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Title: Jack Winters' Baseball Team - Or, The Rivals of the Diamond
Author: Overton, Mark
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 "Jack Winters' Baseball Team - Or, The Rivals of the Diamond" ***

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The Rivals of the Diamond



[Illustration: _Jack tried to keep the boy's head above water_]

Made in U.S.A.
M. A. Donohue & Company
Chicago--New York

Copyright 1919, by
American Authors Publishing Co.

Made in U.S.A.


       I. Three Boys of Chester                                 11
      II. A Weak Link in the Chain                              19
     III. The Last Practice Game                                28
      IV. When Chester Awakened                                 37
       V. Tied in the Ninth Inning                              46
      VI. Fred Put to the Test                                  55
     VII. The Game Called by Darkness                           64
    VIII. The Puzzle Grows                                      73
      IX. A Fairy in the Badger Home                            81
       X. The Warning                                           89
      XI. Sitting on the Lid                                    98
     XII. One Trouble After Another                            107
    XIII. When the Cramp Seized Joel                           116
     XIV. A Night Alarm                                        124
      XV. What Happened at the Fire                            133
     XVI. A Startling Disclosure                               142
    XVII. Fred Renews His Pledge                               150
   XVIII. Hendrix Again in the Box                             159
     XIX. The Lucky Seventh                                    168
      XX. After the Great Victory--Conclusion                  177




"No use talking, Toby, there's something on Jack's mind of late, and
it's beginning to bother him a lot, I think!"

"Well, Steve, you certainly give me the creeps, that's what you do, with
your mysterious hints of all sorts of trouble hanging over our heads,
just as they say the famous sword of that old worthy, Damocles, used to
hang by a single hair, ready to fall. Look here, do you realize, Steve,
what it would mean if Jack went and got himself rattled _just

"Huh! guess I do that, Toby, when, for one thing, we're scheduled to go
up against that terrible Harmony nine day after tomorrow."

"And if Jack is getting cold feet already, on account of something or
other, I can see our finish now, Steve."

"Still, we beat them in that first great game, don't let's forget that,
Toby, and take what consolation we can from the fact."

"Oh! rats! we know how that came about. They'd never been beaten the
entire season by any team in the county, and had grown a bit careless.
Because they had a clean record they believed they could just about wipe
up the ground with poor old Chester, a slow town that up to this year
had never done anything worth while in connection with boys' outdoor

"That's right, Toby. Never will I forget how humiliated I felt when they
struck town on that glorious day. They came in a lot of cars and
motor-trucks, with the Harmony Band playing, 'Lo, the Conquering Hero
Comes,' and with whoops and toots galore from the crowds of faithful
rooters. Why, bless you, they felt so confident of winning that they
even left their star battery at home to rest up, and used the second
string slab-team. But, oh! my eye! it was a saddened lot of Harmony
fellows that wended their way back home, everybody trying to explain
what had struck them to the tune of eleven to five. Wow!"

"Great Cæsar! Steve, but didn't old Chester go crazy that same night,
though, with the bonfires making the sky look red, and the boys yelling
through the main streets in a serpentine procession, carrying Jack on
their shoulders? The campus in front of the high school was packed solid
when Professor Yardley made a speech, and congratulated our gallant team
because we had that same day put Chester once for all on the map!"

"But, shucks! Toby, the tables were sure turned on us when we went over
to play that second game. Those chaps were on their toes that day, and
it was Hendrix and Chase, their star battery, that fed us of their

"Yes, we did lose, all right, but don't forget that we fought tooth and
nail to the very last."

"Say, that rally in the ninth was a thrilling piece of business, wasn't
it, Toby? Why, only for our right fielder, Big Bob Jeffries, hitting
that screamer straight into the hands of the man playing deep centre
instead of lifting it over his head for a homer, we'd have won out.
There were two on bases, you remember, with the score three to four."

"Now we're tied, with one game each to our credit, and Harmony coming
over the day after tomorrow to take our measure, they boast. Jack has
been so confident ever since he picked up that new pitcher, Donohue, on
the sand lots in town, that I'm puzzled a heap to know what ails him

"One thing sure, Toby, Jack is bound to speak up sooner or later, and
let his two chums know what's in the wind. I rather expect he agreed to
meet us here today so as to have a heart-to-heart talk; and if so, it's
bound to be about the matter that's troubling him."

"I certainly hope so, because when you know the worst you can plan to
meet the difficulty. And if only we could win the rubber in this series
with Harmony, it'd make little old Chester famous."

The two boys who were holding this animating and interesting
conversation stood kicking their heels on a corner where the main street
in the town was crossed by another. It was about ten o'clock on a
morning in early summer. Chester seemed to be quite a bustling sort of
town, located in the East. Considerable business was carried on in the
place, for there were several factories running, employing hundreds of
workers at good wages.

Certainly no town in the broad land could be more advantageously located
than the borough in which Toby Hopkins and Steve Mullane lived. It lay
close to the shore of Lake Constance, a beautiful sheet of clear water
three miles across at its broadest point, and at least twelve long, with
many deep and really mysterious coves, and also bordered by quite a
stretch of swampy land toward the south. Far up toward its northern
extremity lay the Big Woods, where during winters considerable lumbering
was done by a concern that had a camp there.

As if that wonderful sheet of water were not enough to gratify the
tastes of all boys who loved to skate and swim and fish and go boating,
there was Paradise River emptying into the lake close by, a really
picturesque stream with its puzzling bends and constantly novel views
that burst upon the sight as one drove a canoe up its lazy current of a
sunny summer afternoon.

Toby was a character. He had an enviable disposition in that he seldom
if ever showed a temper. His many peculiarities really endeared him to
his boy friends. As he was apt to say when introducing himself to some
newcomer in town, "My name is Hopkins, 'Hop' for short; and that's why
they put me at short on the diamond; because I rather guess I can
_hop_ to beat the band, if I can't do much else."

But in Chester, it was well known among the admirers of the new baseball
team, that by his "hopping" Toby managed to cover short as few fellows
could. Seldom did the most erratic hit get past those nimble hands of
his, that could stab a vicious stinging ball coming straight from the
bat of a slugger, and apparently tagged for a two-bagger at least.

Steve Mullane was of heavier build, and admirably suited for his
position of catcher. He usually proved himself well worthy of the warm
regard of Chester's rooting fans, who flocked to the games these days.

And yet, Chester, now baseball mad apparently, had, until this season,
seemed to be wrapped in a regular Rip Van Winkle sleep of twenty years,
in so far as outdoor sports for boys went. Time and again there had been
a sporadic effort made to enthuse the school lads in baseball, football,
hockey, and such things, but something seemed lacking in the leadership,
and all the new schemes died soon after they came on the carpet.

Then a little event happened that put new life and "ginger" into the
whole town, so far as the boys were concerned. A new boy arrived in
Chester, and his name it happened was Jack Winters. From the very start
it seemed as though Jack must have been meant for a natural-born leader
among his fellows. They liked him for his genial ways, and soon began to
ask his opinion with regard to almost everything that came along. During
the preceding winter, Jack had started several things that turned out to
be extremely successful. Rival hockey teams once more contested on the
smooth ice of the frozen lake; also one or two iceboats were seen
skimming over the great expanse of Constance, something that had not
been known in half a generation.

The backward boys of Chester began to talk as though big notions might
be gripping them. If other towns no larger than the one in which they
lived had gymnasiums, and regularly organized field clubs, with splendid
grounds for athletic meets, what was to hinder them from doing the same?

So in due time a new baseball team was organized, consisting not only of
those who attended Chester High, but several fellows who worked in the
factories, but had Saturday afternoons off. They had practiced
strenuously, and under a coach who had been quite a famous player in one
of the big leagues, until a broken leg put him out of business; Joe
Hooker was now working in one of the factories, though just as keen at
sports as ever.

When, earlier in the season, Chester actually walked away with two games
in succession from the pretty strong team at Marshall, the good people
awakened to the fact that a revolution had indeed taken place in the
boys of the town. A new spirit and ambition pervaded every heart. Doing
things worth while is the best way to arouse a boy to a consciousness
that he has a fighting chance.

From what passed between Toby and Steve as they waited for their chum to
join them, it can be seen that great things were hanging in the balance
those days. In about forty-eight hours Harmony would be swarming into
the town riding in all manner of conveyances, shouting and showing every
confidence in the ability of their great team to take that deciding

There was good need of anxiety in the Chester camp. Not once had Harmony
gone down to defeat all season until that unlucky day when, scorning the
humble newly organized Chester nine, they had come over with a
patched-up team to "go through the motions," as one of them had sadly
confessed while on the way home after losing.

Ten minutes later and Toby gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

"Here comes Jack!" he told his companion, and immediately both glued
their eyes on the clean-limbed and bright-faced young fellow who was
swinging toward them, waving a hand as he caught their signals.

There was nothing remarkable about Jack Winters, save that he seemed a
born athlete, had a cheery, winning way about him, and seemed to have a
magnetism such as all born leaders, from Napoleon down, possess, that
drew others to him, and made them believe in his power for extracting
victory from seeming defeat.

"Sorry to have kept you waiting so long, fellows," Jack remarked, as he
joined them, "but a man stopped me on the street, and his business was
of such importance that I couldn't break away in a hurry. But let's
adjourn to a quieter place; over there in the little park under the
trees I can see a bench that's empty. I've got something to tell you
that nobody must hear except you two."

"Does it have a bearing on the great game with Harmony, Jack?" begged
Toby, who was a bit impatient after his way.

"It may mean everything to us in that battle!" Jack admitted, as he
headed for the bench in the small park.



When Jack dropped down on the bench, the others crowded as close up on
either side as they could possibly get. No one was near by, save a
couple of nursemaids chatting and gossiping while they trundled their
baby carriages back and forth; and they were too much engrossed in
exchanging views of the gallant policeman on the block to notice three
boys with their heads close together, "plotting mischief," as they would
doubtless believe.

"Now break loose and give us a hint what it's all about, please, Jack!"
urged Toby.

"Because both of us have noticed that something's been bothering you
latterly," added Steve; "and as you're not the fellow to borrow trouble
it's got us guessing, I tell you. Who's the weak brother on the team
you're afraid of, Jack?"

"I see your guessing has been in the right direction, Steve," the other
went on to remark, with an affectionate nod; for in the few months he
had known them, these new chums had won a warm place in Jack Winters'
heart. "Don't be startled now when I tell you it's Fred who's keeping me
awake nights."

Both the others uttered low exclamations of surprise.

"What! Fred Badger, our bully reliable third baseman, equal to that
crackerjack Harmony boasts about as the best in the State!" gasped Toby.
"Why, only yesterday I heard you say our Fred was getting better right
along, and that his equal couldn't be easily found. We don't even need
to keep a substitute back of Fred, his work is that gilt-edged."

"That's just what's troubling me," admitted Jack, quietly. "If I was
able to lay my hand on some one right now who could fill Fred's shoes
even fairly well, I wouldn't be so bothered; but there isn't a boy in
Chester who can play that difficult position so as not to leave a
terrible gap in our stone-wall infield, no one but Fred."

"But what's the matter with Fred?" demanded Steve.

"I saw him not an hour ago," spoke up Toby, "and say, he didn't look so
_very_ sick then, let me tell you, Jack. He was swallowing an
ice-cream soda in the drug-store, and seemed to be enjoying it
immensely, too."

"And yet," added Steve, thoughtfully, "now that you mention it, Jack,
seems to me Fred _has_ been acting a little queer lately. There's
been a sort of shifting way he avoids looking straight into your eyes
when you're talking with him. Why, when I got speaking about our next
big game, and hoped he'd play like a regular demon at third sack he
grinned sheepishly, and simply said he meant to try and do himself
credit, but nobody could ever tell how luck was going to pan out."

Jack shook his head.

"That's just it, fellows," he went on to say, gloomily. "I've heard the
same thing from others. In fact, Phil Parker even went on to say it
looked like Fred was getting ready to excuse himself in case he did
commit some terrible crime in juggling a ball when a vital time in the
game came, and a clean throw meant win or lose."

"I'd hate to see that spirit shown under any conditions," said Jack,
"because it means lack of confidence, and such a thing has lost no end
of games. It's the fellow who says he can and will do things that comes
in ahead nearly every time. But listen, boys, that isn't the worst of
this thing."

"Gee whiz! what's coming now, Jack?" asked Toby, wriggling uneasily on
the bench.

"Of course you know that over in Harmony, which is a larger place than
Chester, there is quite a sporting element," Jack continued. "Latterly,
we've been told quite an interest has been aroused in the outcome of
this deciding game between the two rival clubs; and that some rich
sports from the city have even come up to make wagers on the result.
I've heard gentlemen here tell this, and deplore the fact that such a
thing could invade an innocent sport like baseball. You both know this,
don't you, fellows?"

"Yes," said Steve, quickly, "I've heard a lot of talk about it, and how
they are determined to arrest anybody making an open bet on the game at
the grounds when the crowd is there; but even that isn't going to
prevent the laying of wagers in secret."

"I ran across a Harmony fellow yesterday," Toby now remarked, eagerly,
"and he said there was a terrible lot of excitement over there about
this game. You see, the news about our new pitcher has leaked out, from
the Chester boys doing considerable bragging; and they're going to play
their very best to win against us. He also admitted that there was open
betting going on, with heavy odds on Harmony."

Jack sighed.

"That all agrees with what came to me in a side way," he explained. "In
other words, the way things stand, there will be a big lot of money
change hands in case Harmony does win. And those sporting men who came
up from the city wouldn't think it out of the way to pay a good fat
_bribe_ if they could make sure that some player on the Chester
team would throw the game, in case it began to look bad for Harmony!"

Toby almost fell off his seat on hearing Jack say that.

"My stars! and do you suspect Fred of entering into such a base
conspiracy as that would be, Jack?" he demanded, hoarsely; while Steve
held his very breath as he waited for the other to reply.

"Remember, not one word of this to a living soul," cautioned Jack; "give
me your solemn promise, both of you, before I say anything more."

Both boys held up a right hand promptly.

"I never blab anything, even in my sleep, Jack," said Steve; "and until
you give permission never a single word will I pass along."

"Same here," chirped Toby; "I'll put a padlock on my lips right away,
and wild horses couldn't force me to leak. Now tell us what makes you
suspect poor old Fred of such a horrible crime?"

"I've tried to make myself believe it impossible," Jack commenced; "and
yet all the while I could see that Fred has changed in the last ten
days, changed in lots of ways. There's something been bothering him,
that's plain."

"Stop a minute, will you, Jack, and let me say something," interrupted
Toby. "I wouldn't mention it even to you fellows only for this thing
coming up. I chance to know why Fred has been looking worried of late.
Shall I tell you, in hopes that it might ease your mind, Jack?"

"Go on, Toby," urged Steve. "We ought to get at the bottom of this thing
before it's too late, and the mischief done. Any player can throw a
game, if he's so minded, and the opportunity comes to him, and mebbe not
even be suspected; but as a rule, baseball players are far too honorable
to attempt such tricks."

"It's a secret over at our house," Toby went on to say. "My mother
happens to know that Doctor Cooper told Mrs. Badger she could be a well
woman again if only she went to a hospital in the city, and submitted to
an operation at the hands of a noted surgeon he recommended. But they
are poor, you know, boys, and it's next to impossible for them to ever
think of raising the three hundred dollars the operation would cost. She
told my mother Fred was making himself fairly sick over his inability to
do something to earn that big sum. So you see the poor chap has had
plenty of reason for looking glum lately."

"I knew nothing about Fred's mother being sick," Jack admitted; "and I'm
sorry to learn it now; but don't you see, your explanation only seems to
make matters all the blacker for him, Toby?"

"Why, how can that be, Jack?"

"Only this, that while Fred might never be bribed to listen to any
scheme to throw the game in favor of Harmony, on his own account, the
tempting bait of three hundred dollars might win him over now, because
of his love for his mother."

"But, Jack, however could he explain where he got so much money?" cried
Steve. "It would come out, and he'd be called on for an explanation.
Even his mother would refuse to touch a cent dishonestly gained, though
she died for it. Why, Fred would be crazy to think he could get away
with such a game."

"Still, he might be blind to that fact," Jack explained. "The one thing
before his eyes would be that he could pick up the money so sorely
needed, and for which he might even be tempted to barter his honor. All
sorts of explanations could be made up to tell where he got the cash.
But there's even something more than that to make matters look bad for

"As what, Jack?" begged Toby, breathlessly.

"Just day before yesterday," the other continued, "I chanced to pass
along over yonder, and glancing across saw Fred sitting on this very
bench. He was so busy talking with a man that he never noticed me. That
man was a stranger in Chester, at least I had never seen him before.
Yes, and somehow it struck me there was a bit of a sporty look about his

"Gee whiz! the plot thickens, and that does look black for Fred, I must
say," grunted Toby, aghast.

"I was interested to the extent of hanging around to watch them
further," Jack went on to say, "and for half an hour they continued to
sit here, all the while talking. I thought the sporty stranger glanced
around a number of times, as though he didn't want any one to overhear a
word of what he was saying. He seemed to have a paper of some sort, too,
which I saw Fred signing. I wondered then if he could be such a
simpleton as to attach his name to any dishonorable deal; but sometimes
even the sharpest fellow shows a weak point. Now I know that Fred must
be fairly wild to get hold of a certain sum of money, it makes me more
afraid than ever he is pledged to toss away the game, if it looks as
though Chester is going to win out on a close margin."

"Then we ought to drop Fred out, and take our medicine with another man
on third," proposed Steve, hotly.

"I'd do that in a minute, and take no chances of foul play," said Jack,
"if only we knew of anybody capable of filling his shoes. If Harmony
knows a weak player covers third bag, they'll make all their plays
revolve around him, that's sure. The only thing I can see is to let Fred
keep on, and hope the game will not be so close that he could lose it
for Chester by a bad break. Besides that I could have a heart-to-heart
talk with him, not letting him see that we suspected his loyalty, but
impressing it on his mind that every fellow in the team believed in him
to the utmost, and that we'd be broken-hearted if anything happened to
lose us this game on which the whole future of clean sport in Chester

"That might do it, Jack!" snapped Toby, eagerly. "You've got a way about
you that few fellows can resist. Yes, that's our only plan, it seems;
Fred is indispensable on the team at this late stage, when a sub
couldn't be broken in, even if we had one handy, which we haven't. Play
him at his regular position, and let's hope there'll be no chance for
double-dealing on his part."

"But we'll all be mighty anxious as the game goes along, believe me,"
asserted Steve, as they arose to leave the vicinity of the bench. "I'll
be skimpy with my throws to third to catch a runner napping, for fear
Fred might make out to fumble and get the ball home just too late to nab
the runner. And, Jack, try your level best to convince Fred that the
eyes of all Chester will be on him during that game, with his best girl,
pretty Molly Skinner, occupying a front seat in the grand stand!"



On the following morning, twice Jack walked around to where the humble
cottage of the Badger family stood, on purpose to call on Fred, and have
a chat with him; but on each occasion missed seeing the third baseman.
His mother Jack had never met before, and he was quite interested in
talking with her. Purposely Jack influenced her to speak of Fred, and
his ambitions in the world. He could see that, like most mothers, she
was very proud of her eldest son, and had an abiding faith in his
ability to accomplish great things when later on he took his place in
business circles.

She had been a widow for some years. The house was very tidy, and a
pretty flower and vegetable garden spoke well for Fred's early rising
and assiduous labors as a young provider. When Jack purposely mentioned
that he had heard something about her anticipating a visit to the city
to spend a little while at a hospital, she shook her head sadly, and a
look of pain crossed her careworn face as she said:

"Dr. Cooper wants me to go and see his friend, who is a famous surgeon,
but I'm afraid the cost is much more than I can afford at present,
unless some miracle comes up before long. But I try to forget my
troubles, and feel that I have much to be thankful for in my three
children, all so healthy and so clever. Why, there's hardly a thing Fred
wouldn't do for me. Ah! if only his father could have lived to see him
now, how proud he would be of such a boy!"

When Jack came away after that little interesting talk, he felt very
down-hearted. What a shock it would be to his fond mother should she
ever be forced to learn that her boy had taken money from those who were
betting on the outcome of the great game, in order to betray his
comrades who placed the most implicit confidence in his loyalty.

Even though it were done with the best motive in the world, that of
trying to make his mother a well woman again, she would bitterly regret
his having yielded to such an ignoble temptation and fallen so low as to
sell a game.

Then came the last practice that afternoon, to prepare for the morrow,
when Harmony's confident hosts would come with brooms waving, to
indicate how they meant to sweep up the ground with poor Chester's best

Coach Hooker was on deck, for already the spirit of newly awakened sport
had permeated the whole place, so that the boss at his factory gladly
released him from duty for that special afternoon, in order that the
Chester boys might profit from his sage advice.

Fred did not show up until just before the game with the scrub team was
being called, so that of course Jack could not find an opportunity just
then to indulge in any side talk with the keeper of the third sack. He
determined not to let anything prevent his walking home in company with
Fred, however, and trying to see behind the mask which he believed the
other was wearing to conceal the real cause of his uneasiness.

The game started and progressed, with every fellow filled with vim and
vigor. To those who had come to size up the team before the great
battle, it seemed as if every member had made strides forward since the
last match, when Harmony won out in that last fierce inning after the
rally that almost put Chester on top.

From time to time, each, individual player would seem to rise up and
perform the most remarkable stunts. Now it was Joel Jackman, out in
center, who made a marvelous running catch, jumping in the air, and
pulling down a ball that seemed good for at least a three-bagger, also
holding the horse-hide sphere even while he rolled over twice on the

Later on, a great triple play was pulled off, Winters at first to Jones
on second, and home to Mullane in time to catch a runner attempting to
profit by all this excitement. Such a wonderful handling of the ball in
a match game would give the crowd a chance to break loose with mighty
cheers, friends and foes joining in to do the clever athletes honor.

Then there was Big Bob Jeffries, a terror at the bat; three times up,
and each occasion saw him almost knock the cover off the ball, making
two home runs, and a three-bagger in the bargain. Why, if only Big Bob
could duplicate that performance on the following day, it was
"good-night to Harmony." But then there was a slight difference between
the pitcher of the scrub team and the mighty slab artist who officiated
for Harmony; and possibly, Bob might only find thin air when he struck
savagely at the oncoming ball, dexterously tagged for a drop, or a
sweeping curve.

Nevertheless, everybody seemed satisfied that the entire team was "on
edge," and in the "pink of condition." If they failed to carry off the
honors in that deciding game, there would be no valid excuse to offer,
save that Harmony was a shade too much for them. Even though they might
be defeated, they meant to fight doggedly to the end of the ninth
inning, and feel that they had given the champions of the county a "run
for their money."

Win or lose, Chester had awakened to the fact that the local team was
well worth patronizing. Another season would see vast improvements, and
the time might yet come when Chester would write her name at the top of
the county teams. All sorts of other open-air sports were being talked
of, and there was a host of eager candidates ready to apply for every
sort of position. Jack Winters had managed to awaken the sleepy town,
and "start things humming," most fellows admitted, being willing to give
him the greater part of the credit.

So when the game was ended, the players gathered around Joe Hooker to
listen to his frank criticisms, and pledge themselves anew to do their
level best to "take Harmony's scalp" on the morrow.

Jack kept on the watch, and both Toby and Steve saw what he was aiming
at when he hurriedly left the group and walked quickly after Fred, who
had started toward home.

"Only hope he makes his point," muttered Toby to the other. "Fred
certainly played like a fiend today. Nothing got by him, you noticed. He
scooped that hummer from Bentley's bat off the ground as neat as wax. No
professional could have done better, I heard Joe Hooker say. He thinks
Fred is a jim-dandy at third, and that he's a natural ball player,
strong at the bat, as well as in the field."

Meanwhile, Jack had overtaken Fred, who, hearing his footsteps, turned
his head to see who might be hurrying after him. Jack fancied he looked
a trifle confused at seeing the captain of the team trying to come up
with him, though that might only be imagination, after all. Still,
doubtless Fred's mother must have mentioned the fact that Jack had been
at the house twice that morning, as though he had something of
importance to communicate.

"I'm going your way, it happens, this afternoon, Fred," Jack remarked as
he came up, "as I have an errand over at your neighbor, Mrs. Jennings, a
commission for my mother; so I'll step alongside, and we can chat a bit
as we walk along."

"Glad to have your company, Jack," said Fred; but all the same he did
not seem so _very_ enthusiastic over it. "The boys all worked like
a well-oiled machine today, I noticed, and if only we can do as well in
the big game, we ought to have a look in, I should think."

"We've just _got_ to make up our minds we mean to win that game
tomorrow, no matter how Hendrix pitches gilt-edged ball," Jack told him.
"Every fellow must tell himself in the start that he will let nothing
whatever interfere with his giving Chester of his very best. I don't
care what it may be that stands in the way, we must brush it aside, and
fight together to carry the day. Why, Chester will just go crazy if only
we can down the boasting team that has never tasted defeat this season
up to that fluke game, when they underestimated the fighting qualities
of the rejuvenated Chester nine. And we can do it, Fred, we surely can,
if only we pull together in team work, and every fellow stands on his
honor to do his level best. You believe that, don't you, Fred?"

The other looked at Jack, and a slight gleam, as of uncertainty, began
to show itself in his eyes. Then he shut his jaws together, and
hurriedly replied:

"Of course I do, Jack. I'm not the one to show the white feather at such
an early stage of the game. They've never accused _me_ of having
cold feet, no matter how bad things seemed to be breaking for my side.
In fact, I've been a little proud of the reputation I have of being able
to keep everlastingly at it. Stubbornness is my best hold, I've
sometimes thought."

"Glad to know it, Fred, because that's a quality badly needed in
baseball players. There's always hope up to the time the last man is
down. Joe Hooker tells lots of wonderful stories of games he's seen won
with two out in the ninth frame, and the other side half a dozen runs to
the good. You are never beaten until the third man is out in the last
inning. I'm glad to hear you say you mean to fight as never before in
your life to get that game for the home club. Fact is, Fred, old fellow,
I've been a little anxious about you latterly, because I thought you
seemed upset over something or other, and I was afraid it might
interfere with your play."

Fred started plainly, and shot Jack a quick look out of the corner of
his eye, just as though he might be asking himself how much the other
knew, or suspected.

"Well, the fact of the matter is, Jack, I have been feeling
down-spirited over something. It's a family matter, and I hope you'll
excuse me for not going into particulars just now. Day and night I seem
to be wrestling with a problem that's mighty hard to solve; but there's
a little ray of sunlight beginning to crop up, I don't mind telling you,
and perhaps I'll find a way yet to weather the storm. I'm trying to feel
cheerful about it; and you can depend on me taking care of third sack
tomorrow the best I know how."

"That's all I can ask of any man, Fred; do yourself credit. Thousands of
eyes will watch every move that is made, and among them those we care
for most of every one in the whole world. I heard Molly Skinner saying
this afternoon that she wouldn't miss that game for all the candy in the
world. She also said she had a favorite seat over near third, and would
go early so as to secure it. A brilliant play over _your_ way would
please Molly a heap, I reckon, Fred."

The other turned very red in the face, and then, tried to laugh it off
as he hastened to say in a voice that trembled a little, despite his
effort to control it:

"Yes, she told me the same thing, Jack, and it was nice of Molly to say
it, for you know she's the prettiest girl in Chester, and a dozen boys
are always hanging around her. Yes, I'd be a fool not to do myself proud
tomorrow, with so many of my friends looking on; though of course any
fellow might run into a bit of bad judgment and make a foozle, when he'd
give five years of his life to work like a machine. I'm hoping, and
praying, too, Jack, that such a streak of bad luck won't come my way,
that's all I can say. Here's where I leave you, if you're bound for
Jennings' place. If it's my promise to do my level best tomorrow you
want, Jack, you've got it!"

So they parted. Still, Jack was not altogether easy in his mind. He went
over every little incident of their recent intercourse as they trudged
along side by side; and wondered whether Fred, who was not very well
known to him, could be deceiving him. He cudgeled his brain to
understand what those strange actions of the third baseman could mean,
and who that sporty looking individual, whom he had with his own eyes
seen talking so mysteriously to Fred might be.



"Did you ever see such an enormous crowd?"

"Beats everything that ever happened around Chester all hollow!"

"Talk to me about excitement, the old town has gone stark, staring crazy
over baseball; and it's all owing to Jack Winters coming to Chester, and
shaking the dry bones of what used to be a Sleepy Hollow place."

"Right you are, Pete, and this is only a beginning of the glorious
things scheduled to happen within the next six months or so. Already
there's great talk about a football eleven that will clean up things in
this neighborhood. We've got the right sort of stuff to make up a strong
team, too, remember."

"And, Oliver, when I hear them speak of ice hockey, and skating for
prizes, it gives me a heap of satisfaction, for you know I'm a crank on
winter sports. Because the boys of Chester didn't seem to enthuse over
such things has been the grief of my heart. But this day was certainly
made for a thrilling baseball game."

"Oh! the sky looks blue enough, and that sun is some hot, I admit, but
somehow I don't exactly like the looks of yonder bank of clouds that
keeps hanging low-down close to the horizon in the southwest. We get
most of our big storms from that quarter, don't forget."

A burst of derisive boyish laughter greeted this remark from the fellow
named Oliver, who apparently was a bit of a pessimist, one of those who,
while admitting that a day might be nearly perfect, chose to remember it
was apt to be a weather-breeder, and bound to be followed by stormy

"Listen to the old croaker, will you?" one Chester rooter called out.
"How anybody could pick a flaw with this splendid day beats me all
hollow. Why, it was made on purpose for Chester to lick that boasting
Harmony team, and send them back home like dogs, with their tails
between their legs. Hurrah for Chester! Give the boys a cheer, fellows,
because there they come on the field."

There was a wild burst of shouts from a myriad of boyish throats, and
school flags, as well as other kinds, were waved from the grand-stand
where most of the town girls sat, until the whole wooden affair seemed a
riot of color in motion.

The boys set to work passing the ball, and calling to one another as
though they were full of business and confidence. Those in the audience
who knew considerable about games felt that at least none of the home
team suffered from stage fright. It looked promising. Evidently Jack
Winters had managed to instill his nine with a fair degree of his own
bubbling animation. They certainly looked fit to do their best in honor
of their native town.

There were hosts of the Harmony folks over. They had come, and still
arrived, in all sorts of conveyances, from private cars to stages and
carryalls; and from the great row they kicked up with their calls and
school cries, one might think it was an open-and-shut thing Chester was
fated to get a terrible drubbing on that decisive day.

There were thousands on the field. Every seat in the grand-stand, as
well as the commodious bleachers, was occupied, and countless numbers
who would have willingly paid for a chance to take things comfortable,
found it necessary to stand.

Chester had reason to feel proud of her awakening; and since it seemed
an assured fact that her boys could do things worth while, there was
reason to hope the town on Lake Constance would never again allow
herself to sink back into her former condition of somnolence. So long as
Jack Winters lived there, it might be understood first and last that
such a catastrophe would never happen.

All eyes were upon the new pitcher who was yet to prove his worth. Most
of those gathered to see the game only knew of Alec Donohue as a
youngster who had been playing on the sand-lots, as that section near
the factories was usually called, for there the toilers in the iron
foundry and the mills were in the habit of playing scrub games.

Jack had come across Donohue by accident, and apparently must have been
struck with the amazing speed and control that the boy showed in his
delivery. He had taken Alec under his wing from that day on, and coached
him, with the assistance of old Joe Hooker, until he felt confident he
had picked up a real wonder.

Various comments were flying around, most of them connected with the
newest member of the Chester team.

"One thing I like about that Donohue," a rangy scout of the high school
was saying to a companion wearing glasses, and looking a bit effeminate,
though evidently quite fond of sport; "he acts as though he might be as
cool as a cucumber. Those Harmony fellows in the crowd will do their
level best to faze him, if ever he gets in a tight corner, and lots of
things are liable to happen through a hard-fought game."

"Oh! I asked Jack about that," observed the one with spectacles, "and he
assured me the fellow seemed absolutely devoid of nerves. Nothing under
the sun can bother him. He banks on Jack, and knows the captain has
confidence in his work; so you'll see how all the jeering and whooping
and stamping on the boards of the grand-stand will fail to upset him.
Jack says he's an _iceberg_."

"Glad to hear it, Specs. That kind of pitcher always has a big lead over
the fellow who gets excited as soon as the enemy begins to lambast his
favorite curves. The cool sort just changes his gait, and lobs them over
between, so that he has the hard batters wasting their energy on the air
long before the ball gets across the rubber."

"Listen to all that whooping, Ernest; what's happening, do you think?"

"Well, by the way they're standing up on the seats, and waving hats and
handkerchiefs, I rather guess the Harmony players are coming along."

His guess proved to be a true one, for a minute afterwards a big
motor-stage entered the enclosure, and from it jumped a dozen or more
athletic chaps clad in the spic-and-span white suits with blue stockings
that distinguished the Harmony baseball team.

Paying little or no attention to all the wild clamor, they ran out on
the near field and commenced flinging several balls back and forth with
astonishing vigor. From time to time the boys from the rival town would
wave a hand at some enthusiastic friend who was trying to catch their
eye from his position in the stand, or on the bleachers.

The band had accompanied them aboard another vehicle. It now burst out
with that same encouraging tune "Lo! the Conquering Hero Comes!" though
the strains could hardly be heard above the roar of many lusty voices
trying to drown each other out.

Of a truth, Chester had never seen such a wonderful day. It seemed as
though the wand of a magician must have been manipulated to awaken the
hitherto sleepy town to such real, throbbing life. And every boy in the
place, yes, and girl also, not to mention hundreds of grown-ups who were
thrilled with such a magnificent spectacle, had determined that this
would only be a beginning; and that Chester must, under no conditions,
be allowed to fall back into that old dead rut. Why, they had just begun
to discover what living meant, and learn what the right sort of a spirit
of sport will bring to a town.

It was now three, and after. The immense crowd began to grow impatient.
Both teams had occupied the diamond in practice for fifteen minutes
each, and many clever stunts were pulled off in clean pick-ups, and
wonderful throws, which called forth bravos from the admiring

Several pitchers on either side had also warmed up, and naturally the
new recruit, Donohue, was watched much more closely than those whose
offerings had been seen on previous occasions.

He made no effort to disclose what he had in the way of various balls,
his sole object, apparently, being to get his arm limbered up and in
condition. Still, occasionally, he would send one in that caused a gasp
to arise.

"Did you see that speed ball zip through the air, Specs?" demanded the
fellow who had been called Ernest by the one wearing glasses.

"I tried to follow it, but lost out," admitted the other, frankly. "It's
true, then, this Donohue must have a swift delivery, for I could always
follow the ball when McGuffey hurled his best; and seldom lost one that
speed-king Hendrix sent along. See how most of those Harmony chaps are
looking out of the tail of their eyes at our man."

"They're trying to size Donohue up, that's all," said the knowing
Ernest. "I've heard it said, though not able to vouch, for the truth of
the rumor, that they've had a scout over in Chester every day for a week

"What for?" asked Specs.

"Trying to get a line on Donohue's delivery so as to report whether he's
the wonder they've been told. But Jack was too clever for them, I guess.
They say he had his battery off practicing in secret most of the while;
and whenever Donohue did pitch for the local games he was held back.
That's why some people said they believed he must be over-rated, and
might prove a disappointment. But Jack only gave them the merry ha! ha!
and told them to wait and see."

"But it's long after three right now, and still no sign of the game
starting," continued Specs, a little anxiously.

"Yes," spoke up Oliver from his seat near by, "and, believe me, that
bank of clouds looks a mite higher than it did when the Harmony fellows
arrived. Unless they jig up right smart now, we'll get our jackets wet,
you mark my words."

The others scoffed at his dismal prediction. With that bright sun
shining up in the heavens, it did not seem possible that any such
radical change in the weather could take place within a couple of hours.

"Hey! Big Bob, what's the matter with starting this game right away?"
called Ernest, as the stalwart right-fielder of the local team chanced
to be passing in the direction of the players' bench after chatting with

"Umpire hasn't shown up yet!" called the accommodating Bob, raising his
voice, as he knew hundreds were just as curious as Ernest concerning the
mysterious reason for play not having commenced. "He had a break-down
with his car on the way. Telephoned in that he would be half an hour
late, and for them to get another umpire if they couldn't wait that

"Well, apparently, they've decided to wait," said Specs, resignedly,
settling back in his seat for another fifteen minutes of listening to
the chatter of a Babel of tongues and merry laughter. "Good umpires are
almost as scarce as hens' teeth; and that Mr. Merrywether is reckoned as
fair and impartial as they make them. So the game will start half an
hour late after all!"

"Too bad!" Oliver was heard to say, with another apprehensive look in
the direction of the southwest, as though to measure the location of
that cloud bank with his weather-wise eye, and decide whether it gave
promise of stopping play, perhaps at a most interesting stage of the

Most of those present did not begrudge the half hour thus spent. Just
then none of them could even suspect how great an influence the lost
time might have in respect to the eventual close of a fiercely contested
game. But, as we shall see later on, it was fated that the dismal
prophecies of Oliver were to have some foundation; and time cut a figure
in the eventual outcome of that great day's rivalry on the diamond.



The crowd stood up again, and there arose a jargon of cries followed by
the appearance of a small wiry man dressed in blue, and wearing a cap
after the usual type umpires prefer, so it seemed as though the delayed
game would be quickly started.

When Hendrix, the expert hurler from Harmony, mowed down the first three
men who faced him, two by way of vain strikes at his deceptive curves,
and the other through a high foul, the shouts of the visitors told what
an immense number of Harmony people had come across to see their
favorites effectually stifle the rising ambition of Chester's athletes
on the diamond.

Then came the turn of the locals in the field. Everything depended now
on what Jack's new find could show in the way of pitching. Not an eye in
that vast throng but was leveled at the youngster. It was certainly
enough to try the nerve of any veteran, let alone a newcomer in the

When his first ball sped across with a speed that made it fairly sizzle,
many of the Chester rooters gave a shout of approval. Hutchings, the
reliable first baseman of the visitors, had struck vainly at the ball.
It was doubtful whether he had really seen it flash past, though it
landed with a thud in Mullane's big mitt.

But the knowing ones from afar only laughed, and nodded their wise
heads. They had seen speed before, and knew how often a pitcher "worked
his arm off" in the start of a game, to fall a victim to their heavy
batters later on. Unless this wonder of a youngster could stay with
Hendrix through inning after inning, why, his finish could be seen. So
they settled back in their seats with sighs of contentment, under the
conviction that they might see a good game after all.

"Hendrix needs something to make him pitch his head off," remarked one
of the visiting fans, in the hearing of Specs and Ernest. "He's taken
things too easy most of the time. Why, not once this season so far has
he been touched for as many hits as Chester got in the last game. It
made the big fellow wake up, and we hear he's been doing a lot of
practice lately. Today he ought to shine at his best."

"We all hope so, Mister," said Ernest, boldly, "because, unless the
signs fail, he's going to need all his cunning this same day. That lad
has the measure of your hard hitters already taken. Did you see him mow
down Clifford then like a weed? Why, he'll have the best of them eating
out of his hand before the day is done, believe me."

The gentleman only laughed. He could make allowances for a boy's natural
enthusiasm. They did not know Hendrix at his best, as the Harmony folks
did. He needed a little scare to force him to exert himself to the
utmost. Yes, it really promised to be something of a game, if only the
youngster kept going for half a dozen innings before he went to pieces,
and the ball commenced to fly to every far corner of the field.

When the play was called the two nines on the diamond were lined up as

       Chester                            Harmony
    --------------     -----------    --------------
    Jack Winters        First Base         Hatchings
    Phil Parker         Left Field          Clifford
    Herbert Jones      Second Base            Martin
    Joel Jackman       Centre Field         Oldsmith
    Toby Hopkins        Shortstop             Bailey
    Big Bob Jeffries   Right Field           O'Leary
    Fred Badger         Third Base             Young
    Steve Mullane        Catcher               Chase
    Alec Donohue         Pitcher             Hendrix

The first inning ended in no hits on either side. It looked very much as
though the game might turn out to be a pitchers' duel. Some people like
that sort of battle royal, but in the main the spectators would much
rather see a regular old-fashioned batting fest, especially if it is
_their_ side that is doing most of the hitting.

Again did Hendrix start in to dazzle the locals with an exhibition of
his wonderfully puzzling curves and drops. He certainly had them
guessing, and in vain did they try to get the ball out of the diamond.
Joel Jackman, the first man up, did manage to connect with the ball,
perhaps by sheer accident. At the crack everybody held his or her breath
and waited, for Joel was long-legged and a noted sprinter, so if only he
got on first there might be some hope of succeeding batters working him
around the circuit.

But Martin out near second made a leap, and snatched the ball off the
ground as easily as though it were a habit of his to get anything that
came within reach. He took his time to recover, and then sent the sphere
to first as accurately as a bullet fired from a rifle.

Toby fouled three times, and then whiffed; while the swatter of the
team, Big Bob, let a good one go by, and then vainly smote the air
twice, for his judgment was certainly at fault, and the ball not where
he thought it was.

Once again did Donohue step into the box, and after a few balls to
Mullane, the first batter, Oldsmith, strode forward swinging his club,
and looking especially dangerous. But when he only swung at the air, and
backed away from the plate, shaking his head as though puzzled to know
what it all meant, long and lusty yells broke out from the loyal Chester

Bailey, the alert little shortstop, managed to touch a whizzing ball,
and send up a skyrocketing foul which Mullane amidst great excitement
managed to get under, and smother in that big mitt of his.

Next in line came the terrible O'Leary. He was a swatter from away back,
and all sorts of stories were circulated as to the number of home runs
he had to his credit up to date.

Donohue looked perfectly cool and confident. He continued to send them
in with a dazzling delivery. O'Leary allowed two to pass by, one strike
being called on him by the alert umpire. Then he picked out a nice one,
and there was an awful sound as he smote it with all his might and main.

Every one jumped up, and necks were stretched in the endeavor to follow
the course of that wildly soaring ball, looking like a dot against the
low sky-line.

"A homer!" shrieked scores of delighted Harmony fans.

"Watch Joel! He's after it!" shouted the local rooters, also thrilled by
the spectacle of the long-legged centre fielder bounding over the ground
like a "scared rabbit," as some of them said to themselves.

They saw Joel jump into the air and make a motion with his hand. Then he
rolled over with a mighty lunge, but scrambled to his feet holding his
hand aloft, to almost immediately hurl the ball in to Jones on second.

It had been a terrific swat, likewise a most amazing catch; and all of
the yelling that burst forth was for Joel, who came trotting in,
grinning happily, as though he rather liked that sort of thing.

And so the great game went on, inning after inning, amidst excitement
that gripped every one present like a vise. When in the sixth Harmony
managed to get a man on first through a fluke Texas leaguer, and began
to work him along by bunt hitting, it looked dangerous for the locals.
In the end, the visitors scored through a slip on the part of Herb Jones
on second, who allowed the ball to get away from him because of his
nervousness. The run was not earned, but it might decide the game, many
people believed.

Jack put more ginger into his crowd when they went to bat in turn. The
result of it was he himself made a neat single, and the crowd woke up to
the fact that possibly Hendrix might not be so invincible as he was

Up stepped Phil Parker with a grin, and pasted the sphere out in short
left, advancing the runner a base with himself safely anchored on first.
Jones did his duty and bunted, so that while he went out the runners
were now on second and third with only one down.

It was amusing to see how the staid elderly men of Chester became
excited at this critical juncture of the game. They could hardly keep
their seats, and were watching the movements of those occupying the
diamond as though the fate of nations depended on the outcome of this
bitter rivalry in sport.

Joel Jackman was next. He, too, connected with the ball, but, alas, only
to send up a tremendous foul that was promptly caught, after a smart
run, by Clifford in short left field.

Everything depended on Toby Hopkins now. Toby was not known as a heavy
hitter, but managed to connect frequently. He was due for a hit, the
crowd yelled at him; whereupon the obliging Toby shot a swift one
straight at Young on third. It was a hard ball to trap, and Young
juggled it. Jack started like a blue streak for home as soon as he saw
Toby had connected. He made a slide that carried him over the rubber
just before Chase had the ball. It meant that the score was tied, with
men on first and third, and two out.

Such shouts as broke forth, the very air seemed to quiver. Hope ran high
as Bob Jeffries stepped up, swinging his bat. Alas! he failed miserably
to connect with those puzzling curves of Hendrix, and after two vain
strikes popped up a little infield fly to the pitcher that, of course,
finished the exciting inning.

The game went on, without any more scoring until finally the ninth
inning came. Both pitchers were doing as well or better than in the
start, and it looked as though extra innings would be the rule. Such an
outcome to a game always arouses great enthusiasm among the spectators.
A few began to notice the fact that the sun was long since hidden by the
rising clouds, and that overhead the blue had given place to a gray that
looked suggestive of trouble.

Oliver in particular called attention to the fact that no matter how the
other fellows had made fun of his prediction about the weather, it was
likely to come true after all. If the game went into extra innings some
of that mighty host of spectators might get soaking wet before they
could find shelter.

Harmony was out to win the game in this inning. They had managed to get
a line on Donohue's speed ball, or else guessed when it was coming over,
for the first man up, Clifford, got a safety past short that Toby only
stopped by such an effort that he rolled over, and by the time he could
deliver the ball to Jack the runner had gone leaping past the bag and
was safe.

Pandemonium broke loose just then. The Harmony crowd yelled and whooped
and carried on as though a legion of real lunatics had broken out of an
asylum near by.

"Here's where we clinch the game, Chester!"

"It's all over!"

"Martin, your turn to swat the bean!"

"Get Donohue going at last. The best pitcher may go to the wall once too
often, especially the Harmony well!"

"Now make it three this inning, boys, and we'll forgive you for holding
back all this time!"

These and dozens of other cries could be heard. They were partly
intended to flustrate the Chester slab-artist, and make him send in the
ball wildly, so that the next man might be given his base, something
that had only occurred once thus far with Donohue. But Jack sent him a
cheering word, and Donohue seemed as cool as ice as he proceeded to
serve Captain Martin with his choice swift ones.



Through the game, Jack had been observing just how Fred Badger carried
himself. Since hits were so few and far between thus far, he had not had
a great deal to do in the field. Once he ran in on a bunt, and got it to
first in time to cut off the runner. No one could have carried out the
play in better shape. Another time he took a hot liner straight off the
bat, and received a salvo of cheers from the crowd, always pleased to
see such clever play, no matter on which side it occurs.

At bat Fred had not succeeded in shining brilliantly. Hendrix was
apparently a puzzle to him, as to many another player. He struck out
twice, and perished on a foul another time; but there could be no doubt
Fred was trying his best to get in a drive that might be effectual.

Jack noticed that he often cast glances in the direction of the
grand-stand where a number of enthusiastic Chester girls sat, and waved
their flags or handkerchiefs whenever anything occurred that aroused
their admiration. He remembered that pretty Molly Skinner was seated
there. Fred evidently had not forgotten that fact either, and Jack found
himself hoping it might have considerable influence with the sorely
tempted third baseman, in case he were finally put to the test.

Martin was apparently out for a hit, if one could judge from his
determined attitude as he stood there at the plate, and swung his bat
back and forth in his own peculiar fashion, meanwhile watching the
pitcher like a hawk.

The coaching had become vehement, Harmony players seeking to unnerve
Donohue by running back and forth around first, until the umpire called
a halt on this proceeding, after Jack had drawn his attention to the
infringement of the rules.

Then Martin swung. He missed connection, and a groan arose from his
crowd, while the Chester contingent cheered Donohue lustily. But Martin
only smiled. Such a little thing as that was not going to faze him. He
had still two more chances, and the next time he would make more

A deathly silence fell upon the crowd, waiting to see whether Harmony
could pull the game out of the fire in the ninth, as had happened
several times that same season, for they were famous on account of their

Martin had a second strike called on him, though he made no effort to go
after the ball. In fact, it must have passed him so speedily that he
could not properly gauge whether it would be a strike or a ball.

Then suddenly Donohue, taking his cue from a motion Jack made, changed
his pace. Although he went through exactly the same gyrations as though
about to send up another swift one, the ball came lazily floating
through the air, and Martin was seen to viciously stab with his bat long
before there was any chance to make connections.

Bedlam broke loose again at that. Auto horns and sirens tooted
strenuously, boys shrieked through megaphones, girls waved their flags
furiously, and Donohue was greeted with encouraging shouts from every
side. Really, he was working wonderfully well considering that he could
be called a newcomer to the diamond. In time he was certain to make a
name for himself among the big clubs, if some wandering scout ever heard
of him, and visited Chester to size his work up.

But here came Oldsmith, and there was that about his manner to proclaim
how his whole heart was bent on making at least a single, if not better,
so that Harmony might break the tie, and get the home team on the run.

"Take him into camp, Alec!"

"You've got his measure all right, old scout! Twice before he whiffed,
and he's in line to make it three times!"

"Feed him your best sizzlers, Donohue!"

"Oldsmith, you're a back number today, don't you know?"

Then they heard the bat connect with the ball. Clifford was off toward
second in great style. Toby Hopkins threw himself and managed to stop
the shoot that was headed for centre, but he could not get to Jones on
second in time to nail the runner, for the umpire held up his hand, and
that meant Clifford was safe.

Again things began to look dark for Chester. Harmony had "found" Donohue
at last, it seemed, and there could be no telling when the salvo of hits
could stop. Perhaps the game would be "sewed up" right there, in case
Harmony scored, and Hendrix shut his opponents out when their turn at
bat came.

Now it was Bailey up.

The little shortstop was primed for anything. He struck at the first
ball, and knocked a foul which dropped safe. Then he missed the next
ball so that he was "two in the hole." Of course it was expected that
Donohue would now try to deceive him by tempting him with a curve that
would be wide of the plate; but Jack had signaled for a third one
straight, and it came with swiftness.

Bailey was ready, however, and knew he had to strike, for it would count
against him at any rate. He got a fluke hit that started toward first.
By jumping in Jack managed to pick up the ball, and then having touched
the bag, he hurled it toward second in hopes of making a double play.

Oldsmith, however, had made a fine slide, and was clutching the corner
of the second sack when Jones took the ball; while Clifford had won

There were now two down, with men on second and third.

Everything depended on the next batter, and when it was seen to be that
formidable slugger O'Leary, the home-run maker, how those Harmony
rooters did scream. Some of the more irresponsible took to dancing like
idiots, clasped in each other's arms. In fact, every known device for
"rattling" a pitcher was resorted to, of course legitimately, in order
to further their waning cause.

Eagerly did many of the local fans watch to see whether Donohue gave any
evidence of going to pieces. He seemed as cool as ever, and smiled as he
handled the ball; while O'Leary was knocking his big bat on the ground
to test its reliability, as though he meant to put it to some good
service then and there. He was seen to turn his head and grin toward
some of his ardent admirers in the bleachers back of him. By this means
he doubtless informed them that he had been only playing with the
tenderfoot pitcher hitherto, and would now proceed to show what strength
lay in those muscular arms of his.

Jack waved the fielders back. He anticipated that O'Leary was due for
one of his famous lengthy drives, and it was necessary that those
guarding the outer gardens should be in position to make a great run,
once the ball left the bat. Still, he continued to feel fairly confident
that Donohue would recover from his temporary set-back, and possibly
deceive O'Leary, as he had done twice before.

He realized that the crisis he had feared was now upon them. If O'Leary
sent a scorcher toward Fred, how would the third baseman handle it?
Clifford knew what was expected of him, and already part way home on the
movement of the pitcher winding up to throw, he would shoot along at the
crack of the bat, taking his chances, since there were already two down.

He saw O'Leary actually turn his head slightly and take a quick look
toward third as though making up his mind just where he wanted to send
the ball, should he be able to connect with the horse-hide sphere. Jack
felt a cold chill pass over him. Could it be possible that O'Leary
actually _knew_ there was a weak link in the chain made by the
infield, and figured on taking advantage of Fred's intended treachery?

At that moment it seemed as though Jack lived years, so many things
flashed into his mind. He even remembered how earlier in the game two
men, strangers in town, had made themselves obnoxious by standing up in
the bleacher seats and shaking handfuls of greenbacks, daring Chester
people to back their favorites at odds of three to four. They had been
spotted almost immediately, and the mayor of Chester ordered them to
desist under penalty of being arrested, since it was against the law of
the town for any sort of wagering to be indulged in.

The presence of the local police, and their movement toward the spot had
resulted in the two sporty looking strangers subsiding. Some of the
Harmony boys, however, scoffed at such Puritanical methods of procedure,
since over at their town things were allowed to run wide open; or at
least winked at by the authorities.

Jack had been too far away to make sure, but he had a suspicion that one
of the pair of betting men looked very much like the party with whom he
had seen Fred Badger in close conversation, and who had offered him a
paper to sign, after which something passed between them that might have
been money, though Jack had not been absolutely certain about that part
of it.

Deep down in his heart, Jack hoped most earnestly that the chance for
Fred to soil his hands with any crooked work might not arise. It would
be all right, for instance, if only Donohue could strike the great
O'Leary out for the third time. Then again perhaps even though the
batter managed to connect with the ball, he might be unable to send it
straight toward Fred. It was liable to go in any other direction, and if
a tally should result from the blow, at least it could not be placed to
a supposed error on the part of Badger.

Donohue delivered his first one wide of the plate. O'Leary laughed, and
nodded his head, as though to tell the pitcher he was too old a bird to
be caught with such chaff.

"Make him put it over, Dan!"

"Knock the stuffing out of the ball, O'Leary!"

"One of your old-time homers is what we need, remember!"

"You've got his number, Dan; don't bite at a wide one!"

"You'll walk, all right; he's afraid of you, old scout!"

All these and many other cries could be heard, but the players were
paying no attention to the crowd now. Every fielder was "on his toes,"
so to speak, anticipating that it might be up to him to save the day. In
the main, the crowd was so anxious over the outcome of the next ball
from the pitcher that they almost forgot to breathe, only watching the
pitcher wind up preparatory to making his throw.

Jack saw Fred give one of his quick looks toward the spot where pretty
Molly Skinner sat. He hoped it meant that he had resolved to be staunch
and true to his team-mates, and loyal to his native town, despite any
terrible temptation that may have come to him in the shape of a big

O'Leary had a peculiar crouch at the plate. His odd attitude made Jack
think of a squatty spider about to launch itself at a blue-bottled fly
that had ventured too near his corner. No doubt it accounted in some
measure for his swatting ability, as he would necessarily put the whole
force of his body in his blow. Often when he missed connections he would
whirl all the way around; and then recovering make a humorous gesture
toward his admirers in the crowd, for O'Leary, being Irish, was almost
always in good humor, no matter what happened.

He let the first ball speed past for a strike, and higher rose the
excitement. The umpire called the second one a ball, which evened
matters a little. Next came "strike two," and yet the great O'Leary
waited, while his admirers began to feel fainthearted, fearing that he
would stand there and be counted down when everything depended on his
making a hit.

Then there came an awful crack! O'Leary had picked out just the kind of
a ball he wanted. It must have left his bat like a bullet, and Jack felt
himself turn cold when he realized that the ball was headed straight as
a die for Fred Badger!



A terrible roar broke forth from thousands of throats. Jack had actually
closed his eyes for just a second, unable to witness what might be a
plain palpable muff on the part of the tempted Fred. As he opened them
again, unmindful of the fact that the batter was rushing toward him with
all possible speed, he saw that while Fred had knocked the ball down he
had also made a quick recovery.

Just then, he was in the act of hurling it toward home, where Mullane
had braced himself to receive the throw, and tag the oncoming runner
out. Should Fred veer ever so little from a direct line throw he would
pull the catcher aside, and thus give Clifford the opportunity he wanted
to slide home.

Away went the ball. Jack held his breath. He saw Mullane, reliable old
Mullane, make a quick movement with his hands, and then throwing himself
forward, actually fall upon the prostrate and sliding form of the
Harmony lad.

"You're out!"

That was the umpire making his decision. Not one of the Harmony fellows
as much as lifted a voice to dispute the verdict; in the first place,
they knew Mr. Merrywether too well to attempt browbeating him at the
risk of being taken out of the game; then again every one with eyes
could see that Clifford had been three feet away from the plate when
Mullane tagged him with the ball.

How the crowd did carry on. A stranger chancing on the spot might have
thought Pershing's gallant little army had managed to capture the
Kaiser, or crossed the Rhine on its way to Berlin. Indeed, those
"whoopers" could not have made more noise to the square inch under any

And Jack's one thought was gratitude that after all Fred had been able
to come through the great test with his honor unsullied. He had shot the
ball as straight as a die at Mullane; and the game was still anybody's
so far as victory was concerned.

They played a tenth inning, and still not a runner so much as reached
second. Really both pitchers seemed to be getting constantly better,
strange to say, for they mowed the batters down in succession, or else
caused them to pop up fouls that were readily captured by the first or
third basemen, or the man behind the bat.

This was not so wonderful on the part of the veteran Hendrix, for he was
well seasoned in the game, and had been known to figure in a
thirteen-inning deal, coming out ahead in the end when his opponent
weakened. Everybody, however, declared it to be simply marvelous that a
greenhorn slab-artist like young Donohue should prove to be the
possessor of so much stamina.

The eleventh inning went through in quick order. Still the tie remained
unbroken, though Jack managed to get a single in his turn at bat. Phil
Parker also rapped a ferocious screamer across the infield, but hit into
a double that ended the hopeful rally at bat.

When the twelfth opened up, a number of people were seen to start away.
They may have been enthusiastic fans enough, but the day was waning,
home might be far distant, and they did not like the way those clouds
had rolled up, promising a storm sooner or later.

The sun was out of sight long since, and objects could not be determined
as easily as when the game began. Every little while that weather-sharp,
Oliver, would take a sailor-like squint aloft, and chuckle to himself.
Indeed, Specs, his companion, was of the opinion that Oliver would be
willing to cheerfully take a good ducking if he could only have his
scorned prediction prove a true shot.

There were those present so intent on the game that they paid no
attention to the gathering clouds, and the fact that it was getting
difficult to see the ball. This latter fact was depended on to help
bring matters to a focus, because errors were more likely to occur, any
one of which might prove sufficient to let in the winning run.

But if the fielders were thus handicapped, the batters had their own
troubles. They could not distinguish the fast-speeding ball as it shot
by, and consequently were apt to whack away at anything, so strike-outs
must become the order of the day.

The twelfth ended with nothing doing on either side. By now some of the
boys were beginning to tire out, for the long strain was telling on
them. These fellows of weak hearts were willing to have the game called
a draw, which must be played over again at Harmony on the succeeding
Saturday. As playing on the home ground is usually considered a great
advantage, because the players are accustomed to every peculiarity of
the field, Harmony would reap more or less profit from having the
postponed game on their diamond. And consequently, when they trooped out
for the finish of the thirteenth inning, several of them seemed to have
conspired to delay play as much as possible.

This they did in various ways. One fellow made out to have received a
slight injury, and the umpire called time until a companion could wrap a
rag around the scratched finger. Doubtless he would hardly like to show
the extent of his hurt, but the wide grin on his face after the tedious
operation had been concluded, told the truth; indeed, most of those
present were able to guess his object.

Then just as they settled down to play, another fielder called for time
while he knelt down to fasten his shoe-lace which seemed to have come
undone, and might trip him at a critical time when he was racing for a

The crowd yelled and jeered, but in spite of all, Clifford took a full
minute and more to effect his purpose. Finally, rising, he waved his
hand to the umpire to let him know the game could now proceed.

The crowd knew that Harmony was fighting for time, anxious now to have
the game called a draw, so that they might have another chance on their
home grounds. Such yelling as took place. Harmony was loudly accused of
weakening, and trying to crawl out of a tight hole. Loud calls were made
for Big Bob at bat to knock one over the fence and lose the ball for

He did his best, and every one leaped up when the sound of his bat
striking the pellet sounded above all other noises. The ball went
screeching over second, and apparently was tagged for a three-bagger at
least; but Oldsmith had been playing deep when he saw who was up, and by
making a most desperate effort he managed to clutch the ball just in

That was the expiring effort on the part of Chester. The other two
batters went out in quick order just as the first few drops of rain
started to fall.

It was now getting quite gloomy, and a hurried consultation between the
umpire and the rival captains resulted in Mr. Merrywether announcing
through a megaphone that the game would have to be declared a draw,
which tie must be played off at Harmony, according to previous
arrangements, on the following Saturday.

Then the vast crowd commenced to scatter in a great hurry, fearful lest
the rain start falling and drench them. There was more or less confusion
as scores of cars and carryalls rushed along the road leading to
Harmony, distant ten miles or more. Since everybody hurried, the grounds
were soon deserted save by a few who remained to look after things.

Jack and several of the boys would have lingered to talk matters over,
but the lateness of the hour and the overcast sky forbade such a thing,
so they, too, headed for their various homes.

Jack, however, did manage to locate Fred, and made it a point to
overtake the other on the road. He linked his arm with that of the third
baseman, and dropped into step.

"I want to say, Fred, that stop and throw of yours saved the day for
Chester," he told the other. "If you had drawn Steve a foot away from
home Clifford would have slid safe, for he was coming like a hurricane.
Chester will remember that fine work of yours for a long time. And the
girls, Fred, why I thought they'd have a fit, they carried on so. I'm
sure you pleased some of your best friends a whole lot by being
Johnny-on-the-spot today!"

"Thank you for saying it, anyhow, Jack," the other was saying, and
somehow Jack could not help thinking Fred did not show just as much
gratification as most fellows would have done at being so highly

But then, he must make allowances. If matters were as desperate as he
suspected, poor Fred must by now be feeling the effect of having allowed
his chance for securing all that money, so badly needed in order to help
his mother, slip through his fingers. Now that all the excitement had
died away, and he found himself face to face with the old question, with
the prospect of seeing his mother's tired looks again reproaching him,
Fred must be wondering whether he had after all chosen wisely in letting
honor take the place of duty.

So Jack commenced to chatter about the game, and how proud Chester folks
would be of the young athletes who represented the town that day.

"It's pretty evident, you must see, Fred," he continued, after thus
arousing the other's interest, "that our big task of getting
subscriptions toward building or renting a building for a club-house and
gymnasium has been helped mightily by the clever work done this day. I
heard of three influential gentlemen who had declared they were willing
to take a hand, just because such determined and hard-playing boys stood
in need of such an institution."

"Yes, Chester has been away behind the times in looking after the morals
and requirements of her young people," admitted Fred. "There's Marshall
with its fine Y. M. C. A. building and gym., and even Harmony has a
pretty good institution where the young fellows can belong, and spend
many a winter's evening in athletic stunts calculated to build up their
bodies, and make them more healthy."

"Well, believe me, the day is about to dawn when Chester will be put on
the map for the same stuff," asserted Jack, not boastingly, but with
full confidence; "and these splendid baseball matches we're pulling off
nowadays are bound to help to bring that same event to pass. Men who had
almost forgotten that they used to handle a bat in their kid days have
had their old enthusiasm for the national sport of America revived.
Depend upon it, Fred, in good time we'll be playing football, hockey,
basketball, and every sort of thing that goes to make up the life of a
healthy boy."

In this fashion did the pair talk as they hurried along. The drops were
beginning to come down faster now, showing that when the game was
called, it had been a very wise move, for many people must otherwise
have been caught in the rain.

Fred seemed to be fairly cheerful at the time Jack shook his hand again,
and once more congratulated him on his fine work for the team. Looking
back after they had parted, Jack saw the boy stop at his door and
hesitate about entering, which seemed to be a strange thing for a member
of the gallant baseball team that had covered themselves with glory on
that particular day to do.

But then Jack could guess how possibly Fred might be feeling his heart
reproach him again because he had chosen his course along the line of
honor. He must get a grip on himself before he could pass in and see
that weary look on her face. Jack shook his head as he hurried on to his
own house. He felt that possibly the crisis in Fred's young life had,
after all, only been postponed, and not altogether passed. That terrible
temptation might come to him again, more powerful than ever; and in the
game at Harmony, if a choice were given him, would he be just as able to
resist selling himself as he had on this wonderful day?



It was just three days afterwards when Jack saw his two chums again. On
Sunday morning his father had occasion to start to a town about thirty
miles distant, to see a sick aunt who depended on him for advice. She
had sent word that he must fetch Jack along with him, Jack being the old
lady's special favorite and probably heir to her property.

Jack's father was a lawyer, and often had trips to make in connection
with real estate deals, and estates that were located in distant parts.
Consequently, it was nothing unusual for him to receive a sudden call.
Jack might have preferred staying in Chester, where things were
commencing to grow pretty warm along the line of athletics, his favorite
diversion. His parents, however, believed it would be unwise to offend
the querulous old dame who was so crotchetty that she might take it into
her head to change her will, and leave everything to some society for
the amelioration of the condition of stray cats. It would be a great
pity to have all that fine property go out of the Winters' family, they
figured; and perhaps they were wise in thinking that way; little Jack
cared about it, not being of a worldly mind.

So when he sighted Toby and Steve on the afternoon of his return, he
gave the pair a hail, and quickly joined them on the street.

"Glad you've got back home, Jack, sure I am," said Toby, the first

"Why," added Steve, "we didn't even get a chance to compare notes with
you about that great game on Saturday, though Toby and myself have
talked the subject threadbare by now."

"And one thing we both agree about, Jack," continued Toby, with a grin.

"What's that?" demanded the other.

"Fred saved the day when he stopped that terrible line drive of O'Leary,
and shot the ball home as straight as a die. No professional player
could possibly have done it a shade better, I'm telling you."

"It was a grand play," admitted Jack, "and I told Fred so while we
walked home together."

Steve looked keenly at him when Jack said this.

"Oh! then you got a chance to talk with Fred after the game, did you?"
he ventured to say, in a queer sort of way. "How did Fred act then,

"Well, I must say he didn't impress me as being over-enthusiastic,"
admitted Jack. "You see, he had done his whole duty in the heat of
action, and after he had a chance to cool off and realize what he had
lost, he may have felt a touch of remorse, for he certainly does love
that poor mother of his a heap. I can understand just how he must be
having a terrible struggle in his mind as to what is the right course
for him to pursue."

At that Toby gave a snort that plainly told how he was beginning to
doubt certain things in which he had hitherto fully believed.

"Now, looky here, Jack," he started to say good-humoredly, "don't you
reckon that you might have been mistaken in thinking poor Fred was
dickering with some of those men to throw the game, so they could make
big money out of if? Why, after all, perhaps his looking so dismal comes
from his feeling so bad about his mother. We ought to give him the
benefit of the doubt, I say."

"I sometimes feel that way myself, Toby, don't you know?" acknowledged
Jack in his usual frank fashion. "And yet when I consider the
conditions, and remember how suspiciously Fred acted with that
sporty-looking gentleman, I find myself owning up that it looks bad for
the boy. But at any rate he succeeded in fighting his own battle, and
winning a victory over his temptation."

"But, Jack, I'm afraid he's bound to have to go through the whole
business again," interposed Steve.

"Do you know I more than half suspected you had got wind of something
new in the affair, Steve," Jack told him. "I could see how your eyes
glistened as you listened to what Toby here was saying; and once or
twice you opened your mouth to interrupt him, but thought better of it.
Now tell us what it means, Steve."

"For one thing, that man has been at Fred again," asserted the other,

"Do you know this for a certainty?" Jack asked.

"Why, I saw them talking, I tell you," explained Steve, persistently.
"This is how it came about. You see, yesterday, as Toby here couldn't go
fishing with me I started off alone, taking my bait pail and rod along,
and bent on getting a mess of perch at a favorite old fishin' hole I
knew along the shore of the lake about a mile or so from town."

"Meaning that same place you showed me, near where the road comes down
close to the shore of the water?" suggested Toby, quickly.

"Right you are, son," continued Steve, nodding his head as he spoke.
"Well, I had pretty fair luck for a while, and then the perch quit
taking hold, so I sat down to wait till they got hungry again. And while
I squatted there on the log that runs out over the water at my favorite
hole, I heard the mutter of voices as some people came slowly along the

"First I didn't pay much attention to the sounds, believing that just as
like as not it was a couple of town boys, and I didn't like the idea of
their finding out where I got such heavy strings of fish once in so
often. And then as they passed closer to me something familiar in one of
the voices made me twist my head around.

"Well, it was Fred Badger, all right, walking along with that same
sporty-looking stranger. And say, he isn't such a bad-looking customer
after all, Jack, when you get a close look at him, being gray-bearded,
and a bit halting in his walk like he might have been injured some time
or other. It's more the clothes he wears that give him the sporty
appearance, though, if you say he's one of that betting bunch up at
Harmony, he must be a bad lot.

"They had their heads together, and seemed to be discussing something at
a great rate. I couldn't hear what they said, the more the pity, for it
might have given us a line on the whole silly business; but the man
seemed trying to convince Fred about something, and the boy was arguing
kind of feebly as if ready to give in. Well, something tempted me to
give a cough after I'd stood up on the log. Both of 'em looked that way
in a hurry. I waved my hand at Fred, and he answered my signal, but
while you might have expected that he'd come back to ask what luck I
had, and mebbe introduce his friend, he didn't do that same by a
jugfull. Fact is he said something to the man, and the two of them
hurried along the road."

Jack felt his heart grow heavy again. He was taking a great interest in
the affairs of Fred Badger, and would be very much shocked should the
other fall headlong into the net that seemed to be spread for his young

"I know for one thing," he told the others, "I'll be mighty glad when
that tie game is played off with Harmony, no matter which side wins the
verdict. And I hope Fred is given no such chance to choose between right
and wrong as came his way last Saturday. If those men increase the bribe
his scruples may give way. And if only Fred could understand that his
mother would utterly refuse to profit by his dishonor, he might have his
heart steeled to turn the tempters down."

"Then, Jack, why don't you try and figure out how you could put it up to
Fred that way?" urged Toby, eagerly.

"I've tried to think how it could be done without offending him, or
allowing him to suspect that I know what he's going through," mused
Jack. "There might be a way to mention a hypothetical case, as though it
were some other fellow I once knew who had the same kind of choice put
up to him, and took the wrong end, only to have his father or sister,
for whom he had sinned, reproach him bitterly, and refuse to accept
tainted money."

"Gee whiz! it does take you to hatch up ways and means, Jack!" exclaimed
Toby, delightedly. "Now, I should say that might be a clever stunt. You
can warn him without making him feel that you're on to his game. Figure
it out, Jack, and get busy before next Saturday comes, won't you?"

"Yes," added Steve, "Fred Badger is too good a fellow to let drop. We
need him the worst kind to fill that gap at third. Besides, suspecting
what we do, it would be a shame for us not to hold out a helping hand to
a comrade who's up against it good and hard."

"What you say, Steve, does your big heart credit," remarked Jack, "but
it might be wise for us to drop our voices a little, because somehow we
have wandered on, and are right now getting pretty close to Fred's home,
which you know lies just on the other side of that clump of bushes."

"Did you steer us this way on purpose, Jack!" demanded Toby,

"Why, perhaps I had a little notion of stopping in and seeing Mrs.
Badger," admitted the other, chuckling. "In fact, my mother commissioned
me to fetch this glass of home-made preserves over to her, knowing that
Fred's mother has not been at all well. Yes, I own up I was influential
in making her think that way, and was on my way when I ran across you

"Huh! I wouldn't be at all surprised, Jack!" declared Toby, "if you had
a scheme in your mind right now to put a crimp in this foolishness on
the part of Fred Badger."

"I'm not saying I haven't, remember, fellows," laughed the other, who
evidently did not mean to show his full hand just then. "When the time
comes perhaps I'll let you in on this thing. I want to do some more
thinking first, though. Many a good idea is wasted because it isn't
given a foundation in the beginning. Now, suppose you boys wait for me
here while I step around and leave this little comfit with Mrs. Badger
with my mother's compliments."

"Just as you say, Jack," muttered Steve, looking rather unhappy because
lie was not to be taken wholly into the confidence of the other. "Don't
stay too long, though, unless you mean to tell us all that happens in

Jack only smiled in return, and stepped forward. His comrades saw him
suddenly draw back as though he had made a discovery. Then turning
toward them, he beckoned with his hand, at the same time holding up a
warning finger as though telling them not to make the least noise.

"Now, what's in the wind, Jack?" whispered Toby, as they reached the
side of the other.

"Take a peek and see who's here!" Jack told them.

At that both the others advanced cautiously and stared beyond the big
clump of high bushes. They almost immediately shrank back again, and the
look on their faces announced the receipt of quite a shock.

"Great Cæsar! is that chap the man you've both been talking about, tell
me?" asked Toby, half under his breath.

"He is certainly the party I saw Fred talking with so mysteriously,"
asserted Jack, positively.

"And the same fellow who was walking along the road with Fred while I
sat on my log, fishing," added Steve, convincingly.

"But what under the sun is he doing out here near Fred's house, leaning
on that fence, and keeping tabs on the little Badger home, I'd like to
know?" Toby went on to say, wonder written in big letters on his face.



"Let's watch and see what it all means?" suggested Steve, quickly.

Even Jack did not seem averse to doing that same thing. In fact, his
curiosity had been aroused to fever pitch by so unexpectedly discovering
the very man of whom they had been lately talking hovering around poor
Fred's home in such a suspicious fashion.

Peeping around the high bushes again, they saw him leaning idly on the
picket fence. He seemed to have a stout cane, and was smoking a cigar,
though in his undoubted eagerness to keep "tabs" on the humble house he
forgot to draw smoke from the weed between his teeth.

"I must say this is going it pretty strong," grumbled Toby, half under
his breath; "to have that chap prowling around Fred's home, just like he
was afraid the boy'd get out of his grip, and so meant to find a
stronger hold on him."

"That's it," assented Steve; "he wants to learn why Fred seems to hold
back. He means to meet the little mother, and the two small girls, one
of 'em a cripple in the bargain. It's a shame that he should push
himself in on that family, and he a city sport in the bargain. We ought
to find a way to chase him out of town, don't you think, Jack?"

"Hold up, and perhaps we may learn something right now," whispered the
other, after a hasty look; "because there's Fred's mother coming out of
the door."

"Gee whiz! can she be meaning to meet this man?" ventured Toby,
apparently appalled by his own suspicion.

"Well, hardly likely," Jack told him, "because the man has ducked down
as if he didn't want to be seen by her, though he's looking like
everything all the while."

"That's little Barbara Badger, the five-year-old sister of Fred," Steve
was saying. "She's got a basket on her arm, too, and I reckon her ma is
sending her to the store down the street for a loaf of bread, or
something like that. Everybody seems to agree that Barbara is the most
winsome little girl in the whole of Chester."

"Barring none," admitted Toby, immediately. "Why, she's just like a
little golden-haired fairy, my dad says, and since he's something of an
artist he ought to know when he sees one. Yep, you were right, Steve,
the child is going after something at the store. I wonder now would that
wretch have the nerve to stop Barbara, and try to get some information
from the little thing?"

"What if he tries to kidnap her?" suggested Steve, suddenly, doubling up
his sturdy looking fist aggressively, as though to indicate that it
would not be safe for the stranger to attempt such a terrible thing
while he was within hearing distance.

"Oh! I hardly think there's any fear of that happening," Jack assured
the aggressive member of the trio. "But he acts now as if he meant to
drop back here out of sight, so perhaps we'd better slip around this
bunch of bushes so he won't learn how we've been watching him."

Suiting their actions to Jack's words, the three boys quickly "made
themselves scarce," which was no great task when such an admirable
hiding-place as that stack of bushes lay conveniently near by. Sure
enough, the stranger almost immediately came around the clump and made
sure that it hid him from the small cottage lying beyond. Jack, taking a
look on his own account from behind the bushes, saw that Mrs. Badger had
started to reenter the house; while pretty little Barbara was
contentedly trudging along the cinder pavement.

Evidently the child was quite accustomed to doing errands of this nature
for her mother, when Fred did not happen to be around; nor was it likely
that Mrs. Badger once dreamed Barbara might get into any sort of
trouble, for the neighborhood, while not fashionable, was at least said
to be safe, and honest people dwelt there.

"He's staring as hard as anything at Barbara," whispered Toby, who had
been peeping. "Why, he acts for all the world like he could fairly eat
the sweet little thing up. Perhaps it's a good job we chance to be
around here after all," but Jack shook his head as though he did not
dream any harm was going to come to little Barbara.

"If he's so much taken up watching her," he remarked, "we can spy on him
without his being any the wiser. But take care not to move too quickly
at any time; and a sneeze or a cough would spoil everything for us."

Accordingly, they crept forward. Looking cautiously around their covert,
the boys could easily see that Barbara Badger had by now turned the
bushes and reached the spot where the stranger stood.

Now he was speaking to her, bending low, and using what struck the
suspicious Steve as a wheedling tone; though to Jack it was just what
any gentleman might use in seeking to gain the confidence of a child who
had never seen him before.

Apparently the little girl did not seem to be afraid. Perhaps she was
accustomed to having people speak kindly to her on the street, just to
see that winsome smile break over her wonderfully pretty face. At any
rate, she had answered him, and as he started to walk slowly at her
side, it seemed as though they had entered into quite an animated
conversation, the stranger asking questions, and the little girl giving
such information as lay in her power.

"He's just trying to find out how the land lies in Fred's house, that's
what he's doing, the sneak!" gritted Steve.

"Oh! how do we know but what the man has a small girl of his own
somewhere?" Jack interposed; "and Barbara somehow reminds him of her.
Besides, can you blame anybody for trying to get acquainted with Fred's
sweet little sister?"

Steve subsided after that. Apparently he could find no answer to the
logic Jack was able to bring against his suspicions. By skirting the
inside of a fence it would be possible for them to follow after the man
and the child without disclosing their presence.

"Let's do it!" suggested Steve, after Toby had made mention of this

Accordingly they started to steal along. As the others were walking very
slowly the three boys found no great difficulty in keeping close behind
them. They could even pick up something of what passed between the pair
on the cinder pavement. The man was asking Barbara about her home folks,
and seemed particularly interested in hearing about mother's pale looks
and many sighs; and also how sister Lucy seemed to be able to walk
better lately than at any time in the past; though she did have to use a
crutch; but she hoped to be able to go to school in the fall if she
continued to improve.

Fred's name did not seem to be mentioned once by the man. Even when
Barbara told some little thing in which the boy figured, the man failed
to ask about him. His whole interest was centered in the mother, the
crippled child, and this wonderfully attractive little angel at his

Jack also noticed that he had hold of Barbara's small hand, which he
seemed to be clutching eagerly. Yes, it must be the man had a daughter
of his own far away, and memories of her might be making him sorry that
he had engaged in such a disreputable business as tempting Barbara's
brother to betray his mates of the baseball team.

Then the man stopped short. He had looked around and discovered that if
he went any further he might be noticed from the side windows of the
Badger cottage. Apparently he did not wish that the child's mother
should discover him walking with her. Jack somehow felt an odd thrill
shoot through him when he saw the man suddenly bend his head and press
several kisses on the little hand that had been nestling so confidingly
in his own palm. That one act seemed to settle it in the boy's mind that
there was more or less truth in his conjecture in connection with
another Barbara in some distant city waiting for her father to come back

"Say, he's acting real spoony, isn't he, Jack?" gasped Toby, taken aback
as he saw the man do this. "I reckon now, Steve, your ogre isn't
_quite_ as tough a character as you imagined. He's got a spark of
human about him, seems like, and like most Chester folks has to knuckle
down before that pretty kid."

"Oh! he may be acting that way for a purpose," grumbled the unconvinced
Steve, still unwilling to give up. "Such fellows generally have a deep
game up their sleeve, you understand. Just wait and see, that's all,
Toby Hopkins. I don't like his actions one little bit, if you want to
know how I feel about it."

Almost immediately afterwards Toby spoke again in a guarded tone.

"Look at her picking something up from among the cinders, and holding it
out! Why, it looks like a shining new fifty-cent bit, which is just what
it is. And to think we walked right over it when we came along, and not
one of us glimpsed what the sharp eyes of that child have found."

"Huh! mebbe it wasn't there when we came along, Toby!" suggested Steve.
"Just as like as not that chap he dropped the coin, and ground it
part-way into the cinders with his toe, then managed so little Barbara
should pick it up. There, listen to him now telling her that findings is
keepings, and that the money belongs to her by right of discovery. That
was a smart dodge, wasn't it? I wonder what his game is. Can you guess
it, Jack?"

"I decline to commit myself to an answer," came the reply.

"That means you've got some sort of hazy suspicion, which may and again
may not pan out later on," hinted Steve. "Oh! well, it seems as if we've
run smack up against a great puzzle, and I never was a good hand at
figuring such things out--never guessed a rebus or an acrostic in my
whole life. Tell us when you strike pay dirt, that's a good fellow,

"Perhaps I will," chuckled the other, still keeping his eyes glued on
the figures of little Barbara and the stranger, not far distant.

Now the man had evidently said good-bye, for, as she tripped along the
walk, she turned to wave her chubby hand to him, and even kiss the tips
of her fingers to her scarlet rosebud lips as if sending a kiss back.

He stood there staring after her. Jack watching saw him take out a
handkerchief and wipe his eyes several times. Apparently that meeting
with Barbara Badger had affected the man considerably. Jack hoped it
would be for his good, and also for the benefit of Fred Badger, who
seemed to be struggling with some secret that was weighing his young
spirit down.

Then the man turned and looked long and earnestly back toward the humble
cottage home of the widow. He was shaking his head and muttering
something half under his breath; but somehow Jack thought he did not
look very ferocious just then. In fact, after the man strode away and
they were free to once more come out on the walk, Jack had a feeling
that the stranger did not appear quite so much like a desperate city
sport as he had formerly believed.



"Hello! there, Jack, you're wanted!"

The boys were practicing on the following afternoon when this hail
reached the ears of the first baseman, diligently stopping terrific
grounders that came from the bat of substitute catcher, Hemming, the
best man on the nine for this sort of work.

So Jack trotted in toward the group near the bench. A score or two of
boys, with also a sprinkling of enthusiastic girls, had gathered to
watch and admire the different plays which were put through, and to
generously applaud any especially clever one.

Jack saw a boy leave the group and advance toward him. He felt a little
apprehension when he recognized Bailey, the smart shortstop of the
famous Harmony nine. What did this mean? Could it be possible that those
fellows of the other town had gotten "cold feet" after the last game,
and were about to withdraw from the match to play out the tie?

Jack could hardly believe such a thing possible. He knew and respected
Martin, the gentlemanly captain of the rival team, too well, to think he
would show the white feather. Why, it would be talked about all through
the county, and Harmony could never again make any boast. Oh! no,
something of a minor nature must have come up, and Martin wished to
consult with the captain of the Chester nine in advance--possibly some
local ground rule had been framed which, in all honor, he believed the
others ought to know about before the time came to apply it.

"Hello! Jack!" said Bailey with the easy familiarity that boys in
general show when dealing with one another, though they may even be
comparative strangers.

"Glad to see you, Bailey," returned the other. "What brings you over
this way again? Anything new come up?"

None of the other players had followed Bailey when he advanced. They
seemed to take it for granted that if it was any of their business, Jack
would be sure to call them up.

"Why, something has happened that we thought you fellows ought to know
about," continued the shortstop of the Harmony team, with a little trace
of confusion in his manner.

"And Captain Martin sent you over as a messenger, is that it, Bailey?"
asked Jack, shaking hands cordially; for he had liked the other chap
through all the two games already played; Bailey was clean in everything
he did, and that sort of a boy always appealed to Jack Winters,
detesting fraud and trickery as he did.

"That's it, Jack. He gave me this note to deliver; and I'm to answer any
questions you may see fit to ask."

There was something a bit queer in the other's manner as he said this;
and the way in which he thrust out a sealed envelope at the same time
smacked of the dramatic. Jack took it with rising curiosity. Really,
this began to assume a more serious aspect than he had at first thought
could be possible. It was therefore with considerable interest he tore
off the end of the envelope, and pulled out the enclosure, which proved
to be a full page of writing easily deciphered.

Since it is necessary that the contents of that missive should be
understood by the reader we shall take the liberty of looking over
Jack's shoulder and devouring Martin's letter as eagerly as the
recipient did.

"To the Captain and Members of the Chester Baseball Team:

"We, the entire Harmony baseball organization, take this method of
warning you that it is more than half suspected there is a miserable
plot afloat to cause you fellows to lose the game next Saturday through
a fluke. It may not be true, but we believe it to be our duty to put you
on your guard, because we would disdain to profit by any such trickery
bordering on a crime. There are some reckless sports up from the city,
who have been wagering heavily on our winning out. After the game last
Saturday, it seems that they have begun to get cold feet, and believe
that Harmony might not have such a soft snap as they thought when they
made all those heavy wagers. Needless to state the boys of the team do
not share in their fears, for we are perfectly confident that we can
down you again, as we did in the first game. But we would be ashamed if
anything happened to cast the slightest doubt on the glory of our
anticipated victory. We believe you Chester fellows to be an honorable
lot and no matter whoever wins we want it to be a victory as clean and
honest as they make them. We intend to have men on the watch for crooked
business. One thing we beg you to do, which is to set a guard on your
water-bucket, and _allow no one not a player on your side to go
anywhere near it!_ There have been occasions on record where dope was
given through the drinking water, that made players sick, and unable to
do their best in the game, thus losing for their side.

"We send you this, believing that you will give us full credit for being
lovers of clean sport. So keep in the pink of condition for Saturday,
and able to do your prettiest, for, believe us, you will have need of
every ounce of ability you possess, because Hendrix says he never felt
more fit in his life.

                                        Signed   CAPTAIN LEM MARTIN,
                              For the entire Harmony Baseball Team."

When Jack had finished reading this remarkable letter, the first thing
he did was characteristic of the boy--he reached out his hand toward

"Shake again, Bailey! I honor such sentiments, and believe me, the boys
of Chester will never forget such a friendly spirit as your team shows.
We, too, would refuse to play in a game where we had the slightest
reason to believe crooked work was going on, that would be to the
disadvantage of our adversaries."

The little shortstop's eyes glistened as he wrung Jack's hand.

"Glad to see you take it in the right spirit, old fellow," he hastened
to say. "We were horribly worked up when we got wind of this business
through sheer accident. Only a mean skunk like a tricky sport from the
city could dream of doing such a thing. But now it's come out, you'll
find that all Harmony will be on edge looking for signs of treachery
toward you fellows."

"How about telling the other boys?" inquired Jack.

"You're at perfect liberty to do that," the shortstop assured him. "In
fact, we expected you would. The sooner the news is carried through
Chester the better chance that nothing so low-down will be attempted;
and no matter how the game turns out, it will be clean. Much as we want
to win we all agree that we'd rather be badly licked by Chester than
have it ever said there was a shadow of fraud on our victory."

So Jack beckoned to the rest.

"Only the members of the team, subs. as well as regulars, are wanted
here!" he called aloud; and accordingly, they came forward, most of the
boys exchanging looks of natural curiosity, and doubtless fearing that
some hitch had occurred in the programme for the ensuing Saturday.

Judge of their amazement when Jack read aloud the letter from Captain
Martin. It seemed almost unbelievable to some of the boys. Others who
always made it a practice to glean all the baseball news in the city
papers that came to certain Chester homes, may have known that such evil
practices had been attempted occasionally, especially where unprincipled
men began to wager money on the result of championship games.

All of them seemed unanimously of the opinion that Harmony had evinced a
most laudable and sportsmanlike spirit in sending this strange warning.
It made them feel that in struggling for the mastery on the diamond with
such manly fellows, they were up against the right kind of foe-men.
Indeed, even a defeat at the hands of Harmony would not seem so dreadful
a disaster, now that they knew Martin and his crowd to be such good

Bailey did not wait to listen to many of the remarks that followed the
reading of the letter. He could see that Chester had received the
warning in the same friendly spirit in which it had been sent; and this
was the news he meant to carry back with him.

"I want to own up they're a pretty decent bunch of ball players after
all!" declared Phil Parker, who had been known to say a few hard things
about the hustling Harmony boys after that first game, in which Jack's
team was given such a lively set-back.

"Glad you've found that out, Phil," remarked Steve Mullane, drily. "Next
time don't be so quick to judge your opponents. Because a chap happens
to be a hustler on the baseball or football field, isn't a sign that
he's anything of a brute in private life. Only the hustlers succeed on
the diamond. Umpire-baiters are sometimes the kind of men who are
bullied by a little bit of a woman at home."

"That's right for you, Steve!" declared Herbert Jones, nodding his head
in the affirmative. "I've got an uncle who used to be known as a regular
scorcher on the gridiron, and who gained the name of a terror; but, say,
you ought to see that big hulk wash dishes for Mrs. Jones, who can walk
under his arm. Why, in private life he's as soft as mush, and his
fog-horn voice is toned down to almost the squeak of a fiddle when he
sings the baby to sleep. It isn't always safe to judge a man by what he
does when he's playing ball."

"But just think of the meanness of those men wanting to put some kind of
dope in our drinking water!" ejaculated Fred Badger in evident anger.
"Why, they might have made some of us real sick in the bargain, as well
as lost us the game. Such scoundrels ought to be locked up; they're a
menace to any community."

"Well, Harmony town is responsible for pretty much all of this,"
suggested Jack. "They are letting things go along over there that sleepy
old Chester never would think of permitting. Those who sow the wind must
expect to reap the whirlwind sooner or later."

"Yes," added Toby Hopkins, with a snort, "they seemed to think it gave
tone to their games to have those city men come up and back Harmony with
money. Let's hope that after the lesson our worthy mayor set them last
Saturday and with this disgrace threatening their good name those
Harmony folks will get busy cleaning their Augean stables before any
real harm is done."

Every one had an opinion, and yet they were pretty much along similar
lines. The Chester boys thought it terrible that such a warning had to
be sent out; though of course they all gave Martin and his crowd full
credit for doing the right thing.

Jack was interested in watching Fred Badger, and listening to what he
had to say from time to time. Apparently Fred was as indignant as any of
them, and so far as Jack could tell there was not a particle of sham
about his fervent denunciation of the evil deed contemplated by those
strangers anxious to beat the Chester people, who wagered with them, out
of their money.

And yet what else could be expected of such men, accustomed to evil
ways, and earning their money at race-tracks and the like? What of a boy
who had the confidence of his mates on the team, conspiring to sell them
out for a bribe? Jack fairly writhed as he thought of it. Looking at
Fred's earnest face as he spoke he could not bring himself to fully
believe the other capable of attempting such a dastardly trick; and yet
Jack had his fears all the same.



The troubles and tribulations of the captain of a baseball team are
many, and ofttimes peculiar, as Jack was fast finding out. A load of
responsibility rests on his shoulders such as none of the other players
knows. He must watch every fellow, and notice the slightest
deterioration in his playing; be ready to chide, or give encouraging
words; and lie awake nights cudgeling his brains to discover a way of
getting better work out of certain delinquent members of the nine, or
else making way for a substitute who gives promise of being worth his

Jack was already having troubles enough, he thought, what with the petty
annoyances, his grave suspicions of Fred Badger's loyalty, and now this
prospect of foul play being attempted by those evil-disposed men from
the city, only bent on reaping a harvest of money from the outcome of
the game. There was more to come for the boy who was "sitting on the
lid," it turned out.

Donohue had been acting somewhat queerly during the last two days, Jack
noticed. True enough, he came to the practice games, and seemed to have
all of his old cunning in his arm when they had him pitch, striking out
men at pleasure; but he never smiled, would draw off to himself
frequently, and was seen to shake his head as though his thoughts could
not be any too pleasant.

What could be ailing the boy, Jack wondered? Surely after his wonderful
and even brilliant work in the box on the preceding Saturday, Alec was
not beginning to doubt his ability to turn back those sluggers on
Harmony's roll. No, Jack concluded that it could not be this.

"I've just _got_ to get Alec by himself, and have it out with him!"
he told Toby, with whom he had been earnestly discussing the matter.
"Whatever is troubling the boy, the sooner it's laid the better; for if
he keeps on in the frame of mind he seems to be in just now, it's bound
to affect his work when we want him to be at his very best."

"That's the only way to do, Jack," his chum assured him. "Get Alec by
himself, and talk to him like a Dutch uncle. Nobody can do it as well as
you, I'm sure. And, Jack, if there's any way I can help, any of us, in
fact, remember you've only got to speak. Every fellow on the nine would
work his fingers to the bone to please you. And, besides, we've got our
hearts set on winning that game. It would mean the making of Chester as
a town where clean sport for boys is indulged in."

Jack therefore watched until he saw Alec Donohue put on his coat and
saunter off, as though heading for home. Then he proceeded to follow
after the pitcher.

"I'm going your way, Alec," he remarked, when the other turned his head
and lifted his eyebrows in some little surprise at discovering the
captain of the nine trotting along in his wake. "Besides, I want to have
a nice little talk with you while we have the chance."

Young Donohue flushed a bit.

"I rather half expected you'd say that, Jack," he remarked, with a tinge
of distress in his voice. "But, after all, the sooner it's over with the
better, I reckon. I was trying to muster up enough courage to speak to
you about it this afternoon, but I felt too hanged bad even to get

Jack became alarmed.

"I've noticed that you seemed anything but happy lately, Alec," he
hastened to say, as he threw an arm across the shoulders of the pitcher,
"and it began to bother me a heap; because I know a pitcher can hardly
deliver his best goods unless he's feeling as fit as a fiddle. What's
gone wrong? I hope you're not feeling sick, or anything like that?"

Alec swallowed hard before starting to make answer to this question.

"Never felt better in my whole life, Jack, so far as my body goes; and,
if I do say it myself, I firmly believe I'd be able to do better work on
Saturday than any of you have ever seen me give. But I'm in a peck of
trouble at home, and I'm terribly afraid that I won't be able to pitch
again for Chester."

"How is that, Alec!" asked the other, solicitously.

"Why, I may not be living in the town on Saturday, you see, and one of
the rules of our match games is that every player shall be a resident of
the town his club represents. My folks are going to move to Harmony on
Friday, sure!"

"That's bad for us, Alec," admitted Jack, his heart sinking as he
remembered how ineffectual McGuffey had been in the box even while
Chester was scoring against the Harmony man; and with Hendrix sending
his puzzling shoots over, defeat was positive for Chester unless they
had Donohue to depend on. "Tell me how it happens, will you?"

"Why, my father lost his job a few weeks back, being sick for a spell.
He doesn't seem able to strike anything here, but is promised a good job
up in Harmony on condition that he moves there right away, so he can
start in Saturday. And, Jack, he said this morning that much as he hated
to leave town, there wasn't any other way out; so we're going the day
after tomorrow. I knew I'd have to tell you, but, say, every time I
tried to speak it seemed like I'd choke."

It was a time for quick thinking with Jack.

"I wish you could hold this off for just twenty-four hours, Alec," he
told the other. "Perhaps I may find a way out long before then. Could
you promise me that?"

"Sure thing, Jack, and believe me I'd be mighty happy if only you did
run across a way of bridging this trouble. But we're out of money at
home, and jobs don't seem to be floating around in Chester, at least for
men as old as my dad."

"Would you mind telling me what he was promised over at Harmony?"
continued the other, at which question Alec started, and looked eagerly
at him.

"Why, you see, all my dad's fit for these days, with his rheumatism
bothering him, is a job as night watchman in some factory or mill. That
was what he has been promised in Harmony."

"And what wages does he expect to draw down, Alec? I'm not asking from
any curiosity, remember, but I ought to know if I'm going to try to get
your father a position here in his old town where he's known so well and
respected; and where his eldest son is making such a name for himself as
a sterling baseball player."

"He is promised twenty-one a week, Jack. You see, in these times wages
have all gone up to meet the high cost of living. Time was when he only
got fifteen per. I reckon now, it's your plan to interview some of the
gentlemen who are interested in baseball, and that you hope they'll
consent to give my dad a steady job so as to keep the Donohue family in
Chester. Well, here's hoping you strike luck, Jack. If you do I'll be
the happiest boy in Chester tonight, and ready to pitch my arm off
Saturday so as to bring another Harmony scalp home."

They shook hands heartily, and then Jack scurried away. It was one of
his cardinal principles never to delay when he had anything of
importance on his hands. So a short time later he entered one of the big
hives of industry that was managed by Mr. Charles Taft, a middle-aged
gentleman who seemed greatly interested in the rise of boys' sports in
Chester, and who had already favored Jack on several occasions.

It was partly through his generosity that the team had been able to
secure suits and outfits in the way of bats, balls, bases, and such
things, when the season began. More than that, it was this same Mr. Taft
who had gladly agreed to let one of his workers have an occasional
afternoon off duty when his services were required to coach the
struggling ball players, sadly in need of professional advice and

When the boy was ushered into his private office, the stout gentleman
held out his hand, and smiled pleasantly. He was a great and constant
admirer of Jack Winters, because he could read frankness, honesty,
determination to succeed, and many other admirable traits in the boy's
face. In fact, Mr. Taft had been quite an athlete himself when at
college, and his interest in clean sport had never flagged even when he
took up serious tasks in the business world.

"Glad to see you, my boy," he observed, in his customary genial fashion,
as he squeezed Jack's hand. "What can I do for you today? How is the
team getting along after that glorious game you played? No press of
business is going to prevent one man I know of in Chester from attending
the game next Saturday. I hope you are not in any trouble, Jack?"

Evidently his quick eye had noted the slight cloud on the boy's face, an
unusual circumstance in connection with the captain of the nine.

"Yes, I am in a peck of trouble, sir," candidly confessed Jack. "The
fact of the matter is it looks as though, we might be short our
wonderful young pitcher, Alec Donohue, next Saturday."

"How's that, Jack?" demanded the gentleman, anxiously. "I'm greatly
interested in that lad's work. He certainly has the making of a great
pitcher in him. Why, if we lose Donohue, I'm afraid the cake will be
dough with us, for I hear Hendrix is in excellent shape, and declares he
will pitch the game of his life when next he faces your crowd."

"I'll tell you what the matter is, sir," and with that Jack plunged into
a brief exposition of the Donohue family troubles.

As he proceeded, he saw with kindling joy that a beaming smile had
commenced to creep over the rosy countenance of the one-time college
athlete. This encouraged him to state how a wild hope had arisen in his
heart that possibly some job might be found for Mr. Donohue that would
keep the family in Chester right along.

"We need him the worst kind, Mr. Taft," he concluded. "If Alec quits us
cold I'm afraid it's bound to set all our fine schemes for athletics in
Chester back a peg or two. This seems to be a most critical time with
us. If we win that game we're going to make many new friends around
here, who will assist us in getting that club-house we've been talking
about, and putting athletic sports on a sound footing in our town."

"Make your mind easy, Jack, my boy," said the stout gentleman, with a
nod, "Alec will toss for us next Saturday, because we won't allow the
Donohue family to shake the dust of Chester off their shoes. Why, it
happens that my night watchman has just given notice that he must throw
up his job because he has taken a position in one of those munition
works in another town, where they pay such big wages for men who know
certain things. So consider that I offer Donohue the position at
twenty-four dollars a week; and there's no reason why it shouldn't be a
permanent job, as I understand he's a reliable watchman."

Jack could hardly speak for happiness. The tears actually came in his
eyes as he wrung the hand of the gentleman.

"Oh! you don't know how happy you've made me by saying that, Mr. Taft,"
he managed to declare. "And have I permission to go over to the Donohue
home with that glorious news right away?"

"Suit yourself about that, son. Tell him to come around tomorrow and see
me; but that the job is his right now. And also tell Alec from me that
Chester expects him to fool those heavy hitters of Harmony to the top of
his bent, when he faces Hutchings, Clifford, Oldsmith, O'Leary and the

When Jack went out of that office his heart was singing with joy. The
clouds had rolled away once more, and the future looked particularly
bright. He only hoped it would be an augury of success in store for the
Chester nine in their coming battle.




The telephone bell in Jack's home was ringing just as the boy passed
through the hall on Thursday morning around ten. He had been busily
engaged in matters at home, and not gone out up to then. As he held his
ear to the receiver he caught the well-known voice of Toby Hopkins.

"That you, Jack?"

"No one else; and what's going on over at your house?" Jack replied. "I
thought for sure you'd have been across before now, if only to learn how
I came out with that Donohue trouble."

"Oh! I would have been starting you up at daybreak this morning, Jack,
only it happens that I learned the good news last night."

"How was that?" demanded the other; "did you walk over to their place to
ask Alec about it?"

"I went over to offer Mr. Donohue a job in the Cameron mill tending a
plane, only to have him tell me with a happy look in his eyes that he
had already taken a position as night watchman with the foundry and
rolling mill people, meaning Mr. Taft, your special friend and backer.
So I knew you had been busy as well as myself. But you can tell me all
about it, and what the Donohues said, when you join me inside of five
minutes; because I'm coming over in our tin-Lizzie to take you on a
little jaunt with me."

"But I don't believe I ought to go off just now," expostulated Jack;
"because I've got a number of things to see to; and besides, we must be
out to practice again this afternoon."

"Rats! you've got plenty of time for all that," snorted Toby, who
evidently would not take no for an answer when once his heart was set on
a thing. "And, besides, it happens that I'm heading for Harmony this
time, on some business for dad. We can come back by the road that
finally skirts the lake shore. I heard some of the fellows say they
meant to go swimming this morning, and we'll like as not come across
them in the act, perhaps have a dip ourselves for diversion. Say you'll
go, Jack?"

It was a very alluring programme for a boy who loved the open as much as
Jack did. His scruples vanished like the mist before the morning sun.

"All right, then, Toby," he went on to say; "I'll go with you, because
we can kill two birds with one stone. It happens that I'd like to have a
chat with Martin, the Harmony captain. There are several things we ought
to settle before we meet on the diamond Saturday afternoon. I'll be
ready for you when you come around with your antique chariot."

"It isn't good taste to look a gift-horse in the mouth, Jack; and you
ought to know that same flivver can show her heels to many a more
pretentious car when on the road. So-long, then. See you in five

Toby was as good as his word, and the car stopped before Jack's gate
with much honking of the claxon. Once they were off of course Toby
demanded that his companion relate his experiences of the preceding
afternoon, when he interviewed the affable manager of the big rolling
mills, and secured that offer of a good job for Mr. Donohue, calculated
to keep their wonderful wizard of a pitcher on the roll-call of the
Chester baseball team.

"Of course," said Jack, in conclusion, "when I got to Alec's place and
told them what good news I was fetching, they were all mighty well
pleased. I thought Alec would certainly have a fit, he danced around so.
And take it from me, Toby, that boy will show the Harmony players some
wonderful tricks from his box when they face him again, because he's
feeling simply immense. When a pitcher is in the pink of condition, he
can make the heaviest sluggers feed from his hand; and Alec certainly
has a bunch of shoots that run all the way from speed, curves, drops,
and several others that, for one, I never before heard of. Now tell me
about your offer of a job."

Toby laughed softly.

"Well, you see, Jack, I just knew what you'd be up to, and says I to
myself, it'd be a bully thing if I could beat Jack out for just once. So
I humped myself and ran around to see Joe Cameron, who happens to be a
distant relative of my mother, you remember. He wanted to help me, but
at first couldn't see any way where he could make use of a man like
Donohue, at least at living wages. But I pleaded so hard, that in the
end he remembered a certain place that was vacant. True, it only paid
fifteen a week, but he placed it at my disposal. And so after supper I
ran around to see if Donohue wouldn't consent to fill that job, through
the summer, or until a better one showed up. But I was tickled when Alec
told me about your stunt."

Chatting as they rode along, they were not long in reaching Harmony.
This town was somewhat larger than Chester, though the latter did more
business when it came to the matter of dollars and cents, on account of
the mills and factories along the lake and the river.

Toby soon transacted his errand, which was connected with a business
house. Then they made inquiries, and learned that Martin lived on the
outskirts of the town, actually on the road they meant to take going
home by another route.

"That must be his place yonder!" remarked Toby, presently.

"No doubt about it," laughed Jack, "for you can see that a baseball
crank lives in that big house with the extensive grounds. Listen to the
plunk of a ball landing in a glove, will you. Martin is having a little
private practice of a morning on his own account."

"Yes, I can see two fellows passing the ball across the lawn," admitted
Toby. "If all the other members of the Harmony team are just as hard at
work every hour of daylight, it's mighty evident they mean to be as fit
as a fiddle for that big game. They must feel that if they lose, all
their good work of the summer will go in the scrap heap."

"I'm glad to know they feel so anxious," chuckled Jack. "It shows how we
made them respect our team that last time, when they had their full
line-up on deck. We are due for a thrilling game, and don't you forget
it, Toby."

When the two boys who were passing the ball so swiftly discovered the
stopping flivver, and recognized their morning callers, they hurried out
through the gate to shake hands with Jack and Toby. Martin's companion
proved to be Hutchings, the efficient first baseman and hard hitter of
the locals.

They chatted for some time, Jack making such, inquiries as he had in
mind, and being given all the information at the disposal of the other

"About that letter of mine," Captain Martin finally remarked, when the
visitors were preparing to depart; "it was a nasty subject to handle,
and I hardly knew how to go about it; so finally decided to hit straight
out, and tell you what we suspected was going on over here. I was glad
to hear from Bailey that you boys took it in just the same spirit it was

"We were in a humor to give you and your fellows a hearty cheer," Jack
told him; "we all agreed that it was a genuine pleasure to run up
against such a fine bunch of honorable ball players; and believe me, if
we can't carry off that game for Chester, we'll not begrudge your crowd
for taking it, because we know it will have been fairly won."

It was in this friendly spirit that the rival captains shook hands and
parted. Each leader would fight tooth and nail to capture the impending
game, using all legitimate means to further his ends; but there would be
no hard feelings between the opposing players. Harmony's fine act had
rendered this a certainty.

Jack had said nothing about the narrow escape Chester had from a real
catastrophe in the loss of their wonderful young pitcher. He thought it
best not to mention matters that concerned only Chester folks; although
feeling positive that Martin would congratulate him on his success in
keeping Alec; for the game would lose much of its interest if only a
second-string pitcher officiated in the box for either side when they
anticipated showing their best goods.

"He's all wool, and a yard wide, that Martin," asserted Toby, after they
had turned their faces toward home again, and were booming along the
road that presently would take them close to the shore of Lake

"There's no doubt about his being a good fellow," agreed Jack; "and it's
certainly a real pleasure to go up against such a crowd. For one, I've
underestimated the Harmony boys. We've heard a lot about their noisy
ways and hustle, but, after all, I think most of it's on the surface,
and deeper down they're just as much gentlemen as you'd find anywhere.
Most games of rivalry are won through aggressiveness, and plenty of
fellows cultivate that mode of playing. It doesn't follow that such
chaps are boors, or clowns, or brawlers off the field. We could stand a
little more of that sort of thing ourselves, to tell you the truth,
Toby--standing on our toes, and keeping wide awake every second of the
time play is on."

"Right you are, Jack, and after this I'm going to whoop it up a lot
more'n I've ever done before. You'll see some _hopping_ to beat the
band, too. I've managed to cover a good deal of territory up to now but,
say, I aspire to do still better. I'm rubbing snake oil on my joints
right along so as to make 'em more supple. Why, I'd _bathe_ in it
if I thought that would make me better able to do my part toward
corraling that great game for Chester."

"There, I had a first glimpse of Lake Constance," remarked Jack. "The
trees have closed the vista again, so you can't catch it; but I suppose
we'll soon come to a place where we'll have the water on our left, and
the road even runs along close to the edge. I remember skating up about
this far last February, soon after I arrived in Chester; and the lake
was then a solid sheet of smooth ice."

"Queer how cold the water stays all summer," mused Toby. "There are
times when I've seen boys shivering in July and August while bathing.
It's fed by springs, they say, though Paradise River also empties into
the lake. There, now you can see away across to the other shore, Jack.
Isn't it a bully sheet of water, though?"

"What dandy times we can have next winter iceboating, skating, playing
hockey, and everything like that," suggested Jack, delightedly, as his
eyes feasted on the immense body of fresh water, with its surface just
rippled in the soft summer breeze.

"We'll soon come to where the boys said they meant to go in swimming
this morning," added Toby. "It's a perfect day, too, even if the sun
does feel hot. Just such a day as this when I got that nasty little
cramp in the cold water of the lake, and might have had a serious time
only for Big Bob Jeffries taking me on his back and carrying me like a
baby to the shore."

"Listen!" exclaimed Jack just then, "what's all that yell going on ahead
of us? The boys must be cutting up capers; and yet it strikes me there's
a note of fear in their shouts. Turn on the juice, Toby, and eat up the
road! Something terrible may be happening, you know. Things keep
following each other these days like sheep going over a fence after
their leader!"

Toby made the flivver fairly bound along, such was his eagerness to
arrive at the scene of all the excitement. Twenty seconds later he gave
a loud cry.

"Look, Jack, there's some one floundering out there, and throwing up his
arms. It's our Joel Jackman, I do believe! and great Cæsar! he's got a
cramp and is drowning!"



What the excited Toby had just said in thrilling tones was undoubtedly
the truth. There was no "fooling" about the frantic actions of the boy
who was struggling so desperately out in the lake. He was threshing the
water furiously, now vanishing partly underneath, only to come up again
in a whirl of bubbles.

When a cramp seizes any one, no matter if he should happen to be a
champion in the art of swimming, he is always in mortal peril of his
life, especially should he be at some distance from the shore, and in
deep water. It almost paralyzes every muscle, and the strongest becomes
like a very babe in its spasmodic clutch.

Joel Jackman was long-legged and thin, but had always been reckoned one
of those wiry sort of chaps, built on the order of a greyhound. He could
run like the wind, and jump higher than any fellow in all Chester,
barring none. But when that awful cramp seized him in the cold water of
Lake Constance, lie found himself unable to make any progress toward
shore, distant at least fifty feet.

It was all he could do to keep his head above water, struggling as he
was with the fear of a terrible death before his eyes. His two comrades
were running up and down on the shore; not that they were such arrant
cowards but what they would have been willing to do almost anything to
help Joel; but unfortunately they had lost their heads in the sudden
shock; and as Toby afterwards contemptuously said, "acted like so many
chickens after the ax had done its foul work."

Jack sized up the situation like a flash.

"Toby, you get one of those boards over yonder, and come out to help me
if I'm in trouble, understand?" he jerked out, even as the flivver came
to a sudden stop, and he was bounding over the side regardless of any

"All right, Jack; you bet I will!" Toby shouted, following suit.

Jack began to shed his outer clothes as he ran swiftly forward. First
his cap went, and then his coat. He had low shoes on so that he was able
to detach them with a couple of quick jerks, and at the loss of the

Two seconds, when at the verge of the water, sufficed for him to get rid
of his trousers, and then, he went in with a rush.

Toby meanwhile had tried to follow suit even as he made for the boards
in question. It had been just like Jack to glimpse these in the
beginning, while those other fellows apparently did not know a board was
within half a mile.

Seeing what Toby meant to do, the two swimmers followed suit, so that
presently the whole three of them had each picked up a plank, and were
pushing out with it.

Jack had plunged ahead, swimming in any old way, since his one object
just then was speed, and not style. He could not have done better had he
been up against a swarm of rivals working for a prize. Well, there
_was_ a prize dangling there in plain sight. A precious human life
was at stake, and unless he could arrive in time poor Joel might go
down, never to come up again in his senses.

He had already been under once, and through his desperate efforts
succeeded in reaching the surface of the agitated water again. Even as
Jack started swimming, after getting in up to his neck, the drowning boy
vanished again.

Jack swam on, trying to increase his pace, if such a thing were
possible. He must get on the spot without the waste of a second. Joel
would likely come to the surface again, but battling more feebly against
the threatening fate. If he went down a third time it would be all over
but the funeral, Jack knew.

He was more than two-thirds of the way there when to his ecstatic joy he
once more discovered the head of Joel. The boy was still making a
gallant fight, but under a fearful handicap.

Jack shouted hoarsely as he swam onward:

"Keep fighting, Joel! We'll get you, old chap! Strike out as hard as you
can! You're all right, I tell you, only don't stop working!"

Perhaps these cheering words did help Joel to continue his weakening
efforts to keep himself afloat. Possibly had it not been for his hearing
Jack's voice raised in encouragement, he might have given up the ghost
before then.

Nearer Jack surged, his heart seeming to be in his throat with dread
lest Joel go down again a few seconds before he could get within touch.
The three boys with the boards were also coming along in a solid bunch,
although of course with less speed than Jack showed, owing partly to the
fact that they had to shove the planks before them.

Now, Joel, with a last despairing gurgle was sinking again, and for the
very last time, being utterly exhausted by his frantic struggles, and
the terrible pain occasioned by the cramp.

But Jack knew he had arrived close enough to dart forward and clutch his
comrade before the other could quite vanish from view. Joel was so far
gone that he did not try to grip his rescuer, as most drowning persons
will do in their frantic desire to save themselves at any cost.

Jack tried to keep the boy's head above water as best he could. He made
no effort to swim towards the shore. What was the use when the other
fellows were coming along with their boards. The one thing necessary
just then was to prevent Joel from swallowing any more water; he had
already no doubt gulped in huge quantities, and lost the ability to
breathe properly.

So Toby and the other two found them when they finally arrived. The
planks were arranged so that Joel could be raised and sustained by their
means; after which the little procession of swimmers headed for the

When they arrived, Joel was lifted out of the water and carried tenderly
up to a patch of green sward lying in the shade of a wide-branching oak.
Here they laid him down on his chest, while Jack proceeded to work over
him, instructing the other fellows just what they were to do to assist.

He knelt astride with one knee on either side of Joel's body, and
commenced pressing down regularly on the small of his back, so as to
induce an artificial respiration. At the same time, Toby and one of the
other fellows worked the unconscious boy's arms back and forth like a
pair of pistons; while the third fellow started to rub his cold lower

At first Joel seemed pretty far gone, and his appearance sent a chill
through the sympathetic heart of Toby Hopkins. But after they had kept
up this vigorous treatment for a little while, there were signs of
returning animation. Joel belched out a gallon of water, Toby always
insisted, and inside of ten minutes was able to talk, though Jack
insisted on keeping up the rubbing until the boy's body was a rosy hue
from the irritation.

"Now get some clothes on, Joel, and you'll soon be feeling prime," he
told the other, whose lips were still blue and quivering.

Joel had had quite enough of swimming for one day. Indeed, he would be
pretty cautious about getting any distance away from the shore after
that, having received a most fearful shock. Still, boys recover from
such things, given a little time, and Joel had always been reckoned a
fellow who did not know the meaning of the word "fear."

The other boys had apparently lost the joy of bathing for that day.
They, too, started to don their clothes, and begged Toby to "hold up,"
so that they might get a lift to town in the flivver; which, being a
whole-souled fellow, of course, "Hop" was only too glad to do.

Later on, after arriving home, Jack and Toby talked matters over between
themselves. This new and entirely unexpected happening had been only
another link in the growing chain of troubles hanging over the head of
the captain of the Chester baseball team.

"What if we hadn't chanced to be on the road just at that very minute,
Jack?" ventured Toby, with a shiver; "poor old Joel would certainly have
been drowned, because neither Frank nor Rufus had the slightest idea
what to do so as to save him. And that would have broken up our
combination in the nine, all right, because we'd find it hard to replace
such a runner and fielder and batter as Joel."

"Of course," said Jack, "the worst thing of all would be losing a
friend. Joel is a mighty fine all-around fellow, and most of us are fond
of him. And just as you say, the game would like as not have to be
postponed, because how could we play as we would want to with a chum
lying dead at home? So I'm grateful because we did chance to be

"That was sure a great job you did, Jack, believe me; and when I say
such a thing I'm not meaning to throw bouquets either. Whee! but you did
shoot through the water like a fish. I've watched a pickerel dart at a
minnow, but no slinker ever had the bulge on you that time."

"I had to get along with all sail set," Jack told him, with a smile, for
it is always pleasant to have a friend hand out a meed of praise, even
to the most modest boy going. "I knew Joel was at the last gasp, and
even a second lost might mean he'd go down for the third time before I
could get there. And yet do you know, Toby, it seemed to me right then
and there as if I had a ton of lead fastened to me. Why, I felt as
though something was holding me back, just as you know the nightmare
grips you usually. But when I was within striking distance, I knew I
could save Joel. He made a gallant fight, and deserves a lot of praise."

"I wonder what we'll have happen next, Jack? Seems to me not a day
passes but you've got to play the rescue act with some member of our
team. There was Fred worrying you, and still acting queer; then along
comes Donohue threatening to give us the slip because his folks meant to
move out of town, and he couldn't pitch unless he lived in Chester. Now,
as if those things didn't count up enough to keep you awake nights, old
Joel had to go and try to kick the bucket, and force you to yank him out
of the lake."

Jack laughed and shook his head.

"It's hard to tell what another day may bring forth, Toby," he went on
to say. "Remember, this is only Thursday, and Friday is said to be a
very unlucky day in some people's lives, especially when it falls on the
thirteenth of the month, as happens this year. There are still a few
fellows in the nine who haven't shown up yet in the catastrophe ward.
Why, Toby, it might even be _you_ who'll wave the flag and call out
for help."

"I give you my affidavit, Jack, that I'm going to play mighty safe from
now on. No fishing or swimming for me, and I'll even run that old
flivver at slow speed, for fear it takes a notion to land me in a ditch,
and come in on top of me. But I hope, Jack, you're not getting
discouraged with all these things coming right along?"

"I might, Toby, if I were not built on a stubborn line. We'll go to
Harmony on Saturday and make a fight for that game even if we have to
lug along a crippled nine, some of them on crutches!"

Toby brightened up on hearing the leader grimly say this.

"That's the sort of stuff, Jack!" he exclaimed, slapping his chum on the

"In the bright lexicon of youth there is no such word as fail! We'll go
forth with our hearts set on victory, and that's one half of the battle.
Hurrah! for Chester!"



Before the two boys parted that afternoon, after the practice of the
whole regular nine, barring Joel, who, taking Jack's advice, laid off
for one occasion, Joel had asked the captain to drop over when he had
finished his supper.

"I want to see you about a number of things," he had told Jack; "not so
much in connection with the game we're scheduled to play, as other
affairs looking to the ambitious programme we've mapped out for Chester
boys the rest of the summer, in the fall, and even up to winter. For one
thing, I'd like to give you a few pointers about the fellows in our
crowd, so that you can size them up for the football squad later on."

That caught Jack in a weak spot.

"I'll go you there, Toby," he hastened to say, "because I've been trying
to figure things out along those lines myself. When you're placing men
on an eleven, you ought to know their every strong and weak point; and
I'm too new a hand here in Chester to be on to such things. So I'll be
glad to have you give me points."

Accordingly, he knocked at the Hopkins' door soon after seven that
evening, and was immediately admitted by Toby himself. The Hopkins
family consisted of Toby's father and mother, and an older son just then
away on a trip to the West, as he was attending college, and had been
promised this treat if he passed with honors. There was also a very
small girl, named Tessie, who naturally was the pet of the household,
and in a way to be spoiled by the adoration of her two brothers.

Toby had a den of his own in the upper part of the rambling house. Here
just as most boys love to do, he had the walls fairly covered with the
burgees of various colleges, all sorts of mementos collected during his
outdoor experiences, curios that in Toby's eyes were precious because
many of them bore an intimate relation with some little adventure or
jolly outing in which he had taken part.

There were also football togs, baseball contraptions, fishing
paraphernalia in unlimited abundance, as well as striking illustrations
covering the field of sport as seen through the eyes of youth.

But one good thing about it all, you would look in vain for the
slightest trace of any vulgar picture; Toby had no love for such
so-called sport as prize fighting or any kindred subject.

Here in this adorable den, reflecting the loves of a genuine boy with
red blood in his veins, there often assembled a number of lads who
always felt very much at home amidst such surroundings; but Toby would
allow of no rough-house scuffling in his quarters, to annoy his mother,
and get on her nerves. When the fellows dropped in to have a chat and
lounge in his easy chairs amidst such exhilarating surroundings they
were expected to behave themselves.

Joel had the big lamp lighted. It threw a fine mellow glow over the
walls of the den and showed up the myriad of objects with which they
were covered. Somehow, Joel always liked his room much better when that
royal lamp was burning, for even the most remote corner, seldom pierced
by the intercepted rays of the sun, loomed up under its ardent rays.

Here the pair settled down for a long quiet chat. Jack wanted to ask a
hundred questions bearing on the boys with whom he had become so
intimately associated during the few months since his advent in Chester.
Since they had so kindly bestowed the leadership in sports upon him, he
wished to be like a wise general and lose no opportunity for learning
each boy's individual ability.

Of course he had been keeping close "tabs" on them right along, but
then, Toby, who had seen them attempting to play football, for instance,
would be able to tell of certain stunts this or that fellow had done
that were out of the common. Such points help amazingly in "putting a
round man in a round hole." Too often a half-back should be a tackle, or
a guard, in order to bring out the very best that is in him.

Then again Toby knew more or less concerning the fighting abilities of
the teams in the neighboring towns, Marshall and Harmony in particular.
His love for sport had taken Toby to every game within thirty miles he
could hear of in contemplation; for if Chester seemed bound to sleep,
and decline to enter the lists, a fellow who yearned to indulge in such
things must go abroad to satisfy his longings.

So it came about that he was able to give Jack many valuable tips
connected with the elevens with whom Chester was apt to come in contact,
should they succeed in whipping a team into anything like fair

"Now, after all you've told me about our boys," Jack was saying along
after nine o'clock, when he was thinking of starting home, feeling tired
after such a strenuous day, "I begin to believe we can get up a squad of
football players here capable of putting up a strong game. One thing in
our favor is the fact that we have an old athlete like Coach Joe Hooker
to show us how to work out greenhorns."

"That's as true as you live," snapped Toby, his face glowing with
eagerness, for one of the ambitions of his life seemed in prospect of
being fulfilled. "I've never really played football, though of course I
can kick, and run, and dodge pretty fairly. But in theory I'm away up in
the game. Other fellows are in the same fix; and we'll need a whole lot
of practice before we feel justified in going up against any older
eleven. Like as not we'll get snowed under; but even if we lose every
game this season, it'll give us what we need in the way of experience,
and another year we'll show the way."

"There are lots of other outdoor games we'll have to take up in season,"
continued Jack, thoughtfully. "Once the spirit of sport has gripped the
boys of Chester, and they'll be hungry to go into anything that means a
test of endurance, skill or pluck."

"I suppose now you've played football before, Jack?" asked the other.

"Well, we had a pretty fair eleven in the city I came from, and I was
lucky enough to belong to them," he said modestly. "I don't know that I
shone as a star very much, but on the whole, we managed to keep up our
end, and last year we pulled off the championship in our section of

"What position did you fill?" queried Toby.

"Our captain made a half-back of me," came the answer. "Somehow he
seemed to believe I was better suited for that position than a tackle,
though I wanted to be in the other place at the start. But it happened
there were two sprinters better fitted than I was to hold down the job.
So unless I run across a man who seems to show signs of being my
superior in the field I've occupied, I suppose I'll continue to play
half-back to the end of the chapter."

"Well," remarked Toby, as Jack made out to pick up his cap with the
intention of leaving, since the hour was getting late, "one more day,
and then what? A whole twenty-four hours for things to happen calculated
to bust up our plans, and knock 'em galley-west. I wish, this was Friday
night, and nothing serious had come about. We need that big game to make
us solid with the people of Chester. It might be hard on poor Harmony,
but it would be the making of our town."

"Hearing you say that," chuckled Jack, "makes me think of that story of
the old man and his boy's bull-pup."

"I don't know that I've ever heard it, so fire away and tell the yarn,
Jack," the other pleaded.

"Why, once a boy had a young bull-pup of which he was very fond. His
father also took considerable interest in teaching the dog new tricks.
On one occasion the old man was down on his knees trying to make the
small dog jump at him, while the boy kept sicking him on. Suddenly the
bull-pup made a lunge forward and before the old man could draw back he
had gripped him by the nose, and held on like fun. Then the boy, only
thinking of how they had succeeded in tempting the small dog, clapped
his hands and commenced to dance around, shouting: 'Swing him around,
dad, swing him every which way! It's hard on you, of course, but I tell
you it'll be the making of the pup!'"

Toby laughed as Jack finished the anecdote, which it happened he had
never heard before.

"Well, Harmony will be dad, and the bull-pup I know turns out to be
Chester, bent on holding through thick and thin to victory. I'm glad you
came over, Jack, and if I've been able to hand you out a few pointers we
haven't wasted our time."

"I noticed when on the way here that it had clouded up," remarked Jack.
"Let's hope we don't get a storm that will compel us to postpone that
game. Our boys are in the pink of condition, with so much practice, and
might go stale by another week."

"That's another cause for anxiety, then," croaked Toby shrugging his
shoulders. "Here, I'll find my cap, and step outdoors with you. My eyes
are blinking after so much light, and a breath of fresh air wouldn't go

He had hardly said this than Toby stopped in his tracks.

"Listen, Jack, the fire-alarm bell! There's a blaze starting up, and
with so much wind blowing it may mean a big conflagration. Where did I
toss that cap of mine?"

"I saw something like a cap behind the rowing-machine over there when I
tried it out," observed the other, whose habit of noticing even the
smallest things often served him well.

"Just what it is," asserted Toby, after making a wild plunge in the
quarter designated; "that's my meanest trait, Jack. Mother tries to
break me of it ever so often, but I seem to go back again to the old
trick of carelessness. Now come on, and we'll rush out. Already I can
hear people beginning to shout."

They went downstairs two at a jump. For once Toby did not think of his
mother's nerves. Fires were not so frequent an occurrence in the history
of a small city like Chester that a prospective conflagration could be
treated lightly.

Once out of the house and they had no difficulty about deciding in which
direction the fire lay. Some people, principally boys, were already
running full-tilt through the street, and all seemed to be heading in
the one direction. At the same time all manner of comments could be
heard passing between them as they galloped along, fairly panting.

"It must be the big mill, from the light that's beginning to show up in
the sky!" hazarded one boy.

"Shucks! what are you giving us, Sandy!" gasped another. "The mill ain't
over in that direction at all. Only cottages lie there, with an
occasional haystack belongin' to some garden-truck raiser. Mebbe it
might be a barn."

"Just what it is, Tim," a third boy chimed in eagerly. "Hay burns like
wildfire you know, and see how red the sky is agettin' now."

Neither Jack nor Toby had thus far ventured to make any sort of guess.
No matter what was afire it promised to be a serious affair, with the
wind blowing at the rate of twenty miles an hour or more. If it turned
out to be a private house some one was likely to be rendered homeless
before long.

The bell continued to clang harshly. Chester still clung to the
volunteer system of firemen, though there was some talk of purchasing an
up-to-date motor truck engine, and hiring a force to be on duty day and

"Jack," suddenly called out Toby, "don't you see that we're heading
straight for Fred's house. Honest to goodness I believe it's that very
cottage afire right now."



"Hello there, fellows, you're on the job, too, I see!"

That was burly Steve Mullane calling out as he came tearing along in the
wake of Jack and Toby. Steve was passionately fond of anything in the
line of a fire. He had been known to chase for miles out into the
country on learning that some farmer's haystacks and barn were ablaze;
though he usually arrived far too late to see anything but the ruins.

"What do you think, Steve," gurgled Toby, "I was just saying I thought
it might be Fred Baxter's place."

"Seems like it was around that section of territory anyhow," replied the
other, as well as he was able to speak, while exerting himself to the

Jack made no immediate comment, but he himself was beginning to believe
Toby's guess might not be far wrong. It gave him a fresh wrench about
the region of his heart to believe this. It would mean another source of
trouble for poor Fred, and might in the end eliminate him from the game
on Saturday.

All Chester was aroused by this time. When that brazen bell kept
clanging away in such a loud fashion people knew that something out of
the usual run was taking place. They flocked forth, all hurrying in the
same general direction, until the streets were fairly blocked with the

Now came the engine, driven by an expert member of the fire company, the
pair of horses galloping wildly under the whip, and the spur of such
general excitement. Loud cheers greeted the advent of the volunteer
department. The men looked very brave and heroic with their red
firehats, and rubber coats. They would undoubtedly do good work once
they got on the ground; but that wind was playing havoc with things, and
perhaps after all it might not be possible to save the imperiled

All doubts were removed, for on rounding a bend the three boys
discovered that it was actually the modest Badger house that was afire.
Flames could be seen pouring out of the windows, and a great smoke
arose, telling that the whole interior must be heating up, and liable to
break into a vast blaze at any minute.

"Whee! it looks bad for Fred's folks, now!" cried Toby, his first
thought being of the suffering of those involved.

"It's going to make a dandy fire, all right!" Steve was heard to say to
himself; and it was not because he was a heartless boy that this was his
first thought, for Steve could be as tender as the next one; only he did
dearly love a fire, and on that account was apt to forget how a blaze
almost always meant loss for somebody, possibly deadly peril as well.

There was quite a mob of people already on the spot. Some who lived much
closer than the three chums had been able to reach the scene of the fire
in considerably less time.

Jack was trying to remember what things looked like in the near vicinity
of the Badger home. He had been there only once or twice in all, but
that habit of observation clung to him, and he was thus able to
recollect how he had noticed that some sort of a woodshed stood close to
the back of the house. If this held considerable fuel for the kitchen
stove, and a fire managed to start in some way, it was just situated
right to sweep through the house, being on the windward end.

"Where's Fred and his folks?" asked Toby just then, as they started
boy-fashion to elbow their way through the crowd, determined to get in
the front rank in order to see everything that transpired.

Jack was himself looking eagerly around, with the same object in view.
He remembered the sad face of Fred's little mother, who he feared had
seen much of trouble during the later years of her life. It looked as
though there might be still more cause for anxiety hovering over her.

"She must be in that bunch of women folks over yonder," asserted Steve.
"Yes, I just had a glimpse of that pretty little kid, Fred's sister,
Barbara. One of the women is holding the child in her arms, and she's
wrapped in bed clothes, which shows she must have been sleeping when the
fire broke out."

"I wonder what's happening over where that group of men is standing,"
remarked Toby, solicitously. "There, a boy has fetched a dipper of water
from the well bucket. Why, somebody must have been hurt, Jack."

"Let's make our way over and find out," suggested Steve, quickly.

Accordingly the three boys pushed through the various groups of
chattering men, women and children. The firemen had by now managed to
get to work, and the first stream of water was playing on the burning
house; though every one could see that there was little chance of saving
any part of the doomed structure, since the fire fiend had gained such a

"What's the matter here?" Jack asked a small boy who came reeling out
from the packed crowd, as though unable to look any longer.

"Why, it's Fred Badger!" he told them in his shrill piping tones that
could be heard even above the hoarse cries of the fire laddies and the
murmur of voices from the surging mob, constantly growing larger as
fresh additions arrived.

"What happened to him?" almost savagely asked Steve.

"He was trying to haul some of the furniture out, I heard tell,"
continued the Chester urchin, "and he got hurted some way. He's lying
there like he was dead. I just couldn't stand it any more, that's what."

Filled with horror Jack pushed forward, with his two chums backing him
up. What fresh calamity was threatening the Badger family, he asked
himself. Poor Fred certainly had quite enough to battle against without
being knocked out in this fashion.

When, however, they had managed to press in close enough to see, it was
to discover the object of their solicitude sitting up. Fred looked like
a "drowned rat," as Toby hastened to remark, almost joyously. Evidently
they had emptied the pail of cold water over his head in the effort to
revive him, and with more or less success.

Jack was considerably relieved. It was not so bad as he had feared,
though Fred certainly looked weak, and next door to helpless.

"I hope he'll not be knocked out from playing that game with us
Saturday," Steve took occasion to say.

"Oh! Fred's made of tough stuff," asserted Toby, the wish being father
to the thought; "he'll recover all right. I only hope they've got their
goods covered by insurance. It'd be pretty rocky if they didn't, let me
tell you. Nearly everything is gone, I'm afraid. Fred did manage to drag
a little out, but that fire is bound to eat up the balance, no matter
what the firemen can do to throw water inside."

Jack suddenly discovered that the man whom he had seen talking with Fred
was pushing his way through the group. He acted too as though he might
be deeply interested in matters, for he shoved folks aside with an air
that would not stand for a refusal to allow him free passage. Toby
discovered him at about the identical moment.

"Look who's here, Jack!" he muttered, tugging at the other's coat
sleeve. "Now, what under the sun's gone and fetched that duck out here
to bother Fred again? We really ought not allow such a thing, Jack. The
nerve of the slick sport to push his way in to where Fred lies there."

"Just hold your horses, will you, Toby?" Jack told him. "As yet we don't
know anything about that man, who or what life is, and the nature of his
business with Fred. There, you see the boy seems to be glad to have him
around. Why, the man has gripped his hand. He seems to be a whole lot
excited, for he's questioning Fred as if he wanted to make sure
everybody was safe out of the cottage."

"I wonder if they are?" remarked Toby. "I've seen little Barbara, and
here's our comrade, while I reckon I glimpsed Mrs. Badger over there
among those women; but how about the crippled girl, Jack? Anybody seen
her around?"

A fresh thrill seized Jack's heart in a grip of ice. Of course it was
almost silly to suspect that the cripple could have been forgotten in
all the excitement; but anything is liable to happen at a fire, where
most people lose their heads, and do things they would call absurd at
another time.

"Fred would be apt to know, I should think," suggested Steve, anxiously,
casting an apprehensive glance in the direction of the burning house,
and mentally calculating just what chance any one still inside those
walls would have of coming out alive.

"Unless he was rattled in the bargain," said Jack. "Lots of people leave
things for others to do. Fred may have thought his mother would fetch
Lucy out; and on her part she took it for granted Fred had taken care of
his sister the first thing."

"Gee whiz! I wonder, could that happen, and the poor thing be in there
right now," Toby exclaimed, looking horrified at the idea.

"Listen to all that squealing over among the women, will you?" Steve was

Indeed, a fresh outburst of feminine cries could be heard. Apparently
something had happened to give the women new cause for fright. Some of
those around Fred turned to look. They could see the women running this
way and that like a colony of bees that has been disturbed.

"They certain sure act like they might be looking for somebody!"
asserted Toby. "See how they ask questions of everyone they meet. Jack,
do you think Fred's mother could have just learned that something had
happened to her boy; or would it be Lucy they miss for the first time?"

"We'll soon know," said Jack, firmly, "because here comes one of the
women running this way like a frightened rabbit."

Eagerly, and with their pulses bounding like mad, they awaited the
arrival of the woman. Many others had also turned to greet her, sensing
some fresh calamity, before which even the burning of the poor widow's
cottage would sink into insignificance.

"Is she here, men?" gasped the woman, almost out of breath. "Have any of
you seen Lucy Badger? We can't find her anywhere. Is that Fred there on
the ground? He ought to know, because his mother says he must have taken
his sister from the house."

They all turned toward Fred. He still sat there looking white and weak,
though he was evidently recovering by degrees from his swoon after being
hit on the head by some falling object. He looked up in sudden anxiety
as he heard the woman speaking.

"What's the matter, Mrs. Moody?" he asked, trying to get on his knees,
though the effort was almost too much for his strength. "What's that you
said about my sister Lucy? Oh! isn't she with mother and Barbara? I
thought sure I saw her in the crowd while I was working trying to save
some of the furniture mother valued."

"We can't find the girl anywhere!" the woman cried, in anguish, "and
perhaps she's still in there, stupefied by the smoke, and unable to save
herself, poor, poor thing. Oh! somebody must try to find out if it's so.
Fred, are you able to make the attempt?"

Poor Fred fell back on his knees. His powers of recuperation did not
seem equal to the demand. He groaned miserably on discovering how unable
he was to doing what in his manly heart he believed to be his solemn

Jack was about to take it upon himself to attempt the dangerous rôle
when to his astonishment the mysterious stranger sprang up, and made a
thrilling announcement.



"Let me try to save the child; it is no more than right that I should be
the one to risk his life!"

Possibly some of the men might have laid hands on the stranger and
prevented his attempting such a rash act, for with the house so filled
with smoke and flame it seemed next door to madness for any one to brave
the peril that lay in wait. He managed to elude them, however, and to
the astonishment of the three boys in particular, plunged recklessly
through the door where vast columns of smoke could be seen pouring

Apparently one of the valiant firemen might have been better fitted for
this dangerous duty than a gentleman of his calibre. Jack was tempted to
follow after the stranger, but the firemen had formed a line in front of
the entrance, and by their manner announced that no second fool would be
allowed to take his life in his hands by entering that blazing building.

Just then Mrs. Baxter came staggering up. She must have seen the little
episode, and suspected strongly that the one who had gone in was her own
boy Fred, unable to hold himself in check after learning that his poor
sister was in all probability still within the cottage.

Some of the men caught her as she was trying to rush toward the door,
holding out her arms entreatingly. The boys understood when they heard
her crying:

"Oh! why did you let him go in there? Was it not enough that I should
lose one of my children, but now I am doubly bereft! Fred, Fred, come
back to me!"

"Mother, see here I am!" called the boy, this time managing to regain
his feet, though he swayed unsteadily, and might have fallen in his
weakness only for Jack, who quickly put a sustaining arm around him.

Mrs. Badger turned swiftly and with a look of new-born joy on her
strained features. Another instant and she had darted forward and
embraced Fred. The poor woman was almost frantic with mingled emotions,
nor could any one blame her for giving way to weeping as she hugged

"Oh! I was sure it must be you, my son, and I feared I should never see
either of you again!" she cried, passionately.

"I wanted to go, mother," he told her, soothingly, "but I couldn't stand
alone. You see, I was struck on the head and knocked out, so I'm feeling
as weak as a kitten."

"But Lucy?" wailed the poor woman.

"Try to calm yourself, mother," urged Fred, stoutly. "If she is in there
still he may yet be in time to save her, with the aid of Providence."

"But tell me who was so ready to take his own life in his hands, so as
to try and save my child for me?" she went on, almost hysterically. "Oh!
I shall never cease to remember him for a noble man in my prayers. What
neighbor could have been such a Good Samaritan to me and mine!"

"It was the stranger, Mrs. Badger!" said one of the men close by, and
Jack, as well as Toby listened eagerly for what was coming.

"Yes, a party who's been hanging around town for a week or more,
stopping at the Eureka House," added another of the citizens, who
apparently had noticed the presence of the guest in question, and even
speculated as to his object in staying so long in Chester, where there
were no special summer attractions outside of the beautiful lake near

"And he seemed to have lots of money in the bargain," a third went on to
say, as he eyed the burning house as though wondering greatly why a
stranger would accept such grave risks for people whom he could never
have seen before.

"Mebbe I might throw a little light on this thing," said another man,
eagerly. "I happened to get in conversation with the party at one time.
He goes by the name of Smith at the hotel. He told me he'd been pretty
much of a wanderer, and had seen most of the world. But among other
things he said was that once on a time he had been a fireman. He even
showed me a scar that he said reminded him of a night when he nigh lost
his life in a big blaze. So you see he's right in his line when he goes
into a burning building to effect a rescue!"

Jack was picking up points as he listened to these things so hurriedly
said. He turned to see what effect they had upon Fred and his mother.
The woman seemed more bewildered than ever. Evidently she could not
understand why a total stranger should risk his life for her child when
so many of her neighbors stood around; unless it might be the old fever
still burned in Smith's veins, and he could not resist the lure of the
crackling flames that seemed to be defying him.

Fred, however, did not look at all puzzled. There was an eager light in
his eyes that Jack began to understand. Fred knew something that his
mother was utterly ignorant of. He had heard those words of hers about
remembering the gallant stranger in her prayers with considerable
emotion. Jack even thought the expression written on the face of the boy
might spell delight.

"But even if he had at one time been a fire-fighter in the city," Mrs.
Badger kept on saying, wonderingly, "why should he be so eager to throw
away his life in _my_ service. What could a poor woman and her
crippled child be to him?"

Then Fred, unable longer to keep his wonderful secret, burst out:

"Oh! mother, don't you know, can't you guess who he is? Why, it's only
right he should be the one to save our poor Lucy, or perish in the
attempt; because this is the great chance he's been praying would come,
so he could prove to you that he has redeemed the past. Mother, surely
now you know who he is?"

She stared at him as though bewildered. Then her eyes again sought the
burning building into which the stranger had plunged, bent on his
mission of mercy. By now the staggering truth must have forced itself
into her groping mind, for she suddenly caught hold of Fred again, and
hugged him passionately.

"It must be the mysterious ways of Heaven!" Jack heard her say. "Tell
me, boy, do you mean that it is----"

"Yes, my father!" Fred said, "and for a whole week and more I have known
about his being here. He wanted to wait until I could get up courage
enough to break the news to you. He has changed, mother, oh! so much,
and made a fortune honestly in the mines, just to show you that the past
has been wiped out. And surely this last act of his proves it."

The poor woman sank on her knees. Jack could see her lips move, though
of course he was unable to catch a single word she uttered; but he felt
positive she was sending up a prayer of gratitude, and beseeching
Providence that the precious lives of both father and daughter might be
spared through a miracle.

It was all as clear as daylight to Jack now. He could easily understand
how at some time in the past, while the Badgers lived in another town,
the husband and father had fallen into evil ways, almost breaking his
wife's heart. Finally he had possibly been forced to flee from the law,
which he may have broken while under the influence of liquor. And all
through the years that had come and gone they had never heard of him
again, so that she felt she had a right to call herself a widow.

Then one day had come this stranger to Chester, whom Fred must have met,
to learn that the other was his own father. He doubtless had been old
enough to understand how cruelly his beloved mother had been treated in
the past, and it took time to make the boy believe in the protestations
of the prodigal father. As the days passed he saw the other frequently,
and was gradually coming to believe that his reformation had been

All the while Mr. Badger had been afraid lest his wife refuse to forgive
him, and receive him. From afar he had taken to watching the humble
cottage home in which his dear ones dwelt, and doubtless each day saw
his yearning to embrace them grow stronger.

Why, Jack could easily understand now his peculiar actions at the time
he stood leaning on the picket fence, and watching; also why he should
seek to hold the trusting little hand of pretty Barbara as he walked at
her side. He would doubtless have given worlds just then for the
privilege of clasping the child in his arms and straining her to his
heart, but he did not dare, lest she repulse him.

It was simply grand, and Jack's heart beat tumultuously as he watched
Mrs. Badger praying for the safety of little Lucy, yes, and also for the
life of the man whom she had for years been trying to put out of her
mind as utterly unworthy of remembrance.

Just then in the light of his noble sacrifice she undoubtedly forgot all
the misery he had caused her during their married life, and could only
think of him as he had appeared during their courtship, when she
believed him the best of his sex.

It would be all right, Jack believed, if only Mr. Badger might find his
Lucy, and be able to save her life. His wife would be only too ready and
willing to let the bitter past sink into oblivion, and begin life anew,
in her belief in his reformation.

So all interest now hung over the burning cottage. Somewhere inside
those doomed walls the man who had once upon a time in his checkered
career served as a fireman on a city force, was groping his way about,
seeking to stumble over the unconscious form of the poor little cripple
whom the pungent smoke had caused to collapse before she could creep to

His utter ignorance of the interior of the cottage would be against him,
Jack feared. He wondered whether a double tragedy might complete this
wonderful happening; or would Heaven be so kind as to allow the
repentant man to save Lucy, and thus again cement the bonds his
wickedness in the past had severed?

The only things in his favor were first of all the fact that he had had
much experience along this line of life-saving, and would know just how
to go about it; and then again his great enthusiasm might serve to carry
him along through difficulties that would have daunted most men.

The firemen could do next to nothing to assist in the rescue. They
gathered before the building, and sent several streams of water in at
the gaping front door, as if desirous of keeping the flames back as long
as possible, and thus affording the stranger a better chance for
effecting his purpose.

Already he had been inside for several minutes. Events had occurred with
lightning-like rapidity, for Fred and his mother had talked eagerly. To
Jack, however, it seemed as though a quarter of an hour must have
elapsed, he was in such a state of suspense. He felt as though he must
break through the line of fire fighters and dash into the cottage, to
find the pair they knew to be still there amidst that terrible smoke, so
dense and suffocating.

Would they ever come out, he kept asking himself, as he strained his
eyes while looking. When hope was beginning to fade away Jack heard a
shout that thrilled him to the core, and made him pluck up new courage.



"There he is!"

It was this thrilling cry that broke out above the noise of the
crackling flames, the spatter of rushing water, and the murmur of many

"And he's got the child with him!" another sharp-eyed onlooker shouted
exultantly; for although they knew nothing of the tie that bound the
stranger to the crippled girl he had gone to save, they could appreciate
the heroism at its true value, and were ready to honor the other for his
brave deed.

Staggering forth from the building came the man. He utterly disdained
any assistance from the ready firemen, lost in admiration for his
courage. They might have deemed him next-door to a fool when he dashed
into the building, but now in the light of his astonishing success he
was a hero.

Mrs. Badger gave a thrilling cry, and advanced toward the man who bore
the cripple in his arms. He was a pitiable sight, for most of his beard
and hair had been scorched, and in places doubtless he had received
burns more or less serious; but he paid no attention to such things.

"Here is your darling child, Mary; I saved her for you!"

Hardly had Mrs. Badger taken the unconscious girl in her arms when the
man sank down at her feet in a dead faint. He had held up through
everything until he was able to effect his purpose, and then Nature
could stand no more.

Jack bent over him and called for water. He sincerely hoped that it
might not be so serious as he feared. The experienced fire-fighter would
have known better than to have inhaled any of the flame as he passed
through; and apparently from the condition of his clothes he could not
have been very seriously burned.

No sooner had cold water been applied to his face and neck than he came
to, and persisted in sitting up. His gaze wandered wistfully over to
where his wife was bending over the crippled girl so solicitously. Jack
knew, however, that no matter if the rescue had been made too late, Mr.
Badger had undoubtedly earned a right to the forgiveness of the one whom
he had so cruelly wronged in the past.

But it seemed that everything was going to come out all right, for now
he saw that the women gathered about the mother and child were looking
less alarmed. Undoubtedly Lucy was responding to their efforts at
resuscitation. She must have fallen on the floor in such a position as
to keep her from inhaling much less smoke than would have been the case
had she remained on her feet. The air is always found to be purer near
the floor during a fire, as many a person trapped within a burning
building has discovered.

Now Mrs. Badger had started back toward the spot where the rescuer lay.
Perhaps some appealing word from Fred had caused her to remember what
she owed to the savior of her crippled child.

Mr. Badger saw her coming; trust his eager eyes for that. He managed to
struggle to his feet, and stood there waiting; but he need not have
feared concerning the result. What he had done this night had forever
washed out the bitterness of the past. All the former tenderness in her
heart toward him was renewed when she hurried up, and taking one
solicitous tearful look into his blackened face, threw herself into his
arms with a glad cry.

"Oh! Donald, we have lost our little home, but I am the happiest woman
on earth this night; for what does that matter when I have found
_you_ again?"

"Mary, my wife, can you find it in your gentle heart to really forgive
me?" Jack heard him ask; not that he meant to play the part of
eavesdropper, but he chanced to be very close, and was unable to break
away from such an affecting scene.

"Never speak of it again to me," she told him. "It is buried forever,
all that is displeasing. We will forget it absolutely. In saving our
child you have nobly redeemed yourself in my eyes. I am proud of you,
Donald. But oh! I hope your hurts may not be serious."

"They could be ten times as serious and I would glory in them," he was
saying as Jack turned away; but he saw the man bend down and tenderly
kiss his wife, while her arms were about his neck.

Toby, too, had heard everything. He was the possessor of a very tender
heart, and as he trotted off at Jack's side he was making all sorts of
queer faces, which the other knew full well were meant to hide the fact
that his eyes were swimming in tears, and no boy likes it to be known
that he is actually crying.

"Did you ever hear of such a fine thing as that, Jack?" Toby was saying
between sniffles. "Why, it just goes away ahead of any story I ever
read. Think of that man we believed might be a city sport, bent on
bribing Fred to throw the great game, turning out to be his own dad! I
reckon he treated his poor wife right mean some years ago, and she's
never been able to think of him except as a bad egg. But say, he
certainly has come back in the last inning, and carried the game off
with a wonderful home-run hit."

"And Toby," remarked the delighted Jack, "we can easily understand now
why that man hung around the Badger cottage at the time we discovered
him leaning on the picket fence. He was hungering for a sight of his
wife's face, and counting the minutes until Fred could find some way to
introduce the subject to his mother."

"And then about little Barbara, I rather guess he was taken with her
pretty face and quaint speech," continued Toby, reflectively. "Why, at
the time he skipped out she could not have been any more than a baby.
Well, it's all been a drama equal to anything I ever saw shown in the
movies; and in the end everything has come out well. I feel like
shouting all the way home, I'm so tickled over it."

"Another thing pleases me," continued Jack. "We needn't be bothering our
heads over Fred turning traitor to his team after this."

"That's so!" echoed Steve.

"For one," added Toby, sagaciously, "I've had a hunch, Jack, you never
could bring yourself to believe that there was anything about that same
affair. In spite of the circumstantial evidence in the case you always
kept believing Fred must be innocent. Am I right?"

"Perhaps you are, Toby, but I do confess I was considerably worried.
Fred's actions were all so suspicious; and besides, we knew that he had
great need for a certain sum of money at home. If ever I allowed myself
to fear the worst, at the same time I understood that the temptation was
great, because of his love for his mother."

"But it's all going to come out just bully now," laughed Toby. "You both
heard what Fred said about his father having made a fortune honestly in
the mines, working ever so hard, just to prove to his wife how he had
surely reformed, and wanted to show it by deeds. They'll have no need to
worry over money matters from this time out. And let's hope the prodigal
dad will make everybody so happy that they'll almost be glad he went bad
and had to reform."

The other boys had to laugh at Toby's queer way of putting it, but they
understood what he meant. The fire was still burning furiously, and
despite the efforts of Chester's valiant fighters it seemed disposed to
make a clean sweep of the cottage with its contents, all but the few
precious heirlooms Fred had been able to drag out in the beginning.

"I certainly do hope, though," Steve thought to say presently, "that
Fred won't be so knocked out by his blow on the head, and all this
wonderful excitement, as not to be able to play in our big game

"Gee whiz! that _would_ be a calamity for sure!" exclaimed Toby.
"Jack, you wondered whether anything else could happen to give you
trouble about your line-up against Harmony, and here it has come along.
Better have a little heart-to-heart talk with Fred, and get him to
promise not to go back on his old pals; for we certainly couldn't fill
the gap at third if he dropped out, not at this late day anyhow."

"I meant to do that without your mentioning it, Toby," responded the
other, patting his chum on the shoulder as he spoke. "I'll hang around
and try to get a chance to speak with Fred when things simmer down a
bit. But I tell you right now that boy isn't the one to go back on his
friends. He'll play if he's in fit condition, no matter how his home
conditions have altered for the better. Why, he'll be so full of
happiness, I reckon, Fred Badger will star through the whole game."

"According to all reports from Harmony," remarked Steve, drily, "we'll
be apt to need all the starring we can get. They're working like
troopers over there, I'm told, because we threw such a scare in 'em that
last game, when we got on to Hendrix, and most knocked him out of the

"Well, Chester is going some in the bargain," retorted Toby Hopkins. "We
believe our team is ten per cent. better than it was last Saturday.
Donohue says he never felt so fit as right now; and every fellow on the
nine is standing on his toes, ready to prove to the scoffers of Chester
that Jack's team here is the peer of any aggregation in the whole
country, not even barring the hitherto invincible Harmony crowd. We've
got it in for Hendrix, believe _me_!"

Jack liked to hear such enthusiasm. If every member of the team were as
much inspired as Toby seemed to be, they would almost certainly prove
unbeatable. With such a spirit to back them up, a ninth inning rally was
always a strong possibility.

The fire was now beginning to die down, for the house had been pretty
well gutted, and there was little standing save the charred walls. Of
course the firemen continued to play the hose upon the smoldering pile,
but the picturesque part of the conflagration was over, and many people
had already commenced to start back home.

Numerous neighbors had offered the family temporary accommodations, and
insisted on them coming to stay until they could secure fresh quarters.
Perhaps these offers were all of them wholly sincere, though it would
perhaps have been only human for some of the good women to be a bit
curious concerning the unexpected appearance of Mr. Badger on the scene,
whom they had all believed to be dead; and they might relish hearing
about the family reunion; though Jack could well believe little would
ever be told reflecting on the good name of the repentant husband and

He managed to find a chance to speak with Fred, and the squeeze of his
hand told the other how much Jack sympathized with him, as well as
rejoiced over the happy ending of all Fred's troubles.

"Will I stand by you fellows, and work in that game, are you asking me,
Jack?" he ejaculated, presently, when the captain had found a chance to
put his question. "Why, wild horses couldn't drag me away from that
baseball field. This glorious thing that has come to my dear mother and
the rest of us just makes me feel like I could perform better than ever
in my life. Make up your mind, Jack, old fellow, Little Fred will be on
guard at that third sack on Saturday, barring accidents, and trying to
put up the game of his young life. Why, I'm just bubbling over with joy;
and I feel like I ought to do my little part toward putting Chester on
the map as a center for all boys' sports."

And when later on Jack wended his way toward home, accompanied by Toby
and Steve, he felt more positive than ever that a great future was
beginning to loom up for the boys of Chester; and the winning of the
coming contest would be a gateway leading into the Land of Promise.



On Friday there was a light fall of rain that gave the boys of Chester a
fear lest the great game be postponed. It turned out that this was a
needless scare, for Saturday opened with fair skies, while even the air
seemed delightful for a day in the middle of summer, with a gentle
breeze blowing from the west.

The exodus began early in the day, and after noon traffic along the main
road leading to Harmony was exceedingly heavy, all sorts of vehicles
rolling onward, from sporty cars and laden motor trucks, down to humble
wagons and buggies, with plenty of bicycles and motorcycles in evidence.

Once they arrived at the Harmony Field Club grounds, they found that
there was to be a most amazing crowd of people to cheer the respective
teams on with all manner of encouraging shouts and class yells.

There would not be any change in the line-up of Chester, for luckily all
the boys had come through the grilling work of the past week without
encountering any serious injuries. Harmony had not been quite so lucky,
for their efficient third baseman, Young, had had his collarbone
fractured during practice, and would be incapacitated from service the
balance of the season.

In his place, a fellow by the name of Parsons was expected to guard
third. None of the Chester boys remembered ever having seen him work, so
they were utterly in the dark as to his abilities. The Harmony fellows
gave out mysterious hints about the "great find" they had made in
picking up Parsons, who was a most terrific batter, as well as a dandy
third-sacker. He was very likely, they claimed, to break up the whole
game by his way of slamming out three-baggers every time he stepped up
to bat.

Of course few Chester boys really believed all this high talk. They
understood very well that if a weakness had really developed in
Harmony's infield, it would be policy on the part of the local rooters
to try to conceal the fact, so that the Chester batters might not focus
all their hits in the direction of third. Nevertheless, the boasting of
the Harmony fans gave more than one visitor a cold feeling around the
region of his heart. He watched Parsons in the practice before the game
was called, and every little stunt which he performed was horribly
magnified in their eyes.

Fortunately, Mr. Merrywether, the impartial umpire, was able to
officiate again, which fact pleased both sides. They knew they could be
sure of a square deal at his hands, and that was all any honest ball
player could ask. When the public understands that an umpire always
tries to do his duty as he sees it, and cannot be swerved from his path
by any hoodlum tactics, they seem to feel a sort of affection for such a
man, who is an honor to his chosen profession.

Long before the time came for play to begin every seat was taken, and
hundreds were standing; while every avenue leading to the enclosed
grounds seemed to be choked with hurrying, jostling throngs. They were
anxious to at least get within seeing distance of the diamond, where
they could add their voices to the cheers bound to arise as brilliant
plays were pulled off by either side.

This was certainly the biggest event in the line of boys sports that had
ever occurred at or near Harmony. Such a vast outpouring of people had
never before been seen. Chester was represented by hundreds of her best
citizens, attended by their wives. And really it would be hard to think
of a Chester boy over ten years of age who had not managed somehow or
other to get over, so as to watch how Jack Winters and his team came out
in the conclusive game with the great Hendrix.

All species of noises arose all around the field, from a myriad of
automobile horns and frequent school yells given under the direction of
the rival cheer captains, who stood in front of the bleachers, and waved
their arms like semaphores as they led their cohorts in concert,
whooping out the recognized yells of either Harmony or Chester.

The pitchers were trying out in one corner of the grounds in full view
of the entire mass of spectators. Many curious eyes watched them limber
up their arms for the work before them. Besides Hendrix and Donohue
several reserve pitchers on either side were in line, sending and
receiving in routine; but of course never once delivering their
deceptive curves or drops, lest the opposing players get a line on their
best tricks, and prepare to meet them later on.

No one had any doubts concerning who was slated to occupy the box. It
was bound to be the same batteries as in the last game, Hendrix and
Chase for Harmony, Donohue and Mullane for Chester. If for any reason
either of these star pitchers should be so unfortunate as to get a
"lacing," then possibly one of the substitutes might be introduced so as
to save the day; but there was a slim chance of any such thing coming to

Jack had no reason to feel discouraged. To be sure, he had passed
through quite a strenuous week, and been worried over a number of his
leading players; but after all, things had turned out very well. Now
that the great day had arrived, he believed every fellow on the nine was
feeling first class.

There was Donohue, for instance, who had been on the verge of throwing
up his job as pitcher because he believed he would be over in Harmony
when the day arrived, living there for good; but Jack had fixed all
that, so that he was now firmly settled as a citizen of Chester, and
could put his whole heart into his work in the box.

Joel Jackman had come close to drowning, but it was Jack who had been
instrumental in rescuing him when he caught that cramp in the cold water
of the lake; and, so far as appearances went, Joel was feeling as he
declared, "just prime." He ran after the loftiest flies that were
knocked his way as though he had the speed of the wind; yes, and not
once was he guilty of a flagrant muff, though some of those balls called
for an exhibition of agility and skill bordering on genius.

Lastly, there was Fred Badger, who had also given Jack many a heartache
since the last tie game with Harmony; but Fred was jumping around his
favorite third sack, smothering every grounder that sped his way, and
pegging to first with a promptness and accuracy that made some of the
Harmony fans shiver as they thought of how easily their fastest runner
would be caught miles from the base by such wonderful playing as that,
provided Fred could do as well in the real game.

The time was close at hand for the umpire to call play, and of course
there was an eagerness as well as a tinge of anxiety running through the
crowds of spectators. In a hotly contested game such as was very likely
to develop, often a little thing will seem like a mountain; and upon a
mere trifle the fate of the contest may in the end depend. Should any
one of the players "crack" under the strain, such a thing was likely to
settle the controversy for good.

Since there was such a monstrous crowd present that ropes had to be used
to keep them from surging on to the field, of course ground rules had to
be arranged in advance. This was certain to work a little in favor of
the home team. For instance, every Harmony batter knew that a hit toward
right would send the ball into the near bleachers, which feat would
count for two bases; whereas, if the ball were free to travel, it might
be fielded back in time to hold the runner at first. Then again, a
little more steam would send the horse-hide careening over right-field
fence for a home-run. Doubtless Harmony batters had practiced for just
such special hits many, many times; whereas, the Chester fellows, being
almost green to the grounds, would be apt to hit as they were accustomed
to doing at home.

Jack, like a wise general, saw this opening, and one of the first things
he did in giving counsel to his players was to point it out to Big Bob
Jeffries, Joel Jackman, Steve Mullane and the rest of the heavy

"Start them for right field every time you can, boys," he advised. "It
doesn't take so much of a tap to put them across the fence there; and if
you can't get so far land a few in the bleachers for a double."

"How about the third sack, Jack?" asked Phil Parker. "You know I'm a
great hand to knock across the line there. Some get into foul territory,
passing outside the bag; but when they do go over squarely they always
count for keeps. Do you believe half they're saying about that Parsons
being a regular demon for grabbing up ground scorchers, and tossing
fellows out at first?"

"None of us will know until we make the test," Jack told him. "Start
things up lively for Mr. Parsons the first time you face Hendrix, Phil.
If we find he's all to the good there, we'll change off, and ring in a
new deal. But somehow I seem to have a sneaking notion that same Parsons
will turn out to be the Harmony goat in this game. They've done their
best to replace Young; and now hope to hide the truth by all this

"I wouldn't be at all surprised if what you say turns out to be a fact,
Jack," remarked Steve. "You know we read a whole lot these days about
the war over in Europe, and how the French have a masterly way of hiding
their big guns under a mattress of boughs, or a painted canvas made to
represent the earth, so that flying scouts above can't see where the
battery is located. Well, perhaps now Harmony, in making all this brag
is only trying to hide their gap. Camaflouge they call it, I believe.
But we'll proceed to see what Parsons has got up his sleeve. You watch
me get him to guessing. If he gets in the way of the cannonball I shoot
at third, it'll feel like a hot tamale in his hands, believe me."

"Well, there's Mr. Merrywether going to announce the batteries, and so
we'll have a chance to see what we can do at bat, for of course Harmony
takes the field first. Every fellow fight tooth and nail for Chester. We
want to go home this afternoon in a blaze of glory. Win or lose, we must
show that we are a credit to our folks. That's all I've got to say as a
last word; every fellow on his toes every second of the time, at bat,
and in the field!"

The umpire raised his voice, and using a megaphone proceeded to announce
that the opposing batteries of the two rival teams would be:

"Hendrix and Chase for Harmony; Donohue and Mullane for Chester!"

A storm of approval greeted the announcement. Everybody settled back as
though relieved, and confident that no matter who won, they would see a
game well worth patronizing.

Hendrix received the new ball, and proceeded to send a few swift ones to
his basemen. They of course managed to drop it on the ground as often as
they could, so that it might be dextrously rolled a bit, and discolored,
for it is always considered that a new ball works in favor of the

Jack was the first man to face Hendrix, as he led the batting list. From
all over the place loud cries greeted the captain of the Chester team as
he stepped up to the plate, and stood there with his bat on his
shoulder. Of course most of these encouraging cries came from the
faithful Chester rooters; but then there were fair-minded fellows of
Harmony who believed in giving due credit to an honorable antagonist;
and Jack Winters they knew to be such a type of boy, clean in everything
he attempted, and a true lover of outdoor sports.

"Play ball!"

Hendrix took one last look all around. He wished to make sure that his
fielders and basemen were just as he would have them placed. He knew
that Jack could wield a bat with considerable skill; and moreover had
proved his ability to solve his delivery on that former occasion. So
proceeding to wind up he sent in the first one with sizzling speed, and
a sharp drop.



"Strike One!" announced the wideawake umpire, in his stentorian voice.

Subdued applause ran through the immense throng. Apparently Hendrix had
perfect control over the ball. That wonderful drop had been too quick
for Jack, who, considering that it was entirely too high, had not
struck. Perhaps, though, he was waiting to see what Hendrix meant to
feed him.

The next one went wide in a curve that elicited murmurs of admiration
from the sages of the ball game, who invariably insisted on sitting in a
direct line with catcher and pitcher, their one occupation being to
gauge the delivery, and shout out approval or disdain over every ball
that comes along; or else plague the umpire because his decision differs
from their wonderful judgment.

Then came the third toss. Jack stepped forward, and before the break
could occur he had met the twisting ball with the point of his bat,
sending it humming down toward short.

Bailey was on his job, and neatly smothered what might have been a
splendid single. When Jack reached first after a speedy rush, he found
the ball there ahead of him gripped in Hutching's fist, and was greeted
with a wide grin from the astute first baseman.

"One down!" remarked Toby Hopkins, as Phil Parker toed the mark, and
watched the opposing pitcher like a hawk, meaning to duplicate Jack's
feat if possible, only he aspired to send the ball through the infield,
and not straight at a man.

"But Jack got at him, you noticed," said Joel Jackman, who did not seem
to be showing any signs of his recent adventure in the chilly waters of
the lake. "Hendrix may be a puzzle to a good many fellows, but once you
solve his tricks well, say, he's as easy as pie at Thanksgiving."

Well, Joel had a chance that very inning to show what he meant, for
while Phil reached first on a Texas leaguer, and Herbert Jones whiffed
vainly at three balls that came over the plate with lightening speed,
there were only two out.

Joel made a swing at a wide one on purpose, for he had received the
signal from Phil that he meant to make a break for second when next
Hendrix started to wind up to deliver the ball. Luck was with Phil,
thanks partly to the great slide with which he covered the last ten feet
of ground; and also to the fact that the generally reliable Chase,
Harmony's backstop, managed to draw the second baseman off his bag to
stop his speedy throw.

Hendrix showed no signs of being alarmed. He tempted Joel to take a
chance at a most deceptive drop, which put the batter two in the hole
with just as many balls called on the box-man.

With the next toss, Joel, meaning to emulate Jack's manner of stepping
forward and meeting the ball before the break came, entirely
miscalculated Hendrix' scheme. As a consequence, the ball, instead of
being a sharp drop, seemed to actually _rise_ in the air, and in
consequence, Joel missed it by half a foot.

He went to his position out in centre, fastening his glove, and shaking
his head.

"How'd you find Hendrix today, Joel?" asked Oldsmith, the Harmony
middle-field man, as they passed on the way. "Some stuff he's got on
that ball, hey?"

"That last was certainly a new one for me," confessed Joel, frankly.
"Why, honest to goodness, it seemed to jump up in the air just before I

"Sure, that's the new jump ball he's been practicing lately," grinned
Oldsmith, though whether he really believed such a thing himself or not
was a question, for he seemed to be a practical joker. "Old Hendrix is
always hatching up something fresh, for the other side. You fellows
needn't expect to do much running today, for most of you will only whiff
out at the rubber. He's got your number, all right."

Of course that did not bother Joel very much. He knew how prone baseball
players are to boast when things are turning their way; and at the same
time find all sorts of plausible excuses when the reverse tide begins to
flow against them.

Donohue seemed to be at his best, for he immediately struck out the
first man who faced him, tossing up just three balls at that. This was
quite a creditable performance the Chester rooters kept telling their
Harmony neighbors, considering that he was no veteran at this sort of
thing, and Hutchings could usually be counted on as a dependable hitter.

Clifford fared but little better, though it was through a lofty foul to
right field which Big Bob easily smothered, that he went out. Then
Captain Martin tried his hand, and he, too, seemed unable properly to
gauge the teasers that Donohue sent in, for after fouling several, he
passed away on the third strike.

The crowd made up its mind that it was going to be a pitchers' duel in
earnest. Many would go the way of those who had been unable to meet the
puzzling curves and drops that had come in by turns.

When next the Chester boys tried their hand, Toby got his base through
Parsons juggling the hot grounder which came his way, and failing to
send it across the diamond in time to nip the runner. The Chester folks
took notice of this error on the part of the third baseman, who had been
touted as a wonder at snatching up everything that came his way,
regardless of its character. Still, that had been a difficult ball to
handle, and the error was excusable, Jack thought.

There was no run made, though Big Bob did send out a terrific drive that
under ordinary conditions should have been a three-bagger at least.
Oldsmith, after a gallant sprint at top speed, was seen to jump into the
air and pull the ball down. He received a storm of applause, for it was
a pretty piece of work; and Chester fans cheered quite as lustily as the
home crowd; for, as a rule, baseball rooters can admire such splendid
results regardless of partisanship.

Badger struck out, in his turn, being apparently unable to solve those
puzzling shoots of the cool and smiling master in the box. But then
Harmony was no better off in their half of that inning, for not a man
got as far as second; though O'Leary did send up an amazing fly that
dropped squarely in the hands of Big Bob. The other two only smashed the
thin air when they struck, for they picked out wide ones, and let the
good balls shoot over the edges of the plate like cannonballs.

"Notice one thing," said Jack to several of the Chester players when
once more it was their turn at bat. "Every Harmony fellow turns partly
toward the right when he bats. That's the short field in this enclosure,
and with the bleachers in between. They know the advantages of sending
the ball in that direction every time it's possible. Phil, Joel and Bob,
make a note of that, will you, and try to duplicate their game? They
know the grounds, and have the advantage over us."

"Watch my smoke, Governor," chuckled Big Bob Jeffries, confidently. "I'm
only trying things out so far. When the right time comes, me to cash in
with a ball clean over that short field fence. They'll never find it
again either, if I get the swoop I'm aiming for."

"Well, use good judgment when you make it," laughed Jack, "and see that
the bases are occupied. We may need a homer before this gruelling game
is over."

It certainly began to look like it when the sixth inning had ended and
never a run was marked up on the score-board for either side. Once Fred
Badger had succeeded in straining a point, and reaching third with a
wonderful exhibition of base stealing; but alas! he died there. Steve,
usually so reliable, could not bring him in, though he did valiantly,
and knocked a sky-scraper which O'Leary scooped in after a run back to
the very edge of the bleachers. Five feet further and it would have
dropped safe, meaning a two-bagger for Steve, and a run for Badger.

So the seventh started. Both pitchers were going as strong as in the
start, even more so, many believed. It was a wonderful exhibition of
skill and endurance, and thousands were ready to declare that no such
game had ever been played upon the grounds of the Harmony Field Club.

"Everybody get busy this frame," said Jack, encouragingly, as Donohue
picked up a bat and strode out to take his place. "We've got to make a
start some time, and the lucky seventh ought to be the right place. Work
him for a walk if you can Alec. And if you get to first, we'll bat you
in, never fear."

Considerably to the surprise of everybody, Donohue, instead of striking
out, managed to connect with a swift ball, and send up a weak fly that
fell back of second. Three players started for it, but there must have
been some fierce misunderstanding of signals, for they all stopped short
to avoid a collision, each under the belief that one of the others had
cried he had it. In consequence, the ball fell to the ground safely, and
the Chester pitcher landed on the initial sack.

Such roars as went up from the faithful and expectant Chester rooters.
They managed to make such a noise that one would have been pardoned for
thinking the entire crowd must be in sympathy with the visitors.
Anticipation jumped to fever heat. With a runner located on first base,
no one out, and several reliable batters coming up, it began to look as
though that might yet prove the "lucky seventh" for the plucky Chester

Jack knew that Hendrix would have it in for him. He would depend on
sweeping curves that must deceive, and try no more of that drop ball,
which Jack had proved himself able to judge and meet before it broke.

So Jack, after one swing at a spinner which he did not expect to strike,
dropped a neat little bunt along the line toward first. This allowed the
runner to reach second, although Jack himself was caught; for Hendrix
instantly darted over to first, and was in time to receive the ball
after Hatchings had scooped it out of the dirt.

But the runner had been advanced to second, and there were still two
chances that he could be sent on his way by a mighty wallop, or even a
fine single. Phil did crack out one that did the trick, and he found
himself landed on first, though Donohue, unfortunately, was held at
third. Bedlam seemed to be breaking loose. Chester rooters stormed and
cheered, and some of the more enthusiastic even danced around like
maniacs. Others waited for something really to be accomplished before
giving vent to their repressed feelings.

Next up stepped Herb Jones, with a man on third, another on first, and
but a lone out. He failed to accomplish anything, Hendrix sending him
along by the usual strike-out line.

Everything depended on Joel. A single was all that was needed to bring
in the tally so ardently desired. It was no time to try for a big hit.
Even Phil on first was signaled not to take risks in starting for

Joel waited. He was fed a couple of wide ones that the umpire called
balls. Then came a fair one clean across the rubber, but Joel did not
strike. Jack made a motion to him. He believed the next would also be a
good ball, for Hendrix was not likely to put himself in a hole right
there, depending more on his dazzling speed to carry him through.

Joel struck!

They heard the crack of the bat, but few saw the ball go, such was its
momentum as it passed through the diamond. Hendrix, however, made a stab
with his glove and managed to deflect the ball from its first course.
That turned out to be a fatal involuntary movement on his part, for it
made Bailey's job in knocking down the ball more difficult. The nimble
shortstop managed to recover the ball and send it in home; but as the
runner at third had of course started tearing along as he heard the
blow, he had slid to safety before Chase caught the throw in.

And so the first tally of the game fell to Chester in the lucky seventh!



Toby Hopkins made a gallant effort to duplicate the performance of some
of his mates. He cracked out a dandy hit well along toward the bleachers
out in right field. Again did O'Leary run like mad, or a "red-headed
meteor," as some of his admirers yelled. They saw him actually leap
amidst the bleachers, the spectators giving way like frightened sheep.
Yes, and he caught that fly in a most amazing fashion, well deserving
the loud salvos of cheers that kept up as he came in, until he had
doffed his cap in response to the mad applause.

But Harmony came back in their half of the seventh with a tally that
resulted from a screaming hit by the hero of the game, O'Leary, which
carried far over the famous right-field fence.

With the score thus evened up, they went at the eighth frame. Big Bob
got a single out in right. He was advanced to second by a fine bunt on
the part of Fred Badger, which the new third baseman found it difficult
to handle, though he did succeed in nailing the runner at first. Along
came Steve with a zigzag hit that made a bad bound over shortstop's head
and allowed Big Bob to land on third. He was kept from going home by the
coacher there, who saw that Oldsmith had dashed in from short center,
and was already picking up the ball for a throw home, which he did with
fine judgment.

Donohue was unable to duplicate his previous lucky pop-up, for he struck
out. Jack was given his base on balls, an unusual occurrence with
Hendrix. Apparently, however, he was banking on being better able to
strike out Phil Parker, which he immediately proceeded to do, so that
after all, the Chester rally did not net a run, and the score was still
a tie.

Chester went to the field for the finish of the eighth, determined that
there should be no let down of the bars. Jack had spoken encouraging
words to Donohue, and was confidently told by the pitcher that he felt
as "fresh as a daisy, with speed to burn."

He proved the truth of his words immediately by striking out the first
man to face him. Then the next Harmony batter managed to send up several
high fouls that kept Big Bob in right hustling; though he finally
succeeded in getting hold of one, and putting the man out.

The third batter hit the ball with fierceness, but Jack took it for a
line drive, and that inning was over. The ninth was looming up and the
game still undecided. Indeed, they were no better off than when making
the start, save that they had had considerable practice whiffing the
thin air.

"You see, they persist in trying to drive toward right," urged Jack, as
his players came trooping in, eager to get busy again with their bats,
so as to win the game in this ninth round.

"Yes, and they kept me on the jump right smart in the bargain," remarked
Big Bob Jeffries, wiping his reeking forehead as he spoke. "Never mind,
I'll have a chance at Hendrix again this inning, likely, if one of you
fellows can manage to perch on the initial sack. Then watch what
happens. I'm going to break up this bally old game right now."

"Deeds talk, Big Bob!" chuckled Toby, as Herb Jones stepped up to see
what he could do for a starter.

His best was a foul that the catcher smothered in his big mitt after
quite an exciting rush here and there, for it was difficult to judge of
such a twister. Herb looked utterly disgusted as he threw down his bat.
Joel Jackman struck the first offering dealt out to him, and got away
with it in the bargain. Perched on first the lanky fielder grinned, and
called out encouragingly at Toby, who was next.

Hendrix tightened up. He looked very grim and determined. Toby wanted to
bunt, but he managed instead to send a little grounder along toward
first. Joel was already booming along in the direction of second, and
taking a grand slide, for fear that the throw would catch him.

But after all Chase had some difficulty in picking up the ball, as
sometimes happens to the best of them; and while he did hurl it to
second, the umpire held up his hands to announce that Joel was safe. No
one disputed his decision, though it had been a trifle close.

Matters were looking up for Chester again. One man was down, but that
was Big Bob Jeffries striding up to the plate, with a grim look on his
face. If Hendrix were wise he would send him along on balls; but then
the pitcher had perfect faith in his ability to deceive the heaviest of

Twice did Big Bob swing, each time almost falling down when his bat met
with no resistance. He took a fresh grip and steeled himself. Jack
called out a word of warning, but Big Bob shook his head. No matter what
Hendrix gave him, he could reach it, his confident, almost bulldog
manner declared.

Well, he did!

He smacked the very next offering of the great Harmony pitcher so hard
that it looked like a dot in the heavens as it sped away over
right-field fence for a magnificent home run.

Big Bob trotted around the circuit with a wide grin on his face, chasing
Joel and Toby before him, while the crowd went fairly wild with joy--at
least that section of it representative of Chester did. The Harmony
rooters looked pretty blue, to tell the truth, for they realized that
only a miracle could keep their rivals from running off with the
hard-fought game.

"That sews it up, I reckon!" many of them were heard to say.

There were no more runs made by Chester, for Hendrix mowed the next
batter down with comparative ease; but the mischief had already been

Harmony made a last fierce effort to score in their half of the ninth.
Chase got his base on balls, and Hendrix tried to advance him with a
sacrifice, but succeeded only in knocking into a double. Then Hutchings
cracked out a two-sacker, and Clifford came along with a neat single
that sent the other runner on to third, while he occupied the initial
sack. Harmony stock began to rise. Those who had made a movement as
though about to quit their seats sat down again. Possibly the game was
not yet over. Some clever work on the part of Martin, Oldsmith and
Bailey might tie the score, when, as on the last occasion, extra innings
would be necessary in order to prove which of the teams should be
awarded the victor's laurel.

Everybody seemed to be rooting when Captain Martin stepped up. He
succeeded in picking out a good one, and with the sound of the blow
there was an instinctive loud "Oh!" on the part of hundreds. But, alas!
for the fate of Harmony! the ball went directly at Fred Badger, who sent
it straight home in time to catch Hutchings by seven feet, despite his
mad rush.

And so the great game wound up, with the score four to one in favor of
Chester. Doubtless, the most depressed member of the defeated Harmony
team would be Hendrix, who had failed to baffle those batters with all
his wonderful curves and trick drops.

On the way home after the game, with the Chester players occupying a big
carryall, their joyous faces told every one along the way how they had
fared, even if their shouts failed to announce their victory.

"This is a grand day in the history of Chester," said Jack for the tenth
time, since he shared in the enthusiasm that seemed to run through every
fellow's veins. "It will be written down as a red letter day by every
boy, young and old; for we have put the old town on the baseball map for
keeps. After this folks will speak of Chester teams with respect, for
we've gallantly downed the champions of the county two to one, with a
great tie thrown in for good measure. I want to thank every one of you
for what you've done to help out--Phil, Herb, Joel, Toby, Big Bob, Fred,
Steve, and last but far from least our peerless pitcher Alec Donohue.
Not one of you but played your position to the limit; and as to batting,
never this summer has Hendrix had the lacing he got today, so I was
privately told by one of the Harmony fans whose money has been back of
the team all summer."

"We'll make Rome howl tonight, boys, believe me!" asserted Big Bob.
"Bonfires and red lights all over the town, while we march through the
streets, and shout till we're hoarse as crows. The like never happened
before in Chester, and it's only right the good folks should know we've
made the place famous."

"What pleases me most of all," Jack went on to say, when he could find a
chance to break into the lively talk, "is the bright prospect that looms
up before us. This glorious baseball victory clinches matters. I know
several gentlemen who will now be eager to back up our scheme for a
club-house this winter, as well as a football eleven to compete for the
county championship up to Thanksgiving. And during the balance of the
summer I've got a lively programme laid out that ought to give the bunch
of us a heap of pleasure, as well as profit us in the way of healthy

His announcement was greeted with hearty cheers, for they knew full well
that when Jack Winters engineered any scheme it was likely to turn out
well worth attention. But it would hardly be fair just now to disclose
what Jack's plans were; that may well be left to the succeeding volume
in this series of athletic achievements on the part of the Chester boys,
which can be found wherever juvenile books are sold under the title of
"Jack Winters' Campmates; or, Vacation Days in the Woods."



Stories by a writer who possesses a thorough knowledge of this subject.
Handsomely bound in cloth; colored jacket wrapper.

    1 The Campfires of the Wolf Patrol
    2 Woodcraft; or, How a Patrol Leader Made Good
    3 Pathfinder; or, the Missing Tenderfoot
    4 Great Hike; or, The Pride of Khaki Troop
    5 Endurance Test; or, How Clear Grit Won the Day
    6 Under Canvas; or, the Search for the Carteret Ghost
    7 Storm-bound; or, a Vacation among the Snow Drifts
    8 Afloat; or, Adventures on Watery Trails
    9 Tenderfoot Squad; or, Camping at Raccoon Bluff
    10 Boy Scouts in an Airship
    11 Boy Scout Electricians; or, the Hidden Dynamo
    12 Boy Scouts on Open Plains

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     2. Boy Scouts in the Canal Zone; or, the Plot against Uncle Sam
     3. Boy Scouts in the Philippines; or, the Key to the Treaty Box
     4. Boy Scouts in the Northwest; or, Fighting Forest Fires
     5. Boy Scouts in a Motor Boat; or Adventures on Columbia River
     6. Boy Scouts in an Airship; or, the Warning from the Sky
     7. Boy Scouts in a Submarine; or, Searching an Ocean Floor
     8. Boy Scouts on Motorcycles; or, With the Flying Squadron
     9. Boy Scouts beyond the Arctic Circle; or, the Lost Expedition
    10. Boy Scout Camera Club; or, the Confessions of a Photograph
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    13. Boy Scouts on Hudson Bay; or, the Disappearing Fleet
    14. Boy Scouts in Death Valley; or, the City in the Sky
    15. Boy Scouts on Open Plains; or, the Roundup not Ordered
    16. Boy Scouts in Southern Waters; or the Spanish Treasure Chest
    17. Boy Scouts in Belgium; or, Imperiled in a Trap
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    6. Radio Boys Loyalty; or, Bill Brown Listens In ... WAYNE WHIPPLE


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    1. The Aeroplane Boys; or, The Young Pilots First Air Voyage
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    4. The Aeroplane Boys' Flights; or, A Hydroplane Round-up
    5. The Aeroplane Boys on a Cattle Ranch


By Margaret Burnham

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