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Title: Wide Awake Magazine, Volume 4, Number 3, January 10, 1916
Author: Various
Language: English
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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.

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text is surrounded by _underscores_.]


TWICE-A-MONTH

WIDE-AWAKE

MAGAZINE

Edited by Burt L. Standish

    Volume IV  CONTENTS FOR JANUARY 10, 1916   Number 3



ONE NOVELETTE

  The Speedway of Fate    Franklin Pitt      1


TWO CONTINUED STORIES

  Frank Merriwell, Jr., At Fardale. From the leaves of Frank
    Merriwell’s notebook                                        33
    A Four-Part Story—Part Two.

  Trooper Stewart, Substitute      H. E. Williamson             58
    A Three-Part Story—Part Three.


  FIVE SHORT STORIES

  Skates, Skis, and a Saphead       William Wallace Cook         71
  The Basket-Ball Boss              Leslie W. Quirk              85
  Clem Frobisher’s Man-sized Job    Allan Hawkwood               99
  The Shock                         Grant Trask Reeves          111
  Cap’n Dan’s Son                   Bernard Teevan              119


  MISCELLANEOUS

  Some New Inventions                                             32
  Some Interesting Facts                                          84
  Entombed Miners Rescued                                        110
  Unique Names for Creeks                                        118
  Odd Bits of News                                               124
  Youngest University Student                                    128

  Applause                                                       125


    Semi-monthly publication issued by STREET & SMITH,
    79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York City. ORMOND G.
    SMITH and GEORGE C. SMITH, Proprietors.
    Copyright, 1916, by Street & Smith, New York.
    Copyrighted, 1916, by Street & Smith, Great Britain.
    _All Rights Reserved._ Publishers everywhere are
    cautioned against using any of the contents of this
    Magazine either wholly or in part. Entered at the New
    York, N. Y., Post Office, as Second-class Matter,
    under an act of Congress of March 3, 1879. Canadian
    subscriptions, $2.72. Foreign, $3.44.

    WARNING—Do not subscribe through agents unknown to you.
    Complaints are daily made by persons thus victimized.

    IMPORTANT—Authors, agents and publishers are requested
    to note that this firm does not hold itself responsible
      for loss of unsolicited manuscripts while at this
    office or in transit, and that it cannot undertake to
    hold uncalled for manuscripts for a longer period than
    six months. If the return of manuscripts is expected,
              postage should be enclosed.

    YEARLY SUBSCRIPTION, $2.00          SINGLE COPIES, 10 CENTS



    TWICE-A-MONTH

    Wide-Awake

    Magazine

    EDITED BY BURT L. STANDISH

    Vol. IV.      January 10, 1916.      No. 3.



The Speedway of Fate

By Franklin Pitt



CHAPTER I.

Quarter-Mile Bend.


REALLY there could be no question that the car had got away from her.
Stanley Downs, driving his high-powered Archimedes down the winding
mountain road, had noticed the girl eight or ten miles back, and had
admired the ease with which she managed the rakish six-cylinder in the
many difficult spots, where strength, as well as skill, was demanded to
keep the road.

She was a slim, bright-faced young woman. He knew that, because he had
had one good look at her pretty face as she swung around a “hairpin
turn” and passed him on the lower road, while he traveled to the bend
on the upper.

He had taken a chance in looking sideways while preparing to negotiate
the cruel bend with his own car. He should have kept his attention
straight ahead, without regard to any girl, pretty or otherwise, who
might be passing two hundred feet away, and who certainly was paying no
attention to him.

“That’s a Fanchon she’s driving, Karl,” remarked Stanley to his
chauffeur, who sat idly by his side. “It’s a new car, and I don’t
know whether it is dependable or not. It has speed, and the lines are
graceful and strong. But until a car has been well tried out, you never
know where a weakness will develop.”

“The Fanchon’s a good car,” pronounced Karl briefly.

“Glad you know that, Karl, because it—— Hello! What does that mean?”

Karl suddenly came to life, as, when they got around the bend, he, as
well as Stanley, saw that the Fanchon was moving faster and faster,
and, moreover, was swaying from side to side in a wild manner, which,
to their experienced eyes, told its own story.

“Something’s slipped, Karl. She’s lost control.”

“She sure has! And there’s the lake and bridge at the end of the short
quarter-mile turn! She can’t make the bridge at that speed.”

“Of course she can’t!” returned Stanley excitedly, as he opened up his
own gas a few notches. “There’s an ugly twist there. Merciful Heaven!
If she strikes the bend like that, only one thing can happen. She’ll
shoot into fifty feet of water.”

“Unless she hits the stonework of the bridge approach. Then——”

“Shut up!” snapped Stanley. “We can’t let her do it! We have five
miles. In that distance, we ought to be able to help.”

Karl did not reply. He knew how quickly five miles can be covered in an
automobile.

Stanley drove faster and faster. The girl had nearly got to the next
bend, which was one of the awful “S” turns. He saw that she was bending
low over her wheel, prepared to serpentine her way around at full
speed, if it could be done.

“The Lord send that she doesn’t meet anything!” murmured Stanley, as he
put on more power. “What are we doing, Karl?”

“Fifty,” replied Karl, glancing at the speedometer.

“Fifty miles an hour! Well, we’ll have to go up to sixty—perhaps more.”

Stanley Downs gritted his teeth, forced his car up to sixty miles an
hour, and then reduced the speed to thirty. They were approaching the
“S.”

The girl was just running out of it, her car rocking awfully as she
reached the straight.

“Well, she’s out of that,” remarked Stanley. “I was afraid she’d never
do it. By Jove, she’s some driver!”

The Archimedes, being under control, went through the “S” safely at
forty miles an hour. Then Stanley Downs set himself to catch the other
car.

He was not clear as to what he would do if he did catch it. But he was
resolved to do _something_. There was another sharp bend ahead, close
to the broad lake, with its stone wall and many boat landings. After
that came another twist, taking the road straight upon the long bridge
that crossed the water.

As the Fanchon whizzed around on two wheels, Stanley saw that the fair
driver was leaning far to one side, to throw the weight of her body
against the inclination of the car to tip over. She was game to the
core. Stanley Downs would have sworn to that.

“Doesn’t seem scared!” shouted Karl, above the roaring of the car, as
it gathered more speed.

“Nerve of pure steel!” replied Stanley, through his clenched teeth.
“Karl!”

“Well?”

“Get ready to take this wheel—without stopping the car.”

“Great Scott! That’s going to be some stunt,” declared Karl, but
loosening himself up at the same time, ready to obey. “What’s the idea?”

“You see that we are getting to that last twist in the road, the
quarter mile?”

“Sure! All right! Ready to do it now?”

“Just a moment. Wait till I get my feet clear, so that I can swing out
as you go in behind the wheel. Get me?”

“Yes.”

The two cars were not far apart now. The girl was holding to the
steering wheel with a desperate grip, her feet on the pedals, trying
to make the foot brake hold. The emergency hand brake had given out
long ago, and the other seemed to have hardly any power. But she was
fighting every inch to regain control.

By this time, a score of people, who had been strolling along the
high-terraced walk above the roadway, which overlooked the lake, were
watching the two great cars swirling down toward the quarter-mile turn.

They were accustomed to seeing cars moving at a good speed, after
safely negotiating this difficult bend, but it was unusual for machines
to approach it in this headlong fashion.

At each of the bends was a gigantic signboard, painted a terrifying
red, bearing the word “Danger!” in white letters two feet long, and
with the additional caution, in rather smaller characters: “Sharp curve
ahead! Drive slow!”

There was hardly time for the spectators to express their horror at the
catastrophe that seemed imminent, when the two cars swept along side by
side.

“Now!” shouted Stanley.

He knew that he could depend on Karl. That rather taciturn young man
had proved his courage and intelligence on other occasions. It was his
habit to do what came his way without making much fuss about it, and if
the task menaced his safety, or even his life, why, it was all in the
day’s work.

“Ready, sir!” replied Karl.

“All right! Come!”

Stanley slid along the seat from behind the wheel, and immediately Karl
was in his place, recovering the slight divergence of the car that had
been caused by the change of guiding hands.

It was now that Stanley Downs had a good view of the girl’s face.

It could not be said that she was not frightened. But certainly her
apprehension had not interfered with the masterly manner in which she
managed the steering wheel. She was staring straight ahead of her, and,
as she whirled around the quarter-mile bend, she endeavored to get the
car headed up the road.

But there was another hairpin curve—called so because the two roads ran
almost parallel, like the legs of a hairpin—and the car would have to
swing completely around, running in the opposite direction, if it were
to avoid the lake.

“She can’t make it!” exclaimed Karl.

Stanley Downs said nothing. Karl had been obliged to let the Fanchon
push a little ahead in rounding the bend, to avoid a collision,
and Stanley was standing on the seat by the side of the chauffeur,
balancing himself perilously on the leather cushion, with his eyes
fixed on the girl.

He motioned with his arm to Karl to draw closer to the other car.

They were within a hundred yards of the edge of the lake, and charging
straight toward it.

As Karl brought the two cars within a yard of each other, Stanley
leaped across the gap and into the front seat of the Fanchon.

What followed happened too quickly to be described in detail.

With a savage tug, he dragged the girl away from the wheel, at the same
time kicking open the door. Then he seized the wheel with both hands
as he stood by the side of it, and wrenched it so hard that the car
swerved until it seemed as if it might run along the road at the very
edge of the water.

The wrench was not quite enough, however. Its only effect was to
prevent its going straight into the lake. Instead, it shot off
diagonally, and with the car went Stanley Downs and the girl.

The tremendous splash caused by the diving in of the Fanchon was
followed instantly by another, as the Archimedes, with Karl at the
wheel, plunged off the stone wall, and, turning a complete somersault,
disappeared beneath the surface.

Only a number of bubbles in the center of two rapidly spreading series
of rings, told the frantic people, who had rushed to the edge of the
lake, that two cars, with three human beings, had sunk there.

Then the cap of the chauffeur, still on his head, where it was fastened
by a chin strap, showed above the surface, as Karl swam toward a wooden
boat landing.

Where were the other two—Stanley Downs and the girl?

The question was soon answered. Stanley and the girl came up together.

There was a streak of red across the forehead and cheek of the young
man. But the beautiful face that lay against his shoulder was a dead
white, and the eyes were closed.

Stanley Downs was pale himself, and there was a dazed expression in his
eyes as he shook the water out of them and looked about for the shore.

In another moment he obtained a grip on himself, and struck out for the
boat landing, where Karl was by this time being helped out.

It was with difficulty that Stanley swam the short distance. He had
received a nasty knock as he broke away from the car under water, and
it had weakened him. Moreover, he had the weight of the girl he was
bringing to shore. She was unable to help herself. All she could do was
to lie prone on his arm, her brown hair rippling over the water, and
one small gauntleted hand resting on his shoulder and against his cheek.



CHAPTER II.

Stanley’s Mission.


“I THINK I can walk,” were the first words she spoke, as they were
dragged out of the water.

“I don’t think you can,” returned Stanley Downs positively. “I will
carry you.”

He did so. There were half a dozen stone steps from the wooden boat
landing to the top of the wall. From there, it was a trip of some five
hundred feet to the veranda of the hotel, which faced the broad lake
and the magnificent vista of mountain, where the verdure-clad slopes
were bursting into the fresh green beauty of spring.

Stanley had recovered most of his strength by the time he was pulled
from the water. Besides, he rather liked the task of carrying this
dainty young woman, whose independence of spirit had manifested itself
with the first glimmer of returning consciousness.

“Won’t you put me down, please?” she asked, with a touch of
imperiousness.

“Couldn’t do it,” answered Stanley, as he hurried toward the veranda.
“You would fall.”

“Nonsense! I’m not so weak as all that. Where is my car?”

“At the bottom of the lake, I guess.”

“And yours?”

“By its side—or perhaps underneath or on top of yours. We all went in
together.”

Her eyes—deep-violet eyes they were, as Stanley Downs saw—were wide
open by this time, and it was clear that her mind was working in
orderly fashion, no matter how distressed she might be physically.

“I am too heavy for you to carry,” she persisted. “You are badly hurt.
There is a great cut in your forehead. Put me down!”

“You don’t weigh much,” he laughed. “It steadies me to carry you. A
hundred pounds or so in my arms is what I need to keep me balanced.”

“I weigh a hundred and thirty!” she burst out indignantly. “I may not
be very big, but I play tennis and I swim as well as——”

“And drive a six-cylinder Fanchon,” threw in Stanley. “That keeps
you in good condition. Yes, I understand that. But when a young lady
is hurled out of a car into a lake, and especially when she has some
little difficulty in getting clear of the wreckage, she must expect to
feel a little shaken.”

“You threw that door of the car open just before we went over the
wall,” she remarked with a smile. “That showed you had not lost your
head. But for that I might not have got clear. I wonder you thought of
it—so quickly.”

“Quickness of thought was needed at that stage of the proceedings if
the thought was to do any good. Well, here we are at the veranda. I’ll
carry you up the steps, and then you will be all right. Here is a lady
who seems to know you.”

Stanley Downs put his burden down gently on the broad veranda and drew
a large wicker chair to her. As he did so, a middle-aged, motherly sort
of woman, in a light-blue morning gown, came running up and took the
girl’s two hands in hers.

“Why, Miss Ranvelt! What is this? Was it you that went crashing
into the lake? I heard that there had been an accident, but I never
supposed——”

“Never supposed it was I, Mrs. Somers?” laughed the girl. “Why not? It
was just as likely as to be anybody else. I’m always racing around in a
motor car. You know that. Dad says I’ll get into a bad mess some time.
It seems as if I came near it this morning.”

“Came near it?” grunted Karl, who had followed close behind Stanley.
“How much closer does she want to come?”

Karl’s voice brought Stanley sharply to a recollection of something
of great importance to himself that he had forgotten all about in the
excitement—even after he had found himself safe, with the girl in his
arms.

He waved a farewell to the young lady, who was being hurried away to
the housekeeper’s own rooms, for dry clothes and general attention, and
turned to Karl:

“The money?”

“It went down with the car,” replied Karl. “I had no time to get at it,
and you were in the other car. It was in the door pocket in front, with
the latch fastened. It ought to be there now.”

“Yes, yes!” agreed Stanley nervously. “It ought. The door pocket is not
waterproof. But it will keep some of the water away, perhaps. Anyhow,
it will keep it all in one place. Then there is a thick wrapping of
brown paper over it. That ought to help.”

“Twenty thousand dollars, isn’t it?” asked Karl.

“Hush! No need to tell everybody,” warned Stanley. “But that’s what
there is. A little more than twenty thousand.”

“Hello, Stan!” broke in a cheery voice, as a brawny brown hand seized
Stanley’s. “What have you been doing to yourself? You’re soaking wet.
By George! So is Karl! What in thunder is it all about?”

“Fell into the lake,” replied Stanley briefly. “Where did you come
from. Clay?”

“Adirondacks. Cold as the deuce up there! Too early in the year; so I
just turned my gas wagon in this direction, and I’m bound for New York.
It is the only place for civilized beings in May.”

Clay Varron was a member of the Thracian Club—the athletic organization
in New York to which Stanley Downs also belonged—and the two young men
were good friends. Their mutual liking was based on respect, for both
were clean-living, bright young fellows, who enjoyed athletic sports as
earned recreation, without making them the principal business in life.

Among other reasons for Clay Varron and Stanley Downs being good
comrades was that both were ardent motorists. Clay had done seventy
miles an hour on the road, and Stanley Downs would have beaten that
record, in the opinion of the Thracian Club, if he had not been
dissuaded on the ground that more than seventy miles an hour away from
a regular track would be idiocy, rather than good sportsmanship.

“Got any clothes with you?” asked Stanley.

“Plenty! I’ve engaged a room here at the hotel. Come up to it until you
get one for yourself. Where’s my man? Where the deuce——Oh, here you
are!” he added, as a trim-looking fellow, with “body servant” written
all over him, stood at his employer’s elbow. “What’s the number of my
room here at the Ridgeview, Moran?”

“Forty-three, sir. Suite—bedroom, sitting room, and bath. Baggage is
there already. Clothes laid out, too.”

Clay Varron winked at Stanley Downs, and grinned pleasantly.

“I believe if I were in a shipwreck at night in the middle of the
Atlantic, Moran would have my clothes laid out in regular order, so
that I could be drowned properly dressed,” he said, with a chuckle.
“Well, there’s nothing like doing your work right, whether you are
President of the United States or a valet. Come on! We’ll get you
out of those wet rags in two minutes, once you are in my room. Your
chauffeur can look out for himself, I suppose?”

While Karl sought warmth and dry clothes in another part of the great,
rambling hotel—finally bringing up with a chauffeur he knew—Stanley
Downs went up to Clay Varron’s apartments.

Half an hour later, Stanley and Clay sat at the window of the private
sitting room, which overlooked the lake from the second story, while
Stanley told his story to Varron.

“There’s not much to it, Clay. You know Colonel Prentiss and some
other men are managing this big automobile race for the Lawrence gold
cup and a purse of twenty thousand dollars?”

“Of course I know it. Isn’t that one of the reasons I’m hustling
back to New York? I want to hear what they think of the race at the
Thracian—first-hand. It’s one week from to-day, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“And tickets are being taken up very fast, I’m told. I want to get
parking space for two machines. Where’s the best place to look for the
tickets? I’m told the new speedway will be a wonder. One man told me
that there will be accommodation for nearly a hundred thousand people
to see the races.”

“Pretty nearly that,” admitted Stanley. “You can get tickets in New
York. I’ll manage that for you.”

“Why? Are you interested?” asked Clay Varron, rather surprised.

“Only as an official of the bank of Burwin & Son, in New York City. My
uncle, Richard Burwin, is the sole owner of the bank, as I think you
know.”

Varron nodded, and waved a hand for Stanley Downs to continue.

“Because he is the sole owner, he insists on doing things in his own
way. Colonel Prentiss has been selling many tickets in Buffalo, and he
found himself with more cash than he wanted to take care of. He is like
my uncle in the way of having notions, and he will not do business with
any bank except Burwin & Son. That is why he would not deposit any of
his cash in banks at Buffalo or elsewhere, as he might have done.”

“I see. Drive ahead, Stan! Get down to cases!”

“My uncle sent me to Buffalo to get twenty thousand dollars that
Colonel Prentiss wanted to deposit with us. I was not allowed to use
the railroads—I didn’t want to, for that matter—but was to go in my
own car, with Karl, who is my uncle’s own chauffeur, to drive when I
got tired, and to help me guard the money.”

“Swell idea!” observed Clay Varron. “But I never knew the day when
Stanley Downs couldn’t take care of himself—and of anything he was told
to keep safely.”

Stanley got up from his chair and strode up and down the room. In a
suit of light clothes belonging to Clay Varron, which fitted him almost
as well as if they had been made for him, Stanley was a fine-looking
specimen of the American man in his twenties.

His erect carriage, firm jaw, quick eye, and alert bearing were all
those of the young man who “does things.” Even the troubled expression
that drew his brows together and made him bite his lip impatiently,
only seemed to accentuate the firmness of his character.

“Now I am in trouble, Varron,” he said, after a short silence. “When my
car took a header into the lake, out there——”

“Great Scott! Was that what it did?” interrupted Clay excitedly.

“Yes. But that’s nothing in itself,” declared Stanley hurriedly, waving
aside further ejaculations. “What troubles me is that twenty thousand
dollars in bills, which were tied up in a package and placed in one of
the door pockets of the car, went down with it.”

“Good heavens!”

“I dare say the money is still in the door pocket,” continued Stanley.
“But what use is that, when the car is at the bottom of the lake? It is
between fifty and sixty feet deep, right off the edge of the promenade
in front of this hotel.”

“So I’ve heard. But that isn’t deep enough to lose your car for you. I
see they are working at it now. Look!”

Clay Varron pointed out of the window, and they saw that twenty or
thirty men were manipulating ropes that dropped into the water. They
were pulling at them with a big motor truck as well as several teams of
horses. Evidently the crowd had something attached to the ropes under
water, which was giving the motor truck and horses all they could do to
drag it out.

“That’s good!” exclaimed Stanley. “I didn’t think they would get at
it so soon. Ah! I see! Karl is out there directing things. That young
fellow is a wonder, Clay. Let’s go out!”

It was just as Clay Varron and Stanley Downs reached the veranda that
the big Archimedes motor car was drawn to the surface of the lake and
thence to the boat landing, which was almost level with the top of the
water.

Stanley rushed down the steps and laid his hand on the door pocket. It
was in full view as the car lay on its side.

The next moment he gave vent to a groan of dismay.

The door pocket was empty!



CHAPTER III.

An Enemy by Chance.


FRANTICALLY, Stanley Downs searched all over the interior of the big
car. It did not seem to be much damaged, although it was soaked with
water and showed mud where it had struck the bottom of the lake.

There were no signs of the packet of money. The door pocket seemed to
have been wrenched open, and it was easy to imagine that the money
might have slipped out as the machine tumbled over.

For a few moments Stanley could hardly realize the full extent of his
misfortune. He soon made sure that the package was not lying anywhere
in the car. Karl, too, searched carefully, without result.

“Get the car to the road as soon as you can, Karl,” directed Stanley,
forcing himself to speak calmly. “Then run it into the garage and
overhaul it. We shall probably go on to New York to-day.”

“Very well, sir.”

“How about the other car, the Fanchon? Are they going to get it up
without much trouble?”

“I think so,” replied Karl. “But it was underneath our car, and it may
take all day. I’m afraid there isn’t much left of the Fanchon. Bits of
it are floating on the water. You can see some of the wooden spokes of
the wheels, and one of the mud guards came up on the grappling irons a
while ago.”

“My poor car!” exclaimed a sweet voice behind them. “You really think
it is done for, then?”

“Why, Helen!” cried Clay Varron, swinging around. “Were you driving
that Fanchon? What the deuce made you do it? I have often heard your
father tell you that you must never drive a new car until he has tested
it thoroughly himself.”

“Well, I tested this one for him,” laughed Helen Ranfelt. “I don’t
think he will have any more trouble with it. If it had not been for
this gentleman,” smiling at Stanley, “he might not have had any more
trouble with his daughter, either.”

“It was a perilous proceeding all around,” said Stanley. “But I am
relieved to see that it had no serious outcome—except for the car. By
the way, Clay,” he went on, turning to Varron, “perhaps you won’t mind
vouching for me as a respectable member of society to Miss——”

“What? Never been introduced?” cried Clay, astonished. “Well, well!
This is Mr. Stanley Downs, of New York—Miss Helen Ranfelt. You know her
father, L. K. Ranfelt—Stanley, by name, at least. There is their home
up there on the mountain. You can just see it through the foliage—that
white house, with the golden cupola.”

“Of course I have heard of Mr. Ranfelt,” returned Stanley, when he
had acknowledged the introduction with a bow, and had absorbed a most
fascinating smile from the young lady. “Who has not? His mines in
Nevada——”

“Oh, yes!” broke in Helen Ranfelt. “That is always the way. Everybody
has heard that dad has made many millions out of his mines, and that
they are still producing. But hardly any one knows that he would be a
great man, even if he had never got to be a millionaire. You ought to
see _him_ drive a Fanchon, Mr. Downs—or any other car! No fear of his
driving into a lake. He makes a car do just what he likes. And it is
the same with everything else he does.”

Clay Varron smiled approvingly.

“That’s so, Helen. He’s a mighty smart man, and I’ll say it, even
though he _is_ my uncle. By the way, now that I’ve met you, I guess
I’ll drive you home—if you want to go. I haven’t seen Uncle Larry for
more than a year.”

“I heard that you’ve lost something from your car, Mr. Downs,” said
Helen. “Some money. Don’t you think you can recover it?”

“I’m afraid not,” was the doleful reply. “The lake is fifty feet deep
right here, and much more as it approaches the center. It was a bundle
of bank notes, wrapped up in paper. The water would destroy them in
a very short time, and there is little chance of dredging up the
fragments. No, I’m afraid it is a dead loss.”

“I am very sorry.”

Her feminine tact told her it would be better to say nothing more about
it. The square jaw of Stanley Downs, as well as the fighting glint in
his gray eyes, suggested that he would deal with the misfortune in his
own way, and that he would not ask for sympathy from any one.

“I shall have to communicate with my uncle, Mr. Burwin, in New York,”
he remarked, after a short pause, during which it struck him that he
should make some acknowledgment of her expression of sorrow. “The money
was his, and I was taking it to our bank.”

“Burwin & Son, you know, Helen,” interjected Varron.

“I did think I would go directly to New York,” continued Stanley. “But
I think I will call him up on ‘long distance,’ and stay here till I
find out whether I can save any of the bills.”

“Nothing much can be done to-day, I should say,” observed Varron.
“You will have to get dredging machinery from somewhere—Poughkeepsie,
probably. That will take at least twenty-four hours, by the time it is
all set up.”

“Won’t you be my father’s guest for to-night, Mr. Downs?” asked Helen.
“He will be pleased to see you, especially when he hears that you have
saved his daughter’s life. I am a great deal of a nuisance to him, but
he thinks something of me, nevertheless.”

“Well, I should say he does!” laughed Clay Varron. “Helen makes him do
just what she wants. I don’t think anybody else on earth could do that.”

The end of it all was that Stanley Downs accepted Helen Ranfelt’s
invitation, and about six o’clock that evening Clay Varron drove his
big car under the porte-cochère of Lawrence K. Ranfelt’s castlelike
mansion on a mountaintop, to let Stanley jump down to help out the
young girl who had been by his side during the ride up from the lake,
the glimmer of which could be made out miles below.

Karl had been instructed to watch the attempts to get the package of
bills from the water, and to let Stanley know by telephone if there
should be any result. The stolid chauffeur could be depended on. His
faithfulness had been proved in years of service, and his honesty was
beyond question.

Under the influence of a good dinner and cheerful conversation, Stanley
was able to look upon his heavy loss with a more hopeful eye afterward.

Lawrence K. Ranfelt was a man of fifty or thereabouts, with a jolly
manner, a clean-cut, shaven face, and grip when he shook hands that
conveyed sincerity that won Stanley’s confidence at once.

What particularly pleased Stanley Downs was that his host did not say
much about the part Stanley had taken in saving his daughter from
death. All he did was to shake the young man’s hand and whisper, after
a ten minutes’ talk alone with his daughter:

“Helen has told me, Mr. Downs. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
That sounds stupidly inadequate, but I mean it. She says that if you
had not dragged her from the car down there at the bottom of the
lake, she must have been drowned. You had opened the door before the
accident, so that she could get out. That was something everybody might
not have thought of. But even then she would have died if it had not
been for what you did afterward.”

This was just before dinner, after Stanley had put on evening clothes
from Clay Varron’s rather extensive wardrobe, and when the men were in
the library, waiting for the call.

“By the way, Mr. Downs, you have not met Mr. Burnham—Victor Burnham,”
added Ranfelt, as a tall, lean man, who might have been any age between
thirty and fifty, but who really was thirty-five, slipped into the
library. “Burnham has been associated with me in the West for years.
He was my superintendent when I made my first good strike, and he is
still looking out for the Ranfelt interests in the West. But he is not
a mere superintendent now. His holdings in Nevada mines have made him
a millionaire several times over. At least, that’s what people say. Eh,
Burnham?”

Victor Burnham shrugged his shoulders deprecatingly, as he shook hands
with Stanley in a rather grudging fashion.

“People say many things that would be better unsaid!” he growled. “My
private affairs are my own.”

Lawrence K. Ranfelt turned away, with a careless laugh. He knew the
saturnine disposition of his old-time assistant, and never took notice
of his surly manner. But Stanley Downs decided, in his own mind, that
he didn’t like Victor Burnham.

They went in to dinner now, and Stanley was seated by the side of
Helen. Not only that, but the young lady gave him as much of her
attention and conversation as she could, without being actually
discourteous to the other guests. Two handsome girls, her classmates at
Vassar, were in the dinner party.

It was evident that Stanley had made a good impression on Miss Ranfelt.
He, on his part, thoroughly enjoyed himself. He could flirt with a
pretty girl as well as the next one, and Helen Ranfelt was undeniably
extremely pretty.

“What’s the matter with that fellow?” thought Stanley once, when he
happened to look across the table and found Burnham glowering at him.
“Wonder if I’ve given offense to Mr. Burnham?”

The truth was that he had given offense. Victor Burnham had gone so far
as to tell L. K. Ranfelt that he would like to marry his daughter. The
mine owner’s reply was that he could not interfere with her desires in
the way of matrimony. If Helen wanted to marry Burnham, why, he would
consider it, then. For the present, he had nothing to say.

“You give me permission to try for her, then?” Burnham had said.

“Sure! Go in and win—if you can. I can trust Helen to act according to
her conscience.”

This conversation had taken place on this very afternoon, and Burnham
had been trying to make up his mind when he would speak to Helen. Now
in came this young man from New York, who had the advantage of having
rescued her from death, and it was evident that the girl had eyes for
nobody else. Burnham felt that he had good reason for glowering at
Stanley Downs.

It was after dinner, when the four men were in the billiard room,
enjoying cigars and cigarettes before joining the ladies in the
drawing-room, that the subject of the big motor race came up.

“I am interested in it,” remarked Ranfelt casually. “I have a few
thousand dollars invested, and I certainly mean to see it pulled off.
Colonel Frank Prentiss is an old friend of mine, and I have no doubt he
will make it a success. I wish I could drive in the race. It would be
an easy way of picking up twenty thousand dollars, to say nothing of
the cup, which is said to be worth a thousand or so.”

“The Lawrence Cup,” murmured Stanley Downs thoughtfully. “By the way,
Mr. Ranfelt, who is offering the cup? Do you know?”

Lawrence K. Ranfelt brushed the question aside, with a careless wave of
the hand, as he let a column of cigar smoke issue from his lips.

“What does it matter who offers it?” he demanded, with a flush rather
deeper than his usual color on his cheeks, while his keen eyes danced
with amusement. “It will not belong to anybody until it has been won
for three years in succession, on the Prentiss Speedway. Burnham, here,
thinks he can carry it off for the first time.”

“I’ll try,” growled Burnham. “As for the person who offers it, I don’t
see any use in making a mystery of that. It will all come out later.
It is Mr. Ranfelt who is giving it. He uses his first name, Lawrence,
instead of his surname—that’s all.”

Lawrence K. Ranfelt burst out into his jolly laugh, as he slapped
Burnham on the shoulder.

“Yes, that’s true,” he admitted. “But there is something else, much
more interesting than the fact that I have hung up the cup for
competition. That is that Helen has publicly announced—at home, of
course—that she will think the man who wins this cup the greatest hero
she knows.”

“Indeed?” asked Stanley, laughing. “That is enough to make anybody want
to be entered in the race. The twenty thousand dollars would be nothing
in comparison.”

“Well, I don’t know,” declared Ranfelt, more soberly. “That’s a good
sum of money. I have nothing to do with the purse, however. The
Speedway Association, through Colonel Frank Prentiss, is offering that.
And the best of the purse is that it belongs, out and out, to the man
who wins it. He won’t have to go on driving in other races, year after
year, as he will to become the permanent holder of the cup.”

Stanley Downs did not reply. But he was thoughtful, and when he reached
the drawing-room with the others, he had so little to say that Helen
Ranfelt, obviously piqued, was especially gracious to Victor Burnham,
and hardly noticed Stanley at all.

“I believe I’ll do it!” was what Stanley kept on repeating to himself.

He was saying it mentally when he reached his bedroom a few hours
later, and gazed out of the window at the long winding road down the
mountain.

“Seventy miles was Clay Varron’s record in a Kronite car, on that very
road below, there,” he mused. “Seventy miles an hour on an ordinary
road, with all the possibilities of loose stones, holes, and other
cars meeting him. What could a man do in a good car on the Prentiss
Speedway? The record at Sheepshead Bay is more than a hundred and two
for three hundred and fifty miles.” Me sighed dubiously. “That’s some
traveling, keeping it up for more than three hours.”

Stanley Downs went to bed.



CHAPTER IV.

A Way Out.


“I’M sorry nothing has been found of your money, Mr. Downs. But, to be
frank, I don’t see how they could get it for you. Paper money was never
meant to be soaked in water and used afterward. The twenty thousand
dollars belonged to the bank, I understand?”

It was Lawrence K. Ranfelt talking, after breakfast, the next morning.
He and Stanley, both early risers, sat on the veranda and gazed across
at the fresh verdure of the hills and the slowly rising mist from the
great hollows. They were alone. Mr. Ranfelt’s manner was very serious.

“The money had been Colonel Prentiss’,” answered Stanley. “But, of
course, when it came into my hands, as a representative of Burwin &
Son’s banks, we were responsible for its safely. The loss will fall on
the bank.”

“I suppose Burwin & Son can stand it?”

“Naturally. But that is not the point. My uncle, Richard Burwin, does
not believe in mistakes—or accidents. He holds that the first always
imply negligence, and that accidents never happen when proper care is
taken.”

“I don’t agree with your uncle,” snapped Ranfelt. “It was not your
fault that you fell into the lake yesterday. If you hadn’t been trying
to keep that harum-scarum girl of mine out of mischief, you would never
have got into trouble. However, we won’t talk about that. What about
your uncle?”

“Only that I feel as if I cannot tell him I have lost twenty thousand
dollars of the bank’s money.”

“H’m! What are you going to do about it?”

“I won’t do anything for a few days, except to wire my uncle I will not
be in New York just yet. He will know I have some reason for delay.”

“Won’t think you’ve lost the money?”

Stanley Downs winced at this blunt suggestion.

“It will never occur to him. Besides, I may find it before I have to
tell him anything about it. I have not given up hope yet. The men are
still dredging the lake.”

“I am afraid there is little chance of your getting the twenty thousand
dollars if you depend on its being fished out of the lake,” declared
Lawrence Ranfelt, shaking his head.

“I think that, too,” was Stanley’s unexpected outburst. “I am not
depending on that. In this big motor race at the Prentiss Speedway,
the money prizes go to the drivers, while the cup will be awarded to
the car. I have been asked to drive a Thunderbolt car in this race,
and have been considering it for several days. This decides me. I will
drive in the race.”

He got up, as he said this, stretching his arms and expanding his
chest, as if glad to have come to a conclusion on a perplexing matter.

“What’s that?” almost shouted Ranfelt. “Do you really mean it?”

“Indeed I do! Why not? I can drive, and I want the money.”

“But entering the race does not insure the money for you,” the
millionaire reminded him.

“Nothing is sure in sport, any more than in other things,” answered
Stanley. “But if I don’t enter, I shall not have even a fighting
chance. That is what I want—a fighting chance at winning twenty
thousand dollars.”

“Fine!” exclaimed L. K. Ranfelt, as he took Stanley’s hand. “I am glad
to hear you say this. It is the way to deal with a difficult situation.
I wish you luck. Although,” he added slowly, “perhaps I ought not to
wish you that, if I am to be consistent.”

“Why not?” asked Stanley in some surprise.

“Because Victor Burnham is going to drive in the race, with a
Columbiad,” replied Ranfelt. “It is not generally known, but I knew it.
Burnham drove his trial two-mile dash two or three days ago, qualifying
as an entrant. He did the two miles in a minute and a third—rather
less. That gave him something to spare. If you are going to drive, you
haven’t much time. I’d advise you to get to the track and try out your
car right away. You were there yesterday, I understand.”

“Yes. I meant to take the money to the bank in New York, and then go
right back. I promised to give the Thunderbolt owners my decision by
telegraph to-day. Can I telephone to the telegraph office from here?”

“Come into my private office. I have a phone there.”

It took nearly ten minutes to get the telegraph office, fifteen miles
away, and then Stanley Downs had to repeat his message twice before the
operator could catch it and repeat it back for verification.

“Yes. That’s right,” called out Stanley Downs at last. “‘Moussard
Automobile Co., Buffalo. Will drive your Thunderbolt car in Lawrence
Cup Race next Thursday. Coming to Buffalo to-morrow for trial. Stanley
Downs.’ Get that?”

There was a pause, and Stanley Downs turned from the table, with a
smile, as he hung up the transmitter. When he swung around, he found
himself facing Helen Ranfelt, who was panting with excitement, and
Victor Burnham, who scowled.

“Oh, Mr. Downs, isn’t that splendid?” cried Helen.

“I don’t know that it is,” said Stanley, laughing. “Except to me. I
like driving fast, and, from all I can judge, there will be some rapid
moving at the Prentiss Speedway next Thursday.”

“You have to go not less than eighty-five miles an hour to qualify,”
grunted Burnham. “I suppose you know that?”

“I have studied the conditions of the race so often that T think I am
familiar with them all,” replied Stanley, as he turned away.

Helen Ranfelt followed him out to the veranda and took his arm.

“Mr. Downs,” she whispered, and he noted a tremble in her soft tones.

“Yes?”

“Victor Burnham is a dangerous man. He has been annoying me for some
time, although I never let dad know. If I had, there would have been
a dreadful scene. I’m sure, because dad never can control his temper.
Now he is getting worse. He came to me this morning, as soon as I was
downstairs, telling me he had something important to say.”

“Yes?”

“I could only tell him to say it, for I have never told him he must not
speak to me—although I should like to do so.”

“But if he annoys you——” began Stanley.

“I am afraid you don’t understand. Dad thinks he is a good business
man—and I suppose he is. Besides, dad says he is not a bad fellow at
heart. That’s the way he expresses it. Only he is a little gruff. Dad
says some of the finest men alive are like that.”

Stanley nodded, without speaking. He had seen enough of the
good-natured, easy-going Lawrence Ranfelt to understand that the mine
owner would make excuses for anybody, so long as a fair outside was
presented.

“Victor Burnham has asked my father if he may ask me to marry him. He
says dad told him to go ahead. If I don’t believe what he says. I can
ask my father. That’s what Mr. Burnham told me to-day.”

“The cad!”

“He also said this morning that he had been told that I would make a
hero of the man who won this motor race.”

“That was true, wasn’t it?” queried Stanley, with a smile. “Your father
told us that last night. But I understood you had said it only in a
playful way, so that no decent man would take it otherwise.”

“I believe I did say so—and, indeed, I think it wonderfully brave for
any man to dash around a track at such an awful speed. You see. I know
something about fast driving. I often go along the road, myself, at a
mile a minute. But the worst of it all is that Victor Burnham pretends
to believe that what I said about regarding a man as a ‘hero’ means
that I will say ‘yes,’ if he asks me to marry him.”

“You mean if he wins the race?”

“Yes. But I’m afraid he will. You know that he is to drive a Columbiad
car, and that that car is regarded as the most powerful and speediest
machine that ever has been produced. Everybody is afraid of it.”

“I have heard that it is a good machine,” admitted Stanley. “But until
it has been tried out in a real competition with the best cars that can
be brought against it, that is only talk. No one knows for certain what
the Columbiad can do, because it is a French machine, and has never
been seen in action in America, except at the trial, a few days ago.”

“That was when Mr. Burnham qualified as a driver, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. He did his two miles in one minute and twenty seconds. Pretty
good going. But I believe I can beat that in the Thunderbolt.”

“I am so glad you are going to drive, Mr. Downs. I happened to hear
what you were saying over the telephone just now, and I hope you will
win.”

“Thanks!”

“Oh, it isn’t only because I want you to be successful,” she confessed,
with the candor that she inherited from her plainspoken father. “I want
you to beat Mr. Burnham.”

“And all the others in the race, too, eh?” he rejoined, with a humorous
curling of the lip. “He won’t be the only other driver, you know, Miss
Ranfelt.”

“He will be your chief competitor, I am afraid. If you beat him, you
will win. I feel sure of that.”

“Possibly,” assented Stanley Downs thoughtfully. “It is said this
Columbiad is a terror. I suppose Burnham is a good driver?”

“One of the best in the country, dad says. He’s cool, strong, and he
has no nerves. Dad has told me of the way he held his own against some
of the rough men at the mines in days gone by. It is because he is so
brave and powerful that dad likes him, I think.”

“Well, I’ll try to beat him,” smiled Stanley.

“You must do it!” she whispered tensely. “If he should win this race I
would be afraid of him. He would come to me, and—and——”

“Marry you by force? Hardly that, I think. We don’t do that kind of
thing nowadays. Besides, your father can take care of you. Why should
you fear this fellow?”

“I don’t know why I should, but I do,” she confessed. “He has a way of
carrying things before him in a savage way that gets him what he wants.
If you beat him, he will not have an excuse to annoy me.”

Stanley was rather astonished that this plucky young girl should show
so much terror. He had seen her driving her big car down the winding
road, showing no actual fear, even when it was inevitable that she
should plunge into the lake. Yet now, as she talked of this Victor
Burnham, she trembled so that she could hardly stand, and her voice
quivered pitifully.

“I’ll take care of Mr. Burnham, both on the track and elsewhere, if it
should be necessary,” Stanley assured her.

Hardly were the words out of his mouth, when a footstep close by made
him turn. He looked straight into the malevolent eyes of the man he had
been talking about.

For a moment the two gazed at each other defiantly. Then, without
speaking, Victor Burnham turned on his heel and went into the house.

“He heard you, I am afraid!” murmured the girl.

“Just as well, if he did,” replied Stanley, with a smile. “He will know
what to expect if he doesn’t behave himself.”

“Hello, Stan!” broke in the cheery tones of Clay Varron. “I’ve just
heard the news.”

“What?” cried Stanley, half hoping that the news might be good for him.
“They haven’t found the money in the lake, have they?”

“No, old man! I wish it was that. What I meant was that I’m pleased you
are going to be in that race. Mr. Ranfelt and I are going to Buffalo
with you. We want to see you do your trial. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Mind?” ejaculated Stanley. “It is the very thing I should have
suggested, if I had thought you and Mr. Ranfelt would consent.”

“And I’m going, too,” put in Helen decidedly.

“So will I, if I may be permitted,” added the surly voice of Victor
Burnham, as he stepped forward. “I’m told the Thunderbolt racer the
company has ready is quite a traveler. I should like to see how you
will handle it.”

“I will drive you over in my car, Stan, if you like,” said Clay,
ignoring Burnham. “Mr. Ranfelt says he will go in his own car, and I
suppose he will take Helen with him.”

Nobody asked Victor Burnham how he intended to go. But Helen knew he
had come from Buffalo in his own car, and, of course, he could go the
same way.

“Will you take me with you, Ranfelt?” he asked, as the mine owner
stepped out to the veranda.

Helen managed to catch her father’s eye, and he gave Burnham a prompt
negative.

“All right, Ranfelt. I can drive my own car,” he said, with an evil
grin. “It will be a little lonely for me, but we can all go together,
even if we are in separate cars.”

“The blackguard!” thought Stanley Downs. “I feel as if he and I would
come to grips some time—and not on the speedway only.”



CHAPTER V.

For a Sure Thing.


IT was two days later when Victor Burnham, with a raincoat covering his
ordinary raiment, and a peaked cap pulled well down over his brows,
stood behind a big racing car in a garage in a back street in Buffalo.
With him was a man whose oily overalls and blackened hands proclaimed
him a garage employee.

“Now, Dan,” whispered Burnham, as he glanced about to make sure they
could not be overheard. “You understand that if I win this race you get
a clear thousand dollars.”

“When do I get it?” inquired Dan coldly. “I want it as soon as you run
your car off the track.”

“Dan Saltus, you’re just as suspicious now as you ever were,” said
Burnham, grinning in a mirthless way. “When you were engineer for me,
out in Nevada, I knew that you did not trust anybody—not even your best
friend.”

“Best friend, eh?” snorted Mr. Saltus, passing a grimy hand across his
almost as grimy face. “Meaning yourself, I suppose?”

“Meaning myself,” assented Burnham. “I was your best friend, and I am
now. You would not have this nice little job as foreman of this garage
if I hadn’t got it for you.”

“That’s right. Although I don’t know that it is such a nice little job,
at that. The men I have around me are all dubs, and if I want anything
done right I have to get at it myself. But, never mind that. Drive
ahead with what you were going to say.”

Victor Burnham stepped to the door of the garage and looked up and down
the short street. It was between six and seven o’clock in the evening,
after general business hours, and no one was about. The garage itself
was empty but for Burnham and Dan Saltus, the foreman.

“What I was going to say,” resumed Burnham, as he stepped again to the
back of the racing car, “is that I have to win this Lawrence Cup.”

“That’s what they’ll all say,” grunted Dan. “I mean, all the drivers.”

“Possibly. But it’s real business with me. I’ve _got_ to win!”

“You’ll take a sporting chance, I suppose?”

“No!” snarled Burnham. “I won’t—if I can help it. This has to be a sure
thing for me. Chance won’t do.”

Dan Saltus took up some cotton waste and wiped away a streak of black
oil he had just observed on one of the brake rods of the gray racer. It
enabled him to avoid a response.

“This car is better than anything to be driven in that race—except one.”

“The Thunderbolt?”

“Yes.”

“I see. But what are you going to do about it?”

Victor Burnham glanced furtively about him. Then he moved close to the
grimy mechanic, still busy with his waste, and whispered in his ear:

“What can _you_ do about it?”

“I don’t get you.”

“Oh, yes, you do,” insisted Burnham. “But you don’t want to admit it.
You’re not a bonehead exactly.”

“Thanks! But you’ll have to come across more plainly than this if you
want a straight answer from me,” declared Dan doggedly.

“Very well. I will.”

There was utter silence for perhaps a quarter of a minute. Victor
Burnham hardly knew how to frame in words what he wanted to say. Like
most men of his type, he was always fearful of placing himself in the
power of anybody.

“Of course, Dan, I know you are straight with me. I’m not afraid of
your giving any of this conversation away. Even if you did, it would
not make any difference. No one would believe you.”

“No one would have to,” retorted Dan. “I don’t talk about my private
business. And this is plumb private. Go on, Mr. Burnham. You are so
leery of what you say, that anybody would think you’re planning a
murder. What’s it all about?”

“If that Thunderbolt had some little thing the matter with it, so that
it did not yield all the power it has generally been able to deliver,
or so that it would gradually give out—without danger to the driver, of
course——”

“Nothing like that could happen without danger to the driver,” threw in
Dan. “When a car is going ninety or a hundred miles an hour, or even
fifty, there is a chance of the driver’s neck being broken if anything
slips. You know that, Mr. Burnham.”

“It does not always follow,” insisted Burnham, “especially when it is
only some _little_ thing. In every big race a lot of cars draw out
before the finish with some small thing the matter.”

“What, for instance?” growled Dan.

“A flaw in a connecting rod, engine trouble of some kind, carburetor
not working just right—any one of a dozen things. I leave it to you
what to do. But I want the Thunderbolt to come in behind the Columbiad
I drive.”

“Why can’t you drive on the level?” demanded Dan sulkily. “You have a
car here that can walk away from any of them. I know. I’ve driven it
myself, and I saw you in the trial. Why, you did your ninety miles and
over—that is, an average of that—in your trial, and you had any amount
of power that you didn’t call on. Why don’t you go into the race and
trust to your machine? That’s what I’d do.”

Victor Burnham ripped out an oath in a low tone that made up in
foulness what it lacked in volume.

“I’m not asking what you’d do,” he rasped. “I want you to do this thing
for me, and I’ll pay you for doing it.”

“You will give me the thousand you promised if you win the race? I
agreed to take that, but it was only for seeing that the machine was in
perfect condition. I didn’t bargain for any real crooked work for that
money,” growled Dan.

“It was understood.”

“No, it wasn’t. If you want anything more than straight goods from me,
you’ve got to hand over something more than a thousand—a great deal
more.”

“I’ll give you another thousand.”

“Making two thousand altogether?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll do what you want me to. But—wait a moment. One thousand will have
to be paid, whether you win or not. I’m not taking _all_ the chances.
Suppose I get at the Thunderbolt, and I’m seen. Where would I come in?
It might take a thousand dollars for a lawyer to clear me. I’ve got to
have a thousand before I’ll take the contract. You know I’m square. I
won’t take your money and not do the job.”

Victor Burnham reflected with deeply contracted brows, and as he
did so, any casual observer would have said that he was the very
incarnation of evil. Indeed, he might have been plotting murder, as Dan
Saltus had intimated, so far as could be told from the expression of
his dark face.

“Here’s the thousand, Dan,” he said at last, drawing a wallet from an
inside pocket. “Do you promise to get at the Thunderbolt?”

“For a thousand dollars—yes,” replied Dan, holding out his hand for the
money.

Without speaking, Victor Burnham opened the wallet and counted ten
hundred-dollar bills into the garage foreman’s hand.

“I’d rather have had it in smaller bills,” grumbled Dan. “It isn’t so
easy to get a century changed without people wondering where you got
it. But I dare say I can get away with it.”

He rolled the money into a small package and put it in a pocket under
his overalls, looking at the racing car before him as he did so.

“This Columbiad is in good shape, I suppose, Dan. Nothing hurt it in
the trial?”

“Not a thing. I have been over it carefully, and taken a long time to
do it. She’s ready for the race this minute, if you wanted to take her
out. I’ll be your mechanician, of course—as I was in the trial—and I’ll
know that she’s tuned up to concert pitch when we line up. I’ve got
plenty of gas in her. But I’ll draw it all out and put in fresh gas
before the race, of course. I’ve got the very best grade of gasoline
on the market, and I’ve strained it three times already, to make sure
she’s clean.”

Victor Burnham nodded perfunctorily at all this. He knew Dan Saltus
would look after all details. Gasoline, water, oil, and every part of
the ugly gray machine, with its great white figure 7 painted on it in
several places, would be exactly right. That was not what he had to
think about.

What troubled him was that the Thunderbolt—a wonderful racer that never
had been beaten by an American car so far—would also be in perfect
condition. With everything else equal, he feared that Stanley Downs
could push ahead of the Columbiad.

“I don’t know that he could do it,” muttered Burnham, half aloud. “But
he might. That’s what has to be prevented.”

“I’ll prevent it all right,” declared Dan, who had overheard. “Do you
want to look her over any more? If you don’t, I’ll take her to the
storeroom and lock her in.”

“I’ve seen enough of her,” replied Burnham. “Take her up.”

Dan Saltus dropped into the low driver’s seat—with its comfortable
cushions, which gave just room for the mechanician to sit by the side
of the driver—and skillfully guided the car upon a flat platform
elevator a few yards away.

The smoothness with which the powerful machine rolled along the
concrete floor, so slowly that it appeared hardly to be moving, proved
that it was a perfect bit of mechanism. One could hardly realize that
its gaunt, rakish frame held the potency of a hundred miles an hour and
more. It just crawled now—no more.

Victor Burnham waited patiently until Dan Saltus had taken the car to
an upper floor, where it would be locked up in an iron fireproof room
by itself. When the foreman came down again, Burnham remarked that the
trial of the Thunderbolt was to take place at the speedway at ten the
next morning.

“I know it,” replied Dan.

“You’ll be there?”

“I guess so. The boss here doesn’t like me to be away too much, for we
are pretty busy. But I can trust my assistant for that length of time.
We have some good men working for us, too. That’s one comfort. But you
don’t want me to do any work on the Thunderbolt to-morrow, do you?” he
added, with the ghost of a grin.

“No,” growled Burnham. “So long as you are on the job when the race
comes off, I don’t ask anything more. But I want you to see this
Thunderbolt in real action at the trial. It may give you some ideas as
to how you are to fix it afterward. Good night, Dan.”

He walked out of the garage without looking back. Outside, he lighted a
cigar, which he puffed contentedly as he went along.

“The coldest proposition I ever went up against,” reflected Dan Saltus,
aloud, looking after the departing Burnham. “By gravy, I believe he’d
rather have that young fellow Downs killed than not. If Burnham knew
I was on to his game to the very bottom, he’d be surprised, I reckon.
_He_ thinks _I_ think all he cares about is to win this race just for
the sake of the glory and my thousand dollars. Strange how things come
about. If it hadn’t been that Hank Swartz is a friend of mine, I’d
never have got on to it all. As it is, I reckon that——Hello, Hank!
Where did you blow in from?”

A wide-shouldered, lean-faced man, with the deep tan on his face that
told of outdoor life in the open country—for he could not have got so
brown anywhere else—strolled into the garage and coolly appropriated
the one wooden chair in sight, which was usually occupied by the
foreman when he had nothing else to do.



CHAPTER VI.

The Heart of the Plot.


“I HAVE been attending to affairs for Burnham,” replied Hank Swartz,
when he was comfortably settled in his chair. “I wish I could smoke in
here.”

“Well, you can’t,” snapped Dan. “You know that as well as I do. This is
a garage.”

“All right. I just dropped in to see how the Columbiad looked? Where is
she?”

“She’s put away upstairs, in her own little flat,” answered Dan, with
his usual surly grin. “We are not showing her to everybody until the
day of the race. Then some of them may see her a little too much. She’s
going to win that cup and the purse, Hank.”

“Of course she is. She must. There’ll be a neat little sum in side
bets, too. Gee! I reckon Vic Burnham will clean up about fifty
thousand. Well, he needs it.”

This time Dan Saltus allowed himself to chuckle outright.

“He sure does. He’s so near broke that if he was to get a hard shove
he would tumble clear over into bankruptcy. But he’s a great bluffer.
If he can get that girl of Ranfelt’s he’ll be all right. But the other
string he has out, on old man Burwin, of Burwin & Son’s bank, is a good
one, too.”

“And yet that deal depends rather on this race for the Lawrence cup,
just as his winning Helen Ranfelt does,” remarked Hank Swartz wisely.

“How? I don’t quite get that,” responded Dan Saltus.

“Well, you know that Burnham wants to get old Dick Burwin to open a
branch bank out in Carson City, and appoint Burnham the president?”

“Sure! I’m wise to that.”

“Well, Burnham has been bluffing the old man that he can put a hundred
thousand plunks into the capital of the new bank. That would give an
excuse for making him president. Old Burwin likes the scheme, according
to Burnham. But Burnham has always been afraid that when it was sprung
on Burwin’s nephew, this Stanley Downs, the beans would all be spilled.”

“I reckon that’s so,” agreed Dan thoughtfully. “This Downs is
one smart guy. They say his uncle relies on his judgment in ‘most
everything he does.”

“That’s what,” was Swartz’s response. “So it’s up to Burnham to keep it
away from Stanley Downs—which he has done up to date—or to queer Downs
so badly with his uncle that anything he says won’t count. Pretty slick
plan, eh, Dan?”

The two men chuckled in concert. Obviously they were both in a plot
that appealed to their peculiar temperament, and which it gave them
pleasure to discuss at their leisure.

“I hear Stanley Downs has lost twenty thousand dollars belonging to the
bank,” remarked Dan, after a short pause.

“Oh, you heard that, eh? Where did you get it?”

“Oh, come off, Hank! What am I on earth for? To walk around with plugs
in my ears and blinders on? I can tell you something more about that.
Downs is keeping it from his uncle that he’s shy the twenty thousand,
and he hopes to get it from this cup race. Isn’t that right?”

“You are not far off, Dan,” admitted Swartz.

“You bet I’m not. Well, he isn’t going to get that twenty thousand,
because Burnham, with his Columbiad upstairs, will rush over the finish
line while Stanley Downs and his Thunderbolt will be a hundred miles
behind, wondering why he ever entered.”

“You’ll get some of the purse, eh, Dan?”

“I’ll be the mechanician. Of course I’ll get some. You don’t think I’m
going to take chances of being all broken up for nothing.”

“But won’t you get more than your mechanician’s percentage?” persisted
Swartz.

Dan Saltus had been leaning against the doorpost, where he could look
up and down the street while conversing with Swartz. He swung around
abruptly at the last remark, and there was an expression of anger as
well as fear in his eyes.

“What do you mean by that, Hank? Who said I’d get more than my regular
bit as a mechanician? Why should I?”

“I don’t know. I only asked,” replied Hank Swartz coolly. “I’m getting
paid by Burnham for certain work I’m doing for him. I wouldn’t tell
everybody, but I’m not trying to hide it from you. I thought you might
loosen up a little to me—that’s all. We’re old pards. We’ve rode,
worked, and bunked together out in the West, both in the cattle country
and the mines. But if you want to forget all that, why, it goes with
me, too.”

There was so much sadness in the way this was said that Dan Saltus felt
obliged to respond. He held out his hand to the other.

“I didn’t mean nothing, Hank,” he protested. “Only it ain’t well to
talk too much. I’ll only tell you this much, and you can guess the rest
if you have a mind to: Victor Burnham is going to win this race with
the Columbiad.”

“I see,” replied Swartz. “I’m glad to hear it. That will make things
all O. K. for me at my end of it.”

“How?”

“If Burnham wins the race, it will put Stanley Downs in the wrong
with his uncle. He’ll be twenty thousand dollars shy, for one thing,
and he’ll fall down in a game that he’s supposed to know all the way
through from soup to nuts.”

“Then there’s Ranfelt’s girl!” suggested Dan.

“Yes. Not that Stanley Downs wants her. He never met her till
yesterday, when he played into our hands by diving into the lake with
her and her Fanchon,” laughed Hank. “But Vic Burnham is crazy for her.”

“What are you handing me, Hank?” demanded Saltus, with an incredulous
chuckle. “I never knew Vic Burnham to be crazy over any girl. He wants
her dad’s money. That’s all.”

“Well, isn’t it all the same?” rejoined Swartz. “He wants her, and
he’ll stand a fair show of getting her if he pulls off this race. I’m
mighty glad you and he have it framed up to get it for him.”

“There you go again, Hank!” complained Dan Saltus. “Who has anything
‘framed up’? It’s going to be a straight contest, with the best car and
driver winning. You know that, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. You needn’t fly off the handle just because we
are having a little friendly talk. I’m going around to look at the
Thunderbolt, if I can. It’s in the Moussard garage. They are not
letting strangers look her over, of course. But I know the boys there,
and I reckon I can get in to see what she looks like at close range.”

Hank Swartz strolled out, after a friendly “So long!” to Dan, and
walked across that part of the city for about a quarter of a mile
before he stopped in front of another garage, which was enough like the
one where he had left Dan Saltus to be mistaken for it, if it had been
next door.

It was in an upstairs warehouse that Swartz found several persons
standing around the racer that Stanley Downs was to drive in the trial
for two miles on the morrow.

One of the garage men took Swartz up and directed him to stand out of
sight behind a big limousine until the party looking at the Thunderbolt
went away.

“Then you can give her the once over without one knowing anything about
it,” said the man to Swartz. “The boss gave orders that nobody was to
see it except Mr. Downs and his friends—and Mr. Ranfelt, of course.
They are over there now, but they won’t stay long.”

“All right, Bill,” returned Swartz, as the two sat on the running board
of the limousine.

“You will easily qualify at the trial to-morrow, Mr. Downs,” remarked
Helen Ranfelt, as Stanley Downs pointed out to her the various items
that made up the big Thunderbolt. “I know something about automobiles,
and I can see that you have about everything in this car that you could
want in a racer. How I should like to drive her over the track myself,
just once,” she added wistfully.

“It wouldn’t be as comfortable as your Fanchon, Helen,” put in her
father. “Besides, it isn’t customary for young ladies to drive in
races.”

“I didn’t say I wanted to drive in the race,” pouted Helen. “Although I
wouldn’t mind doing that if it were considered the proper thing. What I
suggested was that it would be nice to send the Thunderbolt over that
beautiful, smooth wooden floor of the speedway, just to feel her going
at ninety miles an hour.”

“Ninety miles an hour, Helen?” said Clay Varron, with a laugh. “You
have your nerve with you. Do you realize that that means a mile and a
half a minute?”

“I know the multiplication table, Clay,” she rejoined. “If it _is_ the
multiplication table you compute it by. Anyhow, I have driven sixty
miles on a road, and I don’t think speed would ever scare me very
badly.”

“That’s so,” agreed Lawrence K. Ranfelt boisterously. “By George, Clay,
I’d rather trust Helen in a race than a lot of men I know. I’d like to
see her in a car against Victor Burnham. I bet she’d make Vic hustle.”

Helen Ranfelt frowned and pinched her father’s arm.

“Was it necessary to bring Mr. Burnham’s name into this?” she asked, in
a whisper. “I want to forget him.”

“If you do, you’d better root for Mr. Downs to pull off the race. You
know what Burnham expects if he brings the Columbiad in first.”

“What he expects and what he will get may be widely apart, dad,”
returned the girl, in her usual tone, and with a carcass laugh and
toss of her head. “Anyhow, I’m expecting to see the Thunderbolt do it
easily.”

“We shall get a line on it at the trial to-morrow,” observed Varron. “I
suppose you haven’t any doubt about it yourself—have you, Stan?”

Stanley Downs smiled, as he patted the gray monster, with its immense
white “5” on the front of the radiator, and repeated in three other
places, on each side of the hood and at the back.

“I’m ready to guarantee that the Thunderbolt is in perfect condition
to-night,” he said. “That means it will be the same in the morning, for
it will be shut up here by the garage men after we’ve gone, and no one
else will see it till I come down here to drive it to the speedway.”

“You’ll drive it through the city yourself, then?” asked Varron.

“Certainly. It is the safest thing to do.”

“How do you feel yourself?” asked Mr. Ranfelt, slapping him on the
shoulder. “Think you are fit?”

“Seem to be,” replied Stanley, as the party filed out of the room and
went down the stairs on their way to the street.

“Now, Hank,” said the man he had called Bill. “If you want to take a
flash at the Thunderbolt, now is your time.”

Hank Swartz walked over to the racer, over which a bunch of electric
lights still glowed, and bent down to look at her closely.

This man had owned several cars in his life, and he knew the “points”
of an automobile. So his examination of the Thunderbolt was an
intelligent one, even though he was not long making it.

“Well?” queried Bill, as Swartz at last moved away from the
Thunderbolt. “What do you think of her?”

Hank Swartz drew a long breath. Then he shook his head slowly.

“She is unbeatable—as she stands to-night,” he answered.

He went out of the garage, boarded a street car at a near corner, and
sent his name up to a certain room in a prominent hotel.

“Mr. Burnham is out,” announced the clerk, when the telephone had
failed to draw a response from the room.

Swartz frowned impatiently. Then he hastily wrote his name on a card
and handed it to the clerk. On the card he had also written: “Call me
up right away. Important. Trouble.”

“See that Mr. Burnham gets this card as soon as he returns, please,” he
requested, as he turned away from the desk.

He strode up and down the spacious lobby several times, thinking, and
muttering to himself. What he said was: “The Thunderbolt is unbeatable.
I said it and I sincerely meant it. Unbeatable—unless——Well, that will
be up to Burnham.”

He walked out of the hotel, still thinking and muttering.



CHAPTER VII.

A Reply by Wire.


THE trial of the Thunderbolt was an entire success. As Stanley Downs
had said, the car was tuned to perfection, while he, the driver, was as
good as his machine. The two worked together like one organism.

There were several hundred people at the speedway to see the trial,
although it was not a public exhibition. The spectators included
drivers of other cars, mechanicians, officers of the speedway—including
the manager, Colonel Frank Prentiss—and other persons who were
connected in various ways with the track and the race that was to take
place on Thursday.

Stanley did not push his car too hard, but he went over the two miles
in a minute and twenty seconds, which was at the rate of ninety miles
an hour. This admitted the car to the cup race, the requirement being a
speed of not less than eighty-five miles an hour.

When the trial was over, and as soon as he could get away from the
swarm of interested people who crowded about the car after it had
passed the judges’ stand and been declared qualified, Stanley left the
track and made his way to the garage, where he turned the Thunderbolt
over to his mechanician.

He had had a telegram from his uncle that morning which he should have
answered before—only that he did not know what to say. It disturbed
him so that it was only by desperately concentrating his mind on the
business immediately in hand that he had been enabled to drive in the
trial.

The telegram was brief and to the point. It read as follows:

    Have heard that you met with accident in mountains not
    far from Poughkeepsie. Is money safe? Answer at once.

    RICHARD BURWIN.

“What shall I do about this, Clay?” asked Stanley of his friend, as
the two pored over the telegram in Stanley’s room at the hotel. “The
money is at the bottom of the lake. I suppose it is safe enough, but I
haven’t got it,” he added grimly.

“I suppose you must answer the wire?” observed Varron, with, a
questioning look.

“If you knew my uncle as well as I do,” returned Stanley, “you would
not ask that. Of course I must answer it.”

“Well, then, I’d give him the answer you just now gave me.”

Stanley looked at him, puzzled, for a moment. Then he uttered a short
laugh and shook his head.

“You mean that I shall telegraph him the money is safe?”

“Just that,” replied Clay Varron. “You said yourself it was safe. That
is what he asks.”

“That would be a prevarication. I don’t see how I can say that. He
wouldn’t consider it safe if I told him where it was. No, Clay, I can’t
do it. My uncle is always square with me. I should feel like a crook if
I sent him such a message as that.”

“Well, what will you do? If you tell him the truth, what will be the
consequence?”

“The consequence will be that he will think I am a fool,” answered
Stanley Downs, without hesitation.

“He couldn’t think that, unless he’s a fool himself,” was Clay’s warm
rejoinder. “Come again.”

“Well, he would know that I had failed in a matter where I should have
used extreme care, and I doubt whether he ever would trust me again. I
have fallen down, and there is no getting away from it.”

Stanley Downs strode up and down the room in such a dejected frame of
mind that his friend became indignant.

“What’s the matter with you, Stan? Buck up! You took a risk of your
life to save a girl, and you did what any man ought to do. The fact
that some of them would have held back is nothing to do with the case.
When you knew that that crazy kid cousin of mine was driving straight
to a horrible death, you followed her up and brought her through. If
you call that ‘falling down,’ or behaving like a fool, then I can only
say I wish there were more fools like you in the world.”

Stanley Downs placed his two hands affectionately on the shoulders of
his loyal friend and looked him in the eyes, as he asked earnestly:

“Clay, now, on the level, would you ask me to tell a deliberate lie to
my uncle, who has always been straight with me—who has been indeed more
than a father—and who would fight any man who dared even to hint that I
would juggle with the truth? Would you?”

Clay Varron coughed in embarrassment. Then he answered, in as earnest a
voice as Stanley’s own:

“Of course you can’t do it, Stan. But I don’t know what to advise you
to telegraph him. I don’t, by gosh!”

“There is only one way out of it that I can see,” declared Stanley,
after a few minutes’ cogitation. “That is, to evade his question for
the present. I am in hopes that after Thursday I shall be able to go to
New York with the money.”

“You will, old man,” was Clay’s eager response. “You’ll win that race
and have twenty thousand dollars, to replace what you have lost. I
am sure of that. I believed it before I saw the trial to-day. Now I
_know_ there is nothing can beat the Thunderbolt, with you at the
wheel. This Columbiad may be a good car. I believe it is. But, the cars
being equal—and I have no idea that the Columbiad is _better_ than the
Thunderbolt, you are a better driver than Burnham. That will give you
just the ‘edge’ you require to come in first. Your judgment in driving
will beat Burnham, as sure as that the sun will rise to-morrow morning.”

There was no resisting the enthusiasm of Clay Varron. A smile broke
over Stanley’s troubled countenance, and it was with a feeling of
confidence that he took up a pad of telegraph blanks from a table to
write a message to Richard Burwin.

He was some little time composing the telegram. At last, however, he
had written what he thought would be the best thing, and he read it to
Clay, in the following words:

    Am detained in Buffalo until after the automobile race
    on Thursday. Have business with Colonel Prentiss. Will
    come to New York on Friday. All well.

    STANLEY DOWNS.

“That ‘All well’ is a good touch,” approved Clay Varron. “It is the
truth, too. When you have driven this race, everything will be well,
and you will go down to New York with your twenty thousand dollars.
Then you can tell your uncle about it, if you like.”

“I certainly shall tell him. I am in hopes that, if there is no loss,
he will forgive me——”

“For taking a chance on being drowned to save a girl, eh?” interrupted
Clay. “Well, if he doesn’t forgive you he will have a hard time
explaining to his conscience. Going to take that telegram downstairs
and have it sent, or will you telephone for a boy to be sent here?”
asked Clay.

“I think I’ll walk around with it to the office. Then I shall know it
gets off right away,” decided Stanley. “Will you dine with me to-night?”

“Can’t, dear boy,” answered Clay. “I’ve promised to take dinner with
the Ranfelts, at their hotel. Then we are going to a theater. By the
way, you were invited, too—weren’t you?”

“Yes. But I begged off. I knew this telegram was here, and, to tell the
truth, I didn’t feel like talking and seeing a show. There are only
two more clear days before the race, and I think I shall use them in
resting, except when I am exercising the Thunderbolt on the speedway. I
want to get used to that track.”

“There is not much to be learned about it. I should think,” said
Vernon. “It is almost a counterpart of the speedway at Sheepshead.
Two-mile oval, with two half-mile straightaways and two half-mile
turns.”

“Yes, I know all that,” interrupted Stanley. “And at the curves the
outside edges rise to twenty-five feet. The track is seventy feet
wide. You see, I have all its dimensions. I even know that it is built
of two-by-four pine, laid on edge. But all that means little to a man
in a big race, unless he has practiced again and again. No matter how
smooth a track may seem to be, there are sure to be little kinks that a
driver should know.”

“In what way are there kinks?”

“Little waves where the going rises slightly—almost imperceptibly—and
yet which will make a fast-running car swerve. You know that, Clay. You
are an automobilist.”

Clay Varron nodded. He did, indeed, understand how slight an
obstruction will change the course of a motor car when going at high
speed. There could be no argument as to the wisdom of a driver trying
out the track as often as possible.

“Of course. Stan, it would be foolish in you to neglect all possible
precautions. So I suppose it was wise for you to pass up this
dinner-and-show game to-night. There’ll be supper after the theater, of
course, and I dare say it will be two o’clock in the morning, if not
later, before the fair-haired boy who is talking to you will sink upon
his downy pillow.”

“Drivers in three-hundred-and-fifty-mile cup races should not stay up
till two in the morning,” said Stanley, with a laugh. “So I have plenty
of excuse for not being with you to-night.”

“Another thing, Stan, that might have decided you to remain away is
that Victor Burnham will be in the party. I don’t believe you like him
any more than I do. Besides, he will be your principal opponent in the
race, I think, and you wouldn’t want to talk about it, I know.”

“But he would, I guess?”

“Sure! He’s just the kind of bounder who would try to get your goat by
talking about the difficulties of the thing, and wondering whether
your car will stand the racket.”

“That would be very unsportsmanlike,” remarked Stanley, with a shrug.

“Of course. That’s why Burnham would do it. He’s a scalawag through and
through, Stan. I know that. I’ve met him before. And, I tell you, old
man, when you are in the race, you want to look out for him. If there
is anything he can do to foul you, that’s what he’ll do.”

Stanley Downs laughed disdainfully.

“There isn’t much chance of a driver fouling another in an automobile
race without his risking his own neck, as well as the other fellow’s,
Clay. I can take care of myself when once we are going.”

“I reckon so,” agreed Clay Varron. “Well, I’ll walk with you as far as
the telegraph office. We’ll take those back streets. They are a short
cut. You know the way, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. Come on!”

The two young men walked briskly from the hotel, and in ten minutes
Stanley was handing in his telegram, telling the clerk to send an
answer, if there should be one, to the hotel.

Clay Varron had left his friend at the door of the telegraph office,
and was on his way to his room, to dress for the dinner to which he had
been invited.

When the message had been filed and paid for, Stanley came out alone
and strolled along busy Main Street for several blocks, thinking of
the strange curve of the ball of fate that had brought him to Buffalo
again, to become a driver in this great race.

“If I weren’t so worried about that money, I should enjoy the
experience, just for itself,” he murmured. “As it is, I am so anxious
to win that it may be the cause of my defeat. Defeat? No, sir! I _must_
win!”

He was so taken up with his thoughts that he never noticed two rather
under-sized youths, with the furtive air and in the flashily cut cheap
clothing peculiar to the underworld class, known as “gangsters” in
most large American cities, who kept always at the same short distance
behind him, and who never let him out of their sight.



CHAPTER VIII.

Desperate Treachery.


IT was when Stanley had turned off the main thoroughfare, with its
electric lights and thronging promenaders, into a labyrinth of dark and
small streets, that he realized he had lost his way.

He could have turned around and come back to the broad, well-lighted
avenue he had just left, but that was not Stanley Downs’ way, for he
rather enjoyed wandering about cities without any clear notion of
where he was going, only to find himself at last on some familiar
thoroughfare.

“I have nothing particular to do this evening,” he told himself. “I
don’t think I want any regular dinner, and I shall go to bed after a
while. So I will just keep going till I come out somewhere I know.”

He strolled through the dark streets for another ten minutes, without
coming to any landmark he recognized. Always behind him crept the
shadows of the two gangsters, and both held in their hands short clubs
of some kind.

“Ah! I see bright lights at the end of this street at last!” muttered
Stanley. “I knew I’d work out of this muddle, sooner or later. Glad of
it, for this darkness and the rough sidewalks are getting monotonous.”

He had stood at the mouth of a dark and forbidding alleyway as he gazed
at the reflection of the lights some three blocks ahead.

He laughed at himself for being lost in a city that he knew fairly
well, and had started to walk on, when a soft shuffling sound behind
made him swing around, with an instinctive feeling that he must protect
himself from some sudden danger.

It was this instinct that caused him to raise both arms in an attitude
of defense. Also it prevented his being struck on the head.

A blackjack came down rather hard on his left arm, while another weapon
of the same kind which menaced him on the right called for immediate
action.

Stanley Downs was used to fighting in all sorts of ways. Not only was
he a finished scientific boxer, but he had had experience in the brutal
pastime of “rough and tumble” many times.

Down went the gangster who was about to bring the loaded club on him on
his right. Stanley hit clean and true. His fist caught the fellow under
the chin and sent him flying backward until he tumbled against a wall,
where he stood, gasping.

The other rascal, having seen that his “handy billy” had not injured
the arm it had struck, gathered himself together and disappeared in
the darkness with the celerity that told of his familiarity with the
locality, as well as proving that he was a lively sprinter.

Stanley turned to look at the half-disabled ruffian who was leaning
against the wall. But hardly had he got his eyes focused on the limp
figure, when the gangster, by a powerful effort of will, slunk out of
view also.

Where he went was not apparent. There were many holes and corners in
that shady neighborhood, including doorways to houses which were like
rat burrows to those who knew them.

“Let him go!” muttered Stanley, smiling. “He hasn’t done me any harm,
and I could not bother to have him arrested, even if there were a
policeman in sight. I suppose they were just common holdups. If one
of them had landed on my head with a blackjack or sandbag, they might
have got me, too. As it was, they don’t win. I’ll get to the lighted
streets, however. I couldn’t afford to be knocked out a day or so
before that big race. After that, it wouldn’t so much matter.”

He laughed aloud at the incident which had ended in what he regarded as
rather a ludicrous manner, and went calmly back to his hotel, and soon
afterward to bed.

About the time that Stanley Downs was undressing and thinking over the
big contest in which he was to take part on the day after the morrow,
Victor Burnham sat in the back room of a low saloon in a tough part of
the city, talking to the two gangsters who had vainly endeavored to
knock Stanley senseless.

“He spoiled it, did he?” grunted Burnham. “That shows that you fellows
are not much good. I ought not to pay you. What you’ve done for me is
just nothing.”

“We couldn’t help it,” snarled one of the ruffians. “We shadowed him
for nearly an hour before we got a chance. Then somebody must have
given him a tip, for he turned just as I landed on him with the billy.
I got him on the arm, instead of the head. He didn’t pay no attention
to me, but he cut loose a left hook that took Patsy in the jaw and
laid him out stiff. I beat it, of course. There wasn’t nothing else to
do. Later I met Patsy here, and here he is. He’ll tell you whether I’m
lying or not.”

“I don’t suppose you’re lying,” interrupted Burnham disgustedly. “I
only say you are no good. But here is your fifty dollars. If you can
get him again before the race, I’ll make it a hundred more—a hundred
apiece. If he doesn’t show up in the race, I’ll know that you’ve done
it, and you’ll get your money right away.”

He hurried out of the saloon. Patsy and the other worthy ordered more
beer and divided the money Burnham had paid.

“What do you say, Patsy?” asked his pal. “Want to go after that duck
again for a hundred?”

“Not on your life!” returned Patsy fervently. “I wouldn’t tackle him
for five hundred.”

And Patsy meant it.

It was in the forenoon of the next day that Stanley Downs again tried
out the car he was to use in the race. By his side was the taciturn,
efficient young man who had been offered to him by the Moussard Company
as his mechanician.

The mechanician often is as important a personage in a racing car as
the driver. At any moment during the race the machine may develop some
weakness, and it is the mechanician who immediately jumps in to get
things going again. At a time when every second counts, the ability of
the mechanician to work swiftly very often wins the struggle.

Stanley was entirely satisfied with the performance of the Thunderbolt,
and was smiling as he got out of his seat in the garage, after the
trial on the track.

“Paul,” he said to the mechanician. “You might as well look things over
again. And perhaps it would be well if you got around very early in the
morning to make sure that everything is right. The other men here are
all safe, of course, or the Moussard people wouldn’t have them. But I
believe in seeing for myself that my machine is right before it starts.”

“I’ll do it, sir,” replied Paul briefly. “I’ll have the car in good
shape. But I would advise that you look her over yourself afterward.”

“I shall do that, of course, Paul,” returned Stanley. “I’m going to
the hotel to rest most of the day. If you want me, you can call me up
there.”

It was not more than two hours later, when there came a banging at
Stanley’s door, accompanied by the voice of Clay Varron calling to him
to open.

“What’s the matter. Clay? Anything happened? My uncle? Anything from
him?”

“No. I haven’t heard from him. How should I? He wouldn’t write or
telegraph me, would he? No. It’s something else. Paul Wallman, your
mechanician, is in the hospital.”

“What?” cried Stanley, realizing with a rush what this might mean to
him in the race. “Hurt? Sick?”

“Badly smashed by a car. It happened in the garage. He was bending down
by the side of your Thunderbolt. Another man, handling cars up there,
didn’t see him, and shoved a big car against him, crushing him against
an iron post. He dropped in a heap, and they hurried him off to the
hospital. His right arm is broken, and they were afraid of internal
injuries, but I hear there is nothing of that kind. His broken arm puts
him out of the race with you, however.”

“What am I to do?” exclaimed Stanley Downs, knitting his brows. “This
is a serious matter. It may mean that I shall be hopelessly beaten.
Poor Paul! I’m sorry for him, too. What shall I do? I’ll have to get
another mechanician. But good ones are scarce. I can’t afford to risk
the race with one I don’t know. At the same time——”

“Look here, Stan!” broke in Varron. “I didn’t come here to bring bad
news without having something to suggest.”

“What is it, Clay?” questioned Stanley, as he clapped a hand on his
friend’s shoulder. “I suppose you have found a good man for me—as good
a one as Paul Wallman?”

“I don’t know about that,” was the modest response. “The man I have for
you is myself!”

“Yourself?”

“Yes. I know the Thunderbolt car pretty well. I’ve driven one for
a considerable time at intervals, and I don’t think there are any
Thunderbolt tricks that can fool me. Aside from that, you know that if
there is anything the mechanician can do to take you over the finish
line first, your humble servant will do it. Is it a go?”

The hearty handshake and the expression of gratitude in Stanley Downs’
face was answer enough.

“All right, then,” went on Varron hurriedly. “Let’s get down to the
garage and look the machine over. Then we might as well take a spin
around the track together. What do you say?”

They hurried to the garage, and soon had the big racer on the street,
ready to start for the speedway, out in the country. Among those who
watched Stanley Downs drive away, with his new mechanician, was Hank
Swartz. He was frowning heavily.

“I don’t know how it is,” muttered Hank to himself, “but that Downs
always seems to fall on his feet. What was the use of paying to have
Paul knocked out, when he can get as good a man as Clay Varron to fill
his place. I know Varron. I’d rather have him in that Thunderbolt than
Paul Wallman, any time. Burnham will get the worst of this yet, if he
doesn’t watch out.”



CHAPTER IX.

A Broken Record.


IT was a splendid day for the big race. There was not too much sun, for
a soft mist hung in the air, tempering the light. But it was bright
and comfortably warm, nevertheless. In a word, it was perfect spring
weather.

The grand stand, bleachers, and every other part of the immense grounds
where admission was charged were crowded with sight-seers. In the vast
acreage around the track set apart for automobiles, the machines were
parked several deep, and in all of them were groups of well-dressed
men and beautifully dressed women, who had come from all parts of the
country to see what could be done by motor cars that were the last word
in scientific achievement.

There was a record already of more than a hundred and two miles an hour
by an American car. Would this be beaten to-day? That was the question.
Or would it ever be equaled?

“That Columbiad may do it,” observed Colonel Frank Prentiss to a few
of his intimates, as he stood in the judges’ stand and looked over the
vast crowd that had gathered in the hope of seeing a smashed record.
“There is a possibility, that the Thunderbolt may touch it, too.”

“I’d like to see the Thunderbolt win,” remarked an elderly man, with
the indescribable air of wealth about him that can seldom be mistaken.
“It is an American car. The Columbiad is of foreign make, I believe?”

“Yes,” replied Lawrence K. Ranfelt, who had brought this gentleman into
the stand as a special favor. “It is driven by an American, however.
Victor Burnham. Ever heard of him?”

“Yes, I’ve heard of him,” replied the other dryly. “I guess I’ll get
down to my car. I can see the race from there comfortably. Come with
me. Ranfelt?”

“Yes. I believe I will,” replied Lawrence K., as he went down the
spiral staircase with the elderly gentleman. “My girl Helen is with a
party of friends in another car.”

The preliminaries of the big race were carried out rapidly and in
businesslike fashion.

The drivers and mechanicians had looked their machines over for the
last time, had given them little dashes over the track to make sure
that everything worked easily, and now were lining up across the wide
speedway to have their photographs taken _en masse_.

It was difficult to tell one from the other at a little distance. They
all looked like machinists in very soiled clothing, while the tight
caps, goggles in front, and the coat collars pulled up high, helped to
hide the fact that many of the contestants were extremely personable
young men, who, in their street clothing, were rather finicky about
their appearance.

Stanley Downs and Clay Varron stood side by side, and close by were
Victor Burnham, with his mechanician, Dan Saltus. Stanley and Burnham
did not look at each other, but Dan Saltus glanced rather curiously at
Clay Varron. Saltus had heard of Paul Wallman’s injury, and he rather
wondered what kind of mechanician Stanley would have with him in the
Thunderbolt.

“Get into your cars, gentlemen!” ordered the starter, as he waved to
the loud brass band to stop playing. “Ready!”

He gave a few directions to the drivers, as the eighteen cars in the
race were brought to a stop inside the line. He told them they were to
go once around the track, with a big car which stood a few yards in
front of them as a pacer. They were not to pass the pacer. When they
came around they could take a flying start for the real race as he
dropped his flag.

Away went the cars! Even the preliminary rush around the bowl was at
nearly a hundred miles an hour. As they came around again, the starter
shouted “Go!”—which could not be heard—and dropped his red flag.

The race was on!

A great roar arose from the fifty or sixty thousand people about the
track as the cars tore around the oval. Every car was at its best
just then, and the first lap of two miles was made at the rate of
ninety-five miles an hour, even by the last one.

The next two miles were covered at more than a hundred, and the drivers
warmed up, going higher and higher as each circuit of the great wooden
bowl was completed.

The cars were scattered by this time. The whole track was dotted with
them.

The Thunderbolt and Columbiad were in the ruck, neither conspicuously
in the forefront, nor far behind. Both Stanley Downs and Victor Burnham
were holding their cars in, contented to be safe for the present,
without trying for a lead.

Time would come when some of the contestants would drop out. There were
three hundred and fifty miles to go, altogether. Plenty of time for the
vicious struggle that must come when victory lay just among a few of
the survivors.

Stanley Downs, his goggles firmly adjusted and his eyes gazing straight
ahead, knew he had his car well under control. He could feel it leaping
forward in response to every light touch on the throttle, while it
obeyed the least turn of the wheel over which he could just see the
yellow-brown pine flooring ahead.

“She’s going all right, Stan?” shouted Varron in his ear.

“Perfectly!”

“I haven’t heard a sound from her that shouldn’t be there.”

“Nor I.”

“All right, Stan! Keep steady! You’ll make it!” reassured Clay Varron.
“Hello! That was Burnham!” he added, as a car swept close to them, so
that it seemed as if there had been a deliberate attempt at collision.
“The man must be crazy!”

Burnham had driven his long, snaky Columbiad so close that Stanley had
been obliged to swerve, giving his rival a hundred yards advantage, at
least, before the Thunderbolt could recover.

It was a reckless thing to do. If Stanley Downs had not been a splendid
driver, he might not have got out of the way in time. But Burnham had
figured on that. He knew Stanley was on the alert, and it was worth a
little risk to get that much ahead, he thought.

“You’ve got to make up that gap, Stan!” shouted Varron.

Stanley Downs did not trouble to answer. But he let in a little more
gas, and his machine jumped forward in response.

“Ah!” chuckled Varron. “That’ll do it. I don’t believe——What’s that?”

A soft crack had reached his ears. It was underneath the car!

Without a moment’s hesitation, Varron leaned far over the side of the
car, and seizing an iron handhold, he peered underneath.

As he pulled himself to his seat again, he shouted to Stanley Downs:

“Get down off the track. We’ll have to lose a minute or two! Not more!
Hurry!”

Stanley did not ask what was the matter until he had steered his car
to the inside of the track, in front of the judges’ stand. He had not
quite stopped when Varron was on the ground, a pair of pliers in his
hand.

Under the car he dived as it came to a standstill, and there was a
minute’s work with the pliers. Then he came out, leaped into his seat,
and shouted to Stanley: “Go—like the deuce!”

Up shot the Thunderbolt to the track again, and it was going as fast
as any of them, almost at once. It was not till the speedometer told
that once more they were doing a hundred miles an hour that Varron
volunteered any information as to what had been wrong.

“Connecting rod loosened,” he explained. “It had been done purposely,
for there was a nut wedged where it would prevent the thing being found
out at first. I never saw anything more infernally cunning. Somebody
got at the car while we were having our pictures taken. That’s the only
time it could have been done, for I’d looked her over just before that.
The connecting rod was all right then.”

“We’ll talk about that after the race,” said Stanley shortly.

The delay had given Burnham a start on the Thunderbolt of a whole
lap—two miles.

Stanley could not lessen the distance, try as he would. He decided,
after a dozen circuits of the oval, that he would not try any more just
then. He would content himself with not getting any farther behind.

So far it appeared as if the Thunderbolt and Columbiad were just about
equal in power and speed. It would be nip and tuck, even if they were
level.

The race kept on, and car after car dropped out, unable to stand the
grueling pace. When there were a hundred and fifty miles to go only
nine cars remained—just half the number that had started.

“We’ve gained one lap on Burnham,” shouted Varron to Stanley. “The
other cars are not in it for first place. Keep it up. We did a hundred
and three miles an hour for the last lap. That beat Burnham. Go ahead!
Go on!”

Varron was wild now. He saw that the Thunderbolt was slowly creeping up
on its rival. A little more and they would lap him again.

“It _must_ be done! The Thunderbolt _must_ win!”

He bellowed this through the roar of the car, and though the rushing
wind drove the words back into his throat, he still kept up his frantic
cries of encouragement to the cool, steady driver at his side.

Stanley Downs had been in many a contest before, on the football field,
at polo, and other sports. But never had he taken part in a battle as
exciting as this, and never had he been cooler.

He felt that the machine was working smoothly, that every part seemed
to be in perfect accord, and that he was slowly gaining on the rival
who had resolved to beat him at any cost.

Clay Varron had used his oil can at frequent intervals. Being a racing
car, the Thunderbolt could be replenished with oil from the seat in all
of its more important parts, and Clay had taken care there should be no
lack of lubricant.

Twenty, forty, a hundred miles had been covered, and Stanley Downs
lifted his machine almost even with the Columbiad. Another effort and
he would pass.

It was at this instant that Stanley caught a glimpse out of the corner
of his eye of the driver of the Columbiad, as the latter turned his
head slightly in the direction of his rival. Also, he saw that the
mechanician, Dan Saltus, was shouting something to Burnham, as he
raised his hand, apparently in remonstrance.

It was all so quick that afterward Stanley Downs did not know exactly
what he had seen in the Columbiad.

Just as Saltus shouted, there was a quick swerve of the Columbiad, and
it crowded toward the Thunderbolt.

It was the same trick that Burnham had played early in the race, and
which then might have resulted in the horrible death of the four men in
the two cars.

Stanley gripped his wheel tighter and tried to steer out of the way,
even although he knew it would lose for him two or three hundred
precious yards.

But he did not go quite far enough! The Columbiad bore down on him,
and the two raced along for a second or two, with only a few inches
separating them.

Then came the crash. By one of those curious combinations of
circumstances not uncommon in automobiling, it chanced that a rear
corner of the Thunderbolt clipped the other car just where it would
upset its gravity.

Bang! Smash!

The Columbiad was on its side, while Stanley, quickly recovering from
the jar, whirled on alone.

There was no time for Stanley to look at the wreck. He kept on with the
race. He must win, no matter who might be hurt. It is the cruel rule in
races of all kinds. Only those not in the actual contest can give time
to look after those who may have fallen in the struggle.

As they tore around on the next lap, keeping well clear of the wrecked
car, Varron saw men lifting Burnham and his mechanician away, and the
next time around the Columbiad had been turned over on its wheels by a
score of men and pushed out of the way.

It did not take long to cover the remaining distance. As Stanley Downs
rushed the Thunderbolt over the finish line, his number went up on the
board: “Number 5 wins!” Directly afterward the time was recorded also:
“103.10.”

This meant that the Thunderbolt had covered the three hundred and fifty
miles at an average speed of more than one hundred and three miles an
hour.

Stanley Downs had beaten the record!

It was some time before Stanley could get to a certain car parked in
the infield, in whom he had seen an elderly gentleman, to whom he
wanted very much to speak.

There were a number of formalities to be gone through. The man who had
won the Lawrence Cup could not be allowed to go away till he had been
addressed by the judges and had his photograph taken.

Then he had to go and change his clothes after a shower bath, and do
various other things to bring him back to his usual appearance.

It was all done at last, however, and he dashed for the car that had
been his aim all along since he had finished the race and had time to
look about him.

“Uncle!” he cried, as the elderly gentleman took his hand in a warm,
strong grip. “Somehow, I had a feeling that you’d come—especially when
I got no reply to my telegram. I’m very glad to see you.”

Richard Burwin was an unemotional man, as a rule. But there were tears
behind his glasses as he said brokenly:

“Stan, my boy, I knew all about it. I know more than you do. That
fellow Burnham was pretty slick, but not quite slick enough for the old
man. I had his measure from the first. However, he’s dead, so——”

“Dead?”

“Yes. He was smashed all to pieces. Crushed almost to a jelly.
Dreadful thing, of course. But he got it when he tried to crowd you
off the track—or kill you. I don’t believe he cared what he did. His
mechanician will get well they say.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Stanley earnestly.

“So am I,” came from Richard Burwin. “I am told he confessed, when they
carried him off the track, and when he thought he was dying, that he
had stolen a package of twenty thousand dollars from you when you were
at the track before you started for New York in your car.”

“Stole it?” cried Stanley, dazed.

“Yes. He changed it on you. Common trick among crooks, you know. The
old green-goods game! So you had only a bundle of worthless paper, with
a real bank note on the outside, in your car pocket. That’s what went
to the bottom of the lake. The money is safe, the fellow says. We’ll
get it back when we’ve seen him at the hospital, and got his formal
confession. Now, let’s get away from here. We’re going to take luncheon
with Ranfelt—an old friend of mine—Prentiss, and Miss Ranfelt——”

“Why, Mr. Downs, won’t you let me congratulate you?” broke in the
sweet voice of Helen Ranfelt. “I have been trying to do it all the
time you have been talking to Mr. Burwin.” Then, in a lower tone, that
only Stanley could hear: “You know how much this means to me. I am
horrified at Mr. Burnham’s death. But—wouldn’t it have been dreadful if
he had won the race?”

“Hello, Helen! How do you think you’d like to be a mechanician?” asked
Clay Varron, laughing, as he took his fair cousin’s hand. “It’s great
sport, I assure you.”

“Clay, you’re splendid,” she answered. “If you hadn’t helped Mr. Downs
to win the cup, I never would have forgiven you.”



SOME NEW INVENTIONS


To convert an ordinary wash boiler into a washing machine, an inventor
has patented a metal cone, perforated at the top, so that jets of
boiling water are forced through clothing.

An electrical annunciator device, operated by push buttons on chairs
throughout a hall, is working successfully in Holland to auction eggs
without the usual noise and confusion of such sales.

Both the moistening and sealing of letters is done in a single
operation by a new office implement, in which a dampened roller passes
under the flaps, ahead of a larger one, that closes them.

To enable automobiles to pull themselves up hills or out of soft spots
in roads, a South Dakota inventor has patented a windlass which may be
attached to the rear hub of the car and operated by a motor.

A Seattle man has invented a device which keeps automobiles from
skidding on wet pavements. There is a receptacle under the rear seat
of the car in which sand is placed, and, by pressing a pedal on the
floor of the car, the sand is released and spread in front of the rear
wheels, giving instant traction.

A tin hood which fits over a rooster’s head and neck in such a way
as to prevent the fowl from heralding the dawn has been invented. A
rooster did too much early-morning crowing near a police station, and
one of the policemen devised the invention, which is said to work
perfectly, and without injuring the rooster.

A pump that not only pumps up an automobile tire within a few minutes,
but that keeps the tire at that pressure, regardless of large
punctures, is a new invention. The pump can be attached to the hub of
the wheel in less than a minute. It works on the rotary-pump principle,
each revolution of the wheel, while running the car, driving air into
the tire.

In putting up tall buildings, contractors have had a problem in boring
holes in steel beams wherein to place the rivets, those little bands
of steel that are vital to the erection of skyscrapers. By putting a
trained army of drillers at work, the contractor has been able to drill
correctly probably five hundred holes a day. A new machine, invented
by a Los Angeles man, has demonstrated that it can bore thirty perfect
holes in two and one-half minutes, requiring in the operation the
services of one man and a dynamo generating sixteen and one-half horse
power. This boring is done in a steel beam three inches thick. The gang
drill, as it is called, can also be used on iron pipes. It is said that
one man using the machine can do the work of ten, not only cheaper, but
more accurately.



Frank Merriwell, Jr. at Fardale

From the Leaves of Frank Merriwell’s Notebook.

SYNOPSIS OF PRECEDING CHAPTERS

    CHIP MERRIWELL and his friends fall out with Kadir
    Dhin, a Hindu student at Fardale, whom Colonel Gunn
    brought from abroad. Chip trails him as he sneaks out
    of the barracks at night, and thwarts an attempt to
    abduct Rose Maitland, whose father, an English officer
    from India, was murdered in France, from the home of
    Colonel Gunn. The colonel tells Chip, in a veiled way,
    that the man who murdered Rose’s father did it because
    he and his daughter violated a religious sanctuary, and
    that her father’s fate is planned for Rose. Chip and
    his friends shadow Kadir Dhin, and look for mysterious
    strangers, at Gunn’s request. On Christmas Eve Rose is
    missing, and Clancy and Kess, unable to find Chip, go
    to the railroad station, and see Bully Carson tip the
    baggageman as a curious-looking trunk is put on the
    train. Clan and Kess board the train, and the trunk is
    put off at Carsonville, where they discover that it has
    been occupied by the unconscious form of Chip.



CHAPTER VIII.

Bully Carson Explains.


THE shrewd eyes of Colonel Carson sparkled with a sly twinkle. He
sat before his deep-throated fireplace, in his home in Carsonville.
Into the room he had called his son Bully, to receive from him a full
account of the recent startling happenings, and the result of the
investigation which had followed.

Bully had come in prepared to put his part in the affair in the best
light possible. Yet he would speak to his father with more openness
than he would to any one else, for it was known that the elder Carson
had sown, in his youth, a pretty big crop of wild oats himself.

With that sly, humorous twinkle, Carson turned on his hopeful son. In a
way he was proud of Bully, though he raged at him daily.

“I hear ye got out of it, Bully, but it took some hard work and tall
lyin’. I’ve jest got home, but I’ve been hearin’ about it; I’d been
down to that investigation myself if I’d been here. Prob’ly some o’ the
things I’ve heard ain’t so. So ye can jest straighten me out about it.”

This was so much better than Bully had anticipated that the sour
expression passed from his coarse red face. Feeling more comfortable,
he stood up, with his broad back to the fire, and, taking out a cigar,
bit off the end of it and scratched a match.

“Well, ’twas the funniest and sing’larest thing that ever came down the
pike, dad, and for a while it looked ’s if they had me in bad. It was
Clancy and Kess that went gunnin’ for me, and come nigh bringin’ me
down. But I’ll git even with ’em for that, see!”

He lighted his cigar, and stood smoking.

“And me and Chip Merriwell are due to have some interestin’ times, too.
They’re all in together, and he has hit at me more than once.”

“Young Merriwell was in a box or trunk in the baggage car, unconscious
and about dead, when they put it off here, and you was charged with
havin’ that trunk or box put on the car. Of course you didn’t, and know
nothin’ about it. You’re a mighty big fool at times, Bully, but you’re
not so big a one as that; and there’d have been no sense in it.”

Bully’s face glowed to a dull and angry crimson, as he recalled the
grilling he had been put through by the police officers because of that
accusation.

“Me and that young Hindu, Kadir Dhin, was charged with doin’ it; and
they’d have fastened it on _him_ sure if Colonel Gunn hadn’t come to
his help; for, you see, it was Kadir Dhin’s Hindu trunk that they found
Merriwell in. It looked mighty bad for him a while, and looked bad for
me, too, jest because I had been with him not long before, and had
given the baggage man a quarter at the station for bringin’ down for
me a box of stuff from Dickey’s that it would have cost me a dollar to
send in the reg’lar way.

“There’s a whole big story back of it, dad,” Bully explained, “and
there were some things I didn’t know myself until Gunn made that
statement to the officers. Kadir Dhin had been treating me fine as
silk, and I was going around with him a lot. He had spendin’ money, and
he wasn’t afraid to blow it. It wasn’t my bizness to ask him how he
got it. Yet he came to Fardale, as you recklect, as a sort of charity
student. I thought he had mebby been gamblin’, and had been lucky.

“He was talkin’ ag’inst Merriwell, and plannin’ ways to do him, and I
liked that. And we did ‘do’ him, in the end, as I’ll tell you.

“It started when that girl was missin’ out of Gunn’s house, where she
has been stayin’. Old Gunn sent out an alarm about it, and telephoned
the constable. In a little while it seemed as if half the town was
searchin’ for her. Kadir Dhin and me had been trying to annoy Merriwell
that forenoon, when he was out sleighin’ with her, by follerin’ him
round in another sleigh.”

“You did that?” growled the elder Carson, with a sniff of displeasure,
as he pulled at his yellow-gray goatee. “’Twasn’t the act of a
gentleman, son.”

But Bully answered, with a careless laugh:

“Anyhow, ’twas fun. We was hopin’ to make him so mad that afterward
he would want to climb us, and so give us a chance to double on
him together and trim him good. Kadir Dhin had it in for him for
a knock-out blow Merry had given him, and I’ve got some things to
remember.

“Well, when she was missin’ that afternoon, and we saw Merriwell goin’
toward the lake lookin’ for her, we follered him again. When we got
down there, I turned back, because it was so cold; so I didn’t see what
happened, and there’s two stories about it.

“Kadir Dhin says he found the girl bewildered and wanderin’ about in
that timbered cove beyond the Pavilion, and was tryin’ to lead her
home, when Merriwell came on him and attacked him; the attack comin’ so
sudden, Kadir Dhin says, that he had no time to defend himself before
he was knocked stiff in the snow.

“I think that’s right, too,” said Bully. “For that’s the way he told it
to me, when he met me again, close by the corner, at Gunn’s. Merriwell
had brought the girl home, and was then in the house. Kadir Dhin had
follered. And, say, he was lookin’ wicked; a man lookin’ as he did then
would sure put a knife in a feller in the dark!

“As he begun to tell me about it, we walked on, over toward the
barracks. He was ravin’. There’s nobody much at the barracks now,
because nearly all the fellers have gone home for the holidays. And we
stood there, talkin’ it over, Kadir Dhin sayin’ he wished Merriwell
would come along, on his way to his room in the barracks; that he
wanted to meet him there, and settle with him.

“And just then we saw him comin’ from Gunn’s. Kadir Dhin put his hand
in his coat pocket, and I thought he was divin’ for a knife.

“‘None o’ that,’ I says to him; ‘there’s two of us’; and, if he had a
knife, he didn’t draw it. But he turned a funny yellow kind o’ white,
and I knew that something was coming. ‘Go at him fair,’ I says, ‘and
I’ll back you.’”

“Right out in public, too!” commented Colonel Carson; “shows how many
different kinds of idiot y’ aire, Bully!”

“It seemed quiet enough; nobody on the parade ground, and didn’t seem
to be anybody in the barracks. Anyhow, then was the time, if it was to
be done; and you’re to recklect that it wasn’t me, but the Hindu, that
planned it.

“‘I want to speak with you,’ said Kadir Dhin, when Merriwell came up;
‘I’m goin’ to settle with you right now!’ He didn’t strike out at him,
but slid his hand along, as if he was tryin’ to get Merriwell by the
throat. At that, Merriwell hit him and knocked him back against the
barracks wall. And then I came in.”

He stopped and drew in his breath heavily.

“When you fight your own battles, Bully, I don’t object; but when you
fight those of other people, and no coin coming in for it——”

“That’s all right, dad; but I’d owed Merriwell a licking a long time.”

“And you took that chance to pay it?”

“I guess he thinks I paid him; but for a while he prob’bly wasn’t in a
condition to appreciate it. We left him layin’ there in the snow. When
we had started off, we saw him crawl to his feet and stagger int’ the
buildin’.” Bully laughed gleefully. “He sure was lookin’ sick!”

“And this young Hindu went away with ye?”

“He went as far as the street corner beyond the parade ground. And
I didn’t see him again until we was both of us hauled up before the
officers, here, charged with puttin’ Merriwell in that trunk and tryin’
to kill him.”

“How did he git into that trunk?” the elder Carson demanded. “You said
it was Kadir Dhin’s!”

“Blessed if I know how he did git into it!” Bully declared. “Jest
between you and me, dad, it looks like Kadir Dhin went back there to
the barracks and mebby found him in a faint from that lickin’, and put
him in. But Kadir Dhin says he didn’t. Merriwell told the officers that
after he got to his room he fainted, and that when he came to he was
here in Carsonville, and he didn’t know, himself, how ’twas done. Kadir
Dhin told the officers that _he_ didn’t go back to the barracks at all,
after leaving me at the corner; but that after a while he went down to
the station, and when he saw the trunk there he looked at it, wonderin’
whose it was, as it looked so much like his, and had no marks on it.

“And it was right there,” said Bully, “when he wasn’t being believed,
and the thing would have been cinched on him, that Colonel Gunn came
popping in to his rescue, with the most amazing yarn ye ever listened
to.”

“I think I heard some o’ that; but you go over it, for mebby I didn’t
git it straight. Seems to me, Bully, you was mighty reckless all along,
and it’s a wonder to me y’ ain’t in the jail.”

He was looking at Bully closely; his brows were furrowed, and the
half-humorous light had faded out of his eyes. He was again pulling at
his yellow-gray goatee, this time nervously.

“Colonel Gunn said,” Bully explained, “that a Hindu soldier who had
killed the girl’s father in France was known to be somewhere around
here, and once before had tried to carry her off; and ’twas his belief
that this Hindu had got into the barracks.

“And then,” added Bully, “to bolster this, they brought on again the
hackman who had taken the trunk to the station. He had said that a
dark-faced feller, who was dressed in the Fardale cadet uniform, had
hired him to take the trunk to the station; and he had identified
Kadir Dhin as bein’ that feller. But now, when he heard what Gunn said
about it, he backed water, and admitted that though the dark-faced
feller looked like Kadir Dhin, it might not have been him; he couldn’t
identify Kadir Dhin as being the one, he said. Now, what d’ye think of
that?”

“Lied!” snorted Carson.

“But Kadir Dhin has told me himself that he knows nothin’ about it.”

“He lied, too!”

“Anyway, they let Kadir Dhin off, on account of what Colonel Gunn told
’em; and now officers are out lookin’ for the other Hindu.”

“They won’t find him,” said Carson.

He glared at his son.

“Bully, I’ve tried to give ye some instructions, ye know. I’ve said to
you that a man is ginrally justified in takin’ a sportin’ chance on
‘most anything that promises good money, but that to be safe he’s allus
got to keep on the right side o’ the law.”

“Wasn’t I?” Bully roared. “I might ’a’ been fined for fightin’, but
what else? I didn’t have anything to do with that trunk bizness.”

“Who checked that trunk?”

“Nobody. That’s the funny part of it. The men at the station shoved
it into the car without noticin’, seein’ it there with other trunks,
and the baggageman didn’t notice; or, he says he didn’t, until Clancy
called it to his attention.

“Clancy and Kess thought they had heard some one groaning in the trunk,
and when it went into the car they went in, too; and then when they
heard the sound again, in the car, they raised a row, and the trunk was
put off here and opened.

“Now, there’s the case,” said Bully, breathing heavily. “Only, the
baggageman will get fired; for he was held here and questioned by the
officers, and when they drove him into a corner he had to admit that he
had received a quarter from me for carryin’ the box I brought down from
Dickey’s. I had told that, to save my own bacon, when it seemed they
was goin’ to prove that I had given him the money for transportin’ the
trunk; and he had to say that it was so, that it was only the box I had
paid for.”

“I reckon that baggageman lied about knowin’ no more than he said about
the trunk,” Carson observed. “Don’t you think he did, Bully?”

“I don’t know, dad.”

“Well, it’s mixin’. Where’s Merriwell?”

“He’s been sent home; he was all in, hardly able to tell his story. I
may git fined yet,” he added uneasily, “for toyin’ with him too rough
there at the barracks. But Clancy and Kess are still here and——”

“Keep away from ’em.”

“Dad, I won’t,” Bully declared; “not until I’ve finished with ’em.
And there’ll be some good money, as well as satisfaction, in linin’
up ag’inst ’em. It will be Kadir Dhin and the Duke and me and a lot
more, inside the barracks and out, that will be havin’ some interesting
sessions with Clancy, Merriwell, and company. Dad, you can count on
that. And the Duke—well, you know he has got money to burn, and I’ll
never refuse to help him burn it. He’s been talkin’ to me since this
examination, and he says that this whole thing can be used to put Chip
Merriwell on the run, and we can now down him.”

The twinkle came again into the eyes of the elder Carson. He admired
pluck, and had been a rough-and-tumble fighter in his youth.

“I can’t jest approve of the way two of you jumped onto Merriwell,”
he observed; “things like that tend to accumulate a reppytation for
cowardice, Bully. Reppytation is a thing to be considered. Basil, or
the Duke, as you call him, is a fool with money, and I can’t blame
ye much for wantin’ to git next. But be careful, Bully. A sportin’
proposition is one thing, but takin’ criminal chances is another. Allus
keep on the right side o’ the law, Bully; in the long run it pays
better.”

He tugged at his goatee again.

“But that cur’us trunk case is shore mixin’. Bully, I think more’n one
feller done some tall lyin’!”



CHAPTER IX.

Some Investigations.


WHEN Chip Merriwell returned to Fardale, he found himself against the
line-up of which Bully Carson had spoken to his father.

But he had received word of it before, Clancy had written to him about
it. And it was the first subject that Clan took up, when he met Chip at
the station on the latter’s return.

“I suppose Kess and I are to blame,” said Clan remorsefully, “just
because we weren’t satisfied with getting you out of that trunk, but
tried to unload on Kadir Dhin the crime of putting you there. But they
oughtn’t to hold that against _you_. Colonel Gunn oughtn’t, anyway.”

“Sure nodt,” agreed Kess, who was with him. “Vodt dhey ar-re saying
apoudt me ton’dt hurdt nopoty, but dhey ar-re making you oudt a willain
yoost like us.”

Chip laughed; Kess amused him. And he was feeling physically fit again,
which, of itself, makes for light-heartedness. He had been sent home
“all in”; now he was back, at the end of the Christmas holidays, ready
again to enter the old Fardale school and reassume the leadership of
the loyal fellows who were always his friends.

“We are all villains together, eh?” he commented.

“The sympathy stunt is being worked hard for Kadir Dhin,” Clan
reported. “You accused him of trying to kidnap Rose Maitland, and
flattened him out on the ice, and you repeated the accusation to
Colonel Gunn when you got her to Gunn’s house. On top of that, Kess and
I tried to make the officers down at Carsonville believe that Kadir
Dhin had found you in a faint in your room in the barracks, and had put
you in that trunk. I guess we went too fast in that, and there’s where
the trouble begins; we couldn’t make the officers believe Kadir Dhin
would put you in a trunk that could be so easily identified as his. So
when Gunn came down and strung his talk about the soldier Hindu, our
idea was canned, and Kadir Dhin was released, with an apology.

“And now Gunn is looking black at us, Rose Maitland is looking blacker,
and every enemy you ever had seems to have come to life, and is working
against you. Their leader seems to be Duke Basil, and I guess you know
what that means.”

Chip knew well enough.

The previous year, Anselm Basil, familiarly known as the Duke, had
come over with a number of fellows from Brightwood and entered Fardale,
having discovered that it was the better school. The Duke had been the
athletic leader at Brightwood, and had no notion of playing second
fiddle to any one even at Fardale.

Duke Basil was an original genius. Not because he was rich, and a
spendthrift, for many boys and young men are that; but because, with
all his assumptions and airs and extravagances, he had athletic ability
and brains of a high order, and had so many good qualities with the bad
ones.

That Chip and Basil should clash, was a thing not to be avoided. Basil
had declared to his friends that he intended to be the leader at
Fardale, and that there could be but one. He had not made his boasts
good. So the clash was renewed at the beginning of the present school
year, yet so far with no very creditable results or decided victories
to his account.

Now he believed he had found new leverage. In the first place, it
seemed that Colonel Gunn’s good opinion of Chip and his friends had
been alienated; which meant that the iron rules of the academy would be
made to bear hard on them; and could be worked to their disadvantage.
Kadir Dhin, the colonel’s protégé, had been made the implacable enemy
of Chip and his crowd. And Bully Carson, a foe not to be despised,
even though he was not in the academy, had all his old animosities
re-aroused.

Clancy and Kess tried to set these things forth, as they made their way
with Chip over the snowy roads from the station to the academy grounds,
having preferred walking to riding in the usual “hack,” that they might
talk matters over.

Chip Merriwell was thinking of how these things would influence his
relations with Rose Maitland, rather than viewing them from the
standpoint of his friends. He was hoping that Colonel Gunn’s adverse
opinions were not affecting her, even though she were a member of his
household, and Kadir Dhin had been her father’s friend and secretary.

There was always an unpleasant memory tucked in the back of Chip’s
mind, which he seldom cared to take out of its pigeonhole there and
consider. His first meeting with Rose Maitland could not have been more
inauspicious than it was. He had knocked Kadir Dhin down in the snowy
path on account of his treatment of Kess; and Rose Maitland, rushing
frantically to the side of the young Hindu, had called Chip a coward,
with such a sting in the word that Chip could still feel the burn of it
whenever he permitted himself to let it enter his mind.

As Chip and his friends turned into the path, beyond Mrs. Winfield’s
boarding house, that led to and through the parade ground, Kadir Dhin
was seen standing there, much as he had been on that previous occasion,
only that this time he was in conversation with Duke Basil.

“They are regular Siamese twins lately,” said Clancy, with a grin.
“They knew you were to arrive to-day, and have been wondering why you
didn’t ride up in the hack.”

“Uff he standts in my roadt, like vot he dit pefore——”

But Kadir Dhin was moving on toward the barracks before Kess finished
his sentence. The Duke had turned toward the village, moving to meet
them.

“Ah, there!” he cried, putting out his hand as Chip came up. “You’re
looking fine as silk again, old top. I didn’t expect it. That little
rest at home has done you a lot of good.”

For an instant Chip hesitated, then held out his hand; he would be as
gentlemanly as the Duke. Indeed, it was hard not to be friendly with
Duke Basil on all ordinary occasions. He had a smile and a bright way
with him. It was this that made him so formidable when he pitted his
strength against Chip; for this, quite as much as his money, enabled
him to gather and hold friends.

“I’m all right again,” said Chip, taking the measure of the fellow with
his eye. “You went home yourself, I think?”

“Sure. Had a fine time, too.”

He did not offer to shake hands with Kess and Clancy, whom he had seen
before that day; but he swung on along the path, after greeting Chip.

“He iss smile like a raddlesnake pefore idt pites der handt vot feedts
idt,” Kess observed. “Idt iss too badt apoudt dot veller. Aber a man
iss my enemy I vandt him to look like idt.”

They found that Kadir Dhin had gone on to his room.

Chip went to his, which he occupied with Clancy. But they were soon
drawn out of it by hearing Kess in a clatter of noisy words with the
young Hindu.

Villum’s capacity for blundering was notorious. He had seen that Kadir
Dhin’s door stood open, and had entered without apology, apparently to
notify the young Hindu that Chip Merriwell had returned, and to ask:

“Undt vot vill you do apoudt idt?”

Chip was not at all averse to invading the Hindu’s room, for he wanted
to get a look at the trunk in which he, unconscious, had been immured
on that journey which might readily have ended in his death. The noisy
words ceased when Chip and Clan came to the door.

“He iss say dot I am anodher,” Kess protested.

Chip and Clan stepped into the room, Chip with a smile which he hoped
would temporarily disarm Kadir Dhin’s enmity. He glanced over at
the queer, Hindu trunk or traveling chest, of itself an interesting
specimen of Oriental workmanship.

“So that was the thing I was in?” he commented, ignoring Kess’
complaint. “It seems that I ought to remember it, but I don’t.”

“You remember as much about it as I do, in spite of the charges of your
friends,” Kadir Dhin asserted.

There was a malevolent glare in his shiny black eyes.

Chip sat down in the nearest chair; he did not intend to be ruffled.
He had long since discovered that no one gains anything by turning his
quills out like a porcupine.

“I was in no position to make any claims about it; but I’ve wondered
about it hundreds of times. As I was found in that thing, somebody put
me there.”

“Perhaps you did it yourself,” said the young Hindu, with a sneer,
though his manner was guarded; “it’s as credible as that _I_ did it.”

Chip looked at him, when his attention was not directed toward the
queer trunk. He was hoping that if Kadir Dhin really knew anything
about that odd happening, by some slip, or by the expression of his
face, he might reveal it.

“What is it about that Hindu soldier?” he asked. “That is, what do
you know? I heard what Colonel Gunn said at that investigation, but I
wasn’t in a mental condition to take it all in. Did you know the man?”

Kadir Dhin stared at him, hesitated, and then answered:

“He was my uncle.”

“Do you think he is here?”

“I know nothing about that,” said Kadir Dhin. “Ask Colonel Gunn.”

“He says the man is here, and did that.”

“Then you know as much about it as I do,” asserted Kadir Dhin, with an
impatient wave of his hand.

“But do you believe it?”

“That is my business. If I say I don’t, you will then declare that I
must have put you in the trunk. You’d better talk to Colonel Gunn
about it. I don’t know anything.”

“You’re a Hindu?” said Clancy, butting in.

A flush of anger put color into the dark cheeks of Kadir Dhin.

“I have that honor,” he declared.

“Yet you speak English better than most Americans!”

“I was educated at the English school in Madras. If I was ignorant
of the language, could I have taken a place in this school? You talk
like a fool. Remember that I was Lieutenant Maitland’s secretary,
translating all his written orders to his Hindu soldiers into their
native dialects. I am doubtless a fool—for talking with you, but I am
not an ignoramus.”

He turned to Chip:

“If you have looked at that trunk long enough, and have asked all your
questions——”

“Fired!” cried Clancy. “Come on, Chip!”

“This German beer keg came in to insult me, and you followed to back
him up,” said the young Hindu.

“Not at all.” Chip insisted. “But we’re going. We’ll have no words. I
had a natural curiosity to see that trunk, that’s all. Thank you for
the permission. Good day!”

“Oh, we’ll meet again,” said Kadir Dhin. “There’s a settlement coming,
for the accusations you made against me, when you brought Miss Maitland
to Gunn’s. I’ve a good memory.”

“Mine is quite as good,” Chip retorted, with a sudden scowl. “I
couldn’t have been tossed into that trunk like a bag of meal if you and
Bully Carson hadn’t doubled on me and pounded me senseless. Recollect
that there will be other debts to pay, when you begin to pay off yours.”

Clan and Kess followed him, grumbling.

“Why didn’t you punch his head for that?” Clan demanded.

“You forget, Clan. I didn’t go there to quarrel, in the first place.
Then, we’re in the barracks. And, you’ve said yourself, that Colonel
Gunn would be pleased to get me in chancery. I’ve got to be careful.”

However, though he knew that Colonel Gunn was explosive and crotchety,
Chip was not ready to accept the notion that the colonel would not
treat him fairly in any situation.

So it was not because he wanted to test the colonel’s feelings that
Chip went over to Gunn’s house that afternoon; he wanted to see
Rose Maitland. The last time he had seen her she was bewildered and
hysterical.

That had passed off entirely; she came in to meet him bright-eyed and
smiling. Yet Chip thought she looked pale, and that her smile hid a
feeling of anxiety. She soon admitted that she stood in deathly fear of
the Hindu, who was still the man of mystery to Chip.

“I was feeling so safe, you know,” she said in her frank way; “the
constable had given Colonel Gunn such assurances. I had been going
about with confidence. So I thought I needed no one to guard me while
I went out on the ice a little while. And down there everything was
so quiet and peaceful that I really went farther than I meant to go;
I skated on and on until I was down by the boathouse. I supposed the
place was unoccupied.”

“We’ve stored our ice yacht and snowshoes and skis and things like that
in it,” said Chip.

“But no one has been staying there regularly?”

“No.”

“That’s what I thought. Yet the Fardale students go in and out of
there, as I knew. So when I heard some one call to me from the
boathouse I thought at first it was you, and then thought it must be
Kadir Dhin; and, as I didn’t understand just what was said, but got
the impression that you—I mean Kadir Dhin—was hurt and needed help, I
ran up to the door on my skates.

“I knew that it wasn’t you—I mean Kadir Dhin—when it was too late; I
was blinded by a cloth that struck me in the face as I opened the door;
it fell over my head as if it would smother me; and it was filled with
the odor of a powerful drug. While I fought to get my head out of the
cloth, the drug overcame me.”

She was trembling; the color had left her cheeks.

“Before I became so dizzy and bewildered,” she added. “I heard the man
speak, and I recognized his voice as that of Gunga Singh, the Hindu
soldier who murdered my father. The odor of the drug I had encountered
before, in India. A man was once murdered there, and that drug was
used; I was with father when he made an investigation of the murder.”

“You didn’t see the man at all, then?” said Chip.

“No.”

“You couldn’t have been mistaken about him?”

“I know what you mean,” she said; “but I recognized his voice.”

“I found you wandering around in that cove beyond the pavilion.”

“I don’t know how I got there; by which I mean I have no remembrance of
it. Of course, Gunga Singh took me there. Kadir Dhin frightened him,
and he fled through the trees. Kadir Dhin was trying to guide me home.
They say you accused him, and attacked him. I’m sorry. Kadir Dhin was
my father’s friend, and is mine. Colonel Gunn knows that.”

Chip did not know what to say: he did not like to declare he was
unconvinced.

“Kadir Dhin had come down to the lake and had gone in that direction;
I thought he was not trying to lead you home. I didn’t see the other
man.”

“You do think that of Kadir Dhin now?” she urged.

“I have no right to, if you are sure I am wrong.”

“I’m sure you are.”

“I was excited when I brought you home. When I rushed on him, Kadir
Dhin tried to shoot me; or I thought he meant to. So when Colonel Gunn
came, asking questions, I said that, and accused Kadir Dhin. I saw that
what I said offended Colonel Gunn.”

“Then, you had trouble with Kadir Dhin at the barracks. I’m sorry you
were so quick, and did him a serious wrong. It’s too bad. I wish you
could be friends. Don’t you think you were too quick?”

Chip saw that Kadir Dhin had been telling lies here.

“At the barracks I did no more than defend myself; that is, I tried. I
didn’t succeed very well.”

“You again attacked Kadir Dhin there?”

“No, he attacked me. And he had Bully Carson with him. You don’t know
Carson, but he’s a big fellow, and a bruiser.”

“Kadir Dhin says you attacked him there, and then that Carson rushed
in and knocked you down. Oh, dear, I dislike to talk about it; it’s
horrible! You were too quick.”

“In one thing I was too quick,” said Chip. “I was too quick in going on
to the barracks. I ought to have gone back to the lake. I didn’t see
this Hindu, Gunga Singh. But then was my chance to follow his tracks
into and through the woods there, and see what became of him. I’d like
to get on the track of him now, and will watch out for him. How was he
dressed?”

“Kadir Dhin says he wore a Fardale uniform.”

“So? That’s odd. A Fardale uniform. But I recall that it was reported
that some one, thought to have been a burglar, had stolen clothing out
of the barracks.”

“Kadir Dhin fears Gunga Singh as much as I do; he is watching for him,
and will have him apprehended if he can. He and Colonel Gunn have been
laying some plans about it. I wish you would apologize to Kadir Dhin.
He is sensitive, and is very much hurt.”

Having pieced into the story of the affair the scraps with which he had
not been familiar, Chip soon took his leave.

His meeting with Rose Maitland had not made him as happy as he had
anticipated.



CHAPTER X.

Reckless Villum.


“WHILE you were away,” Clan was saying to Chip, later, “I was tempted
to put over a dictograph scheme that would have been great. I met a
fellow down at the station who was agent for the things. If I could
have put one in the Duke’s room, with concealed wires running from it
to this, we could have got at the bottom of the rascal’s planning. But
I’d have had to bribe more than one person, and then the problem of
getting the wires across bothered me. So I passed it up.”

Chip laughed.

“So it was the bother of the wires, and not any feeling that the thing
wouldn’t be quite a square play; but I thought the great mechanical
head you developed while running that garage down in Phoenix was equal
to anything.”

Kess was twisting in his chair, and his blue eyes were glistening.

“Dot ticktograft hears vot you say dhere, unt rebeadts idt here?”

“Something like that, Villum; it’s a sort of secret telephone.”

“Uh-huh! I standt under idt; unt idt vouldt haf been greadt.”

No conscientious scruples, nor even the fear of discovery, would have
kept Villum from putting the scheme over, if he could have done it. He
would have had wires running not only to the Duke’s room, but to Kadir
Dhin’s, and to the room of every other fellow he suspected at present
of being engaged in scheming against them.

“Vale, idt iss inderesdting,” he said, as he got lazily out of his
chair; “but I can’t t’ink apowet idt now. I haf got to gedt me some
more ackvainted mit Chulius Cæsar.”

Yet he was still thinking about it as he went to his room to tackle his
Latin and follow the wanderings and battles of Cæsar.

That night, having been out in the village, as he was passing Dickey’s
place, on his way to the barracks, the hour for closing the barracks
being at hand, Kess ran into a dog fight. A pair of Airedales, one of
them being Dickey’s, opened a furious combat right in front of him.

Villum jumped back out of the way.

“Yiminy!” he said. “Almosdt I hadt a toe bit off.”

Out of Dickey’s poured a miscellaneous crowd, Dickey in the midst with
a pail of water, which he threw over the fighting dogs in the hope that
it would separate them.

When maddened Airedales come together, such gentle measures are
pretty sure to fail. Dickey was soon convinced that his dog was being
murdered. So he got the other dog by the hind legs and the tail and
began to yell to the squirming and clamoring mob of spectators to help
him separate the animals by pulling them apart.

In the background to which Kess had retreated he was unobserved, but
not unobservant. He saw in the crowd Bully Carson, Duke Basil, Kadir
Dhin, and—to his great surprise—Robert Realf. Some other young fellows,
wearing the Fardale uniform, were cadets whose homes were in the
village, and who, by living at home, gained greater freedom for their
evenings.

Bully Carson could be expected to be at Dickey’s, if in the village.
Birds of his plumage congregated there naturally. But that Kadir Dhin
should be there was most unexpected.

Dickey’s was a place that Colonel Gunn cordially hated, and Zenas Gale
watched with zealous and suspicious eyes. Ostensibly it was a cigar and
periodical store, dealing also in a small way in students’ supplies,
such as writing material, and even secondhand books. This was a cover
to sales of liquor and unlimited poker playing. Students liked to
gather there, even those who had no relish for liquor or gaming, on
account of the freedom of the atmosphere. Yet visits to the place put
one under suspicion and threatened the displeasure of Gunn and the
Fardale faculty.

Gunn had often spoken to the Fardale boys on the subject, and he had
been heard to say that whenever the opportunity came he would “put
Dickey through.” Gale, the constable, was of the same mind. But the
opportunity never came. For Dickey was the slickest cake of soap in
Fardale.

So Villum Kess was amazed to see Gunn’s protégé, Kadir Dhin, in the
crowd that swarmed out of Dickey’s when the dog fight began.

“Budt idt iss der ticktograft obbordunity vot I am nodt oxbecting,”
thought Villum.

Not a soul remained in Dickey’s; it had emptied into the street, and
every person there was too busy trying to separate the dogs, or in
telling others how it could be done, to observe or to think of anything
else. Dickey was himself yelling orders like a village fire chief.

So Villum edged along the wall, and, reaching the steps, he passed
within, then looked back to see if he had been observed. Sure that he
had not, he made his way hurriedly to a door at the rear, which he
found unlocked, and entered the back room famous in Fardale annals as
the scene of strenuous poker games, smokefests, and drinking bouts.

There was a back door, but it was locked, and some rooms above, to be
reached by a stairway. Also, there were heavily blinded windows. In the
middle of the room stood a table with a green cloth top, with chairs
about it, and above it a swinging electric light that had a turndown
attachment. Along the walls were more chairs, with plush lounges, and
at the farther end a couple of low cots, whereon, it was said, Dickey
stowed students and others who had swallowed too much of his strong
liquor and were not able to go on to the barracks or to their homes.
The strong drink Dickey was reported to furnish was not kept here—there
was always danger of a raid; Kess had heard it was kept buried in the
cellar, but this may not have been so.

As his blue eyes roved round on the interior of the room, Villum moved
toward the cots at the farther end.

“I vouldt yoost as lief been hung for sdealing a big sheeb as a liddle
lamb; so I go me der whole hog,” he was muttering. “Uff I am foundt,
der ticktograft vill be proke, unt no more can be saidt.”

With a last look around, Villum dropped to the floor, and, with
squirming jerks, stowed his rotund body under one of the cots.

Something else under there squirmed. Villum’s hands were thrust into
the face of a man.

“Awk!” Villum exploded, unable, in his surprise, to suppress the sound;
and he clawed backward like a turtle, trying to get out.

But the dog fight had been ended, and Dickey and his friends were
streaming into the front room. Villum did not realize that he might
have joined them there in that time of confusion without attracting
undue attention, until it was too late to try it. He was temporarily
paralyzed by his discovery of the man under the cot. Before he
recovered, some of the fellows were entering the back room, and were
sitting down in the chairs by the table.

“I am sure in a fixings,” thought Villum, perspiring with the terror of
the thought.

The man under the cot had moved over as close to the wall as he could
get, but Villum still felt the touch of him; his imagination supplying
details, he pictured a knife in the man’s hands; and, coming on top of
that, like a flash, was the thought:

“Idt iss der Hindu murterer, I pet you!”

That made Villum’s flesh creep, and nearly popped him from under the
cot. He moved over, shivering. But he did not leave his shelter. He
would have fared badly if he had; so in the end he preferred to stick
to the frying pan rather than to flop out into the fire.

Besides, Villum had slipped into the room and shoved under that cot for
the purpose of playing dictograph, and he was stubborn enough to want
to stick to his purpose.

A number of guesses as to who the man was, and why he was there,
followed Villum’s surmise that he was the Hindu murderer; any one of
them was bad enough, if true.

The man might be a common burglar, who had found a chance to hide
there, and later meant to connect with Dickey’s safe; if so, he was no
doubt armed with an automatic, which he would use, if cornered. This
seemed a very reasonable solution.

But Villum never hunted for reasonable solutions, when others could be
had; so the one which appealed to his mind most was that the man under
the cot with him was not only the Hindu murderer, but that this cot and
room were his usual and customary hiding places; which indicated that
Dickey knew he was there, and received pay for sheltering him.

Kess and his friends had wondered where the Hindu could keep himself
so that he would be safe and out of sight while he matured his plans.
Kess’ one wild guess, and until now he could make no other, was that
the Hindu hid in Kadir Dhin’s Oriental trunk. He thought he saw now
that this guess was wrong.

“Aber I hear all vot iss saidt, unt am kilt as I am getting oudt uff
here mit idt—ach, dot vill be awvul!” Villum said to himself, as if
groaning mentally. “Yedt anodder fighdt mighdt come petween dhis Hindu
unt der vellers in der room, unt vunce again I couldt gedt me by. So I
vill vaidt, pecause I musdt, unt vill seen vot I hear.”

It was a long and trying wait that followed, and it seemed much longer
than it was. Soon all chance of gaining the barracks before they were
closed for the night had passed; but, then, Villum had counted on not
being able to return to the barracks.

Under the cot, pressed close against the wall, the man waited as
silently as Villum. And, however much or little he understood of the
meaning of Villum’s action, he must have considered that he found
himself in a most singular position.



CHAPTER XI.

Kess as a “Dictograph.”


THE pasty-faced youth who took a seat on the table and sat swinging his
legs while he fished out of his pocket a gold-mounted cigarette case,
angrily resented the imputation of Bully Carson.

“Aw, cut it out!” he snarled nastily. “My sister is too nice a girl to
have comments made about her by a low bruiser like you!”

Bully Carson’s face flamed as red as his necktie; the veins on his
forehead started, his hands closed into maullike fists, and he stepped
forward; yet instantly he checked himself, and rattled out a wheezing
laugh. He could not afford to offend this young fellow.

“Forget it!” he said in a tone of hoarse apology. “I didn’t mean
nothin’, and, of course, I knew it wasn’t so even when I said it; I was
only in a manner suggestin’ what others may think.”

Robert Realf stared at him repellently.

“Since you forgot yourself, and said that, I’ll simply explain that my
sister is visiting with Nellie Stanley, at Mrs. Winfield’s, just as she
did last winter. You know that Bob Stanley is a student in the academy
here, and is her brother, and both Nellie and my sister are friends of
Mrs. Winfield. Besides, _I’m_ down here with her. We’ve got money to
travel ’round with, and go where we like, when we want to; more money
than _you_ will ever see, Carson, though you cheat and steal for a
hundred years.”

“Forget it!” said Carson, though the blood was in his face. “I didn’t
mean anything at all, as I told you. Of course, I was too fresh.”

Then he mumbled something about having had a drink too much, which was
the cause of it.

Kess was so interested that he almost forgot the sinister touch of the
man behind him; for Carson’s intimation had been that Rhoda Realf was
at Fardale in the hope that she was here to get to see Chip Merriwell.

Kess knew all about the rather furious love affair between Chip and
Rhoda, which had begun down in Santa Fe, when her wealthy father
was down there looking at mining claims, and Chip was assisting his
Uncle Dick, who was the mine investigator. It had been transferred to
Fardale, when Chip was there for a Christmas vacation and Rhoda was at
Mrs. Winfield’s with Nellie Stanley over the Christmas holidays.

The Realfs lived in Cambridge, and Kess recalled that once, at least,
Chip had gone there, presumably to see Rhoda. And now apparently just
because another girl had come on the scene, that pleasant affair was
ended. Or was it ended? Kess did not know.

“Nodt for me idt vouldt nodt,” he thought; “I haf more _stay_-bility.
Budt uff gourse, vhen I fall in lofe mit dot girl vhich she iss really
a poy——”

Though the flare of a quarrel was over, the talk was still going on,
and he laid his ear to the floor to give close heed to it.

“Carson iss back down so kvick dhere vill be no fighdt; he knows he
musdt be nice to gedt money oudt uff dot veller. So now vot iss nexdt?”

Robert Realf was with that coterie, Kess believed, for the reason that
on his previous visit to Fardale he had been an out-and-out and violent
enemy to Chip Merriwell.

The conversation at first was rambling. There was so much smoking that
soon the air was heavy and dense; now and then there was a clinking of
glasses. Dickey entered occasionally, but did not tarry; though it was
late, he had to be out in front, presiding over his cigar counter.

It was so apparent that these fellows had gathered solely for the sake
of conviviality and the tang of adventure which was a part of these
forbidden visits to Dickey’s that Kess was disappointed. He seemed to
be wasting his time and taking a risk for nothing; and the touch of
that man against the wall behind him, with the belief that he was the
Hindu murderer, armed and deadly, was not soothing. Villum wanted to
scramble forth and announce loudly that the Hindu was there, and was
afraid to do it.

He became interested again when the talk dealt with affairs at the
Fardale school. These things could not be touched without bringing in
Chip and his friends. Kess glowed with indignation as he listened.

“Oh, Chip is merely showing a sample of the Merriwell jealousy,” said
the Duke. “Until Kadir Dhin came, he was Gunn’s pet, and it hurts him
to lose that place.”

“That’s the whole history of the Merriwells at Fardale,” said another.
“They’ve got to run things. When they can’t use a man, they try to
break him. Their friends are idiots like Clancy and Kess, who are
always willing to praise everything they do. I’m sick of it.”

Kess began to breathe so heavily that he was in danger of being heard,
when, by pressing his face hard against the floor, he tried to see the
face of the speaker.

“Idt’s yoost Avery. He ton’dt coundt.”

Bronson Avery was notorious as the Duke’s echo. He, too, had come
from Brightwood the year before, with the Duke; hence, with the older
students they were hardly considered true Fardale men.

The miscellaneous gabble, filled with envious little stabs at fellows
they did not like, brought in Chip Merriwell inevitably, and led slowly
up to a discussion of means to get even with Chip, or block and thwart
him. The real bitterness of the speakers came forth. They were wild to
take Chip down and desperate as to the means to be adopted.

“It seems to me, donchuknow,” drawled the Duke, “that we can easily go
farther; by which I mean, things have turned out so that we can drive
him from Fardale.”

“Uh-huh! So dot _you_ can be der headt uff der adledtic pitzness,”
Villum grumbled so recklessly in his anger that if there had not been
a good deal of moving about and noise in the room he would have been
heard. “You skink, dot iss alvays vot you t’ink uff since you haf gome
here!”

“Colonel Gunn,” said the Duke, “is beginning to get Merriwell’s right
measure. He sees that Merriwell is trying to ruin Kadir Dhin, simply
because Kadir Dhin refused to be walked on by that crowd. The whole
thing started, you remember, when Kess insultingly shouldered into
Kadir Dhin, and our friend here resented it and tried to teach the
Dutchman that he couldn’t carry off a thing like that. And Chip, you
know, backing his chum, proceeded to knock Kadir Dhin down right there.
It’s the Merriwell way, don’t you know. Now he’s trying to ruin Kadir
Dhin.”

“That’s right,” Carson said. “I’ve had experience, even though I ain’t
in Fardale. I went to jail once through Chip’s blabbin’, and if he
could ’a’ done it he’d ’a’ sent me to the penitentiary. Of course, I’ve
got to keep on the right side o’ the law, but I’d like to hit him hard.”

“You came back at him rather handsomely, donchuknow,” said the Duke,
with an air of pleasing condescension; “but the way it ended it only
gave him a chance to make the claim that our friend Kadir Dhin is
standing in with this mysterious Hindu, who is said to be round here,
and who is cutting up such queer pranks, donchuknow, that it’s hard
work to believe in them.”

“He’s been saying something _new_ about me?” Kadir Dhin said, flaming.

“He says, I’m told, that this Hindu—if the rascal really exists, and is
your uncle, I beg your pardon!—he says the Hindu couldn’t have got hold
of a Fardale uniform if _you_ hadn’t assisted him; and that he couldn’t
have pulled off that trunk trick, either, without your aid.”

The tense look that had come to the face of Kadir Dhin softened, and he
relaxed his strained attitude and dropped back into his chair. For an
instant it seemed an explosion would come; but all he said, in a weak
voice, was:

“Oh, well, let him talk! The more he talks against me the more he will
hurt himself with Colonel Gunn. It’s known everywhere that the barracks
have been burglarized and uniforms stolen.”

“By careful work we can create a prejudice against him among the
students who do not like his high-and-mighty ways, donchuknow,” the
Duke urged, “and among those who will be inclined to sympathize with
Kadir Dhin. We can also put through some scheme to blacken him so in
the eyes of Colonel Gunn that he will be thrown out of Fardale.”

“That’s right,” said Avery. “Gunn is sore on him on account of what has
happened to Kadir Dhin, remember, and that feeling can be increased.”

“What is this plan?” growled Carson. “Put it on exhibition!”

The Duke laughed softly. He could be very pleasant, when he dropped his
stilted manners and his air of superiority.

“A thought has just come to me”—it had been in his mind all day—“that
if you want to make sure that Chip Merriwell goes out of Fardale, it
can be worked by Kadir Dhin. He is quite a hypnotist——”

“I do very little at it—know very little about it,” Kadir Dhin hastily
corrected.

The Duke laughed again and lifted his eyebrows in disbelief.

“Gunn told me that this uncle of yours who slew Miss Maitland’s father
in France was a wonderful hypnotist. And more than once you have given
little exhibitions to amuse the fellows, showing that you have that
power to a certain degree.”

“I’m a mere amateur,” said Kadir Dhin.

“But you could put this over, donchuknow. I’m sure. And it would be a
deathblow to Merriwell. Get him into conversation in some quiet place
and so get hypnotic control of him. This should be in the evening. Then
stain his face to the hue of yours, and send him sneaking into Colonel
Gunn’s under instructions to try to kidnap Rose Maitland. Hypnotized,
he would obey you, and he would not remember that you had ever even
spoken to him about it. Colonel Gunn could be posted, tipped off to the
fact, that Merriwell was to make this effort, and that it was for the
purpose of damaging you, Kadir Dhin; he could be made to think that
Merriwell, so disguised, was putting a fake attempt over against the
girl, and intended to be seen, so that _you_ would be accused of it.

“Suppose that Colonel Gunn caught Chip Merriwell trying to do a thing
like that? What?”

“Wow!” rumbled Carson.

“He would last at Fardale just as long as a snowball in August. It
could be made to appear that these other efforts against the young lady
had been made by Merriwell to ruin the reputation of Kadir Dhin. Some
scheme, eh?”

But Kadir Dhin did not rise to it.

“I’m only an amateur,” he said; “I couldn’t do it.”

“Well, I didn’t know,” said the Duke smoothly. “But you can see how it
would finish Merriwell. His excuses that he didn’t know what he was
doing wouldn’t go, if Gunn were primed in advance to expect him.”

“Why don’t you get up a plan to beat him to pieces?” said Carson,
expressing the bruiser in him. “Fix it so’s the blame’ll be on him; and
then when he makes the crack you’ve planned for, sail in and jest put
him to sleep. Then you’ve got your excuse ready, and what can be done
about it? He was the aggressor.”

“Same old Carson,” commented the Duke, “always seeing blood. But that
wouldn’t get him out of Fardale.”

“You see,” said Avery, trying to back the Duke. “Just putting him down
for a few days or so wouldn’t do; he’d get over it and come back, and
still be cock of the walk here; that’s what the Duke means.”

“I’ll say what I mean, Avery,” the Duke snapped. “I didn’t mean that.
We simply want to get rid of the Merriwell influence at Fardale.”

Avery collapsed.

“I understand,” he said; “I beg your pardon!”

Kess hardly heard Carson’s words, he was thinking so intensely of the
queer plan which the Duke had unfolded for Kadir Dhin.

“Uh-huh! Dot vos saidt for two ears more; der two ears uff der Hindu
who iss pehindt me! Der Duke iss schmardt. He iss know der Hindu is
in here. Idt vill gif dot Hindu—ouch, his knees iss now digging in
my back!—idt vill gif him der itea uff idt. So he vill hypnotize my
friendt Chip, unt all der resdt uff idt vill habben. I see I got to
fighdt somepoty sooner; I got to fighdt dot Hindu who iss behint me
to-night, and cabture him, unt stob der whole pitzness before idt
sdarts. I am glad I haf came, unt I am vishing dot I tidn’t.”

“Another plan that has just come to me,” said the Duke, though he had
thought it out earlier, “is to queer Merriwell with Gunn by getting him
intoxicated. Two or three times the fellow has either been jagged or
drugged—he claimed he was drugged; and if this is worked right, Gunn
can be made to believe that he was drinking at those other times.

“You could work that trick, Bully, if you’d undertake it, donchuknow;
and you could pay off some of those grudges. Hire a couple of fellows,
you know the kind, to take Merriwell down to the Pavilion; hand them a
bottle of liquor, and tell them they’ll be well paid for forcing him to
drink it. When he’s good and soused let Gunn know about it and see him
in that fix. Eh, Carson?”

Carson’s eyes began to shine.

“I’d as soon do it myself as not,” he boasted. “S’pose he claimed
afterward that I made him drink it, would anybody believe him?”

The Duke smiled indulgently.

“You’re rather in the heavyweight class, I admit; but could you do it
alone? Merriwell is some scrapper. If you try it, you’d better have
some competent help handy. The best plan is to send others to do it,
and keep out of sight yourself.”

But nothing seemed to materialize. The Duke had as many plans as he
had fingers; but always there was something, usually a question of the
risk, which kept them from full acceptance.

“I guess there isn’t any one here with nerve enough to go up against
Merriwell,” he said. “I’ll have to undertake something myself.”

“Oh, you foxy gran’pa!” Kess was thinking. “You know dot you ar-re
delling der veller under here mit me all der t’ings vot he could do.
Unt I haf now got to cabture him, pefore he can. Vhen idt cames, idt
vill be anodder tog fighdt, I pet you!”



CHAPTER XII.

A Lively Adventure.


KESS’ “tog fighdt” wasn’t up to his expectations, either in its manner
or in its finish.

An interminable time passed before anything occurred, and then Villum
had to start it. The room was vacated, the lights were out, and it was
deathly cold. Dickey had put up his shutters, locked his doors, and had
gone home. The time was wearing on toward morning, and still the man
behind Kess under the cot lay there, with no more movement than if he
had died or had been turned to stone.

Villum crawled out at last, in desperation. He had long been expecting
a knife in his back or a revolver shot.

“Yoost der same I know you, uff you ton’dt sbeak idt,” he announced.
“I haf got a rewolver vot iss full uff bullets to idts neck, unt uff
you shoodt me I vill shoodt you likevise undil you ar-re deadt. So, you
come oudt uff idt kvick!”

When the man did not come out, nor move, nor speak, Villum solemnly
scratched a match on his trousers and flung it, flaming, under the cot,
at the imminent risk of setting the cot and the house on fire.

The instant dying out of the match was followed by an earthquake; the
light cot rose violently in air, and, whirling over, it fell on Villum,
bringing him to the floor in a smother of bed clothing.

While he struggled to throw off the bed coverings and mattress, Villum
heard the man unbar and fling aside a shutter and smash a window; they
were resounding crashes, and the breaking of the window was accompanied
by a tinkling fall of glass.

Villum had rammed one foot through the wire mesh of the bed springs,
and felt like a wolf in a trap; but he scrambled toward the window,
where he now saw the starlight and the man climbing up to escape;
Villum was dragging the bed springs with him, and the greater part of
the coverings of the cot.

“No you ton’dt escabe me!” he cried, and made a sweeping reach with his
hands.

Though he was thrown down by the dragging weight of the bed springs, he
clutched the man by the coat tails, and when, in his desperation, the
man flung himself through to the ground, one of the tails of his coat
remained in Villum’s hands.

Compelled to free his foot before he could do more, Villum began a
furious fight with the bed springs; and by this he was so delayed that,
when he, too, was ready to scramble out through the broken window the
man was a hundred yards off, running through the darkness of the night.

But Kess picked himself up pluckily after his tumble and started in hot
pursuit; and, forgetting that explanations would be demanded and would
be awkward to give, he began at the same time to bellow for help.

As he thus plunged along in wild chase, Villum saw another figure
appear beyond the street corner; there was a loud demand on the fleeing
man to halt.

“Stop right where ye be; I’m the constable! Stop, I tell yeou!”

The man whirled about and lifted his hand; there was a pistol report
and a flash of fire.

It was the constable who stopped, though the bullet had not touched
him; and the man went on, running faster than ever.

The sight of the constable and that revolver play put the thought of
discretion into Villum’s wild head; he swung about as the man made off
and sprinted for the cover of the darkness by Dickey’s.

Gale, the constable, stood hesitating. Here were two escaping burglars,
as he supposed, both armed and in a shooting mood. While the constable
hesitated, Kess got the house between himself and Gale and flung wildly
ahead for the protecting darkness beyond.

Villum ran down the length of the parade ground, then veered toward the
lake. Reflecting that he was making telltale tracks, he turned off to
the beaten road, along which he continued his flight. He ran until he
could run no longer.

“Yiminy!” he panted, when he stopped. “I am deadt! Vunce in der house
I am so coldt I am freezing, undt now I am so mooch uff a varmness
dot I vandt to lay down unt valler in der snow. Budt dot vouldt be
to gommidt susancide mit rheumonia. I got to keeb going until I feel
petter.”

Villum kept going until he reached the boathouse. Crawling under its
lee, and making sure no one was around, he struck another match and
took a look at the coat tail he had appropriated.

“Der goat dail uff a Fardale feller,” he said. “Idt iss prove dot he
vos der Hindu murterer. Idt iss easy to seen vhy he ditn’t vant der
gonstable to watch him. Sure! Kadir Dhin is subblying him mit his
clodings.”

About daylight Kess made his way into the village, where he sought
shelter with a German friend, to whom he made suitable, though false,
explanations. There he had breakfast, after he had had a few winks
of sleep. As the German did not mention the break at Dickey’s, Kess
concluded it had not yet been noised around.

Villum found not much difficulty in smuggling himself, without
attracting attention, into the Fardale buildings when the proper time
came. He made his way up to Chip’s room.

He burst in on Chip and Clancy, waving the tail of the coat as if it
were a banner of victory.

“Yoost seen dot!” he said. “I haf peen having adwentures. Fairst idt
iss a tog fighdt, unt afdher idt der ticktograft, unt anodder fighdt
vhen der bed sbrings holdt me by der foodt undt I am sdopping der Hindu
murterer from gedding oudt uff der vinder, unt——”

“Help! Help!” Chip shouted. “Take a long breath and start over again.
What has happened?”

“I haf!” Kess exploded, waving the coat tail.

Breathless, he dropped into a chair.

“Idt iss der mix-oop mit der Hindu unt der pedt springs unt
eferyt’ing, vhile I am blaying der ticktograft at Dickey’s. Yoost you
lisden vhile I exblanadtion idt; but der Hindu he got avay.”

It was a funny story, as Kess told it; a serious one, too, though the
theory that the man who had been under the cot was the Hindu murderer
seemed incredible.

“Who sdole der clodings oudt uff der parracks?” Villum demanded, in an
argumentative tone.

“We don’t know,” said Clan, who was looking at the piece of cloth
Villum had brought in.

“You ton’dt t’ink dot vos a Fardale veller vot I pulled dot tail
feadther oudt uff?” said Villum.

“N-o. Yet, we can’t say it wasn’t.”

“You undt Chip haf been susbicioning Kadir Dhin. Budt he vas in der
room dalking mit der odder vellers vhile der man iss behint me by der
vall under der cot. You exblanadtion me vot iss der meanness.”

“We shan’t know much until we know more,” said Clan.

“Vell, vot do you t’ink uff dhem odder t’ings?” Villum demanded,
addressing Chip. “Uff you ar-re to be hypnotized by Kadir Dhin, unt
made a indoxicadtion by Carson, unt all der resdt uff idt, you petter
be geddting readty to meedt it, heh? Vot? Oddervise, vot goot do I do
by running dot riskiness uff blaying der ticktograft?”



CHAPTER XIII.

Rose and Rhoda.


THAT burglars had broken into Dickey’s, but had been frightened away
by the constable, was the story that got over town. Gale was heard
bragging of how courageously he had acted in scaring them off, and how
one of the burglars, hard pressed, had shot at him.

Chip Merriwell and his friends kept their own counsel. As the days
passed, they watched for the Hindu and watched Kadir Dhin. If the
fussy and important constable were to be believed, other burglarious
attempts had been forestalled by him, and he was as busy as a man with
five hands.

The normal routine of the academy was for a time outwardly unbroken.
Study and lectures, winter sports, work and play in the gymnasium, went
on as usual, under the rather rigid semimilitary discipline which Gunn
and the faculty enforced.

But it could be seen that the Duke and his friends were hard at work
lining up against Chip Merriwell every man they could. The apparent
result was small. Chip had a host of friends who were disposed to stand
by him loyally. And of that closer and more intimate band consisting
of such fellows as Clan and Kess, Jelliby and others, that they would
stand by Chip through thick and thin on any and every occasion, was, of
course, known to every one.

Some hockey matches on the cleared ice of the lake were exciting enough
to thrill the whole school and bring a mob of spectators out from the
village. Twice Chip led scrub teams against the regular Fardale team,
once going to victory and another time to defeat.

That Rhoda Realf and her brother were at Fardale Chip knew from Kess’
report; and it was not long before he met them. Chilled a bit by Rose
Maitland’s championship of Kadir Dhin, Chip was in a mood to be moved
again by the beauty and charm of the younger and slighter girl.

Yet, having a good memory, Chip could not forget even while he was out
on the lake in the full swing of enjoyment, skating with Rhoda Realf,
that whatever break there had ever been between them had been produced
solely because he could not endure the insufferable qualities of
Rhoda’s brother.

But when Chip went over to Gunn’s for a talk with Rose Maitland on the
subject which was constantly in her mind—her fears of the Hindu who
had slain her father and who was believed by herself and Gunn to be in
concealment at Fardale—the feeling again mastered him which had swayed
him when he first saw her.

“I could wish you were an American,” he said, as he talked and jested
with her; “and I don’t say that because I hold any feeling whatever
against the English. Now I have offended? I’m sure I didn’t intend it,
and beg your pardon.”

She had flushed; but a slight heightening of the color in her cheeks
made her only the more charming.

“It’s no offense,” she said. “You see, how can it be, when I am half
American. I didn’t know but Colonel Gunn had told you. My mother was
an American, from Baltimore. That is why I was so willing to come to
America. And I mean to visit Baltimore as soon as I can.”

From this agreeable topic, the talk switched to the Hindu and Kadir
Dhin, a change inevitable, as that had been Chip’s reason, or excuse,
for making this call.

“Colonel Gunn is sure that Gunga Singh, the man who slew my father, is
still here, and that he is committing these burglaries,” she reported.
“Colonel Gunn believes he has found refuge with some of the low
foreigners in the mill sections, and is burglarizing that he may have
money to pay for concealment. He says, too, that Dickey would keep him,
would keep any scoundrel, for money. I feel as if I were sitting on a
volcano. I don’t go out any more.”

Then she spoke again of Kadir Dhin, declaring that it was too had the
young Hindu’s career at Fardale had been shadowed as it was.

She added:

“It has come to Colonel Gunn, and he resents it, that you have been
hinting that perhaps Kadir Dhin isn’t so innocent as he seems—that he
has been helping Gunga Singh.”

Chip had more than hinted that to his friends—but only to his friends;
and he had believed it. He thought he had reasons for believing it.

“Somebody must be a mind reader,” he said.

“You didn’t say it?”

“I said it to Clancy and Kess and perhaps one or two more.”

“So it wouldn’t need mind reading to get out. You have wronged Kadir
Dhin. I wish you would apologize to him. You haven’t apologized to him?”

“No—not yet,” said Chip. “I may, in time.”

Chip parried this subject off as well as he could. He was again too
much in love with this girl to want anything like disagreement to come
between them. Yet he was in no mood to apologize to the young Hindu.
His belief was growing that Kadir Dhin was tricky; that he was imposing
on the confidence of Colonel Gunn and Rose Maitland. He wanted proof of
it, and meant to try to get it. So how could he go to Kadir Dhin and
say to the young Hindu that he thought he had wronged and was wronging
him? It had to be parried off. It was a dangerous subject.

There were ever so many pleasanter things to talk about, and Chip
contrived to bring them forward; so that when he took his leave, it was
with a sense of having had a pleasant time and of having made a good
impression.

“I wonder if I am fickle-minded?” he thought, as he walked away,
his mind turning to Rhoda Realf. “No, I don’t think I am. I like
Rhoda—she’s fine; but Rose Maitland——”

Then he thought of Kadir Dhin.

“I can’t get it out of my nut that he is playing a double game. Of
course, if he isn’t, and I see that he isn’t, I’ll apologize to him,
and do it freely; though I’m afraid I can never like him.”



CHAPTER XIV.

When the Plot Went Wrong.


“DEAR me! Dear me!” said Colonel Gunn, twisting his glasses about on
his nose, as he stared in astonishment at the crumpled note which had
been brought to him by the servant girl.

The colonel had arrived at home late, having remained at the academy
looking over some examination papers.

This is what his eyes rested on, and why he exclaimed and stared:

    COLONEL GUNN: The scandalous doings of some
    of your students is the limit. They drink and gamble
    right under your nose, and you don’t know it. If you
    want proof, go down to the Pavilion right now. You will
    find Chip Merriwell there, intoxicated, so much so that
    he can’t get back to the barracks. There has been a
    drinking bout down there, which has lasted ever since
    Fardale let out its students for the day. When the
    others left the Pavilion, they had to leave Merriwell
    there because he couldn’t walk. You ought to know about
    this.

    A FARDALE WELL-WISHER.

Colonel Gunn did not like anonymous communications. But here was
something he could not overlook. It called for attention and action.

He rang for the servant.

“Mary,” he said, his voice hoarse and shaky, “will you—er—be kind
enough to inform me where you—ahum—got this singular note which you
brought me?”

“At the dure,” said Mary; “a b’y brought it. He said it was fer you,
and I’m sure yere name was on it.”

“My name was on it—very true. Ahem—you did not recognize the boy?”

“I niver saw his face befure.”

“Ahum—thank you. Mary. If you will help me on with my greatcoat,
I—ahum——”

Mary helped him get into his overcoat; and, with his cane in hand,
Colonel Gunn sallied forth. The unpleasant note was in his pocket.

“A—er—a distressing thing,” he was thinking. “Until recently I have
thought so well of young Merriwell! I fear he will never be the man
his father was. Dear me, the pranks that fellow used to cut here; he,
too, was quite wild! Nevertheless, there was a saving grace in him;
a—er—thoughtfulness. I was younger then, too; and my dear father, Zenas
Gunn, of blessed memory—yes, the older Merriwell annoyed him a great
deal.”

The night was falling, and the early lights of the village were
shining. There were no lights to-night on the lake, unless carried by
some skater, and Gunn’s way lay in that direction, along the lake to
the Pavilion.

The colonel reflected that he ought to have company, and was on the
point of turning aside and telephoning for the constable; but was
deterred by the thought that he ought not to expose a student in that
way, even though the student deserved exposure.

“By going alone I may be able to prevent a scandal. Yet—er—of course,
Mr. Merriwell will have to leave the academy; I—ahum—see no other way.
I shall write to his father a full explanation; tell him that recently
there has—er—been a great change in his son; I shall have to speak of
this violent animosity against the youth, Kadir Dhin, who came here as
a foreigner and stranger, under—er—my protection. Such base calumnies
as Kadir Dhin assures me young Merriwell has heaped on him—there is
even an element of insanity in it! Is the whole world going mad?”

The worthy head of Fardale grew warm with indignation as he stumped
along, prodding the snow angrily with his walking stick.

“As for Gunga Singh, Kadir Dhin thinks that the money I have been
furnishing him for the purpose of hiring men to hunt down that
Hindu murderer will soon bring results. I—ahum—I hope so; I hope
so! It is growing very expensive. If results are not attained soon
I shall—ahum—be compelled to desist in making further advances. A
terrible state of affairs! And the—er—constable makes no progress.”

His mind turned back to Chip Merriwell.

“A drinking bout of Fardale students down at the Pavilion, and Mr.
Merriwell left there in so beastly a state of intoxication that he
cannot even walk. Dreadful!”

A merry jingling of sleigh bells reached him, as he approached the
lake, in the road which turned there and passed along the lakeside
toward the Pavilion; the sleigh was coming up behind him, and it seemed
that Gunn would be run down by the horses.

He gave a skipping jump which must have surprised him and landed in the
snow at the side of the road.

“Ahum! Dear me! How very reckless! A lot of hoodlums from the village,
no doubt; and very probably intoxicated. What is the—er—world coming
to?”

Then the colonel discovered that the sleigh was filled with young
fellows who were, nearly all of them, in the Fardale uniform. They had
been laughing; but they drew up beside him and fell silent with respect.

This show of deference pleased him; he was especially gratified when he
saw their hands go up in the military salute.

“Are you going far, Colonel Gunn?” he was asked, with politeness.

“Ahum! Er—that is to say——”

They were leaping out of the sleigh, surrounding him.

“We are out for a drive down the road here; beautiful night, isn’t it?
If you’re going far, we offer you a seat in with us. The sleighing is
delightful. It will honor us.”

Colonel Gunn was flattered and flustered.

“I was—er——”

“Then, right in! Here is a good seat. We’re going to drive down by the
Pavilion, and beyond; and then back to Fardale by the other road. It
will be a lovely ride.”

They had him by the arms, still trying to be courteous, though in
reality they had literally taken possession of him; and before the
colonel could say whether he wished to go in the sleigh or did not wish
to, he was in it, sinking back in the seat.

“Er—er——Ahaw—ahum! This is aw——I have lost my stick in the snow there,
I believe.”

It was rescued and passed up to him.

The young fellows were climbing in beside and behind him; and to keep
him from wanting to get out, the driver quietly touched up the horses
and sent them dancing along, jingling their bells.

“Ahaw—ahum! I—er——”

Gunn looked around him.

In the faint light, he recognized his companions; he saw Bronson Avery
clearly, for Bronson sat beside him, and had been one of the politest.
Behind him he heard familiar voices. He was displeased on discovering
one of the voices to be Bully Carson’s; he detested and suspected
Carson.

“I shall have to speak to these boys about Carson,” he thought, as he
tried to get a grip on his scattered faculties.

“Ahum!” he coughed, and touched the driver on the arm. “I shall—er—be
obliged if you will put me off in the road near the—er—the Pavilion.
From there I shall—er—walk back. This is—er—very pleasant, but on a
night like this—so glorious—I prefer to walk; so if you, er——”

“Oh, we’ll put you off at the Pavilion,” was the significant statement
with which he was reassured.

But when the road by the ice was reached, the fellows in the sleigh
with Gunn were given a surprise that was as great as Gunn’s.

Chip Merriwell, skating on the ice there with Clan and Kess and some
others, had stopped at the edge of the ice, curious to see the sleigh
go by; not dreaming who its occupants were.

Chip was recognized by the fellows in the sleigh, and by the driver,
who gave a little ejaculation of amazement and drew hard on the reins,
bringing the horses to a stop.

“Merriwell!” he said, gasping the name.

Gunn, electrified, craned his neck; and Chip, thinking himself
addressed, stepped into the road, walking on his skates toward the
sleigh.

“It is—er—it is Mr. Merriwell!” Gunn exploded. “This—er—this is you,
Mr. Merriwell?”

Chip saluted; and Clan and the others, coming up behind him, repeated
the action.

“Yes, sir,” said Chip.

“But you—er—were—that is to say can it——”

“Yes, sir?”

Colonel Gunn tumbled out of the sleigh—almost fell out—in his
amazement. He hooked his glasses on his nose and stared at Chip. He saw
that Chip was steady-limbed, clear-eyed, and sober.

“Hello!” one of the fellows exclaimed suddenly, with a startled
emphasis that drew attention. “What’s that mean? The Pavilion’s on
fire!”

A flame had flashed from a window in the lakeside building some
distance down the road, and by the light of it two men were seen
running away over the snow.



CHAPTER XV.

Cowardice and Heroism.


THE two men who sat at the table in the front room overlooking the
icy lake were as sinister a pair as Bully Carson could have picked up
anywhere, and they were not disposed to heed the young fellow who lay
bound on the floor by the door.

“Le’s carry him upstairs, Bill, and shet him in that back room, where
he can’t make himself heard by anybody passin’ ’long the road; we
either got to do that or gag him.”

“But—see here! You’re making an awful mistake, donchuknow! I’m not the
fellow you were told to get, donchuknow. This is a hideous mistake,
fellows.”

It was the Duke who was making this piteous appeal.

But he had little hope that it would be heeded, since up to this time
he had not been listened to and had been given such shameful treatment;
moreover, there was small hope that he would be rescued soon by his
friends. The Pavilion had been chosen by him because he knew it was far
down the lake and isolated.

It was a lakeside place of entertainment, unoccupied in the winter as a
rule. The previous winter the Duke had hired it, and it was understood
he had some sort of occupancy claim on it this winter.

The men were still disposed to be rough with him.

“We’ve heard all we want out of you,” he was told; “so, shet up! You
was pointed out to us plain.”

“By Bully Carson?”

“No matter about that. Here, Bill; we’ll put him upstairs. Either that,
or we got to gag him.”

They took him upstairs and locked him in the little room, just as he
was. Then they went back to the lower room, with its table, its pack of
cards, and the bottle of whisky that was on it.

That whisky had been furnished by Bully Carson; and their prisoner,
according to Carson’s directions, was to be drugged with it; but they
liked the taste and smell of the liquor too well to waste it in that
way; they meant to drink it themselves.

Sitting down at the table again, they sampled the contents of the
bottle and applied themselves to the cards; the day was at its close,
and they fancied themselves in the greatest security for an hour or
more.

Acting up to Bully Carson’s instructions, they had waylaid the Fardale
cadet as he came swinging up the lake on his skates, not long before.
They thought they knew him; Carson had pointed him out to them, so they
were sure there was no mistake, even when he declared there was.

They had made their mistake naturally. The Duke had been standing close
by Chip Merriwell, on a street corner, when Carson had indicated the
latter; they had simply looked at the wrong man when Carson was talking.

They knew what was expected of them. When they had forced intoxication
on their prisoner, they were to depart, and leave him in the Pavilion,
to be seen there by Colonel Gunn and any others who chanced to be with
the colonel.

They found the cards interesting, and the liquor more so. They had not
intended to light the lamp they found on the table; but decided to do
so when their caution became less active. They couldn’t see to play
without a light, and stakes were then on the table.

How long they played they did not know, but they went very speedily to
the bottom of the liquor bottle. They began to quarrel, each accusing
the other of cheating. Drawing a knife, one lunged at the other with
it, across the table; the other rose and flung back to avoid the blow.

The table was overturned with a crash, and the lamp went to the floor;
it shattered, and the kerosene caught from the burning wick. In a
moment the room was filled with flames.

Stunned for an instant by what threatened, they made a feeble attempt
to fight out the fire; then they threw open the door, and, running out
into the road, they fled.

In the room into which he had been flung, the Duke had been trying
to get the cords off his wrists; he was in a vile temper. He piled
anathemas on Bully Carson and on the men downstairs. If Carson had not
been a fool, and chosen fools for this work, this mistake could not
have been made. He had planned it and given Carson the money to carry
it out, and this was the result. He had come skating down the lake,
wondering how near he could be to the Pavilion and be safe when the
trick was pulled off; and the ruffians had seized him, instead of the
one chosen, who was Chip Merriwell.

The treatment he was receiving was meant for Chip.

What made his fate more bitter was his belief that there had been a
clever turning against him of the tables; he thought the ruffians had
been tampered with by Chip after Carson had hired them, and that this
was done deliberately by them, for pay. So he heaped his curses on Chip
as well as on Carson and the two stupid fools.

Then came the fire, and the terror it conveyed to the occupant of the
upper room.

He heard the quarreling below, then the crashing of the overturned
table and the yells of the men when they tried to stay the fire. He
heard them throw the door open and run away like the cowards they were,
forgetful of him and of his fate.

The Duke screamed with fear when he heard them go.

For a moment the terror of his situation almost overcame him; he felt
sick and faint, his heart pounded up until it seemed almost in his
throat; a panicky fear clouded his mind.

This passed. There was some courageous fiber in the Duke. He had
been spoiled in his training; he was always made to think he was
finer and better than any one else, was always petted and flattered,
and constantly treated by servants and even friends as if he were a
superior being. If there had not been some good stuff in the Duke, he
would have been far worse than he was at present.

As soon as he could control his jumping nerves, the Duke tried again to
get free of the cords that held his wrists; but he could not do it. He
could not break the cords, and struggling only drew the knots tighter.

Rolling over against the door, he drew up his legs and began to dash
his heels against the panels, trying to break through.

The fire was roaring so that he could hear it plainly when he was not
making too much noise, and the smoke that had begun to creep through
the rooms reached him.

“Help!” he screamed, as he hammered with his heels against the door.
“Help! Help!”

That some one passing in the road well out beyond might hear him, was
his hope. He was beginning to hope, too, that the fire would be seen in
the village in time for fire fighters to get out to it before it had
made a finish of him.

As if in answer to his calls, he soon heard the jingling approach of a
sleigh, and from the sound of the bells he could tell that the horses
were galloping.

The fire had reached the stairway which led to the room where the Duke
lay; he could see, under the door, the fiery licking of red tongues
of flame, as gusts of air drove the flames higher; and now the smoke,
getting into his room more and more, was troublesome, and threatened
soon to be suffocating.

He was yelling himself hoarse, bawling for help to the occupants of the
sleigh. When he heard them shouting to each other outside in the snow,
his screams to attract their attention became screeches.

He had been heard; he could soon tell that.

At the same time it was being said that no one could get up to the
second floor; there were no ladders to be had, and the stairs were on
fire.

Some one jingled away in the sleigh, going to the village to get
ladders; the others, it seemed, were waiting for the ladders, or for
the coming of the Fardale fire department.

The Duke knew that before the slow-moving local fire department could
get there, or the sleigh return with ladders, he would be beyond the
need of aid.

“Help!” he screamed.

His feet, flailing, could not shatter the stout panels of the door.

A little later, when the hot breath of the fire seemed trying to reach
through the door to him, he heard a voice. It was followed by a crash
that drove the door inward.

Chip Merriwell, head and shoulders wrapped round with a sleigh robe
soaked in melted snow, groped into the room; he had come through the
fire-filled stairway with it round him; he had dared the fury of the
flames to reach and help the Duke, when Carson and Avery, and all the
Duke’s own followers, refused the risk, claiming that whoever tried it
would be burned to death. The stairs were like a furnace.

“There’s the hall yet,” Chip gasped. “Here!”

“My feet and hands are tied!” the Duke shouted.

Chip got his knife out and cut the cords.

“Here!” he panted. “Can you walk? I’ll help you. Pull your coat up
around your head. The hall here is free yet, and we can reach one of
the windows.”

“It’s Merriwell!” said the Duke, bewildered.

He had been thinking Chip had sent him there, and he wondered about
this; yet it was dull wonder, and a very active thankfulness. No one
rejects the hand that is stretched out to save.

He did not need Chip’s aid; he even scrambled ahead, along the hall,
driven by fear; and he was at one of the windows, smashing it, when
Chip came up. He was about to throw himself out through the window.

“No!” said Chip. “We can take time; we’re safe now, unless the house
falls. The fire is following, but we’re well ahead of it here. I’ve got
the driving lines from the sleigh for ropes.”

He pushed the Duke through, after passing a length of the leather reins
around the Duke’s body, under his arms, and hung to the loops he had
set, while the Duke slid downward to the ground.

Securing the lines to the support of a wall bracket, Chip Merriwell
followed and dropped; but the sleigh robe and his clothing smoked from
the heat.

“Burned much, Chip?” some one was asking, as he reeled into the arms
that were stretched out to assist him.

“No,” he gasped; “I—I think not; I think I’m all right!”

“Well, it sure was close; you didn’t have much time! The old Pavilion
is going.”

Ten minutes later it was a flaming tinder box, with a tornadolike roar
as the fire drove skyward, and a glare that reddened the snow for great
distances around.


    To be continued in the next issue of WIDE-AWAKE
    MAGAZINE, out January 25th.



Trooper Stewart, Substitute

BY H. E. Williamson

SYNOPSIS OF PRECEDING CHAPTERS.

    AFTER a seventeen-hour ride in pursuit of Jim Cowley,
    a crook, who has cheated a settler named Ballard, “Big
    Ben” Stewart, of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police,
    arrives at his home, where he finds his father, Dugald
    Stewart, and his younger brother, Denis. After resting,
    Ben takes up the pursuit, but is wounded and returns
    home. Denis dons his brother’s uniform and takes up
    Cowley’s trail. The “substitute trooper” meets with
    various exciting adventures, and is eventually made a
    prisoner by Cowley and Smoking Duck, a Cree Indian.
    Stewart is removed to Cowley’s camp, where he is left
    in charge of Smoking Duck. He succeeds in making his
    escape, and, without weapons, he continues his flight.
    He meets Napoleon McShayne, a French Canadian, in whose
    company Stewart encounters Bray, a fur trader, who
    is on his way to Cowley’s camp on Hay Lake. From the
    trader Stewart learns that Cowley has been purchasing
    an unusually large amount of corn. Stewart orders Bray
    to return to Fort Vermilion. A plan is arranged with
    McShayne to secure Stewart’s canoe and rifle, which had
    been left on the river bank when Stewart was captured.
    The trooper swims the river, and while he stands drying
    himself and clothing over a fire, two canoes appear on
    the river, which prove to be occupied by Ballard and
    his friends, all of whom are in search of Cowley. The
    settlers have made up their minds to deal with Cowley
    in their own way, without the interference of the law.
    During the night Stewart escapes from Ballard’s camp,
    and makes his way to the point where he is to meet
    Napoleon McShayne.



CHAPTER XII.

Tightening Up.


CLOSE beside his tiny signal fire, Denis waited there in the night.
As he watched, he remembered one thing to which he had given little
thought.

This was that Cowley was going to the foot of the lakes some time that
same night to meet Bray. Presumably Cowley would not start until an
hour or so before dawn. But what would happen when he reached the foot
of the lake?

“He’ll take Ballard’s camp fire for that of Bray,” mused Denis,
frowning. “When he gets close up, he’ll discover his mistake and put
for home. Then I’ll be there to nab him—if nothing happens. Well, no
use gathering trouble till the time comes.”

Perhaps half an hour later, Denis sighted a dark blur on the lake, and
heard a low hail. He flung a few scraps of birch bark on the fire,
allowed them to blaze up until he himself was fully revealed; then he
stamped out the fire and scattered it.

Waiting at the edge of the shore, he presently saw two craft come
gliding in. The first was Napoleon’s dugout, with Napoleon himself
wielding his clumsy paddle. Towing after this was the light canoe
which Denis had left at the head of the lake on his unfortunate attempt
to arrest Cowley.

“B’jou’!” came the half-breed’s voice. “I got heem. What you do dat man
Bray, huh?”

“I took care of him, all right,” said Denis, smiling. “He’s gone back
to Fort Vermilion, and you’ll find your camp waiting as you left it.
When you’re at the fort, go in to Bray’s store and he’ll settle with
you for whatever grub he used.”

The ’breed grunted deep satisfaction at this information. Denis pulled
in the canoe. To his delight, he found his duffel bag, blankets, and
the rifle exactly as he had left them.

“Mebbeso you make for pay?” suggested Napoleon diffidently.

Denis reflected.

“The man Bray sent you to find—the man named Cowley—has a camp halfway
up this shore,” he returned. “I’m going to arrest him. Also a ’breed
named Petwanisip. Cowley has some fine pelts up there, and you can have
your pick. Want to come along?”

This did not strike Napoleon’s fancy.

“Mebbeso I come back. I’m want for sleep now,” he said, which was
a lie, since he had probably slept all the preceding afternoon,
after reaching the head of the lake. “Huh? Mebbeso I come back dere
to-morrow.”

Denis chuckled.

“There’s a bunch of four white men down at the foot of the lake,” he
rejoined. “They have rifles, and they’ll be up here to-morrow——”

That was enough for Napoleon, who grunted deep:

“Mebbeso I go ’way quick, whatever. Got um pain in belly. Want for
sleep. Mebbeso I come back, mebbeso not. Whatcheer!”

He edged his dugout toward the lake shadows. Denis laughed, glad to be
rid of the fellow, who would be of no use in a fight.

“Run along, then, ’Poleon. You come back to-morrow afternoon, and the
coast will be clear, I think. Then I’ll pay you—and pay you pretty
well, too. Don’t come later than that, but come then sure. Sure?”

“Huh! Sure!” was the answer. Napoleon would keep his word also—to the
police.

Denis watched the dark, slim shape of the dugout float out into the
night and disappear into a speck under the starlight. Then he turned to
his own canoe, and, with a feeling of deep relief, knelt once more on
his blankets and took up his paddle, the rifle ready to hand. Ballard’s
canoe he left on the bank.

To land at Cowley’s Creek about dawn would be time enough for his
purposes. He could let Cowley go to the foot of the lake—probably to
return faster than he had gone. In the meantime he could arrest Smoking
Duck and make an investigation.

That was an important point—the investigation. Besides the original
charge against Cowley, and that of resisting arrest, the police must
know what the man was doing here, how he had gained possession of so
much fur, and just what kind of an illegal game was forward. It might
be that he was simply dealing out whisky without a permit, which was
in itself a grave offense in a land where the vanishing Indians are
protected by laws of iron against such men as Cowley.

With ten miles to travel against a steadily increasing headwind, and
three hours in which to cover it, Denis fell into a steady, even stroke
that he could keep up for days on end if need were. Keeping close
to shore, he worked his way gradually along up the lake, noticing a
perceptible increase in the wind as the night wore onward.

When the stars began to dim and die, and the grayness of dawn slowly
lifted the darkness, Denis ran to the beach and landed. It was vital
that he make no mistake now, and he must be sure of his ground before
going ahead.

For half an hour he lay on the bank, watching and waiting. Then an
exclamation of satisfaction broke from him. Through the lifting gray
dawn light he could discern the hills a half mile farther along the
shore, where Cowley’s camp was located. Sweeping the waters of the
lake with his eyes, he then caught a moving speck halfway across, in
line between the hills and the foot of the lake, and moving toward the
latter.

Cowley was well on his way down the lake!

“Looks as though things were breaking my way at last,” thought Denis,
as he scrambled down the steep bank to his canoe. “Now I think that
I’ll have a little surprise for Mr. Smoking Duck before he gets through
his breakfast.”

Save for the cartridges which The Pigeon had expended, the Winchester
rifle had a full magazine. Certain of this, Denis pumped in a fresh
cartridge, knelt in the canoe, placed the rifle in front of him, and
shoved out.

Now he paddled swiftly, putting all his strength into the work. In
a short fifteen minutes he found himself lying outside the almost
concealed creek entrance. Into this he headed, scanning the bushes and
trees ahead for any sign of Smoking Duck.

No danger threatened, however. Without sighting a moving thing, he
reached the log landing, jumped out, and lifted his canoe from the
water. Then, rifle in hand, he stepped out on the trail to the shack.

Five minutes later, he was standing at the edge of the clearing, eying
that odd cluster of buildings. From the chimney of the shack itself no
smoke ascended, but from what seemed to be the lean-to just behind, a
thin trail of wispy smoke was winding into the sky.

“That must be the ‘fire’ to which Cowley referred,” thought Denis,
frowning. “If Smoking Duck isn’t asleep, he’s probably around there in
back.”

Hesitating no longer, he went across the clearing at a run, half
expecting a rifle shot from the silent shack front. None came. Reaching
the door of the shack, he peered inside and found the place empty, but
from the back came the regular strokes of an ax!

Slipping around the side wall of the shack, to the right, Denis passed
the lean-to which held the baled peltries. At the corner he paused,
cocking his rifle, then stepped out around the end.

A dozen feet away stood Petwanisip, leaning on an ax; even that cocking
of the rifle had attracted the half-breed’s attention. Denis covered
the man instantly.

“Hands up, Smoking Duck!”

Smoking Duck stared as if at an apparition. Then he cast a wild glance
around, and Denis saw a rifle leaning against the wall. But it was
three yards distant, and not even the desperate half-breed dared risk
it. His hands rose slowly.

Each lean-to adjoined the other, here at the back. To the left of the
rifle was a low doorway, near which Smoking Duck had been throwing the
wood as he had cut it. Denis observed that this was firewood.

“Go to the left of that door, stand with your face to the wall, and
stick your hands out behind your back!” commanded Denis.

There was a snap to his voice that spelled earnestness. His brown face
convulsed with helpless rage, the half-breed did as Denis had ordered.
Advancing to the man, Denis stuck his rifle in Petwanisip’s back.

“Be mighty careful, now—this gun is cocked!”

With one hand he unlaced his moccasins, knotted the lacing, and drew
it about the swarthy wrists. Then he set down his rifle, and in a few
seconds had knotted the buckskin thongs stoutly. Smoking Duck was
trapped beyond escape.

“Walk around to the front of the cabin.”

Driven by that relentless rifle, the sullen half-breed led the way
around the shack to the door. Denis ordered him on inside, and so to
the same little room where he himself had been confined. Removing the
fellow’s knife, he locked him in the inner room.

“Things are certainly coming fine for me!” he reflected, as from
Cowley’s stores he replaced his moccasin lacing. “Now we’ll begin our
investigations—and I’d better start right here.”

Ben’s Ross service rifle was in a rack, as was the revolver with its
lanyard. Denis gladly took back these weapons, and found Cowley’s
revolver hanging to a nail. No other rifle was in evidence, however,
and he conjectured that Cowley had not gone forth unarmed. This,
however, he had expected.

Leaving Smoking Duck locked up safely, Denis sallied forth on his
tour of inspection. First he visited the lean-to at the right, and in
this he found a few sacks of corn, together with several sacks marked
“Beans” and “Potatoes.” A slash with his knife showed that all these
were filled with corn.

“So Cowley has been importing all the corn he could, under every
disguise possible!” thought Denis, looking down at the sacks. “The
question is, why? In about two minutes your little game will be up, my
friend!”

As he closed the rude door of the lean-to and stepped out into the
early-morning sunshine, he paused suddenly. The night wind had died
away; the morning was perfectly calm and clear. He stood motionless,
listening—and the sound came again. It was a distant but still
recognizable rifle crack. A third sounded instantly, then two or three
shots came almost together. After that, silence.

“That’s Cowley and Ballard!” thought Denis, his blue eyes narrowing.
“If they haven’t got him, he’ll be back presently. If they have—then
it’s up to me to arrest Ballard’s crowd. By Jasper, I don’t like this
business a little bit!”

No further sounds of conflict reached him. While he could sympathize
with Ballard and the latter’s friends, he knew perfectly well that he
must arrest them if they had killed Cowley. He was representing Big
Ben Stewart, and his uniform typified the law, and Ben would be held
responsible for the upholding of the law.

Frowning uneasily, he passed on around the corner of the log structure,
and again came to where he had found Smoking Duck at work. He stepped
to the doorway, set down his rifle beside that of the half-breed, and
entered the mysterious lean-to.

This proved to be unlighted save by the door, and for a moment his eyes
could not pierce the semidarkness. Then, as he saw what manner of place
this was, an exclamation of slow surprise broke from his lips.

“By Jasper! And to think that I never even suspected it—and dad was the
closest guesser of all!”

To either side of him were piled small kegs, and above these were neat
rows of glass half-pint flasks, precisely similar to that which he had
found on the person of The Pigeon a few days previously. About half of
them were filled with a white liquid, and the subtle odor of whisky
which pervaded the room betrayed the nature of that liquid. But Denis
merely noted these things in passing—his gaze, was riveted on what lay
beyond, across the room from him.

There, with a small fire still burning, was a complicated arrangement
of metal which he did not understand at all, but whose usage was quite
evident to him. He had seen pictures of stills before this, and knew at
once that he had solved the mystery of Cowley’s corn and trading and
illegal work. Every detail lay clear before him.

Here on Hay Lake, hundreds of miles from anywhere, Cowley had located
a private whisky distillery. From Fort Vermilion to the summer Hudson
Bay Post, farther down the Hay, he had brought up corn under various
disguises, to avert possible suspicion, and had calmly proceeded
to manufacture his own whisky and trade it to the Indians in the
neighborhood.

“This is going the whisky-running game one better, all right!”
exclaimed Denis, as he eyed the place. “Well, my job is clear—so here
goes!”

Stepping outside, he took up Smoking Duck’s ax and reëntered. First
drawing what was left of the fire and carefully stamping it out, he
then waded into the still, ripping the copper worm and everything else
into useless shreds of metal. He did his work thoroughly and left
nothing undestroyed.

Then he turned his attention to the kegs and bottles. The latter he
smashed where they were; the former he rolled out into the yard. Ten
of the kegs were full of whisky, and these he smashed in and emptied.
Satisfied at length that the whole affair had been destroyed, with the
exception of one flask to be used as evidence if necessary, he wiped
his dripping face and took up the two rifles.

“Here’s a good morning’s work for Ben, anyhow!” he muttered happily.
“Now I’d better prepare my little reception committee for Mr. Cowley—or
Ballard. I wonder which will come?”



CHAPTER XIII.

Cowley Cries “Enough!”


FROM the front of the shack, the lake was, of course, hidden by the
intervening hill. Denis remembered that the presence of his canoe would
warn Cowley if the latter arrived in flight from Ballard, and struck
off to the creek at a sharp trot.

Once here, he went on to the edge of the lake, and scrambled through
the bushes to a vantage point. And here his mental question was
answered instantly.

A scant quarter mile away was a canoe bearing a single
paddler—evidently Cowley. The canoe was heading for the creek entrance,
and was traveling fast. A mile or more behind it was another canoe
bearing four men, and for a moment Denis eyed them, wondering why they
did not catch up with Cowley. Then he laughed shortly.

“Overloaded, by Jasper! All four of ’em in her, and she must be right
down to the water, so they don’t dare put on speed. This simplifies
things for me, then.”

So, apparently, it did, since Cowley was coming squarely into the trap.
At the moment it did not occur to Denis that Ballard’s arrival might
bring him a new problem, and the most difficult one which he had yet
faced.

Returning to the log landing, he picked up his canoe and carried it
a dozen yards away, placing it among the bushes, where the hurrying
Cowley would never notice it. This done, he made his way back to the
shack.

With his Ross rifle under his arm, he set the other weapons out of
reach in a corner. A glitter on the floor caught his eye, and he
stooped to pick up the handcuffs which he had intended to place on
Cowley and had worn himself by the irony of circumstance. He slipped
them into his pocket and opened the door of the prison chamber.

Smoking Duck was sitting on the floor, in sour apathy, his wrists as
Denis had left them. Denis smiled cheerfully at him.

“I suppose you heard the sound of wreckage, my friend? Yes, your little
game is up for good and all. By the way, where’s the key of those
handcuffs? I want to use them on your precious partner pretty quick.”

Smoking Duck glared up at him, and finally grunted out that the key was
lost.

“So much the worse for Cowley, then—he’ll have to reach headquarters
before getting released from bondage. I see you still have some coffee
on the fire—want a hot cup that’ll cheer but not inebriate?”

The scowling half-breed emitted a flood of mingled Cree and English,
which Denis rightly imagined to be a profane refusal, so he barred the
door and left Smoking Duck to his own reflections.

A pot of coffee stood on the tiny fish-shanty stove, and in a couple of
moments Denis had a fire going, for he had not eaten since the previous
evening. Keeping one eye on the edge of the clearing, he swallowed some
half-warmed coffee and a cold sour-dough biscuit—and looked out to see
the figure of Cowley coming at a run, rifle in hand.

Denis cocked his own rifle, drew to one side of the doorway, and
waited. On his way across the clearing, Cowley let out a roar for
Smoking Duck, but the half-breed had not the presence of mind to call
out a warning, or else he had not yet comprehended the full situation
of affairs.

Thus Cowley came leaping into the trap. At sight of the man’s brutal
face, Denis saw that he had been badly frightened; but that would
further his own ends.

“Hands up—hurry!”

That snappy, curt command stopped Cowley as if shot. He was looking
squarely into the muzzle of the Ross rifle.

For a moment he was paralyzed. His undershot jaw dropped in blank
amazement, and the ragged mustache drew back from his yellow teeth in
a snarl. Over the rifle sights the blue eyes of Denis were blazing at
him, and with a single curse Cowley dropped his rifle and lifted his
hands. As he did so, he took a backward step toward the door.

“Stop that!” snapped Denis. “Walk this way and put out your hands,
wrists together. I mean business, Cowley, and you’d better believe it.”

Cowley flung a hunted look over his shoulder at the clearing, then
slowly obeyed the command, advancing toward Denis.

His heavy face showed mingled fear, bewilderment, and fury. But when
Denis took the handcuffs from his pocket Cowley cried out sharply:

“Not that, Mister Trooper—fer Gawd’s sake, don’t iron me! There’s four
fellers right after me——”

“I know that,” said Denis warily. “And one of them’s Ballard, the man
you cheated down on the Peace River. Your chickens are coming home to
roost with a vengeance, eh? Stick out your hands!”

He held out the open handcuffs. But Cowley, breathing hoarsely, drew
back in fear that was by no means assumed.

“I tell ye they’re after me!” he repeated. “Look-a-here, don’t lay me
up where I can’t shoot, ye fool! Them fellers aims to murder me, an’ I
got to handle a gun in about two minutes!”

“You’ll handle no more guns for a while.” Denis was smiling slightly,
his eyes steady. “Bray has gone back to Vermilion, and I’ve just had
the pleasure of smashing up your liquor stock and distillery. So you
ran into Ballard, eh? I heard some shots—what happened down there?”

Cowley made as if to wipe his dripping brow, but halted as Denis’
linger tightened on the trigger.

“They seen me first an’ let drive. I dropped one o’ them—leastways I
winged him a bit, then I shoved fer home. Now, use sense! You ain’t
a-goin’ to fix me where they’ll pump lead into me without me gettin’ a
chance to shoot——”

“Shut up that nonsense!” broke in Denis. “You’re not going to be hurt
unless you get gay with me. If you don’t stick your hands here in ten
seconds, I’m going to drop you with a bullet in your leg—take your
choice!”

He meant the words, for he saw that the situation was grave in the
extreme. Cowley had shot one of the four pursuers, and that meant
trouble. Men of Ballard’s stamp would require tenfold vengeance for
that shot. None the less, Denis saw his duty clear-cut before him, and
intended to protect his prisoner to the utmost.

With a growling snarl, Cowley advanced and held forth his hands, wrists
together. Denis lifted the open handcuffs in his left hand—and, as he
did so, Cowley swiftly struck the rifle aside and bore him down with a
pantherlike leap.

Taken utterly by surprise, Denis went back and the rifle was knocked
across the shack with a clatter. Cowley’s fist drove home on his cheek,
knocking him into the wall; but as the ruffian followed, Denis flung
himself to one side and scrambled up.

A fierce rush of anger swept from his mind all thought of the revolver
at his belt, and he went into the man with both fists, his blue eyes
blazing. He landed right and left to the face, then went staggering
away, groaning, as Cowley’s heavy boot took him squarely in the side.
Cowley was after him with a roar.

That foul kick infuriated Denis as nothing else had the power to madden
him, and when the ruffian tried the same tactics again his anger drove
new life into his veins. Disdaining to employ such tricks himself, he
lifted a blow through the other’s guard that went straight to the mouth
and sent Cowley reeling back with broken teeth. On into him went Denis,
placing blow after blow, his lips clenched in silent fury and his
fists beating a tattoo on the man’s face.

Cowley lurched into the wall, cursing; flung back, met a smashing left
hook that rocked him on his heels, and then swung himself bodily into
a clinch. At the same instant, Denis stepped into a bearskin heaped
loosely on the floor. Endeavoring to get clear of Cowley’s hug, the
bearskin tripped and brought him down on the floor—underneath.

The breath was knocked out of Denis by the impact. He lay gasping and
helpless while Cowley, above, hit him twice heavily. Then the ruffian
gripped Denis by the throat in an effort at systematic choking. Aware
of his advantage, without pity, he was deliberately trying to get Denis
out of the way.

Vainly and ineffectually Denis struck upward—a man flat on his back
cannot hit much of a blow. Cowley tore at him with snarling oaths, the
great fingers digging into his throat until it seemed that his flesh
was coming asunder. His breath was stopped.

With all things going black, and the black changing to specks of fire
that danced through his brain, a final coherent thought came to him. It
was the recollection of his revolver.

His fumbling hands went to the lanyard in blind desperation. Even in
that moment Denis fought against himself; he must not fire! He must
take Cowley alive, he must bring in this man a prisoner. With that
great thought pounding against his brain, Denis pulled out the gun and
struck upward with it wildly.

Cowley caught the full effect of that blow. The fore sight of the
revolver took him just above the temple and ripped to the bone. Again
Denis struck out blindly, and again the heavy revolver landed, almost
in the same place.

Those two blows were enough. Denis felt the terrible grip on his throat
relax, and felt Cowley’s weight tumble away from him. Little more than
conscious himself, he rolled over and dragged himself up by the logs of
the wall.

He leaned against the wall, hanging on weakly and panting for breath,
fighting against the terrible faintness that oppressed him and
threatened to conquer his reeling brain. That life-and-death struggle
had all but drowned him.

Gradually his sight cleared, as air returned to his gasping lungs.
There at his feet lay Cowley, stretched out, his head bleeding. Denis’
first thought was that he had struck too hard; dropping to his knees,
he breathed quick relief at finding Cowley’s heart beating. The man was
only stunned.

A glance at the clearing showed no sign of Ballard’s forces. After all,
that battle had taken only a few moments, though it had seemed an age
to Denis.

For a little he stood gazing down at Cowley, while strength came back
to him and his throbbing lungs drank in the sweet air. To one side
lay the handcuffs where he had dropped them. Picking them up, he drew
Cowley’s wrists together and snapped the bracelets in place.

“I’ve landed him at last,” he muttered, with a deep sigh of relief.
“And it’s a lucky thing for me that I made sure of Smoking Duck first!
I can’t leave this fellow to bleed to death, though.”

Searching through Cowley’s pockets, he discovered a ragged bandanna.
With this and his own handkerchief he bandaged the man’s bleeding
scalp, roughly but effectively. While doing so, Cowley’s eyelids
fluttered, then opened.

“Lie still!” cautioned Denis. “You can get up in a minute.”

Cowley lifted his wrists, saw the handcuffs, and relaxed with a low
growl. When the bandaging was finished, Denis went to the door of
the smaller room and unbarred it. Smoking Duck still reposed on the
floor, wide awake and glaring like a trapped beast. Denis turned to the
watching Cowley.

“Come along, now, and get in here! Ballard may show up at any minute,
and I want you off my hands——”

“Ballard!”

Cowley sat up, fright stamped anew in his coarse features.

“Ye ain’t goin’ to let ’em have me, Mister Trooper? Fer the love of——”

“Shut up!” snapped Denis curtly. “Ballard and his friends won’t lay a
finger on you, I’ll promise you that. You join your friend and fellow
citizen in here, and go to sleep. I’ll attend to the rest.”

Cowley looked at him. Into the man’s rough face crept a slow gleam of
admiration as he met the steady gaze of Denis.

“Mister, ye sure are some man!” he exclaimed. “Ye got me—ye got me
proper, and I give ye the best I had at that. I thought I’d slide out
o’ here with a good wad, but ye sure played the game hard. No, I reckon
I got to take my med’cine now, and I ain’t got any kick comin’. You
blasted redcoat!”

With this grudging tribute to his conqueror, Crowley lifted himself
and staggered into the smaller room, sinking down beside Smoking Duck.
Denis shut the door and dropped the heavy bar into place.

The clearing was still empty of life outside the shack. Sinking down on
one of the two bunks, Denis rested his aching head in his hands.

“The worst of the job is done,” he thought, “unless—unless that
lynching party is after gore. If they are, it looks to me as if they’ll
have to get it. By Jasper, I have Cowley safe, and I mean to keep him!”

He lifted his head at sound of a distant shout. Then, picking up his
Ross rifle, he laid it across his knees and waited, facing the doorway.



CHAPTER XIV.

Ballard Shows Fight.


DENIS STEWART was unutterably weary, both physically and mentally.

He had been on a tremendous strain for the past three days, and the
sleep which he had gained had been fitful and at odd intervals. He had
drawn heavily on his splendid physique, and as he waited for Ballard’s
coming he realized that he could not endure another physical struggle.
Nor did he intend to.

“If I can’t down him by sheer will power, I’m gone,” he thought
wearily. “If I add a bit of target practice, I may pull through—but it
may not come to that.”

No false hopes were his. He knew the temper of those settlers, and knew
that they would be savagely determined to get hold of Cowley. He was
there to prevent their doing so—that was all.

Another shout sounded, closer this time, and another. Denis realized
that they were trailing Cowley, having found the creek entrance and
evidently being without knowledge of what lay ahead. He sat quietly,
gazing through the open doorway at the sunny clearing, and waited.

There was a note in those shouts which he did not like, a menacing,
bloodhound note which spelled danger. This was a man hunt, firing the
hunters’ blood with ferocity, demanding a victim, knowing neither
reason nor mercy. And at the end of the trail sat Denis, his blue eyes
cold as ice.

Then he sighted the hunters.

They appeared in a group, running, and halted abruptly at the edge of
the clearing as they scanned the cabin. One of the men, that same “Ed”
who had on the previous evening pierced through Denis’ similarity to
his brother, had left his arm in a sling, but held a revolver in his
right hand.

That silent cabin evidently puzzled them, and they were not sure
whether they had run Cowley to earth, or whether he had taken horse
and fled. They discussed matters; then, at a gesture from Ballard, the
other three scattered and took to cover along the edge of the clearing.
Ballard himself, rifle under his arm, stepped out and walked toward the
shack, his eyes flitting over it searchingly.

“If Cowley was here with his rifle, Ballard would be a dead man—and
knows it,” thought Denis admiringly. “There’s one brave man, at all
events!”

Ballard evinced no hesitation, though he must have known that he was
taking his life in his hand by that open advance. He strode across the
clearing, and paused at the doorway, too dazzled by the sunlight to
make out objects within.

“Come in, Ballard!” spoke up Denis quietly. “Come in; this is Stewart
speaking. But leave your men where they are.”

Ballard stared in blank astonishment, as his eyes finally made out the
figure of Denis sitting on the bunk opposite the door. With one swift
glance around the otherwise empty room, he stepped inside and eyed
Denis.

“Well, for the love of Mike!” he ejaculated slowly. “Thought you had
vamosed down the river last night.”

“No,” smiled Denis. “I borrowed one of your canoes and left it on the
shore, half a mile below here. You’ll find it waiting.”

“Hang the canoe!” snapped the other. “Where’s Cowley? We want that
cuss.”

“That’s really too bad,” returned Denis pleasantly, keeping his finger
on the trigger of the rifle across his lap. “You won’t find him.”

“Eh?” Ballard’s face set savagely. “Has he cleared out o’ here?”

“Not exactly. By the way, there’s some coffee on the stove. Help
yourself.”

Ballard was puzzled by this cool reception. With a bare nod, he crossed
to the stove and poured out some of the bitter black coffee, swallowing
it at a gulp. Then he set down the cup, his eyes fastened on the barred
door.

“What’s behind that door, Stewart?”

Denis shifted his rifle a trifle.

“Hold your rifle just as it is, Ballard!” he said, his voice biting
like a whip. “Cowley is behind that door.”

The settler stiffened. His eyes went to Denis in keen surmise, noted
the rifle trained on him, and rested on the eyes of Denis. The two
looked at each other steadily, neither wavering. But Ballard did not
lift his rifle.

“Look a’ here, Stewart; we’d better have a little talk. I want to know
where you stand, and I want to know mighty quick.”

“I’m not standing at present,” and Denis smiled. “I’m sitting on
Cowley’s bunk. Meanwhile, you have the floor, and I’m ready to listen.
Shoot ahead!”

“I’ll do it,” nodded Ballard, his face hard and inflexible. “You know
what we come here for, and why. Mebbe you don’t know what happened at
the foot o’ the lake this mornin’, do ye?”

“I do,” assented Denis quietly. “I believe you shot at Cowley.”

“Uh-huh. And the skunk put a bullet into Ed’s shoulder, curse him! Now
we aim to life him in a rope necklace, where he belongs, and we don’t
aim to be interfered with, none whatever. I hope you get me.”

Denis smiled again—that same deceptive smile.

“I understand you perfectly well, Ballard. You intend to commit murder
by hanging Cowley. Cowley may deserve it, of course, but I’d hate to
see you four men getting into court on a murder charge.”

Ballard stared at him.

“Out with it, Stewart—what’s your position? You ain’t figgering on
playin’ any low-down tricks, are you?”

“Quite the contrary, Ballard. I came here this morning and arrested
Smoking Duck, a half-breed. I then arrested Cowley, when he returned
from meeting you. The two are in the next room together. Cowley has
been making white whisky up here, or what passes for whisky with the
Indians, and has been trading it for peltries.”

“Making whisky?” ejaculated Ballard. “You sure?”

“You’d better take a look at what’s left of the still and whisky around
in back. As I told you last night, I’m representing my brother, Big
Ben. Also, I’m representing the law. That’s exactly where I stand,
Ballard.”

The other looked steadily at him.

“There’s four of us, all told, and one o’ you,” he rejoined slowly.
“D’you mean to say you’re goin’ to stop us takin’ Cowley?”

“Exactly,” nodded Denis.

“Mebbe you figger on releasin’ Cowley and the ’breed to take a hand?”

“They are my prisoners, Ballard. They remain my prisoners—in that room.
I have promised them protection from your lynching party, and intend to
keep my promise.”

“Then all I can say is, you’re a durned fool,” exploded Ballard
angrily. “We’re goin’ to get Cowley, hear me? If you start any foolin’
like you talk about, we’ll pile into you and make you wish you was
somewhere else——”

“Don’t forget, I’m representing the law here,” interposed Denis.

The settler spat scornfully.

“Law—thunder! You ain’t representin’ nothin’, no more’n I am! Just
’cause your brother is Trooper Stewart don’t give you no license to
parade around in them clothes, does it? Not much. You ain’t no soldier
at all; you’re just an ordinary man like me, and a blamed fool to boot.
Are you goin’ to get out the way or not?”

Denis smiled again.

“I’m very sorry, but I must refuse your invitation to move, Mr.
Ballard. Please observe that this rifle of mine is cocked, and is
trained on your left knee. Now step outside and tell your friends what
you’ve heard.”

Without a word more the settler turned and departed scornfully.
Striding a dozen feet from the shack door, he waved an arm.

“Come on in, boys!”

The other three appeared, and Ballard went to meet them. Denis watched
their meeting and saw that Ballard was evidently describing what
he had found in the cabin. The other three men broke into strident
laughter—and that was a bad sign.

Denis rose and walked to the door, pausing just outside. All four
turned to gaze at him, and he held up a hand.

“Just a moment, my friends,” he called pleasantly. “Do you see that
stump, twenty feet to your right?”

The stump which he indicated was small, and from one side a jagged
splinter of wood stood up for six inches. It was white spruce, plain to
see, only a hundred feet from the shack.

“Just watch that stump for a moment,” went on Denis.

Lifting his rifle to his shoulder, he sighted at the splinter and
pressed the trigger—seemingly without an instant’s hesitation. At the
crack the splinter seemed to blow away into nothing.

“Thank you for your kind attention,” smiled Denis. “That’s all.”

A moment’s silence greeted this display of shooting ability. Denis
turned and went back to the bunk, seating himself as before, facing the
door.

The four men conferred together. Then, with another laugh, they marched
forward to the shack, Ballard in the lead. Denis waited until they came
close to the doorway, then he lifted his rifle.

“One moment, please, gentlemen!”

They halted. Ed, the wounded man, called in rough but earnest tones:

“None o’ the old stuff, Stewart! ‘We know darned well you ain’t a-goin’
to shoot us, so don’t try no bluff. We don’t want to hurt you.”

“An’ we know you ain’t no soldier, so cut it out,” added another.

“All that is perfectly true,” Denis smiled. “Take a look at my
rifle—you see where it is pointing?”

They squinted in at him, Ballard leaning over. Denis was pointing his
rifle at the doorsill.

“What you say is quite correct,” he went on steadily. “I wouldn’t shoot
you down at all. But I am equally correct in saying that you won’t get
Cowley unless you shoot _me_ down—which I don’t think you’ll do by a
good deal. I have several cartridges in this rifle, perfectly good
ones, and you’ve seen that I know how to shoot.

“Of course, you can rush me. Very likely you will. But let me impress
on you just one thing. I can fire at least two shots before you reach
me, and then I have a revolver for quick work. The first man of you who
sets his foot on that door threshold will get a bullet in it—in his
foot. It’ll make a nasty wound, too. Step right along, Ballard! You’ll
have to murder me to get Cowley, you know. Step up, gentlemen!”

No one accepted the invitation.

The seated figure of Denis, the rifle leveled and waiting, gave them
pause. By his steady voice and cold blue eye they knew that he was in
deathly earnest. The first to step on the threshold would probably be
crippled for life.

“Hurry up!” snapped Denis suddenly. “Ballard, you’re the prime mover of
this lynching expedition, so step along with you! If you don’t choose
to chance it, put a bullet into me. You set out to do murder, so here’s
your opportunity. Step out, Ballard!”

“Don’t ye do it!” cried one of the men hastily. “He _means_ it—look at
his face! Don’t ye do it!”

Most certainly Denis meant it, and his resolution was reflected in his
battered face. Under the blaze of his cold eyes the four men paused,
irresolute.

Then, with an oath, Ballard shoved forward, throwing up his rifle.

“You shoot me an’ you get a bullet!” he cried.

“Step up!” said Denis coldly.

The settler heaved forward, but his face was whiter than that of Denis,
and sweat was on his brow. With a quick motion he raised his right foot
over the threshold, brought it down, and then poised it an inch from
the floor.

“Touch the floor!” said Denis. “I’m ready.”

Ballard heaved his shoulders forward, straining, as if some invisible
wall were holding him back; then—he turned and stepped away.

“Go to thunder!” he snapped. “Come on home, boys. I guess Stewart is
competent to get that skunk into jail without us helpin’.”

Denis lay back weakly in the bunk and watched them go.



CHAPTER XV.

The Back Trail.


“SORRY, Cowley, but you’ll have to wear those clear into headquarters.
I wouldn’t trust you an inch without ’em, either.”

Denis smiled genially at the swindler, who grunted sheepishly.

With Smoking Duck, they were seated about the ruins of Cowley’s table,
enjoying the repast of venison and coffee which Denis had prepared.

Ballard and his friends had departed to the foot of the lake. Convinced
of their going, Denis had taken a plunge in the creek and freshened
himself, then had set about getting a meal.

He ate amid due precautions, however. Cowley wore his irons. Smoking
Duck, with his hands free to eat, sat in the corner across the room
from Denis’ rifle.

“I heard what you said to them fellers,” said Cowley gruffly. “Mister,
I take off my hat to ye. As I said, I’ll have to take my med’cine, an’
I’ll hold it agin’ ye for a while, too—but you’re some man, believe me!
Any one who can lick Jim Cowley, an’ then pull off the stunt ye pulled
off on them——”

“Forget it!” smiled Denis.

“Ye would ha’ shot, wouldn’t ye?”

“Maybe I would,” nodded Denis, keeping a wary eye on Smoking Duck.

Before he could say more he was startled by a shadow’ at the doorway.
Catching at his rifle, he whirled—to see the grinning face of the
half-breed, Napoleon McShayne.

Behind McShayne were two other figures. One was the Slave Indian whom
Denis had encountered on the upper Hay River, old John Tadeteecha, the
other was a Slave unknown to Denis. These last two paused outside,
while Napoleon entered.

Before the “Whatcheer!” of greeting had been exchanged, Denis had
swiftly leaped at a scheme which would relieve him of much labor and
trouble. No more speech passed for a moment, Napoleon filling a pipe
with whittled tobacco; then, seeing that Smoking Duck had finished his
meal, Denis ordered him to stand up.

“Tie that fellow’s hands behind his back, Poleon!” he directed. “Tie
’em tight, and do the job well!”

When the scowling Petwanisip was safely secured, Denis ordered him and
Cowley outside, following them promptly.

“Now’, Poleon,” he went on, “you go around to that left-hand lean-to,
and you’ll find a very good bunch of fur. Haul it all out here. You go
and help him. John; I expect you traded some of those furs yourself,
didn’t you? Well, you’ll get no more whisky here. Hop along, all of
you!”

The two Slave Indians grinned as if at some excellent joke, and
followed Napoleon. The three broke into the fur cache, and presently
began to haul forth bale after bale of fur. Most of the pelts were
common, two or three bales being separately wrapped and proving to
contain some dark marten and cross fox pelts of better promise.

Two of these better bales Denis handed over to Napoleon, as the pay
which he had promised for assistance rendered. The second Slave gave
his name as Tommy, and it proved that he had come to get some whisky in
return for a few sorry muskrat pelts. Dennis addressed him straightly:

“Tommy, you clear out of here in a hurry! These pelts are going to stay
here till your people come for them. Spread the word that whoever has
traded to Cowley for whisky can come and get his furs back; that ought
to be simple enough, because each fur is marked by the man who caught
it. Don’t try any stealing, or you’ll go to jail. Run along now!”

Tommy departed toward the creek, wondering.

“You ain’t goin’ to hand back all them peltries!” groaned Cowley,
seeing the fruits of his long illegal labors thus scattered. “You got
to take ’em along, by law——”

“I’m the law in this case,” snapped Denis. “You shut up! John, you and
Napoleon come here!”

The two stood before him, grinning vacuously.

“I have to take these two prisoners up the Hay to my father’s
homestead—you know the place, John. Did you take that message to my
father?”

Old John nodded his head, and reported that all was well at the
homestead. Denis continued:

“Napoleon, I want you to paddle them up in your dugout. John and I will
come with you in my canoe. I’ll have to go all the way without sleep,
and I won’t be able to put in any work at the paddle. After we get
there, my brother will want to take these men on to the Peace River,
and will probably hire you to help him. You take us up, as I have said,
and I’ll promise you good pay in goods and tobacco. How about it?”

Neither of the aborigines was anxious to work, but on the other hand,
Denis represented the law to them, and it is not wise to refuse aid to
the law.

Five minutes later, with the two prisoners safely barred in the smaller
room, Denis rolled up and lay down across the door. They were to start
up lake at sunset, and until that time he was going to make up sleep
in anticipation of his long watch on the river trail, for he would not
dare trust either Indian to guard the prisoners.

“By Jasper!” he thought sleepily. “I’ve made good for Ben, after all.
But, believe me, I’ve changed my mind about going into the mounted.
Yes, sir; I’m contented to remain a plain, unadorned American—this
law-and-order business is just a bit too strenuous for Trooper Stewart,
substitute!”


The End.



A RECORD-BREAKING BEET


A RED beet that weighs eight and one-half pounds was grown by Mrs.
Peter Glatfelter, of Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. It is twenty-two
inches long, and twice as many inches in circumference. She says she
has not been able so far to find a pot large enough to boil it in.



Skates, Skis, and a Saphead

BY William Wallace Cook


DEEPLY steeped in gloom perfectly described the condition of young
Nixon J. Peters. Loneliness and bitter regret pervaded his soul as he
sat by himself on the rear seat of the flying sleigh and thought of
what might have been. He had reason to believe that he was the best
skater and ski jumper entered in the winter sports’ contests at Devil’s
Lake, on the preceding afternoon, and yet he had lost both main events
by an apparent failure to look well to his equipment at the last
moment. Every one had expected that he would blunder somewhere, and so
no one was greatly disappointed; that is, no one except Nixon J. Peters.

Almost at the take-off of the jump, one of Nixon’s skis had broken.
He had taken a wild header, and landed in a snow bank with heels in
the air. A big laugh had been the result. Also, he had cast a skate at
the critical moment of the skating race, and the other contestants had
slid past him, Porter Markham in the lead. This same Porter Markham,
too, had won the ski jump. Now, Porter Markham was on the front seat of
the sleigh, driving blithely, and exchanging jest and small talk with
Hesther Morton, who sat beside him. Truly, Nixon J. Peters’ lines had
fallen in hard places!

Nixon was “Nix” to those who knew him best. Often he suffered the
crowning indignity of being referred to as the “Saphead.” He had heard
the unlovely nickname applied to him many times while digging himself
out of the snow bank. It had punctuated the merriment released by his
sorry mishap. Hesther Morton had joined in the riot of laughter. Nixon
knew this only too well, for she was the first person he had seen after
digging the snow out of his eyes. For Hesther to be amused at his
expense—well, that was something that hurt.

Then, while seeking, with dogged resolution, to retrieve himself on
the steel runners, a strap had broken, and a skate had shot off across
the glittering ice. Peters had slipped and slammed around on the
course like a crazy curling stone, finally cutting the feet out from
under a fat spectator, who called him Saphead right to his face! Ah,
what a wind-up for a sorry afternoon! Peters clenched his hands in
his bearskin gloves and crouched down on the rear seat in a fruitless
effort to efface himself.

He was nineteen, and Porter Markham was twenty. They both worked for
Uncle Silas Goddard, who had a ranch in Montana, and made a business
of sending range horses into North Dakota to be halter broken and sold
to the settlers. Goddard was “uncle” to all his men, in the sense that
gives an avuncular character to every genial, middle-aged person who
looks after the welfare of younger employees.

In the early summer, Uncle Silas had sent a hundred horses into North
Dakota. Business had not been good, and late fall found half the horses
still on hand. These horses were being wintered at the Morton ranch,
on marsh hay, cut and stacked by Peters, Markham, and Reece Bailey,
who had been sent by Uncle Silas to take care of the horse herd. When
spring came, there was a promise of turning off every head of the stock
at a good profit.

The winter, so far, had not been particularly lonely for the Montana
men. The snows of December had been light, and it had been possible
for the horses to paw out considerable forage in the hills. January,
however, brought in a good fall of “the beautiful,” and it had been
necessary to corral and shelter the animals and to go extensively into
the feeding.

Reece Bailey, Uncle Si’s foreman, found time to play cribbage with
Lance Morton, Hesther’s father; and Peters and Nixon acquired
leisure for skating and skiing, popular sports at their home ranch
in the Rockies. A river—it would have been a creek in a country of
large streams—flowed through the Morton holdings, and its glassy
surface offered a resistless invitation to the steel runners. As
for the skiing, there were plain and hill for running, climbing,
and glissading. While Bailey and Morton were busy at their eternal
“fifteen-two, fifteen-four,” Peters and Markham were skating or
skiing, often with Hesther, who was fond of both sports. The girl, if
appearances were to be believed, was rather fond of Markham, also, but
had few smiles to waste on Peters.

In his bashful, blundering way, Peters tried to make himself agreeable
to Hesther. He was big and awkward, however, and had tow-colored hair,
a slow wit, and few graces of speech or manner. His efforts to impress
Hesther were overwhelmed by the never-failing persiflage and the rakish
dress and carriage of handsome Porter Markham. Markham possessed
a confidence in himself that was sublime, a confidence that shone
brilliantly in contrast with the clumsy ineffectiveness of Nixon J.
Peters.

Peters realized this, and nourished a bitter grudge against his
physical and mental shortcomings. He used to dream of a fire at the
ranch, in which he posed as a hero, and bore the fair Hesther to
safety from the ranch house, through a furnace of flames. Then, in his
visions, he pictured the girl as taking his hand and humbly asking his
forgiveness for her failure to perceive his sterling qualities from the
first. During such moments of illusion the Saphead was almost happy.
But the ranch house never took fire, and the chance to prove himself a
hero by rescuing Hesther Morton was denied by fate.

In mid-January, however, an opportunity presented itself, through the
winter sports at Devil’s Lake. Markham and Peters entered themselves in
the ski-jumping contest and skating race. They drove the fifty miles
which separated Morton’s from the lake, and Hesther went with them, to
see the “carnival of sports” and to spend a night or two with relatives
in Devil’s Lake City. Again Peters had dreams; but now, on the homeward
drive, every hope was shattered, and he longed for a period of blank
obscurity and complete retirement.

He could have declared that one of his skis had been tampered with,
and that one of his skate straps had been all but cut through with the
point of a knife. Examination made him sure of both facts, yet it had
not occurred to him to “sob.” He had blundered in not making certain
of his skis and skates beforehand, so he could not see how any one but
himself was at fault. As he crouched in the back seat of the sleigh he
considered requesting Uncle Silas Goddard to recall him to the Montana
headquarters. There, at least, he would be rid of Markham, and cut off
forever from the demoralizing and disdainful eyes of Hesther.

Yes, he would go back to the home ranch, and he would do this in
spite of something which he knew, and which was very important to his
future. It was common knowledge that a place of preferment was to be
given by Uncle Silas either to Peters or to Markham—a foremanship at
a newer ranch, with a chance to acquire an interest in the horses and
cattle. Reece Bailey was watching Peters and Markham, and on his report
Uncle Silas would act. To retire from the North Dakota venture of the
ranchowner now would cut Peters off entirely from promotion, and drop
the plum in Porter Markham’s hand. But Peters, in the bitterness of
his heart, was allowing nothing aside from his own peace of mind to
influence him. Yes, he would ask Uncle Silas to recall him to Montana.

“You still there, Nix?” Markham suddenly asked, turning to look
rearward.

Peters grunted.

“You’re so blamed quiet,” went on Markham, with a laugh, “that I
reckoned you might have taken another header into the snow, back a ways
on the trail.”

Hesther joined in the laugh, and, in spirit, poor Peters writhed.

The short day was closing, and the sun went down beyond the white
horizon in cold glory. They were five miles from Morton’s, and Markham
had driven the horses so hard that they were nearly fagged. They
breathed wheezingly, and frost coated their heaving sides. The pace
dragged, in spite of Markham’s relentless use of the whip.

“Anyhow,” spoke up Peters suddenly, “you might think of the team a
little. Porter. They’re near tuckered.”

“Who’s doing this driving?” cried Markham, “I never yet had to ask a
saphead for advice in handling horses.” And again the whip fell on the
straining flanks.

Peters clenched his fists in the bearskin gloves. It occurred to him
that he could lift Markham bodily out of the front seat, take his
place, and do the driving himself; but he did not.

The horses struggled on, and in the falling dark the travelers topped a
“rise” that gave them a dim view of the buildings of Morton’s ranch. A
light showed in one of the ranch-house windows like a star, and toward
it Markham drove, and presently halted at the door.

“Now that I’ve handled the reins all the way from Devil’s Lake, Nix,”
remarked Markham, as he jumped out, and helped Hesther to alight, “I
allow it’s up to you to take care of the team. Cold, Essie?”

“Not a bit,” the girl answered, and hurried toward the door. Markham
followed her, and Peter drove on to the stable.

As he unhitched and brought the horses into the shelter, he was a
little surprised to discover that there were no other animals in the
place. The team was Morton’s, but Bailey’s cow horse, together with
those of Peters and Markham, should have been in the stable; unless
Bailey was out at the corral and shelter sheds, looking after the fifty
range horses that were kept there.

Peters lighted a lantern, removed the harness from the horses, and,
after putting hay in the mangers, began rubbing the animals down with
an old gunny sack. He was hard at this when a call reached his ears
from the house: “Peters! This way—on the jump!”

It was Markham’s voice, and there was a note of alarm in it that
startled Peters. Lantern in hand, he hurried out of the stable and made
his way to the house. Flinging the door wide, he crossed the threshold
into the ranch-house sitting room.

“What’s wrong, Porter?” he asked.

The “cannon-ball” stove glowed with heat. That, and the bright oil
lamp, dazzled Peters’ eyes for the moment, and he could not see what
was going on in the room.

“Bailey has been hurt,” came the voice of Markham. “Every horse in the
herd has been driven off by thieves—and they even took Bailey’s mount
with the rest. Biggest outrage that ever happened in these parts! I’d
like to know what the blamed country is coming to!”

The blur lifted from before Peters’ eyes. He saw Bailey, his face
twisted with pain, lying on a couch. Mrs. Morton bent over him, bathing
a wounded shoulder from a basin of hot water. Her husband was walking
up and down, fuming and sputtering. Markham stood beside the couch,
looking down at the foreman with a queer expression on his face.
Hesther, all excited, was removing her wraps with shaking hands.

“Horses stolen!” gasped Peters, dazed by the weird calamity. “How could
it happen? Is Bailey badly hurt?”

“Don’t stand there gawping!” fussed Morton. “Something has got to be
done, and it’s up to you and Markham to do it. A gang of scoundrels
from across the line made off with the stock; and it’s been no more
than three hours since it happened. Take my team and get to Roscommon.
The sheriff’s got to be notified. Bailey says the thieves are making
for the north, and if you and Markham are quick a posse can get between
the gang and the boundary line. For heaven’s sake, Peters, wake up!”

Peters shook himself, put down the lantern, and came to the side of the
couch.

“Why don’t Markham wake up?” he asked. “Hasn’t he suggested anything
yet?”

“Nothing to suggest,” Markham answered, flashing a sharp look at
Peters. “It’s twenty miles to Roscommon, and no chance of getting there
ahead of the thieves and the stolen stock. The only animals we can put
our hands on are the two that brought us from Devil’s Lake, and they
are done up. You know that, Peters.”

“What about using skates or skis?” inquired Peters. “By thunder, there
_is_ a way of getting to Roscommon in time to help the sheriff head off
the stolen stock!”



II.


There was a dominant, compelling note in the voice of Peters. It
was so unexpected in its assertiveness that every one in the room
was startled. His washed-out blue eyes fenced aggressively with the
snapping black eyes of Markham.

“Skates or skis!” repeated Markham, his upper lip curling. “Why, it’s
all of thirty miles to Roscommon, if you follow the crooks o’ the
river! And how much would you figure it by skis, if you crossed Bear
Butte instead of going around it? Talk sense, if you know how, Nix!
Don’t forget the fellows who rustled our stock have three hours the
lead.”

“How far will three hours of driving in this snow get the stolen herd?”
returned Peters. “The thieves will have a tough job of it. They——”

Bailey twisted his flushed face from under the ministering hands of
Mrs. Morton. “The varmints are goin’ north by the Long Knife Dry
Wash,” he said, his voice shaking with the pain of his wound. “That’s
only three miles west of Roscommon. If you boys could get word to the
sheriff somehow, I reckon he might head off the raiders with a posse.
But if you do anything, you’ll have to do it quick. Porter,” and his
eyes swerved to Markham, “I’m lookin’ to you—Uncle Si Goddard is
lookin’ to you. Nigh on to five thousand dollars’ wuth of horses are
being pushed to’rds the border, and here I’m helpless to do a thing.”

“It don’t seem possible to do a thing, Reece,” returned Markham. “If
we could round up a crowd of men in short order, and take after the
thieves on fresh horses, like enough we might overhaul ’em. But where’s
the riding stock? Why, Morton’s nearest neighbor is ten miles away!”

Peters flashed a disapproving glance at Markham, pulled off his
bearskin gloves, and slumped down in a chair by the stove. From the
pockets of his overcoat he took his skates, also a new strap he had
secured in Devil’s Lake City. Quickly he replaced the broken strap with
the new one.

“You going to try and get to Roscommon by river, Nix?” Morton inquired.

“I figure the chances are better that way than going over Bear Butte
on skis,” Peters answered. “The river’s clean of snow, and mostly the
ice is like a lookin’-glass. I’m going to do my best to get word to the
sheriff and to start a Roscommon doctor this way to look after Bailey.”

“You’re locoed!” growled Markham. “It s all right to get a doctor for
Reese, here, but there ain’t a chance to save the stock this side of
the line. Let the raiders get it across the boundary, and then take the
matter up with the Canadian Mounted Police. That’s my advice.”

“If you wait till the stock is out of this country,” put in the
rancher, “there won’t be a chance.”

“Not a chance on earth,” agreed Bailey. “That outfit o’ thieves knowed
exactly what they was about. Everything was cut and dried, and somebody
sure tipped ’em off regardin’ the layout here. I’ll bet a thousand
ag’inst a chink wash ticket that them bronks will be took care of
across the line so’st they can’t be located by nobody. Them thieves
picked a time when I was alone at the shelter sheds and Porter and Nix
was to the winter sports at the lake. They dropped me out o’ my saddle
without any whys or wherefores, and then made off with my mount and
sent a man to the stable for Peters’ and Markham’s ridin’ horses. By
the time I covered the mile back to the ranch house the stock was well
on the way north. I—I——”

He broke off abruptly, clenching his teeth hard as a spasm of pain ran
through his body.

“I’ll get another coat,” remarked Peters, rising from his chair and
starting for the door that led to his room. “It won’t be possible to
make any kind of time in a long overcoat like this.” He disappeared.

Markham came to the side of the couch. “If Peters has a chance, Reece,”
said he, “he’ll make a bobble of some kind and spoil it all. That’s his
way. I better go to Roscommon myself. Peters can use his skates, and
take the river trail, and I’ll use my skis and go over the butte. I
don’t think we have a ghost of a show to head off the stock, but it’s
up to us to see what we can do.”

“That’s the talk!” exclaimed Morton approvingly. “The thieves had help
from this ranch,” he added darkly, tossing a significant glance toward
the door through which Peters had just passed, “and I haven’t got a
whole lot of confidence in at least one man around here.”

“Peters is square,” Bailey averred. “Square as a die. He jest don’t
seem to have the knack for puttin’ his idees across. The man that saves
them bronks, Porter,” he added significantly, “is goin’ to make the
biggest kind of a hit with Goddard.”

“If any one connects with the sheriff at Roscommon in time to save the
bronks,” Markham returned, “it will be me.” He spoke with a confidence
that thrilled every one in the room, and Hesther, if the red in her
cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes were any indication, most of all.
“I’ll be ready,” he finished, moving toward the door, “in about two
shakes.”

“You must have some hot coffee before you start,” said Hesther, “and
I’ll see that it is ready for you.”

Markham was back in the room before Peters had reappeared. He wore a
leather coat, and the bottoms of his trousers were laced inside his
high shoe tops. Trim and handsome he looked, and ready for a grueling
night’s work. Hesther was just placing the coffee on the table, and she
lifted her eyes to flash a glance of admiration at the young ski runner.

“I’ll be ready in a minute, Essie,” said Markham, with a nod and a
smile.

Taking his skis from a corner of the room, he sat down, laid them
across his knees, and proceeded to grease them well from a can which he
had brought into the room and had placed on the stove. While he worked,
Peters came lumbering in.

Peters had donned a ragged sweater, whose collar came up around
his ears. Over this was buttoned a faded and threadbare coat. His
old-fashioned skates were under his arm. From beneath the rim of his
moth-eaten fur cap his tow hair showed in a sort of fringe. The cap
had ear flaps, with strings at their ends. The flaps were loose, and
the strings fluttered as he moved his head. His shoes were of cowhide,
strong and serviceable, but not at all ornamental. He had tied the
bottoms of his trousers to his ankles with pieces of cord.

The contrast between Peters and Markham was very striking. So far as
appearances went, Markham had it “on” Peters by about a hundred to one.

“I’m going, too, Nix,” observed Markham, laying his skis to one side.
“I’ll go over the butte, and I’ve got a month’s pay that says I beat
you into Roscommon.”

“Maybe you will,” returned Peters, starting for the outside door.

There was more bitterness in Peters’ heart. He believed he understood
the situation. Markham had won the ski jump and the skating race, and
now he wanted to round off his triumphs by being first to carry the
news of the horse thieving to the sheriff. Markham was planning a
spectacular bit of work, for Uncle Si Goddard incidentally. Mainly, he
was thinking of the effect of his night’s success on Hesther Morton.

“Wait, Nixon!” called Mrs. Morton. “Essie has got some hot coffee
ready, and you must have a cup before you leave.”

The rancher’s wife was the only one who ever gave much thought to
Peters. She considered him now, when the consideration and confidence
of the others seemed to center wholly in Markham.

“Much obliged, Mrs. Morton,” Peters answered, “but I don’t reckon I’ll
take the time. You see,” he added, as he laid a hand on the doorknob,
“it’s a case where every minute counts.”

Before the good woman could answer, the door had closed behind Peters.
Markham pulled up his shoulders in a shrug as he lifted the cup of
steaming coffee.

“There’s Nixon’s first blunder,” he remarked. “He has a habit of going
it blind, and without giving any preparation to the work ahead of him.”

“I hope he won’t meet with any accident,” murmured Mrs. Morton. “That
boy’s got a good heart, even if he is a little odd.”

“He’ll always be a blunderer and a saphead,” grunted her husband.
“If the stolen horses are recovered, it’ll be Markham who makes it
possible.”

Markham did not tarry long over his coffee. Within a few moments
after Peters left he was out in the nipping air. Hesther, a shawl
over her head, stepped through the doorway to watch while he crossed
the trampled snow around the ranch house and then knelt to thrust the
toes of his shoes in the Bilgeri binding of the skis and to buckle the
ankle straps. He arose presently, and, shouting a farewell to the girl,
glided away over the snowy level gracefully, swiftly, with his ski
stick biting into the snow and propelling him onward.

“He’s doing a man’s work this night,” murmured Hesther, “and he will
win—just as he won at Devil’s Lake City carnival.” Then she went back
into the house, to describe in detail how Peters had lost and Markham
had won in the winter sports’ contests at the lake.



III.


Puyallup River had many twists and turns in the thirty miles which it
covered between Morton’s Ranch and Roscommon. Passing within a stone’s
throw of the ranch house, it flowed almost due north for six miles,
then, entering the rough hill country, it doubled back on its course
for three miles, rounded the base of Rawson’s Bluff, in a four-mile
curve, came east by south around the base of Bear Butte, and then
curved in a northwesterly direction for the last twelve miles that
carried it through the outskirts of the county seat.

Markham, on his skis, could con a direct course to Roscommon,
bisecting the river at three points, and finally climbing the butte for
a long glissade into the town. That glissade, right into the edge of
the settlement, measured ten miles of down grade. The slopes of Bear
Butte were smooth, and directly under its crest the descent was steep.
A mile of this, and then the course fell away more gently.

Markham, if he made good time to the eastern base of Bear Butte, would
very likely reach that particular spot ahead of Peters, for he would
have to travel only seven miles, while Peters was going sixteen. Where
Markham would lose would be in climbing the butte; and where he would
make up his loss would be in the long glissade down the opposite side.

At the river’s edge, Peters screwed the skates into his heels, pulled
the straps tight, and buckled them, then put on his bearskin gloves and
struck out. He was well away toward Rawson’s Bluff before Markham made
his first crossing of the river, near the ranch house.

The ice was in splendid condition. A strong wind had swept it clean
of loose snow, save here and there at the turns, where drifts had
formed. Then a slight thaw, a few days before, had been followed by a
tightening of the cold, and all rough spots had been smoothed away.

Markham, whose steel runners were the very last word in all-metal
skates, excelled as a figure skater. He could cut all sorts of graceful
figures on the ice, and, with Hesther Morton, would do a sort of waltz,
which the girl seemed to consider rare sport. Peters, on the other
hand, was not proficient at that sort of thing. He preferred straight
skating, possibly because he realized that fancy capers were quite out
of his line. The steel, wood, and leather with which he was shod seemed
best adapted to straightaway work, anyhow.

Peters knew every foot of the river between the ranch and Roscommon.
He had covered that long stretch of ice several times while getting
himself in trim for the skating race at Devil’s Lake. There was “white
ice” under the shelter of the bluff and the butte, caused by a fall of
snow while the first crystals were forming. This had been full of air
bubbles, and had been treacherous up to the time the severe frost had
followed the thaw. After that the liquefied snow had congealed into a
sound and superlative smoothness. There was not a spot to be feared on
the entire course.

With long, steady, swinging strokes, Peters swept around the first
turn and came south on the stretch which Markham was to cross in order
to thread a seam through Rawson’s Bluff. But, although the moonlight
was brilliant upon the sparkling snow crust, he could see nothing of
his rival. It might be, he reasoned, that Markham had already effected
his second crossing of the river, and was even then in the gash that
cut through the bluff. Peters ground his teeth, and, with his runners
ringing musically, passed like a gliding specter around the bluff’s
base. Three miles farther, and he might obtain a view of Markham as he
emerged from the shallow defile and pushed over the open levels toward
the butte.

He was having queer thoughts about Markham. Why had the fellow
protested against any attempt to reach Roscommon and notify the
sheriff? Then, in the face of his protests, why had he determined to
pit his skis against Peters’ skates—to accomplish the thing which he
had averred could not be accomplished?

There was but one answer to this, according to Peters’ conclusions.
Markham could not bear to think that Peters _might_ succeed, that he
_might_ win favorable notice from Uncle Silas, and that he _might_ gain
some credit in the eyes of Hesther Morton! Markham was not thinking
of saving the horses; no, he was impressed with the idea of his own
prestige and importance, and he could not take a chance of losing out
to a “saphead.” That was all there was to it, so Peters believed.

A determination to win that race and save the stolen stock grew
stronger and stronger in Peters’ breast. Here, after the miserable
failures at Devil’s Lake, was a most unexpected opportunity to retrieve
himself. It was his business to make the most of it.

Three straight miles lay ahead of him to the westward of the bluff.
Coming down the stretch like the wind, he surveyed the shadowy opening
of the swale, in the hope of catching a glimpse of Markham. But the ski
runner was not in sight. In the distance, the sparkling crest of Bear
Butte could be vaguely determined; yet, between the bluff and the butte
no dusky figure could be seen toiling on the skis.

“He hasn’t cleared the bluff yet,” thought Peters exultantly. “I’m
leading him, by ginger!”

The river, at the end of the three-mile stretch, described a curve like
a gigantic horseshoe. In its first beginning, the stream had attempted
to run west by south; meeting the rough country, its course had been
deflected toward the northwest; then, striking the wide-spreading base
of Bear Butte, it had followed northeast and east on its way around
the huge uplift. On clearing the butte, the Puyallup struck off due
northwest, and so, in a dozen miles, came to Roscommon.

Peters, although he had not timed himself, knew he had been making
excellent speed. He was seventeen miles from the ranch, and coming
rapidly under the shadow of the butte. Markham could scarcely climb
the massive “rise” and glissade into Roscommon ahead of him. So far as
he had been able to discover, Markham was not yet anywhere near Bear
Butte, nor——

“Peters! I say, Peters!”

Peters was amazed. Above his ringing steel a sharp cry echoed in the
frosty air. It was Markham’s voice, and calling his name. Peters dug
into the ice with the heels of his runners and came to a quick halt.

“That you, Porter?” he called.

“Yes, Nix. I’m in hard luck. Stop a minute, will you?”

The voice came from a shadowy overhang at the butte’s foot. Peters
skated toward the black cavity, and was met by the dusky figure of
Markham, limping out of the darkness and across the ice. Markham had
his skis under his arm.

“By George!” cried Peters. “You got here in a hurry! What’s wrong?”

“I fell from a six-foot bank, as I was crossing the river, and
splintered one of my skis,” was the answer, “and I can’t go on with the
wood runners. I reckon I’ll take your skates,” Markham added coolly.

Peters caught his breath. “I reckon you won’t,” he returned, with
spirit. “I’m going on to Roscommon, start the sheriff and a posse for
the dry wash, and get a doctor for Bailey. What do you take me for?”

“A saphead—just a plain, everyday saphead,” said Markham. “Down on the
ice, Peters, and off with those skates! _Pronto_ is the word! There’s
no time to lose!”

Markham had dropped the skis, and stripped a glove from his right hand.
The bare hand was in the pocket of his leather coat. Suddenly, as the
two stood facing each other, the hand emerged from the pocket with a
short, ugly-looking bulldog revolver. Markham leveled the weapon, and
the moonlight glinted frostily on the barrel.

Again Peters caught his breath. He was dazed, bewildered. To be
threatened in that manner by one whom he had believed to be a
friend—or, if not a friend, at least a fellow employee of Uncle Silas
Goddard, with interests in common—was a decided shock.

“You crazy, Porter?” demanded Peters, when he could find his tongue.

“Hardly,” was the reply, with a husky, ill-omened laugh, “it will be
a long time before you reach Roscommon, my laddybuck. Take off those
skates, I tell you! I mean business, Peters!”

There was that in Markham’s words and manner which left no doubt of
the fact that he meant business. Peters was wild with indignation and
anger, but he was also helpless.

“What’ll Reece Bailey say to this, when I tell him?” he asked, dropping
to the ice and working at the skate straps.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” was the response. “Throw
the skates over here when you get ’em off. You had to butt into this
deal with the fool suggestion of getting word to the sheriff, now,
blame you, take your medicine!”

“You’re bound to win,” grunted Peters, “if you have to do it with a
gun! You ain’t square, Markham. I may be a good deal of a saphead, but
I found, when it was too late, that one of my skis and one of my skate
straps had been tampered with at Devil’s Lake. You did that!”

“Why didn’t you tell Hesther about it?” jeered Markham; “or the judges
of the contests? Didn’t you have nerve enough to put up a holler?”
Peters gave the skates a shove across the ice.

Ten feet away, Markham sat down to screw the skates to his heels and
adjust the straps. The revolver lay at his side, and he watched Peters
sharply as he worked.

Peters, a desperate purpose forming in his mind, was awaiting the
moment when he could spring to the attack. He was not to be conquered
in that way. There was plenty of fight in him, and Markham would
discover it to his cost.

Markham worked rapidly. The skates were on, and snugly buckled, and
he was just rising when Peters went after him, with a short run and a
slide. But if Peters was quick, Markham was a shade quicker.

_Crack!_

The revolver exploded in the air, and Peters’ left arm seemed suddenly
to have been scorched with a hot iron. The shock caused him to lose his
footing, and he fell in a sprawl on the slippery surface of the river.

“You would have it!” shouted Markham fiercely. “That’s something more
for you to tell Bailey!”

The last words faded in mellow ring of sliding steel. Peters, sitting
up on the ice, and clasping his numbed arm with his right hand, watched
Markham slip from sight around the curve at the foot of Bear Butte.



IV.


Peters was thinking less of the pain in his arm than he was of the
rascally work of Peter Markham. The fellow must be mad, to make such
an attack! He had planned the whole thing, of course, and had armed
himself before leaving Morton’s. Reaching the butte ahead of Peters, he
had gone into hiding against the moment Peters should come skating down
the river. Then, by way of making his treachery more contemptible, he
had called to Peters for help, only to threaten him with a revolver and
steal his skates.

“You bet I’ll tell Bailey!” muttered Peters. “I reckon this’ll cook
your goose with Goddard, even if you do get to Roscommon in time to
have the sheriff head off the bronks! What can a fellow make of a man
like him, acting thataway?”

With difficulty, Peters removed his coat and shoved up the shirt
and sweater sleeves. The wound was in the forearm, and was bleeding
profusely. With a bandanna handkerchief he bound up the injury tightly,
knotting the handkerchief corners with his fingers and his teeth; then,
getting into his coat again, he began considering his next move.

It was twelve miles by river to Roscommon, and eighteen miles back to
the ranch. Even if it was now useless for him to get to the town, in
order to carry the news of the horse stealing to the sheriff, returning
to Morton’s would have been a fierce pull on his strength, and he dared
not attempt it. He would make his way to Roscommon. If he could reach
the settlement before Markham left it, he would lodge a complaint
against the treacherous scoundrel, and have him held in the town jail.
Peters was burning for revenge. Yes, that is what he would do.

He got up, feeling a little dizzy and faint, and started down the
river. His feet struck against Markham’s skis, and another idea came to
him. Perhaps he could tinker up the splintered ski and use the runners.
After the accident that had lost him the jump at Devil’s Lake, Peters
had bought a little fine wire for the mending of his own broken runner.
That wire was still in his trousers pocket, and it might be that he
could use it in fixing Markham’s splintered ski.

Picking up both runners, and holding the damaged one between his knees,
he struck a match and made a careful examination. The stout ash had
been cracked under the binding mechanism. A few wraps of fine wire
might yet make the runner serve. With his jack-knife, Peters dug a
shallow groove across the ski’s bottom, and in this he imbedded the
half dozen coils of wire that he wove over and over and made fast on
the upper surface.

For himself, he had never fancied that Bilgeri binding. Although
light, and well made, it was not nearly so strong or dependable as the
Lilienfield binding, with which Peters’ own skis were equipped.

Peters’ work had been done at a tremendous disadvantage. He could work
with one hand only, and in lieu of his other hand he made shift to
use his teeth. The moon, although brilliant, left much to be desired
in the matter of light for such fine and exacting labor, and sense
of touch had to help him where that of sight failed. In the main,
however, he did very well, all things considered, and when he had
secured his feet in the bindings he arose on the ash runners with a
feeling of exultation in his breast. Where was the stick? His search
for it carried him to the overhang, and there he found, not only the
ski stick, but two strips of gunny sacking, each heavily knotted in the
middle.

Those strips of sacking rather puzzled Peters. Markham had brought them
as an aid in getting up the steep eastern slope of the butte. But why
had he prepared himself with them if his object was to waylay Peters
and secure the skates?

“Markham always figures a matter out both ways,” Peters reflected. “He
brought the gun to help corral the skates, but, if I happened to beat
him to the butte, then he’d have to keep right on over the rise. If he
couldn’t do one thing, then he was ready to do the other. What’s more,
he splintered that ski a-purpose, and he didn’t do it until he knew
I was behind him at the overhang. He didn’t want me to have a chance
to use the ski, that’s all. It never occurred to him that I’d have
something along to use in patchin’ up the runner. That’s once, anyhow,
that a saphead fooled him.”

Peters shuffled his way to a point beyond the overhang, then paused to
tie the strips of cloth around the skis, knot side down. This maneuver
would help to keep him from sliding backward.

He flashed an upward look at the difficult grade he was to negotiate.
If his heart failed him for a moment, because of his useless arm
and the shock his whole body had suffered because of the wound, it
only resulted in letting him get a firmer grip on his resolution and
strength. The wound was nothing serious, being merely a clean gash
through the fleshy part of the forearm. He would not allow it to
endanger the success of his night’s exploit. Markham must be made to
suffer for his lawlessness, and it was up to Peters to see that he did
not escape.

The first easy slopes of the butte were taken just as one might travel
over level ground—a forward movement, in long, gliding steps. The skis
were merely advanced, never lifted. As the ascent stiffened, Peters
turned out the ends of the runners slightly, in what is known as the
“half fishbone step.” There was a trick in this, and Peters had long
since acquired it. Steeper and steeper became the course as the snowy
slope was climbed, and the full fishbone step was gradually brought
into requisition.

For such a long ascent the work was extremely tiring, and Peters was
forced to do a number of “serpentines,” tacking back and forth, and
executing the difficult “about face” at each turn.

A good deal of time was required in making the climb, but Peters’
handicap of awkwardness had taught him how to be patient and doggedly
resolute in carrying out his aims. He kept unflinchingly to his
tiresome task, and in due course was rewarded by finding himself on the
flat crest of Bear Butte, ready for the long glissade. By this time his
sporting blood was aroused, and he looked forward with keen enjoyment
to the breathlessly swift glide that lay ahead of him.

He rested a few moments, tucked the hand of his injured arm into the
front of his coat, removed the knotted strips from the runners, took
firm hold of the ski stick, and then let himself over the butte’s crest.

With skis so close together that they touched, the point of one leading
the other by a foot, body not bent, but inclined forward, Peters was
off down the steep slope like a bullet out of a gun.

He was at a disadvantage in not having both hands for use with the
stick. Where it was necessary to brake, and avoid a small crevasse
or a bowlder, Peters did it entirely with the skis, by executing the
“telemark swing.” It was not often that he was confronted by such an
emergency, but he was proficient in that method of dodging possible
disaster, and unhesitatingly availed himself of it.

At lightning speed he shot down the butte, the air humming in his ears
and snowy particles stinging his face. His exhilaration mounted higher
and higher. In his delight over the coasting he forgot the stolen
horses, the treachery of Markham, and the reprisal he was counting upon
when he should reach Roscommon. His every faculty was called into play,
and busied itself with the flying skis to the exclusion of everything
else.

The slope flattened, and Peters’ speed lessened perceptibly, although
he was still going at a rate comparable to that of a limited express
train. On and on, mile after mile, his sensation was that of one
falling through space. He scarcely realized that he had any connection
whatever with the white-clad earth beneath him.

At last, in the distance, he saw a twinkling light, and a confused blur
of buildings. Roscommon! The town jumped toward him as though crazily
bent on fouling his course. He gave rather more attention to Roscommon
than to the slope ahead of him, and suddenly he pitched into the air
as the runners hit an obstacle. He fell with the skis braided around
his neck, fell hard upon the cleared tracks of the Roscommon railroad
yards, and so suddenly that he had no time to realize he had gone over
the embankment at the side of the network of rails.

Instinctively he tried to lift himself, only to drop in an awkward
huddle, with a blaze of shooting stars criss-crossing before his eyes.
Then the bright lights faded, and Nixon J. Peters quietly went to sleep.



V.


When Peters awoke, he found himself on a bench in the railroad station.
A local train was expected, and there had been men on the station
platform when Peters shot over the railroad embankment and hit the
tracks. Three or four of the men went forward to investigate the
strange phenomenon, and they were the ones who had brought Peters into
the waiting room. They had no more than laid him down, and stripped off
his skis, when he opened his eyes.

“Sheriff gone to the dry wash yet?” he inquired faintly.

A man bent over him. “I’m Jordan, the sheriff,” said he. “What dry wash
do you mean? Why should I go there?”

“Has—hasn’t Markham reached town?” went on Peters.

“Haven’t seen a thing of Markham. Oh!” Jordan exclaimed. “I know you
now. You are Bailey’s man, Peters, from the Morton Ranch. Why were you
sliding into town, at this time o’ night, on a pair of skis? Thunder!
It was as much as your life was worth! You——”

“A gang of horse thieves ran off our horses—more’n fifty of ’em,” cut
in Peters wildly. “It happened early in the evening. Get a posse,
Jordan, and head off the gang at Long Knife Dry Wash. When Markham
shows up, leave somebody in town to arrest him. He shot me in the arm.
And send a doctor to Morton’s to look after Bailey. He’s wounded, too!
I——”

Then Peters went to sleep again. When he next came to himself, and
picked up the chain of events, he was in a bed in a room at the
Roscommon House. Broad day looked in at the room windows, and Peters
could gaze dreamily out at roofs covered with snow, and sparkling under
the sun’s rays as though covered with diamonds. Hours had passed since
he had had the brief awakening in the railroad station. Now he was
in a comfortable bed, his left arm neatly bandaged, and Toynbee, the
proprietor of the hotel, was sitting beside him.

“Did they get Markham, Toynbee?” asked Peters.

The landlord was reading a newspaper. He jumped in his chair as the
unexpected words reached him from the bed.

“Oh, you’re back, eh?” said he. “You’ve been a long time on the road,
although the doctor said we needn’t to mind. Get Markham? Well, I
guess!” And Toynbee chuckled. “Jordan got him, and four others, along
with the stolen horses. They were pushing through the dry wash when the
sheriff and his party arrived there. You bet they got him, Peters, and
red-handed at that. Big surprise to everybody. Why, Markham had put the
whole thing up! He was back of the entire scheme! It has all come out.
Markham won’t talk, but the rest of the gang feel different. Across the
line there were men waiting to take the horses and rush ’em off where
they’d never be found. Say! I guess you ought to have a medal for what
you did last night! How are you feeling, anyhow?”

Peters was stunned. Porter Markham one of the horse thieves! Could
Peters believe his ears? Markham had had a reason for driving the
horses off their feet on the return from Devil’s Lake. With all the
other stock taken from Morton’s, it had been Markham’s plan to
make the sleigh team useless, so far as a drive of twenty miles to
Roscommon, with news for the sheriff, was concerned; and Markham had
protested against Peters’ plan of using skates in carrying an alarm
to Roscommon; but when the method had been put into effect, in spite
of him, Markham had taken to the skis and had waylaid Peters at the
eastern foot of Bear Butte. In the light of recent events, the motive
for that attack could be seen at an even more treacherous angle.
Markham’s scheme was not to beat Peters to Roscommon with news for the
sheriff, but to keep all knowledge of the robbery from the authorities
until the stolen horses had been delivered across the line. Instead
of making for the town, after securing Peters’ skates, Markham had
followed the river bends beyond the town, to a point where he could
join his rascally confederates with the horse herd.

“How do you feel, Peters?” repeated Toynbee, after waiting a long time
for a reply.

“Mighty nigh locoed,” said Peters.

“No wonder! Say, you hit the railroad iron with your head when you went
over the embankment. Any other head but yours would probably have been
cracked.”

“You can’t crack a saphead,” commented Peters, but not in bitterness.

Next day, when Peters was thinking of getting out of his bed and
helping drive the horses back to the ranch, no less a person than Uncle
Silas Goddard walked into his room. Uncle Silas was an iron-gray man,
big and broad, and with a regular heart under his ribs. He had received
a telegram, signed Reece Bailey, per Morton, and had come to North
Dakota by first train.

There were greetings, not those of a pleased employer for a worthy
employee, but more in line with what one’s next of kin might say in
circumstances altogether creditable. Bailey was “coming fine,” and
would be on the job again in two or three weeks; and Peters, the doctor
said, would be fit as a fiddle in seven days, at the outside. The
horses were on the way back to Morton’s.

“What about Markham?” queried Peters.

Uncle Silas Goddard’s cheery face grew troubled. Well, Markham was
only a boy, and a very foolish one. He had had a hard lesson. No stock
had been lost, and Uncle Silas felt that he ought not to be too hard
on Markham. He was going to let Markham go, on a promise to leave the
country and make something of himself in other parts. Any one at all
acquainted with Uncle Silas might have known he would do that very
thing.

“As for you, Nixon,” the big ranchowner went on, “there’s a job waiting
in Montana for a chap of your heft and disposition. But do you want to
return to the home ranch?” he asked quizzically. “Miss Hesther Morton
sends a very kindly message to you by me. She is sorry for a lot of
things, she says, and hopes to see you right soon.”

But Nixon J. Peters had seen another light. He recalled his saphead
dreams of rescuing Hesther from a burning house, and the shamed red
stained his cheeks to the tow-colored hair.

“Miss Morton, all at once, is wasting her consideration on the wrong
party. Uncle Silas,” said Peters. “I’m for Montana as soon as you want
me there.”

“Good!” exclaimed Uncle Silas, and clasped Peters’ hand with a fervor
that suggested not only good will but hearty congratulations.



SOME INTERESTING FACTS


In Austria women are now employed as undertakers and gravediggers.

The ancients credited the raven with unusual longevity, but modern
investigation shows that it is not warranted. The bird rarely lives
more than seventy years.

United States government irrigation projects completed or under way
represent an expense of eighty-five million dollars and involve the
reclamation of more than two million five hundred thousand acres.

Geese are fattened for market in some parts of Europe by confining them
in dark rooms, to which light is admitted at intervals, causing them to
eat seven or eight meals a day.

Rabbit fur is said to be supplanting wool in felt-hat making in
Australia, where thirty-two factories are in operation. The fur is
considered much superior to the finest merino for this purpose, and
millions of rabbit skins are used annually.

The Ottoman Empire is made up of Turkey in Europe—the strip of
territory stretching across from the Black Sea to the Adriatic—Turkey
in Asia, which includes Arabia, Syria, and Palestine, and provinces in
the isles of Samos and Cyprus are also under the sultan’s rule.

The Municipal Building, New York, is the largest structure under the
jurisdiction of the Bureau of Public Buildings and Offices. It contains
about one thousand offices and has about ten thousand visitors daily.
It is the world’s largest building of its kind.



The Basket-Ball Boss

by Leslie W. Quirk


“THE deal can be closed at your earliest convenience. Very truly
yours.... That’s all, Miss Ticknor. Bring in the letter just as soon as
you write it, please.”

As the stenographer closed the door behind her, Freeman Judd spun his
pivoted desk chair in a half circle, and, with hands clasped across his
stomach, gazed thoughtfully at the calendar on the wall. For a full
minute he sat this way without moving; then, whirling back again, he
pressed the button at the side of his desk.

A freckle-faced, red-headed office boy answered.

“George,” said Mr. Judd, “I guess he’s waited long enough. Tell him to
come in now.”

The office boy grinned appreciatively. A moment later the door opened
to admit a dapper young man, who looked something as Freeman Judd must
have looked twenty-five years before.

The embarrassment as father and son faced each other ended when Judd,
senior, said brusquely, “Sit down, Vern; sit down! Chairs don’t cost
anything in this office. What’s the matter now? What are you here for?”

The boy looked him frankly in the eyes. “Thompson Brothers fired me
this morning.”

If his father was irritated, his face did not betray the fact. “As a
business man,” he grunted, “you don’t seem to be much of a success.”

The boy swallowed. It was like downing a bitter dose of medicine. “You
see, father,” he blurted out, “I’ve come to believe you were right and
I was wrong. I want to start in the business here just the way I did
four years ago.”

“Ah, you do!” Freeman Judd surveyed his son a little grimly. “Suppose
we review this thing, Vern. You’re a rich man’s son. When you went to
college, I gave you a good big allowance. I wanted you to have all the
advantages that I had missed. What did you do there? Did you stick to
anything? Did you learn one thing—one single thing—thoroughly?”

“Not a thing,” admitted Vernon Judd cheerfully, “unless you count
basket-ball.”

“Basket-ball? H’m! I don’t see how that is going to help you make a
success of life. Well, you graduated, though Heaven knows how, and came
in here. Three months later you quit. Things were too slow for you.
Your grandfather had left you a little legacy, and you wanted action.”

The younger Judd chuckled. “Didn’t I get it?”

“You did,” admitted his father, allowing his face the luxury of a
smile; “you got the action and the Wall Street boys got your money.
Since then you’ve tried a dozen things, never holding on to one of them
longer than a month or six weeks. And now you breeze back and ask me to
give you another chance.”

The boy leaned forward earnestly, his mouth tightening into the same
lines of determination that marked his father’s.

“Dad, a week ago I took myself into my room and had a frank talk with
myself. When I was through, I’d made up my mind to quit being a chump
and to turn myself into something useful. I wasn’t fired from Thompson
Brothers’ because I didn’t do my work, but because I wouldn’t stand for
a piece of dirty office politics. I’ve found myself. This time I’ll
stick it out. Do I get another chance, or not?”

Freeman Judd looked the boy over, much as though he were eying a horse.
“Vern,” he said finally, “I never thought I’d do such a thing, but I’m
inclined to give you another go at your old job. I know you’ve got the
goods, and I believe at last——” A knock at the door stopped him. “Come
in, Wallber.”

“Sorry to disturb you, Mr. Judd,” said the head clerk, as he entered,
with an envelope in his hand, “but the man who brought this said it had
to have an answer right away.”

As he made out the letterhead, the boy’s face became a shade paler. His
father scanned the communication with a frown.

“Vern”—the voice had taken a harsher tone—“this is a statement from
Flett & Son. They say you owe them one hundred and fifteen dollars for
some evening clothes, and that if it isn’t paid they will be obliged to
sue.”

“It’s a rotten trick, dad. I bought the stuff eight months ago; I’d
have paid for it, too, if I hadn’t lost my jobs while I was laying
aside the money. I haven’t been dodging them. I explained how it was.
Anyhow, they hadn’t any business sending a bill to you. I’m over age
and——”

His father stood up abruptly. “It’s legalized blackmail,” he snapped.
“They think I’ll pay this rather than allow it to get into the papers.
And they’re right.” He paced up and down the room without speaking.
Suddenly he faced the boy. “Vern, I’ve changed my mind about you. I
don’t want you in here until you can prove to me that you are able to
get a job paying enough to live on, and to hold it for a reasonable
time.”

“But, dad——”

His father held up an interrupting hand. “No use talking. I have
decided. When you have learned to stand alone on your own two feet,
then you may come in with Judd & Company—not before. Any more bills?
No? All right; I’ll pay this one. Then I intend giving you an order on
the cashier for thirty dollars. Take that and buy a railroad ticket
that will land you the greatest distance from New York. I don’t care
where you go; the only condition is that you finally land a job,
and that you keep it for a full six months. That shall be the test.
Understand? Six months in the same position.”

Vernon Judd nodded soberly.

“When you’ve shown you can do that, and have lived on what you earn
without running bills, come back and you’ll find a desk waiting for
you. If you can’t do it, I don’t want to see you again. Well?”

“That’s a fair proposition, dad. Six months at the same job on a living
wage. I’ll do it.”

Freeman Judd sucked in his lower lip. “Here’s your order for the thirty
dollars, then. And remember, Vern, nobody wants to see you win more
than your old dad. Good-by. As you go through the outer office, tell
Wallber I want to see him.”



II.


The round football struck the branch and descended, bouncing merrily
upon the head of the innocent bystander.

“We didn’t mean to, mister,” apologized the small boy who had done the
kicking.

“Don’t mind me. I’d rather get a crack on the head than not.” In spite
of a stomach that lacked breakfast, Vernon Judd managed a smile as he
tossed back the “association” football.

Hard knocks aplenty had toughened Vern since the day the train
dropped him into the bustling Middle Western city, an unknown person,
in an unfamiliar place; and, what was more, he was without trade
or profession. For three days he had been an “extra” hotel porter;
for a week, till the dull season set in, he had opened boxes in a
department-store basement; and twice he had earned scraps of money by
unloading trucks. But of continuous employment he had found none.

He squared his shoulders now at the cheering discovery that both
factories had entrances within a hundred feet of where he was standing.
Along the big shop on his right ran the sign. “Landon Sporting
Goods—Used All Over the World”; across the street, equally large
letters shouted. “Bloss Company—Perfection Sporting Goods—For Sale
Everywhere.”

Both Landon and Bloss, the original owners, were dead; but for years
the managers of the rival factories had waged an advertising war from
Cairo, Illinois, to Cairo, Egypt. Basket-balls, baseballs, footballs,
hockey sticks, bats, golf clubs, boxing gloves, and everything else for
the athlete had been boosted and knocked by each side. And here the two
competitors glowered at each other less than a stone’s throw apart.
To Vern, who all his life had read their advertising and used their
goods, it seemed like coming suddenly upon the Duke of Wellington and
Napoleon Bonaparte.

The job hunter meditated. “Let’s see. The year we had the big
championship team we used the Bloss basket-ball; the year after that we
used the Landon. It wasn’t as good, and we weren’t as good. All right,
Bloss, old boy, you’ll get the first chance.”

He entered boldly. A pugnacious office boy on the other side of a
wooden railing stopped him.

“Whatcha want?” demanded the guardian of the gate suspiciously.

Hard experience had taught Vern that discretion is sometimes half the
battle.

“I want to see the superintendent,” he answered evasively.

“Creighton? Lissen, if you wanta job I’ll save you a lot of time right
off the bat by tellin’ you there ain’t none.”

“You tell Mr. Creighton that Mr. Judd—Mr. Vernon Judd, of New
York—wants to see him,” insisted the caller, with as much haughtiness
as a man without a thin dime can muster.

Reluctantly the office boy slouched toward the door marked “Private.”

“All right,” he said, emerging a minute later. “Go on in.”

Vern had no more than entered the room before he saw that his hopes
were doomed to failure. He had counted upon finding the superintendent
an athletic type of man, to whom his own experience in athletics
might appeal. Instead, he was greeted by a frowning, cigar-chewing
individual, who plainly had never taken an active part in any game
except from the side lines.

“Well,” he snapped, as he thrust some papers under the desk blotter,
“what do you want? A job?” His voice rasped like a file. “Can’t you see
that sign out there? Go to the other entrance between seven and eight
Thursday morning. Don’t take up my time.”

“I know I am taking up valuable time, Mr. Creighton,” Vern returned
quietly, “but I think I’ve had valuable experience that might fit me
for——”

“Haven’t a thing for you. No use talking.” The shrill voice rose
higher. “Not a thing. Nothing at all. _Good_ morning!”

The young man found himself on the street again, with a sense of
injustice rankling in his mind. As he stood there trying to soothe his
temper before tackling the Landon people, his eye caught the end of a
tiny tragedy.

He heard an excited little scream. He saw a white-sleeved arm thrust
frantically from one of the second-story windows of the Landon factory.
He watched a square of snowy linen float out on a passing gust of wind.
For a second it seemed that it would escape the clutches of the waiting
tree and come safely to the ground; but just at the critical moment the
breeze died, dropping the white handkerchief, like an opened parachute,
across a network of autumn foliage. There it rested, twenty feet or
more above the sidewalk and a dozen from the girl at the window.

Vern looked up. The instinct of mere politeness that had first urged
him to offer assistance tautened into enthusiasm. He told himself the
girl was more charming than any girl he had ever seen.

“I’ll get it,” he called encouragingly, though without the slightest
idea in the world how he might bring about that end.

“If you will, please,” she begged. “It’s a bit of real Irish lace, and
I haven’t any business owning it—let alone losing it.”

As he stared at the girl and the handkerchief, the inspiration came.

“Here, buddie,” he said, “lend me your football for a minute.”

Obediently the small boy tossed it over. It was round, but slightly
smaller and not as heavy as the basket-ball to which he had been
accustomed. Also, the handkerchief was much higher than any basket for
which he had tried in a game.

He poised it carefully, swinging it up and down in his two hands to
gauge the weight. Then, with a quick flirt of his arms, he shot it up
and over.

It curved in a long arc and plumped squarely into the middle of the
white patch in the tree. The twigs bent. The handkerchief fluttered
down into his waiting hands.

As he stood there brushing the dust from the fragile fabric, the girl
from Landon’s hurried out to him. “I want to thank you,” she said
gratefully.

He looked at her. Risking the chance of being thought impudent, he said
boldly, “And I want to know you. My name is Judd—Vernon Judd.”

She stared straight into his eyes for a moment, and was apparently
satisfied with what she saw there. “I—I don’t think it will be
difficult,” she said, almost in a whisper, and turned away, confused
and blushing.

“Say, young fella!” Vern turned to the new speaker, who proved to be
Creighton, the disagreeable superintendent of the Bloss factory, his
face now stretching into a smile. “Say! I saw you make that basket-ball
throw. Where did you ever play? What! You mean you were the center of
that champ team, the 1911 five that were never licked? Listen!” He put
his hand ingratiatingly upon the boy’s arm. “We have a basket-ball
team in this factory that’s a world-beater, and we need a new man for
center. Lemme see you throw again, to make sure that other toss wasn’t
a lucky accident. Hey, Murph!”

A carrot-topped head popped out of the window over the entrance. “Get
the big wastebasket, Murph, and hold it out there. I wanta see this guy
make a throw. Come on, you; I’ll give you three chances, because it’s a
hard shot.”

For once in his life, Vern felt nervous. The skill that had made him
star of a star team seemed to have oozed quite away.

“Try!” the girl whispered. “You can do it. I know you can.”

Again he poised the ball and threw. Then, holding his breath, he
watched it wing its curved path through the air—up, over, down; down,
fair, and true, into the mouth of the waiting wicker basket.

“Yea, bo!” shouted the enthusiastic Murphy. “He can thread the needle
all right.”

“Look here, my man!” Superintendent Creighton caught Vern’s coat lapel.
“If I give you a job in the stock room at ten a week, will you get out
and play on our basket-ball team this winter?”

“Will I?” asked Vern. “Try me and see.”

The girl from Landon’s extended her hand to him. “Here’s wishing you
good luck,” she said, “till——”

“Till when?”

“Till the Bloss five meets the Landon five—till your team plays ours.”



III.


The “big five” from the Bloss Company lined up for the last minute of
the final practice before the championship game of the season.

“Fast now!” jerked Captain “Red” Murphy as he tossed the ball to
“Curly” Clark, who shot it to Clif Sefton, who underhanded it to
Felber, who dribbled it a moment and then bounced it to Vernon Judd,
who completed the circuit and play by landing it neatly and accurately
in the basket.

“Attaboy!” Red growled. “Now the same thing on the other side,
fellows—and lots of pep!”

Three times in succession, from three different and difficult angles.
Vern had the pleasure of seeing his throws drop safely inside the
iron-rimmed net.

“Good enough!” admitted Red. “We’ll show those Landon counterfeits
how to play to-morrow night. Now just a minute.” He gathered the four
regulars and the two substitutes about him. “Boys, you all know we’ve
had the best season ever, and you all know this mix-up with Landon is
going to be our biggest and most important game—and our hardest. We
want to win a little worse than we want to go on living.” He turned
to Vernon Judd. “But maybe you don’t understand what I mean, Judd. Of
course, you’ve only been working here for five months and you——”

“Pretty nearly six,” corrected Vern. He had been marking them off on
the calendar in his room.

“Well, anyhow, unless you’ve been through a basket-ball season with the
sporting-goods teams, you can’t know how much it means to everybody in
this place to beat the Landon bunch. We’ve got to do it, understand?
Everybody that works here feels the same as college fellows feel about
their team. But that ain’t all. This game gets into every sporting
page of every big newspaper in the country. That means big advertising
for the winners. And advertising—sport-page stuff in news—means better
business, and better business means more money to all of us—oh, not a
lot, maybe, but every little bit helps. Get me?”

“I think I understand, Murph.”

“Don’t do no harm to tell you, anyhow. The people we work for want
us to win; the people we work with want us to win; we want to win
ourselves, the same as all real players do. And, Vern”—he put his hand
affectionately upon the young fellow’s jersey—“if you shoot baskets
Saturday night the way you did just now, we will win—sure!”

As Vernon Judd left the factory’s model gymnasium, where the team had
been holding its final practice, his body tingled from the rough-towel
rub that followed the shower; but he also tingled internally from sheer
pleasure and the joy of living. He had made good. Coming into the Bloss
works practically a nobody, by merit alone he had won friendship and
respect, as well as a place on a cracking good basket-ball five. Best
of all, for the first time in his life, he was really interested in the
business of earning a living.

Life as a whole had changed for him. Hard work in his department had
brought him a boost in the pay envelope, and his spare moments were
busied with a correspondence course in advertising. He wished his
father could see him jump out of bed before the winter sun rose, to
hurry to a job that had become a pleasure.

He was so busy patting himself on the back that only chance prevented
his colliding with a footfarer bound the other way.

“Hazel Wayne!” he blurted, as his surprised glance showed him the girl
from Landon’s whose acquaintance he had made through the rescue of the
lace handkerchief.

Her face was pale and troubled. His quick eye noted that she was
holding her library book almost ostentatiously.

“Practicing hard, Vern?” she queried, with a nervous little laugh, “Do
you really think you’re going to beat us Saturday?”

“Sure of it, Hazel. You’d better order your mourning suit right now.”
As he turned to walk with her toward the corner where the Weldon Park
cars passed, it became growingly evident that she was ill at ease.

“What’s the matter, Hazel?” he asked finally. “If you don’t like
something I’ve said or done, tell me what it was and I’ll apologize.”

She shook her head. “No,” she said, in a low voice, “no, there—there’s
nothing like that.”

“But something’s wrong. What is it? We’ve been pretty good friends for
over five months now. Surely you can tell me.”

Still she was silent.

“Is it Creighton?” he asked lightly. “Haven’t you changed your mind
about him yet? Do you still think he’s a ‘low-down——’”

“Ss-s-sh!” She put her hand over his mouth. “Don’t—don’t ever repeat
what I said about him—not to anybody.”

The Weldon Park car was bowling nearer.

“What’s wrong, Hazel?” he asked, leaning closer. “Tell me.”

It was plain she was struggling with herself. Twice she opened her
mouth as though to speak. “No,” she said firmly, in the end. “I—I
haven’t anything to say—nothing at all—except to wish you luck
to-morrow night. That’s all.”

Thirty seconds later, as Vern watched the car whirl around the corner
into Moneta Avenue, his face bore a puzzled twist that was still
in evidence after a brisk walk had brought him back to the factory
entrance.

“Hello, Billy!” he greeted the night watchman. “I left some
correspondence-school stuff in my locker. I see there’s a light in the
supe’s office, so it will be O. K. to pass me in.”

With a grunt of assent, old Billy led the way to the coat room and
watched Vern take the leaflets from the locker shelf. Partly deaf, the
watchman did not heed the fragment of conversation that floated down
the corridor from Creighton’s open door.

“It’s all right,” the superintendent was saying. “Monday night ends
it. I tell you, I’ve worked three months getting things fixed so I can
tangle the factory into a dozen knots just before I——”

The voice trailed away into a confidential whispering that Vern could
not catch.

Vaguely the words disquieted him. Was it possible that Creighton was
all Hazel Wayne had said? How could she know? Hazel had never worked
in the Bloss factory. Her job was in the Landon cashier’s office, and
her father and brother were employed in the Landon leather-working
department. Probably her distrust of Creighton was a woman’s whim,
sprung of the natural bitterness resulting from his successful
management of the rival factory. But the boy’s suspicions were not
allayed at the sight of the superintendent’s startled face when he met
Vern at the outer door.

“What the devil are you doing here?” demanded Creighton, with a worried
glance at his late visitor, now turning to trudge up the street.

Vern’s answer seemed to reassure him a little.

“Come back,” he said abruptly. “Come into my office. I meant to have a
little talk with you to-morrow, but we might as well thresh it out now.”

They sat down, facing each other.

“Judd,” said the superintendent, “you like your job, don’t you?”

Vern responded with all the enthusiasm he could muster. Creighton
cocked his cigar in the corner of his mouth.

“You’ve done well here. You’re getting fifteen a week now, and you are
in line to get more”—he paused—“if you can keep your mouth shut and
obey orders.”

The tone of the talk was objectionable, but Vernon Judd’s six months
were too nearly at an end for him to object. “Yes, sir,” he said
quietly, “I want to advance, of course.”

Creighton leaned forward. “Judd,” he confided, “there’s one way for you
to hang on to your job—and only one way.” The change in his voice was
startling.

“What do you mean?”

The superintendent’s heavy eyebrows contracted in a sinister line.
“The Bloss basket-ball team must lose to-morrow night. You’ve got to
let Landon win. Understand? You—not the team, but _you_—must see that
the game goes to them.”

Vern could hardly believe he had heard correctly. “Let Landon win! You
mean I—I must throw the game?”

“Exactly! I’m glad you understand. You know how to do it, of course,
and you can do it alone, because you make more baskets than all the
rest of them put together. Get hurt; pretend you’ve injured your arm. I
don’t care how you do it. But throw the game. Remember, I am your boss;
I am the boss of the Bloss basket-ball team. If you expect to hold your
job here, throw—that—game!”

Vern tried to think quickly. “But—don’t you want——”

“No, I don’t!” Creighton stood up, glaring fiercely. “No! No! I want
the Blosses to lose that game. Never mind why! That’s none of your
business. You want to hold your job. All right. Throw that game. If you
don’t, the first thing I’ll do the following Monday morning will be to
fire you.”

“But I haven’t done anything to warrant——”

“Bah! What are you doing here this time of night? Do you think the
police will lake your word before they take mine? You’ve got folks
somewhere. How will they like it when they hear you’ve been hauled into
a police station for being a petty thief? I can do it all right, and I
will—if you don’t throw that game. Think it over. Don’t try to double
cross me, because it can’t be done. That’s all.”

Uneasy and troubled, Vernon Judd spent his trip to the boarding house
trying to figure out a solution for the mystery. What was the tangled
undercurrent? Was Creighton doing all this simply to win a few dollars
by betting? The notion was ridiculous. Then what was the answer?

On the table in the front hall of the boarding house lay a note from
his father that thickened his difficulties. It had come by the late
mail. It ran:

    DEAR VERN: Glad to learn from your letter that
    you’ve been doing so well. As long as you have held out
    over five months already, I am going to make this the
    test. Win or lose this Bloss job—that is the deciding
    factor in our wager as to the stuff of which you are
    made. There is no reason why you should be fired from
    Bloss & Company, and you must not let yourself be
    fired. Stay with them till the six months are up—or
    don’t come back.

    FREEMAN JUDD.

Vern crumpled the letter in his hand. A pretty mess he had gotten into!
All his notions of honesty and sportsmanship recoiled at the thought of
throwing the game. Yet if he did not——

“_Br-r-r-r!_” It was the boarding-house telephone that roused him from
his reverie.

“Hello! Excuse me for disturbing you, but I must speak to Mr. Judd....
Oh, is this you, Vern? This is Hazel Wayne speaking. I must see you
now. I did have something to tell you before, but I couldn’t make
myself say it. I’ve come all the way back to tell it to you now. I am
at Baker’s Drug Store, just a block from your house. You’ll come right
over, Vern, won’t you?”

He buttoned his overcoat and plunged out into the snowy night air.
Hazel was waiting for him just outside the store, and as he appeared
she hurried toward him.

“Vern, I had to see you to-night. I hadn’t been to the library when I
met you before. I’d been waiting to talk to you after you finished your
basket-ball practice. But I was—afraid.”

“What is it?” he asked gently. “You needn’t be afraid to tell anything
to me, Hazel.”

She winked back one tear, but another rolled down her cheek. “Vern, you
mustn’t think the—the wrong way about me, but that basket-ball game
to-morrow night is a matter of life and death—almost. And your team
mustn’t win. You must let the Landon five beat you, because——Oh, I
can’t tell you why, but you must do it—you must. For my sake, Vern!”

She put both hands in his; then, before he could stop her, she was
plunging blindly toward the car. He watched her as she stood a moment
on the platform, shoulders shaking and a handkerchief to her eyes.

Boss, father, and girl all urging him to betray his trust! If he
tried—if his team won—he would lose his job, his chance to make
something of himself in the bigger business world, and the friendship
of Hazel Wayne.

For the first time since he had known her, he realized that she was
necessary to his future happiness.



IV.


As the referee’s whistle sent the Bloss and Landon basket-ball teams
scurrying to their positions the following evening, Hazel Wayne leaned
forward, with a quick intake of breath. The game was about to begin.
Whatever the outcome might mean to the workers and friends of the two
factories, it meant infinitely more to her. She told herself that the
Landon five would win, that it must win; but she could not stifle the
fear in her heart.

“We’ll beat them,” said the girl at her right, a fellow worker in the
Landon executive offices; “yes, we’ll beat them if——”

“——if Vern Judd doesn’t score too many baskets against us,” finished
another Landon worker. “They say he’s a wonder.”

They both nodded sagely. The fear in Hazel Wayne’s heart became a
hysterical laugh. Of course! And Vern wouldn’t try too hard, after what
she had told him; surely he wouldn’t!

“Ready, Landon?” asked the referee. “Ready, Bloss?” He shot the ball
high into the air, piped a shrill blast on his whistle as it began to
descend, and the great game was on.

The two opposing centers leaped for the yellow ball. But Vernon Judd
was the quicker and the surer. His right hand slapped it, shooting it
unerringly to Captain Murphy. The thud hurt Hazel Wayne like a blow.

Dully, despairingly, she watched Murphy catch the ball and pass it to
Clark, who shot it clear across the court to Felber. By this time Judd
was racing up the middle, practically unguarded. As the ball came to
him in a long, driving throw, he dropped it to the floor, tapped it
closer to the basket, and then, with a pretty toss, looped it upward
and forward, scoring the goal. At the end of the first minute, the
score stood: Bloss, 2; Landon, 0.

Huddled forward in her balcony seat at the other end of the gymnasium,
Hazel Wayne allowed her breath to escape with a gasp. He was trying,
then; he was playing his best. Perhaps, though, this was only a flash,
to allay suspicions. She would wait a little while before she condemned
him.

Again the opposing centers leaped for the ball; again Vern shot it
to a member of his team. This time, however, a lanky Landon youth
intercepted the throw from Murphy to Clark, and the ball bounced out of
bounds.

It was Bloss’ throw-in, and Felber, left guard, picked it up. Captain
Murphy called a quick signal, dodged under the arm of the player who
was covering him, and took the throw in the extreme left-hand corner of
the court, in Landon territory. The other three players shifted to the
boundary lines. Vernon Judd, dodging free, sped down the middle of the
unprotected court.

Hazel Wayne watched him with fascinated eyes. She knew the play; it
was the old crisscross forward pass. Why didn’t the Landon boys cover
Vern? Must he assume the entire responsibility for the failure at the
end? For she told herself positively that he would fail, that he had
done all they might reasonably expect of him.

Murphy threw, gauging ball and player to a nicety. Ten feet beyond the
center Vern caught it while running at full speed. Then, with a single
bewildering movement, he lifted it high above his head and shot another
basket with clean precision.

The score was now: Bloss, 4; Landon, 0. The Bloss adherents raised the
rafters with their mad cheering. In the little balcony at the other
end, Hazel Wayne leaned back with clenched hands.

“He doesn’t care enough for me to do what I asked,” she told herself
bitterly; and she forced herself to smile and nod when the girl at
her right expressed the hope that something would happen to Vern Judd
before the game was done. She wished something would—almost! Not a
serious hurt, of course, but——

By the time the ball was in play again, the Landon team seemed to have
found itself. It reasoned rightly that if the other four Bloss players
were to act as “feeders” to Judd, counting on him to shoot the baskets,
the thing to do was to corner and pocket and guard him so closely that
he would have no opportunity for unhampered throwing. So effectively
did they carry out this campaign that for ten minutes or more he was
hopelessly entangled in the mesh of opposing players.

They went farther. The Bloss star now began to bear the brunt of every
attack. His arm was hacked on throws. He was tripped and fouled in all
the artistic ways that could escape the eyes of the official. Twice he
went to the floor with a crash, and once he was tumbled headfirst out
of bounds.

But Hazel Wayne, watching the game with the eye of an expert, dared
hope there was another reason for Vernon Judd’s sudden eclipse. And
when the Bloss rooters began to move uneasily as he failed to score
goals, and shrunk back when he should have charged, and submitted
tamely to an opponent’s making a pass when he should have scrimmaged
for a toss-up, she grew more and more convinced that he was no longer
doing his best.

A little later, the referee caught a Landon player fouling him, and
Vern took the ball for a free throw. Poising it carefully, he shot it
high in the air, a good five feet to one side of the basket. The Bloss
sympathizers, mouths open to cheer the scoring point, allowed them to
close with dumb amazement. It wasn’t even a good try.

“Now watch us!” bragged the girl by Hazel’s side. “I heard this
afternoon that Vern Judd had sold out, and I guess he has.”

Hazel looked at her with troubled eyes. All at once she felt cold and
sick, as if something terrible had happened.

“It looks that way,” agreed the girl on her left. “Well, every man
has his price. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes business politics, and
sometimes a woman. I wonder——” And she glanced at Hazel out of the tail
of her eye.

“He—he wouldn’t sell out,” Hazel told the girl weakly. “He isn’t that
kind.”

The other laughed meaningly. “Isn’t he? Oh, I don’t——Look! Look! What
do you think now?”

Vern had been clear for once. The ball came to him waist-high—and he
dropped it! Like a flash, the captain of the Landon five caught it up
and shot it half the length of the court to another player near the
boundary line. He passed it to a third, who scored a neat goal on a
side diagonal pass that gave him the ball directly in front of the
basket.

The score was now: Bloss, 4; Landon, 2.

“A goal at last,” said one of the girls, sighing, “thanks to Mr. Judd.”

“It was an accident,” defended Hazel, angry without reason. “Anybody is
apt to drop the ball now and then.”

Both teams scored again from the field before the end of the first
half, and, during the last minute, Landon crept closer on a palpable
body-check and free throw. When the whistle blew, the score was: Bloss,
6; Landon, 5.

The teams changed goals. The Bloss basket was now at the balcony end,
where Hazel Wayne could lean forward and look straight down into it.

On the toss-up that began the second half, Vern’s attempt to whack the
ball was so weak that it brought a hiss or two from the spectators.
Worse still, it made them watch him suspiciously after that. When he
failed twice on free throws, and Murphy took his place after the next
foul, the crowd began to mutter.

“What do you think now about the little angel named Vern Judd?”
triumphantly demanded the girl on Hazel’s right.

“I—I don’t want to talk, please!” said Hazel. She couldn’t think; she
couldn’t understand her own emotions or the wonderful metamorphosis
of her desires. Something had changed her whole point of view. The
integrity of Vernon Judd meant more to her, all at once, than anything
else in the world. Indignant at first that he should play so well when
she had asked him not to, she was now praying that he would yet do his
best, that he would strive to win like a clean sportsman, that he would
forget everything save his own honesty and good name. If he wasn’t that
kind——She dared not complete the thought.

The game wore on, with varying fortunes. Players from first one team
and then the other rushed the ball up and down the court in zigzagging
passes, tapping, tossing, dribbling, shooting it from man to man,
looping it for the basket, scrambling for it when it missed, and
trotting back to their positions when a goal was scored.

Eventually the Landon five began to assume the upper hand. There was
no denying that its center outclassed Vern—or, at least, the Vern who
was playing to-night. He could throw better, he could block better with
his arm, he could bat the ball better on the toss-up. Because of these
advantages, Landon finally assumed the lead by the slender margin of a
single point in the 9-8 score.

“If I could only talk to him for a minute!” Hazel whispered to herself,
watching the player fail in encounter after encounter. “If I could tell
him to forget me, and play—play! I must have been mad to ask him to
sacrifice himself for me!”

She watched, with staring eyes, as he whacked clumsily at the ball.

“Vern!” she called appealingly. “Vern!”

But he couldn’t hear her, of course. The whole gymnasium was a Babel of
confused shouts. She could only lean forward, with her hands clutching
the balcony rail, and follow him with her eyes; gloating when he broke
free or handled the ball, wincing when opponents crashed into him, and
telling herself always that if the opportunity offered he would prove
his true character yet.

Some official at the side of the court made an announcement. Hazel
could not hear what he said, and she turned to a man behind her for the
information.

“It’s the usual warning that there are only three minutes more to
play,” he explained.

Three minutes! Why, it couldn’t be possible. There must be some
hideous mistake! Only three minutes before the game ended—and Landon
one point ahead! That meant, unless some miracle took place, Bloss was
beaten—beaten because a girl had asked a man to forget honor for her
sake.

She had no watch. Yet she must time the game to its bitter end. The
torture of waiting constantly for the final whistle, without knowing
what moment it might come, was too great a strain to bear. Already her
heart was pounding——

With a sudden inspiration, she dropped the finger tips of her right
hand upon the pulse of the other wrist. The normal heartbeat was a
little over seventy, wasn’t it? That meant practically a surge of the
artery for every second.

She began to count—one, two, three, four, five, and so on up to the end
of the first minute. Out on the floor, the ten players were scurrying
here and there like frightened ants, apparently without aim or purpose,
but in reality dodging and running with preconceived plans. But neither
team scored again. Nor did Vern stand out conspicuously in the playing.

The second minute measured itself by her pulse beats. Now and then,
during some tense moment, her fingers pressed so hard that she lost the
steady throb-throb of the wrist. But she knew within a second or two
when the final minute of play began.

The antlike players shifted toward the Bloss goal. They were almost
constantly within throwing distance now, and one accurate toss would
win. A dozen times the chance seemed to have come, but always there was
some blocking Landon opponent.

“Fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four,” Hazel went on mechanically. Then,
with a convulsive start, she realized what the figures meant. They were
the final grains of sand in the hourglass. Her finger tips shook free
of the wrist, and it was three seconds before they pressed the pulse
again.

“Fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty,” she resumed her counting, and lost
the next beat as her heart stopped with the shock of apprehensive fear.
Then she laughed with nervous relief. Sixty pulse beats weren’t quite a
minute; there were from ten to fifteen still to record before the final
whistle.

The ten players bunched just below the balcony, in front of the Bloss
goal. As if realizing that the game depended upon their work during the
next few seconds, they roused themselves above their natural speed and
skill.

“Five fighting to prevent another basket,” Hazel told herself, “and
four fighting just as hard to make it—no, five! Five! He is trying! I
know he is! Oh, he must be!” But she could not be quite sure.

She saw Captain Murphy whisper something to him. Vern nodded. Then,
so suddenly that she could hardly follow the play, the Bloss team
scattered. The ball catapulted to the side of the court, where the
whacking arm of Felber drove it back and toward the other end. Murphy
caught it, whirled completely around to throw off the guard hovering
near him, started a dribble, and finally made the pass straight toward
the Landon goal.

Hazel raised her eyes in wonderment. Nearly halfway down the court Vern
was sprinting. A warning cry from the captain made him turn on his
heel and throw up his hands. But he was an instant too late. Clean and
hard, with the crack of a gun, the ball caught him full in the face,
staggering him backward.

He stood there, blinking like one who has suddenly lost his sight. The
ball was in his hands. From all angles the Landon five rushed toward
him. His own players shouted for the ball. His test had come, Hazel
told herself breathlessly. Then, as he made no move, she stopped
breathing altogether.

Her eyes were blurring with tears. She lifted her handkerchief to dry
them, and saw that it was the square of Irish lace he had rescued the
day they first met.

“Vern!” she called, putting all the breath of her full lungs into the
cry. “Vern!”

He lifted his head. His eyes were winking rapidly, and he had
difficulty in seeing her at all.

“Vern!” she called again. Leaning far out over the protecting rail of
the balcony, she allowed her handkerchief to flutter down toward the
basket below. It settled on the little ledge where the bracket of the
iron rim met the wall.

There must have come to Vernon Judd the memory of that other time when
he had arched a ball up and over and down upon Hazel Wayne’s Irish
lace handkerchief. Perhaps the recollection brought confidence in his
ability to do it again. Now, with a swinging, overhand-loop shot, he
hurled the yellow basket-ball at the white target.

Like a winging swallow it rose till it reached the apex of its arc;
then it sped downward to the backing board just behind the basket. The
rebound drove it against the front rim. It bounded back again, brushed
the handkerchief caressingly, and finally toppled gently into the
netting for a goal. Almost on the instant, the final whistle shrilled.

The game was ended. The Bloss five had won by a score of 10-9.



V.


Judging by the expression on his face, Vernon Judd was about as elated
over scoring the winning basket for the Bloss team as a criminal in
court would be over receiving a stiff sentence.

“And that’s just what it amounts to,” he told himself, marching glumly
off the playing court. “My sentence is that I be fired in disgrace from
the factory, lose my six-month test to prove my right to a desk with
Judd & Co., and sacrifice whatever chance I had of winning—her.”

Somebody slapped him on the shoulder. He looked up irritably, only to
discover that it was his father.

“Why, dad,” he greeted, “what in the dickens are you doing out here?”

“In town on business,” explained Freeman Judd cryptically. “I heard
there was a basket-ball game to-night, and I figured I could find you
here. Quite a game, eh?”

Vern clenched his hands. “A bigger, more important one than you think,
dad.” It was hard to go on and explain that his job at the factory
hinged upon the outcome, but he managed it bravely.

His father heard him to the end, without interrupting. Once or twice
he frowned a little, as if there were some worry on his mind, but he
offered no comment. When the boy was quite done, he looked at him
steadily.

“You played to win?” he asked.

“Of course. You see, I——”

“All right. I wanted to be sure, Vern. Now, about this job proposition
of ours. You won’t stick out your six months with Bloss, you say. Too
bad you came so close, my boy, but you know I never budge an inch. A
bargain’s a bargain with me.”

Looking up quickly, Vern fancied he detected a twinkle in his father’s
eyes. But when he searched for it again it was gone.

“I’m not asking you to go back on your proposition,” he said. “I don’t
know exactly——”

“Vern!”

It was Hazel Wayne’s voice. He whirled quickly, and took the hand she
extended.

“I want to congratulate you, with all my heart,” she said. “I’m glad
you won, Vern.”

He was glad, too—now. It was the first thrill of the victory, but it
was well worth while. Some day, he promised himself, he would make
Hazel understand how much it had hurt him to win against her wishes.

“You don’t know how ashamed of myself I felt!” she rushed on. “You see,
Creighton met me yesterday and told me he was coming over to Landon’s
as superintendent and——”

“Creighton! At Landon’s!” exclaimed Vern in astonishment. A new hope
sprang up in his heart. “When?”

“Next Tuesday, he said.”

“Oh!” The hope withered and died. On the intervening Monday Creighton
would discharge him. “Go on, Hazel!”

“Well,” continued the girl, “he explained that as he had already signed
his contract and was the Landon manager, he wanted the Landon people to
have the winning basket-ball team this season. If you didn’t try too
hard, Vern, that would be possible, he thought. I—I was to ask you not
to.”

“But—why?”

“Because if I refused—if Bloss won—I was to lose my job. Father’s and
brother Ben’s depended upon the game, too. Tuesday we’ll all be out of
work. I don’t know how we’ll manage to live, but”—she smiled at him
through her tears—“but I’m glad you won, Vern. It nearly killed me when
I thought you weren’t trying honestly to win.”

“I was, Hazel. I know a lot of people didn’t think so, but I was.” He
touched his arm gingerly. “Early in the game I bruised the biceps in my
right arm in a nasty tumble. My whole arm got sore and stiff. I wanted
to drop out and make way for a substitute, but Murph wouldn’t listen.
And then, at the end, just before I scored that last goal, the ball
hit me an awful whack in the face. It stunned me and blinded me. But
I heard you call, and I caught a glimpse of your white handkerchief
dropping. I remembered that other day—the first day I ever saw you—and
I know absolutely I could shoot the basket. You really won the——”

“Listen, Hazel Wayne!” The voice was Creighton’s; his face was
convulsed with rage. “Listen to me, young lady! You double-crossed me
to-night, but you’ll pay for it. Out you go Tuesday, along with your
old man and your kid brother—the whole kit and parcel of you. And I’ll
see to it that you never get another job in this town.” He turned to
Vern. “As for you, you young whippersnapper, I don’t have to wait till
Tuesday. You’re fired! Understand? Fired! Just as soon as I can swear
out a warrant——”

Freeman Judd stepped forward leisurely. “Just a moment,” he
interrupted. “You can’t fire this young man.”

“Why not? I’m superintendent of the Bloss Company.”

“Wrong!” The elder Judd spat out the word with evident enjoyment. “You
_were_ superintendent. But you can’t fire anybody now because you were
fired yourself this afternoon at a meeting of the board of directors.”

“It’s a lie!” blustered Creighton. His eyes gleamed slyly. “If it ain’t
a lie, though, I don’t care. I’ll be superintendent of the Landon works
next week, and the Bloss Company will find——”

“Wrong again!” Freeman Judd stepped closer. “At five this afternoon
the final papers were signed whereby the two concerns come under the
same management and ownership. If it’s of any interest to you, I am
the man who is merging them. I kicked you out of Bloss’ to-day after
reading the reports of an expert accountant and a detective who’ve
been checking you up for several weeks; I’ll make sure you stay out of
Landon’s. So, Mr. Creighton, you see, you won’t be able to fire anybody
from either factory.”

Creighton did not wait to argue. With a sudden leap, he lost himself in
the crowd that was making for the outer door.

“Shall I go after him, dad?” asked Vern, his fingers working hungrily.

“No need,” smiled Freeman Judd. “He’ll run across some plain-clothes
men just outside. Misappropriation of funds, malicious damage of
property, and other charges to answer in court.”

Somebody plucked at Vern’s coat sleeve, and he looked down into Hazel’s
startled eyes.

“Is he your father?” she asked, pointing.

“Why, yes! Let me introduce——”

“But he’s just bought both factories,” she said, “and he must be very
rich, and—and I thought you were poor, working in the Bloss stockroom.
I suppose now——”

“If dad’s new superintendent is willing, I’ll stick to my same job,”
promised Vern; “at least, till I’ve been there a full six mouths. How
about it, dad?”

“Vern, I’m going to like you better.”

“Thanks, dad. A little later, if you think I measure up, I want a desk
job, with more money.” He looked into Hazel Wayne’s eyes once more.
“Because, to tell the truth, I’m thinking about getting married as soon
as the girl says ‘yes.’”

Hazel Wayne said “Oh!” But she meant “Yes.”

       *       *       *       *       *

WISEHEAD: “All food when it is being thoroughly masticated contains the
germs of tuberculosis.”

Do-tell: “No!”

Wisehead: “Yes, it does; because it’s in the last stages of
consumption.”



Clem Frobisher’s Man-sized Job

By Allan Hawkwood


THE scenario writer and partner to Clem Frobisher let out a whoop in
response to Clem’s proposal:

“Ed, let’s take a vacation. I’m getting tired of making films. Let’s go
back to San Pedro, hire the old boat, and go fishing.”

“Wow! Say, cap’n, I had that notion myself! Do you mean it?”

“You bet I mean it!” Clem rose, and strode up and down, frowning. “I
can be cooped up only so long, Ed; then something has to bust. Now that
we’ve finished that big five-reel film, I’m going to get back to salt
water for a few days.”

“Say, I can smell them fish now!” exclaimed Ed, in ecstasy. “An’ the
engine-room oil an’ the ol’ bilge-water stink——Oh, golly! When do we
go?”

“Catch a Pedro car, after lunch, charter the old _Sadie_, and off with
us! Are you game?”

“Game?” The lanky Iowan grinned. “Say, cap’n, I’m so game that—that I’m
growin’ horns right now!”

The Frobisher Producing Company, with Clem as its head, and Ed Davis
as partner and scenario writer, had been established in Easthampton
for some months. Further, it had made good, largely because of Clem
Frobisher’s distinctive ability.

Before getting into the motion-picture business, Clem had run a fishing
launch out of San Pedro, Ed being his engineer and chum. He had finally
awakened to the fact that, despite his splendid body and brawn, he
was backward in education; that ahead of him lay nothing but endless
years of fishing and taking out tourists after tuna; and that, if he so
chose, he could make something more of himself than this.

Clem had chosen promptly, had sold his launch to old Captain Saunders,
and had started in to make the fight. Hampered financially, and by lack
of prior education, he had, none the less, flung himself into the work
with all his dogged, pugnacious will power. Ed Davis had accompanied
him, largely for friendship’s sake, but also with the dream of getting
rich by writing plays.

Events had favored the chums. Ed had been victimized by a fraudulent
motion-picture concern, whereupon Clem had pitched in and fought
the owners; the result had been that he and Ed Davis owned the film
company. Since that time the chums had worked it up, until now it was
really a well-established business, with a golden future.

Naturally, therefore, they were both ready for a vacation. Clem quite
forgot that a man, and particularly a young man, can never entirely get
away from his past.

In the old days, Clem had had a reputation along the Pedro water front.

He had never been a hanger-on at bars, or a pool-room loafer; but
nature, combined with hard work at sea, had endowed him with a vigorous
body and an inclination to use his fists. Along the water front he had
been thrown in contact with fishermen, bucko mates, and ordinary seamen
of all nations, and when it came to fighting, Clem Frobisher’s name was
one to conjure with.

He had been whipped, of course. Yet he was locally known as the
toughest young fellow to whip and the best fellow to stand beside in a
scrap in all San Pedro; and it must be admitted that he did his best to
justify the reputation. Not that he ever sought a fight, or forced one
on the other chap, but when the fight came to him he went into it on
the jump.

Clem had thought these old days gone forever; but, as he and Ed Davis
climbed aboard their San Pedro car that afternoon Fate was waiting for
them with a big stick.



II.


“If Cap’n Saunders ain’t here,” said Ed Davis, “we’ll get another boat?”

Clem nodded. Together they were walking up a side street of San Pedro
to the little cottage where Captain Ezra Saunders, a retired veteran of
many seas and seasons, was living on the income furnished him by two or
three fishing boats, which were run by his son Tom, a young fellow a
year or two older than Clem.

As they turned in at the gate of the vine-shaded cottage, however, they
knew that the captain was at home from the foghorn voice which bellowed
forth:

“Howdy, Clem!”

Ezra Saunders was a remarkable old man—though he was scarce sixty
years of age. He was crippled by rheumatism, and had lost a leg at the
knee from a shark bite, while his right arm had been paralyzed on his
last voyage—when he had brought the schooner _Mary Connors_ through a
thousand miles of typhoon and had saved the lives of twenty men.

With all this, however, Clem had never seen the old man in gloomy mood.
Ever was Captain Saunders smiling, optimistic, cheerful. As he and
Ed Davis shook hands, and stepped up to the porch, where easy-chairs
awaited them, the skipper bellowed to his wife, and Mrs. Saunders also
came forth, to fold each of the visitors in a warm embrace.

“Well, well!” she exclaimed, wiping a tear from her ruddy cheeks.
“Clem, if you ain’t become a real city man! Say! Wouldn’t your mother
ha’ been proud of you now!”

“I hope so,” and Clem’s brown eyes saddened a trifle. Since his
mother’s death Mrs. Saunders had been the only mother he had known—and
that had been twelve summers past. Then he looked up, with his old
cheerful smile. “I do believe you’re getting thin!”

“Nonsense, you vagabond!” Mrs. Saunders, who weighed two hundred, and
knew it, laughed through her welcoming tears. “Don’t you flatter me,
now! You boys ain’t goin’ to run right off, I hope? I been makin’
pies to-day, and it seems to me you two rapscallions used to like Ma
Saunders’ pies right well before you got stuck up an’ citified.”

“Nothin’ stuck up about me, ’cept my collar,” said Ed Davis, grinning.
“I been hankering for your pies, ma, ever since we left Pedro. You bet
we’re goin’ to stay a while! How’s Tom? Everybody well?”

Mrs. Saunders’ ruddy face seemed to assume a slightly less cheerful
expression.

“Yes,” she said, turning to the door. “Tom’s well. You folks set and
talk while I see to them pies. They’re in the oven now.”

The door slammed. Clem looked at the captain’s white-whiskered face and
frowned.

“What’s the matter, cap’n?” he asked directly. “You’re looking kind of
peaked around the gills. Rheumatism bad again?”

“No-o, I reckon not.” Captain Saunders stroked his beard, and summoned
up the ghost of his olden-days smile. “I’m hungerin’ for salt water, I
reckon.”

“First time I ever knew you to lie to me, cap’n,” said Clem quietly.

Captain Saunders flushed. He looked at Ed Davis, and then met Clem’s
accusing brown eyes. With fumbling fingers he began to fill his pipe.

“Got a match, Clem?” he asked, with a little quaver in his voice.

Silently Clem produced the article in question. It began to seem as
though something were very wrong, indeed. Ed Davis sat watching and
listening, his grin gone. When the old skipper had lighted the pipe he
leaned back and looked at Clem again.

“Well, Clem, I—I guess it was the first time. I ain’t much used to
lies. But sometimes lies has to come.”

“Not between us, cap’n,” and Clem’s strong, bronzed face lightened.
“What’s the trouble?”

“You,” said the old man, puffing out a huge cloud of smoke.

“I! What do you mean?”

Captain Saunders sighed. His weather-beaten face was set in lines of
sadness.

“Clem, you allus been a mighty good boy, and I know it better’n most
people. But when it comes to a scrap, you got a reputation around here
like a downeast mate. I don’t blame you none, o’ course.”

“Go on,” urged Clem as the skipper paused. He wondered what was coming
next.

“Well, Tom allus did admire you a heap, Clem, but since you been gone
to the city Tom’s kind o’ got the notion that he’s stepped into your
fightin’ boots, and he’s gone around handin’ out some fine lickin’s.
For a fact, Tom can light like a streak.”

“I guess he came by it honestly,” was the reply, and Clem smiled
slightly as he eyed the old skipper’s broad shoulders.

“Well, mebbe so. But—say, Clem, you know Tom’s a good boy, don’t you?”

“You bet he is!” said Clem, frowning.

Inwardly, he commented otherwise. While he knew Tom Saunders pretty
well, he also knew that Tom had companions who were not of the old
Saunders strain.

“To tell the truth, Clem, Tom’s been gettin’ kind o’ out o’ hand.”
The skipper sighed again. “He’s been comin’ home drunk every once in
a while, if you want it straight. He’s tryin’ to be cock o’ the walk
around here, like you used to be—but he ain’t doing it your way, Clem.”

Clem Frobisher felt as though a cold hand had touched him and had sent
a shiver through him.

He was not responsible, of course; and, very likely, Tom Saunders was
no worse than the average young fellow. But that was far from the point.

Clem loved the honest, simple, manly old skipper, and he loved Mrs.
Saunders. Sooner than hurt them in any way he would have cut off his
right hand.

Yet he knew that he had hurt them grievously, if unintentionally.
He knew that Tom Saunders, misled by the wrong sort of friends, was
heaping sorrow’s upon these kindly old parents of his largely by
aspiring to walk in the tracks of Clem Frobisher. And Ezra Saunders
had hit the nail on the head by saying that Tom was not doing it Clem’s
way.

“He’s running the boats all right, I suppose?” queried Clem, with
sinking heart.

“Oh, he ’tends to ’em well enough—nothin’ extra. Clem, I wish to
thunder these was the ol’ days! I’d ship that boy A. B. under the
toughest, hardest pair o’ bucko mates ever stepped, an’ I’d ship him
around the Horn! When he got back, by glory, he’d either be dead or—or
different! And”—the skipper sighed heavily—“I dunno’s I’d give a durn
which way it come out. I b’lieve it’s breakin’ Ma Saunders’ heart—I do
so!”

Suddenly Ed Davis leaned forward, his lean frame quivering with
eagerness. For five minutes he spoke rapidly, excitedly, earnestly.
Clem and the skipper listened in amazement, that changed, on Clem’s
part, to narrow-eyed calculation, and finally to swift resolve.

“That’s enough!” he broke in suddenly. “Cap’n, we’ll go out on a
fishin’ trip in the old _Sadie_, after supper to-night. If Tom
ain’t—hasn’t—come home, I’ll find him. And I promise you this, on my
word of honor: If I don’t change his lookout on life I’ll never show my
face here again!”

The old skipper gazed at Clem with dewy eyes.

“Clem,” he said brokenly, “Clem, mebbe ye can. But, lad, it’s a
man-sized job! I reckon you’ve bit off more’n ye can chew—but Heaven
bless ye, lad!”

“And now for ma’s pies!” said Ed Davis, with a grin.



III.


Clem Frobisher and his chum waved farewell to the old folks and walked
toward Beacon Street. The California evening was just closing down in
all its swiftness.

“Ed, you go ’tend to the boat,” directed Clem, at the next corner.
“Have her gas tank full, and make sure the batteries are working right.
I’ll bring Tom.”

“Mebbe I’d better go along with you,” volunteered Ed.

“Maybe you’d better obey orders!” snapped Clem, his square-hewn face
set in hard, determined lines. “Here! Take my coat with you!”

Peeling to his flannel shirt, he tossed his coat to Ed and turned away.
The other looked after him with a sour grin.

“Want all the fun yourself, eh? All right, cap’n. You ain’t goin’ to
shake _me_!”

Ed Davis followed his partner—at a very respectful distance.

Clem strode along in the gathering dusk. Crossing Beacon Street, he
headed for a large pool room, where he was pretty certain to find his
quarry.

“So he didn’t come home for supper—hasn’t come home all day!” he
muttered savagely. “Huh! Claims to be walking in _my_ shoes, does he?
Huh!”

Clem turned in at the pool-room entrance, where a noisy phonograph
was grinding out ragtime. About the rear of the place he saw a dozen
young fellows grouped about a pool table, with a cloud of tobacco smoke
hanging over them. With a curt nod to the proprietor, Clem strode back
past the tables.

He soon picked out Tom Saunders, a big-boned, rather handsome fellow,
three inches taller than Clem, and built along the same lines as the
old skipper. But Tom’s strong, even powerful, face was marred by the
undeniable touch of liquor, and a cigarette trailed smoke between his
fingers. His companions laughed uproariously at his jokes, and gave him
an acclamation, which he seemed to enjoy hugely.

“Clem Frobisher, by golly!”

As the cry went up from the assembled fellows, all of whom knew Clem,
Tom Saunders turned and came forward, cue in hand, with a quick smile
of delight. He stretched out a big hand toward Clem.

“Hello, cap’n! Say, you old chump, where you been hidin’? I——”

Under Clem’s steady, scornful gaze, his words of greeting faded. His
hand fell to his side. He stared in blank amazement, while a portentous
silence fell upon the others.

Then Clem made a sudden movement and plucked the cigarette from Tom’s
fingers. He tossed it into the corner.

“Tom,” he said quietly, “I hear that you claim to be filling my shoes.
How about it?”

“Hey?” Tom Saunders laid aside his billiard cue, still staring. “What
you mean?”

“You heard me!” snarled Clem, watching the other with grim intentness.

“Say, what’s eatin’ you?” demanded Tom, in frowning wonder. “Ain’t we
allus been mighty good friends? What the devil are you talkin’ about?”

“I’m talking about you,” said Clem, as he took a forward step. “Tom,
you used to be a prince of a fellow. You’re some scrapping guy, too.
Well, I been hearing a lot about you to-day. I hear, for one thing,
that you’re doing a lot o’ talking about fillin’ Clem Frobisher’s
shoes. I’m telling you right here that my shoes never left tracks in a
saloon! Get that?”

“Say, what’s the matter with you?” said Tom, with a scowl, seeing
beyond all doubt that his former hero was bent on trouble. “Do you want
to start somethin’?”

“When I get ready. I’ll start it quick enough,” snapped Clem. “Ed Davis
came over with me, and we’re going out in the _Sadie_ to-night, Tom, on
a three-days’ trip—maybe longer. I want you to come along.”

Tom was puzzled by this invitation, and was also half mollified.

“Why, Clem, I’d like to—darned if I wouldn’t! But we got a big kelly
game comin’ off to-night—dollar a corner——”

“And your dad’s house rent is owing,” said Clem quietly. “Will you come
or not?”

“Don’t see how I can——”

Like a flash, Clem’s right shot out. It drove fair and square to the
big fellow’s jaw. Tom went staggering back, and his friends surged
forward at Clem with a snarl of rage. Gripping the pool table behind
him, Tom Saunders turned on them hotly.

“Git back, you flatfoots! Keep out o’ this!”

“Bully for you, Tom!” said Clem approvingly. Then, as Tom turned, Clem
was in, with a leap, and the row began.

And, as a water-front row, it was historic. Tom Saunders was no
bluffer. He had size and brawn, he took punishment like a punching bag,
and he had a kick like a mule. When he started in to fight he usually
demolished everything in sight.

But from the start it was evident that he had no chance.

Clem Frobisher in action was a whirlwind. If he lacked size, he had a
savage earnestness which won half his battles. He went into a scrap
heart and soul and body, for, if he had to fight, he wanted no halfway
measures. He was not a halfway man.

The battle was short, sharp, and furious. Foolishly, Tom drove for
Clem’s face and jaw, but Clem fought otherwise. He was out for blood,
figuratively speaking.

Taking a smack that brought a black eye, without a wince, he broke
through the other’s guard and slammed his fists into Tom’s body time
and again. Never had any one seen him go into a fight with such savage,
deadly fury. Within thirty seconds, Tom Saunders was backed into a
corner, mouthing oaths and lashing out half at random, while Clem’s
terrible right and left swings pounded over his heart and stomach.

Unexpectedly, Clem shot up a swift uppercut that rocked Tom’s head
back. The other’s arms flew up, and Clem’s right bored into the solar
plexus. It was almost a finishing blow. Tom emitted a gasp, and flung
out his arms to save himself from going down. Clem swung down his arm
for the knock-out.

At that instant, the rage of Tom’s followers broke all bounds. One of
them came in, swinging a billiard cue, and aimed a blow that would have
resulted in the penitentiary had it landed. But it did not land.

As the cue flashed up behind Clem, a lean figure came from nowhere,
apparently, and placed a blow under the fellow’s ear that landed the
would-be murderer under a table and kept him there. Then Clem heard his
chum’s voice ringing behind him:

“You fellers better scatter quick! There’s two cops headed this way!”

Clem’s arm shot out. Tom Saunders groaned and collapsed. The others
were hastily streaming out the back entrance; and Clem, gripping his
late opponent’s collar, turned to Ed Davis with a panting gasp of
relief.

“Good boy, Ed! Pick up his feet, now—move fast!”

And, as the police entered by the front door, they vanished into the
alley at the rear, carrying the unconscious Tom Saunders between them.



IV.


“Shanghaied him, by thunder!”

Ed Davis grinned down at the sleeping Tom. The _Sadie_ was dancing to
the lilting ground swells, at dawn, far out beyond Catalina Island.

“Below there!” rang the voice of Clem, on deck above. “Ed, rouse that
fellow up, or I’ll do it myself!”

Ed, who was about to turn in, after standing watch all night, shrugged
his shoulders and grinned. Then he caught the sleeping Tom Saunders by
the leg, hauled him roughly out of the bunk, and, planting two stinging
blows, sent him up the tiny companionway with a kick.

Furious, half awake, cursing, Saunders gained his balance on the deck
and stared at the ocean in blank bewilderment. Clem, at the wheel, let
out a roar.

“Wake up, you slob! Take one o’ them buckets and a broom, an’ wash down
the decks!”

Tom stared at the pilot house, saw Clem’s battered features, and
comprehended at last. His heavy face contracted in anger.

“By thunder, I’ll make you sweat for this!” he burst forth, and came on
the run.

Clem slipped a loop over the wheel and met Tom halfway. Nor did he
waste any time or sympathy, for he was a captain, and his crew was in
mutiny. Before Tom could get within fighting distance, Clem smashed him
across the head with the butt end of a gaff. He reeled back, caught at
the rail, and clung there weakly.

“I’ve a word to say to you, Tom Saunders,” remarked Clem quietly,
watching him for signs of further trouble. “You think you’re something
of a boss scrapper, and a deuce of a sporty chap. You’re not. You’re a
cheap, low-down drunken loafer!

“You keep away from your old father and mother as much as you can, and
you loaf around the water front, gambling and fighting and drinking.
Well, you’re going to get your fill o’ fighting this trip, believe me!
You’re going to realize that you got a blamed sight better home than
any pool room will furnish——”

Tom, partly recovered from that stunning blow, leaped in again.

Clem raised the gaff, then dropped it. He saw that Tom was a glutton
for punishment, and determined to administer it. Yet he admired deeply
the dogged courage of the other.

Cool, confident, smiling, for a good ten minutes he smashed Tom
Saunders about the deck. At the end of that time Tom collapsed, both
eyes pulling, and his face hammered black and blue. Clem caught up a
canvas bucket, trailed it over the side, and sluiced Tom with cold salt
water until Tom sat up, gasping and half drowned.

“If you’ve had enough, get busy and clean them decks!” snapped Clem.

Tom had not had enough, as his curses showed, but he set to work
cleaning the decks. During breakfast, he eyed Clem in sullen silence,
and after breakfast Clem set him to work cleaning out the fish boxes
and untangling lines and leaders.

Shortly afterward, Clem caught sight of a flock of gulls far to the
south, and headed the _Sadie_ for them. Where the gulls were there were
yellowtail, and skipjack also. Calling Tom, he put him to work at the
outriggers.

These were long ten-foot poles, set into sockets just abaft the pilot
house, and projecting over the rails. From each pole were set out three
hundred-yard lines, the outermost of which bore automatic strikers, the
others bearing hooks and minnows.

Five minutes later they got the first strike, and then the fun waxed
fast and furious. Clem let out a yell for Ed Davis, and they began to
haul in fifteen and twenty-pound yellowtail as fast as the trolling
lines could be drawn taut. As Clem and Tom hauled in the fighting,
darting, leaping fish, Ed gaffed them.

By noon they had over twenty, with a few barracuda and skipjacks. Then
Clem hauled about for San Clemente, looped the wheel, and settled down
with the others to lunch.

“When you get the dishes washed up, Tom,” said Ed Davis, “you’d better
clean one of them barracuda for supper. Then give that cabin a good
cleaning and then——”

“Say, you fellers are almighty fresh!” said Tom Saunders, feeling his
black-and-blue eyes tenderly. “How long is this thing goin’ to last?”

“Until we get ready to quit,” said Davis, grinning pleasantly. “Your
proud spirit needs a whole lot o’ chastening, friend Tom.”

“Well, what’s the idea? What have I ever done to you guys?”

“Nothing,” broke in Clem coldly. “But you’re becoming a pretty
worthless sort of citizen, Tom. If I had a father and mother like
yours, I’d try and make something of myself, instead of hanging
around——”

“Yes, you’re a beaut!” sneered Tom. “’Cause you’re a city guy, now,
you’re all stuck up, hey?”

“I don’t think you quite understand.” Clem smiled slightly. “You’re
out of proportion with the real facts of life, Tom. Your outlook is
warped. Instead of seeing things as they are, you see them from the
viewpoint of your pool-room and saloon friends. Well, when we get back
to Pedro you’ll have forgotten all your dreams of being a tough fighter
and gambler and drinker. You’re really such a splendid chap at bottom,
Tom——”

With a snarl of fury, Tom Saunders leaped to his feet. Unobserved, he
had worked himself into position by the rack holding the fish gaffs.
With the rapidity of lightning, he seized one of the ten-foot poles and
made a vicious lunge for Clem.

Clem ducked. The curved, sharp, unbarbed steel missed his shoulder by a
hair’s breadth and tore through his flannel shirt. It would have gone
through his flesh quite as easily.

Before Tom could extricate the weapon Ed Davis was on him in one leap.

Let it be understood that it was contrary to the natures both of
Davis and of Clem Frobisher to treat any one with the brutality which
they were displaying toward Tom Saunders. Yet it was not brutality.
They were both thinking, not of Tom, but of the two old people in the
vine-wreathed cottage.

Ed had mapped out a course, Clem had approved it, as had Captain Ezra
Saunders, and now the two partners were following it rigidly. If it
turned out badly, Tom would get no more than he deserved; if it turned
out well, so much the better.

Blinded though he was, however, Tom gave the lanky Iowan the fight of
his life. It was full seven minutes before Ed had his opponent on the
deck, and even then Tom still lashed out blindly at the figure sitting
on his chest. Not until Clem doused him anew with bucket after bucket
of water did he give in.

“All right,” he mumbled, rising unsteadily. “All right! You guys wait
till I can see, that’s all!”

“There’s no waiting aboard this hooker!” snapped Clem. “You get for’ard
and clean that fish, and do it right, see?”

“I’ll do nothin’ o’ the sort!” returned Tom through his split lips.
“You can beat me up all you want—I ain’t goin’ to stir a foot.” A
volley of oaths escaped him.

Clem, his lips tight clenched, inspected him for a moment, then turned
to Ed.

“Get that bit of line out o’ the locker aft, Ed—the rope’s end that’s
tarred. Go after this guy, and give him a taste of deep-sea sailors’
life.”

For the rest of the afternoon Tom Saunders worked like a horse. A bit
of thin rope, tarred into a stiff club, is a wonderfully effective
inducement, when properly applied. Poor Tom made close acquaintance
with it.

“We’ll be off San Clemente at dawn, Ed,” said Clem that evening. He and
Ed Davis were eating fried barracuda while Tom conned the helm. “It’ll
be watch and watch all night, and we’ll have to keep him awake and
working till he drops.”

“Haze him, eh?”

“Haze him until he’s darned near dead!” And Clem compressed his lips.
“Ed, it’s an awful thing to do—but by golly it’s a whole lot more awful
to think o’ him breakin’ poor old Ma Saunders’ heart!”

“We’ll break _him_!” said Ed, nodding as he spoke. “We’ll kill or cure,
Clem—and I ain’t right sure which it’ll be.”

Neither was Clem, unfortunately.



V.


Dawn came upon the sea—and fog.

The _Sadie_ was somewhere off San Clemente, that desolate, rocky,
almost unknown island. The dense fog hid everything from view.

Clem, who would be on duty until eight o’clock, was seated beside the
pilot house, cutting off yellowtail heads to use as bait for jewfish.
The _Sadie_ lay motionless on the oily waters, swinging listlessly
to the swell of the channel. Up in the bows was a huddled, miserable
figure—Tom Saunders, asleep at last.

That had been a terrible night for the shanghaied man.

Kept awake and at work, kept scrubbing, painting, untangling lines,
oiling the engines, driven to the work and kept at it by boot and fist
and rope’s end, Tom had finally given way.

When Clem took the deck, at four o’clock, the sight of Tom smote his
heart. Yet he drove him relentlessly. An hour later the end had come.

Sobbing, praying, pleading, Tom had crept to him, begging for sleep,
begging for release from the torture. Even then Clem had steeled
himself, and had renewed his driving, but not for long. He had not the
heart.

Tom Saunders had been broken at last—had promised everything and
anything, had wept and prayed anew. At six o’clock, Clem had told him
to sleep, and he had dropped in a pitiable heap where he stood.

“It’s a mean job,” thought Clem, as he baited the huge hooks on his
line. “But he’s had an hour’s rest now, so we’ll try him out. Besides,
he can stand a lot more—and it’s necessary. Kill or cure!”

Accordingly, he awakened poor Tom by repeated sluices of water, thrust
a rod into his hand, bade him angle for a jewfish, and baited his own
line. Somewhat to Clem’s surprise, Tom said nothing whatever, and did
not rebel; but he sat on the rail, shivering, and gazed miserably at
the water.

A moment later, just as Clem was unreeling his line, he saw Tom start
to his feet, and heard the buzz of the automatic drag.

“Got one?” he cried. Tom merely nodded.

A glance showed Clem that the jewfish was running out ahead of the
launch, and he leaped to the engines.

“I’ll give her half speed!” he exclaimed swiftly. “Reel up as we get
over him.”

He noted that the fog seemed to have thickened rather than diminished.

With the _Sadie_ running slowly ahead, Clem regained the deck to find
Tom reeling in his line, the stubby, powerful rod bent almost double.
The jewfish, for all its great size, is not a wonderful fighter; none
the less, it was a good ten minutes before Tom got the fish close to
the surface.

Yet he seemed not a whit excited. He reeled mechanically; his hands
were blue with cold; he seemed broken in spirit. Clem watched him with
some anxiety, wondering if the hazing had been carried too far.

“Here!” he exclaimed suddenly, as the line came in. “Take this gaff,
and bring him up, Tom! I’ll hold him at the surface!”

Clem thought he saw tears on the other’s cheeks.

The exchange was made. Tom took the gaff and stood on the rail,
clinging to a stay, bending over the water. Clem, taking the rod,
was astonished. The fish must be a four-hundred-pounder at least, he
decided. Then, peering over the side as he forced the jewfish up, he
saw the great oval mass below. The surface water broke into a mass of
foam.

Tom lunged with the gaff—lunged again—missed both times. Then, with a
muttered word of exasperation, he leaned far over and caught the fish
squarely.

He did not lift quickly enough, however, to get the fish out of water.
There was a surge and a swirl beneath, and a short cry broke from Tom.

“Give me a hand——”

Before Clem could move, he saw Tom, hanging grimly to the gaff, drawn
out by the fish’s wide, circling sweep. In a flash, the dogged San
Pedro boy had his hold broken, had lost his balance—and was overboard.

“By golly, he’s too cold and stiff to swim!” thought Clem swiftly. He
lifted his voice in a ringing shout:

“Ed! Ed! On deck! Man overboard!”

With the words, he caught up the life preserver hanging at the rail and
tossed it over the side. Then, his coat off, he leaped after it, in
wild fear lest his own driving tyranny had been carried so far that Tom
would have no strength left.

In that desperate fear, he came to the surface almost beside the
struggling figure of Tom Saunders. A few yards away was floating the
round life buoy. Catching Tom by the collar, Clem gained the preserver
in a few strokes, and bobbed Tom up inside it.

“Get your arms over the sides—that’s right! Now take a turn of the line
about your arms. Good!”

Satisfied that Tom was sure to float, Clem turned on his side and sent
a glance around for the _Sadie_. With a shock, he remembered that her
engines were set at half speed.

She was gone in the fog!

Stilling the momentary panic that seized him, Clem lifted his voice in
a shout. He knew that Ed Davis would be on deck by this time, but at
sight of the swirls of fog, that hid the water ten feet away, his heart
sank.

“How you makin’ it, Tom?”

“All right,” said the other mechanically. “I lost the fish, I guess.”

“I guess you did.” Clem chuckled. “Can you give a yell?”

Tom emitted a feeble cry, that betrayed his weakness more than words
could have done. A wave broke over them, and Clem took his weight off
the preserver, allowing it to float higher. It could not well sustain
them both.

Also, there was a choppy sea running—the island current cutting up the
long, easy ground swell. It was hard swimming, and the water was cold.

“What on earth’s the matter with Ed?” exclaimed Clem anxiously. “We
ought to hear the horn——Ah! There it is! Thank goodness!”

Muffled, but unmistakable, the blast of the _Sadie’s_ foghorn pierced
its way to them. Clem shouted again and again. Ed was on the job!

“It don’t seem to be gettin’ much closer,” muttered Tom.

Clem listened. No—it was not growing closer. It was hard to tell from
which direction the sound came, but certainly the launch was receding
from them. Resting once more on the life preserver, Clem bellowed for
all he was worth.

“Better quit yellin’,” mumbled Tom. “It’ll tire you out quicker’n any——”

The rest was lost in a splutter as a wave lapped over them. Clem again
released the life buoy, which lifted Tom well above the water.

Ridding himself of his clothes, Clem swam more easily, but he felt the
chill of the water keenly. Owing to the choppy back lash of the waves,
it was impossible to float. He had to swim continually to hold himself
up.

“Hang on to the cork, ye blamed fool!” said Tom.

“I will, if I need to. I’m all right.”

The horn was sounding no longer!

Clem knew that their situation was desperate in the extreme. Which way
the island lay, no one could tell. They were in a spot reached only by
an occasional fishing boat. The fog would not lift before noon. Unless
Ed Davis found them by chance, they could not both last—the preserver
would only keep one man up.

Clem found himself becoming weakened by that continual struggle.

How long he swam beside Tom, he never knew. It seemed like days. He
swam now on his side, now on his back. Change position as he might,
however, he could not get away from the choppy, short seas. The sound
of the foghorn came to them no more, and Clem forbore to shout, knowing
the effort useless unless Ed Davis came close by them.

“How are you, Tom?” he said, resting on the preserver. A wave broke
over them. Clem hastily drew away, yet with an inward groan.

“All right,” responded Tom, lying nobly. “Catch on here.”

Clem smiled a little. The faintness of the other’s voice had told him
all he wanted to know. Tom was incapable of any exertion.

“And I’m responsible for Tom’s condition,” was the thought that drove
into Clem’s heart with paralyzing truth. He called up his reserve
strength and breasted the waves, but the effort wasted him alarmingly.
His limbs were stiff, numbed. He prayed for the _Sadie_, but she came
not.

“Tom,” said Clem, as he turned, swimming beside the buoy and watching
Tom’s white, stern-clenched face, “we’ve hazed you pretty hard this
trip, but it was for your own good. Ed and I came to Pedro, and
found——” A wave plunged over him. Clem fought it down, gasping.

“We found your dad ten years older than he was a month or two ago. Ma
didn’t say much, but she was pretty hard hit—and it was your fault,
Tom. You’ve been running with the wrong crowd, and because you’re a
good deal above them in every way they’ve toadied to you and got you on
the down grade to their level. Ed and I——”

Again a great quantity of green water curled over him. The crest
swallowed him. Desperate, Clem lost his head, and flurried wildly,
frantically, wasting precious strength. When he emerged, half
strangled, his own danger frightened him into coolness.

“Grab hold o’ the buoy, you fool!” growled Tom weakly.

“Shut up!” gasped Clem. “Listen! I want you to understand why we acted
as we did, Tom. Your drinking and loafing and general cussedness has
darned near wrecked your——”

Once more a smother of water dragged him down. He fought against the
wild impulse to grab the buoy, but he struggled up to find Tom’s hand
on his arm.

“Git aboard here——”

“Quit!” snarled Clem, flinging back and breaking the other’s hold. He
gazed at Tom with desperate, convulsed features. He knew he could not
last long. His strength was going fast. “We can’t, both hang on there,
you idiot! It—it won’t hold—more’n one—and——”

“Then I’ll drop!” And Tom tried to heave himself up and release the
lashing about his arms. He failed, through very stiffness and weakness.

“No, you won’t—you go back home and—tell ma that—that——” Clem went
under, fought frantically, felt the terrible weakness overpower him.
Then he caught a breath of blessed air again. “So long—cut out—the
booze——”

With a groan, Clem found his strength gone. He seemed to collapse
utterly. He felt the water close over him, choking, strangling,
smothering—and then he knew nothing more.

A moment afterward the _Sadie_ poked her nose out of the fog, almost
above Tom.



VI.


“Golly! I thought I was gone——”

Clem opened his eyes and stared.

He found himself in the cabin of the _Sadie_. Above him was standing Ed
Davis; and Clem, feeling himself almost naked, knew that his chum had
been working over him.

“You were blamed near gone!” exclaimed Ed anxiously. “I got the water
out of you, though. How do you feel?”

“Tired. Where’s Tom?”

“Up above. He’s all right—kind o’ went to pieces when I got you aboard.”

Ed heaped blankets about Clem. Then he continued swiftly:

“I got some coffee on the fire now. Say! Do you know what that cuss
done?”

“Who—Tom?”

“Yep! I found him hangin’ on to your collar—both o’ you danged near
drowned, by thunder! He made me haul you up first, too! Say, what
happened? I ain’t understood yet how you come overboard——”

“Get the coffee,” muttered Clem, closing his eyes. “Talk later.”

With a mutter of self-accusation, Ed rushed away.

Clem lay in a coma of exhaustion. He felt a gradual warmth steal
through him, and realized that he was safe enough; but he was too weary
to move. A moment later he caught a step at his side, and opened his
eyes, thinking that Ed had returned.

Instead, however, he saw Tom Saunders. The big fellow, staring at Clem
with wild eyes, lowered himself to the edge of the bunk. He was white
and shaken. As he met the gaze of Clem he broke down, and lowered his
face in his arms, sobbing unrestrainedly.

Clem wondered, but was too weak to speak for the moment. At length Tom
lifted his head.

“Thank Heaven, you’re safe!” he mumbled. “Say, Clem. I——”

“Thanks, old man,” broke in Clem, putting out a hand. “Ed told me how
you held me up—it was fine work——”

“Oh, shut your blamed mouth!” growled Tom, sitting up. “I got somethin’
to say—you shut up till I get through!”

Clem watched him, waiting in puzzled silence.

“You know what you said when—when you was goin’ down?” blurted out Tom.
“About ma and dad—and what you——”

“I know,” said Clem. “Well?”

Tom’s white face flushed slightly.

“Clem, it’s darned hard to explain—but just then, when you went down,
an’ I seen how you was givin’ up so’s I could go back—it kind o’
made me realize that you’d meant every darned word o’ what you said.
I hadn’t thought of it that way before—but it came to me all of a
heap—well, I can’t say any more, Clem—only I want to tell you that I’ve
been a darned fool, and——”

“Say, you two guys better drink this coffee in a hurry,” broke in the
voice of Ed Davis, who had paused for a moment behind Tom, listening.

He came forward with two steaming cups of coffee, handed one to Tom,
and helped Clem to put down the hot fluid in the other. With a sigh of
increasing comfort, Clem fell back in the bunk and smiled faintly, his
hand touching that of Tom.

“Ed,” he said, “head the old hooker for Pedro, full speed! When we get
in to-night——”

“When we get in to-night,” broke in Ed, with a wide grin, “do you know
what I’m goin’ to do?”

“What?” asked Clem, with a smile.

“I’m goin’ to eat one o’ Ma Saunders’ pies—all by myself.”

“And I’ll be there to help,” said Tom.

In his handgrip and in his eyes there was that which told Clem more
than words could say. Tom Saunders was headed home.



ENTOMBED MINERS RESCUED


THE nine miners who had been entombed for a week in the Foster Tunnel
of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company, at Coaldale, Pennsylvania,
were taken out alive. Though the men had crouched in water most of the
time, and had subsisted partly on wax, they were able to walk to the
ambulance.

Eleven miners were entombed when water and culm broke into the tunnel.
Two who were nearer the mouth of the tunnel were saved after a few
hours. Gangs, working in relays of four hours, dug through the fallen
coal and rock in order to make an opening through which the other nine
could be rescued.



The Shock

By Grant Trask Reeves


WHEN “Rube” Reynolds crawled out of bed and began to dress, it was near
to noontime. Within his head, to all feeling, a gigantic, throbbing
trip hammer was seemingly striving to pound its way through his skull
with regular, painful thumps. His lips felt parched and drawn, and
a sickish, bitter taste stayed upon his tongue, as if his mouth was
crammed with coarse, moldy earth, and by no means of futile gulping
could he swallow the stuff.

Out of the confused muddle of his brain flashed a thought of morning
practice.

“Guess’ll have to skip breakfast to get out to the field on time,” he
thought.

But a glance at his watch, lying upon the bureau, made him aware that
haste was useless; for probably at that moment his fellow members of
the Sox were leaving the ball park for their homes and boarding places.
Again he had missed a morning session on the home grounds of the Sox,
and he sullenly wondered what Manager Kineally would say.

Slowly he continued to don his clothes. At times the bed, the chairs,
and other articles of furniture seemed to be dancing and whirling
weirdly about the room; and when he leaned forward to lace his shoes,
his throbbing head pained as though it would burst.

Moving to the bureau he pulled out a lower drawer and brought forth a
bottle partially filled with a brownish liquid. To his lips he tipped
it, and for several seconds his Adam’s apple bobbed convulsively to a
gurgling accompaniment.

Barely at the halfway mark, between twenty and thirty years, Reynolds
had already reached the stage where a morning drink seemed a necessity.
He lowered the bottle, its contents emptied by half, to the bureau top;
and an artificial sense of buoyancy pervaded his being. The throbbing
pain in his head was deadened to a dull ache, and the burning flavor of
the liquor upon his tongue had washed away the moldy taste.

He dully pondered as to what had taken place on the previous evening,
but his remembrances of events occurring after eleven o’clock or
thereabouts on the night before were decidedly limited. Some one had
escorted him to the front door of his lodging house; he had dizzily
ascended the stairs and managed to open the door of his room—that was
all he could recall.

A gentle tapping on the door broke in upon his thoughts.

“What is it?” he grunted.

“Mr. Kineally wishes to see you,” was the reply. The voice belonged to
his landlady.

Reynolds hesitated momentarily. He was tempted to have the landlady say
that he was not at home. But what was the use! Kineally would “bawl him
out” later; so why not have it over with!

“All right! Send him up!” Reynolds answered.

He had hardly time to whisk the bottle from the bureau to its place in
the drawer when an imperative rapping threatened the door panel.

“Come in!” he called.

As the door swung inward a big, brawny form filled the doorway, almost
from casing to casing. The square-jawed visage of Owen Kineally, with
its twinkling eyes and smiling lips, had appeared on sporting pages the
country over; but now the smile was missing. His eyebrows were puckered
forward, as Reynolds had sometimes seen them when Kineally took a
parting shot at a nearsighted, obstinate umpire.

The big manager remained standing, his gaze upon the ball player.

“G’ morning!” Reynolds greeted, as he continued the knotting of his
scarf.

“Good _afternoon_!” retorted the manager. And he added: “You’re fined
fifty dollars.”

Reynolds whirled about.

“What for?” he demanded, his voice raised to nearly a shout.

“For not showing up at morning practice, and for drunkenness last
night. You’re half drunk now.”

“You’re a——” Reynolds hesitated to speak the word.

His lips were curled back in an ugly snarl, and he glared rebelliously
into the steady, piercing eyes of the manager. Silently they faced each
other—Reynolds, the tiger; Kineally, the lion. Both were equally tall,
though the manager was stockier than his black-eyed, dark-complexioned
pitcher. Kineally removed his panama and combed his fingers through his
reddish-brown hair.

“Your face is as flushed as if you had a fever,” he said. “Your eyes
are bloodshot, and late hours have smooched half-moons of charcoal
under them, so’s any one could tell that you are traveling straight
plumb to the dogs!”

Reynolds muttered inarticulately.

“Yes, that’s where you’re bound!” continued the manager. “I’m not old
enough to be your father, but I’ve been kicking around in this world
for some fifteen or sixteen years longer than you have, and I’ve had
plenty of chance to learn that a pitcher, or any other ball player,
can’t work as battery mate with Old Demon Booze and last long in the
diamond game.

“You were the best pitcher on my staff last year, and you twirled your
team into a championship; but now you’re a-hitting the toboggan just as
fast as any one can. When you are sober and in good physical condition
there isn’t a better man ever toed the slab than you are; and that’s
why I haven’t traded you during the past month. I hoped you’d wake
up and cut out the booze and the gang of high-living sports you are
traveling with; but if you don’t get your eyes open and quit drinking
before we start on the Western trip, I’ll try to make a deal with some
other club, and trade you before the other managers get wise to the
fact that you are drinking yourself out of the game.”

Reynolds mumbled something.

“What?” Kineally asked.

“I guess some o’ those other managers’d be glad to get me,” Reynolds
repeated.

“Yes, until they found that you were a souse,” Kineally added; “and
then they’d shunt you back to the minors in double-quick. You’d
probably last a year or two in the bushes, and then some little
one-horse minor-league outfit would give you your unconditional
release; and you’d be a has-been, while you were yet a kid. Some
future, eh?”

Reynolds slouched against the bureau, his hands deep in his pockets. A
sullen, defiant expression distorted his features.

Kineally wiped a handkerchief across his forehead.

“I’ll be hanged if I know why I’ve stood for your drinking and
violation of training rules as long as I have!” he exclaimed. “I reckon
it’s because I remember what a likable, clean young duffer you were
when I first bought you from that little bush league up-country.”

As he paused, the manager happened to glance past the ball player at a
picture standing on the bureau. It was the photograph of a girl, in her
early twenties; and the face—the expression of the eyes—the mouth and
chin—portrayed that rare combination of beauty of character as well as
of feature.

The manager pointed toward the picture.

“To ask a personal question, Rube,” he began; “is she your sister?”

Following the direction of Kineally’s extended finger, Reynolds shook
his head.

Kineally’s eyes gleamed his satisfaction. Another avenue of appeal was
open!

“Then she must be your sweetheart, for I know that you’re not married,”
he stated; and he added earnestly: “I suppose you hope to be married
some day?”

Reynolds failed to reply. His liquor-inflamed brain was busy mobilizing
the little devils of rage and rebellion. What right had Kineally to
catechize him, he angrily pondered. Who gave the manager a license to
butt into his private life?

“Why don’t you quit the booze and go straight, for her sake if not your
own?” the manager inquired, after an interval. “You can hardly expect
a decent girl, like the original of that picture must be, to marry a
drunken sot, such as continuing your present pace will make you.”

Drunken sot! No decent girl would marry him! Even through his
liquor-soaked brain, Reynolds realized that the words rang true; but
their very truth was like the red rag fluttered before the bull.

“You’re a liar!” he rasped. And he sprang toward the manager, one
fist lunging forward as he leaped. Though heavily built, Kineally
was quick on his feet. Swiftly he side-stepped and parried the blow.
Reynolds whirled about and rushed a second time. Again and again his
fists struck out, and Kineally took blow after blow on his hands and
arms, turning them all aside. Obsessed by his whisky-stimulated wrath,
Reynolds forgot all his knowledge of boxing. His one thought was to
beat down the big man before him, who so steadily blocked the punches,
and kept forcing him backward without striking a blow.

Back, step by step, they went, until Reynolds stumbled. Instantly the
manager closed in, grasping the pitcher’s wrists and endeavoring to
force him down into a chair. Back and forth they struggled, reeling
about the room, until, with a crash, they brought up against the
bureau. With a sudden twist, Reynolds wrenched one hand free from the
manager’s viselike grip. The pitcher reached behind him and groped over
the bureau top; and an instant afterward something flashed through the
air, thudding dully against the manager’s head.

Reynolds heard a gasp, and the fingers about his wrist relaxed. The
manager’s knees buckled forward, and he crumpled backward on the rug—a
motionless heap.

Breathing heavily, Reynolds stood above the inert form, a heavy brass
ash tray still grasped in his fist. Particles of blood dotted its edge.
For a moment, brute satisfaction was reflected from his face. Then his
expression changed to that of alarm. Why did Kineally lie so still?
Why was the fallen man’s face so pale? Dropping to his knees, Reynolds
pressed a hand against the manager’s shirt front. The pitcher’s hand
was trembling, and his own heart pounding furiously, as he fumbled
anxiously about on the manager’s breast. He could feel no action,
and a crimson stain, like red ink on a sheet of blotting paper, was
spreading, with ragged circumference, upon the manager’s hair.

The pitcher grasped the manager’s shoulders and shook the deathlike
form.

“Kineally! Kineally! Owen Kineally!” he cried.

He jumped to his feet and seized the water pitcher, pouring all of the
stale fluid it contained over the manager’s face; but the eyes remained
closed; the form still.

Slowly Reynolds backed away from the prostrate man.

“Heavens!” he whispered. “He—he’s dead! I’m a murderer!”

And with the words came another thought. He had killed Kineally! They
would arrest him! Into his vision flashed the picture of a chair
with straps on its arms, legs, and back, and a few solemn spectators
gathered about. No, they mustn’t catch him! He must get away!

Moving hurriedly about, and ever averting his gaze from the form on
the floor, he donned a few garments for street wear. Ready to leave,
he spied the picture upon the bureau. He snatched it up and turned it
over. Penned on its back in a feminine hand was: “From Dora to Bob.”

Hastily tucking it into his inside pocket, he opened the door and
stepped into the hall. His nerveless fingers swung the door shut, and
he trod softly down the stairs.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the evening train coughed into Farmhill station, Reynolds, clad
in a dark suit, and with his cloth hat pulled far down over his eyes,
swung off on the side farthest from the station, and making a detour
to avoid the well-lighted section of the town, he struck out into the
country.

Once during his flight, while changing trains at a junction, he had
heard one diminutive newsboy mention the name “Reynolds” to another
grimy-faced little urchin, and Rube had stolen a sidelong glance at the
bunch of papers folded beneath the boy’s arm. The paper, being folded
in the middle, prevented him from reading the whole of the big black
headline, but on the side of the sheet near to him he spelled out:
“M-U-R-D——”

As he tramped along in the soft dust of the country road, with the
frogs and insects peeping and shrilling strange noises out of the dusk
of the night, his thoughts rose in rebellion. It wasn’t murder! Murder
was something fearful—something repulsive, and he hadn’t intended to—to
kill Kineally. He had struck in self-defense! He strove to convince
himself that such had been the case, but every frog—every insect kept
shrilling: “Murder—murder—it was murder!”

Not until he reached the Whately farm did he realize that it would be
impossible for him to see Dora that night. The chimes of a church in a
distant town were sounding the curfew hour, when he paused by the stone
wall encircling that part of the Whately farm. Why he had returned to
Farmhill, he did not know. Something had seemed to draw him to that
little town in the valley; and he wanted to see Dora just once more
before disappearing to some far corner of the world, where no one would
know him, where no one could find him.

For a moment he thought of boldly entering the house, but he quickly
dismissed the idea. They must have read the papers and knew of his
crime. Noel Whately and his wife had always liked young Bob Reynolds;
and Dora—he knew that Dora’s regard was more than friendship for him,
but he hesitated to thrust himself, branded as a criminal, into that
family circle.

He easily vaulted the stone wall and moved around the house to the
barn. As he picked his way across the barn-yard, another thought came
to him. What folly his return to Farmhill was! It would only make more
painful the breaking of the ties!

“I mustn’t see her!” he whispered to himself.

But no train left the town until early morning, so he resolved to stay
in the barn until nearly daylight, and then return to the station.

As he neared the barn, a prolonged sniff caused him to start and crouch
near to the ground. Then he remembered. It was Wolf, the dog—the
companion, who had accompanied Dora and him on their tramps across the
fields, and on their fishing trips to the lake.

“Wolf!” he called softly.

The big collie came bounding through the darkness.

“Still, Wolf! Be still, boy!” he commanded.

To his relief, the dog recognized him and refrained from barking. Two
paws pressed against his knee, and the animal whined joyously.

“Go back, Wolf!” he ordered, as he patted and fondled the collie.

Reluctantly, the dog turned toward his kennel, and Reynolds slid
open the door of the barn. A restless horse tramped in his stall and
a frightened rat scuttled across the floor, as he felt about in the
darkness and found the ladder leading upward. Nimbly he ascended to the
loft, and, creeping far over to the wall, he stretched himself upon the
odorous hay.

He closed his eyes, but sleep would not come. He faintly heard
the clock in the farmhouse striking the hour. After an age of
sleeplessness, it tinkled again. The smell of the sun-dried grass
brought remembrances of his boyhood, and he thought of the plans
he and Dora had made for the future. Then he remembered the “good
fellows” of the city, with their invitations to “have another,” and
their shallow praise. He groaned in despair. He had severed himself
from all of the real joys of life, and now he was but a hunted thing—to
prowl forever from place to place, in his efforts to escape the
relentless hand of the law.

As he lay there, an almost uncontrollable desire to scratch a match,
that he might relieve the awful blackness, possessed him.

“I can’t,” he reflected. “It might set fire to the place.”

Suddenly he sat up, gasping, with a whistling intaking of breath.
What had he heard! Again they came! The faint strains of music were
permeating the loft, as if some stringed instrument was being played
close by. He dug his fingers into his ears, hoping that the sounds
might be the product of his imagination. But no! As he removed his
fingers, they continued; a strange, weird tune, unlike anything he had
ever heard before.

Again he jammed his fingers into his ears to shut out the sounds. Had
his crime driven him mad? Was he haunted, he wondered fearfully. With
unsteady, trembling legs, he made his way to the ladder and lowered
himself downward. He crouched in an unoccupied stall and waited. A rat
squeaked beside him, but he failed to move. He was listening for that
fearsome music; and whenever he closed his eyes, the white face of
Kineally would spring before his vision.

Of what avail was his freedom if this continued, he thought. Ideas of
giving himself up entered his mind; but he remembered the high-backed
chair with its straps and its horrible death-dealing wires. What a
death! No! He couldn’t surrender himself! But still, if he was to be
forever haunted, why, maybe it would be better. Maybe it——

With a start, Reynolds awoke—not from sound sleep, but from one of the
fitful dozes, into which he had lapsed just before the gray light of
morning began to lighten the barn. With an ejaculation of self-rebuke,
he sprang up and stood, blinking, in the shaft of sunlight which blazed
through a cobwebby, dusty window. He, who had intended to depart
before sunrise, had overslept. He could hear persons moving about in
the farmhouse, as well as the occasional rattling of crockery and the
sputter of grease in a frying pan.

Then footsteps sounded outside of the barn, and before he could
turn—could dart to cover—the door slid back, and a girl stood before
him. Her face, crowned by a wavy mass of fine-spun, fair hair, was
the flesh-and-blood likeness of that portrayed by the picture he
carried in his pocket. She wore neither hat nor bonnet, and a dotted
bungalow apron covered her from shoulders to ankles. She stared in
amazement, her brows puckering as she noted the rumpled condition of
his clothing—his drawn features and his bloodshot eyes.

“Why, Bob!” she exclaimed perplexedly. “What—why—how——”

As she paused, he moved forward a step, his nails biting into the palms
of his clenched fists. Oh, how he longed to take her in his arms and
tell her the whole miserable story! Little beads of moisture surged
into his eyes; and in a moment she was close to him, resting her hands
on his shoulders.

“Tell me, Bob!” she said anxiously. “Tell me what is the matter. Why
didn’t you come to the house? Why are your clothes all mussed up?”

Choking back his emotions, he hesitatingly placed his hands on her arms.

“D—don’t you know?” he inquired brokenly.

“Know what?” she demanded.

“I—I——” He hesitated to say the words. “Heavens, Dora, you must have
read last night’s paper! Don’t you know that I’m a—a murderer? Oh,
Dora, I’m a murderer!”

Her fingers clinched convulsively through his coat and pinched into his
shoulders.

“I’ve killed a man—the man who was giving me a chance!” he groaned.
“All because of the cursed drink!” And, with his head bowed on her
shoulder, he poured forth the story of his fight with Kineally—of his
trip to Farmhill—and of his night in the barn. Then his arms relaxed
and he gently tried to push her away.

“Don’t touch me, girl!” he told her. “I’m a murderer—not fit to touch!”

Her arms slipped about his neck, and she held him closer.

“I won’t leave you—I won’t!” she cried. “Oh, Bob! don’t you know that I
love you? We’ll go somewhere together.”

“No!” he protested. “Why, Dora, I’m haunted. I lay up there in the loft
last night and heard music—that dreadful, unearthly music; and Kin—his
face kept coming before me out of the darkness. No; I’m going to give
myself up and have it over with.”

With the passion and entreaty of one who loved, she argued, but he
steadily persisted in his resolve. He gently drew her arms from about
his neck. She made one final appeal.

“Wait, Bob!” she pleaded. “Let me go into the house and get last
night’s paper. I’m sure that there wasn’t any—any murder headline on
it.” And she darted from the stable.

Her mother, busy in the kitchen, glanced up in surprise at the flushed
cheeks and excited eyes of the girl.

“What in the world——” she began, but Dora interrupted.

“Where is last night’s paper, mother?” she asked.

“On the sitting-room table, I think,” Mrs. Whately replied.

Dora hurried from the room. The paper was not on the sitting-room
table, and she searched frantically about the room. Finally she found
it, half hidden under a pillow on the lounge, where her father had left
it the evening before. Spreading out the first page, she read:

    MURDOCK TESTIFIES.

    Iron King Goes Before Congressional Committee.

Nowhere on the page was Reynolds’ name mentioned. She hurriedly rustled
over page after page, until at last, on one of the sporting pages, she
discovered a small paragraph commenting on his poor pitching of the day
previous. Paper in hand, she sped back to the barn. Reynolds was not in
sight.

“Bob!” she called softly; but received no answer.

Into the loft she climbed, but he was not there. As she stood on the
hay, she became aware of a peculiar sound. Music! That was what it
resembled, and across her mind flashed the words of Bob. For some
seconds she listened in bewilderment, and then the little wrinkles of
perplexity cleared from her forehead. She climbed higher upon the hay,
until she reached a tiny window, far up near the roof. Over its opening
were stretched several taut elastics—the work of her little brother.
With each gust of breeze they vibrated and twanged, making sounds not
unlike the music of a harp or a zither.

Descending from the loft, she hurried out of the barn. The man whom
she loved must have taken advantage of her absence to hasten away, she
reasoned, that he might carry out his resolve to surrender himself to
the authorities. So down the dusty road she hurried, determined to
overtake him ere he should reach the town.

       *       *       *       *       *

A great gray touring car hummed its way along the country road, a
continuous cloud of dust, like rising smoke, trailing in its wake. A
big, burly man, with tanned features, and whose eyes were obscured by
masking goggles, gripped the wheel; while beside him sat another man,
not so big, but with a bristling black mustache and keen piercing eyes.

“Remember, Mac!” the big man was saying; “if we find him I don’t want
the newspaper men or anybody else to ever hear a word of this. I called
on you for help because you are a friend of mine as well as a police
inspector, trained in the ways of tracing men.”

“Don’t you worry, Owen!” the other replied. “Never a word will get out.
Nine times out of ten a young fellow who has committed a crime, or
thinks he has, will risk a trip to his home or old surroundings. If we
don’t find the boy somewhere about Farmhill, we’ll change our tactics.
He must have landed quite a crack on your skull,” he added.

“He surely did,” the big man agreed. “I was unconscious for a half hour
or more; and I guess your idea, that he imagined he’d finished me, and
was thus frightened into running away, is right.”

The man with the wiry mustache nodded and tightly gripped the side of
the car as they jounced over a particularly high bump in the road.

“But if the experience proves to be the shock necessary to break the
boy away from the drink and that gang he was traveling with,” continued
the big man; “why, I’ll be mighty thankful that he struck the blow.
He’s not only a wonderful pitcher, but I like him. He—look, Mac, look!
So help me, John Rogers! Look ahead, there!”

Appearing around a bend in the roadway, from behind the trees of the
roadside, a solitary figure was tramping toward them.

Stopping the engine and jamming his foot against the brake pedal, the
big man jerked the car to an abrupt stop beside the young fellow, who
had turned out and halted by the edge of the road, waiting for the
automobile to pass.

“Rube!” the big man cried, pushing his goggles up on his forehead and
springing from the car.

The man by the roadside stood as if paralyzed. He stared wildly at the
big man who had leaped from the automobile.

“K—Kineally!” came from between his lips in a throaty whisper.
“Kineally! Owen Kineally!”

He slowly—fearfully extended a hand as if to touch the big manager—to
make sure that he was a reality and not the fantasy of a haunted mind.

The big man quickly reached forth and firmly grasped the hand.

“It’s me, all right, Rube!” he assured, with the flicker of a smile.
“It takes a mighty hard wallop to put a tough old geezer like me down
for good.”

Drawing free his hand, the young fellow dropped upon one knee in
the dusty, sun-scorched grass of the roadside, and burying his face
in his arm, he gave vent to his pent-up emotions, his body shaking
with convulsive, boyish sobs of relief. The bareheaded girl, who had
appeared around the bend of the road and was hurrying toward them, was
unnoticed by Kineally and the inspector.

“I—I’m glad! I’m glad!” the kneeling man choked out. “I’m going to stay
here away from the drink, and so help me, Heaven, I’ll never touch
another drop!”

The big man rested a hand on the young fellow’s shoulder.

“No, I don’t think you will drink any more, boy!” he said. “But,” he
continued, “you are coming back with me, and I’ll make you the greatest
pitcher in the game, and you and _the girl_ can marry and be happy.”

Before the young fellow could reply, the girl was beside them, her
eyes aglow and her bosom rising and falling rapidly as she breathed.
Many a picture of Owen Kineally had smiled at her from among the pages
of newspapers, and she recognized the big man standing over Reynolds.
Unmindful of the others, she dropped to her knees beside the man she
loved, and with her arms about his neck, she murmured: “Oh, but I’m
happy, Bob! I’m so happy!!”



UNIQUE NAMES FOR CREEKS


THAT Iowa is a farming State is reflected in the names of many of the
streams that flow through it.

To begin with, there is a Farm Creek, so that Farmer’s Creek has a
place. Then there is a Chicken Creek, a Duck Creek, a Goose Creek,
and a number of Turkey Creeks, as well as Pigeon Creek. There are
Fox, Hawk, and Rat Creeks to make way with the domestic animals, and
some Crow Creeks, while there is also a Fly Creek and Mosquito Creek
to worry the summer boarders. Milk and Cold Water Creeks are present,
likewise a Hog Run and a Mud Creek, so that Bacon Creek is not strange.

It seems natural that with a Bee Creek and a Bee Branch there should
also be a Honey Creek. There are a couple of Cherry Creeks, a Crabapple
Creek, and plenty of Plum Creeks, and, for wild animals, there are
Bear, Beaver, Buck, Crane, Deer, Doe, Elk, Otter, Panther, Raccoon,
Skunk, and Wolf Creeks.

With a Keg Creek there is a Whisky Creek and a Whisky Rum. Finally,
there is Purgatory Creek.



Cap’n Dan’s Son

BY Bernard Teevan


THE old sailor, Cap’n Dan, sat on the edge of the deck house of the
sloop _Agnes T._, watching the fleet coming in from the day’s work at
“dragraking.” The “handrakers” were already in, the contents of their
baskets emptied into his, and piled up neatly in the hold, their scores
tallied up in the little leather-covered notebook that was Cap’n Dan’s
daybook, ledger, journal, and everything else known to the practice of
accounts.

The handrakers had all brought in a good day’s catch. If the dragrakers
did as well, the _Agnes T._ would have a heavy load to carry to the
city, and the money to meet the note which would soon be due would be
ready when the time came to pay it.

Cap’n Dan cast an eye aloft at the empty bushel basket which had been
hoisted at the masthead to let every one know the _Agnes T._ was ready
to buy clams. Then he looked out toward the mouth of the harbor, where
the first of the fleet of dragrakers was coming in around the point.
In that instant the expression of his face altered, and his troubled
glance changed to one of pride and pleasure.

The cut of the head of the mainsail told him that, as usual, it was the
_Victorine_ that was leading the fleet, outpointing and outfooting the
_Ranger_, _Nautilus_, and the _Dashaway_, to say nothing of the other
sloops less famed for their speed. Parental pride shone clear in his
gray eyes, for was not the _Victorine_ his own boat, and was not his
only son, Young Dan, sailing her?

Young Dan, at twenty-one, had already won the reputation of being the
smartest boatman in Lockport. The way he would carry on sail was,
in the words of the clammers, “a caution.” Me was the light of his
father’s eye, and Cap’n Dan had begun to lean rather heavily on his son.

He was looking forward to the time when Dan’s already keen business
ability would be sufficiently recognized to have the dealers up in the
market place the same reliance on his word as they had for so many
years placed on the father’s. Then he could step aside and take a rest,
that rest so many men look forward to before the great rest comes.

When Young Dan caught sight of his father he arose from his seat on
the wheel box and swung his arm in salutation. Then he gave the wheel
a couple of turns, shot the _Victorine_ up in the wind, and laid her
alongside the _Agnes T._ as if the sloop were a fast horse, that a
skillful driver had stopped at a carriage block.

“What luck, Dannie?” called his father. “I see you wasn’t the last one
in.”

“Had a bully day, dad. Struck a fresh bed off West P’int, and got a
jim-dandy load. Goin’ to send any to market to-night?” Then, casting
back to his father’s allusion to his beating the other boats, he added
dryly: “Oh, yes, there’s some go in the old _Victorine_ yet. Them
fellers make me tired with their talk about beatin’ her.”

“Just as soon as we c’n git the _Agnes T._ loaded, Dan, I want you to
start for the market. Dolan telegraphed me to-day they wanted all I
could send ’em, and as soon as I could get ’em off.”

As the boy had stepped aboard the sloop by this time, the captain
added, in a whisper: “You know that Voorhees note falls due day after
to-morrow, and I need the money to meet it.”

Dan nodded his head, and some of the gravity that had settled down
again on his father’s face was reflected on his own. Then he started in
on the heavy task of transferring his day’s catch from the deck of the
_Victorine_ to the hold of the market boat.

While he and the three men who made up the working crew were hard at
this, the remaining boats of the fleet were coming up, one by one, and
ranging themselves on either side of the market boat. With jibs hauled
down, and mainsails slatting in the breeze, they all lay head to the
wind, while their crews passed basket after basket down into the hold
of the _Agnes T._, to the accompaniment of loud interchanges of talk
and chaff.

Before the sun had vanished in the west, the loading was accomplished,
the sloops had pushed off, one by one, and worked away to their
anchorages for the night, and Young Dan and Jim Humphreys, who
comprised his crew, had hoisted the mainsail on the _Agnes T._

His father hauled his skiff alongside as Young Dan and Humphreys went
forward to get in the anchor, and, as the pawls clinked against the
ratchets, with that sound which is so musical to a seaman’s ears, Cap’n
Dan picked up the oars and started to pull toward the shore.

“Be careful, Dannie,” he called across the water. It was the usual
warning and farewell. “Don’t carry that tops’l after dark. It begins to
look squally off to wind’ard.”

“All right, father!” yelled Young Dan, as the anchor broke from the
ground and he ran aft to the wheel. “We’ve got to get these clams to
market, you know.”

He spun the wheel over as Humphreys hoisted the jib, and the sloop
filled away, with her bowsprit pointing out toward the mouth of the
harbor.

By the time the _Agnes T._ had cleared the point, Young Dan found that
the wind had freshened considerably, and was now coming out of the
northwest in such vigorous puffs that carrying the topsail was out of
the question. Humphreys suggested turning in a reef, but Young Dan said
he guessed that wasn’t necessary just yet. He asked Jim to take the
wheel while he went below to put on his coat. When he had taken his
place again, Humphreys dropped down into the cabin, lit the fire, and
put the kettle on for tea.

Young Dan ate his evening meal as he sat at the wheel, and before it
was finished the increasing force of the wind made steering with one
hand and holding his teacup in the other a rather difficult business.
When it was finished, and Humphreys had cleared away the dishes, he
came up on deck and settled down in the lee of the deck house, with his
coat collar turned up around his ears.

“Gee, Dannie, but it’s blowin’!” he commented. “And ain’t she
a-travelin’, though? Do you want me to get out the lights?”

“Oh, never mind ’em,” replied Young Dan, with the sailor’s too common
disregard of the use of side lights. “We can light ’em up when we get
around the fort. Come and take the wheel, will you, Jim? I want to fix
that jib. She’s slattin’ round there, and ain’t half drawin’.”

Jim uncoiled himself from his corner, in the lee of the house, and took
the wheel as Young Dan went forward. They were off Coffin’s Beach by
this time, and Jim could see the summer hotels lifting their huge bulks
up against the dark-blue sky, studded with stars that twinkled with
unusual brilliancy in the frosty night air.

As the sloop was running dead before the wind, the mainsail was doing
all the work, and the jib was slatting to and fro, and not doing what
the young skipper thought it should. That was how his passion for
carrying sail showed itself, and that was the cause of the tragedy that
followed.

Picking up the long oar lying along the rail, he took a turn of the
sheet around it at the clew of the jib, and boomed the sail out to
port, where it caught the full strength of the wind. As it bellied out,
causing the sloop to fairly jump through the water, Young Dan watched
it for a moment, and then called out to his companion:

“How’s that, Tim? Ain’t she a-pullin’?”

Before Humphreys could make a reply, he heard a crash, and the wheel
was jerked out of his hands.

To his horror, he saw the mast break off just under the hounds. With
the topmast and all the gear, it fell to the deck, striking Young Dan,
and burying him beneath the wreckage.

The shock of the accident stunned Humphreys for a moment. Then he
jumped forward along the tossing deck to drag his companion’s body out
from under the splintered spars, sails, and rigging.

The jib was lying in a tangled heap, and the mainsail was hanging broad
off to leeward, dipping down into the seas as the sloop rolled, and
coming up with a jerk, as if it meant to pluck the cleats and blocks
and traveler clear from their fastenings.

Humphreys caught hold of Young Dan’s feet, and, gently as he could,
pulled him out from beneath the piled-up gear. Stricken as he was by
the shock of the catastrophe, terror caught a fresh grip on him as he
saw the boy’s face.

Ashy white, he lay with his eyes closed as if in death. Across his
forehead a great cut ran, with the blood slowly and steadily oozing
out, and down through his hair, already matted with the thick stream.

Humphreys sickened at the sight, and tried to turn his head away. For
the moment he was panic-stricken, then he shook himself together, and
half carried, half dragged the body of the boy down into the cabin and
stretched him gently on the blankets in the berth. Then he jumped on
deck again.

For the time one idea possessed him: He must get a doctor for Dannie.
He never thought to let the anchor go, never thought to light a signal
lamp. He wanted to get a doctor at once, and he knew there were two or
three doctors at the quarantine station over by the fort.

Humphreys had lost his head, in the desire to carry out this plan of
action. He tumbled the skiff overboard, shipped the oars, and, hatless,
and without taking time to pull off his coat, he began to row to the
government reservation, where the one thing needed, a doctor, was to be
found.

No one knows how long it took him to pull across the mile of water,
nor how long it was before he rushed, breathless, up to the doctor’s
door. Without even sinking down into the chair the kindly health
officer pushed over to him, he stammered out the story of the tragedy
that had been enacted out in the bay, on the deck of the _Agnes T._

Before Jim had finished his tale, the health officer called to one
of his assistants to ring up the boat and let the captain know they
were going out. Then he busied himself putting some instruments into a
black bag, and, before Jim had completely recovered his wind, he was in
danger of losing it again as he followed the doctor and his assistant
down the path to the landing, where the little white tug, with its
tall, yellow stack, was moored.

As they went along, the health officer asked Humphreys for the address
of the injured boy’s father.

“We’ll send him a telegram,” he said. “Then he’ll probably come out to
look for the sloop, too. You say she had no lights burning? Hum! That
makes it so much harder to find her.”

They stopped at the office of the press association, down at the pier,
and the operator sent the message to Lockport, following it with a
brief story of the accident to the main office up in the city. Then
they stepped aboard the tug, the lines were cast off, and the search
for the _Agnes T._ began.

What that night was to Humphreys, and to Cap’n Dan, who, on receipt of
the telegram, had hired the only tug in Lockport and started out to
find his son, only they could tell. Calculating on the direction of the
wind, and the set of the tides, the two tugs cruised about until the
day began to break along the eastern horizon.

Working gradually to the eastward, backward and forward on long
stretches, the tugs gradually, as if by a common instinct, drew
together. By the time the dawn had broken, and Humphrey could make out
the other tug, he told the health officer she was from Lockport, and
that probably Cap’n Dan was aboard her.

He stepped outside the pilot house, with a pair of binoculars in his
hand, and, as he did so, he noticed a man do the same thing on the
other boat.

Putting the glasses to his eyes, a glance told him that it was Young
Dan’s father. Humphreys swung his arm over his head, and then saw the
captain turn and speak to the man in the pilot house. A moment later,
just as the tug headed for the health officer’s boat, the captain of
the latter, who had been scanning the horizon, gave a start, and cried
out: “There she is!” Pointing off to the eastward, he twirled the
spokes over, gave a pull on the jingle bell, and whistled down the tube
to the engineer to “give her all the steam she could carry.”

The eyes of every one on the two boats turned in the direction in which
the quarantine tug was headed, and then the sound of the jingle bell on
the Lockport boat came across the water.

Head and head, they raced to the eastward, smoke pouring from their
funnels, and a broad wave of foaming water piled up before their bows.
The light was now strong enough for them to make out the _Agnes T._,
aground on the long, sandy beach at the eastern end of the harbor.

As she lay with her bow buried in the sand, and listed over by the
weight of the outswung boom and the wreck of the topmast, the sloop
made a tragic picture in itself. The cold, gray light of the dawn
fell down and around the _Agnes T._, making her stand out against the
steel-blue water and the pale sand hills, looming large against this
background until her proportions seemed gigantic.

The mainsail hung idly down from the gaff, that had been held just
below the break in the mast by the jamming of the hoops. The main sheet
trailed overboard in long, tangled loops, the shrouds and halyards
drooped in picturesque confusion. Jib and mainsail were gray with the
night dew and the reflected light.

The little waves rolled up and broke along her sides and spent their
tiny force upon the beach. So they were doing yesterday, when Young Dan
was living; so they were doing to-day, when the boy was lying stretched
out in the berth, a ghastly, solitary tenant.

As the two tugs came nearer and nearer to her, the Lockport boat
gradually drew ahead of the health officer’s tug. They could see Cap’n
Dan go aft with one of his best men and stand by the painter of the
skiff that was towing astern. Humphrey noticed a couple of men standing
on the beach, near the wrecked sloop, and through the glasses he made
them out to be patrols from the life-saving station.

He could also see a big power boat coming down from the village that
lay inside the point, still farther to the eastward, and he wondered
if her business lay with the _Agnes T._ The leading tug slowed down as
she reached a point in the channel, off the wreck. Cap’n Dan and the
man near him dropped over into the skiff and pulled like madmen for the
sloop.

Just as they came alongside of her, the power boat swung up by the
wreck, and a man standing up in the bow called to the captain:

“Keep off that boat! There’s a dead man aboard of her, and I’m the
coroner. I warn you——” His words trailed off into silence as he caught
sight of Cap’n Dan’s face.

Even the crass spirit of a jack-in-office could not resist the mute
protest he saw in every line of it. Stern, rigid, a very mask of
immobility, given a dignity that made it noble by its grief and
suffering, the father’s face awed everything into silence.

Moving as in a trance, Cap’n Dan climbed over the rail of the sloop and
stepped down into the cabin.

As he disappeared from sight, the spell of silence laid on the coroner
was broken, and he began to mutter protests against “violations of the
law,” and declaring “he’d stop this thing right now, before it went any
further.”

Presently Cap’n Dan emerged from the cabin, carrying the limp body of
his son in his arms. As he stepped into the cockpit, the coroner’s
voice was hushed.

The father straightened himself up with a dignity that made the
movement noble, and faced the official with eyes that looked across the
boy’s body.

Between the time he had gone down into the cabin and came out of it,
twenty years seemed to have been added to his age. In his grief,
he looked like some old chieftain who had given up the life of his
favorite son in his country’s cause, and was now bearing the body home
to his castle to mourn over it.

A little shadow of deeper pain passed across his face as he looked at
the intruder on his woe, and then he said simply:

“He is my son.”

At the sound of his voice, and the look in his face, the coroner
recoiled from the captain as if he had been struck. The man in the
skiff uncovered his head. He thought Young Dan was dead.

The captain, still holding the boy in his arms, stepped down into the
skiff and held him close to his breast as the man at the oars pulled
slowly toward the tug. By this time the health officer’s boat had come
up to the skiff, and the doctor, leaning over the rail, said quietly:
“Let me see him, captain.”

Cap’n Dan looked up at the doctor.

“He’s dead,” he said, almost in a whisper.

“Won’t you let us see him? There may be a chance,” the doctor pleaded.

Then Cap’n Dan held his son out to the two doctors, who laid him down
on a blanket on the deck.

There was a moment of silence as the two worked over the body; then,
with an exclamation of satisfaction, one of the doctors sprang to his
feet.

“I thought so!” he cried. “I thought he was still breathing! He’s badly
hurt, but the poor lad is not dead!”

Cap’n Dan stood as if turned to stone. A great tear rolled down his
face, but he said nothing. He watched with indescribable pathos as
the surgeons brought their skill into play, and finally, when Young
Dan began to babble an incoherent string of words, he drew one
weather-beaten hand across his eyes, as if in a daze.

A while later, Young Dan sighed and looked into his father’s face.

“Was I in time, dad?” he whispered softly.

Cap’n Dan smiled down at him, and lied so bravely that the recording
angel must have stopped to mend his pen just then, and forgot to mark
it down against him.

“Plenty, Dannie, plenty,” he replied.

And then he leaned still farther down and kissed him.



ODD BITS OF NEWS


JAMES CARROL, of Tacoma, Washington, drove a motor car weighing one and
one-half tons down a wooden staircase of seven hundred steps.

       *       *       *       *       *

Truman C. Allen, of Oquawka, Illinois, has not taken a drink of water
in forty years. His sole drinks are coffee at breakfast and tea at
supper.

       *       *       *       *       *

Conrad Dubosiki, a twenty-one-year-old Russian giant, who is working
on the farm of J. Polokof, in Lebanon, Connecticut, is seven feet two
inches tall.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Joseph Cummings, of Bernardston, Massachusetts, has a thoughtful
hen which has laid an egg with a “C,” which is taken to stand for
Cummings, plainly marked on one end.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. A. A. Morse, of Lewiston, Maine, brought from Durham a specimen
of a tree resembling hemlock, which bears red berries the size of
huckleberries. Botanists of the neighborhood are at a loss as to the
name of the tree.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alderman Henry A. Lewis, of Bridgeport. Connecticut, is said to own a
cat which is part Angora and the rest just plain cat, and which is so
strictly vegetarian that it refuses to eat meat or any delicacy covered
with meat gravy, but relishes corn on the cob, turnips, cold potatoes,
and watermelon rinds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Charles H. Heeps, of Oxford, Massachusetts, one Thursday evening
recently bought an acre of land; Friday morning he bought some lumber,
and had it on the ground at eight o’clock, and with the help of his
wife, who held the uprights, he finished a two-room house, fifteen feet
by twenty, and moved his furniture into the building by Saturday night.

       *       *       *       *       *

W. A. Rauls, judge of the probate court of Jasper County, South
Carolina, has lived successively in three counties without ever having
moved out of his house. At first the house was in Beaufort County; then
Hampton County was formed, and the judge’s house was included; and
finally Jasper County was created, and the house was in this area.



Applause

_Edited by Burt L. Standish_


“YOU want me to be a crook?”

Grant Seward’s jaw squared, as he shot this from between his set teeth,
and there was a dangerous flash in his dark eyes.

“I wouldn’t put it that way, Grant.”

“There isn’t any other way. You don’t call it _straight_—do you?”

This was what Grant Seward replied to his unscrupulous employer, when
the scoundrel wanted him to cheat the customers by filling up the
five-gallon Beaver Spring water bottles with ordinary river water.
There were other frauds suggested by the rascally storekeeper, too,
which Grant spurned.

The upshot of it is that Grant Seward finds himself in the business of
cutting ice on the St. Lawrence River, among the Thousand Islands, with
the thermometer near the bottom of the tube, and winds that threaten to
saw his ears off, even through his thick cap.

Besides battling with the ice and an arctic temperature, rather than be
a party to the groceryman’s mean trickery, Grant has to fight several
human enemies, who have a habit of “hitting below the belt.” You will
read all this and much more in the new novelette,


A BATTLE BELOW ZERO,

BY WELDON W. BRODERICK

to be published in the next issue. The story is full of thrilling
adventures, with some novel and narrow escapes for this thoroughly
American hero. He strikes all his own blows fairly and squarely, giving
the other fellow always a fair show—often when he hardly deserves it. I
can promise the novelette to be one of the breeziest, most convincing,
and absorbing that has ever come from this author’s facile pen.

There have been many calls from readers for more stories from Cornelius
Shea. In a recent issue, you were promised that this call would be
answered. It has been, for Shea has just completed a serial which he
has entitled


THE LOST PLACER

and it carries an appeal to every reader of fiction who has a drop of
red blood in his veins. The first chapters of this serial begin in
the next issue, and depict Western life in a manner that has made
Shea famous as a writer of stories dealing with stirring doings on the
borderland.

In the opinion of many, Leslie W. Quirk is the best writer of sport
stories in this country. Certainly it is true that he is an authority
on all sports, and you feel when you read his description of a contest
of any kind that the author knows what he is writing about, that he has
been right down there himself, and has not just sat up in the grand
stand, or read about it the next day in the morning paper. Not only
does Quirk know all sports, but he knows how to tell about them in a
most interesting manner. His plot is always a good one, and he draws
his characters so well that they “stick.”


THE YELLOW MORNING-GLORY

which you will find in the next issue, is, in my humble opinion, the
best running story that Quirk has ever written. It is quite a long
story, but, take my word for it, you will wish that he had made it
twice as long.

There is a particularly well-assorted and well-written collection of
short stories in the next issue. Let me hear what you think of my
selection, and which of the stories you like best, and, what is of more
importance, why?

[Illustration]



FROM OUR HONORARY EDITORS


FOR THE EDITOR: I have read TIPTOP for many years,
and, though the name has grown to mean more to me and my whole family
than I can tell, I agree with you in that the name “TIPTOP
SEMI-MONTHLY” is too unwieldy and suggests too much the old
five-cent-weekly form of publication, which is now obsolete. So let us
all cry long live WIDE-AWAKE!

                                                     BARTON HEDGES.
  Buffalo, N. Y.


GLAD IT DID

FOR THE EDITOR: I am greatly pleased with your magazine, and
think it is a fine publication. I have been taking it since its first
issue, and took the weekly for twelve years. Of course, as an old
reader, I prefer the Merriwell stories, and would like a novelette of
that family every other issue. The cover on the November 10th issue was
fine. Have yet to strike a poor issue. “From Hank to Geo” is great!
So are the stories about Clem Frobisher. Can’t we have another animal
story by Harold de Polo? Every lover of nature likes them. Excuse this
long letter, but it had to come. Will close now.

                                                        RALPH SMITH.
  Lawrence, Mass.

[Illustration]



OF INTEREST TO ALL


You readers, gentle and otherwise, certainly were weak on fish, but,
oh you birds! Here are the names of the five readers whose letters
showed the greatest amount of ingenuity in solving the “Concealed
Birds” puzzle in the October 25th issue: Miss Irene Evans, Grassmere,
Washington; J. E. Price, 89 Academy Street, Malone, New York; Frank
Chalfaut, 404 North Marion Street, Bluffton, Indiana; F. Gleason,
5702 Ayala Street, Oakland, California; and F. R. Rudderham, U. S. S.
_Georgia_, Care Postmaster, New York, N. Y.

       *       *       *       *       *

Those who sent in correct answers to the puzzle are:

    A. Stanley Bowles, Geo. Conner, G. S. Tuttle, Frank
    Lonsford, Mrs. H. L. Drake, John Verner, Thos. L.
    Welch, Theodore Blake, Shaw Livermore, G. H. Brunner,
    M. Case, H. English, Gerald Garsch, A. Martin, F. W.
    Kramer, E. E. Crompton, Thos. W. Bond, C. H. Lenze,
    E. Walter, G. E. Missing, J. A. Winkler, G. A. Marsh,
    Chas. E. Drummond, Ross Merrick, H. N. Jennings, Earl
    Seckel, Russel Hardy, Albert Muench, E. G. Smith,
    Forrest Forsyth, John R. Jordon, Myron Bilderbeck, G.
    C. Matheson, Jas. K. Darling, Ivan McCune, R. Hovel,
    Edwin Beggerow, Frank H. Bartz, Murray Weems, Jr., R.
    Ford, Roscoe R. Keeney, F. H. Bice, H. Johnson, J.
    M. Keley, C. E. Shipley, H. Goodwin, E. A. Collins,
    Guy Greeman, Wallace J. Geck, J. W. Covert, Miss Lora
    Clarke, Miss C. E. McComas, Wm. A. Mullen, Lawrence
    Mody, J. T. Thompson, C. L. Harrer, B. Elkin, M.
    Steinberg, J. F. Travers, C. F. Jones, Geo. Pregrin,
    C. J. Butts, Myron A. Jenkins, R. Khugler, Sam Powell,
    C. L. Barton, Neil Parsons, H. Page, Coy Williams, P.
    H. Riel, Clarence H. Clay, O. Deutschmann, J. Burke,
    Clifton Alford, R. Altmeyer, James Mossburger, Harold
    Nelson, Chas. Smith, Anton Paterson, O. W. Slusser,
    C. Kilburn, Mrs. O. D. Rhea, Walter E. Goodwin, Mrs.
    A. J. Nurse, Milond Nellans, E. W. Inyart, Miss Mabel
    Mullikin, Harold Thune, W. Culbert, H. E. Davis, Harold
    Stonehill, N. Woledehoff, G. L. Fowler, R. W. Older,
    Geo. H. Hogan, F. Quantmeyer, H. L. Wickey, Alden
    Bermingham, W. E. Outman, Herbert Reine, C. Noethling,
    J. S. Riddle, H. A. Bridenbecker, Frank Spoon, L. R.
    Cantwell, Chas. Schnell, U. G. Figley, Vernon Beightol,
    Theodore Phillips, Clifford Johnson, C. W. Gillman, D.
    A. Gardner, Rollin W. Cowles, J. F. Howell, S. Melvin,
    J. W. Schroeder, Vernon Headapohl, Otto A. Lohmeyer,
    Jr., Frank Mora, Harold A. MacNain, I. M. King, T.
    M. Poyle, Hy. Bokarny, F. W. Brooks, Paul Malloy,
    Elbert Bedwell, Carl Shoemaker, Frank Branson, S. S.
    Reilley, W. E. Quigley, C. M. Haller, R. W. Lawrence,
    C. Ingwersen, Roger Saldarine, Ray Barriger, Chas.
    Duffy, James McNamara, W. Verschooe, James Shortell,
    S. E. Wood, F. E. Cowley, Jr., Mrs. Carle F. Williams,
    T. Hayes, A. C. Smith, T. F. Chesebrough, Andrew de
    Comsey, E. J. Kohler, E. F. Johnson, R. Anderson, Miss
    Winifred Whitham, C. Murphy, Howard Holiday, Wilmer
    Taylor, Carlo Izzi, Miss Elizabeth Greer, Miss Marion
    Reaves, E. O. Hayden, N. Hatlestad, Phil. Thomas, Carl
    Cohn, John L. Foley, R. C. Vallmore, and Miss Edith
    Whipple.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is the answer to the puzzle, which was entitled “Concealed Birds.”

    1. Robin. 2. Turkey. 3. Magpie. 4. Harpy. 5. Hawk. 6.
    Crane. 7. Crow. 8. Tern. 9. Kite. 10. Chickadee. 11.
    Linnet. 12. Curlew. 13. Loon. 14. Hornbill.

    But don’t get discouraged, for, once again you
    have an opportunity to secure a free subscription to
    WIDE-AWAKE MAGAZINE for a year.

One year’s subscription to WIDE-AWAKE MAGAZINE will be given
to each of the five readers whose letters indicate that the writers
exercised the greatest amount of ingenuity in arriving at the correct
solution of the following puzzle. These letters should not be over one
hundred words in length, and will not be judged from the standards of
penmanship and grammar. The answers must be received by January 24th.

To inform our correspondents as to whether they worked out the puzzle
to a proper conclusion, we will print the names of all those who send
in correct answers.

How are you on sports? What, every one of you has his right hand up!
Well, then, try this:


SPORTS PUZZLE

This sports puzzle consists in guessing the names of certain games, or
sports, as shown in the following example:

The initials of all nouns in the sentence given below, when placed in
their proper order, form the name of a sport. One letter, however, is
omitted. This letter must be supplied.

The _u_ndercurrent washed away the _t_restle, the only _s_afeguard
against the _q_uicksands surrounding the _i_sland.

The initials of all the nouns in the order in which they appear in the
above sentence are U T S Q I. Arranging them in proper sequence, the
result will be: QUITS. Supplying the missing letter, O, the name is
Quoits, a well-known sport.

In like manner, the name of a popular game, or sport, is contained in
each of the following sentences:

1. The farmer had a good output of tomatoes, beats, and lettuce; but
his onions, beside the apples he produced, were the most profitable of
what he sold.

2. Landscapes, lighthouses, armories, and drawings of houses filled the
book, and afforded considerable amusement.

3. The crow circled the edge of a thicket, soaring over the rocks, and
landed on the crest of a little knoll.

4. Life in the summertime, when amusement supplants tedious lessons, is
most enjoyable, with its appeal for bathing and boating.

5. Elks, skunks, otters, lions, and rabbits are some of the animals
whose cages we visited.

6. Each section of the notebook contained entries of special interest
at the time it was exposed.

7. The foul gave the apparent losers the game.

8. The eyes of the listeners stared out of their sockets, as the
lecturer continued his account of the thrilling adventures depicted in
“Bandits’ Trails and Blood.”

9. The song of the canary was carried across the courtyard, to the room
occupied by the old studious ecclesiastic.

10. Quinine is the best remedy for a cold, although it is a widespread
opinion that other things can be used to bring about the same end.



YOUNGEST UNIVERSITY STUDENT


STUDENTS and faculty of the University of Chicago are expecting much of
Benjamin Perk, of Indianapolis, thirteen years and four months old, who
has registered as a freshman. Perk was graduated last spring from the
Indianapolis Manual Training High School, and was awarded a scholarship
at the university. He is enrolled in the junior college of philosophy.

Perk follows in the footsteps of Harold Fishbein, who came from
Indianapolis a year ago at the age of fifteen and has continued his
remarkable record at the university. Perk is the youngest student ever
matriculated at Chicago.



Are You Too Fat?

Reducing Outfit Sent Free


[Illustration]

With permission it will be my pleasure to mail two very important
free gifts to every over-fleshy reader of this publication (male or
female) who writes a postal to me. If you, reader, are putting on fat
or are excessively fleshy at the present time, then you certainly
must have this free outfit, because it includes absolutely everything
necessary to give you an immediate demonstration of what the very
latest and greatest (1915) health and Nature methods are so marvelously
accomplishing for stubborn obesity cases. One of these free gifts is
a neatly bound copy of my world-famed “new-thought” Treatise, telling
in easy language the simple things you can do for yourself, and much
you must NOT do when reducing. No other book is like it—every person
over-weight should study it. The other gift is surely going to please
and surprise you. It is a complete, ready-to-use testing package of my
wonderful reducing materials, the like of which you have never seen
before. They are delightful to use and are meeting with tremendous
favor. Your own doctor could not possibly object to my healthful
preparations. He will tell you it may be positively dangerous to use
old-fashioned methods of starvation, excessive sweating and continuous
strong purging of the bowels with drastic, poisonous cathartics. How
can a weak heart stand this enormous strain? Why take such chances when
my absolutely safe, health-giving method is ready for you and waiting?
There is no delay. It starts at once. I purpose it to put the system in
vigorous health, to vitalize weakened organs and strengthen the heart
by perfectly reducing every pound of superfluous flesh on all parts of
the body, double chins, large stomachs, fat hips, etc. You will never
know until you try it. Remember, just a postal request will bring
all to you absolutely free by return mail, in a plain wrapper. You
can then judge by actual results, and may order more of the reducing
preparations later if you need them.

    =CAUTION! My Method is being widely imitated. None
    genuine unless coming from my laboratory.=

Please write your address plainly.

  =F. T. BROUGH, M. D., 51 Brough Building, 20 East 22nd St., NEW YORK=



_IN THE NEXT ISSUE_

THE OPENING CHAPTERS OF A SERIAL BY

CORNELIUS SHEA

ENTITLED

THE LOST PLACER


For years Cornelius Shea has been one of the most popular authors of
stories of adventure in the West. Mr. Shea wrote a serial for you, “The
Kid From Bar B,” which we published during the early summer months. At
that time you were asked if you wanted more stories by Mr. Shea. We
received a flood of replies in answer to this question, and all of the
letters spoke most highly of Mr. Shea’s work, and requested more of it.

Mr. Shea says that “THE LOST PLACER” is a far better story than “The
Kid From Bar B.” We agree with him. What do you say?

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 25, “familiarty” changed to “familiarity” (told of his familiarity)

Page 58, “McShane” changed to “McShayne” (arranged with McShayne)

Page 79, “Rosmommon” changed to “Roscommon” (you reach Roscommon)

Page 87, “gold” changed to “golf” (golf clubs, boxing)

Page 94, “Venon” changed to “Vernon” (reason for Vernon)

Page 100, “vagabone” changed to “vagabond” (Nonsense, you vagabond!)





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