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Title: Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker
Author: Colton, Matthew M.
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 "Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: "LISTEN, WHAT WAS THAT?" WHISPERED FRANK.--_Page 83._]



  FRANK ARMSTRONG
  DROP KICKER


  BY
  MATTHEW M. COLTON

  Author of "Frank Armstrong's Vacation," "Frank Armstrong
  at Queen's," "Frank Armstrong's Second Term," etc., etc.


  WITH FOUR HALFTONE ILLUSTRATIONS BY
  ARTHUR O. SCOTT


  [Illustration]


  NEW YORK
  HURST & COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS



  Copyright, 1912,
  BY
  HURST & COMPANY



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                PAGE

      I. A NEW ENTERPRISE                                   5

     II. FAILURE AND A PROVIDENTIAL RESCUE                 18

    III. QUEEN'S TRANSPORTATION COMPANY                    33

     IV. BURTON'S ARRIVAL                                  46

      V. THE WATER CARNIVAL                                57

     VI. AN OLD RIVAL'S STRATAGEM                          70

    VII. COALS OF FIRE                                     84

   VIII. A SWIM FOR LIFE                                   96

     IX. SAVED                                            106

      X. PROFITS OF QUEEN'S FERRY                         116

     XI. THE HAZERS' WATERLOO                             129

    XII. CLASS NINES                                      144

   XIII. FRANK'S FOOTBALL EDUCATION                       158

    XIV. THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY                            172

     XV. FRANK TAKEN TO WARWICK                           184

    XVI. THE WARWICK GAME                                 197

   XVII. FRANK SAVES THE GAME                             214

  XVIII. MRS. BOWSER'S CAT                                228

    XIX. IN THE BELL TOWER                                241

     XX. A HEAVY PENALTY                                  255

    XXI. GAMMA'S DESPERATE TACTICS                        270

   XXII. SAVED BY THE WIRES                               284

  XXIII. END OF GAMMA TAU                                 299



ILLUSTRATIONS


  "Listen, what was that?" whispered Frank.    _Frontispiece_

                                                         PAGE

  Frank turned just in time to see a flash of white
  disappearing beneath the surface.                        27

  "It's Choctaw!" cried the Codfish. "Who can
  read Choctaw?"                                          179

  Down it went to the ground, rose and was sent
  spinning on its long flight from Frank's toe.           225



Frank Armstrong, Drop Kicker



CHAPTER I.

A NEW ENTERPRISE.


On a certain warm afternoon in the early part of July any one
passing along the main street of the little summer resort of Seawall
might have observed, had he chanced to glance seaward, a trim sloop
riding easily at anchor, her milk-white mainsail swaying idly in the
scarce-moving breeze. The water was like glass, excepting that here
and there it was wrinkled for a moment by a puff of wind which passed
instantly, leaving the mirror-like surface as before. Midway of the
sloop's cockpit sat the Ancient Mariner himself, nodding. His back
was braced against the gunwale and his pipe hung on his chest--a
gentle-looking old man with a long, grizzled beard, taking his
siesta as even Nature seemed to be taking hers that afternoon. His
toil-worn hand hung over the gunwale, and, had one been near enough,
the old man might have been heard to snore softly.

A quarter of a mile up the bay there appeared three black specks
in the water. They might have been corks merely, but as they came
steadily along you could have imagined them to be seals. They came
nearer, swimming noiselessly, scarcely making a ripple. Now they
were right alongside the sloop. Two of the seals, or whatever the
dark forms were, glued themselves close under the sweep of the
stern. The third swam cautiously toward the outstretched hand of the
Ancient Mariner, and tweaked one of the fingers which hung within
reach of any fish that might be bold enough to try a bite at the
tempting morsel. Instantly the Ancient was in motion and the "seal"
disappeared below the surface in a twinkling.

"Shiver my bloomin' timbers, what was that?" yelled the Mariner as
he jumped to his feet. "Some ding-busted dog-fish trying to make
a meal?" and he reached for his pike-pole to do execution to the
attacking dog-fish.

At this burst from the Ancient there came from under the stern an
answering burst of laughter. Another and still another joyful
chuckle followed, and in an instant there bobbed up three heads to
the astonished gaze of the occupant of the boat.

"You young rapscallions, so it wasn't a dog-fish after all," said
the Ancient. And then, rubbing his eyes, he looked again. "Bust my
bulkhead, if it isn't little Frank Armstrong!"

"Surest thing you know, Captain Silas," shouted Frank, treading water
and keeping his hands going at the same time with a fin-like motion
that held him out of the water to his shoulders. "Come on out, Jimmy;
come out, Lewis; no use hiding now."

"Well, I swan!" was all Captain Silas could say, for it was indeed
the old captain himself. "What are you doin' away out here in the
bay? You're worse nor a parcel of fish."

"Oh, Captain," cried Jimmy Turner, shooting out from the boat on
his back and splashing water in Lewis Carroll's face, "we expected
to have a lot of fun, but this galoot of a Lewis had to snigger out
loud, and that spoiled everything."

"You sniggered yourself," retorted Lewis.

"We couldn't help it," said Frank. "Did it scare you much, Captain?"

"Well, I reckon it wouldn't have scared me so much if I hadn't been
dreaming I was hauling in a big sword-fish, and just as I was going
to grab him with my gaff, up he jumps and grabs my hand. I give such
a jump that I near fell out the other side o' the boat."

The boys laughed again and splashed water.

"Come on into the boat," said the captain, grinning at the joke that
had been played on him. "Come on in and let's see how you look," and
he held out a gnarled hand to Frank, who seized it and was soon over
the side. Jimmy followed easily, but it took two of them to get Lewis
aboard, who, in spite of all his athletic endeavors, continued to
grow more like an ordinary washtub every day. But finally, after much
tugging, they landed Lewis safely. The three swimmers sat and dripped
water over Captain Silas' seats.

"Must have come into a fortune, Captain," exclaimed Frank, looking
over the trim boat and aloft at the white sail, which was now
swinging a little more widely with the land breeze.

"Oh, no," was the reply. "Couldn't make much outen my old fishing
job, so I took my little nest-egg outen the bank and put it in this
here boat."

"Going pirating?" inquired Jimmy.

"Not 'xactly that, kinder social piratin' maybe. I carry the city
swells that want to go fer a sail. It pays better nor lobsters."

"Just a different kind of lobster, eh?" broke in Lewis.

"I take parties out for sails at twenty-five cents the head,"
continued the captain, not noticing the interruption by Lewis, "but
it's been bad business these last two or three days, not a breeze
big enuff to blow a han'kerchief. So I was havin' a snooze when you
fellers give me such a start," and the old man grinned pleasantly.
"But it's breezin' up a bit now and maybe we can have a sail before
the sun goes down. Want to come?"

"You bet we do!" was the simultaneous response of the three, who had
scattered themselves comfortably around on the little deck forward
with their faces up to the blue sky.

"Hadn't you better go and git some clothes on your backs? You'll
freeze to death in them there skinny little bathing suits of yours."

"Oh, no, we'll be as warm as toast. See, our suits are nearly dry.
We've put in most of the time these last two weeks in these rigs and
we're used to it," said Frank.

The breeze was picking up every minute, and the captain, casting
an eye to the pier end without seeing any prospective passengers,
and apparently nothing loth to have back with him again the three
spirited youngsters, began to pull up his anchor and make ready. In
this the boys helped, and soon the sloop was heading off down the bay
careening to the freshening breeze.

"Gee whiz!" sighed Jimmy, prone on his back and stretched out like a
star-fish, arms and legs extended, "but this beats school all hollow."

"And what ye been doin' at school? Learnin' your lessons, I s'pose?"
said the captain, who had heard the remark. "S'pose your heads are
just crammed full of knowledge, eh?"

"Not exactly that," replied Frank, grinning. "There are a lot of
blank spaces in my cranium that haven't been touched yet. But Lewis
is fearfully educated."

"Yes," added Jimmy jokingly, "he's what they call a high-stand man."

"Wouldn't think it," said the old man, scrutinizing Lewis closely.
"I'd say he was a wide-stand man," still looking Lewis over
critically. Frank and Jimmy laughed heartily at this, and the
captain joined in when it was explained to him that this particular
kind of stand had nothing to do with the physique.

"I say, Captain," said Frank, coming down from the deck to where
Captain Brown sat at the tiller, "can't we do something to help you
run the ship?"

"She don't need no running mor'n she's doin' now. All you got to do
is just keep 'er steddy, same's I'm doin' now. You're not big enuff
to steer. I'm 'fraid she'd wallop ye all about in a heavy sea."

"Oh, I don't mean sailing her; I'm not much on that. But couldn't we
help with the passengers? Couldn't we put up the gangplank or put
it down or whatever you do with it?" continued Frank. "We are three
husky fellows, and we want to do something to keep in training."

"Trainin', what fer?" said the old man.

"Oh, just training for football. We want to be ready for the fall and
have our muscles hard and our wind good."

"Yes," broke in Lewis, "we are going to be on the football team this
fall up at Queen's School. Frank is going to be drop kicker, and
I----"

"Oh, ho," laughed Jimmy from his place up in the bow-sprit, where
he had just stretched himself full length, face downward, with his
legs coiled about the timber to keep himself from rolling into the
sea, "did you hear Lewis say 'we'? Lewis has to keep in condition, so
please, Captain, give him some heavy work to do; let him spank the
spinnaker and reef the anchor and splice the jib-boom."

"I could do any of them," said Lewis, throwing out his chest; and the
captain chuckled.

"I tell you," he said, "we can let Lewis dust the mains'l; that
would give him good exercise. But leavin' jokin' behind, ef ye want
somethin' to do, why don't you get a motor boat and take out people
for little runs among the islands here, same as I do? Lots o' people
want to go quicker nor I can go, but I wouldn't touch one of the
pesky things."

"By jiminy!" exclaimed Frank, "that's an idea!"

"Yes, and where's your motor boat coming from?" said Jimmy. "Motor
boats cost something, and I don't see any good, kind gentleman
coming around handing us one."

"We might hire one," said Lewis, "and pay the rent from our profits.
If we had luck we might be able to buy her by fall."

"Yes, and a house and lot and two yachts," said Jimmy, who was
skeptical about the plan.

"Guess I know where you boys might pick up one cheap," broke in the
captain, as he dexterously swung the boat over on the starboard tack
and headed her up the bay. "Old man Simpkins has a motor boat he
hasn't used for mor'n a year. It's layin' hitched up to his wharf
down Turner's Point way."

"Oh, I know who he is," said Frank. "Lives in that big house by the
pine grove a little way this side of the Point."

"That's the feller," said the captain. "Has a little girl, all kinder
crippled up with some disease or other. Comes down to sail with me
two or three times a week. Had a son at college who died of fever or
something. It was his boat. That's the reason the boat's never used,
I guess; old gentleman don't care for it no more."

"Great whippoorwills, but there's our chance!" said Frank. "Jimmy,
get over your pessimism and think up some scheme for renting that
boat. Why, man," as Jimmy just grinned, "there's millions in it.
We'll organize a company."

"I'll be with you on condition that you'll let me steer it," said
Jimmy. "You can be captain if you want to."

"All right, my son, you may, and I'll take care of the motor," said
Frank. "That's a job for the best man."

"And what am I to be?" said Lewis. "Can't I be skipper, or something
like that?"

"You'll be the ballast," said Jimmy, grinning from his perch on the
bow-sprit. He had turned over on his back now and was balancing
precariously, one toe hooked in a coil of rope at the foot of the
mast being his only anchorage from a bath in the cool green sea
racing along a couple of feet below him.

"We are talking as if we had the boat in commission already. But
'nothing venture, nothing have,' as the old saying goes. I'm going
down to-morrow to see Mr. Simpkins and try my powers of persuasion on
him."

"Beware of the dog," warned Jimmy.

"Dog or no dog, I'm going to try."

"What's this navigation company going to be called?" inquired Lewis.

"The name will be the 'Queen's Ferry,'" said Frank.

"Sounds like an old English romance, but it's good," commented Jimmy;
"the Queen's Ferry, Armstrong, Captain, Carroll, first mate----"

"I don't want to be first mate," corrected Lewis. "I want to be a
skipper."

"Well, if you want to have such a lively name go ahead and take it.
If skipper means anything speedy, you've got the most terrifically
misplaced confidence in yourself I ever saw,--but if you must, you
must, so you are to be the skipper."

"And James Turner will be first mate and helmsman," said Frank.

"Aye, aye, sir," came the response.

"Now, that being done, we've got to have an agent to drum up our
business, to see that the great and waiting public may know that
at last in Seawall there is a proper conveyance; a guide and
courier, a kind of advertising man who will present our magnificent
possibilities in transportation."

The three boys looked at each other.

"The Codfish!" they shouted in chorus.

"The Codfish is the man. And he's coming to visit me in a week,"
added Frank.

"Too long to wait," said Jimmy, shaking his head. "We are losing
profits every minute. Let's telegraph him to come now. 'Do it
now'--or before--is my motto."

"Good!" said Frank; "we'll telegraph to-night and offer him the job.
Let's see, this is Thursday; we ought to begin our trips Monday. Yes,
Monday's the best day to begin anything on. We might get started on
Saturday if the Codfish comes right away."

"Did you kids ever hear tell of countin' chickens before they was
hatched?" broke in the voice of Captain Silas. "You haint got the
boat yit," and the old man chuckled. "But that's the way youth do run
on. And then how about drivin' poor old Captain Silas Brown out of
bisness with one o' them fast motor boats?"

"Oh, Captain, do you think it would hurt your trade? We wouldn't do
it for the world. We'll give it up. I didn't think of that," cried
the generous boys in a breath.

"Go along with you, 'twon't hurt me. I was only jokin'. There'll be
more than we all can do and I'm a thinkin' you'll get tired of it
pretty quick. I'll help you all I can to git hold of the old boat,
but don't ever ask me to go to sea in one o' the consarned things.
'Member what happened to your old boat last year?"

The boys looked at each other.

"You bet we do!" they exclaimed in a breath.

"But there are to be no matches aboard any boats I command in the
future," cried Frank.

"Well, here we are back again," said the captain, as he brought the
_Seagull_, for such was her name, up into the wind. "I'll take you
off in my dinghy in a minnit."

"Thank you, Captain, for a fine sail and a brilliant idea, and we
won't bother you to take us off; we have our fins," said Frank. "See
you later," and one after the other the boys popped into the water
like so many porpoises, and, led by Frank, swimming a graceful and
easy overhand, they went ploughing up the beach in the direction of
the Armstrong cottage.

"Water rats, nuthin' but derned water rats," said the old man, as his
kindly eye followed the three swimmers pulling rapidly away towards
the shore.



CHAPTER II.

FAILURE AND A PROVIDENTIAL RESCUE.


"Dad," said Frank that night at the supper table, "we boys are going
into the transportation business. Got any objection?"

"Into the what?" said Mr. Armstrong, pausing in the act of filling
his healthy son's plate for the second time.

"Transportation, if you please, sir," said Frank, grinning and
reaching for the full dish. "It's like this: Old Captain Silas says
there are lots of people about here who want to take little cruises
around the islands these fine days. That's condition No. 1."

"Condition No. 1," repeated his father, smiling. "Go on."

"And condition No. 2 is, three strong, husky, able-bodied seamen,
Jimmy Turner, Lewis, and your dutiful son, who want to make some
money and keep ourselves busy at the same time."

"What about Old Captain Silas himself?" inquired Mrs. Armstrong.
"Can't he take care of all the excursionists himself? Or does he want
to take you boys into partnership?"

"No, mother, this is going to be a rapid passenger service," and in
a few words he outlined the plan put into his head that afternoon by
the old captain's remark. "The only things we need now are a ship and
a manager."

"Not much, is it?" said Mr. Armstrong, laughing. "Perhaps Colonel
Powers would let you have his yacht."

"Oh, dad, I'm not joking. We are in a fair way to have both. At least
we know where there's a motor boat, and the Codfish was born to be a
manager of the outfit. It is providential. We'll get him here ahead
of time."

"Where's your motor boat?" inquired Mrs. Armstrong, smiling
indulgently at her son's eagerness.

"It is anchored down the shore a ways, belongs to Mr. Simpkins, and
we're going to tackle him to-morrow. I think I can show him," added
Frank, cocking his head on one side, wisely, "that there would be
good money in it for him to rent it. We can charge twenty-five cents
a head for all passengers. Let's see," counting on his fingers,
"we ought to be able to carry half a dozen besides our crew if the
boat's any size,--that'd be a dollar and a half for a trip of an
hour. And we can make four or five trips a day, sure. That'd be seven
dollars and fifty cents a day, and, six days a week, that'd be about
forty-five dollars," triumphantly. "Running expenses ought not to
be more than fifteen dollars, and that would leave thirty dollars
to divvy up between the four of us." Frank's ambitions were running
away with him. "And besides that, we'd have a better time than doing
nothing. Can't we do it, dad?"

"Well, I don't see any very strong objections," returned Mr.
Armstrong, smiling at his wife across the table, "but if you are
figuring on that boat of Mr. Simpkins' I wouldn't build my scheme
too high, for it might tumble. Mr. Simpkins wouldn't probably be
interested in dividends, for he has a pile of money, and, besides
that, he is a pretty crusty old gentleman."

"Crusty or no crusty, we are going down to see him in the morning,
provided you and mother don't say no." It was finally agreed in the
family that there would be no objection.

"They will soon get tired of it, mother," said Mr. Armstrong, "and
it's dollars to pins that Mr. Simpkins will set the dog on them
instead of handing over his motor boat, even though he doesn't use it
himself."

"And only one thing more," cried Frank, in great glee that his
parents threw no obstacle in the way of the Queen's Ferry Company.
"The Codfish is coming down to make us a visit next week. Can't we
have him down right away? We need his head in this big venture."

"Glad to have him come along. We would like to see this wonderful
roommate of yours, wouldn't we, mother?" said Mr. Armstrong.

"Whoop!" shouted Frank, "then we'll telegraph. I'm off to meet the
other officers of the company."

The result of the conference between the captain, the helmsman, and
the skipper was that this telegram was dispatched to the Codfish:

  "Big transportation company formed. You are elected manager. No
  work, big profits. Come on next train.

      "(Signed) FRANK, LEWIS, JIMMY."

About the middle of the next forenoon the boys met at the Armstrong
household and girt up their loins, or, in other words, nerved
themselves for the negotiations with Mr. Simpkins.

"You do the talking, Frank," said Jimmy. "You have the gift of gab.
I'll guard the way and Lewis can protect us from the dog."

"Protect nothing," said Lewis. "I'm too important a member of this
company to fatten any bulldogs in this neighborhood."

"If any one is to be sacrificed on this expedition, it might as
well be you," retorted Jimmy. "Skippers are always the first to be
sacrificed."

Bantering each other, the three boys made their way down the shore
walk, and boldly ascended the path to the big yellow house where
Mr. Simpkins lived in solitary grandeur. They might have retreated
before this point had not they strengthened their drooping spirits
with a hurried inspection of the motor boat moored to the little
pier. A long, racy-looking boat it was, lying close on the water and
with every evidence of speed. The lines swept back from the bow in a
graceful curve to a rather full beam at midships, and then swung in
slightly as they approached the stern, ending abruptly in a square
hull. The motor was covered by a rubber tarpaulin, and so they were
not able to tell much about it. A generous bulk testified, however,
to ample power to drive the craft at high speed. A kind of canvas
awning partially protected the interior woodwork of the boat, but in
spite of this the craft had a forlorn appearance.

"She's a little the worse for weather, but she's a beauty in spite
of it," exclaimed Frank, as he looked her over. "She has _The Foam_
knocked galley-west," he added.

"That's a fact," was Jimmy's only comment. He thought of the poor old
_Foam_ lying at the bottom out in the bay there.

"Well, here goes," said Frank, and he led the way up the wide and
imposing steps of the Simpkins homestead. "Here's where the Queen's
Ferry Transportation Company sees the light or is buried thirty
fathoms under. 'Screw up your courage to the sticking point,' as
Hamlet said, and follow me." The big door opened to their ring and
they stepped within in a huddled group.

Ten minutes later three dejected youths might have been seen making
their way slowly towards Seawall. Disappointment was written deeply
on each countenance. "He's what I call an old skinflint," said Jimmy
savagely. "Didn't want the boat, wouldn't sell it, or lend it, or
rent it," and he kicked an inoffensive shell out of the track.

"A regular dog-in-the-manger," commented Lewis.

"Well, that's settled, anyway," said Frank, taking a long breath.
"We've no ship, and of course we can't sail without a ship."

In their disappointment the boys hunted up Captain Silas Brown,
who was hoisting his mainsail to the breeze and preparing for the
prospective trippers. The old man listened to their story.

"I'll tell you what I'll do," he said. "I need some one to help me
out fer a day or two with this old craft. I've got a touch of the
rheumatiz, and I'm not so smart as I might be."

Together they talked it all over and decided that that very afternoon
the boys were to ship as able-bodied seamen. This somewhat cheered
the officers of the defunct Queen's Ferry Company.

Suddenly Frank sprang up. "Great Scott, fellows, we forgot to
telegraph the Codfish! No use of him coming now. Let's wire him the
disaster. We don't want to get him here under false pretenses."

The three boys hurried off to the telegraph office. Arrived there,
they called for a blank and Frank was just getting the sad
information down in the form of a telegram, when the clerk behind the
counter said: "You're the fellows who sent a message to G. W. Gleason
at Yarmouth this morning?"

"Yes."

"Well, here's an answer. It has just come in, pretty quick work that."

Frank tore the end off the yellow envelope, for it was addressed to
him, and read:

  "Don't care for the salary, too much money already, but the job with
  no work appeals to me. I'll be at Seawall to-morrow night at six
  o'clock if the train stays on the track.

      "(Signed) THE CODFISH."

"Well, here's a pickle! But never mind, I know mother and father
won't mind," said Frank. "So let him come." The Codfish was a great
favorite with the three, in spite of his sharp tongue and rather
unusual ways. They were not sorry that he was coming.

That afternoon our trio reported to Captain Silas Brown just as he
was making up his party of voyagers at the end of Seawall pier. It
turned out to be a gallant sailing day. A steady wind blew from the
southwest, making the _Seagull_ dance merrily alongside the float
to which the captain had drawn her to take on his passengers, of
whom there were an unusually large number, attracted probably by
the fair prospects for the afternoon. They were mostly women and
children, and the three new assistants made themselves very useful
at lending a hand as the passengers stepped into the rocking sloop.
Soon all were aboard and the mooring ropes were cast off. The sloop
moved swiftly away down the bay under the guidance of Captain Silas
on what proved to be an eventful voyage. The day was a glorious one,
and the wind strong enough to heel the _Seagull_ over till her bright
green underbody showed well above the water on the windward side.
Every now and then a stronger puff of wind laid the _Seagull_ so far
over that her lee side was buried under the foaming water. But the
passengers had confidence in the steady hand of Captain Silas, and
chatted merrily, for the cockpit was protected from wave tops by a
high wooden edge, and there was apparently no danger. The occasional
dash of spray which came aboard was just enough to add zest to the
outing, and the passengers enjoyed the lively dance of the sloop over
the rolling water.

[Illustration: FRANK TURNED JUST IN TIME TO SEE A FLASH OF WHITE
DISAPPEARING BENEATH THE SURFACE.--_Page 27._]

All of a sudden, when rounding the point off High Island, there
came a violent blast of wind which plucked the hat from the head
of a little girl who had sat all the while very quietly with her
maid on the leeward side of the sloop. She jumped to her feet, made
a desperate grab for the flying head-covering, lost her balance,
and pitched head first into the water. She was lost to sight in an
instant, a big wave breaking over her head as she went down.

At the scream of the maid, Frank, who had been standing on the little
deck forward with one arm around the mast, turned just in time to see
a flash of white disappearing beneath the surface.

"She is drowned! She is drowned!" screamed the maid, jumping to her
feet and wringing her hands wildly. "Oh, she's drowned!" The other
women in the boat began to scream and point to the place where the
little girl had gone down.

With Frank, to think was to act. Without waiting to throw off any
clothes, he made a flying leap for the spot where he had last seen
the white dress; but so great had been the momentum of the boat,
that when he struck the water he was some yards away from the spot.
Hampered as he was with his clothes and hindered by the breaking
waves, he swam desperately, using his most powerful strokes. Before
he could cover the distance he saw a white sleeve and the top
of a head appear above the surface for an instant and disappear
immediately. Half a dozen strokes carried him to the place, but the
drowning girl had gone down for the second time.

For a few moments only, Frank paddled around waiting for the child
to come to the surface. He had heard that a drowning person comes to
the surface three times. "I won't risk it," he said to himself. "She
may never come up again, and the water must be deep here." He stopped
swimming, turned his back to the waves, took a deep breath, and dived
straight for the bottom.

How cold and strange it felt, and how quiet after the tumult he had
left above him! The impulse of his dive soon ended, and yet there was
no bottom, so he began to swim straight downward. His eyes were open
and he could see quite plainly within a radius of ten feet. Straining
his eyes, he looked into the gloomy depths as he swam. What was that
gleam of white far below him? It must be the girl's dress. How his
head cracked with the pressure of the water, but on he went downward,
ever downward. He was below the clear light, but the thought that he
was nearing the drowning child gave him the power of a grown man. He
swam on almost blindly, and with the strength of despair, because he
knew it was the only chance to save a life. In the blackness of the
depths he lost the gleam of white, then recovered it, lost it again,
and after two or three strokes touched something which felt like
seaweed. His hand closed instinctively, although he could see nothing
now, and he realized with a great feeling of joy that it was the
child's hair which had floated upward. He wound his hand securely in
it, and struck madly for the surface with splitting head and bursting
lungs.

It could only have been a few seconds, but to Frank it seemed an
eternity before his head bobbed into the clear sunlight and he was
able to take a great gulping breath. He felt as weak as a baby, but
he had strength enough to pull his burden to the surface and turn on
his back.

"Good boy," said a voice behind him. "Let me take her. Look out for
yourself." Frank turned his head and saw Jimmy at his elbow. He
resigned the little girl, who showed no signs of life, to his friend,
and lay panting on the surface, the water breaking over him every
now and then. He had barely strength left to work his hands fin-like
to keep afloat, while Captain Silas maneuvered the sloop back to
the spot where the two boys were struggling in the water. Soon life
buoys were thrown out to them, and a minute later the sloop, with her
head to the wind and her mainsail snapping and cracking, lay close
alongside.

In a jiffy the unconscious girl, Frank, and Jimmy were pulled aboard
the boat, where Frank lay gasping like a fish out of water. Well
acquainted with and skilled in the methods of resuscitation, the old
captain worked over the little girl, who lay as limp as a rag on the
deck while the maid wept hysterically and several of the other women
cried in sympathy.

"Ding bust it," cried the old man at last, "what ye crying about?
She's not drownded, I tell ye. She's coming to." And the captain was
right. First there was a little quiver of the eyelids, then a faint
sigh from her lips, and finally a soft moan.

"Thank God!" said the captain. "The pore little girl will be all
right in a few minutes. But I say, it was a narrow squeak. Frank
Armstrong, you deserve the Carnegie medal for that same trick."

Frank was on his feet again, and, although white and a little sick,
he was able to help Jimmy with the tiller, while the captain kept up
his ministrations to the little girl, who opened her eyes at last and
looked about her.

"You'll be sound as a dollar in half an hour," said the captain, as
he finally turned her over to the maid, who had by this time quieted
down. Captain Silas went aft and took the tiller from the boys.

"That was a good turn you did for old man Simpkins," he observed.
"That's his little girl you saved from a watery death. Guess he'll
feel different about that motor boat now," and the old captain smiled
grimly.

Before the _Seagull_ reached the dock the participators in what had
nearly been a tragedy were rapidly recovering. Frank was still wobbly
on his legs, but quickly recovered his spirits. "Thank you, old man,"
he said to Jimmy as they disembarked. "If it hadn't been for you,
both of us would have gone down. I didn't have the strength to keep
even myself up and I wouldn't have let her go down alone." The two
friends gave a silent pressure of the hand.

"It was nothing," said Jimmy. "I went after you as quickly as I
could. It seemed to me you were down fully five minutes, and I had
about given you up when your head bobbed through the surface."

"Seemed to me I was down about an hour, and I guess I must have been
fifteen or twenty feet under when I got her. But it's all over now,
and I'm glad."

The gallant rescue was the talk of Seawall that night. Captain Silas
sat at the end of the pier with a group around him, and Frank's
daring deed lost nothing by the captain's telling. But Frank was
silent on the matter himself and denied that he had done anything to
talk about. From him, his father and mother could only get the bare
facts that he had jumped overboard and pulled in a little girl who
had had the bad luck to fall into the water.



CHAPTER III.

QUEEN'S TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.


The six o'clock train the next night brought with it the Codfish
in all his glory. He was radiant in a natty gray flannel suit, and
sported a lavender tie and socks to match, with a dash of the same
color in his hat band.

"Welcome to our city, Codfish!" shouted Frank, who with Jimmy and
Lewis had been at the station long before the train from the north
was due.

"Gentlemen," returned that individual as he descended mincingly from
the parlor car, while a porter dragged two great suit-cases stuffed
to bursting after him, "I am charmed with this reception. But where's
the band?"

"The only one I see," said Jimmy laughingly, "is the one on your
hat, and it sounds like a flock of trombones. Don't you know you are
liable to shock these sedate villagers with that raiment of yours?
You might be arrested as a disturber of the peace."

"You see in me not a shocker," replied the visitor, "but the great
animator. Business will pick up as soon as I am well established in
your rural midst. Children cry for me and all that sort of thing. But
what's this job you have for me?"

"Oh, I'm sorry to say it's all off. We were about to telegraph you
again to stay where you were, when we had your message saying you
were coming."

"All right, I'll take the next train back."

"You'll take nothing back for about three weeks. We'll tell you what
we had up our sleeve. Here, Jones"--to the village expressman--"take
these miniature trunks down to my father's house," said Frank. "We'll
walk, if you feel able to take so much exercise, Mr. Gleason."

"Not used to it, of course, but I'll make an exception this time.
Now, fire away on this scheme of yours."

As they trudged along, Frank, aided by Jimmy and occasionally by
Lewis, told of the conception and the smash of the scheme. "But never
mind," he added, "we can find enough to do. We'll teach you to swim
like a fish----"

"No, you won't. I'm not a fish in spite of my name. I will fight
before I'll swim, and goodness knows I'd hate to fight, for it's most
exhausting."

The boys all laughed at the whimsical Codfish, for they all knew that
he wasn't half so backward in athletic things as he tried to persuade
them that he was.

"Hello," said Frank, giving a whistle of surprise as he approached
the house. "We have company. By crickets, it is--it is Mr. Simpkins!
Now, I wonder if his little girl hasn't got over her ducking yet."

"Principal people of the village here undoubtedly to welcome me,"
said the Codfish. "'Spose I'll have to make a speech and all that
sort of thing. Beastly bore; you shouldn't have let them know I was
coming."

By this time Frank had mounted the steps of the house. "This is my
son Frank, Mr. Simpkins," said Mr. Armstrong.

Frank came forward and received a hearty handclasp from Mr. Simpkins.
"My boy," said the latter, "when you were at my house this morning,
I little thought that I'd have to thank you for saving my daughter's
life. I do thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I want to ask
your pardon for my seeming bluntness this morning."

"Oh, that was all right, sir. I happened to be handy to-day and
helped to pull the little girl out of the water. That was all. And as
for the motor boat, it was a matter of business and we couldn't come
to terms. No one's fault."

Mr. Simpkins smiled at the businesslike youngster who talked so
clearly to the point. "Well, I appreciate your quality more now than
I did this morning, and I've come up not only to thank you, but to
tell you that the motor boat you want is yours."

"Oh, I couldn't think of taking it! I did nothing to earn it," said
Frank, much embarrassed by the kindly tone and offer.

"Now I insist," said the visitor. "The boat is doing me no good
whatsoever, and you might as well have it. It belonged to a son of
mine who is gone, and I haven't had the heart to let it be used or
even to sell it. In view of the obligation you have placed me under,
my boy, I can square things with you partially, at least, by giving
you the boat. It has not been used much and I'm sure it is in good
condition. If it is not in good condition, I'll put it that way, so
you can begin your transportation, as you call it, at once."

"I'm awfully much obliged," said Frank, "but it's too much of a gift
for what I did. Won't you let us buy it from you?" There was a sound
of muffled protest from the boys at the other end of the veranda
where they had withdrawn, although still within earshot of the
conversation that was going on.

"The boy is right, Mr. Simpkins, it is too much of a gift," said Mr.
Armstrong. "I think his argument is good."

"Well, then," said Mr. Simpkins, turning again to Frank, "make me an
offer. I'm willing to sell to you and in some way discharge some of
my debt. You are willing to buy, I think you said this morning."

"Yes, sir, but I'm afraid it would cost too much for us."

"I don't know," said the old gentleman; "the boat's not doing me any
good. Let's see; I'd sell her for a hundred dollars and put her in
running shape. How's that? And you can pay me half of that amount at
the end of this summer and the other half a year later. Will you take
her?"

There was a murmur of approval at the other end of the veranda,
and Frank, as soon as he could find his voice, exclaimed: "You bet
we'll take her! I mean--thank you, sir; we will take her on those
conditions." Mr. Simpkins smiled slyly at Mr. Armstrong, who, being
later appealed to by his son, readily gave his consent to the deal,
adding, "And I'll back Frank and his chums in this venture."

"I can already see that I'm dealing with a young man who will make
good his word," said Mr. Simpkins. "And now I must be going. I'll
have a man look over the boat to-morrow morning, and if everything is
all right with the engine you can take possession at once. I'll have
my man show you how to run her, but I imagine it won't take you long
to learn. Good night, all."

You can readily imagine the jubilee that took place when Mr. Simpkins
was out of hearing. The four boys grabbed each other and danced a
wild Highland fling. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong looked on laughing as the
boys thumped each other on the back and shouted.

"Boys, boys, you won't leave a board in the veranda, and the
neighbors will think you've taken leave of your senses," admonished
Mrs. Armstrong. "And, anyway, it's time for supper, and Mr. Gleason
must be hungry after his long ride."

"Dear old mum, you would dance, too, wouldn't you, if you had just
bought a ship for a song, same as we have? Here, salute the captain
of the new Transportation Company!" His mother slipped her arm over
her son's shoulder and kissed him gravely on the cheek: "Thus I
salute Captain Armstrong."

"That's the best salute ever, mother. Better than twenty-one guns in
the navy."

"And where do we come in, in these salutes," said the Codfish.
"Aren't we important members of the company?"

"I could kiss you all, to-day," said the motherly woman; "I'm so
happy for your sakes. But there goes the bell. We'll have something
more substantial than salutes."

There was great planning at that supper of passenger carrying,
swimming, racing and the like, things that all energetic boys on a
summer vacation would enjoy.

"If David were only here our party would be complete," said Jimmy.

"And where is he?" inquired Gleason.

"We hope he'll be in Seawall next month. He is in Europe now,"
returned Frank; "and we will keep our purchase a secret from him at
present. When he gets back we will suddenly burst on his vision in
all our glory."

"Good old David," said Jimmy; "won't he be glad? We can take him
along as member of the crew. He'd make a ripping coxswain."

"I don't know what a coxswain has to do, but he'd be all right for
any job," said Lewis.

"And with all this crew you propose," said Mr. Armstrong, "where are
you going to put your passengers?"

"Oh, don't worry about that, Dad; she's a big boat. Wait till you see
her. Are you willing to advance us running expenses for gasoline and
oil till we get our first money on fares?"

"Provided it isn't more than a hundred dollars a day," returned his
father, laughing.

The next morning was spent down at the Simpkins wharf with the
mechanic. There was little to do. The motor was one of the best
types, but while it had been idle it had acquired some rust. The
pistons stuck hard in the cylinders for a time, but they were soon
freed and the engine turned over as smoothly as the day it left the
shop. When the batteries were renewed, the carburetor adjusted and
the gas and oil tanks filled, the mechanic gave the fly wheel a sharp
turn. Instantly there was an explosion; another and another followed,
and as the motor picked up speed under the careful manipulation of
the mechanic, the explosions from the exhaust settled down into a
steady purr.

"That's a peach of an engine," said Frank to the mechanic. "How much
speed do you think the boat has?"

"Dunno," replied the mechanic; "mebby twenty miles, mebby more. Don't
think there's many around here that'll get away from her very much.
Now we're ready to see how she goes."

The ropes which fastened the motor boat to the pier were thrown off
and slowly the craft was backed from her berth.

"Take the wheel," said the mechanic, indicating Frank, "and I'll look
after the motor. We'll see what she can do."

Frank sprang to the wheel and after a little maneuvering headed her
down the bay. "She steers like a bicycle," he cried. "Gee whiz, isn't
it great?"

As the speed increased, the boat lifted her nose clear out of the
water under the push from the powerful motor, and a white-capped
wave rolled away from either side. They passed several sailing boats
that seemed almost motionless by contrast. Frank ranged up alongside
another motor boat bound in the same direction and soon left it in
the distance. Then, after a long, sweeping turn, he headed back to
the wharf, where Mr. Simpkins stood.

"She's all right, I see," said that gentleman, "and evidently hasn't
lost her speed."

"I should say she hadn't," said Frank. "We went like an express
train. Are you sure you still want to hold to your bargain, Mr.
Simpkins?"

"Oh, yes; I'm glad my old boat has fallen into such appreciative
hands. Maybe I'll take a ride with you, when you have begun your
ferry service. She isn't as handsome as she was before the weather
got at her sides, but a lick of paint here and there will repair all
the damage."

"If our profits are big enough, we can lay her up this winter and
give her a new dress," suggested Jimmy; "but there's no time now."

"If you are satisfied that you can run her," continued Mr. Simpkins,
"and she is ready, there's no reason you can't take her now. What do
you say?"

"Say? Why, we say yes, if you don't mind. We can be getting used to
her before we begin to make business runs. How about it, mates?" said
Frank, turning to his crew.

Of course the crew were of one mind. The mechanic was landed on the
pier, and under the hands of her new crew, the _Black Duck_, for that
was the name of the craft, shot once more into the sparkling waters
of the bay. This time Jimmy was at the wheel and Frank manipulated
the motor.

Halfway to the Seawall pier the boys met the _Seagull_, with a party
aboard. Jimmy swung in close and the crew of the motor boat gave such
a yell as startled the old salt at the tiller of the _Seagull_.

"Well, I'll be swizzled," they heard him say as they flashed by, and
turning, with his arm on the tiller, he waved a friendly hand as they
dashed on.

Before the day was over the boys had familiarized themselves
thoroughly with their new possession, and the farther they went the
more wonderful did they consider their luck in having such a craft.

The next morning the town of Seawall was startled in its morning walk
by notices posted conspicuously as follows:

  QUEEN'S TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.

  A marvellous opportunity
  to see the magnificent scenery
  of Seawall Bay by motor boat.
  Roomy accommodations.
  Courteous attendants.
  Every convenience.
  For the small sum
  of 25 cents.
  Start made from Seawall Pier every hour.
  First trip 10 a. m. to-day.
  Per order
  BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

The notice was prepared by the ready pen of the Codfish, and it
was given an added interest by a slap-dash drawing of a motor boat
coasting down the side of a big wave, while little fishes and big
fishes stood on their tails in astonishment. Of course, every one
who read went down to the pier at the hour named, and the young
navigators started out on their first trip with every seat taken.
During the trip the Codfish acted as a kind of guide to the party and
pointed out the "magnificent scenery," adding many fictitious details
as the _Black Duck_ plowed along. The passengers, when landed at the
starting point after an hour's trip, voted it the best ride they had
ever taken and made way for a new boatload.

It was a day of rushing business for the new company, and the profits
before nightfall came to something over ten dollars.



CHAPTER IV.

BURTON'S ARRIVAL.


This first day of business was the index of many days to come, and
the money rolled in rapidly. "A little while more, fellows, and we
will own half of her," said the captain, as they laid up to the pier
one fine day waiting for passengers.

"Which half, Captain," inquired the Codfish; "bow or stern?"

"Never mind which," returned Frank. "You keep on with your superb
management and we will have a property here worth while. Here comes
another load for us. There's about two dollars in this for us. Hustle
up, my hearties, and be ready to lend a hand, Fatty." This to Lewis,
who never disturbed himself unless under orders. Lewis crawled
laboriously over the gunwale onto the float.

"Well, well, well," said a young man of the party who had just come
upon the float. "If my eyes do not deceive me, the captain of that
ocean-going motor boat is none other than my old friend, Frank
Armstrong!"

Frank, who had been fussing with the motor, raised his head. "Mr.
Burton!" he exclaimed. "Glad to see you! I didn't know you were
around here."

"I can say the same to you. How long have you been a navigator?" he
added, as the party of young folks climbed aboard. "And there's Jimmy
and your little fat friend. My, this is quite a reunion. Arrived only
a day or two ago."

The boys grinned their pleasure at the meeting.

"Do any swimming now?" said Burton as the boat got under way.

"Oh, yes, we take the mornings for that. We do a little in athletics
up at Queen's School and we're kept in training, especially for
football."

"Oh, yes, you are a Freshman up there."

"No, we are in our second year," said Jimmy proudly.

"I beg your pardon," said Burton, laughing; "it is hard to be taken
for a Freshman when you've got away beyond that unhappy period. Now,
it is fortunate, Frank, you've kept up your swimming, because I want
you to come down to Turner's Point next week and show some of those
fellows how we used to swim down in Florida. Can you come?"

"Can't leave my transportation job very well," replied Frank.

"Oh, hang your transportation job! There will be no one to transport
that day. Every one will be down to the carnival. You know what a
crowd we had last year, and it's going to be a bigger affair than
ever. There'll be lots of people to come down from Seawall. Why
don't you run a special excursion, swim in the meet and take your
crowd back home in the evening? There you are, business and pleasure
combined."

"Sounds good to me," said Frank. "How about it for you, Jimmy, and
you, Codfish and Lewis?"

"Oh, come along," said Burton. "I'll put you down, Frank, in the
hundred-yard race or anything you want to go in for. They've made me
master of ceremonies again. And you will be interested to know that
your old rival, Peters, is back at the Point and swimming better than
ever. He's been practicing, he told me, hoping for the chance to get
back at you. Don't you want to take another fall out of him?"

Frank's eyes brightened. "I wouldn't mind," he added slowly. "I'm
stronger than I was a year ago, but I don't know that I've improved
the stroke you taught me."

"I'm sure it's all right," said the buoyant Burton. "I'll come up
to-morrow morning and see what you've been doing in the way of speed,
and after looking you and Jimmy over I can tell the distance you can
swim best. Is it a go?"

"It's a go for me," said Frank.

"Me, too," said Jimmy.

"Ditto," said Lewis.

"And how about Mr. Gleason?" said Burton.

"The Codfish, in spite of his name, hates the water except in the
bathtub," said Jimmy. "But he'd be a fine scorer, eh, Codfish?"

"Anything the captain says is good enough for me," said the Codfish.
"He's the boss. I'm on a salary and under orders."

"Well, you can be an ornament to the stake boat, or the float, or
anywhere you want to be. It's settled that you are to come?" said
Burton.

The boys nodded. Burton went back to his party and the boys gave
their attention wholly to navigation to the end of the trip.

"Don't forget, now; I'm going to be up your way in the morning. Be
all ready in your suits," Burton called back over his shoulder, as
with his friends he left the Seawall pier.

Next morning the boys met early at the old swimming place and were
splashing about trying various strokes, when Burton's black head
showed in the water a quarter of a mile off shore.

"By the great horn spoon," said Jimmy, "there he is, swimming up, and
it's nearly a mile from the Point."

"He must be a wonder," said the Codfish; "I wouldn't take all
that exercise if you were to give me the _Black Duck_ and all her
feathers. But there's no accounting for tastes. I'm overcome thinking
how much energy he is wasting." The Codfish was perched on a dry bit
of rock. His raiment was as immaculate as ever, but the tone of it
was pink this morning.

"Hello, boys," shouted Burton as he approached. "Ready, I see. Now,"
as he pulled himself up on the rocks, "I want to see what you've
accomplished since I saw you. In with you, Frank."

Frank plunged into the water and swam a little distance, using the
crawl stroke to the best of his ability, while Burton observed him
closely.

"'Tisn't quite right. Look," and the coach dived off the rock and
shot over to Frank. "You ought to bring your hand clear out of the
water. Don't reach too far and don't let it go too deep; just like a
paddle, you remember. Your leg kick is good. Get your arms right and
there will be nothing to it."

Frank tried to follow the instructions as well as he could, and his
efforts pleased his instructor, who shouted from his perch on the
rock to which he had returned: "Fine, fine, that's the way; now
only one breath to half a dozen strokes; you waste too much time
breathing."

"Same as me," commented the Codfish from his perch.

Frank finished his lesson, and Jimmy and Lewis were sent in for some
instruction. Burton began to call for the crawl stroke, but both
boys confessed they had never been able to learn it very well. They
disliked burying their faces in the water, and so got along much
better with the old overhand and breast strokes.

Burton tried to show them just how it was done, and was in the
water and out of it half a dozen times coaching, but neither of the
swimmers caught the idea.

"Well, never mind, let it go to-day and swim me a hundred yards, the
three of you. Frank, you take the crawl, and let the other two use
what they want to. Get ready, go!"

The boys splashed into the water each in his different way, Frank
easy and graceful, Jimmy determined but rather clumsy, and Lewis like
a walrus.

"See how Frank pulls away from them," said Burton, now left alone
with the Codfish. "That boy is a wonder in the water. Why, they're
not any match for him at all, and only last year both of them could
beat him. That's what comes of sticking to a thing. Frank was
determined to learn that stroke and he got it. The others thought
there was nothing in it and didn't try hard."

The swimmers reached the other side of the little rocky inlet and
were heading back towards the starting point, with Frank well in the
lead, but he slowed up and finished easily, while the others pulled
themselves up on the rocks almost exhausted.

"We're no match for Frank at all," said Jimmy, puffing. "He has a
motor attached to him somewhere."

"It is the motor of perseverance, my son," said Burton. "You would
do better in a long race, I think. Did you ever swim an eighth of a
mile--the 220 yards?"

"Yes, but not in a race," answered Jimmy.

"You'll be as good as any of the rest of them at the distance, so
I'll put you down for the 220 race. And Lewis, we'll put him in for
the plunge."

"What's that?" said Lewis.

"Just like this," and suiting the action to the word Burton sprang
from his rock, put his hands before him as he flew through the air,
struck the water cleanly as a knife, and after disappearing a moment
from view came to the top floating. His body traveled rapidly forward
in a straight line, arms and legs held rigidly extended and the face
buried. Fifty feet from the rock, when his momentum had about ended,
he turned over on his back and raced back to the starting point.
"That's the way you do it," he said, as he climbed up, shaking the
water out of his hair. "Let's see you try it, Lewis."

"It's easy," said Lewis, and took the dive. He landed flat as a
pancake, nearly knocking all the breath out of his body, stretched
out his arms and legs, as he had seen Burton do, but didn't move
five feet from the point where he struck the water. After lying on
his face and imagining himself traveling forward, he looked up,
disgusted, to note what little progress he had made, only to see his
companions howling with laughter.

"Isn't so easy as it looks, is it?" said Burton. "But keep at it."
He illustrated again, and Lewis, after one or two attempts, readily
caught the idea. As there was no work to the job of plunging, he took
a fancy to it, and before the morning's coaching was over was doing
pretty well.

"There," said Burton finally, jumping up, "that's all the time I can
give you this morning. All of you work every morning, but don't do
too much. You have a week before the meet comes off. See you later."

"Can't we come a little way with you?" said Frank.

"Sure, glad to have you," and Frank and Jimmy took the water with
Burton. They headed out clear of the rocks and turned down the shore
at a distance of perhaps a hundred yards from land. Lewis and the
Codfish walked leisurely down the sand, watching the three heads as
they bobbed along in the waves.

"You ought to take every chance you can get," said Burton, as the
three swam easily side by side, "to swim longer distances. There's no
telling how handy it might come in, supposing you were pitched off a
boat some day. The way to do, is to take it easy like we are now and
use all your strokes. When you get tired with one, take another. That
change rests you almost as much as stopping. Use one arm over first,
and then another," illustrating as he went along, "and if you get
very tired, turn over on your back and float a while with your hands
well over your head like this." Again he illustrated.

The three swam on for two or three hundred yards, the boys drinking
in the instruction of the expert and trying to put into practice all
that he was telling them. Little did they think that they would need
all and more than they were able to show in the way of strength and
endurance in a short time.

"Well, good-by, boys; I've got to make time now," shouted Burton.
"Maybe I'll see you before the meet, but if I don't, remember it is
Thursday week at four o'clock. Be sure to come," and he was gone in a
cloud of spray kicked up by his arms and legs as he started on his
long swim down the shore.

"Good-by," echoed both boys, and with quickened pace they drew toward
the shore and soon joined Lewis and the Codfish.



CHAPTER V.

THE WATER CARNIVAL.


Business still held good, and less than two weeks after the Queen's
Ferry began its traffic there was money enough in the treasury to pay
all running expenses and leave enough for the first installment of
fifty dollars for Mr. Simpkins.

"It isn't due until the end of the summer," said Frank, "but we might
as well pay it, and there's five dollars over for Captain Silas.
That's for the idea."

"And please, sir, where does the crew come in?" inquired the Codfish.

The boys were all seated on the veranda of the Armstrong home.
After dinner, with paper and pencil they had gone over their daily
earnings, with the result that the decision to pay up had been made.
All voted unanimously.

"Oh, you will get your reward by and by. Isn't it enough to have
such company as ours without pay?" queried Lewis.

"Say, Codfish," said Jimmy, "that poster of yours was a dandy." He
referred to the one that the Codfish had spent the greater part of
the day before preparing, and it was the announcement of the special
excursion to Turner's Point on Thursday. The Codfish had put his best
efforts on the work, and, like the others that had preceded it, it
was embellished with drawings illustrating the coming carnival.

"Codfish is a genius and no mistake," laughed Frank. "This outfit
wouldn't be anywhere without him, and when the season is over we will
vote him double pay."

"I was brought here under false pretenses," said that individual in
what he tried to make an aggrieved tone. "Your telegram said: 'No
work, big pay,' and since I arrived I've done nothing but work and
haven't seen a red cent."

"Just a telegraph operator's mistake, I guess," said Frank. "Perhaps
we wired you 'Big work, no pay'--wasn't that it, Jimmy?"

"Sure it was--something like that. But the Codfish enjoys working for
love. He has too much money already; he said so himself."

"What time does your excursion start to-morrow?" inquired Mrs.
Armstrong.

"Three o'clock, sharp," was Frank's answer. "We take a holiday
to-morrow so as to be ready for the big meet."

"Do you suppose you could take mother and me along if we pay regular
fare?" inquired Mr. Armstrong, stepping up behind them.

"Pay nothing," said Jimmy and the boys in a breath. "We'll take you
as a super-cargo."

"I'm afraid of your speedy boat," said Mrs. Armstrong. "John, we will
ride down on the trolley car."

"Do come with us, mum; we will take care of you, and it will be more
fun than a trolley. It's nearly a mile down there, and besides you
will have a great place to watch from the boat. Come along," Frank
pleaded.

The result was that Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong agreed to go down to
the Point in the _Black Duck_. That night all turned in early, but
Frank's slumbers were broken by dreams of the black head of a swimmer
that he could not quite overtake bobbing along in front of him. The
head looked singularly like that of his old rival Peters.

At three o'clock next day Frank had the great honor of assisting
his mother and father to their places in the _Black Duck_. Captain
Silas had already started off with his boat loaded to the gunwale
with people from Seawall whose destination was the water carnival at
Turner's Point, and, thanks to the wonderful and enticing posters
that the Codfish had prepared, there were twice as many people on the
dock to go down in the motor boat as could be accommodated.

"Show your business instincts, Frank; give up the swim this afternoon
and make a double trip to the Point. I hate to see the Queen's Ferry
lose so many good dollars. Peters will lick you, anyway," said the
Codfish.

"He will, like a duck," retorted Jimmy, who for once thought that the
Codfish was in earnest.

"No," said Frank, "this is a holiday. We made our first payment this
morning and there are other days to work in. This is an outing."

When the _Black Duck_ arrived at Turner's Point the whole place was
alive with color and movement. Scores of rowboats were drawn up
alongside the hundred-yard course that had been laid out by Burton,
between two floats. Sailboats with their mainsails down and jibs
stowed, lay at anchor a little farther away. Crowds of the people of
the Point were on the water front and all was expectancy. Frank edged
his boat in toward the public float and discharged his passengers.

"Mother, there are so many boats here that I think you and father
better come and sit in the stand, where you can have a better view.
We will make fast the _Black Duck_ here."

"It would be better," said Mr. Armstrong. So the party threaded their
way to the stand, which was built on the long pier, and took places
there.

"Now, since you are all comfy," said Frank, "I'll be off and see
when my race comes. I may not be back again. Don't get excited and
fall off, mother," he warned. And he darted away. "Good luck to you,
son," his father called after him. He turned and waved his hand, and
hurried along to the dressing room.

Like all water carnivals, the first events were of minor character. A
sack race in which the swimmers were encased in a bag up to the waist
caused endless mirth as, hampered by the bag which did not allow
them the use of their legs, they floundered along, struggling and
splashing. Then came an obstacle race in which the swimmers had to
climb over obstacles placed in the course. Some did not try to climb,
but dived underneath, and were declared out of the race for fouling.
Others attempted to climb and fell back into the water with a splash.

Then came the first real trial of skill, the preliminaries of the
hundred-yard race. There were so many entries that three heats had
to be run off, four in a heat, the first two to qualify. Peters was
drawn for the first trial, Frank noticed. He watched his rival keenly
as the first four took the water, and saw with a little sinking of
the heart that the tall, slender Peters was far and away better than
his competitors. He swam a powerful trudgeon stroke, which carried
him rapidly and easily. Peters did not spurt. He did not have to, but
finished easily in the lead of his nearest competitor by ten feet;
and, instead of getting upon the float at the far end of the course,
just to show that he was not exhausted he swung around and came back
at even a faster clip than he had held in the race. As he pulled
himself up on the float, he gave Frank a glance from under his heavy
brows, but did not show that he recognized him.

"That's the lad for my money," observed a bystander. "Did you see how
easy he won that trial?"

"He's the best here, I guess," said a companion. "There's a fellow
here called Armstrong, but I don't think he has any business with
Peters. That fellow's a cracker-jack," and they both gazed after the
lad with admiration. Frank heard, but said nothing. His friends were
with him, Jimmy in a natty bathing suit, Lewis still in his regular
street clothes, for the plunge did not come till later, and the
Codfish in immaculate flannels with flowing blue tie and socks to
match.

In a minute the next four were sent off in a nip-and-tuck race, at
the end of which the announcer bawled out:

"Second trial goes to Hatch, with Burley second!" Hatch also swam
back to the float, as had Peters, and was helped out by the latter,
who complimented him on his winning the trial. Frank noticed that the
two swimmers, as they walked to the dressing room, cast a glance in
his direction. They were speaking in low tones.

"They're great pals, those two," said one of the nearby spectators.

"And they're hatching up something for you, Frank," said Jimmy in a
whisper. "I don't like the looks of either of them."

"Guess not," returned Frank. "Here we go," he added as the third
trial was called.

"Take it easy," admonished Burton, as Frank balanced on the edge of
the float and waited for the signal to go.

"Bang!" went the pistol. Frank was rather slow in getting off, while
his three competitors were almost ahead of the pistol. One of them
did indeed beat the pistol, but as he dropped back before the first
fifty yards had been covered, no attention was paid to the incident
by the referee. Swimming easily, Frank was within touching distance
of the leading man twenty-five yards from the finish line. But he
did not exert himself very much. He let the leader work hard, being
satisfied with second place, which was just as good as first, for
both first and second qualified to enter the finals.

When it was announced that Bates had won the heat with Armstrong
second, there was a great commotion among the members of the
Armstrong family on the stand. "Oh, dear, wasn't it too bad that
Frank couldn't win?" said Mrs. Armstrong, disappointment on every
line of her face.

Her husband chuckled. "Don't be worried, Sarah, that's only a
preliminary. Second place gives him a chance to swim in the final
trial." Mrs. Armstrong was comforted. "He was saving himself, I
think," said the father.

Frank swam the few yards to the shore and walked slowly down the
beach. He was met by Codfish and Lewis, who excitedly inquired why he
didn't take first place. Frank only smiled. "What did you want me to
do," he said; "tire myself out?"

"He did exactly right," said the astute Codfish. "His real race is
coming with Peters a little later."

Meantime the exhibition of high diving had begun from a tower built
on the outer edge of the pier, with platforms jutting out every ten
feet up to the height of forty-five feet, the lowest one being five
feet above the water. From these varying platforms an expert gave a
series of dazzling evolutions--somersaults, back dives, swan dives,
and finally a double somersault from the very top platform, which
made the ladies scream with apprehension. But the diver struck the
water like an arrow and bobbed up instantly, waving a joyful hand to
the crowd.

As soon as the diving was over the 220 race was called, with six
entries, among them Jimmy. At the outset he lagged behind and seemed
to be hopelessly out of the race, but, urged on by the cries of his
Seawall friends, he got his second wind when half the distance was
over and began to pull up on the leaders. One by one he overtook and
passed them until only one was left ahead of him. For the last twenty
yards it was a scramble between these two, but Jimmy's hand shot out
and touched the float a fraction of a second ahead.

During the excitement that followed on the float, a boat was rowed
rapidly over from the side of the course, containing among others
a stout lady, who wore an enormous picture hat. Even at a distance
it could be seen that she was rather clumsy looking. Her hands were
covered by coarse cotton gloves and her face was concealed by a white
veil. Evidently it was the intention of the rowers to land her on the
swimmers' float. In a moment the rowboat drew alongside the float.

Every one was watching the strange maneuvers of the boat and laughing
at its queer occupant as it drew up to the float. There was much
wondering as to what the lady could want. As the boat touched the
edge of the float she stood up awkwardly and put one foot on the
float, pushing with the other one in the boat to help herself up. Of
course, you all know what happened. The boat, instead of giving her
the support she desired, shot away with her vigorous push. The queer
woman lost her balance, toppled over backward, fell with a resounding
crash into the water and sank, cotton gloves and all.

Immediately there was a cry from the spectators, and Lewis, who
happened to be standing nearest, without thought of his clothes, went
over after her like a hero. Almost immediately he appeared clutching
something desperately. It was the skirt of the drowning woman. How he
pulled to save her from a watery grave! But he pulled too savagely,
for the skirt was left in his hands, and the woman sank like a stone.
Then the feather on that gorgeous picture hat came into view. Lewis
grabbed at the hat. That, too, came away in his hand, and he threw
it on the float, debating with himself whether or not he would go
to the bottom after her, as Frank had dived a few days before for
the drowning girl. He thought it strange that no one of all those
swimmers came to help him, but he had been trying so desperately
to do his duty that he had not looked up. A roar of laughter now
caused him to look, and to his amazement every one on the float was
convulsed, holding their sides and swaying back and forth.

Just then, right alongside him, bobbed up the round and smiling
face of Bunny Taylor, the fattest boy of the Point. A bedraggled
wig of long hair floated out behind him and one cotton-gloved hand
grabbed the side of the float. Then the truth dawned on Lewis. He had
been the victim of a hoax. It wasn't a woman at all who had fallen
overboard. He climbed out of the water and dashed for the dressing
room while the crowd laughed and shouted.

"Poor old Lewis," said Frank, chasing after him. "It was too bad you
were so near. That is one of the regular tricks at a water carnival.
Some one made up as a woman falls overboard, and sometimes an
innocent and unsuspecting bystander, not on the inside, jumps in and
rescues the drowning 'lady.' It's hard luck that it was you."

Lewis was almost in tears. "I certainly must have looked like a goat,
jumping in after that galoot."

"You were a hero," said the Codfish, who had followed, "a real
out-and-out first-class hero. If she hadn't been the most elusive
woman in the world, you would have saved her for sure. But it's
always safer to grab them by the neck than by the skirt; always
remember that, Lewis."

"Oh, shut up," said Lewis, still ruffled. "I only wish it had been
you, you walking advertisement for a gents' furnishing store!"

"I tell you what you can do to even up with this crowd--go out and
win the plunge," said Frank, comforting him. "You can do it, and then
they won't have the laugh on you. Hurry up, there's the first call
for the event."

Lewis got out of his wet street clothes, put on his water costume and
walked rather sheepishly out on the float. There he was greeted with
such a storm of cheers and hand-clapping that he forgot his chagrin
and fell into a better humor--so good a humor, indeed, that he went
determinedly at the work in hand and won the event by a clean five
feet from the best plunger that Turner's Point could offer.

"Bully boy," said Burton, as Lewis passed him on the float, headed
for the dressing room. "You turned the tables on them." Whereat Lewis
grinned more broadly than ever.



CHAPTER VI.

AN OLD RIVAL'S STRATAGEM.


The great event of the day, the finals of the hundred yards' swim,
was reserved for the last. All the other events were over and every
one was looking eagerly forward to the trial of speed between Frank
Armstrong and Peters, for every one who had watched the early heats
in this event knew that it lay between these two for first place. It
was Seawall against the Point, or even more than that, for Peters was
one of the best swimmers at the school he attended in New York City.
It was then Seawall against the country! No wonder excitement ran
high.

"All ready for the finals in the hundred yards' swim," shouted the
referee through his megaphone. Out of their dressing rooms ran the
six swimmers and lined up on the edge of the float. There was much
craning of necks in the stand and everywhere to get a good look at
the contestants.

"My money on Peters," said the individual who had proclaimed himself
earlier in the day. "He'll show your Seawall champion the way."

"He'll show him the way to lose, maybe," said the Codfish. "They
can't beat that boy Armstrong." Every one was taking sides as to the
outcome, while the referee was stationing the six young athletes on
the float edge. Little time was lost in preliminaries.

"Are you ready?" queried the high-pitched voice of the referee.

"Get set!"

"Crack!" went the pistol, and as if shot from a cannon the six hit
the water together. Peters with a longer spring immediately shot out
in front of the bunch, his arms flying like flails and his long legs
beating the water rhythmically.

"Hurrah, see Peters go! He'll win easily," cried the friends of the
New Yorker.

"Wait a minute; the race is just beginning," said another. "Wait till
Armstrong strikes his gait. There, see him go up!"

Frank was indeed gaining. In none of his races was he ever able to
get under way fast at first, but he could always quicken up when he
had been going for a few seconds. This was what happened now. Slowly
but surely he drew up on Peters and Bates, the friend of Peters, who
had won the heat from Frank. At the half distance, he had shaken off
three competitors and was closing on the fourth. Slowly he gained,
when suddenly Bates, just ahead of him, swerved from his course.
Frank looked up just in time to prevent running into him, but he was
obliged to change his direction a trifle in order to pass. The swerve
lost him ground, for Peters at this moment seemed to put on a fresh
burst of speed.

Over the last twenty yards the race was a terrific one, the partisans
of both sides yelling like mad for their favorites. On the boys came
like whirlwinds. The water churned up into spray as they smashed
through it. Thirty feet from the float Frank took his last look and
his last gulp of air for that race, then, burying his head, he put
every pound of strength he had left into driving himself forward. He
was now so close to Peters that he could feel the eddy of water from
his hand as it swept backward. Ten feet from the float, he fairly
threw himself out of the water. He was alongside the leader now, and
next thing he knew he crashed full tilt into the float. He raised his
head to hear the shout:

"Peters wins! Peters wins!"

It was true Frank had touched only a fraction of a second too late.
It was Peter's race. Frank dropped off the float and swam back
slowly, all but exhausted.

Jimmy was at the starting float, and as he lent the tired racer a
hand to mount to the planks, his face was white with rage.

"Wasn't good enough, was I?" gasped Frank.

"Good enough!" yelled Jimmy; "of course you were. That chump who was
swimming behind Peters got in your way. I saw him cut across and
block you."

"I don't think so," said Frank; "he was all in and didn't do it on
purpose."

"I know better than that, and I'd swear it was a put-up job. You can
beat Peters any day from ten yards to a million miles," said the
indignant Jimmy. "I kicked to the referee about it, but he wouldn't
allow a foul because Bates didn't touch you. Did he?"

"No," said Frank; "I had to shift a little for him and it put me out
a bit. I don't think it made any difference in the race. Peters was
too fast for me."

"Get out," said Jimmy, still hot and angry; "you know he isn't.
I'd bet my boots you could beat him any day, and if I were you, I'd
challenge him for a race with no one around to get in your way."

"I've had enough for to-day," said Frank. "We ought to get dressed
and headed for home as soon as we can. There are some black clouds
coming up over there in the west."

It was as Frank said. The day had been a warm one and thunder heads
were now showing in the west. Down toward the horizon the clouds were
piled thick and black, and every now and then the denser masses were
edged by a little ribbon of fire. The lightning was beginning to
play. The top of the pile was still white, for the lowering sun was
shining full upon it; but soon this white top, climbing rapidly, shut
off the sun.

The wind had just begun to pick up in puffs and eddies and the
sailboats were scudding about like anxious swallows, when Mr.
Armstrong hurried up to the dressing room where Frank was getting
into his clothes. "Mother and I have a chance to go back on the
trolley. Hurry up, son," he said. "It looks so bad over there to the
west," jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the
towering thunder-heads, "that I think you had better wait till the
storm is over. Mother is nervous about your going to Seawall in the
_Black Duck_."

"Oh, I guess we could get home all right," said Frank. "It isn't
going to be very heavy, is it?"

For answer there came a blinding flash, and almost on its heels
a roar of thunder that made the bathing houses dance on their
foundations. The wind was running before the storm with almost
hurricane force, lashing the sea into whitecaps.

"Gee whiz!" exclaimed Jimmy, "that must have hit somewhere nearby.
See the old _Black Duck_ jumping."

The _Black Duck_ was indeed jumping, even though she was bound
securely and lay partly in the lee of the dock. The wind and the rain
came together, scattering the stragglers on the walks to places of
shelter. In a few minutes the sea was beaten white and high waves
sprang up like magic, their tops white-capped by the fierce drive of
the gale.

"It is so heavy it can't last," said the Codfish, gingerly
side-stepping a rivulet of water that broke through the shelter of
the boys. "Just like a chap who goes too hard at the first of his
race--can't stick it out," he added sagely.

But this particular storm did stick it out for some time. After an
hour, however, the wind dropped almost as suddenly as it had sprung
up, the thunder muttered itself out, and the sea began to go down.
Lacking the pressure of the gale behind it, the whitecaps soon
disappeared, but in their place ran a long swell, down which the
little sailboats at anchor coasted and rose again to the next, like
some kind of a seabird.

"We will have a tippy time of it going home," observed the Codfish,
as in the last few sprinkling drops the boys sought the wharf.

"Yes, and we aren't going to have much company, I guess," said Frank.

"Their pedal extremities have congealed, evidently," observed the
Codfish. "Here comes your father to say, 'No, thank you, Frank, we
will go up on the trolley to-night; we don't care for coasting.'" The
boys laughed. For that was just about what Mr. Armstrong had come to
repeat. "And I guess the others of your excursion are going back the
same way," he added. "I saw the Slocums light out for Seawall in an
automobile five minutes ago."

"I'll wait a little while," said Frank, "for my party, and then if
they don't come I'll dig out for home, too."

"I wouldn't wait too long," was his father's parting observation as
he turned to go. "Mother says she wishes you would leave the boat
down here to-night and come for it in the morning. How about it?"

"Oh, there's no danger. We'll be home in a jiffy. The tide is low and
I'll have to go outside of Pumpkin Island to avoid the reef. Don't
worry about us. The four of us could take her to New York to-night.
Couldn't we, Jimmy?"

"Sure thing," said that individual, who rather enjoyed the prospects
of the trip up. Lewis and the Codfish were not so hopeful, but they
said they would stand by the ship. Mr. Armstrong turned again and
left the boys with a last warning word.

"Where did the Human Fish, Peters, go to?" inquired the Codfish, as
Jimmy fussed with the motor and Frank sponged off the seats. Very
little water had entered the boat, most of it having been shed by the
very efficient awning which covered her from bow to stern.

"Don't know," said Frank. "I wasn't interested in him after I saw
that he hit the float first."

"Oh," said Lewis, "I saw him jump into his motor boat with that chap
who got in your way, just as soon as the race was over, and light
out. Guess they were trying to get down to the Peters' dock before
the storm came on so hard."

"He had good nerve, starting then," said Jimmy.

"Or bad judgment," said the Codfish. "Sometimes the one looks like
the other."

"Here, stop getting sarcastic and help with these ropes," growled
Frank. "They are all in hard knots. What Indian tied them like this?"

Soon they freed themselves and the motor, under slow speed, began to
revolve. They backed slowly out from the dock. Nothing was left of
the gay scene of an hour or two before.

"Funny what a little water will do," observed the Codfish, turning to
look at the deserted stand, pier and floats.

"Yes, and it's funny what a little wind will do to water," commented
Frank as the _Black Duck_ got under way. He was driving her over the
waves at a little angle and she pitched and rolled tremendously.

The Codfish didn't like it at all, and Lewis, after five minutes of
this kind of going, began to look white in the failing light.

Frank headed his craft well out beyond the Pumpkin to avoid the
treacherous rock teeth that showed white in a long broken line. He
had a great respect for their destroying abilities. The tide, too,
was on the turn, and he dreaded getting caught in the suck of it.
Many boats had met disaster there. So he headed her straight out into
the bay, so straight indeed that the Codfish finally cried out:

"Where in thunder are you heading for--France, or is it Spain?"

"Don't be impatient," said the captain, "we'll turn in a minute."

He had hardly spoken the words when the motor began to miss fire.
Instead of the steady hum of the exhaust, it was now an irregular
chattering. The boat checked materially as the pistons choked in
the dead cylinders. Frank threw on more gas and for a minute or two
the engine picked up and resumed its regularity. Then it missed,
sputtered, choked, gave one or two expiring explosions and died
completely.

"Well, this is a nice mess you've got us into, isn't it?" whimpered
Lewis. There was a note of grave anxiety in his voice. "I didn't want
to come, but I thought you knew all about your old boat."

"What's the matter, Old Mother Goose?" cried the Codfish whimsically.
"We're not dead yet. Keep your lip stiff. Frank will have it fixed in
a minute."

Frank was working over the batteries with a face on which worriment
showed in spite of himself. He gave the battery box a shake,
tightened up the connections and cranked the motor. There were
half a dozen explosions and silence fell again, broken only by the
lapping of the running tide against the _Black Duck's_ sides. Hastily
he disconnected the wires and tried for a spark on the individual
batteries. Then he connected the batteries in series, and tried
again. There was a faint flash, very different from the long, hot
spark from full batteries.

Frank dropped the terminals and looked up into the faces of the three
boys, who were intently watching him.

"What's the matter?" inquired Jimmy. "Batteries?"

"Just that and nothing else. There isn't enough juice in the whole
lot of them to light a grain of powder."

"Nice pickle we're in," grumbled Lewis. "Isn't it up to the captain
to have his batteries all right?"

"Oh, shut up," commanded Jimmy. "It isn't Frank's fault that the old
batteries are in trouble."

"No," said Frank; "I renewed them, you remember, only day before
yesterday--six brand new ones, at twenty-five cents per. The rain
must have got in somehow and short-circuited them. The shaking by the
motor gave them life enough to carry us out here and then they died.
See, there isn't a bit left." He tried again, rubbing the ends of the
terminals together, but for all the result in the way of ignition
they might as well have been made of wood.

"Well, never mind," said Jimmy, "we're drifting the right way. Look
at us go! That's Seawall over there, and while we are going sideways,
like a crab, we may fetch up all right."

"Sure thing," said Frank, "we are going sideways and fast, too. The
tide here runs like a mill-race, but night is coming faster than
we are going, and it's going to be as black as your shoes in ten
minutes."

"That's an encouraging sign," said the Codfish, "for my shoes are
yellow, and I don't mind yellow nights in the least." The Codfish was
always cheerful under difficulties.

Not so Lewis. He grumbled and growled and blamed everybody for the
plight in which they found themselves. "If I don't turn up by dark,
mother will have a fit," he added.

"Well, I guess all our mothers will have fits," observed Frank
quietly, "but that isn't going to help us out of this trouble."

"Do you know how the drift of this tide goes?" inquired the Codfish.
"It might sweep us in shore far enough so that one of you fish-men
could jump overboard and swim ashore for help."

"Yes, that's a good scheme. Owing to the curve of the Seawall shore
we are now about a mile out. The current splits on Flat Rock, which
ought to be showing pretty soon if we have light enough. If we have
luck to swing over to the shore side of the rock we will drift pretty
close, but if we go on the outside of it we are likely to go on up
the coast or out to sea."

"Fine mess we're in," growled Lewis, who grew more nervous as the
night drew down over the waters.

"Oh, say something new," snapped the Codfish sharply. "We've heard
that for a long time. Can't you think up an original remark?" Lewis
glowered in silence, muttering to himself. Jimmy sat down on the
bottom of the boat and began to tinker with the batteries, while
Frank and the Codfish stood up and peered into the gathering darkness.

"Listen, what was that?" whispered Frank. "Didn't you hear some one
calling?"

The four huddled together close. Jimmy left his tinkering and Lewis
forgot his hard luck for the moment.



CHAPTER VII.

COALS OF FIRE.


The four boys stood in the waist of the boat straining their ears for
a repetition of the sound that had floated out over the black waters.

"There it is again," whispered Frank. "It seems to be dead ahead."
Again they held their breaths and listened.

"Help, help," came a faint voice. There was no mistaking it this time.

"Some one in trouble, and worse off than we are," said the Codfish.

"There it is, louder."

"Hello! Hello! Help! Help!" came floating to their ears.

"Some one drowning out there," said Lewis, shivering.

Again rose the cry, this time shriller and stronger.

"I believe it is some one on Flat Rock," said Frank. "I can't see,
but the rock ought to be just ahead of us. What can any one be doing
there? Flat Rock is all under water at high tide. That would be a bad
fix, for certain sure."

"Let's give a call," added Frank. The boys, uniting their voices,
shouted: "What's the matter? Who is it?"

Quite near now came the hail: "We are wrecked on a big rock here.
Come and help us. The tide's coming up and we'll be washed off.
Please hurry!" The voice dwindled off into nothing as if the speaker
was in deadly fear and had no breath to state his troubles further.

"Jiminy crickets!" said Jimmy. "We are not in much of a way to help
any one, but we've got to do something for that fellow. Give me the
painter. I can see the outline of the rock. Let me take the rope and
I'll jump overboard and tow her. You handle the rudder, Frank."

Frank was about to object to this arrangement, preferring to take
the cold bath himself, when Jimmy grabbed the rope's end and dived
overboard. He struck out for the rock, which was outlined by a line
of white where the running tide fringed its edge.

The boys on the boat watched anxiously as he ploughed along. It was a
small pull at best that he could give the _Black Duck_, but as both
were going with the current, the pull that he did give was sufficient
to guide the craft in the direction of the dark mass just ahead.

"Look out, Frank, I'm touching," shouted Jimmy over his shoulder.
"Pull your rudder sharp over to starboard."

Frank did as he was bid and the nose of the _Black Duck_ barely
grazed a big black boulder just awash.

"There, keep her steady," Jimmy commanded. "Let the tide carry her up
and I'll pull her around into this little cove."

"She'll bump, won't she?" queried Frank anxiously.

"No, it looks like deep water there just behind that rock you missed,
and the pull of the tide won't bother much. I'll hitch this painter
here."

Jimmy finished his work and straightened up, peering into the
darkness, from which came a plaintive voice:

"Please hurry up! The tide's coming in and we'll be washed off.
Please come quick."

"How many are there of you?" Frank sang out.

"Two of us. We were knocked up here by the thunder storm and the
boat is stove in. Hurry, hurry, won't you? The tide is rising."

"Why doesn't he come down to us, whoever he is?" said the Codfish.

"There's a channel of water between this rock we are on," said Jimmy,
who was in a little better position to see, "and the place where
those fellows are wrecked, and it's running like mad. Can't you hear
it boil?"

It was as he said. The rock seemed to be in two sections, separated
by a channel perhaps fifty feet wide, which looked black and
threatening in the half gloom. Jimmy began climbing over the slippery
footing in the direction of the channel.

"Hold on there," shouted Frank, "I'm going with you. You mustn't go
there alone."

"Oh, don't leave us here," wailed Lewis.

"What, with me to protect you?" cried the Codfish scornfully.

"Nothing will happen to you, you big baby," said Frank, as he began
to strip off his clothes. "I'm not going to let Jimmy tackle that
job alone. Wait for me, Jimmy; I'll be with you in a minute." He was
stripped in a minute and lowered himself carefully over the side.
With the water up to his waist, he found footing on the rock and
edged his way carefully out to where Jimmy stood.

Meantime the pleading voice on the other side of the channel kept
calling for the rescuers to make haste. It was filled with a deadly
anxiety, as well it might be, for the tide was pouring in from the
sea with full power, gushing and eddying among the nooks and crannies
of the big rock which obstructed its path. It sounded strangely like
a low hum of voices and had a sinister and threatening tone, like the
tone of a mob.

"I don't like the look of this channel a little bit," said Jimmy
as he and Frank worked their careful way across the slimy rock,
occasionally slipping and grabbing each other for support. Now they
reached the edge of the swiftly running channel.

"Nothing to do but try it," said Frank. "If these shipwrecked people
can't swim, we will be as badly off as ever. Come on, here goes."

Frank waded out to his waist in the swift current. The water tugged
and pulled at him as if bent on destroying him. Suddenly he found
himself beyond his depth and began to swim. Jimmy was at his elbow.
The water caught them with its full force and whirled them along.
But in spite of the current they made progress across it, and puffing
and panting they pulled up on a shelving part of the main body of the
rock, and staggered to their feet.

The shipwrecked boys, seeing their rescuers at hand, rushed down to
them shouting for joy, but the leader of the two staggered back as he
came face to face with Frank.

"Frank Armstrong!" he gasped.

"Peters!" cried Frank and Jimmy in a breath. "Great Scott!" said the
former, "we didn't know it was you."

"Please don't go away and leave me," whined Peters. "We're in an
awful fix."

"We don't intend to go and leave you, but we are in a bad fix
ourselves."

"Please take us off here," continued Peters. There were tears in his
voice.

"We have a boat," said Jimmy, "on the other side of that channel, but
our motor is dead. The only thing we can do is to take you aboard her
and wait till morning, or till some search party comes out for us."

At this Peters sank down on the rock and covered his face with his
hand. "I can't swim that channel," he cried. "I don't dare try it.
It serves me right. I put up a game to beat you this afternoon and
was so ashamed of it afterward that I didn't stay a minute, but
jumped into my boat and put out for home----"

"And were caught in the storm?" interrupted Frank.

"Yes. The wind kicked up such a sea that I couldn't cross it and had
to run ahead of it. I tried to get around in the lee of this rock,
but the wind drove me onto a ledge out there and knocked a hole in
the bottom of the boat, and she sank."

"And you swam here?"

"Yes, we were barely able to make it. We crawled up here and laid
down till the storm went over. We've been here yelling ever since."

"The storm drove every one in, so there wasn't much chance of your
being heard. The wind, blowing in the direction it did, carried your
voices out to sea. We barely heard you, although we were quite near,"
said Frank.

"You were awfully good to come to us. I'm sorry I played such a dirty
trick on you. Will you forgive me?" and Peters held out his hand.

"That's all right, Peters," said Frank, grasping the outstretched
hand. "Forget about it. You could probably have beaten me, anyway."

"No, I couldn't," said the repentant Peters. "I hated you for winning
last year and I wanted to make sure you wouldn't this year. Oh, I'm
ashamed of myself," and Peters hung his head. "I don't want the prize
for that race, and I won't take it."

"Come, never mind, we'll race again some day on even terms," said
Frank, "but the main business now is to get over to the other side
of this channel and get into the boat. We have no power, but we have
a bottom under us, and it won't do us any harm to sleep out for one
night, I guess."

"It will be a kind of a lark," said Jimmy, but his voice didn't have
much enthusiasm in it.

"The only thing that is bothering me," said Frank, "is what mother
and father will think, and your mother and father, and Lewis's. They
will be crazy thinking that some trouble has come to us."

"Say," said Peters, who, now that he had confessed his sins, took on
a brighter mind, "isn't there something in your boat we might pull
out and set afire as a kind of a signal? I've no doubt that there
are people watching over there on the shore. Couldn't we try it?"

"That's a good idea, Peters," exclaimed Jimmy. "We could yank out
some of the boards from the cabin, put a little gasoline on them and
have a bonfire here. That would show them on shore where we are and
some one could pick us up in a jiffy."

"Good!" said Frank. "We'll do it. It will save a lot of worry for our
people if they know we are not drowned. Let's get back and try it."
So saying, he turned and made his way down to the edge of the channel
which separated them from the boat. The three boys followed him
cautiously. It was almost pitch dark now, and the water looked more
forbidding than ever.

"I'll lead off," said Frank, "and you fellows follow me. Keep as
close in line as you can and look out for the sunken rocks."

Peters was shivering, partly with the cold and partly with terror.
It had been a night of peril for him, and he did not have the animal
courage of either Frank or Jimmy, or even of Bates, who had scarcely
said a word, but followed sullenly behind.

Frank was in the water to his waist now, but suddenly hailed the
boat: "Hey, Codfish!"

"Hello," sang out the Codfish.

"We've found them and we're coming back," yelled Frank at the top of
his voice, for the wind was beginning to breeze up with the incoming
tide. "Have an eye out for us; we'll be with you in five minutes.
Come on," he said, turning to the boys behind him, "it's now or
never! This channel is getting wider and there's nothing to be gained
by waiting." He took another step and began to swim.

The others followed silently. Soon they were gripped by the current
and began their fight to the other side. The current was more savage,
if anything, than when Jimmy and Frank had crossed it a few minutes
before. Desperately they battled with it for their lives.

"I can't make it," groaned Peters from behind. "I can't make it. Help
me!"

"Don't give up," shouted Frank encouragingly. "Keep at it, old
fellow," and Frank stopped swimming for a moment till Peters drew
alongside him. Elbow to elbow the two boys swam, as they had swum
but a few hours before in the race, but now it was a battle for
life. Frank's encouraging words buoyed up the New Yorker's drooping
spirits.

"Only a few strokes more," he kept repeating. "Stick it out."

Bates swam doggedly behind without a word.

"I'm touching," yelled Jimmy. "I'm touching. We're safe, we're safe!"

The shout put heart into Peters, who drove ahead with all his
remaining strength, and soon the four lay panting on a little shelf
of rock with more bare rock just in front of them. They were indeed
over the worst part of it.

But just as they struggled to safety, there came a tremendous yelling
from the direction of the boat.

"Come quick, come quick, we're adrift!" It was the voice of the
Codfish. Now Lewis joined in: "Quick, quick, we are adrift!"

Frank and Jimmy sprang to the higher rocks and made for the boat,
slipping, stumbling and rolling. They could not in the darkness see
where they were going, and in the scramble they bruised their knees
and tore their hands. The barnacles cut Frank's bare feet, but he
dashed on in the direction of the cries. Jimmy was close on his heels
and the others straggled behind, vaguely aware that some new trouble
had come to crown their misfortunes of the night.

What they worst feared from the shouts of the boys on the boat was
only too true. In some manner the tugging at the boat of wind and
tide had loosened the knot Jimmy had put in the painter, and the
_Black Duck_ was moving swiftly away from the rock with the two boys
aboard, borne on the bosom of the tide. When Frank reached the place
where they had left the boat moored, only the dim outline of the
_Black Duck_ was visible, and in a moment even that was lost to view.
For a few minutes the shouts of the Codfish and Lewis could be heard,
but soon those, too, died out, except when brought faintly in the
lulls of the rising wind.

"There goes our hope of safety," said Frank. "Now we _are_ in a
pretty fix, and no mistake."



CHAPTER VIII.

A SWIM FOR LIFE.


"We're in for it now!" said Jimmy in a voice which trembled in spite
of himself. And indeed it looked bad for the four boys, trapped on a
barren rock soon to be covered by the swiftly rising tide. "It's all
my fault," he continued. "I thought I tied her fast. I'm going to be
the means of drowning all of us. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"

Peters was in a state of collapse. He had sunk down on a boulder
too indifferent to notice that his feet were in the water. What did
it matter now? They had no chance for their lives. "Let's call for
help," he cried, as none of the boys had moved, and raising his voice
he shrieked: "Help! Help!"

Out there the wind which was blowing in from the sea, bearing with it
little wisps of night fog, carried his words away. There was not even
a cheering echo. Apparently the others were too much discouraged at
the outlook even to cry for help. In the silence that followed each
of the boys could hear his heart beat above the lapping of the waters.

Peters turned suddenly and savagely on Frank: "Well, what are you
going to do, stand there like a statue and see us all drown? Oh, do
something!" he wailed.

Frank was standing as rigidly as a statue, indeed. He was looking
out over the dark stretch of tossing water. His face was toward the
shore. He had hardly heard Peters' last cry for help, so intently was
he gazing and deliberating.

"There's only one way," he said at last, turning to Jimmy.

"And what's that?" was the query.

"Swim it," replied Frank steadily.

Even Jimmy started back appalled, and Peters, who was stepping
nervously around, sank again on the rocks, weak at the very
suggestion.

"It must be a mile," said Jimmy.

"Yes," said Frank, measuring the distance to the lights, which
twinkled along shore like far-off stars, "it is more than that. The
bay curves well in off Seawall."

"It is a chance," said Jimmy, "but a slim one."

"Oh, I can't do it," shrieked Peters. "We might as well stay here and
drown. It would be better than drowning out there in the dark."

"Some one might pick us up," suggested Jimmy, "or perhaps the _Black
Duck_ will be sighted and give the alarm." The offering was not a
very hopeful one, and Jimmy's tone was not even as hopeful as the
offering.

Frank shook his head. "It's a slim chance, as you said," he replied
slowly, "and meantime the water is creeping up here very fast. Look,
that big boulder is out of sight now under the tide. No, there's
nothing but swim for it."

Peters jumped up in a frenzy. "I tell you I won't do it. I'll stay
here and drown. I won't try to swim it. If you had had any sense you
would have tied that boat securely. You'll be the cause of my death."
Peters was wild with fear.

"Would you have been any better off if we hadn't come?" said Frank,
turning sharply on his companion. "Anyway, I didn't mean to ask you
to swim ashore," he added in a milder tone; "I meant I would swim it
myself."

"And leave us here to drown?" whined Peters.

"No, I'll try it to save you. I'll go for help."

"You mustn't, Frank," exclaimed Jimmy, coming up to him and taking
hold of his shoulder. "It would be sure death."

"Well, it's sure death to stay here, isn't it?" said Frank. "The tide
is coming in like a racehorse and even as we are talking about it the
water is creeping up. I'll go now."

"We'll go together," said Jimmy determinedly. "I will not let you go
alone."

"What, and leave us here?" cried Peters.

"For goodness sake, what do you expect? You won't swim and you don't
want us to swim. Don't you see, you coward, that it's the only chance
we have?" Jimmy was all out of patience with this boy for whose
safety they had placed themselves in such a plight. "Keep a stiff
upper lip and we'll have some one back here in a jiffy."

Peters seemed not to hear. He sat down again plainly sobbing.
"_You'll_ stay with me, Bates," he blurted out. "Don't you leave me."

"I couldn't if I wanted to," said that silent boy. "I couldn't make
half the distance. I never swam a mile in my life."

"All right, then," said Jimmy. "You two go onto the highest point of
this rock, and every now and then make all the noise you can on the
chance that some one might hear you," and he began stripping off
what few clothes he had on.

"Hold on," said Frank. "This is my job, Jimmy. There's no use of both
of us trying to swim it. You stay here----" He got no further.

"What do you take me for?" burst out Jimmy indignantly. "I'm going
with you and that settles it. We might be able to help each other. I
can't do anything waiting here, and I might be of some help to you.
Let's not spend any more time arguing about it. I'm ready."

He was, as he said, ready. And be it known that Frank, while he was
willing to undertake the peril of the trip alone, felt better that
his friend and tried companion would be with him through the terrors
of the water. He did not argue any more about it, but stretched out
his hand in the darkness, and the two boys clasped hands in a long,
firm grasp.

"All right, here we go!" said Frank. "Good-by, Peters; keep your
courage up and stick to the highest part of the rock."

Peters merely whimpered and Bates said not a word.

It was a strange sight to see there in the gloom, that of our two
heroes stripped to the skin, their bodies showing white in contrast
to the black rock and the still blacker water. Free of all hampering
clothing, they were ready for the trial of strength against the
threatening monster--the sea.

Quickly they waded out on the shelving rock, gasping as the cold
water struck them with its chill. Another step and they were in deep
water and struck out bravely for the far-distant shore.

"Let's keep close together," said Frank, as they were caught by the
full force of the tide and whipped away from the rock. "If we get
separated we will never get together again."

Jimmy, at this, swam up close to Frank, and elbow to elbow the boys
drove ahead. The waves were running high but were not white-capped,
which was a most fortunate thing for the swimmers, for the tide and
the wind were traveling in the same direction. Side by side they
swam, climbing up the long black slopes and slipping down easily into
the trough between the waves, but making good progress. Their white
arms swung rhythmically above the water.

"It's like coasting," said Jimmy, "only it's more exciting."

"Yes, it's great fun," said Frank, but it was not the heartiest
response in the world. "Seems like when we go down in the hollows
that we'd never come up again. And it seems as if we were going
backwards. Do you feel that way?"

"Yes," said Jimmy; "there's nothing to gauge yourself by, but,"
casting an eye over his shoulder, "there's nothing to be seen of the
island. I guess we are going ahead all right."

Nothing further was said for a time, the boys saving their breath for
more important work. With every ounce of strength in their sturdy
young bodies they forged ahead, now down "in the hollows," as Frank
had called them, with the water towering above them and not a light
visible but the light of the stars over their heads; now up on the
crest of a wave where for an instant they caught the twinkle of the
shore lights and steered for them, heartened by the sight.

"Look, Jimmy," said Frank, "that big light over there to the left
must be on Seawall Pier. Take a look at it when you come up on the
next wave. Isn't it?" as Jimmy slid up the slope to the top.

"I guess it is," sputtered the latter who, in the endeavor to see,
had been met with the slap of a little wavelet which filled his
nose and eyes with salt water. "It ought to be about there if our
bearings are right."

"Well, we'll make for it," said Frank, "and we must keep to the left
all the time, for the pull of the tide will take us away up the coast
if we don't look out. What's the matter?"

Frank had heard a splash and a gurgle from Jimmy, and then a
succession of rapid strokes on the water. "What's wrong?" he shouted,
as he got no answer.

Frank stopped swimming and began to tread water. His heart was in his
throat. Something had happened.

"What's the matter?" he cried out again, and his voice rang with a
strange appeal over that waste of water.

"Gee whiz!" said Jimmy, "that was awful. It nearly scared me to
death."

"What nearly scared you to death?" queried Frank, relieved to hear
his companion's natural tone in spite of the shake in it. "Something
bite you?"

"No," replied Jimmy, after he recovered his breath, "but I ran my arm
right through a big jelly fish that was probably lying just under the
surface of the water."

"Horrors!" said Frank, who hated the cold, slimy, slippery things
even in daylight. How much worse it would be, he thought, to run into
one in the pitch darkness of night!

Jimmy now swam up. "I'm all right again, but for a minute I thought
I was going to die. I was swimming the overhand when, as I drove my
under-hand ahead, I stuck it right through the body of this nasty,
slimy thing. It slipped right up to my shoulder and stuck there. I
thought sure something had me by the arm, and I stopped swimming and
sank." Jimmy, at the memory of it, raised his arms and smote them
upon the water, throwing up a shower of spray. The action relieved
his nerves.

"Don't do it again, please," said Frank. "Look ahead there, just to
the right of the Pier light! I think that's a light in our window! I
wonder if mother set it there for me. We don't seem any nearer, do
we?"

"Maybe we're being carried out to sea," said Jimmy, but he was sorry
the next minute that he had said it. Frank made no answer. He was
thinking of the comfortable sitting room at Seawall, and wondering
if his father and mother were hovering anxiously around there, or on
the veranda looking seaward. Perhaps they might be even now down at
the end of the Pier. Yes, they would be down at the Pier waiting. Or
perhaps they were getting searchers to scour the bay for them. But
would they find them, or would the sea next morning toss up on the
shore two white bodies limp and bedraggled?

"I'm doing the best I can, mother," Frank whispered to himself, as
on the wave crest he caught a fleeting glimpse of the lights, and
the water in his eyes was not all from the wave top that at that
moment went over him. He wondered about the two boys who had been
left behind. How far had the water gained on their little island of
rock? If he and Jimmy got to land and gave the warning, was there
still time to get back and save them from the sea that must be even
now creeping up on their feet? He shuddered in spite of himself.
It was bad enough to be out here struggling with the sea, but it
was something to do. It would be a hundred times worse back there
waiting, waiting, watching the tide creep nearer and nearer to the
last refuge on the highest point of the rock. He struck out more
determinedly with the thought of the lone watchers in his mind. He
must save them.



CHAPTER IX.

SAVED.


Suddenly from the shore there shot up into the air a long, curving
streak of fire. Then came a dull, booming explosion, and the dark sea
was lit up for a moment. The darkness which followed seemed even more
black than before.

"A rocket!" shouted Frank. "They're giving us a signal."

"Gee," said Jimmy, after a moment, "it feels good to know they're
thinking of us, but it doesn't help much."

"There goes another one!" Rocket after rocket now split the air,
marking distinctly the place for which they were heading. The boys
redoubled their efforts, swimming side by side with a steady over-arm
stroke. Something of the horror of the darkness and the mystery of
the rolling waters was taken away by the thought that the people on
shore knew of their distress and were trying to help. But little
could those on shore know how really bad their plight was. The
rockets were being sent up as a guide to a disabled boat. They could
not know that the long, brilliant sweep of light was being watched by
two boys struggling for their very lives on the surface of the water
itself.

"We must be halfway there, don't you think?" said Jimmy, in a labored
breath.

"We've come a long distance, for the lights look brighter. Can't you
see lights moving on the shore?" returned Frank. "Let's stop and
look."

The boys stopped, trod water and raised themselves high as they
reached the crest of a wave. Frank was right. The lights they saw
were the lights of many lanterns, for the whole town of Seawall had
turned out. Boats were being manned and people ran hither and thither
on the shore peering out to sea.

"Come on now," shouted Frank, who felt heartened by what he had seen,
"let's break the record for the rest of the distance," and, putting
down his head, he tore ahead, followed by Jimmy more slowly, but just
as determined. They had been plugging away for perhaps five minutes
when Frank heard a cry behind him. He stopped instantly and listened.

"Jimmy," he called shrilly, "Jimmy!"

There was no answer. Frank, with a sweep of his hand, turned face
about and dashed back over the course he had come. A dozen strokes
brought him to his companion, whose white face on the surface was his
only guide. "What is it, Jimmy, old fellow?" he cried, as he drew
alongside.

"Cramp," said Jimmy feebly. "It came suddenly in my side. I couldn't
swim and I couldn't take breath enough to yell out. It just doubled
me up."

"Here," said Frank, "rest on me and try to straighten out," for Jimmy
was still doubled up. Jimmy lay back and rubbed his side vigorously,
while Frank slipped an arm under his head and with the other kept
afloat. "It was my fault," he said encouragingly, as Jimmy rubbed the
kink out of his side. "That rocket made me crazy to get to shore."

"No, it wasn't your fault, at all," replied Jimmy, in a stronger
tone. "It was the cold water. I felt it a while back and thought I
could fight it off by working hard, but it got me at last, struck
suddenly just like a knife. I'm all right now; come on," and,
turning over on his face again, he struck out weakly. Frank was at
his elbow watching for any weakness, but as Jimmy continued going
smoothly he lengthened out his own stroke and soon they were back at
the old swing. The halt, however, although only for a few minutes,
had lost them ground, for during the time that they were not swimming
the tide had carried them steadily ahead--but not shoreward. They
were still far from safety.

Now they changed their course a little more to the left so as to cut
across the current, and bore steadily for the lights which seemed to
increase in size. They wasted no more words except occasionally one
would say: "You there?"

The answer would come back from the other: "O. K." or "All right."
They had no extra breath to spare. The distance was surely lessening,
but so was the strength of these two heroic lads. How heavily swung
their arms! Every few minutes they changed the stroke. Sometimes it
was one arm over, sometimes the other, and again it was the trudgeon
or the breast stroke, whichever offered a little rest. Both were
nearly exhausted, but with the courage of despair they swam on,
neither admitting to the other that he was almost done for. They did
not dare to float, for that meant being carried beyond their haven of
safety. If they passed the little indentation where Seawall lay it
was good-by to everything, for they would be carried into the wide
waters of the outer bay and must miserably perish. This knowledge
spun their failing strength out to the last slim thread.

Away ahead the lights danced merrily. It seemed to Frank as if there
were millions of them jumping up and down and swinging sideways. How
friendly they looked, but how utterly useless to help! How deadly
heavy his arm felt! There was no force left in him. How nice it would
be to lie still and rest! He stopped swimming and sank. The cold
under-current chilled him and awakened him to the fact that he was
giving up. "I won't give up! I won't give up!" he said between his
clenched teeth, and he struck out stronger than before. Jimmy was
splashing feebly behind.

"We're nearly there, old fellow," gasped Jimmy.

"Nearly," returned Frank. "Keep it up. Let's shout." They stopped and
shouted, but it was scarcely more than a croak and could not have
been heard fifty yards. "Let's swim," said Jimmy, "shouting is no
good out here." His voice was scarcely more than a whisper. Again
they resumed their weary drive ahead.

Suddenly out of the darkness between them and the shore came a hail:

"Ha-yo, ha-yo, ha-yo!"

Instantly the boys stopped swimming and turned their faces in the
direction of the sound.

"Ha-yo, ha-yo, ha-yo!" came the call again, this time nearer. They
tried to answer the heartening hail but had not strength enough
to send their voices far. They stood in the water close together
and with straining eyes tried to pierce the darkness. Then in the
momentary lull of rushing waters they heard a drumming.

"A motor boat!" cried Frank joyously. "And I see a light. It's coming
this way. Oh, it is going to pass us! Let's yell!"

Together the two raised as loud a shout as they could.

In a moment the drumming stopped.

Again the two lads in the water shouted: "Here! here! here!"

The drumming began and the light at the bow, which showed plainly
now, although the boat itself was still hidden, swung and lurched as
the motor boat swept around in a curve. With rescue in sight the boys
threw their last energy into a fusillade of shouts and soon, "Ha-yo,
where are you?" came a hail from the boat.

"Look out, look out, you'll run us down," yelled the boys.

A bell rang; the motor stopped and cut silently through the waves
only a few yards away.

"Here, here!" shouted Frank.

"Great Cæsar!" said a voice from the boat, "it is some one in the
water. Stop her quick," as the boat was driving past the boys with
her momentum. "Back her! Back her!" yelled the voice now in great
excitement. "We've found them. They're in the water."

In a less time than it takes to tell it the captain had maneuvered
the boat to within reaching distance of the two in the water. Strong
hands reached over the sides and quickly pulled them to safety.
Neither could stand. They sank down into the bottom of the boat.
Frank looked up and saw his father standing over him.

"Back to Flat Rock, quick," gasped Frank. "Quick, there are two boys
out there!"

"Why, Flat Rock is under water at this time of the tide," said the
man at the helm wheel.

"Not yet. Oh, not yet! We left two boys there, and they will be
washed off in a few minutes if you do not hurry."

Instantly the captain ordered full power ahead, and away the boat
shot in the direction of the lonely rock. The two lying in the bottom
of the boat were made as comfortable as possible, and between them
they told the story of what had happened since they put out from
Turner's Point on that eventful night.

As the boat neared the rock the men aboard raised a great shout
and were surprised to hear a feeble cry from what seemed to be the
surface of the water. Maneuvering carefully, guided by the calls from
the water, the boat crept nearer and nearer to the sounds. No sign of
a rock was visible, but the strong light at the bow showed two lads
standing, their hands clasped together, knee-deep in water. They were
on the very highest point of the rock. Quickly they were pulled into
the boat, chilled almost to death by the long exposure. Like Frank
and Jimmy, however, both Peters and Bates were soon wrapped in the
coats of the men aboard, and made as warm as possible.

"Now," said Frank, "the only thing to be done is to find the _Black
Duck_."

"We'll land you boys first," said the captain, and he drove his boat
for Seawall, while the steady purr of the motor deepened into a roar.
The waves shot away from her bows in a shower of foam as she raced
ahead.

What a yell went up from the Seawall people as the boat neared the
Pier, and the glad news was shouted over the water that the boys were
safe and sound! The rescued quartette were quickly put ashore. As
they touched the float, queer figures that they were, all bundled up
in the coats of the men, shouting was heard from the water. "We've
found them!" called a voice.

And even as they waited, in spite of the urgings to hasten to the
house and dry clothes, a motor boat slipped into the circle of light
thrown by the big lamp on the end of the Pier, and behind it came the
_Black Duck_ on the end of a tow line! And in the boat sat Lewis and
Codfish quite calm and collected. They had been picked up by one of
the searching parties.

You can imagine what a reunion took place that night in the
Armstrong house! Even Peters, the cause of some of the trouble, was
welcome; but that individual was none too comfortable, and was only
too glad when his father's automobile drew up at the door to carry
him to his own home. It was a night of jubilation, and the whole of
Seawall joined to make a celebration of the wonderful feat of the two
swimmers.



CHAPTER X.

PROFITS OF QUEEN'S FERRY.


For a week after the wreck on Flat Rock, and the swim and rescue
which followed, the Queen's Transportation Company did a rushing
business. People came from far and near to take a look at the boys
who were the central figures in the adventure, and incidentally
they took a trip on the _Black Duck_ itself. The boat was none the
worse for its jaunt with a dead engine up the bay on that eventful
night, but thereafter Frank carried an extra set of batteries for any
similar emergency that might arise.

Peters and his chum, Bates, had the _Nautilus_--Peters' boat--raised
and repaired. The injury done the boat in the storm was not great, as
it happened that she had been driven into a bight in the rocks where,
after she had sunk, the pounding of the waves did not reach her. Both
boys disappeared from Turner's Point. Later it was learned that they
had gone to another shore resort, and they were seen no more around
the Point that summer. The whole incident was closed when Frank was
awarded the medal for the hundred-yard swim, the presentation being
made by Burton himself. But it was a long time before the memory of
that night swim left Frank and Jimmy. They could laugh about Jimmy's
experience with the jelly fish now.

"But it was no laughing matter when it happened," was Jimmy's only
comment.

About two weeks after the night in question the boys were seated
around the big table in the Armstrong sitting room and Frank was
figuring.

"And there's the total for our summer's work," he said, pushing a
sheet covered with figures over to his father.

Mr. Armstrong laid aside his magazine, took the sheet and ran his
eyes over the figures. "Pretty good," he said, smiling. "This means
that you have about paid for your boat."

"That's just about what it does," said Frank proudly. "Look, there
are our earnings--$132.00. Gasoline has cost us $17.25, oil $6.20,
batteries $4.50, and we gave the old captain $5.00, and that leaves
us .95 shy."

"Figures all right, does it?" said his father. "Sure your totals are
correct?"

"Sure as shooting," said Jimmy. "We've been over them three times."

"Nothing outstanding, no rides on the _Black Duck_ unpaid for?"

"You bet they're not," said the Codfish. "I saw to it, as manager of
this concern, that no one sneaked aboard without first surrendering
his cash for our coffers."

"Good, then," chuckled Mr. Armstrong. "I was about to give you a
dollar for that trip to Turner's Point, but I'll keep it."

The boys looked at each other. "It's a fact," said Frank. "Dad got
past you, Codfish," and they all laughed. "Pay up, Dad, but that was
only fifty cents. Our fare was twenty-five cents."

"Well," said Mr. Armstrong, laughing, "I'll pay you twenty-five cents
each for mother and me, and fifty cents for the trip we didn't get.
Here's your cash," and he laid down a new dollar bill.

"Hurrah!" cried the Codfish, "that balances our account and five
cents to the good! This concern stands free of all debts and has
five cents in the treasury. Captain Frank Webfoot Armstrong, we
salute you," and suiting the action to the word the boys all rose to
their feet and bowed gravely to the captain, who acknowledged the
salute with a joyful wave of the hand.

"And to-morrow at about nine," said Frank, "we will pay our last
installment to Mr. Simpkins and the boat is ours. What say?"

"Agreed," said the others.

"And," added the Codfish, "let's take a vacation. I'm all worked to
a frazzle with the responsibility of secretary, treasurer, manager,
press agent, artist and general goat of this Transportation Company."

"Poor old Codfish!" said Jimmy. "He speaks well."

"He has the wisdom of a Solomon," cried Frank; "and besides, Jimmy,
we ought to get in some work on football before we go back to
Queen's. What would you fellows say if we were to tie the _Black
Duck_ up to the dock to-morrow and try a little drop kicking?"

"Great," said Jimmy, "but where's the ball?"

"You don't think I'd come down here without one, do you?" said Frank
contemptuously. "I brought a nice new one along with me and all we
need is a pump to blow it up with."

"Oh, I've got a bike pump," said Lewis.

"Just the thing," remarked Frank. "Shoot up and get it and we will
put the ball in condition to-night."

Lewis hurried off as fast as he could go and Frank dragged forth
the football. The lacings were eased up, and when Lewis got back a
little later with his pump, the four of them set to work to inflate
the interior rubber bag. It was quite a job, as any one knows who
has tried it, but after much puffing and much struggling with the
lacings, and much sage and useless advice from the Codfish, the
rubber bag was blown up tight and tied, and the ball was ready for
use. And the boys were also about ready for bed.

It was with very deep pride that Frank, escorted by his three
companions, rang the doorbell in the Simpkins house the next morning,
and laid the last installment, a few minutes later, on the desk of
the old gentleman himself, who sat there smiling pleasantly at the
boys.

"I admire your pluck, boys," he said. "Here's a receipt in full.
Thank you for your promptness. If you do all your work in the world
as well as you have begun, you will surely succeed. I am glad to
have made your acquaintance and I shall always feel under a great
indebtedness to you, Master Armstrong."

When they were outside, Jimmy said:

"And I thought he was an old skinflint the first day we saw him about
the motor boat!"

"You can't always tell how sweet an orange is by its skin," remarked
the Codfish. "Now look at me----"

"Yes, look at you," said Frank.

"Drown him! drown him!" cried the boys, rushing at the Codfish. They
were in high fettle this morning.

With the receipt in full in his pocket, it was with a sense of
complete ownership that Frank stepped into the _Black Duck_ and took
the wheel.

"I want to thank you, fellows, for helping me," he said, turning to
the three. "We are part owners in this old craft."

"Thank nothing," said Jimmy, who was as glad as Frank that the debt
had been lifted. "Haven't we had all the good rides? She belongs to
you. We are only the able-bodied seamen."

"Frank's right," said the Codfish, "we are part owners. I consider
that my services entitle me at least to the paint on her."

"And much there is of it," said Frank, laughing. "But no matter
what you say, she's as much yours as mine. And now for Seawall and
football practice."

"I wasn't much at _this_ game," said Lewis, "but football is where I
shine."

"Shine like a bucket of mud," said the Codfish.

Laughing and jollying each other in the highest spirits, they headed
the _Black Duck_ for Seawall. She shot ahead through the water like a
veritable duck.

"Guess she knows who owns her this morning," observed Jimmy,
grinning, as Frank laid her alongside the dock with a nicety of
calculation as to speed and distance.

The _Black Duck_ was tied up securely and the boys, after getting the
ball, made for the little playground which had been established by
some of the public-spirited citizens of Seawall several years before
our story opens.

"Where are your goal posts, kids?" inquired the Codfish, as they
hurried along. "You can't kick goals without something to kick at,
sonny." This was directed at Frank.

"Tut, tut," said that individual, "I've heard of people kicking goals
without a ball. But I'm going to see whether I can kick the ball
first or not."

"Do you know anything about it?"

"Not a thing. Horton showed me something about it one day last fall,
and I've watched him coaching a lot. You just take the ball on a long
pass from the center----"

"And I'm the center," broke in Lewis.

"Yes, you're the center, all right," said Frank. "Lewis passes the
ball. I catch it----"

"You mean you catch it if you can," interrupted the Codfish.

"Don't interrupt your superior officer, or I'll fire you," said
Frank. "As I was saying, I catch the ball, turn it around so that the
lacing is up, and then drop it----"

"The way Lewis used to drop it----"

"Not quite, but I drop it end first on the ground, and give it a
wallop with my toe as it is rising."

"Sounds very pretty," said the Codfish.

"And what does Jimmy do?"

"Oh, he lies on his stomach when we kick from placement and holds the
ball for me."

"No work at all to that. I'd do that much any day," commented the
Codfish. "But here we are. Now I'll take this very comfortable rustic
chair here in the shade, and see how you put these theories into
practice. If I get warm I'll ask some of you to come over here and
fan me," and he strolled over and dropped with a sigh of comfort into
a park bench. "Now let the fun begin."

The fun began at once. On the first pass, Lewis threw the ball away
over Frank's head, and the next time dribbled it along the ground,
but after half a dozen tries he finally got it to Frank, who made a
fair attempt at a drop kick. It wouldn't have filled Coach Horton
with glee, but he managed to boot the ball a little distance.

"Wonderful kick!" shouted the Codfish from his place in the shade of
the tree. "Keep it up; you'll win the game in a minute. Wake me up
when you do."

Frank paid no attention, but continued to work steadily. Gradually he
began to get the right angle on the ball as he dropped it from his
hands. The kicks rose higher and truer as he went on. Jimmy watched
and criticised his friend, for although Jimmy knew very little
about kicking the ball he was a natural football player. He kicked
clumsily, but still he knew how it should be done, although he could
not do it well himself.

By the end of the practice the boys were covered with perspiration,
for the day, although in the latter part of August, was hot in spite
of the sea breeze; and like everything that Frank entered into, he
had played with a tremendous zeal and concentration. Nothing was
half-hearted with him, and when other boys were with him in any of
his enterprises, they caught his spirit.

"All over for to-day, boys," cried the Codfish, coming forward,
stretching, but assuming the tone of a coach. "That's enough, kids.
Report at four to-morrow. Very rotten practice," he added, "at least,
as much as I saw of it, for I'm free to confess that the humming of
the bees and the song of the football put me to sleep."

Together the four ambled back to the Armstrong cottage, where the
three heated boys exchanged their perspiration-soaked clothes for
bathing suits, took a dip in the sea and swam a half dozen impromptu
races. They raced back and forth like so many dolphins, diving,
swimming under water, splashing and shouting, then ran up the beach,
rolled in the sand and dashed back into the water. After an hour of
this they were ready to don regular clothes again.

The first day of football practice was the index of many others like
it. The remaining mornings of vacation were given to the motor boat
and the afternoons to drop-kicking practice, swimming and running. As
time progressed both Jimmy and Frank gained perceptibly in physical
condition and even fat Lewis seemed less flabby. Finally came the day
of the Codfish's departure. He had long overstayed his visit as it
had been first planned.

"I've got to get back home and lay in a new supply of duds," he said,
"but I'll meet you at Queen's before another moon has waxed and
waned."

He got a great send-off at the Seawall station as you may well
suppose, for in spite of his rather odd ways and sarcastic tongue he
was a most likable boy.

"He sees the funny side of everything," said Frank, as the Codfish,
waving his handkerchief from the end of the fast-disappearing train,
faded from view, "but he is true-blue all the way through."

"Which is a rhyme, Mr. Armstrong," said Jimmy; "and while we are fond
of athletes, we can't stand any more poets. We have one here with us,
you know--Lewis."

Lewis swelled up at this.

For ten days more the three, now left alone, kept up their daily
work. September was ushered in by a few days of quite cold weather,
and this gave them the chance to do more rugged football work. Frank
and Jimmy practiced falling on the ball, Lewis acting the part of the
coach, who rolled the ball in their direction. Then they practiced
picking the ball up at full gallop, and after that they worked at
grabbing it on the bound.

"Never could see the sense in falling on the ball, anyway," said
Frank, after he returned from a race down the field, having snatched
a bounding ball and tucked it securely under his arm, "particularly
if you have a clear field ahead of you."

"Right-oh," returned Jimmy, "but you've got to be sure the field is
clear. The old game used to be 'play it safe,' but in the new one it
is all right to take a chance. But make it sure when you go after
it."

"All right, Mr. Coach," said Frank. "I'm not such a shark at this
game as you, but I'll do my best. My game is baseball. I don't think
I'll ever be heavy enough for the gridiron. Do you think I will?"

"Sure thing," said Coach Jimmy Turner. "I bet you'll make the team
before you get through Queen's, and all the quicker when they find
out that you're a drop kicker."

"I'd like to make it," said Frank wistfully, "but I think I'd better
stick to baseball. I know a little about that game."

Finally came the last day on the _Black Duck_, and they made it a
long cruise. They went down as far as the Point, circled Flat Rock,
measuring the distance with narrowed eyes that they had covered
in the long night swim, and finally, the tide being right, even
penetrated up the river as far as Tub Island, and then back through
the tumbling water under the railroad bridge.

The next day the _Black Duck_ was laid up for the winter in Berry's
boat house, and the boys, after a parting swim and run on the beach,
said good-by to Seawall and turned their faces toward Queen's School.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HAZERS' WATERLOO.


It was the second day after Queen's opened for the fall term. The
students, separated for the summer months, had met like brothers and
clasped hands. Everywhere were heard greetings.

"Glad to see you again, old pard. What were you doing all summer?"

That was the favorite form of address, and when a group met they all
talked together as fast as their tongues could rattle. The boys had
been scattered at mountain, seashore, lake and forest. Some had had
the great trip across the ocean to foreign countries. Others had been
at their dull little homes on the farms, but they all had something
to tell. Some of the faces were missing. A few boys had dropped out.
Two had been drowned in a boating accident on one of the mountain
lakes; but all of our old friends put in their appearance. There
was Wee Willie Patterson, as diminutive as ever; Tommy Brown, long
and skinny, but brown as a berry from tramping in the hills; David
Powers, fresh from the big ocean liner; and last, but by no means
least in this story, Chip Dixon and his own particular crowd.

These first days and nights were not prolific of deep study.
Experiences had to be recounted and books were in the background. Our
friends changed their headquarters to the more pretentious Honeywell
Hall, but fortune did not bring them all in one entry. Jimmy and
Lewis had rooms in the third entry on the second floor. Frank, David
and the Codfish, were roommates the same as before. It would have
been difficult indeed to have separated Frank and David, and under no
circumstances would the Codfish have allowed himself to be detached
from this company.

Bit by bit David got the whole story of the doings at Seawall during
the summer. "I wish I had been with you instead of at the other side
of the world," he said. "I was lonesome a good deal of the time,
thinking what a ripping time you fellows were having around the old
shore."

"And we were lonesome for you, too," said Frank. "We missed you. It
would have been complete if you had been an officer in the Queen's
Transportation Company. But there's another year coming."

By degrees the boys slipped back into their school work habits.
Seawall was forgotten for a time at least. All thought was centered
on the great fall sport of football, or at least all thought outside
of the classroom and study periods, and I'm afraid some of it even
there. Our friends trod the paths of Queen's with a new sense of
ownership. Were they not now in their second year and lords of their
particular realm--Honeywell Hall? Last year they had been at school
only on suffrance of the second class boys--so it had appeared to
them--but the year had moved them along to a new and quite wonderful
superiority.

"Have you noticed," said the Codfish one night, "what a very small
fry this bunch is, that has so recently entered our sacred Halls of
Learning?" The speaker put the question to the full court that sat in
Frank's room one night after supper.

"You mean the Freshmen, I suppose," said Jimmy.

"You're the rightest chap I know," said the flowery Codfish.

"Yes," said Frank, "they are a year younger than we uns, but I
noticed some pretty husky fellows there in the yard to-day."

"Most of them look as if they had just come from mamma's lap just
the same, and I think it's a sin for these Second year guys to be
hazing the dear little mites," said the Codfish, with a great show of
disapprobation.

"Who's hazing them?" inquired Frank.

"Future tense, Webfoot, future tense," cried the Codfish. "I guess
they've escaped so far."

"Well, what's all your virtuous indignation about, old chappie?" said
Jimmy.

"The stick is in pickle for them, for I overheard a little
conversation to-day that made me think as I think."

"You have long ears. Where did you hear it?" queried David.

"Coming around the corner of Warren Hall to-night I interrupted a
little conference. Some one said 'cheese it,' and then the bunch
began to talk very loud about the prospects for the football team."

"Was that a suspicious circumstance?" asked Jimmy.

"Something in the cut of their jib, as Captain Silas might say, made
me think they were not so much interested in the football team at
that moment as they pretended to be. My instincts as a detective got
the better of my natural modesty--ahem, ahem--and after walking along
a little ways, I sneaked back like the thug in the play and dodged
behind that little jog in the wall."

"Go on, Sherlock."

"And what happened then?"

"Were they planning to kidnap Old Pop-Eye?"

These questions were fired at the Codfish in rapid succession.

"No, gentlemen of the Court of Inquiry," replied the Codfish,
planting his gorgeously attired feet on the table end and leaning
back against the window seat, "they were planning an attack on two
poor, little mamma boys who have our old rooms at No. 18."

"The brutes!"

"The scoundrels! The worse than kidnappers!" howled Jimmy, making a
great ado about it. "And what did you do--walk in and clean out the
gang?"

"Do I look like a fellow who would get mixed up in the common
bruising business? Look at me and answer me that! No, I leave such
brutal tactics to you, Turner and Armstrong, and to such rough
fellows as David Powers and Lewis Carroll."

"Hear, hear!" cried the chorus. "Go on, and what happened then?"

"Well, I came up here and now tell my tale to unsympathetic ears. If
you had a spark of human kindness in you, one little chunk of the
milk of humanity in you, you'd sally forth and save these children
from the ruthless grasp of this marauding bunch of baby destroyers.
But as you do not seem to be interested, I'll go and tip these
innocent lambs off to the fact that they are going to be seared, and
bid them dust out."

"Who were the gents you heard plotting, Sherlock?" inquired Frank.

"Oh, I couldn't make them all out," returned the Codfish, "but I'm
sure of Bronson and Whitlock and Colson. Two or three of the others
had their backs to me. It was too dark to recognize them, and they
didn't speak loud enough."

"Three chumps, if ever there were chumps," said Jimmy indignantly.
"They ought to be in better business. Wouldn't it be a joke to give
them some of their own medicine?"

"There speaks a hero, a real Carnegie medal hero!" cried the Codfish.

"I've an idea," said Frank.

"Hurrah, Frank has an idea!" shouted the Codfish. "Shut the door and
bar the windows for fear it escapes," and he ran to close the door
and slam down the window. "Out with it, Master Drop Kicker. It can't
get away now."

"Sit down, you lunatic," said Frank, laughing at the antics of his
roommate. "My idea is just this," and they put their heads together
and talked in such low whispers that it was impossible to hear just
what plan was being laid. It is sufficient to know that about a
quarter of an hour before the time that the Codfish had said the
date for the attempted hazing had been set, Jimmy and Frank stole
quietly up the well-known stairway to No. 18 Warren Hall. The
remainder of the party stayed on the far side of the yard as a kind
of reënforcement in case of need.

The two new boys were in the study and were startled at the knock
on the door. But they let our friends in, and stood with inquiring
attitudes. Apparently they were ignorant of the hazing traditions of
Queen's.

"What's your name?" asked Frank, addressing himself to the larger of
the two.

"Mine's Hopkins," said the boy addressed.

"And mine's Hewlett," said the other eagerly.

"And where do you both come from?"

"Milton."

"Glad to see you," said Frank, extending a hand first to one and then
the other, while Jimmy followed suit. "And that's a reason why we are
going to do as we are going to do, eh, Jimmy?" inquired Frank.

"You bet it is. Can't let Milton be thrown down."

"Did you boys ever hear of hazing?" said Frank.

"Oh, yes," said one of the boys, "but they don't do any such things
as that at Queen's, do they?" and there was a note of alarm in his
voice. "You are not hazers, are you?"

"Well, not if we can help it," said Jimmy. "But it happens that we
are going to have a little party in your room to-night. We used to
live here ourselves once and we like to come back."

"Yes," said Frank, "we are to have some callers here in a few minutes
and we want to give them a warm reception. If you don't mind, we'd
like to occupy your bedroom for about five minutes."

The occupants of No. 18 looked puzzled and dazed at the presumption
of the intruders, so Frank took them into his confidence, and in a
few words told them what was about to take place. "Oh, oh," gasped
the new boys, "thank you so much for telling us!"

"No trouble at all," laughed Jimmy; "it's a chance of a lifetime.
I've been aching to use my muscles for the last three days."

"Now all you boys have to do is to get into that clothes closet and
keep still as mice. Don't even peep, or the cat's out of the bag."

The boys were only too glad to do as they were told and made for the
clothes closet with alacrity. They were not the adventurous kind
that enjoy roughing it. A chance to escape a mauling was accepted
instantaneously.

"Hurry up, Jimmy, it's nearly eight o'clock. The pirates will be here
in a minute if they live up to schedule." He had hardly finished
speaking when the Chapel clock boomed out the hour of eight.

Both boys dived for the inner room, stripped off their coats, pulled
down the blinds and, jumping into the little cot beds, pulled the
coverlets up to their chins. They lay there and shook with laughter.

"What if the gang should send up a dozen kidnappers and carry us both
out and duck us?" said Frank, in a whisper.

"'Tisn't likely they'll send more than two or three," was Jimmy's
answer. "They would be afraid of attracting attention. They'll figure
that two's enough for these little candy kids. I don't think----"

What Jimmy didn't think will never be known to history, for he was
interrupted by a ringing knock on the study door.

"There they are; cover up," whispered Frank. "Keep the coverlet up to
your chin or they'll recognize you."

"Not a chance of it in here, unless they have a light, and they
wouldn't chance that unless they are masked."

The knock was repeated, and there still being no answer some one
kicked the door. "Open up, Freshmen," said a gruff voice.

"That's Bronson, sure," said Jimmy.

"What's wanted?" shouted Frank, in a weak sort of voice. "We're in
bed."

"Oh, you are, are you?" said another voice. "Well, we'll come in and
sing you a lullaby, eh, boys?"

"There's a bunch of them," whispered Jimmy, "we're in for it."

"Let 'em come," whispered Frank, in answer. "We'll show 'em a thing
or two."

The door of the study was pushed violently open now and footsteps
sounded outside the bedroom door.

"Where are you runts?" said the gruff voice, the one that had first
been heard. They could hear the owner of the voice bumping around
among the furniture. "You ought to have lights for the convenience
of your visitors. Oh, there you are in your downy little couches for
the night," said the voice again, and a hand grabbed the portières
between the study and the bedroom and jammed them back.

"What do you want?" said Jimmy, in a plaintive voice, into which he
tried to put as much fear as possible.

"Just want to see two cunning little things in their nighties. Have
you said your prayers?" There was a laugh at this, and both boys on
their backs in bed concluded that there were three of their enemies.

"Yes," said Frank, "we always do that. Please, sir, what do you want?"

"We want you, angel face," said the foremost of the trio, and
striding into the room he reached for the bed clothes.

Just what happened that leader of the hazing gang never quite knew.
But as he reached out, something struck him hard right in the
stomach. It was Jimmy's head. That individual had been curled up in
bed waiting for what was about to happen, and as Bronson bent over,
Jimmy uncoiled himself. With his head boring into Bronson's big body,
he surged forward with all the force of his sturdy frame. Reënforced
by Frank, who sprang instantly at Jimmy's attack, the two forced
Bronson backward through the doorway and into the faces of the other
two waiting there.

Into Bronson's companions they crashed and the whole crowd went
smashing to the floor with Frank and Jimmy on top. Bronson fought and
kicked and hit blindly in the dark, all the while making desperate
efforts to reach the door; but Frank and Jimmy, whose eyes had become
accustomed to the dark while they lay waiting, could see fairly well,
and directed their blows with telling effect. Jimmy landed a stinging
thump on Bronson's nose, and when he took his hand away he felt
something warm and sticky on his knuckles. It was blood.

Bronson, thrashing around on the floor with Frank and Jimmy on top
of him, was begging for mercy. His two companions had gathered
themselves up in the dark and beat a hasty retreat down the stairs,
with only the thought of getting away with their lives. Frank, a
straddle of the big bully's neck, and Jimmy on his stomach, plugged
him right and left; and when they had punished him to their heart's
content, and had him almost in tears, they grabbed him by the legs,
dragged him to the door and into the entry and then, springing nimbly
back into the room, slammed the door and locked it.

In spite of his hammering, Bronson picked himself up with astonishing
alacrity and tore down the steps of Warren Hall as if the fiend
himself were after him, while Frank and Jimmy rolled around on the
floor in a paroxysm of laughter.

Pale and trembling, the two rightful occupants of No. 18 came from
the closet and lit the gas. Their eyes met a scene of destruction.
Scarcely anything was left standing in the corner of the room where
the hurricane of fighting had taken place. But the destruction was
nothing in comparison with what they had been saved from, and they
thanked their rescuers almost with tears in their eyes.

Frank and Jimmy slipped on their coats, helped Hopkins and Hewlett to
straighten up the furniture and departed.

"They will let you alone in the future, or I make a mistake," said
Frank, laughing as he went out. He had lost some skin from his nose
in the scuffle, but otherwise he was none the worse.

"I'll bet Bronson will think you two are worse than a den of
wildcats!" said Jimmy, and his grin stretched from ear to ear.

Bronson and his companions did not learn of the trick that had been
played upon them till some time afterward, but when they did know
they laid plans for vengeance of which you will hear later.



CHAPTER XII.

CLASS NINES.


"Have any of you fellows seen the football schedule?" inquired Jimmy
one night after Queen's had been open about a week.

"Our rising young journalist, David Powers, ought to know all about
it," said the Codfish. "Only thing I know is that it contains the
same old lot, with Warwick on the end of it. How about it, David?"

"The schedule was published in the _Mirror_ last spring after Dr.
Hobart approved it, and it isn't the same old thing by a good deal.
Dixon took on some pretty strong schools. Don't you remember how you
sneered at it, saying that it was big enough for the York freshmen,
and that Queen's would be a second rater long before the big game
came on?"

"You don't expect me to remember what I said three or four months
ago?" retorted the Codfish. "It's bad enough to have to remember a
week. Why don't you publish the old thing again?"

"Being live editors, we did that very thing, and if you hadn't been
asleep you would have seen it. Here's the paper," returned David.

"Oh, very well, boy, you may bring it to me," said the Codfish lazily.

Frank picked up the latest copy of the _Mirror_ and launched it
at the Codfish's head. "Thank you very, very much," said that
individual; "I always like polite little boys. Yes, here she is,
third page. Some schedule, that----" he announced, as he read;
"listen:

  "October 5th--Hillside Academy at Queen's.
  "October 12th--Burrows at Queen's.
  "October 19th--Milton High School at Milton.
  "October 26th--Taylor Hall at Oakland.
  "November 2d--Porter School at Queen's.
  "November 9th--Warwick at Warwick."

"What's going to be left of this Queen's School eleven when that's
over?" inquired the Codfish. "Why, I wouldn't give a plugged nickel
for Queen's chances."

"You're a pessimist!" said Jimmy. "Have you been down to see us work?"

"Have I been down? Oh, Master Turner, what a question! Of course
I've been down, and that's the reason I'm pessimistic."

"Oh, we're not so bad," said Jimmy, laying aside his book to argue a
little. "We might get away with one or two of them, even if we did
lose most of our good players."

"_Most_ of your good players? Why, you lost _all_ of them, didn't
you?"

"Where does Jimmy come in?" inquired Frank mildly.

"And where does Frank come in?" questioned Jimmy quietly.

"Mutual admiration societies never affected my judgment," said the
Codfish. "Jimmy can't play all the game behind the line, and Frank
the Drop Kicker hasn't grown up yet into the husky giant that you
are, Turner. Anyway, Dixon wouldn't have Frank on the team if he
could help it. You forget that Chip owns the School, don't you?"

"Not a bit of it, and Frank might get his chance sooner than you
think, Mr. Critic," said Jimmy. "Did you notice what a shine Horton
took to him to-day?"

"Don't be sarcastic, now," said Frank. "Horton had some of us kicking
down on the field to-day, and he said that my style was all wrong
and I'd never be any good until I changed it. But I'm not to be
considered at all. I'm going out for the fall baseball."

"Sensible boy," said the Codfish. "You are wasting your glad young
days down on that football field, for as long as Dixon runs the
captain you will have a pretty slim show. Maybe when he gets through
here and into a wider field for his politics, you may be allowed to
do something, unless he hands his curse down to his successor."

The talk of the boys uncovered the situation down on the football
field. Dixon, in spite of his excellent knowledge of the game, was
so thoroughly bound up with the Society of Gamma Tau that, even at
the risk of weakening the team, he played his favorites. Frank and
Jimmy had come out at the first call for candidates on the eleven.
Jimmy, with his natural ability to play the game, could not very well
be kept off, society or no society, because the back field was weak
without him; Frank, with less knowledge of the game and with Chip's
secret grudge still against him, stood little chance. Horton had
given Frank an opportunity once or twice on the second team, but as
Frank was green, he was soon replaced.

"He's too light," Dixon said to his coach one night after practice,
"and doesn't seem to have much football sense. It's no use in
bothering with him." And, although Horton was a good coach, such
little remarks as these, frequently repeated, had their effect on the
older man's judgment. He overlooked Frank when substitutions were
to be made in the progress of practice, and finally forgot about
him--remembering only, perhaps, that he appeared to have a knack of
kicking, albeit in very bad form.

Horton, however, was one of the old school of coaches who had not
much use for a kicker. It was his particular hobby that the eleven
should be strong enough to carry the ball. And, it might as well
be set down now as later, he lost a good many games by having no
adequate punter or drop kicker. Finally the blow fell, and in the
second cut of the candidates, Frank read his name among those "who
need not report for football practice again."

Frank was not particularly sorry, because he recognized his
shortcomings in the game of football. He secretly longed to be at
the game which came most naturally to him--namely, baseball.

But his friends up in Honeywell Hall raised their voices in protest.
"I think it's a shame," said the Codfish indignantly, "but do you
remember I told you so?"

"Don't you care, boys," said Frank. "Don't worry about me. I'm going
to have a little baseball now and, Mr. Codfish, I want you to help
me with my call for candidates. Most of the School nine fellows are
playing on the eleven, so we can have the whole place to ourselves."

"What would you say to an organization of class baseball," suggested
the Codfish, "same as they do at the colleges? Here's a fine golden
fall going to waste. I've been thinking of it for some time, but
we had no leader. But now that our thousand-dollar beauty, Frank
Armstrong, has been kicked off the eleven, the gap is filled. With
the leader at hand, all we want is a press agent."

"Hear, hear!"

"And we have one right ready to our hand--Mr. David Powers,
journalist! What's the use of having these cards to play if you don't
play them? sez I."

"What's that you're saying about me?" inquired David, looking up
from an essay that he was composing for next day's English literature
lesson.

"I was saying," said the Codfish glibly, "that we had a scoop for
you--a red hot story that will make the readers on the _Mirror_
sit up and shout hallelujah! They always do that when they see an
interesting article in the _Mirror_, eh, David?" continued the
Codfish. "Now, as Mark Anthony said: 'Lend me thine ears.' It's like
this. Can't you cook up, dish up, or write, if you prefer ordinary
grammatical terms to culinary ones, an article which will go into the
next issue of the _Mirror_, suggesting an inter-class baseball series
which shall begin now and last as long as the weather holds good,
then sleep like the ground-hog through the winter, and continue in
the spring? What says our aspiring literary genius?"

"Good idea," said David.

"Wonderful!" said Jimmy. "I'll resign from the football eleven."

"Where am I to play?" inquired Lewis, "short-stop or second base?"

"You'll be the boy who carries the bats and brushes off the
homeplate," said the Codfish, "and maybe if you're very good we may
let you bring the water."

"Thank you for nothing," retorted Lewis.

"And as the _Mirror_, thanks to our progressive friend and erstwhile
rope-climber, David, has changed its shirt and appears nice and clean
once a week instead of twice a month, it ought to make its appearance
about Thursday of this week. There's no time to lose. Bring on your
pens and paper and let's get that article ready."

The boys entered into the spirit of the thing, and before they turned
in for the night had produced in brief form a plan for inter-class
baseball. Each class, including the Freshmen, was to organize a nine,
and there was to be a series of games between these nines, the two
having the highest percentage to meet for a final match.

"It's up to you, Codfish, to figure out the schedule and the
percentages," said Frank. "We'll call you the unofficial scorer."

"At what salary, please?"

"We'll give you a cheer after it's all over."

"O. K. Then I'll accept. Let the cheer be a long one and a strong
one."

The announcement in the _Mirror_ which came out a few days after the
talk in Honeywell, had a surprisingly quick recognition. Leaders in
each class got to work and organized, and before the end of the week
the diamonds were covered with boys working with might and main to
win a place on the nine of their particular class. Frank, of course,
was quickly chosen as the leader of his class team, and after a day
or two gathered together the best of a dozen boys who had put in an
appearance for his particular nine. But Frank missed the services
of his old backstop, Jimmy, who, in spite of his statement that he
would resign from the football team, still held his place in the back
field of the School eleven. His allegiance to the eleven was made the
subject of one of the nightly discussions in Honeywell Hall.

"I thought you were going to be with us, Half-back Turner," said the
Codfish, one night. "You are throwing your energies away, down there
on the gridiron with Horton and Chip and the rest. Come up and have a
little fun with the real sports."

"I'd like to, I tell you," said Jimmy wistfully. "It's no fun getting
banged about two hours a day, but I've got to stick to the ship even
if there are rats in it. When I said I'd resign I was only joking."

"Nice way to crawl out of it," growled the Codfish. "We need your
services. Frank has to pitch to that fellow Button who lives
upstairs, and he can't hold the ball. It needs a real red-head like
you to hold our young Matthewson."

"That's right, Jimmy, stick to your guns," said Frank. "While it's
not the best eleven that ever was, it is still the School eleven and
I wish I could help it. I'd chuck this baseball series."

"Oh, you traitor!" shouted the Codfish. "Jimmy, we're going to have
our first clash of the season, as the newspapers say, next Thursday
afternoon; can't you come over and see us wallop that bunch of
third-year pill tossers?"

"If you don't start it too early I might get over," said Jimmy, "but
as long as the practice is on I've got to stick there. And I kind of
like the uphill fight."

"Don't you let him bother you, Jimmy," said Frank. "He's an A number
one josher. Since you are good enough to play for the school, it's
your job to stay there and do your best."

"What do you call your nine?" said Jimmy.

"Oh," murmured the Codfish, "it's a pretty, pretty name--the
Piratical Pippins. I selected it from a hundred names, more or less.
It was the worst I could think of."

"It sure is bad enough. And what are your opponents called?"

"The Hilarious Hitters--so-called because they can't hit
anything--and the Rough Rowdies of the upper class. These are all
alliterative names, you see," explained the Codfish, "and each has a
significance which would not easily penetrate your cranium."

"Have the Freshmen a nine?"

"Sure, and a good one, too. We call them the Toy Toddlers."

"And which of these aggregations do you play Thursday?" inquired
Jimmy.

"Let's see, where's my schedule?" lisped the Codfish, as he fumbled
in his coat pocket. "Here we are--'Pippins versus the Hilarious
Hitters, game called at 4 p. m. Umpire, Snooks'--and he's that fellow
with the lopsided eye, but he makes a great umpire."

Jimmy laughed. "I'll be over to see you if I can. Now I've got to go
and lay in a deep store of knowledge for to-morrow. I'm away. Good
night."

"Good night," echoed the boys, and Jimmy trotted downstairs whistling.

You can imagine that Gamma Tau did not view the baseball series with
pleasure. The eleven, loaded with favorites as it was, did not at
any time hold the attention of the School, and now that there was a
rival attraction, still fewer of the fellows went down to watch the
practice. Dixon and Captain Wheeler, well knowing the state of mind
of the School, still fretted about the matter, and things were not
improved when practically the whole school turned out for the first
of the class series, in which the Pippins crossed bats with the
Hitters. Frank captained the Pippins and pitched, and he pitched so
well that his nine won, seven runs to two. The Hitters, true to their
name, got only four hits off his delivery.

"This Armstrong is getting too popular altogether," said Dixon the
night after the game, as he and Captain Wheeler with several others
of the Gamma boys got together in Dixon's room.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" grumbled Wheeler. "He has
a right to do something, hasn't he? Since he's no good on the eleven,
we can't keep him from playing baseball."

"I'm afraid he'll make trouble for us, with that redheaded friend of
his, Turner. They've got a pretty strong combination there, and not
one of them is in the Society. There's Powers, who is going to be a
force on the _Mirror_ some of these days. He's the best man on it
now, with the exception of the chairman, Miller."

"Well, what are we going to do about it, I'd like to know?"

"We can pull his teeth by getting him into Gamma," returned Chip.

"Your first attempt wasn't very successful," returned Wheeler.

"No," said Chip, making a wry face. "But we'll try it again. I think
if we got him and several of his pals into Gamma, we could bring so
much influence to bear on them that we could sew them up."

"I don't know about that," said Wheeler, "he's just the kind of a
fellow that's hard to sew up, and he is making himself stronger every
day."

"What would you say to my asking him again? The second elections come
off two weeks from to-night. We might land him, and then we'd be in
clover."

"Well, maybe. We might go over and try some night," ventured Wheeler.

"We might bust up his baseball work by calling him over to the School
football squad again. He looked to me as if he might make a kicker,
and Horton was saying only this afternoon that we've got to develop
some one, since you get worse every day."

"Thank you for the compliment!" growled Wheeler.

"And if we can't spoil some of this popularity wave, I've got another
scheme. The blamed little fool could have anything he wants if he
only came over to us."

"Unfortunately he doesn't see it that way," said Wheeler, "but if you
think best we'll send our Committee over to see him Monday night."

"Agreed," said Chip, and the conference closed.

The determination to bring Frank and Turner over into the camp of
Gamma Tau was strengthened by the disastrous defeat of the Queen's
School on the following Saturday by two touchdowns to nothing.



CHAPTER XIII.

FRANK'S FOOTBALL EDUCATION.


It is needless to say that the attempt of the society of Gamma Tau
to gather Frank and Jimmy into its fold in order to put a curb upon
their growing popularity, failed, in spite of the fact that it had
been advanced with the greatest care. The most persuasive members of
the Campaign Committee, as it was called, had been sent to the two
rooms in Honeywell Hall, and the glib-tongued committee men, after
clearing out all but the intended candidates, used every argument.

"What possible objection can you have to taking an election to
Gamma?" said the chief of the Gamma expedition to Frank. "Gamma is
the oldest and most powerful society in the School, and runs about
everything here," he added. It was an unfortunate slip of the tongue
and gave Frank his chance.

"That's just the trouble with Gamma. As you say it runs everything,
and as far as I can judge, it doesn't run anything very well."

"That's a rather bold thing for a Second-year boy to say," suggested
one of the trio. "Most of your class would be mighty glad to get a
chance to come into it."

"I can't help it," returned Frank. "I mean what I say. I am only a
Second-year boy as you have told me, but I've been here long enough
to know my way around. I can see very plainly that Gamma is not
helping the School, but hurting it, and I always supposed that the
main business of a Society was to help the School and not the members
of the Society."

"But all the big fellows are with us," said Hastings, a boy who had
been elected because his roommate played on the eleven, but who
himself was not an important part of the school life.

"They may be big on the athletic teams, but I don't see that they are
doing much else. Why don't you take in some one besides the athletic
fellows? There's my roommate, David Powers, or Gleason, they both
have more brains than I have."

"No, we want you to come first. They will come later, if you come."

"Oh, so that's it, is it? Well, gentlemen," said Frank, with so much
determination that the committee men gave him up as a bad job, "I
appreciate the honor you offer me, but I think I can do more for the
School by staying outside. Some day I hope to see the Gamma recognize
the boys for what they are worth, and not for the distance they can
punt a football or throw a baseball. It used to be that way, and if I
can help in my little way to putting it back that way, I'll do so."

"This is your last chance, you know," said Hastings. "If you turn us
down this time you can never wear the Gamma pin."

"Well, I guess I can never wear it, then, for I wouldn't agree with
Gamma about most things. It is better for all of us."

"All right, it's settled," said Hastings, "but you're going to be a
sorry kid some day."

"I doubt it," said Frank shortly.

And that ended the interview. Nearly the same thing was repeated in
Turner's room, for Jimmy and Frank were one in their determination
not to be drawn into the society, as they knew that once in it they
would have to be governed by it, and that didn't suit their fancy at
all.

Dixon and Wheeler were furious when it was reported to them that
both boys had again turned down the invitation. "They'll regret
that to the day of their death!" Chip stormed. "The impudent little
upstarts! The Gamma will smash them, see if it don't." Wheeler said
nothing, but the scowl on his face boded no good for our friends in
Honeywell Hall.

Two days after the interview in Frank's room, and when the class
baseball series was in full swing, Frank was sent for by Boston
Wheeler and told to report on the football squad the next afternoon.

The Codfish was wild. "It's as plain as the nose on your face," he
said to Lewis, "what they're after; they're going to bury him on that
football squad, hold him there and finally give him no chance at all."

The subject of the discussion appeared at that moment, and the
Codfish whipped around on him. "Are you going down on the gridiron?"

"No help for it," said Frank gloomily. "Wheeler came over himself
to-night and told me to come down. I told him I was no good, but
he insisted that they needed a punter. Horton, also, has suddenly
discovered that I'm a kicker."

"I'd refuse," snorted the Codfish.

"And get the School down on me? No, I can't do that. If they really
want me I'll be glad to help. And if I can't, I've got to take my
medicine and have neither the fun of our baseball series nor the
glory of football. I'm going to try hard to develop myself especially
for drop kicking. Gamma or no Gamma, it is the Queen's School eleven
and not the Gamma eleven. I'd be a pig not to do what I can to help,
little as it may be."

"Well, maybe you're right," reluctantly admitted the Codfish, "but I
haven't your forgiving nature. Hey," he called to David, who had just
come into the room, "Frank's going to shyster the baseball end of it
and go down to the gridiron just because Wheeler wants him. What do
you think about it?"

"Just one thing. He can't do anything else."

"All right, then, down goes the house of baseball, because there's
not another pitcher on the staff of the Piratical Pippins to make a
dent in a pound of butter at six feet."

It was indeed with great reluctance that the captains of the baseball
nines heard of the break that had been made in their ranks. Practice
fell off materially in the following few days, and before the end
of the week the nines had disbanded, at sight of which the leaders
of Gamma grinned to themselves. So far their plan was working well.
Frank's opportunity had been smashed, and they promised themselves
that he would not have another one if they could help it.

Frank, although called over to the football squad, was lost in the
ruck. He had missed nearly two weeks of practice, which in so short
a season as football is a serious matter. Once he was sent in at end
on the Second team but did not distinguish himself. In the punting
and drop kicking, which was taken before regular practice, he showed
an aptitude. Horton began to take more notice of him, and on several
occasions took him aside and coached him on the proper step and swing
of his leg in meeting the ball. Dixon did not relish these attentions
to Frank, and did all in his power to keep him out of the practice.

At night in the room Jimmy labored with Frank and endeavored to teach
him what he knew of the play of a half-back. Jimmy was considered the
best back on the Queen's eleven. Thick-set, stocky, short, strong of
leg and thick of neck, and with a trick of running low, he was hard
to stop. He was fast, too, because he never took any roundabout way
for the hole that was opened for him, and when the hole wasn't open
for him he often made it himself by sheer strength. On defense he was
a regular demon. Wherever the ball was, there might be found Jimmy's
flaming top-knot. Never for a moment was he deceived by any tricks
that the opponents might play. His eye was glued to that ball, and he
was always in front of it.

So, with this knowledge, Jimmy proved a good and patient teacher, and
always after supper the center of the study was cleared of tables
and chairs, and Frank and Jimmy worked for half an hour or so with
a ball before taking up the regular lessons. Frank learned quickly
and, when he had a chance, put his knowledge into operation. In
this, what might be called secret practice, Frank learned to handle
the ball quickly without fumbling it, to shift it rapidly from hand
to arm-pit, and to take just the right position on his feet. It was
surprising how much skill he was able to acquire in the narrow space
of a room.

Once Jimmy, in illustrating how the offensive half-back could help
his tackle, pressed Lewis and the Codfish and David into service.

"Now, Lewis, you are the opposing guard. Stand here," commanded Jimmy.

Lewis was dragged into position, protesting, and assumed the attitude
of a crouching guard with his hands on his knees.

"And you now, Coddy, you stand here at his right. You're the
defensive tackle."

"Good!" said the defensive tackle. "It's a pleasant job, how much do
I get?"

"You'll get all that's coming to you in a minute."

"It won't rumple up my hair, will it?"

"No, don't stand too far out there. That's it, keep your place and
look pleasant. Now, Frank, you're the right half-back and you've got
to carry the ball. Here, David, you snap it back; you don't need to
get down, just face Frank and toss it to him. That's it, right there
where you are. Now I'll give the signal. Remember, Frank, you cross
over behind me. I'm going to help the offensive tackle to block off
his opponent. You see I haven't any offensive tackle or guard here,
but it will do to illustrate. Now, ready all!"

Jimmy yelled this last as if he were outside on the football field,
so earnest was he in his work. David snapped or tossed the ball to
Frank, who dashed across behind Jimmy. Jimmy threw himself against
the unresisting opposing "tackle" and "guard." Over they went like
nine pins, Lewis fetching up in the fireplace and the Codfish under
the window seat!

There was a howl of laughter from Frank, David and Jimmy, but it
wasn't echoed by the defensive "tackle" and "guard." Instead they
picked themselves up very carefully and felt of themselves.

"Where's the automobile that hit me?" said the Codfish, in a rueful
tone, feeling his shins tenderly.

"Some one get a shovel, please," groaned Lewis, "and dig these ashes
out of my left ear." He was a sight.

"All right!" yelled Jimmy, "line up quick, and I'll show you how the
cross-buck ought to be played!"

"Oh, no you don't," said the Codfish, edging away. "You can't show me
a cross-buck or a tame-buck or a golden-buck or any other kind of a
buck this evening. I've had all I want of football instructions. If
you and Frank want to continue your jolly little game, go and borrow
a few saw-horses."

"Why, what's the matter?" inquired Jimmy innocently, while Frank
stood holding the ball and grinning.

"I have nothing to say about Lewis, but if you imagine I'm a chopping
block," grumbled the Codfish, whose hair had been seriously rumpled
and his immaculate clothes mussed up, which he didn't relish a bit,
"you have six more guesses and you'll never get one of them right."

"Oh, I say," said Jimmy, "this is in the interests of science, you
know. We've got to teach Frank football, somehow."

"You can teach him anyhow," said the Codfish, "but you can't make a
Roman holiday out of me again. Science is all right, but it can't
be allowed to flourish at the expense of my dignity. Look at our
poor friend, Lewis Carroll." The sight was so comical that even the
Codfish got over his grouch and laughed.

"That's what we get every day," said Jimmy. "I wonder if the School
knows how many hard knocks its football players get. You've got to
take what's coming to you without a whimper. If a fellow is tender
he better keep out of football."

"Or out of the fireplace, eh, Lewis?" cried the Codfish.

"Or from under the window seat," retorted Lewis, who by this time had
made himself again presentable by a liberal supply of soap and water.

There was no more football practice that evening; and thereafter
when the floor space was cleared away for Jimmy's illustration of
the tactics of the back field, the Codfish and Lewis always found it
convenient to be absent on important business.

The fall drew on with rapid pace. Sometimes the football eleven of
Queen's seemed to be getting together, but it was only seeming; for,
lacking the right spirit, the eleven had no fight in it. Captain
Wheeler often chafed at the interference of his quarter-back, Chip
Dixon, whose bitter feeling toward Frank he could not understand.

Dixon had forgotten Frank's generous attitude the night of the
supposed drowning of Tommy Brown in the Gamma initiation, and
remembered only that Frank had beaten him out in several of his
ambitions. It seemed to be forever in his mind that Frank had beaten
Warwick with the Freshman nine, and he lost no opportunity to hurt
him in the eyes of the coach and the rest of the players.

But, in spite of his disadvantages and of the scant attention he got
on the field, Frank continued to improve. Under the loving coaching
of Jimmy at night and much observation and practice on the field,
he forged ahead in the knowledge of the game; and once, called in
by Horton to replace the full-back when the School eleven held the
Second on its five-yard line, he kicked a neat goal from the field.

"Good boy!" said Horton that night, as the teams trudged off to the
gymnasium. "You are getting the knack of it. I'd give good money if
you were twenty pounds heavier. But you'll grow. Keep at it, and
you'll surely get a chance at the eleven next year."

This praise from the coach, heard by Dixon, rankled in the latter's
heart. He set to work planning for an overthrow of Frank's hope, the
results of which will be seen later on. Dixon was so busy working
off his grudge or trying to do it, that he played poor ball, much to
the exasperation of Coach Horton. The next day after Frank's drop
kick, Chip was warned for a rough and ugly piece of work in the
practice, and after some words with the Coach, was sent to the side
lines in disgrace. Walker, the little quarter on the Second team,
was pulled over to the position at quarter on the first team, and to
the astonishment of every one, the coach, after running his eye over
the possible candidates to fill the quarter's position on the Second
eleven, ordered Frank to take his place. "He handles the ball like a
flash," said Horton, in defense of what he had done, when the Captain
protested; "he's as fast as lightning and, if my dope isn't wrong,
he'll make a dandy quarter. He's too light to play anywhere else.
We'll give him a trial."

Horton's change proved to be a stroke of genius, for Frank, although
not well acquainted with the signals or accustomed to the place,
proved to have a natural aptitude for the position, and it was only
a few days till he began to find himself. His punting, although not
great in distance, was accurate, and so quick were his movements that
he put a life and ginger in the Second team which brought about a
vastly different condition on the field. Dixon was finally recalled
to his old position on the School eleven, but Frank had improved so
much that Walker came back to the Second as Frank's substitute.

Jimmy was overjoyed at the turn affairs had taken, and every minute
that he had to spare from lessons he coached Frank on tricks of the
back-field play. For hours together the two worked on the handling of
the ball from center, Jimmy playing center, of course. Frank improved
with wonderful rapidity. His baseball playing helped him in handling
the ball, and as the season advanced he began to rival, except in
experience, the resourceful Dixon himself. He had even an advantage
of the latter, for he could punt and drop kick as well.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE TELEGRAPH COMPANY.


"What's that you have?" said Frank, coming in one night after supper
and finding the Codfish handling a kind of an instrument composed of
bright polished brass set on a wooden base. Gleason was examining it
closely.

"That, my inquisitive young sir, is nothing more nor less than a
telegraph instrument."

"Where did you get it? Make it, buy it or pinch it?" inquired Frank.

"I bought it, kind sir. I was down at the Queen's station to-night
getting off some of my important business by telegraph, and his
nibbs down there, the telegraph operator, recognizing in me a man of
excellent perceptions, invited me in."

"And you got away with some of the tools. Does he know it?"

"Oh, yes, sir, he knows it. I sat there and watched him tapping away.
He told me it was New York on the other end of the wire, after he
had called up. I didn't believe him, and he told me if I didn't
believe, I could prove it for myself by simply touching two little
posts that he pointed out."

"And you touched?"

"Yes, if you must know the details, I touched it, and incidentally I
jumped about six feet in the air. It gave me a shock, you see."

"And then you realized that it really was New York on the other end
of the wire?" queried Frank, who knew something about telegraphy
because he had studied it in a series of articles in the Boys'
Magazine.

"Sure, I realized at once that it was New York, for I've heard that
New York is a shocking city. Now, then, will you be good?"

"Put him out! Put him out!" said David, looking up.

"Electrocute him, I should say," cried Jimmy. "He ought to be given
two thousand volts in the neck for that."

"Well, if you will draw down these things on your heads, keep on
interrupting my story. I asked the gent if it took much brains to
learn it, and he had the nerve to tell me it didn't take much of
any, and added that he thought I could just about accomplish it. If I
had been a fighter like Redhead here, I'd have been insulted, but as
it was I kept a dignified silence."

"Well, when did you make away with the instrument?"

"All in good time, kind friends. He showed me how easy it was to
wiggle the little key, and I tried it myself. If I had stayed another
half hour, I would have been an accomplished operator."

"And how about the instrument?"

"Well, finally, I got so much interested in the little clicker that
he said he would sell me something that I could learn on, and he
brought forth this attractive affair and agreed to sell it to me for
twenty-five dollars."

"Oh, oh, and you bit, did you?"

"I said he agreed to sell it, note my words carefully. I made him a
counter offer of three dollars and a half for it, and he said 'It's
yours.' And, generous soul that he was, he gave me an instruction
book which I also have, if I haven't lost it," and the Codfish began
to search hastily through his pockets.

"There it is," he said, holding it up--"How to Learn Telegraphy--A
Complete Analysis of the Entire System of the Morse Alphabet--With
the Complete Code for all Letters, Figures and Punctuation Marks.
There's a bargain at three-fifty. Eh, what?"

"Cheap at half the money," said Frank. "Hand it over."

He turned the pages over thoughtfully. "Say, this gives me an idea.
Why wouldn't it be a good scheme to have a little telegraph line of
our own?"

"Where to--New York? I insist it shall not be connected with New
York. I had enough of New York to-night. It's too shocking."

"Quit your fooling. If you get off that New York joke again I'll
punch your head. No, I really mean it. We could have a lot of fun
with a telegraph line. We might have an instrument here and one in
Jimmy's room. We might even connect up with Wee Willie Patterson who
seems to have deserted us this fall."

"I say," said Jimmy, "it would be a great stunt. We could use it as
a kind of alarm clock. When I sleep over, the Codfish can rattle a
little on it and I'll be awake in a jiffy."

"Thank you," said the Codfish. "I vote against it, if I'm to be the
alarming fellow."

"And," continued Frank, "we might run a wire down to Queen's station
and get the night operator to send to us for practice."

"Yes, I imagine he'd love to do it," quoth the Codfish. "He seems so
much like a generous fellow, particularly when you show him money."

"Well, let's show him money, if he won't do it without it."

David agreed with Frank that it would be a good scheme to have
a telegraph line; and the long and the short of it was that the
next night a descent was made on Murphy, the night operator at the
station who, after much haggling about the price, agreed to run a
private wire from the station to Queen's School and equip it with
two sets--because only two sets were available. Murphy also agreed
that for this sum he would furnish enough "juice" from the station
batteries to make a sending current on the wire, and moreover he
would "send" for fifteen minutes every night when the boys desired.

The boys went back to Queen's and scraped together enough money
between them to pay ten dollars down, and Murphy, as good as his
word, commenced stringing the wire the next day. As the line was
to be kept a secret, it took a somewhat crooked path, dodging this
way and that way to avoid conspicuous places. It cut across the
river from the station, was bracketed on a tree, then took half a
dozen leaps among the trees across the roof of an old house long
unoccupied, and finally climbed the slope to Queen's School, well
hidden among the trees.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the work was getting the wire
on Honeywell Hall itself so as not to attract the attention of the
caretakers, who would undoubtedly have made short work of it. The
heavier wire was ended on a bracket on a great elm that swayed over
the roof of Honeywell. From this bracket a very fine copper wire was
stretched to the room of Jimmy and Lewis, which was fortunately on
the rear of the Hall. From there it was an easy matter to bring it
across and down a rain spout to the sill of Frank's window. When the
whole job was completed, much of it under cover of darkness, so well
had it been done that unless you had been looking for such a wire you
might have looked over a hundred times and seen nothing unusual.

When the circuit was complete, Murphy attached the instruments and
returned to the station. "I go on duty to-night at seven o'clock," he
said, "and I'll cut the wire in and see how she works."

The boys were in high spirits about the successful completion of the
job, and waited with eagerness to hear the signals Murphy was to send
them.

"Wouldn't it be a joke," said the Codfish, as the hour for the
opening of the great telegraph line came and went, "if it didn't
work?"

"We'd be out ten dollars," remarked David. "But look at the fun we've
had!"

"There speaks a true sporting proposition, gents," said the Codfish.

But the line was not to be a failure. Suddenly, while the boys were
discussing their probable bad bargain, the little brass-armed sounder
jumped into life and began to dance like mad.

"How well he talks!" said the Codfish, who couldn't read a letter. "I
think it's about the most intelligent language I ever listened to.
Don't sit there, Frank, pretending you know all about it," for Frank
had his ear glued on the sounder and was trying hard to make out what
was coming.

[Illustration: "IT'S CHOCTAW!" CRIED THE CODFISH. "WHO CAN READ
CHOCTAW?"--_Page 179._]

"No, I can't make it out, it's too fast for me; I can read a little
if I haven't forgotten. I wish he'd send slower."

By degrees the sounder stopped its mad dancing and began to work
slowly.

"Listen," said Frank, and he seized a pencil, "it's something he
wants us to hear. I'll write it down."

Frank began scratching as the sounder clicked on. And this is what he
got:

"_Do ntfo rgett hat youow eme fi vedol lars._"

"It's Choctaw!" cried the Codfish, who had been leaning over Frank's
shoulder as the message came in. "Who can read Choctaw? David, don't
speak up too quick. And Frank thinks he's an operator! Shades of my
grandmother, what a message!"

Frank had been staring at the page. Finally he burst out laughing.

"Oh, it's a joke, is it? It looks funny enough to be a joke. Explain
it, please."

"The only trouble is, that I didn't get the spaces right between
the words. See, when you space it right the Choctaw becomes the
following: '_Don't forget that you owe me five dollars_'."

"What an insulting thing to send over our own wire first crack out of
the box!" said the Codfish. "Of course we owe him five dollars, and
if he were a gentleman he wouldn't remind us of it, particularly when
we haven't got it in our clothes."

Frank's unexpected display of the ability to read the telegraph by
sound, was a great incentive to the others of our quintet of boys,
and they worked with might and main. Pasted in each room was a large
white card ornamented in the Codfish's best style with the Morse
alphabet and figures spread boldly thereon, and this is what they
studied morning, noon and night, and sometimes in between:

  A--dot dash.
  B--dash and three dots.
  C--two dots space dot.
  D--dash two dots.
  E--one dot.
  F--dot dash dot.
  G--two dashes dot.
  H--four dots.
  I--two dots.
  J--dash dot dash dot.
  K--dash dot dash.
  L--one long dash.
  M--two dashes.
  N--dash dot.
  O--dot space dot.
  P--five dots.
  Q--two dots dash dot.
  R--dot space two dots.
  S--three dots.
  T--one short dash.
  U--two dots dash.
  W--dot two dashes.
  X--dot dash two dots.
  Y--two dots space two dots.
  Z--three dots space dot.

  1--dot dash dash dot.
  2--two dots dash two dots.
  3--three dots dash dot.
  4--four dots dash.
  5--three dashes.
  6--six dots.
  7--two dashes two dots.
  8--dash four dots.
  9--dash two dots dash.
  0--one long dash (longer than letter L).

"And Murphy says that's all a fellow needs to know, to do almost any
kind of telegraphing. Sounds easy, doesn't it?" said Frank, one day.
"And it is easy to remember the signals themselves, but when they
come flying over the wire it's a different story."

"How are you getting on with the telegraph?" inquired David, one
night of Lewis, who was listening to the measured ticking of the
instrument.

"Great," said Lewis, "I guess I'll be able to take a job on the
railroad pretty soon."

"Get out," said Jimmy scornfully. "Lewis makes a great fuss about it
because he can tell such little things as _e_ and _i_ and _h_ and
things like that. I can do better than that myself. I have a speaking
acquaintance with the big, forbidding fellows like _q_ and _x_ and
all the high dignitaries."

For a time the lessons suffered by the introduction of this new toy,
but by and by it began to take its natural place in the day or night.
They picked up the reading wonderfully quickly and, as the days
went on, Murphy was able to take a faster gait. Perhaps they didn't
understand all of it, but it was a great joy to be able to pick out
small words as the instrument rattled along. All of the boys were
able to "send" pretty well, which as every one knows is the easy part
of telegraphing. It is the receiving that is so difficult.

Often Frank and Jimmy held labored conversations over the wire when
Murphy had cut out and left them to themselves, and it generally
happened that they were obliged to stick their heads out of the
window to confirm by voice what had been said and to fill in the gaps
which were not clear.

The Codfish frequently used the wire to play tricks. One night Jimmy
was awakened by a desperate clatter on the instrument. The call
of Jimmy's room was _JC_, and they were both hard letters for our
friend, the Codfish. He was rattling away at this _JC_, _JC_, _JC_,
as fast as he could go. Jimmy sprang up and answered. "_It's very
cold down here_," clicked the instrument; "_come on down and put
another blanket on me_." Jimmy was furious. "_I'll come down_," he
wired back, "_and put a club on you_."

"_Ha, ha, ha, ha!_" laughed the Codfish on the wire.

But they got a lot of fun out of it and some profit, for they were
learning something which they might some day be able to turn to
account. Little did any of them realize that it would, at no very
distant date, play a prominent part in an important incident in their
school life.



CHAPTER XV.

FRANK TAKEN TO WARWICK.


While the advent of the telegraph line occupied the attention of our
friends in the evenings, it must not be thought that they were any
the less intent on the football doings in the afternoons. The end of
the season was drawing rapidly to a close and only one game--that
with Porter School on the Queen's grounds--remained on the schedule
to be played, with the exception of the final match with Warwick.
This latter game was to be played at Warwick, which was considered a
disadvantage, as the Queen's eleven seemed to fight better on home
grounds. It will be remembered that the Warwick game was played at
Queen's the previous year. These matches always alternated--one year
at Warwick and the next at Queen's, and so on.

After Frank had won his place on the Second eleven, there was a
general brace by the School eleven. Dixon, seeing his position in
danger of being invaded by Frank, put forth his best efforts, and
he was so clever a quarter that when he did his best he was hard to
beat. Horton was delighted with the change and attributed it in a
considerable degree to the dashing play of Frank Armstrong, who had
been, as he expressed it, "a regular find."

Then came the Porter game. "This is our test," said Jimmy the Friday
night before it was played. "If we get away with this one, there's a
chance that we can pull off the Warwick game."

"A fighting chance, yes," said the clear-headed Codfish. "You may be
able to hold them, but I don't see how you can score against their
defense. Warwick is as good or better than last year. The only way
you can beat a strong defense, under these rules that the football
fathers have doped out, is to have a drop kicker."

"Well, we haven't got one, so we'll have to get off a forward pass or
something tricky, and catch those big guys napping. It all depends on
what we can do to-morrow."

The boys turned in early. Frank fell asleep with hopes of a chance at
to-morrow's game in his head.

It was a glorious day, and every one far and near turned out to see
the test of the School eleven against the strapping boys from Porter.
Knowing well the erratic course that the Queen's eleven had been
steering, the invaders, who came gayly decked as for a celebration,
freely expressed themselves as to the size of the score. They would
not consider for a moment that the score might be against them.
Nearly all, excepting the most optimistic of the Queen's followers,
were shaking in their shoes because a defeat to-day meant disaster a
week later. A victory would hearten the team so much, that they might
even triumph over the proud and confident eleven up the river.

From the moment of the first clash of the lines the Porter boys
showed their superiority. They took the ball and on straight rushes
carried it far down the field, only to lose it when they seemed to
be sure of scoring. Red-headed Jimmy was everywhere on defense. Half
a dozen times the Porter runner with the ball was through the line,
but was nailed with deadly precision by this half-back. Dixon also
played magnificently. He was playing to hold his place, and although
Frank, sitting on the side-lines wrapped up in a blanket, saw his
opportunity for a trial disappearing through the brilliant play of
Chip, he could not but admire it.

Time after time the Porter School eleven carried the ball half the
length of the field. Stone, their full-back, out-punted Wheeler,
and their ends covered the long punts with deadly certainty. Porter
played harder and harder and made ten yards of ground to one for
Queen's, but they were met down around the 25-yard line with so
fierce a resistance that they could go no further. Twice they made
weak attempts to drop-kick a goal, but each time the trials failed.
Once a Queen's end recovered the ball and carried it 70 yards down
the field, where he was felled by the Porter tackle, who outran him.

This hammering game went on for three quarters, but, in the fourth
quarter, Queen's seemed to gain strength. Twice they stopped the
Porter rushes at midfield, and with unsuspected power carried the
ball inside the 10-yard line, only to be stopped when success seemed
certain. Quickly the minutes flew by. Dixon drove his men with
increasing speed in spite of the fact that they were about ready to
drop. They responded to the call splendidly. It was the best football
they had shown the whole fall, but in spite of their best efforts
Porter stood a barrier to the goal line, and the whistle blew with
the game a tie, without scoring by either side.

"I was praying that they'd call you in and give you a trial, Frank,"
said Jimmy that night, "when we were down on their goal line. But,
after a conference, Dixon thought he could take it across and
Wheeler thought so, too. And they failed. It would have been an easy
drop--right in front of the posts. If I had been captain I'd have
tried it every time I got inside the 15-yard line, but Horton doesn't
think that way."

"Wait till you get to be captain," said the Codfish, "and you'll have
them kicking goals all over the field, eh, old speed?"

"Well, I'd be a little freer with them than the Captain is. But it's
his team and I'm not grouching. As the fellow in the poem says:

  "'Mine not to reason why,
  Mine but to do or die.'"

"And you died, I notice, and you'll die some more up at Warwick next
Saturday," prophesied the cold-hearted Codfish.

Very little was done on the gridiron during the week preceding the
Warwick game. The players were rested after the hard struggle they
had gone through with the Porter School team. There was some secret
practice and several trick plays were run over. The last work-out was
on Wednesday afternoon.

"Only light drill to-morrow," announced Horton, "and nothing at all
on Friday."

"Do you know the signals of the First eleven?" inquired Horton of
Frank when he was coming out of the shower bath that night.

"I've picked up most of them, yes, sir," said Frank.

"I thought so," said Horton, grinning, "by the way you played on
defense. Here's a set of them. Get them well in your head. Perhaps we
may need you to-morrow."

Frank's heart took a great leap in his breast. "'Perhaps we will
need you to-morrow,'" he kept repeating to himself. "But after all
it is only 'perhaps.' Well, that's better than nothing." That night
Horton's "perhaps" kept him awake half an hour longer than usual, and
he went to sleep finally to dream of the clash of battle in which he
had a part.

Thursday was given to signal drill, short, sharp and snappy.
The bleachers were well filled with boys who had come down in an
organized mass to try out their new songs. As the players rolled and
tumbled around on the ground, the sharp cheer rang out, and at its
end was the name of a player.

"Come on, get into this, now," shouted the cheer leaders--

"'Rah, 'rah, 'rah, 'rah, 'rah, 'rah! Queen's!--_Wheeler!_"

The boys raised their voices with a will. Even the second and third
substitutes came in for their share, and Frank felt a strange thrill
run down his spine as he heard his own name, "_Armstrong_," snapped
out by the bleachers. That it was well down toward the end of the
list and not among the important members did not particularly matter.
It meant that he was a possible candidate for the team and that was
enough to fill him almost to bursting with happiness. And his joy was
not lessened on seeing the bulletin near the gymnasium door, pasted
there by Horton, after the practice. His name was among those who
were to take the train for Warwick Saturday afternoon.

It seemed to the boys that Saturday would never come, but come it
did at last, a glorious day in early November. The exodus for Warwick
began early. The Queen's boys went by train, by automobile, by team,
and some of those given to pedestrianism even walked the five miles
up the river. Every Queen's boy bore his banner or badge of blue and
gold, the school colors. Some carried them modestly while others
flaunted their flags to the breeze and made sure that the entire
populace would know that they came from Queen's, and that they were
sure of victory.

"Isn't it great," said Jimmy, as he and Frank hurried for the 12:30
train which was to take the team to Warwick, "to see this turn-out?
It makes me feel as though I could play my head off when the whistle
blows."

Boys who have not attended a preparatory school or college can hardly
understand the intense feeling of loyalty which a body of students
has for its teams. They may be good or they may be poor, but since
they represent the school, if the school has any spirit in it at
all, the boys are behind the teams. This intense loyalty often
actually makes a team strong that would otherwise be indifferent or
distinctly poor. And so it was with the Queen's School eleven that
Saturday with which our story deals. The bad record of the season was
forgotten for the time, and every player who wore the Blue and Gold
felt himself nerved to do his best, or more than his best, because
his schoolmates were with him heart and soul.

"I've a hunch that we are going to win this game," said Jimmy as the
train neared Warwick on its short run.

"Of course we are," said big Wheeler, overhearing the remark. "Don't
believe anything but that and we'll show them who's who, and don't
you forget it."

At the little Warwick railroad station a hundred boys who had
preceded the team and all those on the train gathered around the team
as it alighted from the car and, with hats off, gave it a ringing
cheer. Then, as the players piled headlong into the 'bus that was
to carry them to the Warwick grounds, the crowd fell into line four
deep and followed along, occasionally sending up a cheer to vary the
School marching song. And in this martial array Queen's invaded their
rival's grounds.

"Let them sing," said a Warwicker who sat in a group of boys on
the Library steps as the Queen's phalanx went swinging along, proud
and haughty under the banners of Blue and Gold; "they will be quiet
enough after the game is over."

The Warwick crowd were confident of victory, and the remark of the
boy on the steps of the Library reflected the feeling of every one in
the school. And they had good reason to feel confident. The Warwick
eleven was a strong one, most of whose members had played together
for two years. The team had won all its games by big scores, and what
served to make assurance almost certain, was an easy victory over
Porter two weeks before the day Queen's had played the same team to
a tie. The Warwickers would not even admit that Queen's had a chance
to get within striking distance of the Warwick goal on straight
offensive strength. "Of course, there's always danger of a fumble or
something," said those who liked to consider themselves fair to the
other fellow, "but the chances are against that."

Warwick also made a brave showing with their school colors. Flags
hung from the dormitory windows, and over the door of the gymnasium
was draped an enormous Warwick flag. Down on the big flagstaff by
the track house another flag--Maroon with a big white "W"--floated
lazily in the breeze. Boys gathered in doorways and on the walks and
discussed with eagerness the coming struggle.

The game was scheduled for two o'clock and long before that hour the
crowds were streaming across the playing fields in the direction of
the football stands. Suddenly was heard the music of a band, and
soon it swung into view from behind the Library where the Warwick
procession had been formed; and after it came a long tail of boys,
hands on each other's shoulders, skipping and dancing along in
the peculiar zig-zag step. The crowds opened to make room for
this procession, and some joined in the Warwick songs as the band
thundered out the melody. But you may be sure that the Queen's boys
refrained from taking part in the Warwick jollification. They did do
their best, however, to make their own songs heard above the din.

Soon the crowds filed into the stands and were seated by the ushers,
who were distinguished from their fellows by a big Maroon silk badge
on their coat lapels. The ushers, in spite of their duties, managed
to keep one eye on the field where the members of the two teams were
running through the signals.

Queen's had the west and Warwick the east stand, and during the
preliminaries hurled defiance at each other across the brown
gridiron. Warwick, with a greater body of supporters, kept up a
steady yell, varied now and then by a song. The Queen's followers,
gathered compactly into two or three sections of the stand, made
their presence known by their snappy school yell. The cheer leaders
worked incessantly, and whenever there was any evidence of lagging,
heckled the sections through their megaphones: "Come on here, this
isn't a whispering match! What did you come up here for?" and such
like taunts.

Suddenly a hush fell on the crowds on both sides of the field.
Wheeler, captain of Queen's, and Burns of Warwick, with the referee,
met at midfield. They shook hands and held a little conference. After
a minute or two the referee snapped a coin into the air. The crowds
could not hear what was said, but as Burns turned away and waved
his hand to the north end of the field, the Warwick cheer leaders
interpreted the sign as meaning, and rightly, too, that Warwick had
won the toss and had taken the north end of the field, which was
favored by a little breeze.

The information imparted to the Warwick stand by the megaphones, a
cheer burst out spontaneously. The rattle of yelling went the length
of the stand. In another instant Warwick's measured yell, beaten by
the waving arms of half a dozen cheer leaders working in unison,
rolled out on the crisp air as the teams trotted to their places. A
moment later the whistle blew and the great game was on.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE WARWICK GAME.


From the moment the whistle blew the two teams went at each other
like tigers, Warwick endeavoring to overcome the lighter boys of
Queen's by sheer force, a thing that was made possible by the
superior weight of their team. Taking the ball from the kick-off,
the Warwickers began a slashing attack which resulted in long gains.
Biglow, the right half-back on Warwick, slipped through, time and
time again, between the Queen's tackle and the end, and when the end
drew in he went outside. Five minutes after the ball was put in play,
Warwick was inside the Queen's 25-yard line. The latter was fighting
desperately, but the forwards did not seem to be able to solve the
play which was being sent at them, and the Queen's secondary defense
had to take the punishment. Jimmy was at the bottom of every pile and
repeatedly was the only player of Queen's who stood between Warwick
and a touchdown.

"Touchdown, touchdown, touchdown!" howled the Maroon stands. "You've
got 'em going! No hope for Queen's!"

The Queen's followers cried valiantly and incessantly: "Hold them!
hold them!" But even the most enthusiastic and hopeful of the boys
who wore the Blue and Gold could not fail to see the impending
disaster. Down on the side-line the substitutes crouched, gritting
their teeth and thrusting an imaginary shoulder against the Warwick
invaders as the two lines met.

"There they go again!" yelled a Queen's boy. "It's a touchdown--no,
it isn't--Turner has him!" And Turner did indeed have him. Biglow
had sliced in between the tackle and end and was getting up speed,
when the fiery Jimmy set sail for him. Biglow, in his endeavor to
elude him, cut across the field. Jimmy forced him farther and farther
out, until, the side-line being near at hand, Biglow endeavored
to side-step the tackler. He failed dismally, and the next moment
Jimmy's arms encircled his legs and Jimmy's sturdy shoulder struck
his thigh, carrying Biglow with the ball clear off his feet and
backward toward his own goal. Biglow's head struck the ground with
a resounding thump. The ball flew from his arms and bounced crazily
around. Half a dozen forms shot for it, and instantly there was a
pile which was quickly dug apart by the referee. Big Wheeler lay with
the ball tucked securely under his body.

You might have thought it a Queen's touchdown the way the followers
of the Blue and Gold leaped into the air, shouted, danced and hugged
each other.

"_Turner, Turner, Turner!_" shouted the crowd. "Oh, what a tackle!"

"Good boy, Turner! Good boy, Wheeler!" yelled Queen's; and then the
leaders got to work and gave a regular cheer for each of the boys who
had saved, for a time at least, the Queen's goal line. The Warwick
stand was as still as death. A touchdown had been snatched away from
them by the red-head!

Wheeler immediately kicked out of danger, sending the ball spinning
far down the field, from which position Warwick again took up the
march. The Queen's forwards did better this time. They had learned a
little more about their opponent's attack and checked the advances a
little, but could not stop them. More slowly but just as surely the
ball went back. Biglow bored through and went around the end, making
up the difficult yards that had been lost by his previous fumble. He
ran low and hard and scarcely ever failed to make his distance. Once
with five yards to go on the last down, the Warwick quarter worked a
pretty forward pass and made the necessary distance.

Across the center of the field came the Warwick football machine,
irresistible and deadly. Chip shouted from the back field
instructions to the line to get low and charge fast and hard. They
tried to follow orders, but were bowled over by the fierce onslaught
of the bigger line they were facing. Jimmy slapped the linemen on the
back and encouraged them after each scrimmage, and endeavored with
Wheeler to work the team up to desperate heights of defense. But all
seemed useless. On came the Warwick team, and now they were at the
20-yard line.

With the necessity for a close guarding of the back field territory
diminishing, the Queen's backs crept in closer and made the Warwick
players work even harder for what they earned. But even then the big
Maroon team made its distance, and, with a first down, the ball lay
just inside the 10-yard line.

Again Queen's was fighting hard to stave off a touchdown. The boys
in the stand called almost despairingly to "hold them," while
pandemonium reigned on the opposite side of the field. The Warwick
players looked smiling and confident as they settled themselves for a
scrimmage, while Queen's was tense and anxious.

"Put it over this time!" yelled Warwick. "Make it sure!"

The Warwick quarter stood up straight, looked over the backs of his
crouching forwards, sized up the positions of the defensive backs and
then gave his signal rapidly. The lines met with a crash! But there
was a mistake in signals, and the back that was to take the pass from
the quarter wasn't where he should have been. The quarter, borne off
his feet by the fierce charge of the Queen's line, cried "Down!" from
the bottom of a squirming mass. It was second down and 12 yards to
gain, which somewhat dimmed the jubilation on the Warwick side.

"They'll try a forward pass now," said Frank to one of the other
substitutes. Together they had been crawling down the side-lines on
their hands and knees, watching with intense eagerness the great
fight their comrades had been making against heavy odds. "Why doesn't
Jimmy move out a little? There he goes; he's on to it, I guess. No,
he's going back again. What are they going to try?"--for the quarter
had called his men together after giving part of the signal and was
instructing them probably in the play that was to come off. Suddenly
the team sprang back into position, crouching low with finger-tips on
the ground.

"Sixteen--sixty-two--forty," shrieked the Warwick quarter. The ball
flew straight back to Biglow, who took half a dozen steps to the
right to draw the defense in that direction. Then he stopped and shot
it far out to the left in the direction of the Warwick end, who had
edged out without apparently attracting any attention.

But while the ruse had fooled nearly every one, it had not fooled
Jimmy or his Captain. They had guessed the play and even before
Biglow had stopped, were already in motion toward the waiting Warwick
end.

The ball flew straight, but just as it was about to settle into the
arms of the Warwick end, big Wheeler made a leap into the air and
succeeded in touching the ball with the tips of his fingers. It
was enough to deflect it from its course, and Jimmy, racing behind,
was under it like a flash before it touched the ground. He tucked
it under his arm and was off down the field like lightning, while
Wheeler, his speed unchecked by the leap, tore along at his side!

As it happened, the pass had carried the ball well to the left side
of the field, and most of the players of both teams were out of the
possibility of either helping or hindering the runner. There were two
of the Warwick players besides Biglow, the back who had thrown the
ball--the left tackle and the outwitted end--who were within reaching
distance, and they went after Jimmy full tilt. Wheeler turned aside
and put the end, the most dangerous man for the moment, out of the
play by slowing up suddenly in front of him. Then he threw himself
headlong in front of Biglow, who went sprawling head first on the
ground.

This left the tackle, a boy named Robinson, the only hope of Warwick
to prevent a touchdown, for Jimmy had a clear field to the Warwick
goal.

And what a race it was! Jimmy, short and stocky, ran as if his life
depended on it. He fairly flew over the ground, but the long-legged
Robinson gained on him. The stands forgot to cheer in watching that
race. Despite Jimmy's best efforts, the tackle still gained on him.
He had crossed the center of the field and was bearing directly for
the goal posts, with every energy bent on reaching them.

Forty-five, forty, thirty-five, thirty--the lines flew by, and still
he kept ahead. At the 25-yard line Robinson was a stride behind, but
a few yards farther Jimmy felt Robinson's hand touch his shoulder, as
the tackle reached for him. The touch was like an electric shock and
Jimmy fairly leaped away, but the big tackle was not shaken off. In
two strides more he had again reached Jimmy, and he launched himself
with all his might against the Queen's half-back, gripping his legs
as he fell. Jimmy felt those steel-like fingers grappling him and
gave a last despairing effort. He twisted out of the other's hold,
spun completely around, and, staggering blindly, fell over the goal
line with the ball gripped in both hands and with knees curled, drawn
up to defend it from any attack! But there was no attack, for the two
runners had outdistanced all the rest. Queen's had scored!

What a shriek split the air over the Queen's stands! The cheer
leaders forgot their work entirely, and did nothing but jump up and
down and toss their megaphones into the air, careless whether they
landed on the ground, on their own heads or on the head of some one
else. After perhaps two minutes of this din, the leaders suddenly
remembered that they were supposed to get organized sounds out of
the spectators, and for the space of several minutes, they worked
their already tired throats to the limit of endurance in the short
cheer--"now hip! hip!"--the long cheer, and a final rousing yell for
"_Turner, Turner, Turner!_"

The Warwick crowd, unable to believe their eyes, sat dumfounded.
Every one was trying to explain to every one else just how it had
happened--Burns had failed to have one of his backs on the lookout
for just such an emergency; the pass had been too slow; the end
had been too far out. These and a dozen other excuses the Warwick
sympathizers had to offer, but meantime the scoreboard at the end
of the field showed the indisputable fact that, explanations or no
explanations, the score stood:

  Queen's--5.
  Warwick--0.

Wheeler made a sorry exhibition of a kick-out and sent the ball over
the head of the catcher. It hit the ground, and of course there was
no chance for a try at the goal. What should have been an easy point
for Queen's was thus lost to them.

"Come on now, fellows!" shouted the Warwick Captain. "We'll get that
touchdown in five minutes!"

"We'll get it all back again and half a dozen more, too!" said
Robinson tauntingly to Chip, as the two teams moved to their places
for the next kick-off. But before half a dozen plays had been made,
the whistle sounded to end the first quarter.

Excitement reigned in the stands during the intermission and when
the teams faced each other for the second quarter, the interest was
intense.

"Go for them, Warwick!" yelled a voice in the front row of the
Warwick stand. "Eat 'em alive!"

And the Warwick team did its best to follow this cannibalistic
advice. Taking up the former smashing game, Warwick quickly carried
the ball far down the field, but just when Queen's was beginning to
settle desperately to work, a fumble in the Warwick back field, which
was recovered by Queen's, relieved the strain and Wheeler sent the
sphere spinning back down the field.

Warwick, nothing daunted, with the same old methods, came back as
determinedly as ever. Queen's seemed unable to stop them anywhere
excepting once inside their own 10-yard line at the urgings of the
stands, when the line stood up to its work like heroes and threw the
Warwick runner back on the last down for a loss and took the ball;
and once again when an onside kick was partially blocked and the ball
recovered by Jimmy Turner.

Warwick had played so desperately hard to overcome the Queen's lead,
that they were tiring perceptibly as the minutes went on. They had
carried the ball two or three times the length of the field if all
their gains were counted, but just when distance counted most, down
by the Queen's goal, something would go wrong. Not only the Warwick
bodies but their spirits were lagging, and they were as glad as the
players of Queen's when the whistle blew to end the half. The score
had not been changed and the hopes of the Queen's followers, as well
as those of the team itself, had risen wonderfully.

The two teams trudged off rather slowly to their dressing rooms to
be sponged off and talked to and rested during the fifteen minutes
of intermission, leaving behind them a babel of talk on both sides
of the field, interrupted every now and then by a school song or a
series of cheers from one side or the other. It was all most friendly
between the halves. Queen's boys and Warwick boys tumbled down from
the stands and hobnobbed with each other. Queen's was jubilant, while
in every Warwick boy's face one could read plainly: "Wait and see
what we'll do in the second half."

The intermission passed rapidly. The appearance of the big Maroon
players was the signal for a roar from the Warwick stands, broken
into immediately by a like demonstration from Queen's when the
blue-stockinged boys trotted onto the field from the opposite end, as
spry-looking as if they had not gone through a hard half. Little time
was lost in preliminaries. The Warwick captain, who had the kick-off,
slapped his hands together and shouted confidently to his team-mates
to "follow the ball hard." Down the field the Queen's players were
scattered in defensive array, grim and defiant.

"Ready, Captain Wheeler?" cried the referee. Wheeler waved his hand
as a signal that he was.

"Ready, Captain Burns?" The stands were so quiet that Burns'
answer--"All ready, sir!"--could be plainly heard. The whistle
shrilled sharply, the ball flew in a long curve down the field,
settling in Turner's arms, who, after covering ten yards, was slammed
to the earth. The last half of that memorable battle was on.

During the intermission, the Codfish, Lewis and David had squeezed
themselves onto the sacred benches of the substitutes as near as they
could get to Frank, and the four boys, with muscles stiffening at
each crash of the lines, watched the tide of battle swing up and down
the gridiron.

Warwick played furiously at the beginning, and although, as in
the first half, they lost valuable territory by fumbles and
misplays, gradually Burns steadied his team. After a particularly
disastrous fumble, taking the ball at their own 35-yard line, Burns'
Maroon-stockinged warriors began a great advance. Four and five
yards were reeled off at every clip, and once when there was danger
of being held Burns worked a beautiful forward pass for twenty yards.
Warwick was now on Queen's 23-yard line, and their football machine
was working with deadly precision.

"Now we have them!" yelled Burns jubilantly. "Squeeze that ball,
you backs, and make it go!" The signal was snapped out, there was a
crash of meeting bodies and Burns himself, with his head down, bored
through the line like a drill until he met Wheeler and Jimmy; but
when the pile which followed was pulled apart, the ball was five
yards nearer the Queen's goal line.

"They can't hold them!" said the Codfish in a tense whisper, as the
lines prepared again for the scrimmage. "Oh, if the line would only
give our backs a little chance, we might stand them off yet! There
they go! Oh, thunder, look at that!"

This exclamation was brought forth by a pretty double pass worked
by the Warwick backs. The feint toward the Queen's left end threw
the defense off their balance, and before they recovered Hudson,
the fleet full-back of Warwick, who had been saved for just such an
opportunity as had now arrived, was off like the wind. The Queen's
end was bowled over neatly by Burns, and the way to the goal line was
clear excepting for Dixon.

Warwick had used so many straight plays into the line that the clever
and quickly worked pass came as a great surprise to every one, and
the Warwick stands, quiet for a moment, burst into a great yell as
they saw a touchdown coming, or thought they saw it, at least. Dixon
moved up to meet Hudson, crouching ready for the tackle. The boy
with the ball feinted to the inside of Chip. Dixon lunged to meet
him, but Hudson quickly side-stepped and with an extra speed slipped
outside of him and was clear. Dixon dived after him, but missed and
lay sprawling on the ground. The momentary check of Hudson gave Jimmy
a chance at the runner, however. He started across, badly bothered
by the Warwick tackle, but finally got clear and came over the field
like a whirlwind.

Hudson saw him coming, and, fearing to be intercepted, began to edge
off toward the side-line. Jimmy pressed him hard in spite of his
superior speed, and when Hudson was only five yards from the goal
line, Jimmy made a last effort and threw himself at the runner with
all his strength. The blow knocked Hudson off his feet. He half
turned in the air, struck on his shoulder and actually bounded over
the goal line. It was a magnificent attempt on Jimmy's part, but it
failed, and Warwick had crossed the Queen's line with points enough
resulting to tie the score!

It was now Warwick's turn to yell, and they did it with an energy
which far surpassed their best previous efforts. Queen's by rights
should have been silent, but they yelled almost as loudly as did
their friends in the opposite stand, for Turner's wonderful try to
get Hudson brought every one to his feet cheering.

"Five feet more," said Frank, "and Turner would have had him sure."

"Who'd have thought the old mule could run that way?" cried the
Codfish. "I'll never call him slow any more."

"You can always figure on Jimmy doing his best and a little more,"
returned Frank. "Good old Jimmy! But what's the matter with Dixon?"

This, as Dixon got up and began twisting and turning his right wrist.

"The matter is," returned the Codfish, "that Chip is getting ready
to give a good excuse for missing his tackle."

The team gathered around Chip without paying any attention to the
jubilation of the Warwick crowd, which extended even to the team
itself. Horton ran out on the field to the little knot of Queen's
players and after half a minute's examination of Chip's wrist came
back to the side-lines, while the Warwick team prepared for a
kick-out. The ball had crossed the line far over toward the side of
the field, and it was not thought possible to kick a goal if the ball
were brought straight out, because of the difficult angle.



CHAPTER XVII.

FRANK SAVES THE GAME.


"What's the matter with Dixon?" inquired the Codfish, as Horton sat
down on the ground just in front of our friends.

"He says he hurt his wrist in the first half and again just now,"
replied the coach gloomily. "If he's hurt as bad as he acts, it's
all over with us. There goes the ball," he added, glancing over his
shoulder. "Good kick! Fine catch, too, even if it does beat us!"--for
Hudson had caught Burns' kick-out right in front of the posts. "They
can't miss it from there."

Nor did Warwick miss it. Burns took most deliberate aim, while the
little quarter-back, lying flat on his stomach, tilted the ball this
way and that. When it was just right, Burns moved forward and swung
his foot. Every one watched the ball's flight with straining eyes.

"Goal!" shouted the referee, and the Warwick crowd, which had settled
back on the stand, again sprang up, yelling like mad. The point just
scored meant a victory, even if no more scoring was done. A great
white figure 6 appeared in the blank space, which up to this time had
decorated Warwick's place on the scoreboard. At the sight Warwick
redoubled its yells.

"One, two, three, four, five, six!" chanted the crowd, while the
teams trotted back to their places on the field.

"Five minutes left in this quarter," called Burns to his team; "do
that over again! Come on now, hard!"

And hard it was, for with the taste of a well-earned touchdown in
their mouths, the Warwick team played like demons; and before the
whistle blew Burns had crossed the line for another touchdown. But no
goal was kicked, the angle being a hard one. The Queen's colors were
drooping like their players, and the boys began to ask each other:
"How much more is it going to be?"

"Looks bad, Frank," said the Codfish gloomily, "we can't hold 'em. I
wish they'd let you get in."

"No chance, old fellow," returned Frank. "Chip seems to be all right,
and I think he'd play till he died rather than let me on if he is
really hurt."

"Yes, he's a dog-in-the-manger, for sure."

Dixon did appear to be all right, and when the Queen's team lined up
for the last quarter there were no substitutions.

"It's all over but the shouting, fellows," cried a big Warwick cheer
leader. "Get into this cheer--hip, hip," and the Warwick cheer split
the air.

"They are pretty confident, Frank," ventured David, who, though eager
as the others, had taken very little part in the conversation on the
side-lines.

"Yes, they certainly are," said Frank. His face was long. "Queen's
has made a good fight out there, but they are not strong enough in
the line. What a wonder Jimmy Turner is!" This as Jimmy piled the
Warwick interference up so solidly that the runner with the ball
could not get past it, and was easily nailed for a loss.

But Warwick still held the ball, and was driving through the Queen's
line again and again to a first down. The Queen's supporters sat
stupefied on the stand and only occasionally raised a half-hearted
cheer. Wheeler seemed to be played out, and had missed tackle after
tackle, and twice Jimmy had stood alone as a defensive back to stop
everything that came his way. In the few times that Queen's was able
to get possession of the ball, Chip ran the team badly and seemed to
have forgotten all he knew about the game of football. When he had a
chance, he did not make the best of it, and Horton actually tore his
hair and dug his heels into the turf over on the side-line. Finally,
losing all patience, he jumped up from his seat and ran down along
the line of substitutes.

"Armstrong! Where's Armstrong?" he shouted.

"Here, sir!" said Frank, jumping up, his heart thumping like a
trip-hammer.

"Go out there and take Dixon's place, and for pity's sake get that
team together. They are playing like the team from an Old Ladies'
Home."

Frank pulled his sweater off with a jerk, tossed it to David--who had
hardly time to shout out, "Good work!"--and raced onto the gridiron.

"Who's going in?" was the query that ran through the stands.

"Why, that's Armstrong, the kid who played on the Second team a
while," said some one better informed than his neighbors. "He's going
in at quarter in Dixon's place. Dixon is all in, I guess."

"A long cheer for Armstrong!" howled the cheer leaders. But Frank
never heard it. He dashed over to where Dixon was beginning his
signal, for Queen's had recovered a fumbled ball on her own 30-yard
line. Frank reported first to the referee and then stepped ever and
touched Dixon on the shoulder. "I'm to take your place," he said
quietly.

"Get out!" said Dixon, and crouched behind the center ready to
receive the pass. But the whistle shrilled and the referee ran up
among the Queen's backs.

"Queen's has twelve men on the field, Mr. Wheeler. Who is going to
play your quarter? Decide quickly."

"Armstrong, sir," returned Wheeler. "Dixon, go to the side-line."

Chip stood up and glared hard at Wheeler. Then he turned, dropped
his head and walked slowly off the field, never once looking back.
When he was off the playing surface, the whistle spoke again and the
battle was on once more, this time with Armstrong in charge of the
attack.

The first play Frank gave was stopped without an inch of advance, and
Warwick spectators howled with derision. "It's all the same to us!"
cried one loud-mouthed boy in the front row, just opposite where the
teams were lining up at that moment. "No hope for Queen's. Take the
ball away from them! We want another touchdown."

Before Frank gave his signal on the second down, Wheeler called his
players around him. With heads close together they had a little
heart-to-heart talk, while Warwick shouted from the stands: "Come on,
you kids, play ball! Don't delay the game."

The head-to-head group fell apart, settled to their crouching
positions, and Frank snapped the signal out sharply. Back came the
ball to Frank and, scarcely checking it a moment in its flight, he
tossed it to Jimmy, who shot out to the right, which happened at that
moment to be the long side of the line. Frank fell in behind him. The
tackle dived at Jimmy as he sliced past, but missed. Burns was right
there, however, having followed the runner with the ball out toward
the center of the field, and now he reached Jimmy's waist with
powerful arms. The defensive end came in full tilt, also, to help his
captain to make sure of the tackle. But just as Jimmy felt himself
falling from the impact of Burns, he squirmed half way around, and
even as he pitched headlong to the ground with the deadly clasp of
Burns on his hips and the none too loving embrace of the end's arms
around his neck, he tossed the ball to Frank. Before either the
half-back or the end could recover, Frank, continuing at full speed,
had swept clear of the defense, turned in like lightning and was off
down the field!

Ahead of Frank loomed the quarter, the only player between him and
the glory which lay in the form of a touchdown far down the field.
Full at the quarter he charged, gaining speed with every step. He
did not hear the wild cries of encouragement which went up from his
schoolmates. There was only one thought in his mind--how to pass that
player who stood waiting, eagerly crouching.

Frank's training on the track stood him in good stead now. He was
fresh, too, and he was making the best of both circumstances.
Directly at the quarter-back he raced, apparently to run him down,
but when he was within ten feet of him, he suddenly swerved to the
right and ran straight across the field toward the side-line. The
quarter-back, fearing Frank's speed, followed him out with all the
pace his tired limbs could muster. But just when he seemed to have
Frank cut off there, the latter suddenly stopped, evaded the rushing
tackle that was intended to lay him low, and went straight down the
field. His stop, although but for an instant, brought the Warwick
reserves up to him. One by one they tried to reach him, but eel-like
he evaded them. It was one of the prettiest pieces of dodging
running that had ever been seen on the Warwick field. But despite
his wonderful luck and pluck he was finally caught from behind, and
thrown with a crash to the ground at Warwick's 25-yard line. He had
covered nearly fifty-five yards, the longest run of the day. And,
excepting the help that Jimmy had unwittingly given him in tangling
up the half and the opposing end, he had accomplished the run
unaided, as his tired team-mates had not been able to follow the pace
down the field and were outdistanced.

With first down at the 25-yard line, Queen's took on a great
determination, and in three tries--a quarter-back run and two dashes
past tackle by Jimmy--the ball was finally within striking distance
of the Warwick goal. But here the advance ended. The next play was
thrown back a yard or two by the desperate Warwick team, and a short
forward pass barely made up the lost ground. Then came a conference
and Frank dropped back to the 27-yard line.

"He's going to try for a field goal, by jiminy," cried the Codfish,
who had nearly had a fit of apoplexy through joy at Frank's splendid
run. "And he'll do it. Watch him!"

Warwick kept up a steady yell, probably with the intention of
disturbing the young quarter-back, but if that was the idea, it had
no effect on Frank whatsoever. The ball lay on the ground in the
center's hand a little to the right of the center of the field, and
the angle was not a bad one, although not an over-attractive one.
In the storm of cat-calls from Warwick, Frank measured the distance
carefully with his eye. The protection for the kicker formed quickly,
and then came the signal. With as little hurry as if he had been
practicing down at Seawall, Frank took the ball from the center's
long pass, turned it over quickly but carefully, so that the seam
lacing was away from him, dropped it to the ground, and as it rose
again, swung his foot against it. The ball swept upward to its
greatest height, described a long crescent downward, struck the
cross-bar fairly in the middle, bounded into the air and fell--on the
other side!

The yell that the reawakened Queen's stand gave might have been heard
as far as Queen's School itself, but the cause of it all trotted
quietly back with his team to the center of the field without looking
to right or left.

"What did I tell you!" shouted the Codfish, waltzing wildly around
Lewis. "You can't beat that kid! There, that score looks better," as
the scorer changed the Queen's figures to 8. "We'll beat them yet.
Whoop!"

The score seemed to put new life into Queen's, and after the
kick-off, which was made by Queen's to Warwick, the latter made
little headway in the rushing game. In the very first attempt to
kick, the Queen's right guard, by a great effort, got through the
defense and blocked the ball squarely. A desperate scramble ensued,
and despite the orders of the referee to "get up" and "let go," the
pile which formed like magic where the ball had been had to be dug
apart one by one. At the very bottom Jimmy was found with the ball
under his chin and both arms wrapped around it, as if it were the
dearest possession he had ever known. It was Queen's ball on the
Warwick 21-yard line.

Once, only, did Wheeler order a rush. Warwick stopped that with
deadly determination, throwing back even the redoubtable Jimmy. Then
again Frank dropped far behind the line. He stood exactly on the
33-yard line and again measured with the greatest care the distance
to the goal posts.

"You can't do it, Armstrong; you can't do it!" sang out the first
rows of the Warwick benches in a vain attempt to disturb the poise
of the boy on whom all eyes were turned. But they might as well have
tried to disturb a statue. One of Frank's gifts was concentration,
and perhaps he never concentrated his mind on anything in his life
more strongly than he did on that occasion. "I must! I must!" kept
ringing in his brain.

Wheeler disposed his protection for the kicker with great care, for
on the success of the play hung the issue of the day. Three points
would tie the score. There were only a few minutes of time now
remaining in the last quarter of the match. No wonder the players
took their places with minute care. When all was ready Frank gave
the signal. Back came the ball, as straight and true to his hands as
a bullet. Down it went to the ground, rose and was sent spinning on
its long flight from Frank's toe. But it rose none too soon, for big
Robinson had beaten down the Queen's defense, leaped high into the
air and in his slash for the ball missed it only by the fraction of
an inch. But he had missed it, which was the important point, and it
swept up as true as a compass needle to the pole. On, on it went,
rising higher and higher, and revolving rapidly on its short axis.
Would it carry? On that thought every mind was concentrated. Now the
ball turned, dipped downward, fell almost straight--but cleared the
far side of the bar by ten feet at least!

[Illustration: DOWN IT WENT TO THE GROUND, ROSE AND WAS SENT SPINNING
ON ITS LONG FLIGHT FROM FRANK'S TOE.--_Page 225._]

The Queen's demonstration which broke loose at this entirely
overshadowed anything that had ever been heard on that field, and it
was still in progress when the teams lined up for the final minutes
of the play. All the fire had gone out of Warwick's play. They could
do no more than fight off the buoyant Queen's team till the whistle
blew. And when it did blow, there was a wild flight of boys from the
Queen's stand, which for a moment completely swallowed the tired but
happy little knot of football warriors. And then they were heaved
into sight on the shoulders of the admiring crowd and carried around
the gridiron protesting. For half an hour Queen's assumed complete
control of that football field, dancing wildly around in a long snaky
dance while their songs and cheers rent the air. They did not forget
in their joy, however, to stop in front of the center section of the
Warwick stand and give a hearty cheer for the rival school. Gradually
the crowds broke up and streamed off in the direction of the station.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, ELEVEN!"
chanted the joyous Queen's School contingent.

That night a bonfire at Queen's lit the sky with a yellow light which
was seen for miles around, and caused the story that the whole of
Queen's School had burned to the ground. Armstrong's name was on
every tongue, for through his wonderful drop kicking Queen's had gone
into history as having, with two field goals, tied a game in which
at the outset they seemed not to have the slightest chance. Frank
bore his honors modestly and said it was nothing but luck. But his
particular friends didn't think it was "just luck," and took no pains
to conceal their belief that he was the greatest drop kicker ever,
past, present or future!



CHAPTER XVIII.

MRS. BOWSER'S CAT.


"The question before this honorable board," began the Codfish, as
he stretched himself out one night in Frank's Morris chair before
Frank's comfortable blaze, thus displaying his characteristic hosiery
of vivid color, "is, what has become of Mrs. Bowser's cat? Don't all
speak at once."

It was a cold day in the middle of January. Football had been laid
away on the shelf for two months. The ticklish period of examinations
before the Christmas holidays was a thing of the past, and all
examinations had been passed successfully by our friends, although
Lewis had had a tight squeeze. Frank, Jimmy, the Codfish, Lewis and
David were gathered around the blazing fire. Books had been tossed
aside for the night, when the Codfish propounded his question.

"The poor thing couldn't stand that hymn in Chapel this morning,"
said Frank. "When you raised your voice she skipped to the tall
timbers."

"I don't blame her, do you, Frank?" inquired Jimmy. "The Codfish
has a voice which would drive a biped crazy, to say nothing of a
quadruped or even a centipede. He sings on both sides of the note and
never hits it."

"What happened to the old cat, anyway?" broke in Lewis, as the
Codfish was about to come back at Jimmy with hot shot.

"Ask the Codfish," returned Frank. "He was on the aisle where the
whole thing happened. Maybe he was responsible for the presence of
Tabby, and if he was, he has first-hand information of the greatest
importance. Out with it, Codfish."

"Not guilty!" said the accused, stretching himself still further
till his feet touched the fender. "I got tangled up with the Bowser
family once, and once is enough. I stand before you guiltless of the
dastardly deed."

"Who brought the cat in, anyway?"

"Give it up," said the Codfish. "Some one of those fresh young things
on the east aisle. The proctors are looking for him, and if they find
him and Mrs. Bowser gets her hand on him, there will be a funeral at
some rural household, I'm thinking."

"She certainly did set up a howl this morning," said Jimmy, "when----"

"Who, the cat or Mrs. Bowser?" inquired Frank.

"The cat, my smart young drop kicker; and then she--the cat, not Mrs.
Bowser--flew out with her tail the size of a muff."

"And like the last lines of the story, she was never seen nor heard
of again," added Jimmy dolefully.

"Poor Mrs. Bowser!" said Frank.

"Poor Tabby!" said the Codfish. "Mrs. Bowser still has her nice,
warm, comfortable house, while poor pussy is probably out in the cold
somewhere. Why doesn't the fool cat have sense enough to go home?" he
continued. "I would."

"Probably the fear of hearing your voice is in her heart, and she
would have to pass Honeywell Hall to get back home."

The incident that the boys were discussing was the appearance that
morning at prayers of a sleek black cat. Evidently she had been
picked up by some one of a mischievous turn of mind and smuggled into
the Chapel. Prayers were just over. The boys were in the middle of
the fine old tune of "America," and had reached the first line of the
third verse, "Let music swell the breeze," when there was a piercing
howl, and a furry bunch of animation, which proved to be a black cat,
shot across the open space of the Chapel just below the platform and
between that and the first row of seats. The volume of tone instantly
diminished as heads were turned and necks craned to see what was
happening. Pussy ran up the steps of the platform, took one wild
look at Dr. Hobart and then tore down the aisle for the door. Hands
shot out here and there to interrupt the meteor-like passage of the
black cat, but she dodged them all and, uttering high-pitched yowls,
reached the Chapel door and disappeared.

From that moment no one had seen her. During the day the news had
spread around that Mrs. Black Cat, who bore the euphonious name of
"Pandora," had been kidnapped. A search was instituted. The Chapel
building had been searched and the dormitories next to it, but
neither hide nor hair of Pandora had come to light. Mrs. Bowser
was distracted. The guilty boy or boys who smuggled the cat into
the Chapel had gone undetected, although there had been much
cross-questioning and some little detective work by the proctors.

"Well, I'd like to find Pandora," said Frank. "I don't forget that
Mrs. Bowser helped us out of a bad scrape last year, when Lewis got
the tags mixed up on the ice-cream consignment and sent the poor lady
the wrong box."

"Same here," said the Codfish. "I'd take a hand in the rescue myself,
if it wasn't so blooming cold to-night."

"That's just it, it is so blooming cold that poor pussy is likely to
freeze to death. If she's inside, she's all right."

"Of course she's inside, you blithering idiot," said the Codfish,
yawning. "Any cat that knows enough to sing 'America' isn't likely to
be so dumb as to stay out in zero weather, is she? Perhaps she wasn't
kidnapped at all----"

"Cat-napped, you mean," corrected Jimmy.

"Well, cat-napped, then. Perhaps she's just a good religious cat and
came in to prayers like any Freshman. Whatever her intention was, I
can't help it. But there's one thing I do know," and the Codfish sat
up and wagged his forefinger impressively.

"What?"

"That I'm going to my downy couch, cat or no cat." He rose to his
feet, gave a prodigious stretch and ambled off in the direction of
the bed chamber.

"Well, I must be going, too," said Jimmy.

"I'll take a turn with you," said Frank. "Come on, David, a whiff of
this sharp air will do you good."

"Can't," said David. "I've got to work on an editorial for the
_Mirror_."

"All right, I'll go alone. I'll only be a minute."

Together the three boys, Jimmy, Lewis and Frank, clattered out of the
dormitory and stepped rapidly up the walk.

"By Jove!" said Frank, "I'd like to walk about five miles. Isn't this
air wonderful?" and he drew in a deep breath of the frosty air.

"About fifty feet is enough for me," grunted Lewis, and as they
reached his entry, "I'll drop off this procession right here. Ta, ta.
If you fellows are found frozen stiff as Lot's wife in the morning,
I'll say I told you so."

"Lot's wife wasn't frozen," said Jimmy; "she was petrified. Your
Biblical education has been neglected."

"You fellows will be both petrified and frozen in about five minutes,
if you hang around there correcting your betters on Biblical
matters," retorted Lewis, and he dashed up the stairs.

"Come on!" shouted Frank to Jimmy; "I'll race you to the other end of
the yard and back--one, two, three, go!"

Away the two tore at breakneck speed down the walk. The Chapel lay at
the far end of the walk on which the boys were having their little
race, and it was to be the turning point. Frank reached the wall of
the tower first, touched it and turned a step or two ahead of Jimmy.
The latter trying to make a quick turn slipped and fell to the ground
with a crash. Frank stopped and came back.

"Acknowledge you're licked," he said, helping Jimmy to his feet.

"I'm licked, all right, and I'm also skinned, all right," grumbled
Jimmy. "Ouch! I've knocked more skin off my hip than I did all
through the football season." He limped around rubbing the injured
member.

"I've got a bottle of arnica at the room; come on back and I'll fix
you up," laughed Frank. "Sorry, old man, but you can't run till you
stretch your legs more. They're too short."

"I don't want arnica; I want some nice tough skin. If you have any of
that down there to spare, I'll go back with you. S-s-s-s-h--what was
that?"

Jimmy's ear had caught a sound like a long-drawn-out cry. "Didn't you
hear it, Frank?"

"You have a singing in your ears, Jimmy," said Frank. "Come along,
I'll give you my arm."

"There it is again," said Jimmy in a whisper. "Listen!"

As they stood with their heads cocked, there came a long wail as of
something in distress. It sounded half human, half animal, and was
quite terrifying. It seemed to come out of the air above them.

"Great Peter, what is it?" said Jimmy, clutching Frank by the arm.

Frank began to laugh. "It does sound bad, certainly. She's trying to
get the tune of 'America' just right, I guess. It's the cat, or I
miss my guess."

"And for pity sake, where is she?" gasped Jimmy, turning his face
skyward where the stars glittered in the frosty atmosphere.

"The mystery is explained," said Frank. "Mrs. Bowser's cat has
somehow or other got into the tower. She doesn't like it a bit, and
she wants to go home."

"I guess that's the explanation," returned Jimmy. "But I don't see
how she's going to get home to-night, unless we can get up there."

"And if we don't get up, she'll probably never go home," said Frank.
"It must be terribly cold up there. It is all open up in the belfry,
and it's dollars to doughnuts she'll be as stiff as Lewis said Lot's
wife was, by morning." To emphasize his words, another wail floated
out on the night air. It seemed more pitiful than before and weaker.

"Poor Pandora is getting discouraged," cried Jimmy. "We've got to get
her somehow."

For answer, Frank strode to the big front door of the Chapel and
tried the knob, with Jimmy at his heels. "Just as I thought," he
said; "it is locked."

The boys stood and looked at each other. "Guess we'd better go and
hunt up the janitor," said Jimmy. "He can bring her down. I don't
want to take any more chances. I've lost all the skin I want to lose
to-night."

"There's a little door around on the other side," said Frank, "which
the janitor uses to go in and out of the building, but I suppose
that's locked, too. Let's try it. If we can't get in, we'll have to
report the whereabouts of Pandora. But just for the fun of the thing,
I'd like to get that tabby cat and take her back to the lady who is
worrying about her. It would square us a little for that bad job we
did to the Travel Club last winter." He was already on his way to the
little door at the back of the tower, and Jimmy tagged along behind,
protesting.

"No use, Frank," he said. "Old Bonesey"--the nickname applied to the
Chapel janitor by the boys because he was so lean and bony--"keeps
that door locked as tight as a drum. Some one stole the clapper of
the bell a few years ago and he is particular about that door. We'd
better go and report that pussy is in the tower, and then skip for
bed. It's getting late."

But Frank was not listening. Just about the time Jimmy reached
the end of his protest, Frank reached the door, which was all in
darkness, sunk as it was in the deep wall of the tower, which was at
this point perhaps three feet thick.

"Here we are," he said as he grasped the handle. "And here's
luck--it's open. Old Bonesey slipped a cog to-night. Come on." Frank
stepped over the threshold. Jimmy followed cautiously. The hall was
as dark as pitch, not even the faintest ray of light penetrating into
the place to help them. Frank, leading, stumbled along and fell over
something in the passageway, startling Jimmy half out of his wits.

"Come back here, you chump," he cried in a subdued voice. "I don't
like this."

"Come on!" whispered Frank, who had regained his feet and was
advancing. "This passage brings us out into the vestibule of the
Chapel, and once there we can get into the tower easily. There's a
ladder or stairs or something from the back of the gallery."

"Yes, I know that," returned Jimmy in a half whisper, for the gloom
of the place chilled him more than the biting air; "but how are we
going to climb it in the dark?"

"Oh, it's easy," said Frank. "Come on, I'll lead and you can come
behind. I'm going to make a try for that cat."

"All right," said Jimmy almost sulkily, "go on, but if you break your
blooming neck you needn't blame me for it," and he shuffled after
Frank.

Soon they came out of the passageway and, as Frank said, they were in
the vestibule leading to the Chapel. From that vestibule the doors
led into the various aisles of the Chapel, and at the farther end
of the vestibule rose a circular flight of stairs which led to the
gallery and on to the belfry, as the boys well knew. Toward this
they made their way cautiously. A little light from the stars came
in through the windows at the far end of the vestibule. Frank led
on, feeling along the wall and stepping cautiously. They both felt a
little queer to be alone in such a place and in such a manner in the
dead of night, but, as Frank said afterward, they were on an errand
of mercy, and having set out on the mission they would not turn back.
Soon they struck the wall at the far end of the vestibule from which
they had entered, and a little feeling around gave them the lower
step of the winding stairway.

"Here she is!" said Frank. "Take hold of the rail. Our troubles are
half over."

"I think they are only beginning," grumbled Jimmy. "I'd much rather
be in bed than here any day."

"Any night, you mean. Come on. This is easy." Jimmy didn't think so,
but he would have followed Frank anywhere that Frank would lead. It
was plain that he didn't like the errand, judging from sundry grunts
that came from him as they edged up the stairs. Without mishap, the
two rescuers climbed steadily on. At times their passage was lighted
by a flicker of outside light which came through the narrow slits of
windows, and at times they were in absolute blackness.

At last they came to a landing, which Frank carefully felt over to
make sure there were no holes through which they might tumble. The
examination was satisfactory. "Now, there ought to be a short ladder
from here up into the belfry where Pandora is probably freezing to
death, for she hasn't howled since we started."

He had hardly spoken the words when a wail just above their heads
showed them they were on the right track. "All right, pussy, we're on
the way; keep a stiff upper lip! Here's the ladder, Jimmy. I knew it
must be here somewhere. Be careful, it seems to be about straight up
and down." Jimmy had just set his hand to the ladder and Frank was
up in the darkness somewhere above him, when there was a tremendous
crash just above their heads and the whole tower seemed to rock with
the noise!



CHAPTER XIX.

IN THE BELL TOWER.


"Jumping cats!" cried Jimmy; "what was that? Frank, are you there?"

"Certainly I'm here. What's the matter with you to-night? You're
nervous, I guess. That was nothing but the clock striking the quarter
hour. It's a quarter past nine. Sounds a bit startling up here in
this narrow space."

"I thought the whole top of the tower had blown off," said Jimmy with
a shiver. "It doesn't sound half so loud down in the yard."

"And good reason for that, for we are up here about forty feet, and
it isn't cold or anything, either! Hello, I'm up against the roof!
No, it's the trap door."

"Want any help?" said Jimmy just below Frank's heels.

"No; I'm pushing it up with my head. Wow! What was that?" as there
came a scratching and clawing from just above him. "Oh, my, I do
believe it was Pandora, herself. She must have been sitting on that
trap door. Poor thing! She must have thought it was an earthquake.
Come on, I'm through," said Frank in a whisper--although why he
whispered he could not have told himself, for there was none to
hear him in that high belfry excepting the cat and the bell. Jimmy
struggled through the small hole in the floor and stood alongside
Frank at last in the belfry. Just in front of them swung the big bell
which tolled out the hours of the day and night. Through the slender
open arches the boys could see, dimly outlined, the School buildings,
with here and there a twinkling light in the dormitories, and farther
off the lights in the houses of the village. It was bitter cold.

"Well, here we are," said Jimmy, "at last."

"And where's our cat?" said Frank.

"It's a little like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack
to find a black cat in a blacker belfry. I hope you are satisfied
now that it was a wild goose chase," grumbled Jimmy, when they had
searched with foot and hand in all possible places of the narrow
space.

"A wild cat chase, maybe," said Frank chuckling. "Pussy, pussy, poor
old pussy, where are you? There she is, or I'm a flatfish," cried
Frank. "Look--over your head!"

Jimmy looked, and there, ten feet over his head, in the upper tower
and above the beams which supported the bell mechanism, he saw two
fiery eyes gleaming.

"It's awful to see those two balls of yellow fire and nothing else
visible," said Jimmy. "It's uncanny. Now, what are we going to do?"

"Why, go for her," said Frank, reaching for a beam above his head and
pulling himself up to it. "I only wish I had David's arms now. He
could beat that old cat climbing any day. Come on."

"Well, I suppose I might as well," said Jimmy with a sigh of
resignation. "Since I started out to hunt a wild cat with a boy
who has lost his senses, I might as well go on," and he started to
climb after Frank. Their climb now led them out of the little circle
of half light which they had had in the belfry itself. Above their
heads was the blackness of absolute night. Unlike the lower part of
the tower, the upper portion was not pierced by either light or air
holes. Just out of reach burned the yellow eyes of the cat, who had
changed her position several times, each time mounting higher as the
boys followed. She evidently had suspicions as to their intentions
and was going to keep out of what she thought was harm's way.

"Pussy, pussy, poor pussy!" said Frank coaxingly. "We're not going to
hurt you, you idiotic cat." This, as the two gleaming spots of light
disappeared for a moment and appeared higher up in the tower.

"I wonder what they call a cat 'poor pussy' for, anyway," said Jimmy
wrathfully. "Of all the stupid asinine creatures, a cat is the most
stupid, or this one is. Here we are in danger of breaking our necks
and freezing to death to save her from freezing her toes, and she
hasn't sense enough to help us."

"Stop abusing Pandora, you unfeeling kid," said Frank, "and give me a
match if you have it. I'm stuck. Nothing more to reach."

"I don't think I have any, but if I'd known you were going to do a
stunt of this kind, I'd have had three boxes with me."

"And spoiled all this exciting climb! Go on, feel in your pockets. I
have none."

Jimmy, thus adjured, stood on his beam, leaning against the stones of
the tower, and went carefully through his pockets. "Here's one; no,
that's the wrong end of it--here's about a quarter of a match, and,
oh, joy! here's a whole one!"

"Noble youth, you came well prepared," said Frank, laughing. "Light
the quarter match."

"All ready," said Jimmy; "here goes!" He struck the match carefully
against the beam just over his head and a pale gleam showed in the
darkness, lighting the place where they stood faintly. It flickered a
moment and went out, leaving them in a gloom that seemed the thicker
because of the brief light.

"Good!" grunted Frank. "Poor pussy, Mrs. Bowser's angelic Pandora,
is within reach, almost. The masons left these little beams here
probably for poor pussies to climb up on, and I know where my next
step is. Stay where you are, and I'll have her in a moment, and keep
that last match ready for emergencies."

There was a sound in the darkness of Frank's feet scratching against
the wall, prolonged grunting, and then Frank announced that he had
pulled himself to the next beam. There followed a frightened protest
from Pandora, but Frank's voice sounded triumphant. "I've got the
rascal. There you are," soothingly, "you see we weren't going to
kill you. All right, old man, I'm coming. Light your other match so I
can get my toe on that brace."

Frank had indeed captured Pandora, who, now that the chase was ended
and she found only gentle hands upon her, snuggled down on the
shoulder of her protector and began to purr. The trip back was even
more difficult for Frank than the ascent, for he was hampered by the
cat and did not have the free use of both arms. He swung from his
perch at last with his feet dangling in the air, vainly trying to
find with his toes a secure footing.

"Quick, Jimmy, light the match!" There was a scratch from Jimmy's
direction, and in the light that flared up, Frank found his resting
place and settled on it. "Whew, that was a hard one! Now we're all
right. The rest is easier. Go on down first, and I'll follow, for I
can do without you, now; and be careful, for I don't want to have to
carry you back as well as the cat."

"Don't you worry about me. Bring your old cat and I'll take care
of myself. Jiminy, I'm nearly frozen stiff, and if I ever get back
to----"

Before he finished his sentence, a sound came up to their ears from
the belfry just below them. The boys listened intently, while the
cat purred softly on Frank's shoulder.

"Some one coming into the belfry!" whispered Jimmy. There was an
unmistakable murmur of voices and in a moment through the trap door
in the belfry floor, which Frank and Jimmy had left open, there
appeared an indistinct form. Another and still another appeared in
the opening, one after the other.

"Four of them," whispered Jimmy, who being a little lower was able
to get a better view of the belfry floor; "what on earth can they be
doing up here at this time of night?"

The two boys, perched on their narrow beams, were not kept long in
suspense, for one of the intruders began to speak. His voice was
low, hardly more than a whisper, but it carried up clearly to the
listeners overhead. "Have you got the rope there?" said the voice.

"Yes, here it is."

"All right, we'll tie up its tongue first. Gee, but it's cold here!"

"Will it freeze all right, do you think?" inquired another voice,
evidently addressing the first speaker.

"Freeze, you galoot, of course it will; solid as a rock, and they
won't get it out till spring." A low chuckle followed.

"What in the name of time are they doing?" said Jimmy. "Taking the
tongue out of something and freezing it! Can it be a cat?"

"Your mind runs to cats to-night," Frank whispered back. "Those chaps
are going to do something to the bell."

"Drop the cat on them," said Jimmy. "They'd think it was the Old Boy
himself."

"No," returned Frank, who had crouched down till his mouth was about
level with Jimmy's ear. "Let's wait and see what they intend to do.
Keep still as a mouse."

The boys below had already begun work on the big bell. "For the love
of Mike, don't let that tongue hit. I can't get the thing out. It is
held by some kind of a dingus that is riveted in. Some one will have
to hold it, while the rest of us turn the bell up."

From below came the sound of puffing and grunting. "Easy," said some
one, "for heaven's sake, hold that tongue so it doesn't hit, or we'll
have the whole School on our necks. There," continued the same voice,
"good work. Now, prop this beam under that side of her, and the job
is done."

"All but the water," said another voice.

"Fine business," said the first voice. "Now shoot it along quick and
get a move on you." There were sounds of footsteps going down the
ladder below the belfry, and when the last scratching sound had died
away Jimmy spoke up: "Now, what in the great horn spoon are they at?"

"It's easy," returned Frank. "You heard about the water. That
explains the whole business. You know when I fell in the lower
corridor? What do you suppose I fell over?"

"I don't know; what was it?"

"A bucket of water. I slopped some of it over and my trouser leg is
wet now and frozen."

"I don't see that that explains anything."

"Well, it does. Those chaps have turned the bell upside down and
propped it there, and they mean to pour it full of water and let it
freeze, as it certainly will in this weather. And, as one of them
said, it will stay there till spring, unless old Bonesey digs it out
with a pick."

"What a trick!" ejaculated Jimmy. "Let's go down and knock the prop
out from under the bell!"

"Yes, and make an awful rumpus! No, let's wait and see. Some scheme
may offer itself which will be better than that. S-s-s-s-h, here they
come again."

Struggling and puffing with their exertions, two of the four boys
appeared with buckets of water and each deposited the contents of the
buckets in the overturned bell. "About two more will do the trick,"
said one of the plotters, and away they went again. In five minutes'
time the whole four reappeared, and between them they carried more
water. "Douse her in!" said the leader, and there was a splashing
sound as the bell filled up.

"Won't old Bonesey be savage when he finds this in the morning?"
chuckled one of the youngsters.

"Bonesey won't be a circumstance to Dr. Hobart. What are you doing
there?" This was directed to one of the boys, who appeared to be
fussing at the bell.

"Want to see if this prop is all right. It isn't half caught. Give
me a lift, and we'll shove the prop farther under. It's a wonder it
didn't slip out."

The four boys gathered together. There was a shuffling noise as they
got themselves set, and the leader said: "Now, altogether."

Just how it happened will never be known. In their endeavor to make
the overturned bell more secure in its position, in some manner they
disturbed the prop. "Look out, she's giving way," yelled one of them,
and the next instant the tower was filled with the noise of splashing
water and the wild clangor of the bell as it swung on its big beam.
Pandora trembled and sunk her claws into Frank's shoulder hard enough
to make him yell out with pain. Jimmy uttered a shout and started to
scramble down, but in the darkness he missed his footing and fell
with a crash to the swimming floor of the belfry. In the midst of
the alarm, Pandora, with a wild shriek, flew from Frank's shoulder,
gained the belfry floor and whisked out of sight through the open
trap door, through which came the noise of the retreating footsteps
of the boys who were responsible for all the trouble.

The rumpus in the bell tower awoke the whole School to activity.
Windows banged up in the dormitory and boys in scanty clothing stuck
their heads out into the frosty night. From Warren and from Honeywell
came the howls of "Fire! Fire! Fire!" A high-pitched voice in one of
the half-open windows added to the confusion with "Murder! Police!"
Footsteps began to patter on the walks and lights flashed here and
there below. It seemed hardly a minute before Butler, a proctor
of the School, followed closely by two or three boys, appeared at
the opening in the belfry floor. A strange sight met the gaze of
the early arrivals on the scene. They saw Frank sitting in a pool
of water working over Jimmy, who had struck his head a hard blow
either on the floor or on a beam in his fall. He was only about
half-conscious of what was taking place.

"What's going on here?" said Butler sternly. "What are you boys doing
in this tower and how did you get here?"

"We came up here to get Mrs. Bowser's cat, which we heard crying in
this belfry, but the main thing is to get Turner to his room. He
fell and cut his head." Frank's hands were stained with blood which
oozed out of the cut on his friend's forehead. "While we were up in
the tower," pointing overhead, "some fellows came up and tried to
fill the bell with water, so that it might freeze and stop it from
ringing, I suppose."

"Oh, they did, did they?" inquired Butler with an icy smile. "Did you
stop them?"

"No, sir, we were planning to jump down and scare them, when
something happened. The bell capsized and the fellows ran away.
Turner jumped or fell trying to get down to see who it was."

"It's a pretty likely story," said Butler again. "You'll have a
chance to tell that to Dr. Hobart in the morning, sir."

Frank was indignant at the tone of disbelief, but he said nothing
and gave all his attention to Jimmy, who, by this time, was coming
back to his senses and had staggered to his feet. With a good deal of
difficulty they got him down the ladder to the broader stairs beneath.

The entrance of Frank and Jimmy to the former's room threw the
Codfish and David into consternation, accompanied as they were by an
irate proctor and old Bonesey, who had been aroused by this time and
who had hurried to the Chapel to find the wildest excitement reigning.

"I'll report this to Dr. Hobart immediately, and you will have to
face a very disagreeable charge, young man," said Butler, turning to
go.

"All right, sir," said Frank calmly, "I'll answer all the charges
that are made, and satisfactorily, I think."

"I advise you to tell the truth about the whole thing," said Butler,
giving Frank a searching glance; "it will be the best course."

"I'm not in the habit of telling anything but the truth," said Frank,
and turned his attention to his roommates, who were impatient to hear
what had happened.

Frank told the story quickly, but admitted, when he looked at it
calmly, that it certainly had a very queer appearance.

"Butler is a regular old kill-joy, anyway," snorted the Codfish.
"He's the fellow who had Potter fired last year for being off the
School grounds after ten o'clock. He is a suspicious old spy and
every one in the School hates him."

"But he stands sky-high with the Doctor," said David gravely. "Never
mind, Frank, cheer up; all is not lost that's in danger. Your
previous reputation is good, even if you did try to freeze up the
Chapel bell!"

The boys discussed the possibility of trouble in the incident long
after Jimmy left the room. David foresaw difficulty.



CHAPTER XX.

A HEAVY PENALTY.


On the way out of Chapel the next morning Butler, the proctor, handed
a note to Frank and another to Jimmy. Frank opened the envelope and
read the curt message:

  "FRANK ARMSTRONG.

  "SIR: You will come to the office of Dr. Hobart at ten o'clock this
  morning and show reason why you should not be suspended from Queen's
  School for meddling with the Chapel bell last night.

      "Very truly yours,
        "A. M. COOPER, _Secretary_."

"Very pretty note I have," said Frank. He pursed up his lips and gave
a low whistle, at the same time handing the letter to Jimmy.

"Mine is sharp and to the point," said Jimmy, grinning feebly, and he
handed the one that he had received to Frank as they walked slowly
along. The notes were identical, with the exception that the names
were different.

"How do you suppose that man Butler is so stupid as to think we did
that little trick last night?" said Jimmy scornfully. "I'd like to
punch his nose for him."

"It does look stupid, that's sure, but when you consider it as I have
done, you'll have to admit that we seem to be in the wrong."

"Oh, get out, we can prove we had nothing to do with it," said Jimmy
hotly.

"How? It looks as if we had been caught with the goods on, unless
some one saw the real perpetrators of the alleged joke."

Jimmy was finally obliged to admit that it didn't look so good as
he had thought at first. There was an indignation meeting over in
Honeywell, in which all our friends participated. All talked at once
and Butler was threatened with destruction in every key. But in spite
of the disgust of every one that Frank and Jimmy should be under
suspicion, every one also recognized that appearances were against
them. "The only hope for you," said David, who had been thinking hard
over the subject, "is to find the real fellows and make them confess."

"They're likely to," snorted the Codfish. "They will save their own
skins if they can."

At ten o'clock Frank, with Jimmy at his heels, knocked on the door
of Dr. Hobart's room in Warren Hall, and a moment later they were in
the presence of the Doctor himself. The latter did not look up for a
time, but sat writing at his desk for several minutes while the boys
shifted uneasily from foot to foot. Finally the Doctor laid aside his
pen, swung about on his swivel chair and transfixed Frank with his
piercing eye. The glass eye stared straight ahead stonily.

"What were you young men doing in the tower of the Chapel last
night?" The question was shot suddenly by Dr. Hobart, so suddenly
that both boys almost jumped. "Wait, let us have Mr. Butler here."
He turned and pressed a button which connected with a room near his
own where Mr. Butler was waiting. The proctor came in. "Sit down, Mr.
Butler," said Dr. Hobart. "What is the accusation against these young
men, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Turner? What did you find in the tower
last night?"

Thus admonished, Mr. Butler told of his being disturbed in his room
at about half-past nine. The bell began to clang wildly. He ran to
the front door of the Chapel, and finding it locked, remembered that
there was a door in the rear. That door he found open. As quickly
as possible he got a light and climbed the tower to the floor of the
belfry where he found "this young man," indicating Turner, lying on
the floor in a pool of water, nearly unconscious, with Armstrong
working over him.

"And what did you make of that, Mr. Butler?" inquired the Doctor in a
cool and even voice.

"They said that they had been chasing a cat and that Turner had
fallen and hurt himself, and put the blame for meddling with the
Chapel bell onto some unknown boys who had preceded them," Mr. Butler
finished, smiling sarcastically.

"Well," said Dr. Hobart, turning to the boys; "what have you to say
to this?"

"What Mr. Butler says is the truth," answered Frank, looking the
Doctor steadily in the eye; "but there were a number of things that
happened before he came."

"Yes, and what were they?"

"We went up to find Mrs. Bowser's cat, which had come into the Chapel
in the morning----"

"Or was brought in," interrupted Mr. Butler.

"I do not know how she got in, but she got in somehow, and when the
boys tried to catch her she became frightened and hid."

"And you came to the conclusion that she liked belfries and had
hidden up there."

"No, sir," said Jimmy. "Frank came out to have a walk before going
to bed. I had been in his room and as it was cold we raced up to the
Chapel, where I slipped and fell. While we were standing there, we
thought we heard a cat crying up in the tower."

"And why didn't you report it?" said the Doctor.

"It was late," Frank returned, "and when we found the small door in
the tower open, we thought we might be able to find her ourselves and
return her to the lady, who was much worried about the loss of her
pet. We were particularly anxious to get it for Mrs. Bowser."

"Very generous-minded, indeed," said the Doctor, stroking his chin.
"And so you went up alone?"

"Yes, sir, we went up alone, and while we were in the upper part of
the tower, the boys who were disturbing the bell came up. We heard
them planning to do something, but could not make out what it was at
first."

"And why didn't you make your presence known?" inquired the Doctor.

Both boys looked at each other. Why hadn't they? This was the
question that each was asking himself. "We were waiting," said Frank,
after a noticeable hesitation, "to find out, if we could, who they
were. But they spoke so low that we could not recognize their voices,
nor could we see who they were because there was so little light."

"So, so," said the Doctor musingly; "and what then?"

"When they had put the water in the bell and were working at the prop
which held the bell in the position they wanted it, something gave
way and the bell swung back to its natural position. Turner, here,
started to get down, then slipped and fell. When I saw him fall, I
started after him and let go of the cat, which flew down stairs. Mr.
Butler found us, as he says he did, but we were not responsible for
what happened to the bell."

The Doctor heard the recital to the end, while Mr. Butler smiled
sarcastically and knowingly, glancing from the boys to the stern old
gentleman who was cross-questioning them. After deliberating a full
minute, Dr. Hobart spoke again:

"You said a moment ago that you were particularly anxious to get the
cat for Mrs. Bowser. Why were you particularly anxious?"

"Because," blurted out Jimmy, "she helped us out of a scrape once."
He could have bitten his tongue off after he had said it, but it was
too late to draw back.

"So," said the Doctor, pricking up his ears. "And what was the
scrape?"

"Oh, just an accident," said Frank.

"Yes, and what kind of an accident?" There was nothing for it but to
tell the story of the wrong box which had reached Mrs. Bowser's house
the winter before. Frank told it in a straightforward fashion, but
he could feel the blood mounting to his face. The Doctor stiffened
perceptibly as he listened. Frank refrained from bringing either the
Codfish or Lewis into the story.

"So you are in the habit of practical joking?" he said coldly. "It is
a poor business, my young gentlemen, and it must be stopped. We will
have no practical jokers around Queen's School. This is a place for
study and not for pranks. Your case has been much weakened by what I
have just heard. It seems to me I remember, too, Armstrong, that you
played a practical joke on some one by pretending to be drowned last
year, did you not, and disturbed the whole school? I remember you
were before me at that time."

"He took the place of a boy who was being hazed," Jimmy burst out
hotly, "and it served the hazers right."

"Yes, Turner, perhaps it did, but I remember it disturbed the School.
In the face of the tendency for practical joking that these incidents
seem to prove," turning to Frank, "can you expect me to believe you
are guiltless in the matter of the bell?" The tone was sharp and the
glance which accompanied it keen and penetrating, but Frank replied
steadily: "We had nothing to do with the bell, sir."

"Is this your fur glove, Armstrong?" said the Doctor, opening a
drawer of his desk and producing a glove which Frank thought he
recognized as his own. He stepped forward, looked it over carefully,
and finally turned the wristband back, where, plainly inked, were the
letters "F. A."

"Yes, sir, that is my glove."

"And this one," continued Dr. Hobart. "Did you ever see this before?"
handing him another glove, the counterpart apparently of the first.

"Yes, sir, that is also my glove. It's the mate of the one you showed
me first."

"Very well, Armstrong. One of these gloves was found by Mr. Butler
in the Chapel belfry and the other in your room; is that not so, Mr.
Butler?"

"Yes, Dr. Hobart. I found that glove," indicating the first one
shown, "under the bell this morning, and the other lay on the top of
his trunk in his sleeping room, where I went to look for evidence
this morning."

The boys stared at each other in amazement and from Dr. Hobart to
their accuser. "I do not see how the first glove got up there," said
Frank at last. "I was in my bare hands when I went out last night, as
I only meant to be gone a few minutes."

"Mr. Butler, please bring that young man in here."

The proctor walked from the room, was gone a few minutes and
returned, followed by none other than Chip Dixon. Dixon nodded curtly
to the two boys and faced the Doctor jauntily.

"You say, Dixon, that you saw these two boys entering the rear door
of the Chapel last night?" inquired the Doctor, indicating the
supposed culprits by a jerk of his head in the direction of Frank
and Jimmy.

"I did not say it was Turner and Armstrong. I said I saw two boys
near the door, and that it looked like these two here. One of them
had something in his hand which looked like a bucket."

"Which one was that?"

"Armstrong, sir; or at least the one I took to be Armstrong."

"What time was that?"

"I think it was about a quarter past nine or perhaps a little later."

"We were just under the belfry at that hour," Jimmy snapped out. "The
clock striking the quarter startled me. I remember it well." Frank
nodded in approval.

"It may have been earlier," continued Dixon. "I didn't think anything
much about it till after the racket in the tower. Then I remembered
that I had seen some boys around the Chapel, and recalled that they
looked like Turner and Armstrong."

"That will do, Dixon, you may go," said the Doctor.

When Dixon had left the room, the Doctor turned to our friends
again. "You do not look like boys who would do such silly mischief
as that of last night, but all these stories fit together with such
nicety that I am forced to believe that you were responsible. These
little things that look like jokes sometimes have a very serious
result. For instance, that water which filled the bell came down and
badly damaged the ceiling in the robing room on the ground floor,
and, moreover, it ruined a valuable etching, a gift from one of our
alumni, which hung there in that room."

"But we did not do it," said Frank, "nor did we have anything to do
with it in any way, shape or manner." His voice was trembling as he
spoke. Jimmy was too savage to speak, but stood glowering at the
Doctor.

Unfortunately the Doctor, although a distinguished scholar, was not
entirely in sympathy with his pupils. He sometimes forgot that he had
been young himself once, and there were not a few in the School who
said that "Old-Pop-Eye" had always been as old as he was then. He was
too much immersed in the technical side of his school work and school
problems to acquaint himself with the units that made up his school.
He was apt to judge harshly. And his judgment in this case was harsh.

"In view of all the circumstances," said the Doctor, after studying
the boys for a minute or two, "I should suspend you both from Queen's
School or dismiss you entirely. We want boys here who come to study
and not to play idle tricks and destroy school property. I feel
convinced that you were concerned in this work of last night, for
the evidence is strongly against you. I can perhaps put no greater
punishment upon you than to say to you that for the remainder of the
School year you can take part in no athletics as the representatives
of Queen's School. I understand that you both have played on School
teams." The Doctor paused. "If I find you concerned in any other
escapades of this character, I have no other course than to ask you
to withdraw from the School."

Jimmy was about to burst forth in violent denial, but stopped and
held himself in check. Frank said very calmly, "Dr. Hobart, I say it
again: I had nothing to do with this affair of last night; neither
had Turner. I think I can prove it to your satisfaction some day. May
we go?"

"Yes," said the Doctor, who had turned to his desk again.

The boys almost staggered from the room and down the stairs. It
had been an unexpected blow. At the foot of the stairs, Lewis, the
Codfish and David were waiting. They bore them off to Honeywell,
where the whole scene in the Doctor's office was rehearsed. Most
uncomplimentary things were said about the Doctor and almost
murderous threats raised against the proctor, Butler, who, the
Codfish protested, had "poisoned Doctor Hobart's mind against Frank
and Jimmy."

"And what's to become of our baseball nine?" cried the Codfish.

"And the hockey team, and the track contest?" echoed David.

"I told you to let that blooming old cat stay where she had got
herself," grumbled the Codfish. "A black cat is unlucky. Don't you
remember Poe's story about the black cat?"

"She was unlucky enough for me," said Frank ruefully. "But maybe
we'll come out of it all right."

"How do you suppose that glove of mine got up into the tower?" said
Frank. "I certainly didn't have my gloves with me. I wouldn't
naturally have one in my pocket and one in my room."

"I distinctly remember seeing them both on the trunk yesterday
morning," said David. "I've been thinking about it since you told
what Butler found."

"I know positively," cried Frank eagerly, "that I didn't have them on
yesterday. I didn't have occasion to use them."

"Then it's a put-up job," said the Codfish. "Some one who has it in
for you sneaked in here and got that glove for a purpose."

"Who could it be, do you suppose?" questioned Jimmy. "Dixon wouldn't
do such a trick in spite of his general meanness and his disposition
toward Frank. And who else is there?"

"Gamma Tau!" said the Codfish suddenly. "They have members in this
dormitory and it would be the easiest thing in the world to get in
here, for the door is never locked. The gloves were in plain view on
the trunk."

"I think you have the answer," said David. "Frank has been too
popular to suit our friends, the Gammas, ever since he won fame as a
drop kicker. Now this talk of another society has set them going,
but I say, it was a dirty way to do it."

"Well, we'll beat them yet," said Jimmy, jumping up and smashing a
fist into the palm of the other hand. "And if I ever get a real good
chance at Dixon, I'll give him a thumping he won't forget for fifty
years!"

"And I'll help you," said the Codfish, throwing out his narrow chest
and thumping it valiantly. At which all laughed.



CHAPTER XXI.

GAMMA'S DESPERATE TACTICS.


Queen's School took the disbarment of Frank Armstrong and Jimmy
Turner from athletics as a serious blow to their chances in baseball
and on the track. Even the Gamma Tau boys, who bore no particularly
kindly feeling toward these two, missed their strengthening
presence--or at least they seemed to. There were some who, whatever
they might have said before the School, inwardly rejoiced that "these
disturbers of the peace" had been neatly shelved by Old Pop-Eye.
Chip Dixon was among the latter. He could never repress a smile
when he met Frank or Jimmy. And Jimmy ached to take him in hand and
show him something that might not have been good for Dixon. But the
opportunity did not come and peace was preserved.

Hockey came and went, and the School team, captained by Dixon and
filled up with his followers from Gamma, lost miserably to Warwick.
Jimmy and Frank watched the game from the side of the improvised rink
on the Wampaug.

"There are better players among the Freshmen," said Jimmy
contemptuously, "but they have no chance. I could pick up a team
among the class teams that would beat the School team at hockey to a
frazzle."

And Jimmy spoke the plain truth. Chip had followed his usual method
of picking out his team from his Society, and he had no eyes for
their faults. But the School was fretting under the burden of Gamma
Tau and of Dixon himself. How much longer he was going to be allowed
to boss everything was a matter of speculation in many a room after
books were laid aside.

"Thank goodness, it is his last year!" said Lewis one night, when
the possibility of the continuance of Dixon as a dictator was being
discussed.

"Yes, but there is Howard Hotchkiss coming along. He is sure to be
the next boss." Hotchkiss was in the third class. He was not an
athlete, but a masterful fellow who could be depended upon to keep
the prestige of the School in the hands of Gamma and not let it get
away for a moment.

"The threatening storm against the Gamma is growing every day," said
David, "and when it comes, there is bound to be fun. Two of the
editors on the _Mirror_, Pickering and Westover, refused the last
elections and they are hot for an opposition society."

"Will it come, do you think?" inquired Frank.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see the sentiment of the class blaze out
into action at any moment. Only to-night Pickering suggested a class
meeting for a conference on a new society. He has been talking it
over with a lot of his friends, and he feels pretty sure we could put
something through if we all got behind it. The only trouble is that
there are so many toadies to the old Society of the Gamma who say
one thing and do another. Most of them grab for a chance to get into
Gamma like a drowning man grabs at a straw."

"I'm for a new society," said Frank, "which will have its elections
on merit, and which will make no distinctions between athletes, good
students, or good fellows who are neither athletes or brilliant at
their studies."

"Oh, ho, I think I have heard you say that the Gamma could be
reformed!" said the Codfish derisively.

"That was before I knew much about it. They are so hardened and set
in their own notions that the only way to reform them is with a good
big club."

A few days later the subject of a new society came up again, and on
the night of a certain day in May about a dozen of the prominent boys
in the class met in Frank's room to talk it over together. Before the
boys separated, it had been agreed to call a meeting of the class in
the big room of the Library, where the whole matter was to come up.
There was to be a general debate on the subject, and Armstrong, as
befitted his position as an athlete in the class, was to make the
principal speech. In the room were, of course, several friends of
Gamma Tau, and it was not long before the information had penetrated
to Dixon and other leaders of the old Society.

"Going to form a new society, are they? Well, we'll see about that!
The School isn't big enough for what it has now in the way of
societies. We'll pack that meeting full of our own men of the class
and block everything they try. We'll see what they can do to old
Gamma!"

Meanwhile, the Queen's baseball team continued to lose steadily.
With Frank out of the game, there was no pitcher who could do even
passable work. Dixon, in desperation, gave up his position behind
the bat to the substitute catcher, a fellow named Watson, and went
into the box himself. But he only lasted for one game, the game with
Porter School, in which the latter fairly buried Queen's under the
score of 14 to 3! It was then that resentment began to show itself in
even the mildest of the students. The feeling was particularly strong
in the second class, of which our friends were members. David Powers
wrote an article on the situation for the _Mirror_, but the article
never appeared in that paper, for the Chief Editor of the paper,
under whose eye the article fell, was a Gamma boy, and he thought it
too outspoken. David Powers promptly resigned from the paper, and
the reason of his resignation soon became known to the class and the
school at large. The incident strengthened the determination of every
one to have a fight with Gamma to the death, and particularly roused
our friends in Honeywell.

Affairs came rapidly to a climax. David and the Codfish put their
heads together and prepared a poster calling on the class to meet in
the Library room set aside for meetings of the class by the School
authorities. The School woke up one morning in the latter part of May
to find the posters boldly displayed on tree trunks and on various
conspicuous points about the School. The announcement of the meeting
was ripped down by the Gamma boys, who well knew what was going on,
but the poster had had its effect and every one was on tip-toe.

At last the eventful day arrived. The Codfish and David, with the
help of Lewis and Jimmy, had spent many hours on the constitution of
the society. Fifteen boys were to be chosen from the Second Class
and they were to be selected on merit. Two members of the teaching
staff were to be taken into the society as honorary members and they
were to be consulted in the elections. David, who had spent days on
the work, had searched the constitutions of all the school societies
he could get hold of and had, with his associates, selected the best
from them and rejected what seemed not suitable for the new society.
The draft of the constitution was to be presented that night before
the class meeting in the Library, where discussion would be open.
Frank, who was looked upon as a popular leader, had been chosen, as
we have said, to present the whole matter at the meeting.

"If I'm going to do this stunt," said Frank, after the boys had
returned to their room after supper that evening, "you've all got to
clear out and let me have a little time to myself. I've got to think
what I'm to say."

"All right, Napoleon," said the Codfish, "we'll skip and let you
compose yourself. If any big thoughts stick, look us up," and he
scampered out of the door, eager to talk the coming great event over
with others of his class.

Frank was left alone, and he set himself to work up a speech that
should present the matter to his classmates. He was before his little
desk in Honeywell thinking hard and chewing the end of a lead pencil
as an aid, when there came a rap on the half-open door.

Frank turned around and saw a small boy standing just outside the
door.

"Hello, son, what is it?" he said, turning again to the matter before
him.

"Please, are you Frank Armstrong?"

"I'm that chap," said Frank, scratching away with his pencil.

"Well, please," said the boy, "there's a man wants to see you."

"That's nice; where is he?"

"Down at the baseball field."

"Down at the baseball field!" echoed Frank. "Why doesn't he come
up here? I haven't time to go down to the baseball field to see a
man. I've got important business on to-night. Tell him I'll see him
to-morrow. I haven't time to see him to-night, unless he comes up
here."

"Oh," said the boy, "he said this was very important for you; that he
had some news to tell you about the trouble in the bell tower."

Frank gave a long whistle and stood up, interested at once. He looked
at the clock over the mantel. It was half past seven and the meeting
was set for eight o'clock.

"He said he could tell you who did the mischief in the bell tower and
prove it to you," continued the boy, "but that he couldn't come up to
your room."

"I've half a mind to go and see this strange man who knows so much.
I can be back in half an hour or less," he said half to himself.
Then to the boy, "All right, kid, I'll go along with you, for that
business of the bell tower is something I'd like to get to the
bottom of myself." Then aside, "I'll pick up Jimmy and the Codfish
and we'll see what he knows."

"The man said you must come alone, for he doesn't want to be seen by
any one at the School except yourself."

"More mystery. All right, kid, tell him I'll be along in a minute and
I'll be alone."

The boy waited to hear no more, but darted out of the door and was
off like a flash. Frank followed more leisurely after folding David's
draft of the constitution and putting it in his inside coat pocket,
along with some of the scribbled notes of his speech. "I can think
of what I'm going to say as I go along," he thought, "and no time is
lost. I wonder why this fellow is so secret about the appointment."

He picked up his cap from the desk, tripped gayly down the steps and
out into the yard. None of his friends happened to be in view, and he
hurried on in the gathering twilight across the yard, down past the
end of Warren Hall, and down the pitch of the hill to the playground
below. Over in the distance the baseball stand loomed darkly. But on
the open field there was still plenty of light. He headed directly
for the baseball stand, whistling brightly. "What on earth can this
man have to tell me?" he said over and over to himself. "Well, I'll
know presently."

He had now come to the outfield of the baseball diamond. Peering
ahead into the shadow cast by the stand, he thought he saw a figure
moving. Advancing to the diamond itself he spoke out loudly:

"Hullo, any one here want to see me?"

A figure slouched out of the shadow and approached Frank to within a
distance of ten or fifteen feet. "You are Frank Armstrong?" said a
voice that Frank had never heard before.

"Yes," answered Frank. "What is all this about? If you have anything
to tell me, tell it to me quick, for I've got to get back."

"It's pretty important news for you, kid," said the man, coming a
step or two closer. "I happen to know all about that affair, who did
it, and why it was done, and I've got the proofs for you. Look at
that paper," he added, drawing a folded sheet of white paper from his
pocket and handing it to Frank. Frank reached for the paper, took it,
and bent his head in the dim light to read the writing. As he did so,
the strange man sprang upon him, threw an arm around his neck and
held him as securely as in a vise. The attack had been so sudden that
Frank was powerless to make the faintest resistance. And even had he
had the chance, he would have been helpless in that fierce clasp.

"Hey, Bill," called his captor, "come over here and help me truss him
up. We've got him, all right."

There was a sound of feet running across the grass, and in an instant
two more men appeared from the shadow of the baseball stand. Each
seized an arm of the captured boy, and the man who had made the first
attack released his hold on Frank's neck.

"What's this all about?" said Frank huskily. The stranger had nearly
choked the wind out of him in the tight grasp in which he had held
him until help arrived. "I have no money."

"We don't want your money, kid," said one of the men. "We just want
you, and everything will be easy for you if you come along without
kicking."

"Come along where?"

"Never mind, that's our little secret."

Frank opened his mouth to yell for help, but a big hand immediately
closed over it and shut off his cry. "Come, none of that!"

"Put that towel over his mouth!" said one of his captors. A towel
was whipped out by one of them and in a jiffy he was effectually
prevented from making any outcry, and it had been so placed that he
could not see. "Now, come along, young fellow, we're not going to eat
you."

Two of the men linked their arms in his, and, preceded by the third,
they set out at a rapid pace toward the path that ran down along
the river edge. Frank tried to hang back, but he was firmly urged
forward, and, seeing the uselessness of resistance in the face of
such overwhelming odds, he gave up and went along quietly, waiting a
chance to escape by some stratagem.

After a walk of a few minutes, Frank's captors halted and turned
toward the river. Frank felt the cold chills race up and down his
spine as he stood, held firmly between the two. "What does it
all mean?" he thought to himself. The man who had preceded them
disappeared for a moment in the alder bushes which fringed the bank.
In a moment his voice sounded from below: "The boat's here; hurry it
up and let's get it finished."

Half walking and half sliding, they reached the water's edge. Without
any ceremony Frank was forced into the boat, the others followed, and
one of the men, after pushing off, began to row rapidly. Two or three
hundred yards down stream he beached the boat, sprang out and held
her, while the others, still grasping Frank, scrambled out awkwardly.
The boat was pulled up a little and then, in the same order as the
procession had started, it continued on what seemed to be an old road
overgrown with grass. Five minutes of twisting and turning through
trees and tangled shrubbery, during which time Frank, by moving his
face muscles, had uncovered one eye, brought them to a house, but it
was shrouded in the deepest gloom. No lights shone from its windows
and no sounds of life came from within. All was dreary and desolate,
and a chill struck to Frank's heart as he suddenly recognized the
place. It was the Jackson house on the back road to Hamilton, and it
was reported to be haunted. Some deed of blood had been done there
years before and the house since that time had been vacant. After
nightfall few ventured that way. Queer lights were said to have been
seen about the house at night. The road was little traveled by man
or beast at any hour. Through a broken gate hanging crazily by one
hinge the procession passed, and up the overgrown walk to the door.
Halting here, the leader fumbled in his pocket and produced a key,
which he inserted in the lock of the door. There was a grinding sound
as the bolt shot back.

"Here's where you stay for a few hours, young fellow," said one of
his captors. "Nice comfortable shack. You'll have lots of visitors in
there and you needn't be a bit lonesome."

Frank fought hard against his imprisonment. He struggled and
scratched and kicked with all his might, and braced against the door
jamb. But he was soon overpowered and pushed within. The door was
jerked back quickly and Frank was alone in the haunted house. Turned
by the key on the outside, the lock shot squeaking back into its
socket. Just then the clock on the Queen's School tower boomed the
hour of eight!



CHAPTER XXII.

SAVED BY THE WIRES.


Finding himself trapped, Frank threw himself on the door and wrenched
at the knob with all his strength. It held firm. Again and again he
drove his shoulder against the panels, but the door, though old, was
stout, and resisted his savage attacks. Soon he gave up in despair
the attempt to escape that way.

"I'm kidnapped for sure," he said aloud, and his voice sounded
strangely hollow in that empty hallway. He shivered, for, although
the night outside was mild and warm, inside there was a deadly chill
in the air as if the sunlight had never touched it. A half moon was
hanging in the sky and lit the countryside faintly, but in here was
the deepest gloom. Tiny slits of light came through the chinks here
and there in the boarded windows and cast long knife-like bars across
the floor, but instead of lighting the place they actually made it
seem blacker because of the contrast.

Frank was not a coward, but he would have given a good deal to be
safely out of the place. The whole house seemed full of noises. He
turned his back to the door and faced the stairway, which, now that
his eyes were becoming accustomed to the gloom, he could make out
dimly. He could trace it about half way up to the floor above, where
it disappeared into utter blackness. As he strained his eyes and
ears a board creaked near him, as if a human foot had trod on it.
He recoiled as if shot and turned his eyes in the direction of the
noise. But there was no repetition of the sound. Away down the hall
where his vision could not penetrate came a rustle as of silk, and
then what appeared to be a few stealthy steps; then silence, broken
only by the sighing of the night wind around the corners of the house.

It was all Frank could do to keep from yelling with fright, for the
noises of the old house had gripped his nerve. But by degrees, as he
stood there with his back to the door, he gained control of himself.
There was nothing to hurt him, he argued with himself; the noises
were only natural ones; the rustlings were perhaps made by the wings
of birds that had made their nests in the old house, finding entrance
through the chimney, maybe, or through a broken upper window.

"Oh, what a dummy I am," said Frank to himself, "to allow myself to
be caught this way! I have been spirited off here and locked up for a
while so that Gamma may have its own way up at the Library meeting.
But David and Jimmy and the Codfish can carry it through as well
or better than I could. They can present the scheme and read the
constitution--the constitution," he gasped aloud; "I have it in my
pocket!" His hand flew to his pocket. There it was, sure enough, a
bulky bundle of papers.

"That settles it. I've got to get out of this hole somehow." There
was a determined ring to his voice as it echoed from the bare walls.
He left his place by the outer door and turned into the room on the
right, the door of which stood partly open. Guided by the chinks
of light he examined the windows one after the other. Two of them
were broken, but they were securely boarded up from the outside. The
window at the side of the room had not even a sash. Raising his foot
he drove it here with all his might against the barricading boards,
but they did not budge to his repeated blows. He gave up this room
as a bad job, and felt his way into the hall once more and across it
to the opposite front room. Here he had no better luck. The windows
were securely shut and boarded like the windows in the other room.
At one of them, where there was an opening of several inches between
the boards and where the light came through more strongly than at
any other of the windows, he smashed the glass with his foot and,
getting hold of the edge of the board, tried to wrench it loose with
his hands. He might as well have tried to shake down the door post.
The nails, driven in years before, had probably rusted, and the
boards would have had to be split to fragments before the nails would
release them.

Nothing daunted, Frank kept on. He pushed open doors that squeaked on
rusty hinges and battered at the barriers across the windows. Once
in his rounds he caught his toe on some obstruction on the floor and
fell headlong. The crash woke the echoes in the old house and set in
motion scores of mice and rats that went scurrying, squeaking and
chattering across the floors.

Retracing his steps, Frank once more found himself, without further
mishap, in the hall where he had started his futile round. "I'll try
it upstairs," he said, and advanced boldly toward the upper regions
of the house. The stairs creaked and groaned horribly as he ascended,
and he heard the patter of the feet of rats as they scurried before
him. It was none too pleasant a sound. Two of the rooms he tried on
the second floor brought no better result, but in the third, at the
back of the house, he found a displaced board and a broken sash.

"So this is where our friends, the birds, get in," he said. "The
question is, can I get out?"

He stuck his head through the opening and looked down. Below there
was nothing but blackness. "I don't dare risk it. I might break my
neck in a cellarway if I dropped." He drew in his head, refreshed by
the breath of free night air, and continued his search. Stumbling
through the gloom of the upper hall, his hand came in contact with a
ladder. He gave it a jerk, but it was nailed securely to the floor.
"The attic!" he exclaimed aloud; "if there's a skylight and I can get
out on the roof perhaps I can make some one hear."

Up the ladder he went. If it was black below, it was still blacker
where he was now penetrating, for not even a ray of moonlight
entered. The air was close and stifling, and in the attic of the old
house, where he found himself in a few moments, he could scarcely
breathe. His entrance there disturbed some night birds that had taken
possession of the place, and they flew about uttering angry cries and
dashing so close to him that he could feel the fanning of air from
their wings. With his arm across his face, he felt for a ladder which
must lead to the skylight, if indeed there was a skylight in the roof
above. After traversing half the length of the house and colliding
with the corner of the chimney, his hand touched wood. It was another
ladder, and his heart jumped with joy at the touch. The rounds were
covered with a thick layer of dust, deposited there through many
years of disuse. Up its short length Frank went cautiously till his
head touched the roof. He felt around carefully till his hand touched
a hasp. With a sudden jerk he pulled it aside and with his head
pressing against the skylight, bored upward. To his great joy the
heavy skylight moved and swung up on its rusty hinges, and in another
moment he was out on the roof of the house with the stars above his
head.

What a relief it was to be out of that dismal house! The horrors of
it lay below him, but was he any better off? Could he make any one
hear him, and, if they did hear him, would any one be likely to come
to such a place? Wasn't he in as bad a fix as before? These questions
jumped into his brain in rapid succession.

"Help! Help!" Frank raised his voice and shouted. Again and again he
shouted, but there was no answering hail. Off to the left he could
plainly see the lights of Queen's School. As a bird flies, it was not
more than half a mile from his perch to the Library where his friends
were holding their meeting and no doubt wondering where he was. What
were they thinking of him? He began hitching along on the roof toward
the front of the house, his intention being to attempt a descent,
hand over hand, along the roof's edge to the eaves, where, if he
could see the ground, he might risk a drop.

Hitching along laboriously, Frank encountered an obstruction when
he was halfway to the end of his journey. He felt of it. It was an
insulator, and stretching away from it on both sides was a wire of
small diameter. "Telephone," said Frank to himself. "How I wish I
had an instrument." He climbed over it and went on. Suddenly he
stopped: "By Jove, I wonder if that is our wire to Queen's Station?
It certainly comes down this way." He was thinking hard.

"It _is_ the wire!" he shouted joyfully. "I remember now Murphy said
he put an insulator on this old house because there were no trees
near to take the span."

Instantly he turned back to the wire. On one side of the insulator
the wire was stretched tightly, but the other side hung sagging. He
reached out and pulled on the slack side and found that he could draw
it up a foot or more.

"Just the thing!" he exclaimed joyfully. "Now we'll see what happens!"

Straddling the roof, Frank again took hold of the slack loop of the
wire and pulled with all his strength. When he had hauled it as tight
as possible, he reached down and put a coil around his foot, and was
overjoyed to find that he could hold the wire in position that way,
although the strain almost pulled him apart. Then, taking his knife,
he began to saw at the wire. When he had made a little notch in it he
worked it back and forth, bending it this way and that, and suddenly
it fell apart.

"Hurrah!" shouted Frank. "Now we'll see if any one hears me."

Taking a broken end of wire in each hand he began tapping them
together. Carefully he called: _F-F-F-F-F-F_; _JC-JC-JC-JC_. These
were the calls of his own room and of Jimmy's. He was using the ends
of the broken wire to send Morse signals. After each attempt, with
fingers moistened to accentuate their sensitiveness to any return
signal, he waited. Thus calling and waiting he kept on for several
minutes. "They're probably all in the Library, but Murphy ought to
hear me if the wire is cut in at the Station."

Varying the call of _Q_, which was the Station, with calls of _F_ and
_JC_, Frank kept on, but with the strain of the wire pulling on his
foot and cutting into the flesh he was nearly exhausted.

Suddenly in response to his call of _F-F-F_ came a shock which made
him jump. Some one had opened a telegraph key somewhere on the line.
The current had been broken and closed. He tapped slowly, making the
letters very plain so that no one could misunderstand, "_C-o-m-e
q-u-i-c-k h-a-u-n-t-e-d h-o-u-s-e F-r-a-n-k_." Over and over he
repeated his message. Suddenly there came a succession of electric
thrills along the wire as if a key had been rattled rapidly, and
Frank received the signals plainly through his moistened fingers
"_O-K._" He had been heard and understood. With a sigh of relief, he
let go of the loose end of the wire and shook it free of his foot.
The released wire went swishing down the roof and the connection was
broken for good.

Carefully Frank made his way back to the skylight and backed down the
ladder into the darkness beneath. "I'll be ready for them--if they
come," he added dubiously. "And the back room where the board is off
is more comfortable in spite of the rats than this sharp roof." Down
among the startled birds that beat madly around the attic he went
again, down the second ladder to the floor, and then made his way to
the back room, where he settled himself on the window ledge waiting
for his rescue, if rescue it was to be.

Frank found himself in comfort compared to his position on the roof,
but he soon began to wonder whether he had not better, after all,
take a chance of a drop in the darkness. He got up, examined the
opening, found it too small to squeeze through, and was preparing to
make the best of it on his ledge, when his ear caught the sound of
a step in the lower part of the house. He stood up with body bent
forward listening intently.

There was no imagination about it this time. It was a slow step,
sometimes shuffling, then again firm and quick. Occasionally it
stopped, seemingly irresolute. Then it began again. Whatever or
whoever it was, the owner of the step appeared to be going the round
of the rooms. Now it was on the stairs ascending. Frank listened
with his heart in his mouth. Slowly the step came on, reaching
the landing, stopped, began again and came on shufflingly in his
direction. Frank stepped on the window ledge and reached for the
opening between the boards. Suddenly a light flared up, and through
the open door Frank saw a boy standing with a lighted match in his
hand. It lit the gloom only for a moment and went out in the draft.
Frank, startled by the sight, gave a yell. There was an answering
groan, the sound of a falling body and then silence. Almost at the
same moment shouts were heard outside. Frank sprang to the opening
and answered the hail with all the power of his lungs: "Here, here,
'round at the back of the house!" There was the sound of crashing
through the tangle of shrubbery and a voice from below--Jimmy's
voice--calling, "What in thunder are you doing there?"

"Taking a moonlight meditation," returned Frank flippantly; "but
hurry up, I've had enough. Rip off a board on one of the lower
windows if you can. I'm in trouble up here."

Lights flashed below and the sound of several different voices came
to Frank's ears. Reassured by the presence of his friends, Frank
groped his way to the door in front of which his visitor had fallen.
He found the huddled heap of humanity, touched the face and felt
it warm, which relieved him greatly. From below came the sound of
ripping wood and breaking glass, and, in another minute, Jimmy, with
a lantern in his hand, bounded up the stairway, followed by Lewis
and several other boys. All were astonished to see Frank, his face
streaked with dust and grime, standing by the side of a prostrate
figure. The rays of the lantern were directed to the face of the one
on the floor.

"Bronson!" all exclaimed in a breath.

"Great Scott!" cried Jimmy in amazement, "what are you fellows doing
here and what's the matter with Bronson?"

Bronson, who had fainted from fright when he heard Frank's yell in
the darkness, now opened his eyes and sat up, looking around dazedly.
Suddenly he seemed to remember: "Don't leave me! Don't leave me!" he
cried piteously, grabbing Jimmy by the legs. "I'll tell all about it,
but don't leave me here. He'll come back."

"Tell us what? Who'll come back?" ejaculated Jimmy.

And there on the floor Bronson poured out his story in broken
sentences and with hanging head. He told how the Gamma had planned
the kidnapping of Frank to break up the meeting, with the hope that
the attempt to form a new society might be checked and the absent boy
discredited. The attempt, as it proved, had been partly successful,
for, despite the eloquent words of the Codfish and David, who had
striven to hold it together until Frank could be found, the Gamma
element in the meeting had broken it up. It was on Jimmy's return to
the room that he had heard Frank's signal and gone in search of him.

"Was Dixon in this scheme?" said Frank, when Bronson finished.

"Yes," was the answer.

"And was he responsible for the affair in the bell tower?"

"No; Whitlock, Colson and I were the ones in that. But I'll make it
right with Dr. Hobart. I'll confess everything. Only don't leave me
here, please don't."

On the way back to Queen's School, Bronson freely confessed his
part in the affair of the haunted house. He had been detailed by
Dixon to see that the men who had been hired to spirit Frank away,
carried out their part of the work, and he was hidden near the path
when Frank was marched past him. Just as he started to leave, there
arose alongside of him the gigantic figure of a man, who, muttering
something about being on his property, drew him to the back of the
house and, entering by the cellarway, left him there, fastening the
door on the outside. More dead than alive from fear, Bronson had
heard Frank shuffling around on the floor above him, and then, when
the noise ceased, with a few matches he had in his pocket he started
to find his way out. During Frank's absence on the roof he had gained
the first floor, and it was he whom Frank heard when he returned
to his post by the broken window. The shock of Frank's voice when
Bronson, searching for a means of escape, had penetrated to the
second floor, was too much for his shaking nerves, and he collapsed
on the floor. The men who had kidnapped and carried off Frank were
three men from the village, one of whom was a locksmith, which
accounted for his possession of a key to the old house.

It later came out that the gigantic man who had captured and
incarcerated Bronson, was none other than a half-witted negro of the
village, who was abroad at all times of the night, and who, unknown
to any one, had a way of entering and leaving the old house by an
open cellarway. It was probably he who, by showing lights in the
house at night, had terrified the villagers into the belief that the
place was haunted.

Before Bronson was allowed to go that night, he was taken to Frank's
room, where, under the dictation of the Codfish, he wrote and signed
a full confession of the part he had played in the bell tower
incident, and of his knowledge of the kidnapping of Frank.



CHAPTER XXIII.

END OF GAMMA TAU.


The next morning the School was startled by the announcement that
Dixon, Bronson and Whitlock were not to be found. During the night,
either separately or together, they had packed their suit-cases and
departed, leaving instructions for the forwarding of the remainder of
their goods. Murphy, the night operator, reported later that they had
been seen boarding the early morning train for Milton. Dixon, alone,
left word behind him. The note was directed to the manager of the
Queen's Baseball Association and contained his resignation as captain
of the nine.

"It was just as well he went," said Jimmy, when he heard the news,
"or there would have been the biggest scrap on that this School ever
saw. After what he did to Frank last night, he was going to get the
worst licking that a kid ever got," and Jimmy flexed his arms and
clenched his fists.

"I think I'd have taken a hand at him, myself!" said Frank.

"Me, too," said the Codfish. "If ever I'd have laid this on him,"
indicating his right fist, "he would go home in an ambulance."

"Or you would have, eh, scrappy old Codfish?" said Lewis. "I don't
know but I'd have had a shy at him, myself."

Dixon's departure cleared the atmosphere of the School at once. You
may be sure that no time was lost in carrying Bronson's confession to
Doctor Hobart, and that stern old man, quick to repair the wrong he
had done to Jimmy and Frank, called them to his office.

"Young gentlemen," he said, "I have an apology to make to you. I see
I was wrong and I am glad that I was wrong. You are reinstated in
all the privileges of the School. I hope you will pardon an old man
for leaning too strongly on circumstantial evidence, furthered by
untruthful testimony."

It was a joyful crowd that met that afternoon on the diamond. By
unanimous consent of the School nine, Frank Armstrong was elected
acting-captain to fill out the remainder of the term, and when
practice began every boy who could get there was on the bleachers
to watch. Jimmy took his place behind the bat and caught and threw
with his old-time ability. Frank pitched wonderful ball and threw the
spectators into an enthusiasm of cheering when he struck out batsman
after batsman of the Second nine as they faced him.

After the Chapel exercises next morning, Dr. Hobart announced to the
whole School there assembled, that he had visited the punishment
for the misdoings in the bell tower upon the wrong boys, and then
publicly expressed his sorrow that he had made a mistake. "The real
perpetrators, with one exception," he added, "have left School, and
that one exception has not yet been dealt with. I have further to say
that the Society of Gamma Tau, which has been responsible for this
and other disturbances, is from this day forth abolished and any boy
in the future, either offering an election to or accepting one from
this Society, should any attempt be made to carry it on in secret,
will be summarily dismissed from Queen's School."

To the surprise of every one, the abolition of Gamma Tau was not
taken seriously to heart by the School. Its domination had for some
years become irksome, and even the members of it, with the exception
of a few of its leaders, among whom was Howard Hotchkiss, admitted
that it was a good thing for the School to have it done away with.

Whether the killing of the Society by Dr. Hobart's edict had anything
to do with it or not, or whether it was the snap that Frank and Jimmy
put into the team, none could say, but it was certain that for one
cause or another the School rallied around the nine like one man.
From a disorganized body the nine was brought into playing form in
remarkably short time, and in the last of the preliminary games of
the season won over the strong Butler Academy by six runs to one.

Jimmy and Frank worked like Trojans, in these last days of the term,
to get the team into shape for the Warwick game. And the School
was back of them. By presence and by voice every one helped at the
practice. Finally, at the end of examinations, the day of the great
contest came around. Warwick, with a nine strong and experienced,
came down to Queen's confident of wiping out the stain of defeat of
the previous June. Robinson, the left tackle of the Warwick eleven,
was captain of the nine and played first base. He had heard, as had
every one in Warwick, of the resignation of Dixon as captain and the
incident helped to further their belief that Queen's would be, as he
said, "easy picking." Down with the Warwick team came a great crowd
of heelers to see the "funeral," as one of them expressed it.

The "funeral" did not come to pass in just the way that Warwick had
expected. For three innings it was nip and tuck between the two nines
without a run being scored on either side. Frank was in great form,
and, while he used few curves, he was able to put the ball exactly
where Jimmy wanted it; and between the two of them they had the
Warwick batters swinging wildly at balls which they could not hit.

In the fifth inning, through a hit and an error by the Queen's right
fielder, Warwick scored a run, and in the sixth added two more. This
was the signal for great yelling in the Warwick sections of the
stand, but Queen's came back with two earned runs in the seventh.
Jimmy's two-base hit started the trouble.

Frank's great pitching, when the bases were full with only one out,
cut Warwick out of what looked like a certain score in the eighth
inning, but the Queen's batters could do nothing against Warwick in
this inning. The game came to the ninth without further runs, and
Queen's still one behind. Warwick tried desperately to get a runner
across, and with their fastest man on third, when hits were not
forthcoming, tried to work the squeeze play. Frank and Jimmy nipped
the runner neatly at the plate. Opinions were freely expressed that
Queen's would not score, but when Taylor, the Queen's first baseman,
came up and singled, the Queen's heelers let loose a howl of joy.
Their glee was cut short when Taylor, in trying to steal second, was
thrown out.

With one gone, Frank came to the bat.

"You are due for a hit," said Jimmy, as he left the bench. "Get on
and I'll bring you in."

Frank clenched his bat and faced the Warwick pitcher with
determination in his eye. Up to the present time he had done nothing
in the way of hitting, and the Warwick pitcher held him rather
cheaply. Twice he sent the ball across the plate for strikes, and
twice the ball went wide.

"Give him a good one," howled a Warwick boy; "let him hit it if he
can. He couldn't hit a barn!"

Straight over the plate came the next ball, and Frank met it with a
short powerful swing. Away flew the ball over the third baseman's
head, struck the ground in short left field, and, with a spin on
it, rolled on and on over the close-cropped grass. The left fielder
chased it desperately, but before he got his hands on it, Frank had
turned second. The left fielder slammed it straight and hard, and
Frank dived for the last fifteen feet, beating the ball to third only
by inches. As he stood on the bag and dusted himself with his cap,
Jimmy sauntered easily to the plate.

"Come on," said Jimmy to the Warwick pitcher, when the yelling had
died down; "come on, and I'll do it again just like that," and he
grinned at the worried boy in the box. The ball flew wide.

"Don't lose your nerve," taunted Jimmy; "put it over."

Again the Warwickian tied himself up into a knot and again flew the
ball. It was to Jimmy's liking. He swung a full swing with all the
force of his sturdy young body behind it, and, in the language of
the diamond, hit it "right on the nose." Just what happened to that
ball no one knows to this day. It rose on its long flight between
third and short stop, carried over the head of the left fielder
like a golf ball cleanly hit, struck far beyond him and rolled down
among the alder bushes which fringed the river. The fielder tore
after it, disappeared from view, and, after a minute or two, came
back holding up both hands. They were empty. But it would have made
no difference whether he had had the ball at that time or not, for
Jimmy had completed the circuit of the bases, and the bat boy was
picking up the scattered bats and mitts by Queen's bench. Queen's had
won the game! It was a glorious finish to a season that had begun
in anything but glory, and then and there, before the Queen's team
left the bench, after a rousing cheer had been given for the defeated
Warwicks, Frank Armstrong was elected captain for the following year,
while the Queen's stands yelled their approval.

"It was worth all our trouble for that last inning, wasn't it?" said
Jimmy.

And Frank, grinning happily, admitted that it was.

The further doings of Frank Armstrong and his friends at Queen's
School will be told in the next volume of this series, entitled
"FRANK ARMSTRONG, CAPTAIN OF THE NINE."


THE END.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes:

  Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  pg. 231, "euphoneous"  changed to "euphonious" (the euphonious name)
  pg. 261, "preceptibly" changed to "perceptibly" (stiffened perceptibly)





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