out skylarking last night--and drinking."

"Saints forgive him," she said piously, but with a note of relief.
"Sure you'll not be fining the poor boy?  Perhaps he needed a drink or
two to keep up his courage."

"Nothing like that, mother," he replied seriously.  "This was one of
the young fellows out with some gamblers drinking wine till past
midnight.  It looks serious."

"Now, Bill Clancy, you just send for that boy to come right up here and
talk it over.  Tell him he must behave and explain what it means to all
the boys.  Then you'll shame him and he'll be a good boy.  They're all
good boys," she protested earnestly, "only they do try a poor woman."

"I guess that's the best plan, mother," he said.  "You trot over into
the other room and I'll have him up."

"Which one is it this time, Willie?"

"McCarthy!"

"McCarthy--why, Willie, he wouldn't--there's some mistake.  That poor
boy wouldn't do such a thing.  And him grieving his heart out because
Betty Tabor won't treat him well any more.  That's what's the trouble,
Willie."

"We'll see what it is," said the manager, checking her flow of defense
curtly.  "I'll have him up.  You run into the other room with the
sewing and--don't listen."

His telephone call found McCarthy in his room, and the young third
baseman promptly ascended to the manager's apartment and entered
innocently.

"Good morning, Boss," he said, following the burlesque style of
greeting used by the Bears to their manager.

"Good morning," said Clancy curtly, as he scrutinized the face of the
player for signs of a debauch and found the blue eyes clear and fresh.

"You wanted to see me?" inquired McCarthy, thrown a little off his easy
bearing.

"Yes--where were you last night?"

"I--in my room"--he suddenly remembered the excursion with Swanson.  "I
was out for a while," he concluded lamely.

"Were you in the café of the Metropolis Hotel late?"

"Yes," confessed McCarthy, bridling at the tone employed by the
manager.  "I was in there."

"Drinking?"

"Yes--lemonade."

"Nothing stronger?"

"No."

"No wine?"

"No--I'm not in the wine class."

"Who were you with?"

"You're the manager," said McCarthy quietly, although he was rebellious
inwardly.  "You may ask me anything you want to about myself or my
actions--but you surely don't expect me to tell on anyone else?"

"I don't want you to tell on any ball player--but who were you with?"

"I'm not at liberty to tell."

"You needn't tell me--I know," said the manager angrily.  "You got up
out of bed to go there to meet Easy Ed Edwards--and you were with him
while three of you drank four quarts of wine."

For an instant McCarthy clenched his hands until the nails bit into the
palms, and a flood of angry color flashed into his face.  With an
effort he controlled himself.

"You've got everything backwards," he said at last, gazing straight at
the angry manager.  "I can't explain just now--but you'll find out some
day--and apologize."

He turned without another word and left the room.  Clancy, who had
expected angry denials, threats, perhaps a personal encounter, sat
gazing at the closed door, and then to himself he said:

"It looks bad, but hanged if I don't believe him.  No fellow could lie
and look like that."



CHAPTER XII

_McCarthy Defies Barney Baldwin_

"Pardridge, playing third base in place of McCarthy, Holleran in left.
Morton and Kennedy, battery for the Bears."

This announcement, bawled by a battery of megaphone men in front of the
crowded stands that afternoon was the first intimation that McCarthy
had of the contemplated action of Manager Clancy in taking him out of
the game.  He sprang from the end of the bench, where he was tying his
shoes, toward the manager, an angry exclamation on his lips, and his
blue eyes flashing as they narrowed to the battle slit.  Swanson, who
was sitting next him, fondling a bat, seized McCarthy with his
tremendous grip and jerked him back to his seat.

"Steady, boy, steady," the big Swede cautioned.  "Take your medicine.
Show your gameness."

"I'm laid off," said McCarthy as if astonished.  "It isn't right.  He's
laying me off for something he thinks I did"----

"Don't quit--be game," cautioned Swanson.  "Tell me about it to-night."

McCarthy was miserable, and his face revealed it.  Swanson, hardened by
years of facing such little tragedies, of seeing the hearts of young
players broken under such punishment, sympathized, but preserved a
cheerful demeanor as he selected his bats and prepared for the battle.

"Buck up, Jimmy boy," said Swanson, sitting down beside him and
pretending to be retying his shoe laces.  "We'll win this one anyhow,
and to-night we'll have a talk with Clancy after he cools down.  I can
square things with him."

The comforting words of the kindly, big shortstop helped McCarthy.
Clancy did not look toward the youngster, who sat huddled in his heavy
sweaters on the opposite end of the bench watching the game and going
over and over in his mind the circumstances that had led to his
punishment and banishment from the team.

The game proceeded rapidly.  The Bears scored a run in the second
inning on Swanson's long drive against the left field fence for three
bases, and a fly to the outfield, on which Swanson came by sliding
under the catcher.  In the fourth the Travelers evened up the score on
an error by Pardridge, who, off his balance by his sudden change of
position, threw wild and allowed a runner to score from second base.
The score remained tied until the fifth, neither team being able to hit
the opposing pitcher's delivery hard enough to send home a run.  Then
Pardridge misplayed an easy bounder and, recovering, hurled wildly
toward second base, striving to force out a runner coming down from
first.  His throw went on high and far into right field, one runner
scored, the batter was perched on second and the crowd was in a tumult,
thinking that the inevitable break had come.  A crashing base-hit sent
home another runner, and with the score 3 to 1 against them the Bears
faced one of the supreme tests of nerve of the season.

Gamely they rallied in the fifth and again in the sixth inning, but
failed to reach even terms again as Carver, the best pitcher of the
Travelers, was holding them by clever work.  Each time they forced men
to within reaching distance of the plate he settled, and using more
speed, checked the attacks and made the game one sequence of
disappointments for the Bears.

The seventh inning proved uneventful, although the crowd arose and
stood to urge the Travelers to make certain the victory and "rooted"
with the unholy glee that all crowds show over the downfall of a
champion.

The eighth commenced.  A base on balls paved the way and gave the Bears
a chance to exhibit their resourceful style of attack which had
overthrown so many opposing teams.  The Travelers played deep,
believing that with two runs needed to tie the score the Bears would
not attempt to sacrifice, and Noisy Norton hooked his bat around
quickly, dropped a bunt down the third-base line, and beat the ball to
first base before Pickett, the third baseman of the Travelers, who had
been caught asleep, could reach the ball.

McCarthy glanced toward the seat where Edwards, the gambler, sat.  Easy
Ed's face was hard and set.  He gripped the front of the box.  The
gambler's iron nerve was shaken.  Swanson rushed to the plate, swinging
two bats, and crouching, he pushed his bat back and forth as if
determined to lay down a sacrifice bunt.  The Traveler infield crept
closer to stop the bunt.  One ball was pitched wide.  Again Swanson
crouched, and as the second pitched ball came whizzing up he made a
sharp, quick lunge; the ball went like a flash across first base, as
Davis dived vainly toward it, rolled onto foul ground, and before the
right fielder could retrieve the ball as it glanced along the front of
the stands, two runs were across the plate and the score was tied.

McCarthy looked again.  Edwards's usually stony face was writhing with
fury and disappointment as he leaned forward.  The panic had seized the
Travelers.  The infield was pulled close to intercept the runner at the
plate, and the shortstop, over anxious to make the play, fumbled the
easy grounder.  Before the inning closed five runs were across the
plate; the Bears had snatched victory from defeat, and they clung to
their lead and won 6 to 3.

As the last batter for the Travelers went out on a long fly to the
Bears' center fielder, McCarthy saw Edwards rise and hurl his cigar
viciously against the floor of the box, then turn to gaze long and
earnestly toward the Bear bench.  Suddenly he gave a nod of his head
and McCarthy, following the line of the gambler's gaze, saw Williams
flush and then pale, as he turned to help the bat-boy pack the clubs.

McCarthy had intended to follow Swanson's suggestion and to plan with
Swanson what course to adopt in explaining to Manager Clancy how
matters stood, but he did not have the opportunity.  Waiting in the
lobby of the hotel when he returned, he found Barney Baldwin, who
accosted him.

"You're McCarthy, the fellow my niece, Miss Baldwin, introduced me to,
aren't you?" he asked pompously, pretending to be uncertain of the
identity.

"Yes."

"Well, young fellow, I want to have a quiet little talk with you.  Come
up to my room at the Metropolis as soon as you get dressed.  It's
important."

They talked for a few minutes and McCarthy promised to come to the
Metropolis after dinner.  He hastened to his room, and to his
disappointment found that Swanson had dressed hastily and already was
gone.  Nor did the big Swede come to dinner, and McCarthy was compelled
to leave the hotel without seeing him in order to keep his engagement
with Baldwin.

He was ushered into a pretentious apartment in the Metropolis, where
Baldwin was awaiting him, with a bottle of wine in the cooler at the
side of the table and a box of choice cigars at hand.

"Sit down, my boy, sit down," urged Baldwin cordially.  "Have a drink
and a cigar."

"Thanks--I'll smoke.  I'm not drinking," said McCarthy quietly.  "You
wanted to see me?"

"Yes.  You see I called Helen up over the long distance to-day and had
quite a talk with her about you.  She dropped a few hints before she
left and I wanted to hear more of you."

"Then she told you who I am?"

"She told me you were a young man of good family and that you were
playing under an assumed name--but, of course, having promised, she
wouldn't tell more."

"Now, I know how it is.  You're in some trouble at home and just
bull-headed enough to refuse to give in.  I admire you for it, my
boy--but it is youthful folly.  Helen tells me she was engaged to you,
but broke off the engagement because you wouldn't go back home and quit
baseball.  Now I want to see the thing in the right light.  You come
and run down to my summer place with me to-morrow, spend a week or two
there with Helen, get things straightened out, and meanwhile I'll act
as peacemaker and fix things up so you can go home and eat the fatted
calf."

"You've tackled a tough job," said McCarthy, grinning in spite of
himself at the mental picture of his uncle receiving overtures in his
behalf from Barney Baldwin, his bitterest enemy.

"I'm certain it is a mere trifle when looked at in the right light,"
urged Baldwin.  "I can explain things.  I'll wire your people that you
are visiting with us, and we'll forget all about this baseball
foolishness.  Better come along."

"I thank you for your good intentions, Mr. Baldwin," replied McCarthy
quietly, "but it is impossible.  In the first place, the plan you
suggest would be about the worst possible--and more important than
that, I can't quit the team until it wins the pennant."

"Now we're getting down to cases, my boy," said Baldwin, smoking
easily.  "I want you to go, for your own sake, but I also want you to
go because I don't want the Bears to win that pennant.  They haven't
treated you right, and they can't blame you if you quit."

"You want me to throw the pennant race?" demanded McCarthy angrily.
"That's why you want me to leave the team, is it?  I'll see you in
h---- first--I'm in bad with the manager--but I won't quit the team."

"Now, now, my boy," interrupted Baldwin soothingly.  "Take a sensible
view of it.  It's for the best interests of all concerned.  It don't
mean anything to you if you run back home, square yourself with the
family--and quit interfering with our plans."

"You're a crook, Baldwin," said the third baseman threateningly.  "My
uncle, James Lawrence, always said you were a crook and a thief, and
now I know it.  I wouldn't quit now for all his money and all yours
together.  I'll stick to the team and we'll win this pennant in spite
of you and your rotten gang."

The effect of his words caused him to stop in surprise and alarm.  The
big man, who had been sipping his wine, suddenly grew apoplectic and
sat staring at him.  Baldwin stared at the slender youth as if at a
ghost.  Suddenly he lurched forward as if to arise, and emitted a
torrent of oaths.

[Illustration: Baldwin stared at the slender youth]

"You Jim Lawrence's nephew?" he half screamed.  "You his boy?  Well, by
----, I'll break you.  I'll fix you--I'll"----

He pitched forward as if in a fit, and McCarthy, after ringing for
assistance, waited until the house physician had revived the big man,
then hurried back to his hotel, puzzled and excited and vaguely alarmed
over the developments of the evening.

Swanson was not yet in the room.



CHAPTER XIII

_McCarthy Balks the Plotters_

It was past two o'clock when McCarthy was awakened from his troubled
sleep by the entrance of Swanson.

"Hello, Silent," said McCarthy sleepily.  "What time is it?"

"Past two," said the shortstop, for once seeming unwilling to talk.
"Better get to sleep--you'll be in again to-day."

"Where have you been?" asked McCarthy, wide awake in an instant and
interested.

"Trailing," replied Swanson.  "I've found out a few things.  Meanwhile
I had a talk with Clancy.  You little squarehead, why didn't you tell
him I was with you?  Do you want to get yourself in bad by some fool
notion of protecting me?  I couldn't tell him what we were doing--but I
told him you were with me, that you weren't drinking, and that you
weren't with Edwards."

"What have you been doing all night?" asked McCarthy, restored to
happiness by the tidings.

"Finding out things.  I trailed Williams downtown right after the game.
He had dinner with Edwards in a private room.  I couldn't find out what
happened, but Williams came out looking as if he had been jerked
through a knot hole.  Then Edwards met that fat party that had you in
his room."

"Is he in it, too?" asked McCarthy.

"Yes--who and what is he?"

"His name is Baldwin.  He's a big politician and broker here in the
East and I knew him out West, where he owns a ranch."

"What did he want with you?"

"He wanted me to quit the team and run back home.  I told him where he
got off.  The idea of asking me to quit the boys now, when they may
need me!"

"I can imagine what you said," laughed Swanson.  "Did you kick him on
the shins and try to make him fight?"

"I wanted to," replied McCarthy savagely.  "I can't see where he gets
into this affair at all.  There's something queer all round."

"Listen, Kohinoor," said Swanson.  "Someone wants to beat the Bears out
of this pennant, and whoever it is is turning every trick possible to
beat us.  I suspect they've got to Williams and that he is trying to
throw games, and I've been working all night trying to get the goods on
him.  We can't run to Clancy with a yarn like that unless we're ready
to prove it.  Now go to sleep and get ready to win to-morrow's
game--to-day's, rather."

McCarthy lay staring, sleepless, into the darkness, his brain whirling
as he strove to penetrate the maze of intrigue and plotting of which he
seemed the center.  Half an hour passed, then, as he turned in bed, a
sleepy voice from the next bed asked:

"Asleep, Kohinoor?"

"No."

"Then quit worrying.  I had a talk with Betty Tabor to-night, and you
needn't worry.  She don't believe all she hears."

"What did she say, Silent?" asked McCarthy, sitting up in bed suddenly.

"Aw, go to sleep," responded Swanson, as he rolled over, chuckling at
the manner in which McCarthy had betrayed his interest.

It was nearly noon when Swanson and McCarthy descended to the hotel
lobby in better frames of mind.

Manager Clancy, serious and worried, was talking with a gray-haired man
and a younger man.  McCarthy observed them and grew uncomfortable under
their close scrutiny as the three turned toward him and focussed their
eyes upon him.  He felt relieved when the smaller man shook his head
positively and was not surprised a moment later when Clancy came
forward toward him and said frankly:

"Forget it, Kohinoor.  Case of mistaken identity."  He grasped
McCarthy's hand and gave it a crunching grip as he added: "When you get
ready to tell me what you know I want to hear it."

The manager did not attempt any further apology, but McCarthy felt as
if a load had been lifted from his mind.

"I can't make any charges until I have proof," he replied steadily.
"If ever I can back up what I suspect, I'll tell you--first."

"Swanson explained partly," said the manager.  "I understand.  Get in
there to-day and hustle."

It was the final game of the trip and the Bears, with confidence
renewed, went into it determined to rush the attack and win quickly.
When the batting practice started McCarthy was surprised to find Lefty
Williams pitching to batters.  He faced Williams and hit the first ball
hard and straight over second base.  Williams was lobbing the ball
easily, as if warming up.  Twice Clancy called to him to quit pitching
to batters, and he shouted back that his shoulder felt a little stiff
and he wanted to limber it up easily.  McCarthy stepped to the plate
again.  Up to that time Williams had not pitched a fast ball, but he
wound up quickly and flashed a fast-breaking ball straight at
McCarthy's head.  The third baseman dropped flat and the ball, just
grazing the top of his head, carried away his cap.  He knew Williams
had tried to hit him.  He remembered his part in the deeper game he and
Swanson were playing, and he decided not to reveal the fact that he was
aware of Williams's intent.  He leaped back into batters' position and
yelled:

"Keep that bean ball for the game.  You'll need it."

He saw that Williams was white and shaken, and the next ball came
floating over the plate without speed.  McCarthy swung at it, without
attempting to hit it.  Another slow one floated over the plate and
again McCarthy made a burlesque swing, missing the ball a foot.
Williams flushed scarlet and stepping quickly back into position he
drove a straight fast ball at the batter.  McCarthy was on his guard.
Drawing back slightly he allowed the ball to touch his shirt, and when
Williams, angrier than ever, hurled another fast one at him he stepped
back and drove it to left field for a clean hit.

As he hit the ball he heard Clancy call angrily to Williams to come off
the slab, and the pitcher, white with anger at the contempt the recruit
had shown for his pitching, sullenly obeyed.

"That fellow tried three times to bean you," said Swanson in low tones
as they walked to their positions after retiring runless in the first
inning.

"I know it," said McCarthy.  "I coaxed him along.  I think we can make
him pitch to-day by telling him that we don't think he can."

The plan was adopted.  For two innings the shortstop and third baseman
harassed the pitcher.

Under the running fire of taunts, criticisms and sarcasm Williams
pitched harder and harder, furious at his teammates, and venting his
anger upon opposing batsmen.

"Say, you guys," remarked Kennedy on the bench after the fourth inning.
"Have some pity on me.  You've got Adonis so mad he's smashing my mitt
with his speed.  Better ease off on him or you'll have him in the air."

The Bears had accumulated two runs and seemed winning easily in the
fifth, when, before a runner was out, McCarthy, cutting across in front
of Swanson to scoop an easy-bounding ball, played it too carelessly,
fumbled and allowed the first batter to reach first base.  The error
was common enough, but allowing the first batter to reach a base on an
easy chance was serious at that stage of the game.  Williams turned
upon McCarthy and gave him a violent rebuke.  McCarthy was not in a
position to respond.  He saw that, in spite of his angry words,
Williams seemed pleased by the error.  An instant later a drive whizzed
past him and then another screamed by him en route to left field.  A
run was across the plate, runners on first and third and no one out.

"Trying to toss off this one?" demanded Swanson angrily.  "You big
stiff, pitch ball."

The next batter sacrificed, and again Williams broke the ball low and
inside the plate to a right-handed hitter.  The ball came like a shot
at McCarthy, who dived at it.  It rolled away toward Swanson, who
recovered just in time to throw out the runner at first, but another
run had counted and the score was tied.  Another hit screeched past
McCarthy, another run counted and the Travelers were one run ahead
before the attack could be stopped.

The Travelers held their advantage to the eighth, when, rallying
desperately, the Bears drove home two runs by sheer force of hitting
and the ninth found them hanging to a one-run lead.  They failed to
increase their advantage in the first half of the inning and took the
field determined to hold their lead.  McCarthy was puzzled.  He thought
Clancy knew what was happening on the field and had expected each
inning that the manager would rebuke Williams when they returned to the
bench.  Instead Clancy had remained strangely silent.

Tuttle, the first batter for the Travelers in the ninth inning, hit a
fierce bounder down the third-base line.  McCarthy, knowing Tuttle to
be a right field hitter, was swung a little wide from the base.  He
threw himself out toward the line, his hands extended to the full
limit, and the ball stuck in one outstretched hand.  Scrambling to his
feet he threw hard and fast to first, retiring the speedy runner by a
step.  The next batter hit fiercely between third and short and
Swanson, by a great play, retrieved the ball back on the edge of the
grass, but could not throw the runner out.  The next batter, a
right-hander, hit a vicious single past McCarthy and there were runners
on second and first.

McCarthy felt the next drive would be toward him.  He believed Williams
was striving to lose the game, and that he was pitching so as to compel
the batters to hit in the direction of third base so that the baseman
and not he would be held responsible for the defeat.  He gritted his
teeth and crouched, waiting, as Watson, the heaviest-hitting
right-handed batter in the league, faced Williams.  Crouching, he saw
Kennedy signal for a fast ball high and outside the plate, and then saw
a straight easy ball sail toward the batter, low and inside.  Watson
swung.  McCarthy saw a flash of light and threw up his hands just in
time to keep the ball from hitting him.  The ball broke through his
hands and rolled a few feet away.  His hands were numb to the wrists
from the terrific shock.  He stood still one trice.  Then he saw the
runners were stopped, bewildered.  They had lost sight of the ball, so
rapidly had it traveled and had stopped, thinking he had caught it.  He
leaped after the ball, framing the play as he touched the spinning
sphere.  He could have run back to third base and forced out one, but
instead, as his numbed fingers gripped the sphere, he saw the
possibility of a double play and threw fast and straight to Swanson, on
second base, forcing out the runner coming from first.  Swanson,
catching the idea of the play in an instant, hurled the ball back to
McCarthy, who grabbed it and touched out the runner coming from second,
completing a double play that brought the crowd to its feet in applause
and saved the game.

McCarthy heard the cheers, but he was cold with suppressed anger as he
walked to where Williams was standing, and said:

"Williams, you're a d----d crook."



CHAPTER XIV

_"Technicalities" on the Job_

The Bears were going home holding grimly to their claim upon first
place in the league race.  With but seven games remaining to be played
all were against clubs already beaten, and five of the seven were
against clubs considerably weaker in every department.  Two games were
to be played off the home grounds.

The statisticians were busy calculating that the Bears had a decided
advantage in the race, yet they were not happy in the homecoming.  The
ride home was only a few hours long, and they had caught the train
immediately after the sensational finish of the final game with the
Travelers in order to reach home and get settled by midnight.

Swanson and McCarthy sat together as the train pulled out, talking in
low tones.

"I think Clancy is onto him," said Swanson.  "Just sit tight.  It isn't
our move yet.  The Boss acted queerly on the bench to-day and has been
watching Williams all the time, while pretending not to.  I'm going to
mingle and see if any of the other fellows are wise to him."

Hardly had Swanson left the seat than McCarthy was surprised by
"Technicalities" Feehan, who sat down in the seat vacated by the
shortstop.

Feehan was one of the odd characters developed by the national game, a
reporter who had traveled with the Bear teams for so many years the
players regarded him as a sort of venerable pest who hadn't seen a ball
player since Williamson's day, and never such a catcher as Mike Kelly,
a first baseman like Comisky or a fielder like Tip O'Neil.  He
sometimes was called "Four Eyes," from the fact that he wore large,
steel-rimmed glasses of great thickness, and his other name was
"Technicalities."

He was not at all interested in baseball, excepting as a business.  His
chief interest was in the Children's Crusades, and he had spent eight
years of his spare time in libraries all over America digging out data
for his history of those remarkable pilgrimages which he had written
and rewritten half a dozen times.  Not being a baseball fan he was
eminently fair and unprejudiced, and the players thought more of the
quiet, studious fellow than they did of the excitable and the partisan
reporters who joined their sports and their woes.

"Mr. McCarthy," he said seriously, "did you observe anything strange in
to-day's game?"

"Several strange things," assented McCarthy.  "Among them that error I
made early in the game."

"I mean things of an unusual nature," persisted Technicalities.  "I was
struck by an odd phenomenon and thought perhaps you noticed it.  I find
it more perplexing as I study my score books."

"What was it?" inquired McCarthy, cautious not to betray any interest.

"Did you, for instance, observe anything strange about the hits in your
direction?"

"I noticed that those that didn't have cayenne pepper on them were
white hot and came like greased lightning," laughed McCarthy.  "I
expected to find my right leg playing left field any minute."

"I was speaking numerically, although, of course, the speed of the hits
enters into the phenomenon."

"They did seem to be coming my way rapidly," agreed the third baseman.

"In to-day's game I find," continued the statistician, "that there were
eighteen batted balls hit in the direction of third base.  You had five
assists and one error and caught two line drives.  I do not include
foul balls, of which six line drives went near third base.  Of these
eighteen batted balls, fourteen were hit by right-handed batters and
four by left-handers.  The fourteen right-handed batters hit balls
pitched inside the plate, the four left-handers hit balls outside the
plate, that is, outside to them, so that practically every ball batted
toward you was pitched to the inside of the plate, that is, the
catcher's left.  I have checked these statistics and find them correct."

"Well, what of it?" asked McCarthy.

"In the preceding games--in which you played third and in which
Williams has pitched--I find that an average of twelve and a fraction
batted balls per game have been hit toward third base, exclusive of
fouls.  In the games in which you have played and in which Williams has
not pitched the average is six and a trifling fraction.  You have
averaged seven and one-fourth chances per game--legitimate
chances--with Williams pitching, and a trifle under three chances per
game when he was not pitching.  Does it not seem remarkable?"

"Perhaps so," assented McCarthy.  "I never studied such statistics."

"The phenomenon is the more remarkable," added the strange little man,
"because the average chances per game of the third basemen of five
leagues, two majors and three Class AA for the last five years has been
2 and 877-998.  It is impossible to construe the figures to mean but
one of two things."

"What are they?" asked McCarthy, curiously interested.

"Either it is mere coincidence or Williams is deliberately trying to
lose this pennant and to make you shoulder the blame."

"That's a pretty stiff charge," remarked McCarthy, amazed at the
deductions of the reporter, which fitted so well the suspicion,
gradually becoming a certainty to his mind.

"Either he is pitching purposely to make the opposing batters hit balls
at you," insisted Feehan, "or it just happened--and things do not just
happen in baseball with that regularity."

"Possibly he is wild and can't get the ball over the plate."

"On the contrary," persisted Feehan, "he has perfect control.  If he
did not possess control he could not pitch so many balls to the same
place."

"I'm immensely grateful," said McCarthy, touched by the kindness of the
odd reporter.  "It's good of you and I shan't forget it."

"I deserve no thanks," insisted Feehan.  "It's merely in the line of
square dealing and justice--and, speaking of justice, McCarthy, did you
ever take interest in the Children's Crusades?  Let me show you some of
the data I dug up recently"----

He delved into his little bag, which was his constant companion, and,
drawing forth a mass of scattered, disordered notes, he went into
raptures of enthusiasm while describing to the player some new features
of the disappearance of the French children and of the sojourn of
hundreds of them as slaves in African harems.

A great throng of admirers was waiting in the station to welcome the
Bears back from their successful trip.  Swanson and McCarthy finally
escaped from the crowd, and, jumping into a taxicab, were whirled to
the hotel, where Swanson had secured rooms for both.

The hour was growing late, but after they had deposited their baggage
in their rooms, Swanson proposed a walk and a late supper.  It was
McCarthy's first visit to the city which he represented upon the ball
field and its magnificence and greatness made him forget the worries
and troubles of which he seemed the center.  He even forgot to detail
to his chum his strange interview with the reporter until they were
seated in a quiet nook of one of the great restaurants.  Then, in
response to some jesting allusion to the Children's Crusades by
Swanson, he told the big shortstop of the array of statistics Feehan
had presented.

"He's a square little guy," said Swanson.  "And he's got more brains in
that funny-looking little head of his than this whole bunch has.  He
dopes things out pretty nearly right, and when he is convinced that he
is right he goes the limit.  Between us there is a certain left-handed
pitcher who is in hot water right now and don't know it.  Speaking of
the devil," he added quickly, "there's his wings flapping, and look who
he is with--across the far corner there, at the little table."

McCarthy's eyes followed the route indicated and suddenly he lost
interest in his food.  At a small table were Williams, Secretary
Tabor--and Betty Tabor.

McCarthy was silent and moody during the walk back to the hotel and
seemed to have lost interest in the great glaring city, which was just
commencing to dim its illumination for the night.  They were in bed
with the lights out when Swanson said:

"Cut out the worrying, kid.  I wouldn't have a girl no one else wanted.
Besides, either her father has been told by Clancy to watch that crook
or else Betty Tabor is stringing him along to learn something.  She
despises Williams, and she wouldn't laugh at him or eat with him unless
she had a purpose in it."

McCarthy could have blessed him for the words, but he assumed a dignity
he did not feel and said:

"I don't see why I should be especially interested."

"Cut out the con stuff, Bo," laughed Swanson, relapsing into his old
careless baseball phraseology.  "You dope around like a chicken with
the pip and look at her like a seasick guy seeing the Statue of Liberty
and then think no one is onto you."

Reply seemed inadvisable, so McCarthy grunted and rolled over.  There
was a silence and then Swanson added:

"And say, Bo, this Williams is in trouble.  There's me and you on his
track.  Clancy is wise and watching him.  Old Technicalities has him
doped crooked in the figures, and now Betty Tabor is smiling at him to
get the facts--he hasn't a chance.  It's darn hard to fix a baseball
game."



CHAPTER XV

_Baldwin Baits a Trap_

"Willie says that one petticoat will ruin the best ball club that ever
lived, but lands knows that if some of us women don't get busy right
away there's one ball club that's goin' to be ruined without any
rustlin' skirts to be blamed."

Mrs. William Clancy, her ample form loosely enveloped in a huge,
flowered kimono, dropped her fancy work into her lap and fanned herself
with a folded newspaper.

"Why, Mother Clancy," ejaculated Betty Tabor, sitting on a stool by the
window of the Clancy apartment, "one would think to hear you talk that
we had lost the pennant already."

"Now, there's Willie," continued Mrs. Clancy, ignoring the protest,
"goin' round with a grouch on all the time like he could bite nails in
two.  There's that nice McCarthy boy frettin' his heart out because you
haven't treated him nicely, and Swanson worryin' about something.  And
there's Williams sneakin' round like he'd been caught robbin' a hen
roost."

"Mother Clancy," protested the girl, reddening, "you have no right to
say I haven't been treating Mr. McCarthy well.  A girl cannot throw
herself at a man--especially an engaged man."

"How do you know he's engaged?" demanded Mrs. Clancy.  "Lands sakes, I
haven't heard him announcing his engagement, and he looks at you across
the dining room as sad as a calf chewing a dish rag."

"I overheard--I saw the girl," admitted Betty Tabor, blushing as she
bowed her pretty head over her work.  "She was telling him she wouldn't
marry him if he continued to play ball--besides, Mr. Williams met her
uncle, and he said they were engaged."

"Is she pretty?" demanded Mrs. Clancy.

"Beautiful," admitted Miss Tabor.  "She's tall and fair and graceful,
and she had on such a wonderful gown all trimmed"----

"It looks to me," interrupted Mrs. Clancy, cutting off the description
of the dressmaking details heartlessly, "as if someone was just
jealous."

"Why, Mother Clancy," said the girl, shocked and red, "you must think
me perfectly frightful to believe I'd act that way."

"Oh, girls your age are all fools," said Mrs. Clancy complacently.  "I
reckon I was myself at your age.  Why, if Willie even spoke to another
girl I'd go out and hunt up two beaux just to show him I didn't care.
You went out with Williams when we came in last night, didn't you?"

"Yes; he asked papa and me to late supper," the girl admitted.  "But it
really wasn't what you think.  I wanted to find out something from
him--something that's been worrying me."

"Did you find out?" asked the older woman skeptically.

"I don't know, Mother Clancy."  The girl's face grew troubled.  "I'm
worried.  I know Mr. Williams hasn't any money.  Papa says he is so
reckless he always is in debt, and lately, whenever he talks to me, he
talks about the big sums he's going to have.  I asked papa what it was,
and he only grunted."

"He'd better pitch a lot better than he has been if he's counting on
any of that world's series money," remarked Mrs. Clancy savagely.
"McCarthy saved yesterday's game twice."

"You think Mr. Williams didn't want to win the game?"  The girl's voice
was tense with anxiety.

"I hate to say it--but it looked that way."

"Oh, Mother Clancy, I haven't dared to say a word to anyone about it,"
said the girl hesitatingly, "but I've been afraid for days.  He said
something to me that almost frightened me.  He hinted that Mr. McCarthy
was losing games on purpose.  I didn't believe it--and somehow I got
the idea Mr. Williams was betting on the Panthers."

"Now, you just keep your mouth shut about this," replied Mrs. Clancy,
pressing her lips together determinedly.  "I've had that same idea, and
I think that's what's worryin' Willie.  You just lead that fellow on to
talk and I'll put a bug in Willie's ear.  Only," she added, "Willie is
likely to snap my head off for buttin' into his business.  He's got to
know, though."

Clancy came into the apartment soon afterward and Betty Tabor, making a
hasty excuse, gathered up her fancy work.

"It's going to rain," remarked Clancy resignedly.  "I think the game
will be called off.  If the game's off, I've got tickets to a theatre,
and you and mother and I can go.  Which one of the boys shall I ask to
go with us?"

"If you don't mind," replied Betty Tabor steadily, "ask Mr. Williams."

The rain came down steadily and before one o'clock the contest was
called off.  The postponement was believed to lessen slightly the
chances of the Bears to win the pennant, and they lounged dismally
around the hotel, watching the bulletin board record the fact that the
Panthers were winning easily, giving them the lead in the race by a
small fraction in percentage.

Manager Clancy, his wife and Betty Tabor, with Williams rode away in a
taxicab to the theatre.  McCarthy declined Swanson's proposal to play
billiards, and, going to their rooms, he commenced to read.  Presently
five of the players trooped in, led by Swanson, to play poker, and,
shoving McCarthy's bed aside, ignoring his protests, they dragged out
chairs and tables and started the game.  Scarcely had they started when
the telephone bell rang and Swanson answered:

"No, he's not up here," he said.  "No.  Who wants him?  All right, put
them on.  Hello!  Who is this?  Oh, all right.  No, Williams isn't
here.  Yes, I'm sure.  He went out with the manager an hour ago--to a
theatre, I think.  All right.  I'll tell him."

"Fellows," he said, as he hung up the receiver, "some friends want
Williams to meet them as soon as he can.  He'll know where.  Fellow
says it's important."

He glanced meaningly at McCarthy, who nodded to show that he
understood, and as he sat down he remarked:

"Kohinoor, I guess it's up to us to go to a show or something to-night."

"All right," replied McCarthy, striving vainly to continue his reading,
while puzzling over the fresh development.

At that same instant there was an acrimonious conversation in progress
in the room from which the telephone summons for Williams had just
come.  Easy Ed Edwards hung up after his brief talk with the player at
the other end of the line, an ugly gleam in his cold eyes.

"He isn't there," he reported to Barney Baldwin, who was sitting by the
table, jangling the ice in a high-ball glass.  "Either he's trying to
cross us or he's playing wise and keeping his stand-in with the
manager."

"Sure he isn't trying to cross us?" asked Baldwin.  "He won yesterday's
game instead of losing as he agreed to do."

"He tried hard enough to lose it," sneered the gambler.  "He tossed up
the ball and those dubs couldn't beat him.  I tell you you've got to
handle that red-headed kid at third base as you promised you would.  He
saved that game twice.  We've got to get rid of him."

"He's stubborn," snarled Baldwin.  "I tried to get him to quit the team
and go back home.  He's as bull-headed as his uncle, and that's the
limit."

"You know who he is?" queried the gambler in surprise.  "Why don't you
tell the newspaper boys and show him up.  That would finish him.  He's
under cover with his identity, and if we can prove he hasn't any right
to play with the Bears they'll have to throw out the games he's won."

"That's just the trouble," replied Baldwin bitterly.  "He's straight as
a string.  He never played ball except at college.  We can't tell who
he is because that would prove he's all right and make him stronger
than ever."

"Who is he?" inquired the gambler.

"He's the nephew of old Jim Lawrence, of Oregon, one of the richest men
out there.  Lawrence is his guardian.  They had some sort of a run-in
and the boy left."

"How do you know these things?" demanded the gambler.

"The boy and my niece were sweethearts at home.  I coaxed her to tell
me when I discovered she knew him.  They were engaged once, I
understand, but it was broken off."

"Then," said Edwards determinedly, "get your niece on the job.  If
anyone can handle that fellow a woman can."

"Oh, I say," protested Baldwin, with a show of indignation, "I can't
ask her to get into anything like this."

"She probably was willing enough to get into it until she thought the
boy didn't have any money," replied Edwards coldly.  "I don't want the
girl to do anything wrong.  Just get her to make up with this McCarthy,
or whatever his name is, and get him away from this ball team for a
week.  Baldwin, this is getting to be a serious matter with me, and
with you, too, if you want to hold your political power."

"All right, all right," said Baldwin hastily.  "Maybe I can persuade
the girl to help us out.  I'll try."

"You'd better succeed--if you want to send your man to the Senate,"
said Edwards threateningly.

"I'll go right away," assented the politician.

Baldwin arose leisurely, went down to his limousine that was waiting
and ordered the man to drive home, although it was his custom to remain
downtown until late.  At home he sent at once for his niece, and, after
a brief talk, during which he was careful to hint that McCarthy had
made overtures toward reconciliation with his uncle, the girl went to
the telephone.

McCarthy, summoned to the telephone, talked for a few moments and, as
the poker game broke up, he called Swanson aside and said:

"You'll have to go alone to-night.  I've got to make a call."

"Who is she?" asked Swanson insinuatingly.

"Barney Baldwin's niece--and at his house."

"Run on, Kohinoor," said the big shortstop.  "I'll take Kennedy with me
and if I'm not mistaken you'll find out more than I will."



CHAPTER XVI

_McCarthy Makes a Call_

It was a little past seven o'clock, when McCarthy, arrayed in what
Swanson referred to as his "joy rags," which had been rescued from
impound in an express office after his first renewal of prosperity,
came out of the hotel.  He was undecided, wavering as to whether or not
it was wise for him to keep the appointment to call on Helen Baldwin.

They had met during his college career, and, after a courtship that was
a whirlwind of impetuosity on his side, she had agreed to marry him.
He recalled now, with rather bitter recollections of his own blindness,
her seemingly careless curiosity regarding the extent of the Lawrence
wealth and his own expectations.  He had told her how, when his father
had died, Jim Lawrence had taken him to rear as his own child and heir.

The boy had grown older and broadened with his short experience in the
world outside the protecting circle that had been round him in
preparatory school and in college, and he determined to write that
night to his guardian the letter he had so long delayed and to
apologize and admit that he had been headstrong and foolish.

During the long ride uptown to the city residence of the Baldwins he
had time to think clearly.  He knew that Barney Baldwin was wealthy,
but he was unprepared for the magnificence of the garish house, set
down amid wide lawns in the most exclusive part of the River Drive
section.

Helen Baldwin entered the room in a few moments, and McCarthy gazed at
her in admiring surprise.

She came forward with both hands outstretched, smiling, a strangely
transformed girl from the cold, half-scornful one with whom he had
parted only a short time before.

"I wanted to see you so much, Larry," she said.  "I have been so blue
and depressed since I--since we--since we last met.  Why didn't you
call?"

"I only reached the city last night," he replied as he took a seat
beside her on a divan.  "And--well, Helen, I hardly thought you would
wish to see me."

"You foolish boy," she chided.  "Don't you know yet that you must never
take a girl at her word?  Of course, I was annoyed to find you playing
baseball with a professional team, but I didn't mean we never were to
meet again."

"I thought your ultimatum settled all that," he answered, ill at ease.
"It was rather a shock to find that you cared more for what I was than
for what I am."

"You know, Larry, that you placed me in a painful position.  It isn't
as if I were a rich girl, able to share with the man I love.  My father
and mother are not rich, and Uncle Barney has supplied me with
everything.  He has spoiled me--and I would make a wretched wife for a
poor man."

"I would not have proposed marriage," said McCarthy quietly, "unless I
had thought I would be able to provide for you as well as your uncle
could.  When circumstances were changed I could not ask you to
sacrifice yourself unless you were willing--unless you cared enough for
me to adapt yourself to the circumstances."

"But, Larry, aren't you going to quit all this foolishness and go back?
Haven't you been reconciled with Mr. Lawrence?" she asked in surprise.

"I expect to go back after the season is over and tell him how sorry I
am that I caused him trouble."

"Please go, Larry.  You'll go to please me, won't you?" she said
appealingly.

"I cannot see why it would please you to have me quit now, when I'm
most needed," he replied stiffly.  "Surely you cannot know what you are
asking."

"It is such a little thing I ask," she pouted, "I'm sure you would if
you loved me."

The girl's eyes were filling.  She had found him easy to handle by that
appeal only a few short months before, but now, as he saw her, he was
seized with a desire to laugh, as he realized that she was acting.  The
words of Swanson: "You'll find out more than we will," flashed into his
mind, and he determined to meet acting with acting.

"Perhaps, Helen," he said softly, "if you could explain just why you
want me to quit playing I could see my way to do it."

"That is being a sensible boy," she said, bathing her eyes with a bit
of lace.  "I don't like to see you making an exhibition of yourself
before a crowd--for money."  She shrugged her beautiful shoulders
disdainfully.

"Is that all?" he asked quietly.

"All?  Isn't it enough?  And then there's Mr. Lawrence.  I know he is
worrying about you."

"Any other reasons?" he inquired.

"Then there's Uncle Barney"----

"What has Barney Baldwin to do with it?"  His voice was sharp, and the
girl hesitated under his steady scrutiny.

"You mustn't speak that way of my uncle," she said reprovingly.  "I'm
sure he's only interested in you because of me.  He says it is
imperative that you do not play any more with the Bears."

"Then Barney Baldwin ordered you to telephone for me to come here?" he
asked harshly.

"He merely wanted me to persuade you to quit that ridiculous game and
go back to Mr. Lawrence right away.  He was only trying to save you."

For an instant he sat staring at the girl steadily.  Then he said
slowly:

"What a fool I've been."

"Oh, Larry, Larry!" she exclaimed, frightened by his manner.  "What's
the matter--is anything wrong?"

"Nothing wrong," he said, laughing mirthlessly.  "Nothing wrong.  You
may tell your uncle, with my compliments, that I will continue to play
with the Bears to the end of the season, and that, in spite of him and
his dirty work we will win that pennant."

He arose and passed into the hall without a backward glance, ignoring
the sobs of the girl, who buried her face in her handkerchief and wept
gracefully, telling him between sobs that he was cruel.  He took his
hat from the servant and strode rapidly down the steps, his mind a
turmoil of emotions.

How far did the plot to beat the Bears out of the pennant extend?  How
many were in it?  Gradually he commenced to draw connected thoughts
from the chaos of his brain.  He realized that he was the storm center
of a plot and that he was dealing with dangerous enemies.

The girl he had left so abruptly continued her stifled, stagey sobs
until she heard the front door close.  Then she sat up quickly, glanced
at her features in a wall mirror, brushed back a lock of ruffled hair
and rubbed her eyes lightly with her kerchief.

"How he has changed," she said to herself.  "He is getting masterful,
and three months ago one pout was enough.  I could almost love
him--even without old Jim Lawrence's money.

"At any rate," she said, looking at the handsome solitaire on her
finger, "I can keep the ring.  He never mentioned it.  I must go tell
Uncle Barney."

She ran lightly up the stairs to the den where Baldwin, smoking
impatiently, was waiting for her.

"Well?" he inquired.  "Did you land him?"

"Don't speak so vulgarly, Uncle Barney," the girl replied.  "No, I did
not.  He has grown stubborn.  He told me to tell you he intended to
keep on playing to the end of the season, and that they would win--I've
forgotten what he said they would win.  Does it make much difference,
just these few more games?"

"Does it make any difference?" he stormed.  "Any difference--why, you
fool, my whole political future may be ruined by that red-headed idiot.
Get out of here.  I'm going to telephone."

The girl, weeping in earnest now, hurried from the room as Barney
Baldwin seized the telephone.  A moment later he was saying:

"Hello, Ed.  She fell down.  He's stubborn and says he'll keep on
playing.  You'd better see your man and break that story in the
newspaper.  What?  They got him?  Where?  Well, then, they've got the
wrong man.  McCarthy left my house not five minutes ago."



CHAPTER XVII.

_The Fight in the Café_

Swanson left the hotel intending to pursue his volunteer detective work
only a few moments after McCarthy started uptown to respond to the
invitation of Miss Baldwin.  He had remained lounging around the lobby
talking with Kennedy, the big catcher, until he saw Williams leave the
hotel by a side entrance and enter a street car.  Then he signaled
Kennedy and they strolled out together and caught the next car.

"It's Williams we're going to trail," was the only hint Swanson would
give at the start.

"Williams?" snorted Kennedy.  "You told me there was a chance for a
scrap.  That guy won't fight."

"Maybe those he's going to see will," replied Swanson encouragingly.

Swanson did not know then that, only a short time before he made his
arrangement with Kennedy, Williams had pleaded over the telephone to
Edwards that he was afraid to meet him that evening, as requested,
because he thought Clancy might discover the fact and that Clancy was
already suspicious.  Williams pretended alarm and convinced Edwards
that there was danger of someone following the pitcher, and on his way
to keep the appointment to meet the athlete he had drawn into the toils
of the conspiracy, he stopped at his gambling room and ordered Jack, a
big ex-prizefighter, to follow him to the meeting place and to keep
watch during the conference.

It was growing dark when Edwards strolled slowly across town toward the
rendezvous.  Williams's fear of being upbraided when he met the gambler
on that evening was unfounded.  The gambler was convinced that the
pitcher had made every effort to lose the game and that he had been
balked only by luck and the fielding of McCarthy.  He wanted to learn
from Williams whether or not there was any other player on the team who
could be bribed into assisting in the plot.

Swanson and Kennedy trailing cautiously saw Williams jump off the car
and walk along the sidewalk, and, after riding past him, they descended
and walked along the opposite side of the street, keeping close in the
shadows of the tall buildings.  A block further downtown they saw
Williams stop, look around suspiciously as if to see whether or not
anyone was following him, then turn up the side street and enter a
café.  Swanson quickly led the way.  They passed the saloon on the
opposite side of the street, and after walking half a block they
retraced their steps and stopped in a doorway opposite the entrance.

"Let's wait here and see who goes in," suggested Swanson.

"Whom do you expect him to meet?" inquired Kennedy.

"Edwards," vouchsafed Swanson grudgingly.  "He has been meeting that
crook for ten days now, and I want to find out what they're up to."

"Why didn't you tell me before?" demanded Kennedy.  "I'd kick his head
off"----

"We hadn't the goods on him," explained Swanson.  "That's what I want
you for.  If we can prove he's up to some crooked work"----

The big Swede menacingly folded his ponderous paw into a fist and
flexed his biceps.

"Do you think he's trying to throw games?  He's been pitching funny
ball lately," asked Kennedy.  "I've had to fight him in every game to
get him to pitch fast."

"What I think and what I can prove are different things," growled the
shortstop.  "I've got my suspicions.  Now we're after proof.  Come on.
If he was to meet anyone there the one he was to meet is in ahead of
him."

The players walked to the corner, crossed the street and went into the
saloon without an effort at concealment.  The place appeared empty,
save for a bartender who was washing glasses behind the bar, and a
heavy, coarse-featured man lounging near the end of the bar with a
half-consumed high ball before him.

"Gimme a beer," ordered Swanson, throwing a coin onto the bar; "what
you have, Ben?"

"Make it two," replied Kennedy.

There was no sign of Williams, and only a narrow doorway, leading
somewhere toward the rear, gave a clue as to his probable egress from
the barroom.

The bartender, having rung up the amount of the sale on the cash
register, exchanged a few words in a low tone with the man at the end.
Then he strolled back and stood near where Swanson and Kennedy were
wasting time over their drinks.

"We were expecting to meet a friend here to-night," remarked Swanson,
deciding to take a new tack with the bartender.  "Rather tall, slender
young fellow.  Has anyone been in?"

"Young fellow came in a while ago something like that," replied the
bartender.  "Seemed to be expecting someone, but turned around and went
out.  Maybe that was him."

They knew he was lying, and Swanson, without changing expression, said:

"Must have thought he was in the wrong place, or too early.  Maybe
he'll come back.  We'll stick around awhile."

Had they known what was transpiring in the private room just beyond the
doorway their interest would have been greater.  The big man who had
stood at the end of the bar had gone at the first opportunity and was
reporting to Easy Ed Edwards, who grew venomous with hate, while
Williams sat shaking with fright.

"I knew they'd get on.  If they report to Clancy I'm done for," he said.

"Shut up," ordered the gambler angrily.  "They haven't seen you and
they don't know I'm here.  Who are they, Jack?"

"I don't know dem," said the ex-fighter.  "Dey's a big, husky lookin'
guy, a Dutchman, I guess, wid a blue suit"----

"It's Swanson," said Williams.  "He's been looking at me as if he knew
something for two or three days.  He has followed me here."

"De oder one is a smaller, wiry sort o' guy.  Got on a light suit"----

"It must be McCarthy," whined Williams.  "He's always with Swanson.
They're looking for me.  I wish I had kept out of this."

"Listen," ordered Edwards coldly.  "This fellow McCarthy is the one we
want.  If we can get him out of the way it'll be easy and I can get
even with that big, fat lobster, Baldwin, for trying to double cross
me.  Jack, you go out there and get in a mix-up with them and take a
poke at the little fellow that'll keep him from playing ball for a
week.  Is the bartender a friend of yours?"

"One of me best pals," replied the ex-fighter.  "Leaf it to me.  I'll
land de punch dat'll fix dat fresh, young guy."

The fighter strolled back to the barroom and resumed his stand at the
end of the bar, eyeing the two ball players.  As he tapped the bar the
bartender walked to him.

"I'm goin' to start somethin'," said Jack in a low tone.  "Ed wants me
to punch de head offen dat youngest one."

"That big guy looks hard to handle," commented the bartender.  "Make it
quick.  I don't like no rough house here.  The license ain't any too
safe now."

"I'm going back to see what's there," whispered Kennedy to Swanson.
"You stick here.  I'll bluff it through."

He walked toward the door leading back from the bar and started to pass
through it.

"Here, young feller," said the bartender, "where you goin'?"

"Washroom," replied Kennedy, keeping on through the door.

"Naw you don't.  Come back outen there," ordered the fighter angrily.

"Who appointed you boss?" asked Kennedy belligerently.

"Well, I'm boss anywhere I goes," declared the big fellow.  "Youse stay
outen there.  D'ye hear?"

He grabbed the ball player by the arm--and at that instant Kennedy
swung.  His fist caught the bruiser squarely on the mouth and he reeled
back, then, with a bellow of rage, he sprang at Kennedy.

With a roar of anger Swanson hurled himself into the fray.  Kennedy's
fist had caught the ex-fighter and cut his cheek open and blood spurted
upon both as they fought, the frail partition swaying under their
weight.  Swanson leaped with his arm drawn for a knock-out blow, just
as Jack's right caught Kennedy upon the jaw and dropped him to the
floor helpless.  The blow the Swede had aimed at the fighter hit him
upon the shoulder and slid over his head, and Jack, whirling, faced his
new adversary.  Swanson sprang to close quarters with the giant and his
fist thudded home.  Jack, groggy and already half spent from his
exertions, clinched and hung on.  The Swede, now a man gone mad with
the lust of battle, shook him off, hurled the giant backward against
the partition, and, crouching, he prepared to swing his right, waiting
for the opening to the jaw, while Jack, groggy and half dazed, covered
his head with his arms and swayed.  The blow never landed.  Suddenly it
seemed to Swanson as if the worlds were crashing around his head.
Bright stars danced before his eyes, his knees gave way beneath him,
and with a foolish laugh he sank to the floor and rolled, helpless,
beside his fallen comrade.  His last recollection was of hearing a
telephone bell jangling somewhere.

The ringing of the telephone bell that Swanson heard as he lapsed into
unconsciousness was the call of Barney Baldwin for Ed Edwards.  The
gambler, who, with his frightened companion, had heard the sounds of
the terrific struggle in the barroom sink into silence, spoke rapidly
for an instant, then, as Baldwin said: "They've got the wrong man," he
hung up the receiver with an oath and leaped toward the doorway.  He
emerged upon a tableau showing his slugger, half dazed and hanging to
the partition for support, two figures inert upon the floor and the
bartender coolly walking back toward the bar, carrying a heavy
bung-starter in his hand, that explained the sudden ending of the fight.



CHAPTER XVIII

_Two Missing Men_

The disappearance of Silent Swanson and Ben Kennedy brought
consternation to the ranks of the Bears, consternation that increased
as the hour for starting the first game of the series against the
Jackrabbits drew near.  McCarthy, returning to the rooms after his
surprising interview with Helen Baldwin, was determined to tell his
chum all that had taken place and to explain as well as was possible
the position in which he found himself.  He planned to urge Swanson to
go with him to Clancy, and for that reason he postponed taking the
manager into his confidence.

He hastened downstairs to breakfast, half expecting to find his chum
waiting for him in the dining room with an account of the night's
events.  He finished breakfast in a troubled state of mind, and, after
wandering around the lobby for nearly an hour in the vain hope that
Swanson would appear, he encountered Noisy Norton, who appeared
disturbed and distressed.

"Say," said Norton, "seen Kennedy?"

"No--seen Swanson?"

"They went out together," said Norton, with an unusual burst of
conversation.

"Didn't Kennedy come home either?" asked McCarthy in fresh alarm.

"No."

They sat silent for some time, then Noisy said:

"Something wrong."

"What'll we do?" asked McCarthy anxiously.

"Tell Clancy," said Norton, with an effort.

They ascended the elevator together and rapped at Clancy's door.

"Mr. Clancy," said McCarthy, when the manager had bade them enter, "I
ought to have come to you before.  Swanson and Kennedy are missing.
They didn't come in last night--and we're worried."

"Where were they?" demanded the manager quickly.

"I was going with Swanson on an errand last night," said McCarthy.  "We
were working on that matter that caused trouble the other day.  Then I
had a telephone call and went to see a--a friend of mine.  Swanson said
he'd take Kennedy with him.  They left the hotel together, Norton tells
me, and they haven't come home."

"Either of them drinking?" asked Clancy sharply.

"Beer--sometimes--not often," said Norton.

"Swanson hasn't been drinking at all," declared McCarthy.  "Neither of
them would go off on a tear at this stage of the game."

"You're right, Kohinoor," said Clancy worriedly.  "It's something else.
They'll show up, all right.  Thank you for telling me, boys, and don't
say anything about it."

In spite of their silence, however, the rumor that the star catcher and
the shortstop were missing spread through the team.  By noon the
players were openly discussing the whereabouts of the two players.
Clancy showed his anxiety.

"Can't you tell me where they were going, Kohinoor?" he asked.  "I
don't want to press you to reveal anything you don't want to, but I'm
afraid those boys are in trouble."

"I haven't any idea where they were going," replied McCarthy.  "I know
that they were watching a certain fellow, and that a gambler named
Edwards was mixed up in it."

"You've told me plenty," said the manager in low tones.  "I have
suspected it all along.  I'm afraid they're run afoul of Edwards and
that he has managed to get them into trouble."

"If he has he has his nerve," said McCarthy.  "Look over there.  He
just came in with a party of friends.  I know the big man."

"Who is he?" inquired the manager, watching the party just entering one
of the field boxes.

"That's Barney Baldwin, the political boss," explained McCarthy.

"Is he in this thing, too?" inquired Clancy, starting with surprise.

"Yes, at least I think so.  You see, I know his niece.  It was at his
house I went to call last night.  I discovered that he ordered his
niece to call me and had her try to persuade me to quit the team right
away."

"Look here, Kohinoor," said the manager, drawing him aside so the other
players could not hear, "I'm sorry you didn't tell me this before.  It
looks worse and worse all the time.  He wanted you to quit--and now two
of my men disappear.  You'll have to play short to-day, and we'll send
Pardridge to third.  Get in there and hustle."

Smith, the big spitball pitcher of the Bears, who had been held in
reserve, was chosen to pitch, and for three innings the teams fought
for the opening without a real chance to score.  The cunning of Clancy
was shown in his choice of the big pitcher, whose speed and spitball
kept the Jackrabbit batters hitting toward right field or sending slow,
easy bounders down toward the pitcher.  He had chosen Smith in order to
protect the weakened third base side of the infield, and his plan
worked well until the fourth inning, when Egbert, one of the speediest
of the Jackrabbit sprinters, hit a spitball on top and sent a slow,
weak roller toward third base.  Pardridge made a desperate effort to
field the ball, but fell short, and the Jackrabbits discovered the weak
place in the defense.  Two bunts rolled down the third-base line in
succession, and, although Pardridge, playing close in a desperate
effort to stop that style of attack, managed to throw out the second
bunter, runners were on second and third with but one out when
"Buckthorne" Black smashed a long hit over center for three bases and
scored an instant later on a sharp, slashing hit through Noisy Norton.
The three runs seemed to spell the doom of the Bears, and they came in
from the field angry, hot and desperate.  The roar of the crowd grew
stronger when the score board showed the Panthers were winning their
game--5 to 1--from the Blues.

McCarthy was first at bat in that inning.  As he selected his bat he
glanced toward the stand and grew hot with rage at seeing Baldwin
laughing until red in the face and slapping Ed Edwards on the back.
The gambler's usually stony face wore a smile of relief.  McCarthy
walked to the plate, pushed the first ball pitched down the third-base
line and outsprinted the ball to first.  Norton strove to bring him
home, but his long-line drive went straight to the left fielder, and
when Holleran struck out it seemed as if the chance to score was lost
for that inning.  McCarthy stood still, a few feet off first base, and,
as Randall wound up to pitch, he started at top speed for second base.
Jackson, catching for the Jackrabbits, saw him, grabbed the ball and
leaped into position to throw.  Like a flash McCarthy stopped and
danced a step or two back toward first base, as if daring the catcher
to throw the ball.  Jackson pretended to throw to first, and, as
McCarthy edged a step closer the base the catcher saw there was no
chance to catch him, and slowly relaxing from throwing position, he
took a step forward and started to toss the ball back to his pitcher.
In that instant McCarthy acted.  He leaped forward, and, before Jackson
could recover and spring back into throwing position, the fleet Bear
was nearing second base, making a beautifully executed delayed steal.
Jackson threw, although it was too late.  The ball, hurled over
hastily, broke through the second baseman's hands and rolled twenty
feet toward center field.  McCarthy turned second at full speed and
raced for third, while Reilly tore after the ball, and, picking it up,
made a fast, low throw toward third.  Again the ball escaped the
baseman, and McCarthy, without the loss of a stride, turned third base
and raced home, sliding under Jackson as he reached for the high-thrown
ball.

The game had settled down to a desperate series of attacks by the
Bears, and a stubborn defense on the part of the Jackrabbits.  In the
sixth and again in the seventh the Bears forced the attack, but each
time they fell short of scoring, and the eighth inning came with the
score 3 to 1 against them.  Lucas, who was catching in Kennedy's place,
opened that inning, and the Bears' hope arose when he, the weakest
hitter on the team, was hit by a pitched ball.  Smith drove a hard
bounder toward first, but O'Meara knocked down the ball and reached the
base in time to retire the big, lumbering pitcher, letting Lucas reach
second.  Jacobsen struck out, and McCarthy, gritting his teeth, came to
bat.  One strike and one ball had been called when, looking toward the
bench for a signal from Clancy, he saw a sight that made his heart
jump.  In that fleeting glance he had seen Swanson, in uniform, coming
onto the bench through the little doorway under the stands.

Swanson's eye was black and a strip of plaster extended from under his
cap onto his forehead.  His face was swollen and discolored and a
bandage covered his head, showing under his cap.

If he only could get on first base, McCarthy told himself, there was
hope, and, as the ball sped toward him he poked out his bat, dropped
another bunt toward third base, and, by a terrific burst of speed he
beat it to first base, sending Lucas to third.

"Swanson batting for Holleran.  Swanson will play shortstop, McCarthy
third base, Pardridge in left field."

McCarthy had determined to steal second base, but the chance never
presented.  The first ball that came whizzing toward the plate Swanson
hit.  It went like a rocket far out to left center field.  Two speedy
outfielders glanced at the flying ball, then turned and sprinted for
the outer barriers.  The ball soared on and on, and with a crash struck
against the sign over the left field seats and fell back into the
throng in the bleachers, and while the crowd cheered and groaned three
Bears trotted around the bases to the plate.

Swanson, running slowly and painfully, crossed the plate, with the
score that put the Bears in the lead.  He did not stop.  Straight
toward the box where Edwards and Baldwin sat, he went.  His face was
terrible.  They saw him coming, and Baldwin, apologetic with fear, half
arose, as if to cry for help.  The gambler, white but still keeping his
nerve, shrank back a trifle, but held his seat.  Swanson walked
straight to them.  For an instant he towered over them threateningly,
then he said:

"Good afternoon, gentlemen, I hope you're glad to see me."



CHAPTER XIX

_Swanson to the Rescue_

When Silent Swanson aroused himself from the effects of the blow on the
head from the beer mallet in the hands of the treacherous bartender, he
sat up feebly and found himself in semi-darkness.

"Someone crowned me with a crowbar," he muttered to himself as his
brain gradually began to work normally.  "They must have kicked me
after I went down."

A faint groan from the heavy shadows near him startled him into a
realization of what had happened.  He felt around for a moment and his
fingers touched the body of a man huddled against a wall.

"It must be Ken--and he's hurt," he muttered, and crept toward his
companion.  Swanson worked over him, shaking and speaking to him and
presently Kennedy stirred and sat up against the wall.

"Where are we?  What happened?" he inquired in a bewildered manner.

"Search me," replied Swanson mournfully.  "I was just getting ready to
swing the haymaker on that big fellow when the house fell.  I think
someone beaned me from behind with a brick and then kicked us around.
Ouch--my ribs feel stoved in."

"I'm sore all over," moaned Kennedy.  "That fellow didn't do it all by
himself, did he?"

"I have a dim recollection of hearing someone tell him to fix us
right," replied Swanson.  "I may have dreamed it."

"Let's get out of here," urged Swanson suddenly.  "If some watchman
finds us here we'll be pinched, and it will make a nice story for the
reporters."

"Where do you think we are?" asked Kennedy, striving to get to his feet
and groaning with every move.

"In the alley back of the joint we were in," replied Swanson.  "They
must have dragged us to the back door and dumped us."

He had managed to get upon his feet, assisted Kennedy to arise, and
slowly and with many groans they went toward the mouth of the alley.

"Let's go around to the front door and clean out that place," urged
Swanson, growing angry.

Both men were commencing to recover from the effects of the cruel
treatment they had endured, and, as their injured muscles loosened
their anger arose.  They made their way painfully around the block and
to the entrance of the saloon.  It was locked and the place was in
total darkness.  Swanson shook the barred doors without result, then
stood gazing blankly against the glass.

"Say, Ken, we must have been knocked out for quite a while," he
remarked thoughtfully.  "No one is here.  They probably closed up as
soon as they threw us out--and we haven't a bit of proof against
anyone."

"Wonder what time it is?" groaned Kennedy.  "We've got to get to bed if
we want to play."

"Holy Mackerel," exclaimed Swanson, using his favorite form of
swearing.  "I forgot!  That's it!  Ken, after we were knocked out they
beat us to keep us from playing.  Come on.  We've got to forget about
fighting and get ready to play.  I'll get even with someone for this."

Swanson was thinking rapidly as they limped slowly along the darkened
streets in search of a night prowling cabman or taxi-cab, keeping a
sharp lookout for policemen, fearing they might be arrested because of
their battered condition.

"We've got to get to somewhere we can be patched up and get some
sleep," he repeated, urging Kennedy, whose sufferings made their
progress slow.  "We've got to keep those crooks from finding out where
we are.  Let them think they've finished us and then show up in time to
play."

"I don't think I can play, Silent," moaned Kennedy.  "I can't drag
myself much farther."

He was making a brave effort to keep on, and for another block Swanson
half supported him.  Then he gave up and sat down upon the curbing.

"Sit here," said Swanson quickly.  "There is an all-night drug store a
couple of blocks down; I'll find a cab there."

He limped away as rapidly as possible, and, almost before Kennedy
realized it, he returned in a taxicab.

"Caught him just starting home," explained Swanson, as he half lifted
Kennedy into the tonneau.  "He says there is a hospital less than a
mile from here where we can get treatment."

The bruised and battered players groaned and swore under their breath,
while the cab made a rapid trip to the hospital, and half an hour later
they were resting easily in a private room, their wounds were being
washed and dressed and a young doctor was working hard to relieve their
sufferings.

"We've got to play ball this afternoon, Doc," said Swanson, watching
the surgeon cut and wash the hair from the wound on his scalp.  "Fix us
up right."

"You'll not play ball this week," said the surgeon cheerfully.  "Your
friend over there will be all right in a couple of days.  He's badly
bruised and his hand is sprained, but not seriously.  He's sorer than
you are, but by morning you'll be a cripple."

"But, Doc, we've got to play," pleaded Swanson.  "You've got to fix us
up."

"I'll do all I can," remarked the surgeon.  "But your right arm is
badly wrenched and bruised.  The cuts won't hurt, but one of your eyes
will be out of commission for three or four days.  Whose mule kicked
you?"

Swanson, pledging the doctor to secrecy, revealed part of the truth.

"You won't be able to play," he advised his patients, "and Kennedy must
take two days off at least."

"I've got to play, Doc," responded Swanson, "if it's on one leg; I've
got to."

It was a few minutes past noon when Swanson awoke with a start.  The
nurse was in the room, moving about quietly, and Kennedy still slept,
moving and muttering in his sleep, as if dreaming of the battle.  He
remained quiet for a few moments, and then said:

"Nurse, please bring me my clothes."

"You must wait until after breakfast," she said, coming to the bedside.
"Dr. Anderson was here a short time ago, and said I was to give you
your breakfast when you awoke, then call him."

"But I'm in a hurry," protested the player.  "I can't wait.  They'll be
anxious about us."

"The doctor said he would give you treatment and massage, so that you
could get out more quickly," she responded.  "I'll bring breakfast and
then call him."

Kennedy, feeling much refreshed, but too sore and stiff to move without
suffering, was awakened for breakfast, and he and Swanson discussed the
situation in low tones as they ate.

It was past one o'clock before Swanson commenced to worry about the
failure of the doctor to come.  After fuming and fretting for more than
half an hour he rang for the nurse and sent her in quest of Dr.
Anderson.  She returned soon and reported that he had been summoned
suddenly to assist in performing an important operation, but that he
probably would return soon.  Not until two o'clock had passed did
Swanson commence to become seriously disturbed at the failure of the
doctor to appear.  A short nap had refreshed him somewhat, and when
Kennedy announced that it was past two o'clock he waited a few moments,
then commenced ringing the call bell by his bedside to summon the
nurse.  There was no response, and growing angry and impatient, he rang
again and again.

"If I only had a pair of pants," wailed the helpless giant, "I'd break
out."

He climbed out of bed and searched the room.  In his impatience he
bumped his wounded head, and blood flowed afresh from under the
bandages, and with a movement of his arm he smeared it over his face.
The giant Swede was working himself into a fury.  Every few moments he
rang the bell, and a few moments before three o'clock the nurse, calm
and appearing as if nothing unusual was happening, came in.

"Did you ring?" she inquired.

Swanson started to explode, but stood looking at her in helpless fury.

"Get me my clothes," he ordered in tones that frightened the girl,
trained as she was to the outbursts of patients.

"Get me my clothes," he repeated.

"It is against orders," she said hesitatingly.  "You cannot go until
the doctor"----

"Get me my clothes," he half screamed.  "If my clothes aren't here in
five minutes I'm going this way."

The nurse, thoroughly alarmed by the fury of the big man, ran from the
room, and, within five minutes she returned with another nurse to
support her.

"Where are my clothes?" he demanded in an awful voice.

"It's against orders," said the older nurse firmly.  "You cannot leave
without permission from the doctor in charge."

For an instant it seemed as if Swanson would forget himself and become
violent.  With an effort he controlled his anger and sank back upon the
pillows.

"All right," he said resignedly, "let me telephone to the boss and
explain."

"You are not going to quit, Silent?" demanded Kennedy, starting up in
bed.  "I'll go myself"----

The quick wink that Swanson gave him stopped the catcher's angry
expostulation.

"That's a good boy!" said the nurse pleasantly.  "There isn't any use
to fret.  I'll bring you the telephone."

The telephone was brought, and, when the nurse left the room Swanson
called up the hotel at which they lived.

"That you, Joe?" he said rapidly.  "This is Silent--yes, in hospital.
Send a taxi to the corner as fast as you can get it here.  I'll be
watching."

He cut off the carriage clerk's curious questions by hanging up the
receiver.

"What are you going to do?" whispered Kennedy from his bed.

"I'm going out of here," said Swanson.  He crept out of bed, and with
his face pressed against the window, watched the corner four floors
below until a taxicab stopped there and waited.  Then, drawing a sheet
over his night gown, he opened the door cautiously.

The receiving clerk had a glimpse of a ferocious looking ghost, garbed
in a white sheet, and with face smeared with blood, racing down the
hallway, and before her screams could bring help, Swanson had run
limpingly across the street, leaped into the taxi and was shouting
orders to the driver to get him to the ball park.



CHAPTER XX

_Hidden Foes_

The disappearance and dramatic reappearance of Swanson and Kennedy, who
was released from the hospital after the game, was the sensation of the
country for twelve hours; then it was paled into insignificance by a
new sensation that caused a wave of indignation and an insistent demand
for proof from all parts of the country and left the Bears dazed by the
series of events that crowded upon them.

The second sensation was the printing of an article in one of the
foremost papers of their city in which the charge was made that one
member of the Bear team had been bribed; indeed, had been put on the
team with the sole end that he might throw games and force the
championship upon the Panthers.

The article created a furore which caused the public to forget the
mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Swanson and
Kennedy.

Although no name was mentioned, the facts set forth fitted only
McCarthy, the new third baseman, and rallied all the admirers of the
lithe red-headed boy to his side and set loose a storm of anger and
suspicion directed upon him by those who criticised his playing or
opposed him through prejudice.

Manager Clancy, after an anxious evening and night trying to get at the
facts of the case of Swanson and Kennedy, and getting Kennedy out of
the hospital, was the first of the Bears to see the new attack.  He
read the entire article from end to end, and going to his apartment he
telephoned for McCarthy, Swanson, Kennedy and Secretary Tabor to come
to his rooms at once.

Manager Clancy was waiting, striding up and down the room restlessly
and as the three players entered, he unceremoniously shooed his wife
into the next room before she had a chance to defend her boys.

"Fellows," said the manager quietly, "I sent for you because you seem
to know more what's going on than the others do.  I suppose none of you
has read this article in this morning's paper.  I'll read it to you."

As he read, the players began to look one at the other and ejaculations
of surprise and anger came from them.  When Clancy reached the portion
of the article telling of the player joining the Bears, McCarthy sprang
from his chair.

"Why," he exclaimed, flushing angrily, "why, he means me."

"It's a d----n shame," roared Swanson.  "I'll wring his neck."

"Let me finish," said Clancy, and completed the reading.  At the end
the players broke into excited questions and threats and Clancy said:

"Now, see here, boys; we're against a tough proposition.  This article
is just part of it.  I wanted to talk things over with you fellows.
I've sent for Technicalities, and want to find out a few things from
him.  Now you fellows tell me all you know.  By the way, you needn't
shy at using Williams's name.  I'm not saying he's guilty, but I know
he's the one you have been watching."

Detail by detail they described to the manager the events of the
preceding days.

"Keep quiet about all that.  The case is one we can't beat except on
the ball field.  Every one of us is certain that Edwards has bribed
Williams and that he has lined up this big politician, Barney Baldwin,
and now they've dished up this story about McCarthy to try to drive him
out of the game.  Are you game to stand what the crowd will do to you
to-day, Kohinoor?"

"I'll play," replied McCarthy grimly.

"Better stuff your ears with cotton if we're losing," advised the
manager.  "This crowd will turn on you in a second and accuse you of
more than the paper did, if you make an error or two.  It will be worse
if you stay out of the game.  Then they'll think the story is true and
that I've laid you off for throwing games.  I have a plan.  I'm going
to act as if I believe McCarthy is trying to throw games."

"Thanks," said McCarthy, gripping the manager's hand gratefully, just
as a knock sounded on the door and Technicalities Feehan entered.

"I regret exceedingly my absence when you wanted me, Mr. Clancy," he
said.  "I have just returned and have been reading this absurd article
reflecting upon the integrity of Mr. McCarthy."

"What do you think of it?" asked Swanson.

"Absurd.  The figures prove directly the contrary.  Let me read to you
some of my recent calculations"----

"Never mind--never mind," protested Clancy.  "Save them for the paper.
What I wanted to find out is who is this fellow Barney Baldwin?"

"Baldwin," said Feehan calmly, "is a politician, accused of much
crooked work.  I do not know that he ever has been convicted"----

"Meantime," remarked Feehan calmly, "I shall attempt to discover the
relations existing between Mr. Edwards, the gamester, and this person
who wrote this attack.  I shall have some statistics to show the
editor"----

"Never mind the statistics," said Clancy, cutting off Feehan before he
could bestride his hobby, "I want you to find out who was back of the
fellow who wrote that article; whether anyone bribed him to do it.  I'm
beginning to think we are dealing with bigger men than Ed Edwards.

"Now see here, fellows," he added frowning worriedly, "we're up against
the toughest proposition we ever tackled, but we can beat it.  The best
way to beat them is to pretend we don't suspect a thing and let them
work out their own schemes"----"Hello, come in," he called in response
to a rap on the door.  "Oh, it's you, Bannard!  How are you?  I'm just
having a little talk with the boys.  How are things to-day?"

He feigned an indifferent manner.

"Pretty good, Bill.  Team all right?" asked the president.  "I heard
two of the boys got mixed up in a barroom scrap."

"I was just warning them about that," said Clancy.  "These are the two
(he pointed to Kennedy and Swanson).  I was warning them that a lot of
tough mugs in this burg are likely to get excited over baseball these
days and ball players ought to stick close to the hotel."

"Glad they're not much hurt," said Bannard easily, looking at the
battered athletes.  "How is the pitching staff?  By the way, who is
working to-day?"

"It's Williams's turn," said Clancy steadily.  "Why?"

"Why, that's what I came to see about," replied the president frankly.
"That friend of mine--the one I spoke to you about the other day--wants
to see him pitch.  I'm starting West at noon and I told him I'd ask you
as a favor.  He was pretty sore because you didn't put him in the other
time I asked you."

"All right.  Always glad to oblige when possible," said Clancy grimly.

"Why didn't you ask who his friend is?" inquired Swanson when Bannard
departed.

"Bonehead, fool, slow thinker," said Clancy.  "I ought to bench myself
for not thinking of it.  I'll find out the first time I see him."

The players laughed nervously and departed from the room.  Scarcely had
McCarthy and Swanson reached their quarters when the telephone girl
called to tell McCarthy an important call had been coming in for half
an hour.

"Very well, connect me," said McCarthy.

He recognized Helen Baldwin's voice, and it shook with emotion, as she
made certain she was talking to him.

"Oh, Larry," she said, "I must see you!  I must--to-night, if possible!
Please come!"

"What is the matter, Helen?" he asked anxiously.  "It's impossible to
come to-night--and after the last"----

"I know, I know, Larry," she said rapidly.  "Please, please forget all
that.  I didn't understand!  I didn't know!  I've found out something
that showed me how bad and wicked I have been.  I didn't mean to bring
harm to you"----

"Uncle came home," she said.  "He'd been drinking.  He made terrible
threats against you."

"I'll be up to-night," said McCarthy.

"Better look out--it's a trap," warned Swanson, who had heard McCarthy
promise to call that night.

"There's something wrong up there," replied McCarthy.  "I'm going to
Baldwin's house to-night."

They went downstairs talking in low tones.  On the parlor floor Betty
Tabor was sitting reading.  She had scarcely spoken to McCarthy since
the day she had heard him in conversation with Helen Baldwin.
Impulsively she dropped her book and came toward him with her hand
outstretched.

"Mr. McCarthy," she said rapidly, "I wanted to tell you--I do not
believe a word of these horrible things the paper says about you.  It
is hateful!  I told them they were false.  I didn't think they'd dare
tell others"----

"Them?" inquired McCarthy.  "Then you've heard this story before?"

"Yes," she admitted.  "I refused to listen--I knew there was not a word
of truth in the stories.  I knew you were honest"----

"I thank you very much, Miss Tabor," he said quietly.  "I shall not
need to ask who told you."

"I only wanted you to know I believed in you," she said simply, and as
he looked into her eyes, she lowered them with a quick blush and
hastened to recover her book.



CHAPTER XXI

_Fair Play_

Thirty thousand persons were packed into the big stands on the Bears'
Park, and ten thousand others camped in the outer field seats when the
teams ran out to play that day.

A few loyalists applauded McCarthy as he trotted along with the other
players, but the ripple of applause died suddenly as if the friends he
had in the crowd feared to start a counterstorm of criticism and abuse.

The great crowd was strangely quiet, although a hum of comment spread
through the stands when the Bears took the fielding practice and
Jacobson, the pitcher, practiced at third base, while McCarthy remained
near the stands idly warming up a recruit pitcher.  The buzz arose to a
hum of excitement.  Reporters, deserting the press box, swarmed down
under the stands and crowded to the entrance at the rear of the Bears'
bench, calling for Clancy, who went to speak with them.

"Why isn't McCarthy in the game?" demanded the spokesman, who already
had written that McCarthy was suspended and out of the game.

"He is in the game," replied Clancy innocently.  "Why shouldn't he be?"

For an instant the reporters stood undecided, then sprinted back to
their posts, to change what they had written and alter the line-up.

Bill Tascott, the umpire, swaggered out to the plate, dusted the
rubber, while the megaphones announced the batteries, and, at that
instant McCarthy, jerking his glove from his belt, hurled his catcher's
mitt to the bench and trotted out to third base, as Jacobson walked
toward the bench.

The little scattering applause that greeted him grew and grew until the
crowd applauded heartily and gave round after round of applause for the
third baseman.  It was the American spirit of fair play and justice
revealing itself, and the crowd, accepting Manager Clancy's confidence
in his third baseman, rendered its verdict of not guilty in cheers.

The Jackrabbits had figured cunningly that McCarthy would be unnerved
by the strain of the situation, and "Hooks" O'Leary, the manager, had
ordered that the attack be directed upon him.  The first batter pushed
a slow, twisting bounder down the third-base line and McCarthy, racing
forward, scooped the ball with one hand and still running, snapped it
underhand to first base ten feet ahead of the runner.  He knew that his
feat was mere bravado and that he had taken a reckless and useless
chance, but the crowd needed no further convincing, but broke into a
crashing testimonial of applause, and he knew he was safe so far as
their confidence in him was involved.

The game developed into a panic, then the rout of the Rabbits and the
triumphant Bears rushed to victory by a score of 11 to 2.  And, while
they were winning, the Panthers won one game by a wide margin and lost
the second after a fierce pitcher's duel, 2 to 1, leaving the Bears a
full game in the lead of the pennant race, with but five games to play,
while the Panthers played four.

"The place to contradict baseball stories," remarked Clancy, grimly, in
the club house, as the players were dressing after the victory, "is on
the ball field.  If we had lost to-day we would have been a bunch of
crooks, but as we won, we're all honest."

He glanced quickly toward where Williams was dressing, but the pitcher
kept his eyes averted and seemed not to hear the remark.

"And Kohinoor," the manager added, "I give it to you for nerve in
pulling off that circus stuff in the first inning.  But if you do it
again it'll cost you a bunch of your salary."

McCarthy found a note in his key box when he returned to the hotel.  He
had torn it open to read when Miss Betty Tabor, who had returned from
the grounds with Mrs. Clancy, came laughing and almost dancing across
the lobby toward the group of players, leaving her portly, but no less
elated companion, to pant along behind her.

"Oh, it was glorious, boys!" she said.  "I never was so excited in my
life as when you made those four runs in the third inning.  And Mother
Clancy was so wrought up she dropped three stitches in her fancy work
and had to work all the rest of the game picking them out."

"She has a frightful case of nerves," said Swanson sarcastically.  "I
believe she'd break a needle if we won the world's championship the
last inning of the deciding game."

They laughed joyously as the girl turned to McCarthy and said frankly:

"I am so glad for your sake, Mr. McCarthy.  I was so angry I could have
turned and told some of the people behind me what I thought of them
before the game started, but when you fielded that first ball they
cheered you--and that made up for it."

"They should have heard what Mr. Clancy had to say about it," he
laughed, and then growing serious said, "It is kind of you, Miss Tabor.
I am glad to know someone had faith in me."

They were standing a little apart from the group, which was slowly
moving toward the elevators, chattering excitedly as school boys and
girls.  The feeling of relief from the anxiety and suspicion that had
fallen upon them gave rise to exuberance.

"Mr. Clancy is taking us for an auto ride all around the city
to-night," said Miss Tabor.  "Shall I ask him to invite you to come
with us?  There's an extra seat."

"It's awfully good of you," he said in genuine regret.  "I wish I
could--but I have an engagement."

"Oh," she said, her tones chilling quickly.  "I'm sorry."

"Miss Tabor," he pleaded eagerly, "please do not think I do not want to
go"----

"Did I hint such a thing?" she inquired, with an air of innocent
indifference.

He could not fence with her upon that basis and after a moment of idle
exchange of formalities she turned to join Mrs. Clancy and McCarthy
went to his room.  Swanson was stretched upon the bed, reading
newspapers, and flinging each sheet at random as he finished scanning
its contents.

"Darn the luck," said McCarthy, hurling his glove and shoes toward his
trunk.

"Did his 'ittle tootsie wootsy treat him mean?" asked Swanson in his
most exasperating tones.

"Aw shut up, you big dub," snapped McCarthy angrily, resorting to ball
players' repartee to cover his feelings.

"Maybe his lovey dovey is just jealous and will forgive her 'ittle
pet," taunted the giant.  "Petty mustn't mind what lovey says in her
notes."

"Oh," said Swanson, with vast relief when he found Swanson was barking
up the wrong tree, "I forgot all about the note."

He dragged the missive from his pocket and scanned it hastily, then
tossed it across to Swanson.

"Date is off," he announced joyously.  "Needn't watch me to-night."

Swanson read:

"Dear Larry:

"Don't come to-night.  Uncle will be here--with friends--and I'm
afraid.  I must see you soon as possible.  Will try to arrange to meet
you somewhere to-morrow.  I will telephone. H."

And while Swanson read the note McCarthy was at the telephone.

"Miss Tabor," he was saying eagerly, "this is Mr. McCarthy.  I find my
engagement for this evening is canceled.  Please ask Mr. Clancy if I
may go.  Please.  Yes, I said please.  Shall I say it again?"

"And, Miss Tabor, if that spare seat is in the tonneau----  No, Mrs.
Clancy should sit with her husband."



CHAPTER XXII

_A Victory and a Defeat_

Another crowd of enormous size greeted the Bears as they raced onto the
ball field early the next afternoon to play the doubleheader that was
to complete the season's series against the Jackrabbits.

The paper that had printed the attack upon the team had given space to
a partial retraction, and, although the players did not know it, the
reporter who had written the article had been suspended during an
investigation that was inspired because Technicalities Feehan had,
after overwhelming two editors with his statistics, convinced them that
no basis of truth existed for such charges.

The Bears were happy and confident.  With a full game the advantage and
only five more games to play, and those comparatively easy; with the
pitching staff in good condition, they considered the pennant as won.

McCarthy and Swanson almost had forgotten to keep watch upon Williams.
They despised him, and in the club house and on the field they ignored
him completely.  Several of the other players, although they knew
nothing of the plot, had come to ignore the pitcher, and he shunned
them all.  He seemed nervous and laboring under a heavy strain.  Two or
three times he started toward Clancy as if to speak to him, but each
time the manager, who was watching him, turned away to address another
player.  Finally, Williams seemed to gather his courage, and with a
pretense of indifference he sauntered toward Clancy, who was talking
with several of the players.

"Which game do I work, Bill?" he asked, tossing his glove down and
picking up a bat.

"I think I'll save you for the first game of the World's Series,
Adonis," replied Clancy.  "It's a shame to waste you beating these dub
clubs."

The hidden sarcasm in the words stung.  The pitcher started, then
rallied and said:

"What have you got it in for me about?  Haven't I worked my head off to
win for your team?"

"I haven't made any kick," responded Clancy shortly.  "When I have a
kick coming I'll make it good and strong."

"I'm not joking, Bill," the pitcher persisted.  "My arm is good, and a
lot of my friends are wondering why I don't work when it's my turn."

"Tell them," said Clancy very quietly, "that I have only one third
baseman, and that I don't want him killed."

Williams's eyes were opened.  He felt beneath the bitter calmness of
the manager's voice the fact that Clancy knew--at least part of the
truth.  His jaw dropped and his face went white.  Clancy, with a short
laugh, started to run away.

"Then I don't work to-day?"  Alarm, pleading and a note of despair in
his tones as if he realized what the manager's decision meant to him.

"No, not to-day," replied Clancy, watching him sharply.

He turned away with exaggerated carelessness, and the rat-faced,
cold-eyed man in the stands, who had been watching them closely,
gritted out an oath and turned to Barney Baldwin, who was sitting
beside him:

"He isn't going to let Williams pitch," He said.  "We're done for,
Baldwin."

The politician turned purple with rage.

"Well, by ----, Edwards," he snarled, "we'll see about this.  I'll put
this over or know why."

The first game of the afternoon was a romp for the Bears.  They scored
early, and by clean hitting and dashing play on the bases, piled up
tallies until the opponents were hopelessly defeated before the fifth
inning.  The game was a stern chase from that to the finish, and the
Bears, scoring steadily, won, 9 to 2.

Instead of being elated by the victory Clancy seemed worried.  On the
bench he was fretful and uneasy.

"Don't you fellows take any wide chances in the next game," he decreed
while the pitchers were warming up for the final battle against the
Jackrabbits.  "We want this game.  I'm sending Wilcox in to win it.
Who's that young bird the Rabbits are warming up?  Hoskins, eh?
Busher?  Well, watch him.  These young fellows with nothing but a
strong arm are dangerous as the deuce at this time of the year."

Unlike their manager, the players were confident.  Their easy victory
in the first game, the fact that Wilcox, their best right-handed
pitcher, was to start the game against an unknown and untried "busher"
fresh from some small team and nervous through desire to win his first
game, made it seem as if victory should be easy.

They blanked the Jackrabbits easily in the first inning, and, obedient
to orders, attacked the pitching of the youngster, Hoskins, with every
art known to them.  They coached noisily, they waited at the plate,
they crowded close to the plate and they ran at the ball.

"What's that bird got?" demanded Clancy as each batter returned to the
bench.  "Nothin', eh?  Nothing, and you swingin' your bat like you was
stirrin' apple butter?  Nothin'?  Say, you fellows get busy and make a
run or two."

In spite of the orders, the abuse and criticism heaped upon them by the
anxious manager, the Bears were not able to hit the balls offered by
the tall, cool youngster picked up by the Jackrabbits from some obscure
club.  He had steadied from his early symptoms of stage fright and was
pitching beautifully.  His curve ball angled across the plate, his
speed jumped high across the shoulders of the batters.  The fifth
inning came with the score nothing to nothing.

The players no longer were confident.  The batters no longer came back
to the bench with reports that the pitcher "had nothing," but they grew
serious and anxious and silent.  They tried bunting, but the
Jackrabbits were prepared and checked the assault.  They changed, and
instead of waiting they hit the first ball pitched.  They realized now
that they were engaged in a contest with a pitcher of merit, for they
knew the difference between hitting unluckily and hitting good pitching.

Wilcox, a quiet, studious pitcher, was among the first to realize that
the youngster was pitching well.

"Get a run for me, fellows," he begged.  "This kid has a world of stuff
on the ball.  Just meet that fast one--poke it, and it may go over
safe.  Get a run for me and we'll trim them."

The veteran was pitching slowly, cautiously.  Two or three times the
Jackrabbits threatened to score, but each time Wilcox put another twist
on the ball and stopped them.  Inning after inning he pleaded with his
fellows to make a run, and Clancy stormed and grew sarcastic with each
failure.

"Get him this time, fellows; finish it up," begged Clancy when the
Jackrabbits had been blanked.  Norton was the first batter.  He chopped
his bat with a short stroke and sent a safe hit flying to right.  A
sacrifice pushed him along to second base and the crowd commenced to
cheer as Pardridge came to bat.  The big fellow drove his bat crashing
against the first ball.  It went on a line almost straight toward
second base.  Norton was tearing for the plate when O'Neill, the
Jackrabbit second baseman, running across, leaped and stretched out one
hand.  The ball stuck in his extended glove, he came down squarely on
second base and the triumphant scream of the crowd ended in a gasp of
disappointment at the realization that a double play had balked the
Bears' attack and ended the inning.

The Jackrabbits, aroused by their narrow escape, attacked with new
vigor.  A fumble gave them the opening.  Despite the most determined
efforts of Wilcox they forced a run across the plate and the Bears were
thrown back under a handicap.

McCarthy was the first batter.  He crowded close to the plate,
determined to force the young pitcher to earn his victory.  He refused
to hit until two strikes and three balls had been called, and then,
shortening his grip upon his bat, he hit the straight, fast ball
sharply to center for a base.  Instead of sacrificing, Swanson received
orders to hit and run and, although he was thrown out at first base,
McCarthy reached second, and Babbitt, the first baseman, came to bat.
Hoskins appeared nervous.  The strain was telling upon the youngster,
and Babbitt hit the first ball.  From the sound of the bat hitting the
ball, McCarthy knew the hit was not on the ground, and as he started
homeward a glance showed him that Merode, the speedy little center
fielder, was running back into the deep field with his eye on the ball.
It was a fly-out unless Merode muffed, and McCarthy, knowing that such
a muff happens only four or five times a season, returned and perched
upon second base, ready to sprint for third the instant the ball struck
the fielder's hands.  The thought flashed through his brain that the
Blues had released Merode because of a weak arm and a habit of lobbing
the ball back to the infielders instead of throwing it back with all
his power.  The ball fell into the upstretched hands of the outfielder.
McCarthy leaped and raced for third base.  He knew that Merode would
not throw there because of his weak arm and the length of the throw, so
he swung a little outside the base path, slowed up as he turned third,
and glanced toward the field.  The ball was coming in.  Merode had
thrown it slowly and carelessly toward the shortstop.  McCarthy leaped
forward toward the plate.  The shortstop, running out to meet the slow
throw, heard the cry of alarm from the fielders and the roar of
excitement from the crowd.  He knew what was happening.  He grabbed the
ball, whirled and threw like a shot to the plate.  McCarthy was
two-thirds of the way home; but the ball, striking the ground, bounded
into the hands of the catcher six feet ahead of him.  Like a flash
McCarthy hurled his body inside the line, with one foot outstretched to
touch the goal.  He had out-guessed the catcher.  His foot, stretched
out, felt the sharp jar of some object, then struck the plate, and,
rolling over and over, he arose covered with dust.

The crowd was roaring.  Nine out of ten thought McCarthy had counted
with the tying run, but Bill Tascott, crouching over the plate, jerked
his thumb over his shoulder, signaling that the runner was out and the
Bears beaten.

Like flood waters breaking a dam, the crowd surged from the stands,
shouting, screaming, threatening.  A thousand men, mad with
disappointment, swarmed around the umpire, pushing, shoving, shaking
fists and screaming.  McCarthy pushed his way hurriedly into the mob,
which was growing more and more threatening.

"Let him alone.  He was right," he cried loudly.  "The ball touched my
foot as I slid in."

Those who heard him stopped, and in an instant the danger was over.
The crowd, subsiding suddenly, began to melt away.  Tascott grinned as
he turned to McCarthy.

"That was tough luck, Kohinoor," he said.  "I was pulling for you to
beat the ball, and you had it beat, but your leg kicked up and hit the
ball as you slid.  I'd have given a month's salary to call you safe."



CHAPTER XXIII

_Kidnapped_

"Train leaves at 11.30, Kohinoor," said Swanson as McCarthy came up to
their rooms after dinner that evening.  "Let's play billiards until it
goes."

"Can't," replied McCarthy shortly.  "I've got to make that call
to-night.  There's something wrong up there at Baldwin's, Silent.  The
girl writes to-day that Baldwin will not be home this evening and that
she must see me to give me important news."

"Sure you can trust her?" asked the big shortstop.  "Don't take any
chances."

"There's no danger in going to one of the finest homes on the drive to
call on a young woman," laughed McCarthy.

"I'll get away as soon as possible and tackle you for fifty points,
three cushions, before we start for the train," promised McCarthy.
"You hang around."

McCarthy had puzzled for two days over the odd conduct of Helen
Baldwin, and her brief note, appointing that evening for the call, had
failed to bring any solution of the riddle.  He knew now that the girl
with whom he had imagined himself in love was selfish and shallow, but
he could not believe her criminal, nor did he for an instant think that
she was a part of the conspiracy to rob the Bears of their
championship.  That he was in any danger he did not consider possible.
He went uptown determined to hasten the interview as much as possible
and arrived at the Baldwin mansion shortly after eight o'clock.

Presently Helen Baldwin came.  She was wearing a dark street gown and
her face was pale, dark rings under her eyes showing that she had been
suffering.

"Larry," she said quietly, "you'll think me hateful and wicked.  I have
had a terrible time these last two days, and I have been thinking.

"I wanted to tell you I was a foolish, vain girl.  I didn't love you; I
was in love with the thought of being mistress to James Lawrence's
fortune.  I was conceited and silly and never thought of any one but
myself; but I did like you, Larry--I do.  You will believe that, will
you not?"

"Yes," he said simply.

"I thought baseball was just a silly game," she went on, as if each
word cost her a pang.  "I couldn't understand why you gave up so much;
why you insisted upon staying with the team.  I didn't know that here
in the East it is a great business and that hundreds of thousands of
people take it so seriously.  Uncle Barney asked me to get you to quit,
and I told him you would.  My vanity was hurt when you refused."

"You found out what it means for me to quit?" he asked.

"Yes.  Uncle Barney came home in a terrible rage.  He had been drinking
and when he saw me he swore about you.  He swore he'd fix you."

Her voice sank to a frightened whisper.

"He was only bluffing--I beg pardon; only talking," he said, striving
to soothe her.

"I didn't know until then that I really cared, Larry," she went on.
"He frightened me.  I asked him questions, and he told me what he and
some others have been doing to keep your club from winning."

"What did he tell you?" he asked quickly.

"He said they had one of your pitchers, I think he said, fixed, and
that he had paid some other players to hurt you and to hurt Mr. Wilcox,
I think he said.  He wanted me to get you to come to meet me somewhere,
and they'd kidnap you and someone else--Mr. Swanson, I believe it was."

"He's a kindly fellow," commented McCarthy coldly, an angry light
gleaming in his blue eyes.  "Did he say where this was to take place?"

"No.  He tried to get me to write you to meet me at some place he
named.  He said I needn't go there, just get you to come.  I told him I
would.  When he went to sleep I telephoned you because I was so
frightened.  To-day we had a terrible quarrel.  I refused to write to
you to meet me at the place he named."

Her terror was so evident that her words were not necessary to add
conviction.

McCarthy laughed a short, rasping laugh.

"It's a good joke on him," he explained.  "If he and his thugs are
hunting for me all over the city and I here in his own home, safe; the
last place he would look for me."

"You mustn't wait," she urged anxiously.  "You mustn't wait here,
Larry.  He is drinking and I do not know what he might do if he came
home and found you here.  You must go now."

"I'll run back to the hotel and pick up my bodyguard, Swanson," he said
steadily, and with an attempt at indifference of manner, "I think I'll
be safe."

"You'll kiss me goodbye, Larry," she pleaded.  "She wouldn't care--if
she knew."

"She?" he asked.  "What do you mean?"

He was astonished and curious to learn how the girl knew anything of
his growing regard for Betty Tabor.

"I knew, I knew," she repeated.  "I knew it the first time we met--I
knew there was another girl"----

"I'm certain I did not hint at such a thing," he replied with an
attempt at dignified bearing.  "I have not even told her."

"Good-bye," she said.  "I hope you're happy, Larry, and please don't
think I meant to do wrong."

She clung to him weeping until he put away her hands and went out.  The
girl threw herself face downward upon the lounge and sobbed, this time
from a sense of loneliness and perhaps of loss.

McCarthy descended the stairs and walked rapidly through the darkened
lawn to the street.  In spite of his pretense of believing there was no
danger he found himself nervous.  He walked two blocks toward the
street car line, when a taxicab swerved toward the sidewalk.

"Taxi, sir, taxi?" asked the driver.  "Take you downtown, sir?"

McCarthy hesitated an instant.  If he hurried back to the hotel and
found Swanson he would rid himself of the nervous dread of something
intangible which he could not explain.

"How much downtown?" he asked, stopping near the taxicab, which had
come to a full stop.

"Take you down for half rates, sir; I'm going that way."

"Very well," said McCarthy.

He walked to the side of the car, and turned the handle to step within.
The instant he entered the car he felt himself seized and jerked
downward while a pair of hands gripped at his throat.  A vicious blow
struck him on the back of the neck.  Twisting, fighting, squirming, he
struggled to free himself from the hands that were throttling him.  His
knees found a grip upon the floor of the car, and bracing himself, he
jerked loose from one of the men, and struck wildly at the shape he saw
silhouetted against the opposite window.  His fist met flesh with a
crunching sound.

"I'll kill you for that," gritted someone, striking him.  In the half
light of the interior McCarthy saw an object descending.  He threw up
an arm to protect his head, and with a crunching blow a heavy blackjack
fell upon his arm.  He seized the weapon and jerked it from the hand
that had held it, but it fell to the floor of the cab.

McCarthy had struggled to his feet, bowing as his head struck the roof.
One man, seated, kicked at him and hurt him cruelly.  He was standing,
with the car door swinging wide, while the car lurched and raced along
a rough street.

Curses, groans, cries of pain and anger came from the interior as the
player, battling against two unknown opponents, fought on.  All three
of the participants in the battle at forty miles an hour, were hampered
by the smallness of the interior.

McCarthy strove to tear himself from the arms and legs that struck and
kicked him, to get his head out of the window to raise the alarm.

Again and again he cried.  Then suddenly the car lurched around a
corner at a mad pace, tipping onto two wheels and skidding sickeningly.
At that instant one of his assailants drove his feet against his body,
and, as the car lurched wildly, McCarthy broke loose, grasped
frantically for something to save himself, plunged from the machine,
struck upon the asphalt of the side street into which the car had
whirled, slid along it to the gutter and lay a huddled heap.

The car stopped quickly and whirled back to where he lay.  The men
leaped out, one cursing and frothing, the other urging silence and
haste.  Between them they lifted the half-conscious player and shoved
him into the bottom of the car.

[Illustration: THE MEN LEAPED OUT]

"Hurry up, Fred," urged the quiet man to the driver.  "These fellows
down at the corner are coming.  Jump in, Jack."

They leaped back into the taxi, and the man called Jack said viciously:

"There--you, that'll teach you"--He kicked the prostrate player.

"Cut that out," ordered the quiet man, quickly.  "You needn't murder
him; he's fixed."



CHAPTER XXIV

_Baiting a Trap_

Events that preceded and led up to the desperate encounter between
McCarthy and the two strangers in the dark interior of a racing taxicab
seemed to have been dictated by fate.  At the end of the doubleheader
between the Jackrabbits and Bears, Easy Ed Edwards had hurriedly laid
new plans to save himself.  The gambler had watched both contests,
believing all the time that the result of the games ended his final
hope of winning the bets, and, facing ruin, he had welcomed his new
lease upon hope with the determination of resorting to desperate
measures to achieve his end.  He realized that unless he acted at once
all his plotting had failed.  After the defeat of the Bears in the
second game he left the grounds, hastened downtown in a taxi and at
once telephoned to both Adonis Williams and Barney Baldwin to meet him
at his rooms.  Baldwin responded at once to the gambler's summons and
entered the rooms blustering.

"You've a frightful nerve, Edwards," snarled the angry politician.
"Understand, I do not take orders from cheap gamblers."

"You needn't try storming at me," said the gambler quietly.  "I'm onto
you.  You may ring over such a bluff as that in politics, but not with
me.  You don't seem to understand."

"I don't think you can deliver any votes anyhow," said Baldwin
sullenly.  "I've nothing but your word for it."

"That's all the security I ever needed," said the gambler
superciliously.  "But never mind about the votes--you're going to help
me."

"I've done all I can"----

"No, you haven't.  I want you to go to-morrow morning and join the
Bears and I want you to see to it that Williams pitches one of those
games against the Blues.  He'll lose it this time.  I've thrown a scare
into him and he'll do it, even if he gives himself away."

"I tell you I can't," snarled Baldwin.  "President Bannard is the only
one who knows I own the club"----

"Take your stock with you.  That proves you own it."

"And Bannard is out of town.  Clancy wouldn't pay any attention to
me"----

"You own this club," said Edwards.  "You can do what you please with
it, and you're going to do it."

"You talk as if you owned me!"  Baldwin was purple with anger.

"I do," said the gambler coldly.  "It would look good in print to have
the people know that Barney Baldwin, the crooked politician, owns both
the Bears and the Panthers, wouldn't it?"

"You have no proof"----

"Haven't I?  I saved both your notes.  You're a fool, Baldwin.  You
write letters.  I have two mentioning McCarthy and Williams.  I
wouldn't have any trouble getting them printed.  Any sporting editor in
the city would give a thousand dollars for such proof."

"Look here, Ed," expostulated Baldwin, "there isn't any use for us to
quarrel.  We're both in this thing"----

"Now you're talking sense," said the gambler.  "We haven't any time to
lose.  The club leaves town at 11.30 to-night."

"What do you want me to do?" gasped Baldwin helplessly.

"You're pretty strong with Captain Raferty, of the North Nineteenth
Street police, aren't you?"

"Yes--I've done him some favors."

"Well, I want you to fix it with him that when I bring a prisoner in
to-night some time he's to be locked downstairs and kept until you
telephone to let him loose."

"What are you going to do?" asked Baldwin, alarmed.

"I'm going to do something myself," replied the gambler sharply.  "I've
tried a lot of you fellows and you've all fallen down.  Now I'm going
to get this McCarthy and put him out of the way."

"You're taking an awful risk"----

"It's a sure thing the other way, and I'm desperate," the gambler cut
him short.  "When you get that fixed you catch the first train and
follow the team.  You get Clancy in the morning and force him to let
Williams pitch one of the games down there.  Wilcox is worked out now,
and if we can make sure Williams will pitch one game, that will force
Clancy to pitch Wilcox again, and he'll be beaten sure.  With McCarthy
out of the game, as he will be, the Bears haven't a chance.  They're
half a game ahead, but if they lose two out of three and the Panthers
win one out of their remaining two games, the Panthers beat them out on
percentage, and the Panthers ought to win both games."

"You haven't cornered McCarthy yet?" asked the politician.

"No," admitted Edwards.  "He left the hotel nearly two hours ago and
said he'd be back before ten o'clock.  I have two men watching him, and
they're to let me know where he is and what he is doing.  I ought to
have heard from them before now."

The telephone rang at that instant.

"This is it now," said Edwards in low tones.  "Hello!" he said, taking
up the receiver.  "Yes--you, Jack?  All right.  You have?  Where?  All
right.  I'll join you as fast as I can get there.  Don't let him reach
the hotel if I'm late--you understand?"

"What do you think of that?" he asked, turning to Baldwin.  "Of all the
gall--where do you think that fellow McCarthy was?"

"I don't know."

"No wonder Jack had such a hard time locating him.  He was at your
house."

"I have a taxi waiting downstairs," said Edwards quickly.  "Come on,
I'll drop you at the police station.  We'll bring in the prisoner
before you've been there very long."

"How are you going to get him?" inquired Baldwin, as the taxi dodged in
and out among traffic.

"I've got Big Jack, the fighter, trailing McCarthy," said the gambler,
laughing mirthlessly.  "He's sore on ball players since that scrap with
Swanson and Kennedy the other night, and he'll welcome a chance to get
his hands on one."

"He won't hurt him, will he?" asked Baldwin nervously.

"No, he won't hurt him," replied the gambler with scornful sarcasm.
"Not a bit.  He'll probably take him in his lap and sing him to sleep."

"This is dangerous business," objected Baldwin nervously.  "We might
all get into trouble."

"We're all in trouble now," snapped Edwards.  "You leave the trouble
end of it to me."

The taxi slackened its pace as it approached the police station and
Baldwin climbed out under the lights that marked it as the home of the
paid guardians of the people's rights and liberties.

"Don't fall down this time," warned the gambler.  "If this don't go
through, the newspapers will have some fine information to print in the
next few days."

"I'll fix it, Ed, I'll frame it all right," replied Baldwin nervously.

The mention of his name and the imposing manner he had assumed won for
him immediate entrance to the captain's private room, and after ten
minutes of earnest conversation, Baldwin emerged, the gray-haired
official with the gilt stars and chevrons escorting him and shaking
hands with him at the street door.

"Don't forget, Raferty," said Baldwin importantly.  "I want him kept
close until I can get the proof we need.  Don't let any lawyers or
reporters get near him and keep your cops from gossiping.  You won't
lose anything by it, Raferty.  Drop down and see me sometime.  I'd like
to talk the political situation over with you.  You understand?"

Meantime the taxicab, with Edwards inside, had raced across the upper
portion of the city to the place where Big Jack was pacing the shadowy
part of the sidewalk half a block from Baldwin's home.

"He hasn't come out yet," Jack reported, stepping into the light as the
taxi slowed down and crept along near the gutter.

"Jump in," said Edwards.  "Run over across the street, and step in the
shadow there," he ordered the chauffeur.

"There he comes now, out the gate.  Follow him."

Five minutes later McCarthy stepped into the trap laid by the gambler
and, ten minutes after he lurched out of the machine, he was carried
half unconscious, into the basement door of the police station and
deposited roughly upon the bench in the "cozy corner."



CHAPTER XXV

_McCarthy Disappears_

Silent Swanson was jabbing billiard balls around the table as if
venting his irritability upon the innocent spheres of ivory.

"Why so cruel to the relics of departed generations of ball players?"
inquired Kennedy, who was cuddled up in cushioned settee watching.

"Waiting for Kohinoor."

"Where has he gone?" inquired Kennedy carelessly.

"Skirting again," explained Swanson.  "He ought to be back before
long," added Swanson, jabbing the balls harder and stopping to look at
his watch.  "It's five past ten now, and he said he'd cut the call
short."

"Think any sane guy would quit a pretty girl to spend an evening with
you?" inquired Kennedy insultingly, having decided to wile away the
time by ragging his big teammate.

"I've a hunch something is wrong with Kohinoor," said Swanson.  "He
told me he'd break away early and shoot me some billiards before train
time.  He didn't say just when, but I expected him back by ten."

"Why don't you sue him for divorce if he neglects you?" suggested
Kennedy, again seeking to start an argument.

Swanson consulted his watch with gloomy foreboding and declined to
engage in repartee.

"Better come drag along down to the train," suggested Kennedy.  "I'll
buy the gas wagon to haul us.  Your little playmate is safe enough."

"I'll hang around here," replied Swanson without spirit.

"All right," Kennedy remarked, rising and stretching himself.  "I'm
going to dig along and get into the hay before that old rattler starts.
I want some sleep.  Most of the fellows already have gone."

Swanson resumed his gloomy pastime of making fancy shots on the
billiard table.  When he looked at his watch again it marked ten-thirty.

He strolled upstairs to the lobby, scanned the writing room and smoking
rooms for a sign of McCarthy and then, with a sudden anxiety, he
hurried to the telephone and called the Baldwin residence number.

"Is this Miss Baldwin speaking?" he inquired, using his off-the-field
manner.

"Is my friend, Mr. McCarthy, there?" he inquired when she responded in
the affirmative.  "I was to meet him, and he has not appeared."

"Hasn't he arrived at the hotel?" he girl inquired in quick alarm.  "He
left here more than three-quarters of an hour ago.  Has something
happened to him?"

"I don't know, miss," said Swanson.  "I got anxious waiting for him----
You're sure he left your house that long ago?"

"About that--I'm not certain," she said.  "He was only here a short
time."

"I expect he had to wait for a car, or else went straight to the
station without stopping here," said Swanson, striving to quiet the
evident alarm of the girl, although his own misgivings were growing.
"He left the house alone, did he?"

"Who are you?  Are you a friend of his?" asked the girl anxiously.

"Yes, I'm Swanson, his chum," replied the shortstop.  "You needn't
worry, miss, he'll be all right.  I'm sorry I worried you about it."

He hung up the receiver and made a hasty tour of the hotel, descended
to the billiard room, peeped into the bar and hurried through the
writing and lounging rooms.

"Five after eleven," he muttered to himself, as he turned from the
desk.  "Kohinoor has found he was late and stayed on the car to the
station.  I'll grab a taxi and hurry down."

"If he comes in tell him I've gone," he called to the clerk as he
hurried out.

A quarter of an hour later Swanson hurried into the great train shed
where the train was waiting to bear the Bears on their final trip of
the season.  Most of the athletes already had sought their berths to
attempt to get to sleep before the train started, as the ride was a
short one and the hours of sleep too few.

"Kohinoor down yet?" asked Swanson in a low tone, as he came near the
trainer.

"Haven't seen him," replied the trainer.  "I put his baggage in his
berth.  There's a card game in the smoking room, maybe he's in there."

"I'll watch for him at the gate," said Swanson, "he may turn up yet."

Worried and alarmed, Swanson swung back along the train and took his
stand where he could watch the entrances to the station and the great
clock at the same time.  Three minutes remained before time for the
train to start.  There was a flurry in the crowd at the gates, and a
man broke through to race for the train.  Swanson's heart leaped.  He
started to meet the newcomer, then, with a sickening feeling, he saw
that it was not McCarthy, but Williams.

"Seen Kohinoor?" inquired Swanson, as Williams hurried past.

"Not since dinner.  Isn't he here?" inquired Williams, stopping and
dropping his grip.

"Haven't seen him," replied Swanson, watching Williams closely for
symptoms of guilt, and finding none.

"I expected it," said Williams nastily.  "Maybe that story about him
trying to throw games is straight after all."

"That's what a lot of them will say if he don't show up to-morrow,"
reflected Swanson.

The warning cry of all aboard sounded.  The big shortstop hesitated an
instant, and gave a despairing glance toward the gates, just being
closed.

"It won't do for both of us to miss this game," he muttered as he
turned and ran along the platform.  The porter was just closing the
vestibule doors and the train was gathering speed as the big shortstop
swung aboard, went into the now deserted smoking room and sank down,
staring blankly out of the window at the rushing lights.

Before the train reached the city of the Blues the news that McCarthy
was missing had spread through the car of the Bears.  The consternation
that followed the rumor grew as the berths were made up and it became a
certainty that the third baseman was not with the team.  Swanson had
informed Manager Clancy early in the morning of the events of the
preceding evening so far as he knew them.  They had not told anyone,
but every member of the team knew, and they gathered in little groups.
Williams was circulating around the car, talking with different players.

"Look at him," said Swanson to Clancy.  "He hates McCarthy and he was
the one who told them first that Kohinoor was not with us.  He guessed
it when I asked him last night if he had seen him."

"It's queer," the voice of Pardridge came from the berth behind them.
"It's a funny thing that all this sort of trouble in the team started
when that red-headed tramp joined us."

"They'll all be talking that way," said Swanson gloomily.  "They wait
for a chance to knock."

"Something may have happened to delay him," said the manager in tones
that showed he did not believe his own hopeful words.  "Maybe he went
to the wrong station, or had an accident.  Have you looked at the
papers?"

"Yes.  Nothing in them about any accident.  I'm still hoping he'll be
in at noon, catching that early morning train."

"I hope for a telegram from him anyway, when we get to the hotel,"
replied the manager.

But McCarthy did not show up, nor was there any telegram from him
awaiting when the team reached their hotel.



CHAPTER XXVI

_Baldwin Shows His Hand_

"There's a swarm of reporters down in the lobby all excited over
McCarthy," announced Swanson as, in obedience to orders, he, with
Kennedy, Norton and Technicalities Feehan, gathered in Clancy's room
soon after breakfast.

"Let them wait," replied Clancy.  "They've been calling up here every
five minutes."

Briefly each of the players recounted the little they had seen or heard
during the preceding evening, Swanson giving his account of his
engagement with McCarthy, his telephone conversation with Miss Baldwin,
of her evident sincerity when she informed him as to McCarthy's
departure from the house and of his vain wait.

"But what could have happened?" asked Kennedy.  "You're sure he got out
of the house?  It's only two blocks to the street car line and three to
the elevated on lighted streets, you say.  If he was hit by an
automobile or held up by robbers it would have been in the newspapers."

"Manager Clancy," said Feehan softly from his perch upon a trunk, which
gave him the aspect of a huge owl, "I have been giving consideration to
a plan.  Unless Mr. McCarthy should arrive on the 11.45 train I shall
catch the noonday express for home, arriving there shortly after five,
to put my plan into effect."

"But you cannot neglect your work, Feehan," protested the manager.
"It's fine of you to offer it, but you've got yourself to think of."

"I have a premonition," responded the reporter solemnly, "or what Mr.
Swanson so graphically expresses as a 'hunch,' that the story at the
other end is bigger than the story of the contest.  Besides, Mr.
Hardner has kindly consented to report the game of to-day for my paper
as well as his own."

"What's your theory, Technicalities?" asked Clancy gratefully.

"Only one of two things are probable," explained Feehan.  "Either
McCarthy left of his own accord or because of threats made to him or
else he has been kidnapped by certain--ah--interests, let us say,
desirous of preventing the Bears from winning the championship emblem."

"Ah, Kohinoor wouldn't quit, and they couldn't scare him," growled
Swanson.

"Precisely, Mr. Swanson.  The statistics prove beyond doubt that he is
not concerned in the losing of games, putting aside the fact that the
young man undoubtedly is honest and sincere.  That leaves us only one
premise, the other having been found untenable.  Mr. McCarthy has been
kidnapped."

"I can't figure how they could take him in a public street or from a
street car," interposed Clancy.

"I have calculated that," said the reporter.  "Either he is in the
Baldwin home and Miss Baldwin ah--er--falsified or he was attacked
between her uncle's home and the street car line two and one-half
blocks distant."

"How do you propose finding him?" asked Clancy.

"I shall arrive at 5.11," replied the peculiar little man of news
quietly.  "Before six o'clock I shall have one of the best detective
agencies in the world scouring the city."

The train came steaming into the station on time and the shortstop and
the reporter crowded closer to the gates, watching the stream of
hurrying passengers rushing through the narrow gates and spreading,
fan-like, across the great floor.  Suddenly Swanson's elbow jarred
against the reporter's body, causing the frail statistician to wince.

"Look there!" said Swanson in excited whispers.

"Where--who?" inquired Feehan, striving to focus his heavy glasses upon
the position indicated by his companion.

"It's Baldwin--the big fellow with the cane and the small satchel.  See
him?"

"I see a big man.  I never saw Baldwin," responded the reporter.  "Now,
what can he be doing over here?"

"I'm going to find out," replied Swanson, his jaw setting pugnaciously.
"McCarthy isn't on that train or he'd have been out among the first,
and they're almost all out now.  Good luck to you, Feehan, and wire me
the minute you locate Kohinoor."

"I will," promised the reporter.  "What you've got to do is to win that
game to-day without him.  I'll have him here to-morrow if he hasn't
broken a leg."

Swanson leaped into the taxi immediately behind that into which he had
seen Baldwin climb, and ordered the driver to follow the other vehicle.
His surprise hardly could have been greater than when the short pursuit
of Baldwin ended at the hotel from which he had come, unless it was
that which came over him when, upon following the big man to the desk,
he heard Baldwin order the clerk to send his card to Manager Clancy.

Swanson's surprise, however, was little more than that experienced by
Manager Clancy when the bell boy delivered Baldwin's card.

"Send him right up," he said, and as the boy turned he said to himself:
"Now, what the dickens does that fellow want with me?"

Baldwin entered the room pompously, and walked toward the Bears'
manager with his pudgy hand extended.

"Ah, Clancy," he said patronizingly.  "I'm Mr. Baldwin.  I've seen you
often on the field, but never had the occasion to meet you before."

"Yes," replied Clancy, ignoring the hand, "I've heard of you often,
Baldwin, in various connections.  You wanted to see me?"

"Yes; matter of business," said the big man.  "Fact is, Clancy, I ran
over from home purposely to have a little confidential talk with you."

"Depends upon what it is whether it's confidential or not," said
Clancy; "I can't pledge myself not to tell the newspaper boys,
especially if you've come to give me a third baseman."

"Hasn't McCarthy shown up?" inquired the politician quickly.

"No," responded Clancy coldly.  "Didn't happen to see him over in town,
did you?"

"No, no.  Fact is, Clancy, I never have paid much attention to my ball
players."

"Your ball players?"  It was Clancy's turn to be astonished.

"Yes, yes; Clancy, I supposed you knew.  I've owned the controlling
interest in the Bears for a number of years.  That's what I came to see
you about."

"You own the Bears?"  Clancy's tone was between surprise and disbelief.

"Certainly, certainly.  Now, I haven't taken any active interest in
them for several reasons until lately.  Truth is things aren't going to
suit me, and I have decided to take a hand myself."

"You have?" asked Clancy.  "Well, you may own this club, but I'm d----d
if you can run it while I'm manager."

"I'm not trying to run it, Clancy," replied the big man, unruffled.
"Don't fly off that way.  I just decided to use the owner's prerogative
of consulting the manager."

"All right, Mr. Baldwin," replied Clancy, puzzled and mollified.  "I
did not know--you see it's a new idea--I didn't even know you owned
stock."

Clancy was sparring for time in which to collect his thoughts, which
were sadly scattered by the unexpected developments.

"Thought you might not be convinced," said Baldwin easily, "so I
brought the documents along.  Look over them and be convinced I own the
club.  They cost me a pretty neat pile, but I'm satisfied.  You've made
'em pay me."

He tossed over the book of stock certificates, and Clancy, who owned a
few shares of stock himself, realized their genuineness as he looked
through them while planning his next move.

"I congratulate you," he said, handing back the forms.  "I own a couple
myself, so I know what they pay.  Well, what have you to suggest, Mr.
Baldwin?  We're having a hard time winning this race, and if I seemed
curt, blame it on worries.  I have plenty."

"Naturally we all want to win," said Baldwin pompously.  "Now, as to
behavior, I'm told Swanson and Kennedy aren't behaving themselves."

"They're all right," argued Clancy, feeling from Baldwin's tone that he
had not yet reached the point.

"I heard they had a fight in a barroom." Baldwin spoke with an effort
of sternness.  "That won't do, Clancy.  And now McCarthy is missing.
Then there's another thing."

Baldwin hesitated as if thinking how best to state his case, and Clancy
eyed him closely, feeling that the real object of the interview was
coming, "I'm not at all pleased with the way you are working your
pitchers."

"A fellow makes blunders sometimes," replied Clancy, with a meekness
astounding in him.

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," went on Baldwin blandly.
"Who do you propose pitching to-day and to-morrow?"

In a flash Clancy understood.  It was Baldwin who had been urging
Bannard to have Williams pitch.  He saw through Baldwin's motives and
planned quickly how to meet them.

"Well," he said, frowning as if worried, "it's a tough game.  You see,
the fans never forgive a fellow if he guesses wrong at this time in a
race.  I planned to use Williams in one game and Morgan the other.  You
see the Blues hit right-handers harder than they do left-handers."

"So I understand," a gleam of cunning and triumph came into the eyes of
the politician.  "Morgan and Williams ought to beat them, I think."

"Yes, they ought--I'm a little afraid of Morgan."  Clancy was drawing
the owner out.  "He hasn't shown speed in his last two games."

"Then Williams is in fine form?"  The triumph and satisfaction in the
big man's voice were unmistakable.

"He's good," replied Clancy.  "He ought to best them sure."

"Will you pitch him to-day or to-morrow?" asked Baldwin, completely
thrown off his guard.  "I'm anxious to make certain he will pitch."

"Of course he'll pitch, Mr. Baldwin," replied the manager.  "I've got
to pitch him and he's my best man."

"All right, Clancy, all right," said the owner genially.  "I'm glad I
had this conference with you.  I was afraid you were angry with
Williams or something and would not let him work.  Glad to see you have
good judgment."

He went out and as the door closed he removed his hat, and, wiping his
brow, smiled a smile of great relief over the fact that his purpose had
been accomplished without trouble.  Had he been able to see through the
door he would have seen Clancy, the veins of his neck standing out
purple, his face convulsed with rage, standing, shaking his fist toward
the door and muttering:

"Yes, I'll pitch Williams.  I'll pitch Williams, and by ---- he'll win."



CHAPTER XXVII

_Searching_

Betty Tabor had remained at the hotel in the home town with Mrs. Clancy
when the Bears went to play their two-game series with the Blues.

Mrs. Clancy had refused positively to engage in any baseball
conversation or to debate with Miss Tabor the chances of the Bears
winning the championship.

"Heavens knows it's hard enough to be married to a baseball man," she
said as she bit a thread, "him makin' base hits in his sleep and
worrying the little hair he has left off his head, without havin' a
girl that ought to be thinkin' of dresses and hats wantin' to din
baseball into my ears all day.  My dear, never marry a ball player."

"You appear to be pretty well satisfied with yours, Mother Clancy,"
teased the girl.  "Maybe I'll find one as fine some day"----

"I'm thinkin' you've found yours now," replied Mrs. Clancy, without
glancing up from her work.  "A nice bye, too, although they do say the
red-headed ones are hot tempered."

"Why, Mother Clancy!  How dare you!" the girl expostulated, reddening.

"If you're thinkin' to deceive Ellen Clancy, you're sore mistaken,"
replied the manager's wife.  "My Willie says I can tell when young
people are in love before they know it themselves, an' ye and the
red-headed McCarthy boy has all the symptoms.  'Tis a nice boy he is,
too, and you'll be doin' well."

"But after ye've been married as long as we have ye'll not be wantin'
to see many ball games.  Many's the time I've begged Willie to quit it
and get a little house out in the country, with a bit of green grass
and maybe a flower bed and a little garden and a porch, and maybe a
chicken yard, and let me end my days in peace, out of the sound of
crowds and yellin' maniacs.  Eighteen year I've ridden with him on cars
smellin' of arnica, and with the train dust an' cinders in me eyes an'
hair, and I long for peace.  Only one season I've missed--'twas when
little Mar-rtin was born"----

She snuffled a little and dropped her work to wipe her eyes hastily.
It was fifteen years since their only baby had come and gone in a short
year, to leave them closer to each other, but each with a heart pain
that never ceased.

A bell boy interrupted her lecture to bring in a card, and Mrs. Clancy,
glancing at it, passed it over to Miss Tabor.

"'Tis for you, Betty girl," she said.  "And, Mother of Mary, she'll see
us this way"----

Betty Tabor sat staring at the card, at first puzzled, then in a panic
of mingled emotions.

"Tell her to come up," she said.  "I'll see her here.  Mother Clancy,
don't you dare hide."

The girl hastily arranged her hair and straightened the room, and a few
minutes later, when the boy ushered the visitor into the apartments,
she was self-possessed and cool.  She arose as the door opened, and
started forward to meet her guest, but stopped staring as the color
faded from her face and then slowly heightened.

"You are Miss Tabor?" inquired the visitor, her voice trembling from
excitement and nervousness.

"Yes.  You are Miss Helen Baldwin; you desired to see me?"

The sight of the girl she had seen talking with Kohinoor McCarthy in
the hotel parlor, shortly after he joined the club, had shaken her
composure.

"Oh, Miss Tabor," Helen Baldwin cried, sinking into a chair and giving
way to her emotions.  "I had to come--I had nowhere else to go--and
they told me over the telephone only you and Mrs. Clancy were here and
all the men of the team away."

"If it is baseball business," replied Miss Tabor, "perhaps you'd better
see Mrs. Clancy.  I'll call her"----

"No! no! no!" expostulated the girl, drying her eyes.  "It is you I
must see.  Have you heard anything from Mr. McCarthy?"

"I have no especial reason to hear from Mr. McCarthy," said Miss Tabor,
freezing slowly.  "I suppose he is with the team."

"He isn't!  He isn't!" pleaded the girl.  "He has disappeared----
Haven't you seen the papers?"

"Mr. McCarthy disappeared!  Where?  When?"  Betty Tabor had forgotten
her jealousy in her startled alarm.  "He isn't with the team?"

"I read it in the papers," sobbed Helen Baldwin.  "He was at my house
last evening.  He left there--and he has disappeared.  I hoped you
might know."

"At your house?"  Betty Tabor's alarm struggled with her jealousy.
"And he's gone?  Let me see the paper."

"I haven't seen him, Miss Baldwin," she said, after glancing at the
paper.  "We thought he had gone with the team.  Tell me what you know.
Perhaps we may help you.  You were engaged to him, were you not?"

"We were--once," sobbed Helen Baldwin.  "But that's all over.  I did
him a wrong.  I never loved him--that way--and it's all my fault he's
in trouble now."

Betty Tabor's heart leaped with a joy that overwhelmed all other
emotions.  Her cold attitude toward Helen Baldwin changed, and, sinking
upon the seat beside the sobbing girl, she put her arm around her.

"There, there," she said comfortingly, as a mother might, forgetting
that Helen Baldwin was older that she.  "You must not blame yourself.
Try to tell me what happened last evening.  Perhaps we may know what to
do."

Slowly, with interruptions by hysterical moments, Helen Baldwin told
the story of her unconscious part in the conspiracy; of her alarm for
the safety of McCarthy; how she had sent for him and warned him, and of
Swanson's telephone call.

"You'd better go home, dear, and rest," Betty said finally.  "There is
nothing we can do.  The men will have started the search early this
morning and notified the police.  He will return."

Helen Baldwin, calmed and reassured by the brave pretense of the
younger woman, prepared to go home.  Betty Tabor assisted her to
rearrange her disordered fair hair, murmuring her admiration for it as
she worked.  For the first time a smile came to the troubled face of
Helen Baldwin, and when she was ready to go she kissed Betty and held
her at arm's length.

"You're very good and unselfish," she said in low tones.  "I hope you
and he are very happy."

"Why, Miss Baldwin," exclaimed Betty, blushing, "there is nothing
between us.  He is scarcely a friend"----

"I know, dear," replied the taller girl, kissing her again.  "He is a
very good and lovable boy, and very impetuous.  He really loves you."

She smiled a trifle wanly and turning, left the room.

Betty Tabor turned with a sigh, just in time to see Mrs. Clancy making
violent gestures through a small crack in the door.

"You didn't ask her," exclaimed the exasperated Mrs. Clancy.  "You
didn't ask her!"

"Ask her what?" inquired Betty in surprise.  "You heard what we talked
about?"

"Every word.  I listened shamelessly," replied the manager's wife.
"'Tis my curiosity will kill me.  You didn't ask her one word about who
McCarthy is.  And she knows all about him!"

"I didn't think--I forgot," said Betty, hurrying to gather her work and
belongings in preparation for leaving.

"Where are you going, child?" asked Mrs. Clancy.

"I'm going to dress and get an automobile to make the rounds of all the
hospitals.  He may be hurt and in one."

"Glory be!  I never thought of it!  Dress fast, darlin', an' I'll go
with you."

They returned, weary and discouraged.  They had not found a trace of
the missing boy.  Scarcely had they reached their rooms than another
call for Miss Tabor came, and a few minutes later Technicalities Feehan
entered.

"Mr. Feehan, what are you doing here?" both women exclaimed in chorus.

"I'm searching for Mr. McCarthy," responded Feehan.  "I reached the
city shortly after five o'clock, and, having concluded my arrangements
for finding Mr. McCarthy, it occurred to me that, having an evening of
idleness, I might devote it to no better purpose than in escorting you
ladies to some place of amusement."

"To a theatre, with a tragedy like this happening to one of our boys!"
exclaimed Miss Tabor indignantly.

"Rest assured, Miss Tabor," he replied, "we can do nothing, and
eventually Mr. McCarthy will be found."

"How?  Who is looking for him while we waste time?" she asked hotly.

"My arrangements," he stated quietly, "did not include useless running
around.  I called upon our managing editor, laid the figures and
conclusive data before him, and convinced him that, besides securing an
excellent news story, he can serve the team and the ends of right and
justice by seeking Mr. McCarthy."

"Well, what did he do?" demanded Mrs. Clancy, sadly out of patience
with his deliberate manner and rather flamboyant style of expression.

"As a result of his interest in the matter," replied Technicalities,
"eight of the most highly trained men of his staff--men who know the
city better than anyone who lives in it does--are seeking Mr. McCarthy
with orders to find him to-night."

"How did to-day's game come out?" inquired Miss Tabor, relieved.  "I
almost forgot the game."

"Our team was defeated, 8 to 6," replied Feehan quietly.  "McCarthy's
absence already has cost us one game, and I greatly fear that unless he
plays to-morrow the Bears are defeated in the championship contest."

"Glory be!  I've dropped two more stitches!" said Mrs. Clancy.



CHAPTER XXVIII

_Williams Stands Exposed_

"Now here's a bally nice mess of figures," said Kennedy, holding half a
dozen much-marked-upon sheets of writing paper in his inky fingers, and
looking across the table at Swanson, Norton and Holleran.

"What are you figuring, Ken?" asked Holleran.

"I've been trying to figure out this pennant race," said Kennedy
irritably.  "Here we seem to be half a game ahead of the Panthers, and
yet, just because it rained on them yesterday, and they didn't have to
play but one game of their doubleheader, we've got to win two games to
beat them out if they win their one game to-day."

He handed across a sheet of paper upon which was written:

                   W.  L.  P.C.
  Bears..........  89  59  .600
  Panthers.......  91  61  .599


"Well, ain't we ahead of them?" asked Swanson, studying the figures.

"Yes, but look here.  Supposing they win to-day and we win, we'll still
be ahead.  But supposing they win to-day and we win, and then we lose
to-morrow.  Look at this."

He handed over another slip of paper, upon which was written:

                   W.  L.  P.C.
  Panthers.......  92  61  .601
  Bears..........  90  60  .600


"If we don't win both these games, or if it don't rain here to-day, or
up home to-morrow, and keep us from playing, they beat us out by ten
thousandths, or thirteen hundred thousandths.  Didn't I always say
thirteen was an unlucky number?"

"I wonder who Clancy will send in to pitch to-day?" asked Kennedy,
idly.  "Wilcox hasn't had enough rest.  I suppose he'll be saved for
to-morrow.  Jacobson isn't right, and Morgan worked yesterday and got
his trimmings.  I suppose it'll be Williams."

An ugly laugh greeted his sarcastic remark, and Norton opened his lips
as if to speak, but, thinking better of it, closed them again.

At that moment a bell boy came into the writing room, paging Williams.
A quick exchange of glances between the players resulted and Swanson
asked, "Who wants Mr. Williams?"

"Mr. Clancy, sir," said the boy.  "He wants Mr. Williams in his room at
once."

"Didn't I tell you?" said Kennedy, in mock triumph.

"Say, fellows," added Swanson.  "I'd give a month's pay to hear what
comes off up in that room.  Clancy was on his ear this morning when I
came down.  He'd been awake half the night, trying to get some word
from Kohinoor, and he was pretty well worked up.  You know when he gets
started to telling a fellow what he thinks of him he does it so the
fellow believes it himself."

"He sure can explain a fellow's shortcomings," said Kennedy.  "Look,
the boy has found Williams and he is going up.  He looks scared to
death."

"Mamma, but I'd like to be among those present," said Swanson.  "There
will be several developments.  Hadn't we better put mattresses under
Clancy's window for Williams to light on?"

Meantime, in Manager Clancy's room a scene was being staged that
fulfilled all the expectations of the players.  Williams entered the
room with a swaggering pretense of ignorance of the nature of the
summons.

"Morning, Manager," he said with an effort at innocent playfulness.
"How's things?"

"Sit down, you crook!"

Clancy had arisen as Williams entered.  He shot the order at the
pitcher viciously and without warning, and, as he spoke, he stepped
past the player, and locked the door.

Williams had gone pale.  His mouth dropped open.  He started to say
something, choked and sat down.

"What--what do you mean?" he managed to stammer as Clancy came close
and stood over him threateningly.

After his first outburst of rage Clancy was strangely quiet, speaking
in low tones, vibrating with repressed feeling.  From the moment Barney
Baldwin had revealed to him his ownership of the Bears, and had issued
his positive orders that Williams should pitch the game, Clancy had
been fighting within himself, studying to find some plan of vengeance
that would strike all the plotters.  Never for an instant had he
considered the thought of permitting the championship to be surrendered
by the orders of the owner.

"Williams," he said, "you're a never-to-be-sufficiently-spit-upon cur.
You're the lowest, yellowest dog in the world.  I've known for two
weeks that you have been trying to lose the pennant for us."

"Shut up!" he snapped, lifting his voice sharply as the pitcher
attempted to speak.  "I know what you've done and what you plan to do.
I know who is back of you"----

The pitcher cowered under the scathing denunciation and started as if
to rise.

"Who--who's been telling you this stuff?" he quavered, terror-stricken.

"You--you rat."  Clancy's scorn stung like a lash and Williams
quivered.  "I know everything.  I've waited and watched when you
thought you were putting something over.  I've waited for a chance to
get you"----

He paused a moment, while Williams, palsied with terror, sat unable to
answer.

"And I've got you, Williams!"

He shot the sentence at the pitcher, who half started from his seat,
lifting his hands as if to protect himself from attack.

"I'm not going to choke you to death, I wouldn't soil my hands on you,"
said the manager with a scornful laugh.

"What are you going to do, Bill?" William's voice quivered.

"I'm going to make you pitch to-day's game," said the manager quietly.

A gasp of amazement and relief came from Williams.

"You're going to pitch to-day's game, Williams," the manager repeated.
"And you're going to win it.  You're going to win it, or if you don't
win I'll tell the crowd you were bribed, and I'll let the crowd handle
you.  They'll tear you to pieces, Williams, and kick the pieces around
the diamond--and I'll help them do it."

"You won't do anything to me if I win?" pleaded the pitcher.

"No; I won't do a thing to you," said Clancy, and he spat as if to
relieve himself of a bad taste, as he turned and went out, locking the
door.

"Good God, look at Clancy," whispered Swanson in awed tones as the
manager stepped out of the elevator a minute or two later.  "He's in
his blackest form.  I honestly pity Williams."

"Swanson," said Clancy sharply.

"What is it, Boss?" asked Swanson anxiously.

"Nothing," snapped Clancy, "I want you to do something."

"All right."

"Williams is locked in my room.  You watch the door.  If he breaks out
kill him."

He turned and stalked away like a man in a trance, leaving the big
shortstop staring after him.



CHAPTER XXIX

_Found_

Technicalities Feehan was directing the hunt for Kohinoor McCarthy, the
missing third baseman of the Bears, even though it appeared to the two
women that he was wasting time.  His easy confidence and certainty that
McCarthy would be found inspired something of the same spirit in Mrs.
Clancy and in Betty Tabor, and they found themselves enjoying the light
summer opera to which he had taken them, and later had laughed at his
quaint, droll tales of baseball and stories of his own experiences
during his long years of travel with the team.

Feehan had found an appreciative audience at last, and it was half
after eleven before he broke off suddenly and announced that at
midnight he was to get reports of the results of the search and offer
his own services in the effort to find the missing player.

"I will telephone you when I reach the office whether anything has been
ascertained," he promised, as he left them at their apartments.  "After
that I will not disturb you until seven o'clock, unless McCarthy is
found.  We must find him and get him to the station to catch the train
at 6.35 or our effort is wasted in so far as baseball is concerned,
although, of course, that will not cause us to cease our efforts."

"You'll telephone me the moment you have news?" asked Miss Tabor.  "Any
time--I shall not sleep much, any news--good--or bad."

Feehan found the office force in the throes of getting out an edition,
and he sidled through the hurrying, jostling office force to the city
editor.

"Any news?" he asked quietly.

"Hello, Technicalities.  Nothing yet.  You take the case."

Feehan hurried to his desk, instructed the telephone girls to connect
all reporters working on the McCarthy case with his desk, then
extracted a mass of papers from various pockets and commenced to study
and compile his unending statistics.

The reporters engaged in the search were under instructions to report
at once any trace of the missing player and to report once an hour
their whereabouts and progress.  Every five or ten minutes one
reported, and Feehan, laying aside his work, answered the call and
suggested new lines of investigations.

Two o'clock came.  The office was growing quieter.  Weary news
gatherers slipped into their coats and departed quietly.  Copy readers
and editors completed their tasks and went away.

Three o'clock came, and Feehan was busy tabulating the statistics of
some player in a far-off league, when the telephone rang.  By some
inspiration he knew a trail had been found and he reached for the
instrument with more haste than he had shown, his seventh sense
spurring him on.

"Hello!  Yes--that you, Jimmy?"

"I've hit a trail."

The voice was that of little Jimmy Eames, the most tireless and
persistent member of the force of news hounds employed by the paper.

"Where?"  Feehan was as calm as if only recording a fly out.

"North Ninetieth Street Police Station," said Eames rapidly.  "I picked
up a clue over on the other side of the city--inside police dope.  Man
taken there last night in taxi.  I'm off for there."

Feehan pocketed his statistics and prepared for action.  His voice had
ceased to drag.  He uttered commands in sharp, quick words.  Briefly he
detailed to each man as he called on the telephone the nature of
Eames's discovery.  "Get to North Ninetieth Street Station."

Thirty-five minutes after Eames flashed the first word to the office,
Cramer, the star police reporter, announced over the telephone.

"McCarthy is in the black hole at North Ninetieth street.  Orders from
captain.  No one permitted to see him.  Not booked.  Sergeant in charge
don't know what he is accused of."

"Get him out.  Report in ten minutes."

"Two hours and a half to get him out and put him on that train," Feehan
muttered.

It was twelve minutes before Cramer called again.

"Sergeant says he dares not turn the fellow loose.  Don't know he is
McCarthy.  Says orders are strict to keep him and to keep everyone away
from him."

"Is he hurt?"

"Turnkey says he has cut in head and bruised, but all right."

"Pound him--pound the sergeant; make him act.  Scare him!  Who is the
captain?"

"Raferty."

"I'll reach him by 'phone."  Feehan hung up the receiver.  "Joe," he
said to the night man, "raise Minette, the office lawyer.  Lives
somewhere up that way.  His home is only a short distance from Judge
Manasse's house.  Ask him for a writ of habeas corpus or something."

Feehan was rapidly calling numbers.  In fifteen minutes he had aroused
Captain Raferty.

"Raferty," said the little man, "sorry to disturb you, but you've got a
man in the black hole in your station that we want."

"Can't be done.  Orders to hold him."

"Orders from whom?"

"Higher up."

"How high?"

"None of your business."

"Raferty, I'm going to the top," said Feehan quickly.  "If that man
isn't out by six o'clock, you'll be broken."

"What's all this fuss about some skate?" Raferty was alarmed.  "It
ain't any of my business.  I'm told to hold him and not book him and I
do it.  What have you got it in for me for?"

"You'd better get to the station and get that man out or you'll have
this sheet all over you," threatened Feehan, transformed.  "I'm going
higher now."

He cut off the spluttering police captain in the midst of a snarling
complaint, half whine, half defiance.

Half an hour of hard work brought the indignant superintendent of
police to the telephone.  He curtly declined to interfere, denied all
knowledge of any such prisoner, and hung up the receiver while Feehan
was expostulating with him.

The mild mannered, gentle little reporter was rising to the emergency.
He wiped his forehead free from the beads of sweat and looked at his
watch.  It was two minutes to five when the night man reported again.

"Minette's on his way to the station," he said.  "He'll try to get
Judge Manasse to order the release, and he is carrying ten thousand
dollars in securities as a bond."

"Good," said Feehan rapidly.  "Give me Gracemont 1328," he called
quickly.

"Going after the mayor?" inquired the night man casually.  "He'll be
sore as a boil.  Orders are not to disturb him after midnight."

"I've got to get him," said Feehan.  "We can't fall down now after
we've located McCarthy."

There was no reply to the call for the mayor's telephone number, and
while waiting, Feehan slipped to another telephone and called the hotel
at which the ball players lived, asking for the Clancy apartments.
Betty Tabor answered the summons.

"We've found him," said Feehan.  "He's alive and well."

"Where is he?" asked the girl breathlessly.

"He's in a cell at the North Ninetieth Street Police Station--about
half a mile from your hotel.  I want you to do something."

"What is it?" she asked.  "Hurry--I haven't undressed.  Is there
anything I can do?"

"Yes," he said.  "He's locked up and we're tearing the town to pieces
trying to get him out of the station.  It may be an hour--and he must
catch that train.  Can you arrange at your hotel to have a fast taxi to
take him to the railroad station when he gets out, if there is a chance
to catch the train?"

"Wait--yes, yes," she said eagerly.  "The manager here has a fast
machine that he has been letting me use.  I'll get it.  The garage is
only a few doors."

"You'll take him yourself?" he said in surprise.

"Yes," she said.  "I must hurry."

Again and again Feehan urged the telephone girl to try to get a reply
to the call for the mayor.  Beads of sweat stood upon his face, as he
begged her to try again and summoned the manager to his assistance.  He
glanced at his watch.  It was eight minutes to six o'clock.

"I must get him," he told the telephone girl for the dozenth time.

"Sorry--no one will answer," she said wearily.  "I've tried--wait a
minute, there's someone now."

"Hello," said a hearty voice.

"Your Honor"--Feehan's voice was pregnant with pleading--"this is
Feehan, the baseball writer."

"Hello, Feehan," came the quick response.  "Why aren't you with the
team, or did you just get in to honor me with this early call?"

"Your Honor," pleaded Feehan, recalling suddenly that the mayor was an
ardent baseball "fan."  "I've been searching for McCarthy.  He's in the
North Ninetieth Street Station, held without being booked.  I've been
trying for hours to get him out so he can join the team."

"What charge?" demanded the mayor sharply.

"No charge.  He is being held to keep him from playing.  If he doesn't
catch this morning's train the pennant is lost."

"Here's where I make a pinch hit, then," said the mayor sharply.

Feehan heard the receiver bang down.  With a sigh of relief he hung up
his receiver and grinned at Joe.

"He's a baseball fan," was all the explanation he offered.

An anxious wait ensued, then Cramer telephones:

"McCarthy just got out, mayor's orders.  Pretty well bunged up, but
says he can play.  He's gone with some girl in an auto.  She was
waiting for him."

Feehan glanced at his watch.  It was 6.23.

"Twelve minutes for two and a half miles," he muttered.  "They'll just
make it."

And with a sigh he picked up his scattered sheets and muttered:

"Let's see, what did this fellow Houseman hit last season?"



CHAPTER XXX

_A Race to Save the Day_

Kohinoor McCarthy, emerging from his cell into the fetid atmosphere of
the receiving room of the police station, was met by Cramer, who broke
from the group of reporters, lawyers and police officials stirred to
activity at that early hour by the frantic efforts of Technicalities
Feehan.  His head was rudely bandaged and his discolored face was
swollen and cut.

There was no time for questionings.

"Hurry, McCarthy," said Cramer.  "There is an automobile outside
waiting to take you to the station.  You have about a quarter of an
hour to catch the train."

McCarthy, with a word of thanks, hastened through the station, leaped
down the steps with an agility that proved his injuries did not affect
his speed, and sprang to the car.

The morning sun was just commencing to reach down into the cavern of
the street into which the car leaped, and it shone directly in their
eyes.  The car lurched around a corner and swung into the avenue for
the race to the station.  At that instant the girl's veil flapped back,
revealing her face.

"Betty!" exclaimed McCarthy.  "You"----

"You didn't know me?" she asked as she steadied the car and increased
its pace over the smooth asphalt.

"Why are you here?  What are you doing?" he asked in astonishment.

"I had to come," she replied swiftly.  "There was no one else.  We must
catch the train.  Don't talk, please."

He leaned back wearily and watched the street as it seemed to flow past
them.

"How much time have we?" he asked above the roaring of the wind.

"The train leaves at 6.35," she called back, without lifting her eyes.
"Watch for clocks."

She had increased the speed gradually and the light car jumped as it
struck a cross-town street-car track.  Suddenly the car jolted, slid to
a quick stop and with an exclamation of despair the girl strove to
reverse and killed the engine.

"The street is closed below," she said.  "Crank up, the engine is dead."

McCarthy leaped from the car and cranked rapidly.  A precious minute
was lost before the engine throbbed and the girl, turning the car
quickly, ran back a block, swung across to a side street and raced for
the station.

"The captain of the bell boys is waiting with the tickets.  I sent him
before I left the hotel," she said without lifting her eyes.  "Jump
from the car the moment I stop.  He'll meet you at the gate."

"Two minutes--can we make it?" he asked.

"We'll try."  Her face was set and white.  She whirled the corner of
the avenue onto the side street at full speed.  A block and a half away
was the station.  The car was at racing speed now.  The girl kept the
siren screaming, hoping for a clear way.  They tore toward the
intersection of the streets--and directly ahead a lumbering team of
horses, drawing a heavy wagon, trundled across their path.  With a
sudden swerve, a grinding of the emergency and a sickening lurch, the
car checked its mad flight, scraped past the rear of the wagon, and
gathering speed renewed the race against time.

"Goodbye," he said, leaning suddenly inward as the car commenced to
lose momentum.  "When I come back"----

"Hurry, hurry," she pleaded.  "Run"----

He leaped before the car stopped and, with one glance back toward her,
sprinted down the long passageway.

The gate was closing.  He cried aloud, and ran faster.  The gate
clanged.  A boy in uniform ran to him and shoved tickets into his hands
as they ran side by side.

"Open it!  Let me through!" he screamed at the gateman, just starting
to lock the gate.

McCarthy was sprinting desperately in pursuit of the train already half
way down the long train shed.  He ran until his heart pounded audibly
against his ribs, straining every muscle, and crying for the train to
stop.  Faster and faster it went, and, near the end of the station,
McCarthy realized he had lost the race and, stopping, he stood
dejectedly looking after the rapidly disappearing observation car.

The gateman let him out with a sympathetic word, but he did not raise
his head.  He knew that, 235 miles away, twenty men were hoping for his
arrival.  He would hire a special train.  He whirled at the
thought--and then remembered he was without money.

He felt a hand touch his arm and, turning quickly, he saw Betty Tabor.

"I missed it," he said, hopelessly.

"I know, I know," she responded quickly.  "The boy who had the tickets
told me.  There is no time to lose.  I have a plan."

"A special train?" he asked.  "I have no money."

"The auto," she replied quickly.  "I will drive it.  I've driven it
hundreds of miles"----

"Betty," he expostulated, using her name unconsciously.  "You
cannot--maybe we can find a driver."

"I can and I will," she said decisively; "it is only 235 miles.  We
have eight hours.  We can make it.  The car is fast and easy to handle."

Still arguing, she led him back to the car, and they rode quickly back
to the hotel over part of the route they had traversed during their
wild flight.  They breakfasted while the car was being prepared for the
run, studying road maps while they ate.

"Betty, how can I ever thank you," he said, leaning forward over the
table.

"By calling me Miss Tabor and winning the game to-day," she said,
coolly, without looking up from the maps.

"The car is ready," the head waiter announced.  "A good trip to you,
Miss Tabor."

"You have a good driver, McCarthy," said the manager, who alone knew
the object of the trip.  "She handles that car better than I do.  I
have given her permission to tear it to pieces to get you through."

The start was undramatic.  The car rolled easily along to the drive and
presently was lifting and dropping over the hills of the splendid
speedway.  A gentle breeze from the river fanned them as they rushed
through it.

In five minutes they were clear of the congested traffic on the bridge
and the car, gathering speed, rushed into the hills on the opposite
side of the river.  Five minutes later the car was quivering with its
increasing speed and McCarthy, looking at the gauge, saw that it
registered forty-seven miles, and was still sliding forward.  Fourteen
miles across the rolling plateau the car raced with sustained speed,
the engine humming in perfect tune and only the heavier vibration of
the tires attesting the speed.  At slower pace the car climbed among
the ridge of hills that had been rising ahead, and after five miles of
rougher going it turned into the old stage road.

"It's five minutes past nine," said the girl, "and we've done more than
forty miles already.  The next forty is good and we'll try to gain
time."

"We ought to make it easily," he responded brightly.  "You're a
heroine."

"I do not know what the roads are beyond Hedgeport," she interrupted
anxiously.  "It is hill country.  It rained two days ago."

She had steadily increased the speed again until the indicator kept
constantly around the forty-five mile mark.  The speed was terrific and
made conversation almost impossible.

"Hadn't you better rest?  You must be tired," he screamed above the
noise of the car.

"Arms are cramped," she replied, without lifting her eyes from the road
ahead.  "We'll take gas at Hedgeport and walk around.  We will lunch
somewhere near Hilton.  We'll be over the worst of the road then."

"I wish I could help you," called McCarthy, after a long silence.

She shook her head, and, after the car had throbbed up the next incline
and was sailing, hawklike, down the opposite side, she said:

"You'll need your strength for the game.  There's Hedgeport now."

Before them, set on the hillside, lay the little city.  It seemed as if
the houses grew by magic as they rushed upon it.  They flashed past a
few market wagons, passed another auto chugging along busily, and
slackened the pace as the car rolled upon the brick pavements and
toward the heart of the city.

"A hundred and thirty-one miles in a little over three hours," said
McCarthy, elated.  "That leaves us one hundred and four miles and more
than four hours to make it in.  We've won."

"The road has been perfect," Betty Tabor said.  "For the next fifty
miles it is marked bad."

She turned quietly to ask questions of the mechanician, who was
overhauling and examining every part of the machine, and examining the
feed pipes.  Another man was filling the tanks and using oil
plentifully.

"My hands and wrists are cramped and numb," she remarked, turning to
McCarthy.

"Let the man drive the rest of the way.  He knows the road," he urged.

"And leave me--to miss the game?" she asked.  "Not much.  Rub my hands,
please."

She extended her strong, firm hand and McCarthy, bending over it,
massaged and slapped it vigorously.

"Don't break it, please," she said, laughing.  "Take the other one."

"Both," he whispered, his voice full of meaning.

"All ready," announced the garage keeper.  "I think she'll stand it
now."

"It's 11.10," said McCarthy.  "If we get there by three."

"If we get there at all," she said, "even if you are late, you can get
into the game."

For five miles they sped along over perfect roads, then suddenly a long
stretch of new macadam loomed ahead.  For three miles they lurched and
struggled, and were free again, but the road was heavy and slow.  Up
hill and down they fought the road, at times slipping, lurching and
skidding while the girl coaxed the car onward.  The road grew worse and
worse.  The hills were steeper.  The rain-guttered mud at times almost
stalled the car.

"Twenty miles in an hour and ten minutes," groaned McCarthy.  "This
won't do."

The next hour was even worse.  The girl was showing signs of weariness
and the strain of holding the machine in the rough going.  Three miles
of good road across a hill-top plateau raised their courage, then they
encountered sand.

It was twenty minutes to two o'clock, when, mud splattered, they raced
into Hilton, with the car missing fire in one cylinder, the engine
smoking and gasoline almost exhausted.

McCarthy almost lifted Betty Tabor from the car as they stopped at the
garage and she gave rapid directions to the manager, explaining the
need of haste.

"I'm afraid the car won't get you through," he said, "but we'll try."

"Have it ready at two o'clock," she ordered quickly.  "We must get
through somehow."

"It's thirty-four miles," he said.  "But the roads are fair.  If the
car was in shape it would be easy."

"We'll eat lunch while you overhaul it," she replied.

McCarthy secured the lunch from the car and they spread it upon the
grass in the yard and ate.  The girl was too weary for conversation,
but as she ate she seemed to gain strength and courage.

"We'll get there before the game is over, anyhow," she said quietly.
"I want to see Williams's face when you come onto the field."

"I thought you and he"----

"I never have liked him," she interrupted quickly.

Three minutes before the town clock chimed the hour of two in Hilton,
the machine, again running smoothly, shot out from the garage.  Its
occupants, refreshed and more cheerful, faced the final stretch of the
long race.

"Fourteen miles in twenty-one minutes," cried McCarthy, as the mile
posts flashed by.  "We'll be there."

[Illustration: "FOURTEEN MILES IN TWENTY-ONE MINUTES"]

Ten minutes later the smoke haze that hangs eternally over the great
city of the Blues was visible.  The country homes along the road over
which they sped were closer and closer together.

"Only ten more miles," McCarthy shouted triumphantly.

"We can cut across to the west here," she said as she swung the car
into an avenue.  "This goes near the ball park and we'll save three
miles."

"Hurray," he shouted.  "Then it's only seven miles."

The girl did not reply.  She was weary and her fair face showed haggard
lines.  Their progress became slower, although two or three times
policemen turned to watch them, as if to interfere.

The grandstand was close now.  The steady roar of the huge crowd inside
pulsed and beat upon them.  A bell rang.

"That's either game time or last fielding practice," screamed McCarthy.
"Hurry, please, hurry."

The car suddenly swung out of the line, sent a swarm of pedestrians
scurrying, and jarred to a stop at the entrance marked "Players."

"Betty," said McCarthy, as he started to lift her from the car----

"Hurry," she said, faint from weariness and the reaction.  "You must
dress."

He ran stiffly toward the dressing room under the stand.  Bill Tascott,
the umpire, was just starting toward the field.

"McCarthy!" he exclaimed at sight of the specter covered with mud and
with cut and bruised features.

"Bill, don't start the game yet," panted McCarthy beseechingly.  "Wait
till I dress.  Please tell Clancy I'm here."

"I'll tell him.  I'll delay the game.  Can you play?" said the umpire
rapidly.

"Yes--give me time to dress."

Jack, the trainer, quiet after his first outburst of surprise, was
preparing the hot shower and working like mad over the weary player and
when Clancy, summoned by a quiet word from the umpire, rushed into the
player's room, McCarthy was sighing luxuriously as the trainer soaked
his weary, cramped limbs with witch hazel.

"Hurry, Jack," ordered Clancy as he squeezed McCarthy's hands.  "I knew
you'd come, Kohinoor."

"Am I in time?" asked the player.  "Get my uniform out, please."

"Just in time.  Good old Bill Tascott is delaying the game.  You ought
to see him raising cain over his mask being lost.  He hid it in our
bench and is accusing the Blues of stealing it.  He won't start the
game until you are ready."

In five minutes they rushed him toward the little gate by which the
players enter the field from under the stands, just in time to hear
Bill Tascott announce:

"Batteries for to-day's game--Wiley and Kirkpatrick for the Blues;
Williams and Kennedy for the Bears."  He glanced toward the group
emerging from under the stands and his voice rang with gladness as he
yelled, in louder tones:

"McCarthy will play third base."



CHAPTER XXXI

_The Plotters Foiled_

The gasp of astonishment with which the crowd greeted the announcement
that Williams would pitch gave way quickly to a cry of surprise that
rose to a roar of applause when Bill Tascott announced that McCarthy
would play third base.

He walked slowly out toward third base, the huge arm of Swanson, who
with a bellow of gladness had raced to meet and embrace him, around his
shoulders, while the great crowd stood and howled with excitement and
hummed with curiosity as to the explanation of his reappearance.  Had
Clancy tricked the Blues and produced his third baseman at the dramatic
instant, hoping to unnerve them?  Had McCarthy been hurt?  A thousand
conjectures and questions flashed around the field.

The announcement by Bill Tascott was a double shock to two persons
sitting in one of the front boxes near the Bears' bench.  Barney
Baldwin brought his fat hand down with a thump upon the shoulders of
the rat-faced, cold-eyed man who sat next to him, and shouted, "I told
you so!"

Easy Ed Edwards, paler than usual, turned angrily toward the
politician, restrained himself, and resumed his steady scrutiny of the
field.  When the umpire announced McCarthy playing third, Baldwin, in
his astonishment, half arose and Edwards started quickly.

"Sit down, you fool," he said sharply.  "We're in enough trouble
without you giving us away.  Clancy was watching us from the bench.
They're wise to you."

"To me!" ejaculated Baldwin.  "I like your nerve"----

"You're the only one they can connect with McCarthy's--accident," he
said coldly.  "There'll be h---- to pay at home."

McCarthy's head was bandaged afresh, strips of court-plaster decorated
his face, and even from the stands the black bruises around his eyes
were visible.

Nearly forty thousand persons were watching, unaware of the full
meaning of the complex drama they were witnessing.  McCarthy was so
astonished at hearing that Williams was pitching that he turned to
Swanson.

"What does it mean, Silent?" he asked anxiously.

"Clancy made him pitch," whispered Swanson rapidly as they went toward
the bench.  "He has had him locked in his room all day and Williams is
scared stiff.  Look at him."

The pitcher was white to the mouth, and he licked his lips nervously as
if in a fever, as he sat during the first inning while his own team
endeavored to make a run.  Clancy, his face hard, sat next to him,
terrible in his rigidity.

Three of the Bears retired in rapid order and the team raced for the
field.  A roar of applause greeted them, and as McCarthy ran along in
front of the stands, the applause followed him like a wave.  It was
clear some hint of the truth was spreading through the crowd.  Williams
hung back when the team started for the field.

"I can't, Bill.  Oh, God, I can't," he wailed.  "Please"----

"Get out there and pitch!  Pitch whatever Kennedy signals for, and if
you don't"----

"I'll try, Bill.  But if"----

"There are no ifs," snarled the manager, half rising.

Williams walked to his position, a glare of terror in his eyes, as if
he contemplated flight.  He was wild and erratic at the start.  Two
balls sailed wide from the plate, and Swanson ran to him.

"Get that next one over or I'll signal Clancy," he said.

Williams put every ounce of power into his throwing arm, and the ball
cut the heart of the plate, jumping.

"The old hop on it!" yelled McCarthy.  "That's pitching, Adonis; that's
pitching."

Williams stood staring toward him as if dumfounded.  A grateful look
came into his eyes.

"Now the old hook, Adonis," yelled McCarthy.  "Something on every one
to-day, remember!"

An outburst of cheering arose from the crowd.  Those who had heard or
read the stories and rumors of the enmity between the two thought they
recognized the magnanimity of the third baseman and admired him.
Another strike whizzed over the plate, and a fast ball hopped while the
batter swung.  The strike out was greeted with a howl of applause.
Williams glanced toward the stands.  His eyes met those of Edwards
fixed upon him, and his nerve broke.  He pitched without looking to see
what Kennedy signaled, and "Sacred" White, the center fielder of the
Blues, drove the ball to left center for three bases.  Kennedy gave a
quick glance at Clancy, who sat staring straight ahead.  Swanson rushed
upon Williams, who, trembling with fear, waved him back.  He pitched
desperately, but Wertheim hit a long fly to center and "Sacred" White
scampered home.

"I didn't do it, Bill.  Honestly, I didn't," pleaded Williams, as he
returned to the bench and resumed his seat next to the manager.

"Williams," said Clancy coldly, "you pitched without a signal.  I've
got men in the stands to pass circulars telling exactly what you have
done.  If that happens again I'll signal them, and when the crowd gets
you, may the Lord have mercy"----

"I'll pitch--I was trying," begged the pitcher.  "Don't turn the crowd
loose on me.  They'll kill me."

"Then win," ordered Clancy.

The fifth came with the score 1 to 0 and Wiley pitching at his best.
Williams had lost some of his nervousness.  Either he had made up his
mind to betray Edwards, and strive to win, or he was pitching, as he
thought, for his life.  His fast ball was cutting the plate, and even
when the Blues hit it they popped the ball into the air for easy outs.
The last half of the fifth started.  Williams, glancing toward the
stand as he walked out to the slab, saw Edwards.  Edwards made a quick
signal with his hand and turned his face away.  Williams went to the
slab entirely unnerved.  He was wild, and a base on balls gave the
Blues another opening.  Instantly Swanson charged upon him and renewed
his threats, and Williams, after pitching two more balls wild, got one
over the plate, and Henderson sacrificed, putting Hickman on second.
Kirkpatrick drove a hard bounder at Norton, who fumbled, recovered,
threw wild and Malone scored.

McCarthy was feeling deadly weary.  The racking ride in the automobile,
the injuries received at the hands of Edwards and his prize-fighter
employe, the loss of sleep and the anxiety, added to the strain of the
game, had sapped his youthful vitality.  Williams, under the dire
threats of Clancy, Kennedy and Swanson, was pitching steadily.  He was
inspired now by a new hope: That he might lose the game and not be
blamed for defeat and at the same time escape the vengeance of Edwards
by pretending he lost it purposely.

"We ought to get at him this time, boys," called Swanson, as the Bears
opened their eighth inning.  "We've got to.  Look out there--at the
score board--the Panthers are winning, 4 to 1, and it means the
pennant."

Suddenly Noisy Norton, the silent man, sprang to his feet and rushed to
the coaching lines.

"Wow!  Little of the old pep, boys!" he yelled.

"Whoop!  We've got it won now.  Noisy is coaching.  Come on, boys--get
at them!" yelled Swanson.

Out by first base, Norton, who had never been on the coaching lines in
the five years he had played with the Bears, was ranting and screaming
like a wild man.  The spirit of the thing came over the Bears.
Kennedy, rushing to the bat, cracked the first ball that Wiley pitched
to center for a single.  A moment later little McBeth, who had been
fretting his soul out on the bench for three months, leaped toward the
bat like a hound unleashed.  He never had played in a major league game
before, and Wiley teased him into swinging at two slow twisters, then
attempted to waste a curve high and outside the plate.  The boy, his
teeth set, waded into the ball, drove it over third for a base hit,
and, with runners on first and third, Swanson came rushing up and drove
a line single to left that scored Kennedy and sent the speedy little
McBeth scurrying around to third.

McCarthy was coming to bat.  He swung two bats, testing their weight,
and walked toward the plate.  The excitement of the rally had revived
his waning strength and stirred his jaded nerves.  Swanson signaled his
intention to steal on the first ball pitched.  McCarthy crouched, and
as the ball came he swung viciously at it, not intending to hit it, but
to give Swanson the advantage by hampering the catcher.  The strike was
wasted, as the catcher, knowing the speed of McBeth, bluffed at
throwing, and held the ball, hoping to lure the substitute off third
base and let Swanson reach second without trouble.

The next ball McCarthy fouled against the stands for a second strike.
A great dread came over him as he heard the roar of the crowd.  He
turned to watch the Blue's catcher recover the ball, and at that
instant he saw the face of Betty Tabor, strained, white, beseeching, as
the girl, still mud-splattered and stained from the long race, leaned
forward.  Her face revealed all the hopes and fears that surged within
her.  As McCarthy's heart leaped with grim resolve he saw another face
that caused him to step back out of the batter's box and, while
pretending to rub dirt upon his hands, to glance again.

James Lawrence, his uncle and guardian, was sitting in the box next to
that in which Betty Tabor was voicelessly beseeching him to win the
game.

"Hit it, Larry--hit it!"

The sound of the name called by the familiar voice, the sight of the
agony in the girl's face, spurred him to desperation.  He delayed,
wiped his hands carefully, stepped into position and waited.  Wiley
wound up.  A fast curve flashed toward the plate.  McCarthy took one
step forward, snapped his bat against the ball.  The Blues' third
baseman leaped wildly, stuck up one hand, the ball went on, struck two
feet inside the foul line, and before it ceased rolling around the
stands two runs were across the plate.  McCarthy was on third, and the
Bears were in the lead.

The inning ended with McCarthy still on third, and the score 3 to 2 in
favor of the Bears.

Wilcox, who had been kept warmed up during the entire game, ready to
rush to the slab if Williams weakened, went in to pitch and held the
Blues in the eighth, and in their ninth the Bears drew a blank.

McCarthy knew he was very weary.  Only by his will power did he make
his tired, aching limbs obey his brain.  He ached in every muscle, and
his brain seemed dulled.  Gallagher hit a long fly to Pardridge.
Swanson was still shouting, urging Wilcox to cinch the victory,
encouraging, leading, fighting with every nerve for the victory.
Henderson drove a two-base hit to center field, and Swanson redoubled
his efforts to brace the team against a rally that might rob them of
their victory.  Kirkpatrick, a dangerous hitter at any time, drove a
fast bounder at Norton.  The little second baseman set himself for the
ball.  It took a bad bounce, struck his wrist and rolled away only a
few feet.  He was after it in an instant, but he knew that
Kirkpatrick's terrific speed would get him to first ahead of the ball.
As Norton's fingers gripped the ball he thought of another play.
Henderson would go to third on the fumble, turn the base, look to see
where the ball was, and if it had broken through the infield far
enough, he would try to score.  For an instant, Norton knew, the runner
would halt, undecided, six feet from third, and if the ball was
there----  Without looking, Norton hurled the ball toward third.
McCarthy saw it coming.  He realized the play that Norton had attempted
to make to save the day.  He grabbed the ball and dived desperately
between the runner and the bag.  Henderson, trapped, leaped back toward
the base, feet first.  McCarthy felt the shock of the collision, felt
the spikes bite into his arm, and he held his ground, blocking the
runner away.  He heard Bill Tascott's cry of "Out!" and, dazed, hurt
and dizzy, he arose slowly and tossed the ball back to Wilcox.
Trentman, the great pinch hitter of the Blues, was sent in to attempt
to snatch victory from defeat.  Twice he drove fierce line fouls past
third base, then he lifted a high foul and, as the ball settled into
Kennedy's mitt, McCarthy swayed upon his feet.

"Help me, Silent; I'm all in."

Through the eddying, shouting, scrambling crowd that had swarmed
cheering upon the field, Swanson half led, half carried his exhausted
mate.

They had pressed close to the exit to the club dressing rooms, when
suddenly a great shout smote the air.  A tremor of fresh excitement ran
through the crowd.

"What is it, Silent?" asked McCarthy anxiously.

"It's the Scoreboard!" yelled Swanson.  "Look!  The Jackrabbits scored
five in the eighth inning and beat the Panthers out, 6 to 4.  Boy,
we're champions!"

McCarthy did an odd thing.  He slid quietly to the ground in a faint,
and they carried him to the dressing rooms.



CHAPTER XXXII

_Rejoicing_

McCarthy slept the deep, dreamless sleep of exhaustion.  He slept all
the way during the homeward journey, waking refreshed and only a trifle
stiff when he was called early in the morning to disembark.  He and
Swanson rode to the hotel in a taxicab, anxious to escape from the
crowds that gathered to witness the arrival of the champions after
their sensational victory.

"Don't run," urged Swanson, "I'm a hog for punishment of this kind.  I
could stand around all year and let these people cheer me.  It sounds
good after what I've heard them say.  See that big fellow, yelling his
head off, there?  He's the same one that yelled 'rotten' at me for two
months in the middle of the season."

"Let's have breakfast up in the room," urged McCarthy.  "Get them to
send up all the morning papers.  I want to read what they say about the
game."

"They say enough, judging from the headlines," replied Swanson.  "Let's
eat down here and bask in the admiration of these fellows who have been
calling us dubs.  Pose for them, Kohinoor!  You're a hero!  Don't you
know a hero has to stand on his pedestal all day and smile?  Smile,
darn you!"

In spite of the giant's good-natured badinage they hurried to their
rooms and ordered breakfast and newspapers.

"They've got most of the story," said McCarthy.  "They have written a
lot of guff about----  Oh, they make a heroine out of Miss Tabor.  Look
at her picture.  Where did they get it?  I never had one."

"Get the original," said Swanson gruffly, his mouth full of toast.
"See this: Easy Ed Edwards has run.  He skipped before the game was
over, and the paper says he has carried off a hundred thousand dollars
in money that was bet with him and is fleeing to Europe."

"Williams made his getaway, too," said McCarthy, eagerly scanning the
papers.

"Where did he go?  I saw him slide off the bench in the eighth while we
were scoring and start toward the club house.  Guess he was afraid of
Edwards."

"Darn the luck," growled Swanson.  "Here's all that stuff about Kennedy
and me being licked in the saloon.  The whole story is out."

"There's one thing I want to find out," said Swanson, clenching his
fist.  "And that is who the big guy was that Edwards hired as his
slugger.  The season won't be complete until I hook this old grounder
grabber of mine on his jaw."

"I've got a bit of business," announced McCarthy, after an hour of
excited conversation.

"Wait till she gets through breakfast," insinuated Swanson insultingly.
"Going to desert your old pal for a skirt so soon?"

"Aw, shut up," said McCarthy.  "I've got to thank her, haven't I?"

Swanson was silent for an instant.  A serious expression came over his
homely, good-natured face.

"I hope you win her, Kohinoor," he said, simply, putting his big arm
across McCarthy's shoulders.  "You deserve her--I wanted her myself,
once."

Without another word he went over and sat down, picking up a paper, and
McCarthy, walking to him, said:

"I'm sorry, Silent, maybe"----

"No maybe about it," said Swanson without looking up, "I lost, long
ago."

McCarthy descended two flights of stairs and knocked timidly at the
door of the Clancy apartments.  He expected to find Betty Tabor with
Mrs. Clancy, but the girl was alone, the Clancys not having finished
their breakfast.

"Betty," he exclaimed, taking both her outstretched hands, "Betty--I
had to come--I wanted to tell you--I love you."

"Oh," she said in surprise, "I"----

His arm slipped around her waist and he drew her close.

"I have loved you from the first," he said, pleadingly.  "I wanted to
tell you yesterday.  I thought you cared then; you do care for me,
don't you?"

"Yes, Larry," she said softly, hiding her face.  "I think I have--from
the first."

"From the first--the very first, dearest?" he asked tenderly.  "From
the day we met--years ago?"

"Years ago?" she asked in surprise.  "Then you are?  Yes, you are; you
must be the little boy who was crying in the train?  I knew when you
came with the club we had met somewhere, and I could not remember
where."

"Did you remember the little boy?" he asked.

"Yes, Larry," she said "I never have forgotten.  I used to pray for him
every night; that he might be happy in his new home.  I kept the
picture of him that was taken at Portland and I often have thought of
him."

"It must have been meant that we should meet, dearest," he whispered.

"Yes, Larry," she replied softly.

He kissed her and held her close.

"Larry!" he exclaimed.  "Where did you learn my name, sweetheart?"

"The old gentleman in the box next to us at the game called you
Larry--and it seemed to fit you better than Jim does."  She laughed.

"He is my uncle--my father, almost.  You will meet him soon, and then I
will explain how I became McCarthy."

At that instant Manager Clancy and his wife entered abruptly, followed
by Technicalities Feehan.  Betty Tabor blushed and struggled to
extricate herself from McCarthy's arms, but he held her close and
announced:

"Betty has just promised to become my wife."

A shower of congratulation followed, and Mrs. Clancy became so excited
she dropped her fancy work and kissed both, then kissed Feehan, and
that surprised reporter dropped his precious manuscript in his
embarrassment.

A few moments after McCarthy left his room to make the call that
resulted in his happiness being established, Swanson was aroused from
his reverie by insistent rapping upon the door, and in response to his
welcoming cry, a tall, slender old man with bristling moustache,
stormed into the apartment.

"Where's that young scoundrel who calls himself McCarthy?" he demanded,
brandishing his cane threateningly.

"Hello, grandpaw," said Swanson.  "Who dealt you a hand?"

"You're another one of those rascally ballplayers!" charged the man
violently.  "I know you--you've been leading my nephew into all sorts
of wild scrapes, disgracing the family"----

"You Kohinoor's uncle?" howled Swanson joyously as he sprang up and
seized the old gentleman with a bear hug and waltzed him around.
"Welcome to our fair city, uncle.  I adopt you right now.  Kohinoor is
my chum.  How does it seem to be the uncle of a hero?"

"Release me, you scoundrel," puffed the uncle.  "Release me or I'll
cane you!  Where is he?"

"Truth is, uncle, he's gone skirting," said Swanson, releasing his
victim.

"Gone where?" asked the uncle.

"Skirting--calling on a girl--and between you and me, uncle, he's got
the best chance to win her, and she's worth winning."

"What, another?" demanded the uncle.  "Then he hasn't eloped with that
blond niece of that crook, Baldwin?"

"Not on your life," said Swanson, "he's won the best little girl in the
world."

In five minutes they were laughing and chatting like old friends, and
the uncle was boasting of his nephew's prowess at baseball.

"Hang it," he stormed, "I ought to cane him, the young rascal, for
treating me this way.  He never let me know he was playing, and I only
got to see one game.  But wasn't that a--what do you call it--a corker?"

"Let's go to them," proposed Swanson.

And into the tableau of congratulations that was being presented in the
Clancy apartment Swanson burst, leading the old gentleman, who was
struggling to smile and to be angry at the same time.

"Look who's here," he shouted.  "Kohinoor's uncle, and from the looks
of things he has arrived just at the right minute to give his blessing."

"Uncle Jim," exclaimed McCarthy, stepping forward quickly.

"Larry, you young rascal!--Larry"----

His voice broke and tears rolled down his cheeks as he put his arm
around the boy's neck and wept.  "Larry, you young scoundrel, what did
you mean by running away from your old uncle?"

"Uncle Jim," said McCarthy seriously, as he put his arm around the old
man's waist, "I was a fool.  I found it out and I was coming home to
tell you I was wrong and beg you to forgive me, but I could not leave
the team when it needed me.  I was only a foolish boy.  If you can
forgive"----

"It's all right now, Larry, boy," said the old man, wiping his eyes and
laughing happily.  "I was certain you'd come to your senses and find
you didn't love that girl."

"I am certain you will not object to the young lady I am going to
marry, Uncle Jim"----

"Marry!" cried Mr. Lawrence angrily.  "Nonsense!  You're not going to
marry anyone!  Here we just make up and you want to start the quarrel
all over again.  Marry?  You young scoundrel!  You're going to stay at
home with me"----

"Don't say that until you meet her, Uncle Jim," and, putting his arm
around Betty Tabor's waist, he said, "Uncle Jim, I want you to meet
Miss Betty Tabor, who has just honored me by promising to become my
wife."

"Why, bless my heart!  Bless my heart!" exclaimed the old man in
surprise.  "If it isn't the young woman who sat in the box next to me
at the game!  I fell in love with you, my dear, when you applauded
Larry.  Marry her?  If you don't marry her, you young rascal, I'll cut
you off in my will.  Not a penny, you understand--not a penny."

He kissed Betty Tabor gallantly while the others laughed and he bowed
low over Mrs. Clancy's hand as Kohinoor presented him to the manager
and his wife.

"Are you the Mr. Lawrence they call the Lumber King in Oregon?"
inquired Clancy, as he shook hands.

"They call me that out there," said the old man, testily.  "Call
themselves democratic--then King everyone who makes a few dollars--bah."

"Oh," exclaimed Miss Tabor, in sudden alarm.  "Then Larry is rich?"

"Never mind that, sweetheart," he said, consolingly.  "We can live on
my baseball salary if Uncle Jim cuts us off."

"Cut you off, nonsense!" the old man exclaimed testily.  "You'll have
all my money if you behave yourself and obey me.  Young scoundrel never
would obey me."

"I've learned to obey in baseball, uncle," replied Kohinoor seriously.
"Ask Mr. Clancy if I haven't."

"I'm so glad, Larry," said Miss Tabor brightly, "that you asked me
before I knew you were going to be rich."

"Young rascal must have learned some sense," growled his uncle.  "He
picked out just the girl I wanted him to.  When I saw you at the game,
my dear, I said to myself: 'Now if Larry would only choose a girl like
that, I'd make her my daughter.'"

"You're the worst flatterer of them all--Mr.--Lawrence," said the girl,
blushing and laughing.

"You must call me Uncle Jim, my dear," he insisted in his most
tyrannical tones.  "And understand, Miss, I'm boss of this family."

"By the way, Kirkland," said Technicalities Feehan, who had been busily
engaged studying some statistics he had taken from his pocket, "what
did you hit the last year you were at Cascade College?"

"Kirkland?" exclaimed Miss Tabor.  "Then your name isn't James
Lawrence?"

"I forgot," he responded, laughing at her bewilderment.  "Your name
will be Mrs. James Lawrence Kirkland; I was named for Uncle Jim.  How
did you find it out?" he added, turning to Feehan.

"I knew it the second day you were with the Bears," replied Feehan.  "I
have all your records, excepting those of your final year at the
university.  Did you hit .332 or .318?  The records do not agree."

Ten days later, on the night after the Bears triumphantly won the
World's Championship, there was a jolly party in the banquet hall of
one of the great hotels.  Jimmy McCarthy was giving a farewell dinner
to his friends and comrades of the Bear team.  The dinner had been
eaten, the toasts to the team and its manager drunk, and McCarthy arose.

"Boys," he said, "I'm not going to try to make a speech.  I want to
thank you all for your kindness to the tramp who came to you when he
needed friends.  And now my uncle has a little announcement to make
which I know you all will be glad to hear."

A round of applause greeted the testy old gentleman as he arose,
scolding his nephew for calling upon him.  In the ten days that he had
traveled with them he had become the idol of the Bears, and he proudly
claimed credit for their victories, declared he was their mascot, and
called each one by his first name.

"Nothing at all.  Just a little matter," he said, testily.  "Young
rascal shouldn't have mentioned it.  All it amounts to is that
yesterday I bought Baldwin's stock in this ball club.  He's a disgrace
to the business.  I made him sell out.  I'm holding the stock for
Clancy.  He can have it at the price I paid any time he gets the money.
Just bought it to get that crook, Baldwin, out."

He sat down amid a riot of cheering, while Clancy, who had not been
informed of the deal, arose and stammered his bewildered thanks, as he
strove to realize that a fortune had been thrust upon him.  When the
excitement had died down and a toast to Mr. Lawrence had been proposed
and drunk standing, Betty Tabor, flushed, and appearing prettier than
ever, arose.

"Boys," she said, in her low, steady tones, "I have an important
announcement to make, one which, I believe, will please you almost as
well as the one we just heard did."

She hesitated and smiled down upon her future husband, who sat beside
her.

"Boys," she continued, after a moment, "I have consented to permit
Larry to play ball with you next season, if he will allow me to travel
with the team at least one trip."

Noisy Norton sprang upon his chair, his glass held aloft and cried:

"To the bride, the groom and another pennant."



THE END.





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