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Title: Our Base Ball Club - And How it Won the Championship
Author: Brooks, Noah
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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Internet Archive)



OUR BASE BALL CLUB.

[Illustration: "YOUR FATHER, THE JUDGE, SAYS YOU SHOULD COME TO
BREAKFAST RIGHT AWAY, MISS."--Frontispiece.]



 OUR BASE BALL CLUB

 AND

 _HOW IT WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP_


 BY

 NOAH BROOKS

 _Author of "The Fairport Nine," "The Boy Emigrants," etc._


 _WITH AN INTRODUCTION_

 BY

 AL. G. SPALDING

 OF THE CHICAGO BASE BALL CLUB


 New York
 E.P. DUTTON AND COMPANY
 39 West 23d Street
 1884


 Copyright, 1884,
 By E.P. DUTTON & CO.


 _St. Johnland
 Stereotype Foundry,
 Suffolk Co., N.Y._

 _Press of
 J.J. Little & Co.
 10 Astor Place, N.Y._



INTRODUCTION.


When we consider how strong a hold the pastime of base ball playing
has upon our people, it is a little surprising that more frequent use
of the game, as a framework, has not been made by writers of fiction.
There are very few Americans, certainly very few of the younger
generation, who are not only familiar with the nomenclature and rules
of base ball, but are enthusiastic lovers of the sport. Even among the
gentler sex, who may be regarded as spectators only of the game, there
is to be found much sound information and an intelligent acquaintance
with the details of base ball playing; while every hearty and
wholesomely taught boy knows everything worth knowing about the game,
the famous players, the historic contests, and the notable features of
the sport, as practiced in various sections of the republic.

To write an introduction to a story whose slender plot should be
threaded on a base ball match seems to be an almost superfluous
work. But I am glad that Mr. Brooks has undertaken to illustrate
"The National Game" by a story of outdoor life, founded on fact and
incidentally introducing personages which are not wholly creatures
of his imagination. The tale here told very cleverly gives the reader
a glimpse of the ups and downs, the trials and the triumphs of a base
ball club. It is written by one who is thoroughly well informed of
the things concerning which he gives such vivid pictures, and, while
nothing is really needed to popularize the game, I am sure the story
will commend itself to every lover of pure and wholesome literature.

 A.G. SPALDING.



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER I.

 GREAT EXPECTATIONS                                     9

 CHAPTER II.

 "A SCRUB GAME"                                        16

 CHAPTER III.

 AFTER THE BATTLE                                      36

 CHAPTER IV.

 REORGANIZATION BEGINS                                 41

 CHAPTER V.

 NOTES OF PREPARATION                                  51

 CHAPTER VI.

 AN INTERESTING EPISODE                                59

 CHAPTER VII.

 IN THE FIELD                                          69

 CHAPTER VIII.

 A TURN OF THE TIDE                                    86

 CHAPTER IX.

 HOPE AND SUSPENSE                                     93

 CHAPTER X.

 HOW THE GOOD NEWS CAME                               102

 CHAPTER XI.

 IN A NEW FIELD                                       117

 CHAPTER XII.

 AFTER THE VICTORY                                    139

 CHAPTER XIII.

 PRIDE HAS A FALL                                     146

 CHAPTER XIV.

 A STRANGE MESSAGE FROM HOME                          167

 CHAPTER XV.

 MIKE COSTIGAN'S DISCOVERY                            175

 CHAPTER XVI.

 THE CONSPIRACY LAID OPEN                             181

 CHAPTER XVII.

 A FAMOUS VICTORY                                     188



OUR BASE BALL CLUB,

_AND HOW IT WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP_.



CHAPTER I.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS.


Alice Howell was flattening her pretty nose against the window pane as
she looked ruefully out into the misty atmosphere that surrounded her
father's house in North Catalpa. It was eight o'clock in the morning,
and the great base ball match was set for two o'clock, that afternoon.
As soon as she had risen, Alice had run to the window to see what were
the signs of the sky, for Alice was an ardent lover of the American
game, and her heart was set on the great match that was to come off on
the Agricultural Grounds, near Catalpa, that day. The sky was dull and
lowering, and there was little chance that the game would be called.

"Your father, the Judge, says you should come to breakfast right away,
miss," said the little handmaid of the house.

Alice turned from the window with an impatient sigh, saying "Oh dear,
Jessie, do you suppose the Jonesville Nine will come up to play the
Catalpas, this afternoon?"

"'Deed I don't know, miss. I hope so, for Miss Anstress has promised me
that I shall go over to see the game if it is played, and goodness only
knows when I shall get off again to see a base ball match if I don't go
to-day."

"But look at the weather! It's as dark as a pocket, and it looks as if
it might rain at any moment. Oh dear! oh dear! it's too bad, so it is.
And this is to be the last game of the season, and the decisive one,
too." And so, more talking to herself than to the small servant who
trotted behind her, with a sympathetic air, the pretty Miss Alice went
to the breakfast-table where her father waited for her with an aspect
of amused dignity.

"One cannot see across the river for the fog, papa," said the girl,
with a disconsolate tone, as she seated herself. "The fences are
dripping with moisture, and the dam roars just as it always does when
there is a rain-storm coming up. How very provoking!"

"Well, and has my little girl forgotten that it was the day before
yesterday that Farmer Boggs was in here from Sugar Grove and said that
unless they had more rain before the frosts set in, it would be a hard
year for winter wheat? And wasn't it my little girl who said that she
wanted Stone River running full, this fall, in order that she might
enjoy her new club skates when the ice came?"

"But, papa, the crops can wait a day or two for the fall rains, I am
sure, and I should be willing to give up a whole winter's skating if
the Catalpas would only beat the Jonesville Nine--the horrid fellows!
And I am sure they would beat them, if they only played them to-day,
for they are in capital form now."

"Hush! hush! my daughter," said Judge Howell, with a little shudder,
"that is slang that you are using, and I shall have to curtail your
base ball amusement if you are so ready to pick up the jargon of
what they call, I believe, 'The Diamond Field,' for I do not want my
daughter to mingle the slang of the game with her mother's mode of
speech."

The Judge was somewhat prosy and not at all in love with the noble game
which his daughter, in common with all of the girls of Catalpa, and of
the whole Stone River country, for that matter, followed with so much
enthusiasm.

The base ball club of Catalpa was made up of some of the finest young
fellows in the town. Catalpa was situated on both sides of Stone
River, in northern Illinois. It was a busy manufacturing and milling
community, and from its homes had gone many a stalwart young chap to
fight his country's battles in the southwest. The survivors of the
company that went out and came back, decimated as to numbers and not
all sound in body, founded the first base ball club of the region.
The members of the club called themselves "The Catalpas," after their
town. Most of the players lived on the north side of the river, and
were soon dubbed "The North Catalpas" by their rivals who, living on
the other side of the stream, and in the main portion of the town, and
forming another club, arrogated to themselves the title of "Catalpa's
Champions."

Gradually, the membership of the two organizations changed. The old
soldiers retired in favor of their sons and nephews. The club on the
south side of the river was reorganized and an entirely new set of
young men came into it. The name of "The Dean County Nine," was given
to the southside club, and, as it was largely composed of young men
who worked in the flouring mills and the lumber-yards along the river
front, it was famous for the brawn and muscle of its players.

The Catalpa Nine, on the other hand, was made up of students in the
Seminary, young fellows in the law and county offices of the town,
and sons of gentlemen of leisure. There was a chasm as wide as Stone
River fixed between the Dean County Nine and the Catalpa Nine, so far
as social relations were concerned. The Dean County players called the
Catalpas "Aristocrats" and the Catalpas retorted with the epithet of
"Stalwarts" applied to their town rivals. When it is added that the
finest residences were built on the north side of the river dividing
the town, and that the men of more moderate means dwelt on the business
side of the stream, the reason for the imaginary line of separation
betwixt the two ball clubs will be more apparent.

After repeated and not always friendly matches between the rival clubs,
they were drawn together by the appearance of a common enemy. From
the little town of Jonesville, situated eighteen miles down the river,
came the Jonesvillians, as they called themselves, a powerful and
well-trained nine. They had challenged and vanquished the nine of Dry
Plains, the Blue Falls Nine, and their own Home Club, commonly known
through the Stone River region as "The Jonesville Scrubs." Flushed with
victory, the Jonesvillians had challenged and played two games with the
Catalpas, contesting the championship of northern Illinois. It must be
admitted that the record of neither of the two Catalpa clubs was one
of which the people of the town had any right to be proud. Both clubs,
while closely contesting with each other, had been repeatedly beaten by
visitors from the surrounding region. Naturally the sympathies of the
"Stalwarts" was with the "Aristocrats" when an out-of-town club came to
try conclusions. Every true son and daughter of the town of Catalpa was
hotly enlisted for the home nine in any contest that might be fought
out for the championship. It was aggravating that the Jonesville Nine,
most of whom were rough and loud-talking fellows, should conquer the
whole country, from the Wisconsin line to Lasalle, and from Chicago to
the Mississippi River.

That was the reason why Miss Alice Howell, the only daughter and the
spoiled child of the eminent and widowed district Judge, should be
downcast and fidgety when she looked out and saw, on this fateful
morning, that the weather gave signs of being unfit for the decisive
game for the championship. The Jonesville Nine had won the first game.
The Catalpas were victors in the second game. To-day, if all went well,
would give the championship to the Catalpas. The Catalpas had regularly
"whitewashed" the Dean County Nine, in spite of their stalwart
strength. But they had failed to hold their own against many another
club from other portions of the country roundabout. In the first game
for the championship, the Catalpas had beaten the Jonesvillians by a
score of 24 to 13--an overwhelming defeat for the down-river club.
But the Jonesville men had carried off the second game with a score
of 14 to 13, which was a close game, and was lost by the Catalpas,
as their friends all said, by the Catalpas being in bad condition.
Albert Heaton, the catcher, was afflicted with blistered hands and
could do very little effective work behind the bat; and George Buckner,
center fielder, had been obliged to leave the field just before game
was called, on account of a sudden sickness in his own home; and this
necessitated sundry changes that demoralized the Nine, and disarranged
their plans.

"And after all," said Alice, exultingly, as she recounted these
facts to her father, on the morning of the fateful day, "after all,
the Jonesvillians only beat by one run. To-day, the Catalpas are in
splendid form--condition, I mean, and if it only would clear off, I am
sure they will send the Jonesville fellows down the river with what Ben
Burton calls 'a basket of goose eggs,'--I beg pardon, papa, for this
bit of slang; but you will observe that it is a quotation."

"Yes, from a favorite author," said the Judge, rising from the
breakfast table, with a shrewd smile.

Alice flushed, a little angrily, perhaps, for she did not like Burton,
although he was her cousin and was said to be a suitor for her favor.



CHAPTER II.

"A SCRUB GAME."


Notwithstanding the gloom of the morning, the day came off bright
and fine, and by the time the train was due from the West, bringing
the Jonesville boys, the weather was perfect. A serene October sky
bent over Catalpa, and the bright river flowed rippling toward the
Mississippi, its banks red and yellow with autumnal foliage. Crossing
the bridge from North Catalpa and from the farming settlements to the
north were strings of buggies, lumber-wagons and other vehicles; and
not a few sight-seers jogged along on horseback, all with their faces
set toward the Agricultural Fair Grounds, just above the town and lying
to the southward. Catalpa is built on a slope that descends from the
rolling prairie to the bank of Stone River. Once out of the town, one
reaches a lovely stretch of undulating ground skirted by a dead level
plain, admirably adapted for a base ball field. The original use of the
Fair Grounds had almost been forgotten when the ball clubs of Catalpa
began to practice within the enclosure. The Northern District fair
had gone farther North, and the grounds were left to chance comers--a
travelling circus, or an occasional amateur racing match.

To-day, the blue and white flag of the Catalpas floated proudly from
what had once been the Judges' stand, while the pale green colors of
the Jonesvillians hung lazily from a staff driven into the ground to
the westward of the track. For more than an hour before the time set
for the calling of the game, a steady stream of people poured into the
enclosure. The battered and rickety seats had been patched up to bear
the weight of those who were willing to pay the small fee exacted for
the privilege; but the mass of the spectators were grouped together in
the open spaces to the westward and southward of these, and farther
around the ring was a thin line of vehicles of various descriptions.
Men and women on horseback, young girls crowded into wagon-boxes, and
boys ramping around on scrubby mustangs, filled up the background.

It was a pretty sight. And while the crowd waited for the hour to
arrive, much scientific base ball gossip drifted about the enclosure.
Village lads who had worked hard or had teased with uncommon assiduity
to secure the "two bits" needed to gain admission to the grounds,
chaffed each other vociferously and exchanged learned comments on the
playing and the qualities of the combatants.

"Oh you should have seen John Brubaker play right field that day when
the Catalpas sent the Jonesvillers home with a big headache," said
one of these small critics, as he viewed with admiration Brubaker's
stalwart form reclining at ease in the shade of the judges' stand.
"Why he just everlastingly got away with the ball every time one of
the Jonesvillers gave him one. Then there was Lew Morris, there's no
player in the Jonesvillers, 'cept it is Larry Boyne, that can catch a
ball like Lew, and why the Catalpas keep him in the left field, I don't
know."

"Oh you talk too much with your mouth, you, Bill, you," cried a bigger
base ball connoisseur. "What do you know about the game? Why, I saw
the Jonesvillians, three years ago, when they first played the old
Catalpas, I mean the soldier boys. That was playing, now I tell you.
Hurrah! There comes the Nine!"

Pretty Alice Howell, sitting in her father's carriage and accompanied
by the Judge and her severe-looking aunt, Miss Anstress, clapped her
hands at the sight, for the two Nines drew near to each other and the
game was called. The dignified Judge smiled at the girl's enthusiasm,
but, as he looked around, he saw that multitudes of other young ladies,
as well as ladies no longer young--mothers and aged spinsters, watched
the preliminaries of the game with absorbing interest.

The Jonesville Nine were not so well developed, physically, as the
Catalpas. They were mostly farmer's sons, born and bred on the low
prairies to the westward of Stone River. It is a region long famous
for its prevailing fever-and-ague epidemic. The sallow faces of
some of the Jonesville players suggested quinine and "cholagogue,"
just then a favorite specific among the ague-smitten population of
Northern Illinois. Nor were the members of the visiting Nine as uniform
in size and appearance as the Catalpas. The breadth of chest and
vigorous outline of the home nine were not repeated in the forms of the
Jonesville boys.

[Illustration: "PRETTY ALICE HOWELL, SITTING IN HER FATHER'S CARRIAGE,
AND ACCOMPANIED BY THE JUDGE AND HER SEVERE LOOKING AUNT, MISS
ANSTRESS, CLAPPED HER HANDS AT THE SIGHT."--Page 18.]

The Catalpas were well chosen with an eye to symmetry and uniformity.
They were all brawny and athletic young fellows. As they were mostly
men of leisure, they had had plenty of time to practice, and they were
apparently ready to give good account of themselves. Chiefly on Al
Heaton, the stalwart catcher, did the eyes of the multitude rest with
favor. He was a tall, shapely young fellow, with a ruddy and oval face,
bright brown eyes, a keen glance, and a sinewy length of limb that gave
him pre-eminence in the field.

The batting game of the Catalpas was better than that of the
Jonesvillians, as all previous encounters had shown. But the fielding
of the Jonesville boys was far better than that of any other nine with
whom they had measured their strength and skill. And Larry Boyne, a
fresh-faced and laughing young man from Sugar Grove, but a member of
the Jonesville Nine, was the champion catcher of the whole region.
So long as the Jonesville Nine held on to Larry, they felt sure of
victory. Larry Boyne was a trifle shorter than the average of his
comrades. His round and well-poised head was covered with a shock of
curly flaxen hair, and his sturdy legs, muscular arms and ample chest
gave token of a large stock of reserved power. "That's the best looking
Jonesvillian of them all" was the secret thought of many an observant
girl and the open criticism of many a loud-talking spectator.

This is the manner of placing the two Clubs:--

 _Catalpas._

 Lewis Morris, L.F.
 Charlie King, P.
 Hart Stirling, 2d B.
 Will Sprague, 3d B.
 John Brubaker, R.F.
 Hiram Porter, 1st B.
 George Buckner, C.F.
 Albert Heaton, C.
 Ben Burton, S.S.

 _Jonesvilles._

 Studley, 2d B.
 Larry Boyne, C.
 Morrison, 1st B.
 Ellis, P.
 Wheeler, C.F.
 Martin, L.F.
 Simpson, 3d B.
 Berthelet, R.F.
 Alexander, S.S.

The Catalpas won the toss and went to the field, with due consideration
for the improvement of their chances in the final innings, and the game
began with a comfortable feeling pervading the champions of the home
nine. The winning of the toss was a good omen, everybody thought.

A buzz of half-suppressed excitement swept over the field as Studley,
of the Jonesville Nine, went first to the bat. He sent a low ball to
second base which Hart Stirling failed to hold, and Studley got to
first base. Larry Boyne followed and sent up a sky-high ball, and
Studley, having stolen to second and third base, got safely home,
while Larry reached second base. Morrison sent a good right fielder,
on which he got half-way around, while Larry, with a rush, made the
home run, adding one more to the score of the Jonesvilles. Alice
bit her lip with vexation, but some of the more magnanimous of the
townspeople commented, under their breath, "Good for the red-cheeked
Irishman!"

Great things were expected of Ellis, the champion pitcher of the
Jonesvillians, who went next to the bat, and who was reckoned as nearly
as good with the bat as with the ball; but he made a poor strike,
and, with a long-drawn "Oh-h-h!" from the sympathetic friends of the
home club, the ball dropped near the home base and the young champion
of Jonesville went out on his first. Next, Morrison, in his haste
to get to third base, was put out by Will Sprague, and the fortunes
of the visitors visibly waned. Wheeler, who went next to the bat,
provoked a murmur of approbation from the spectators, who were now
warming up to the game, and who admired the handsome proportions and
springy movements of the center fielder of the Jonesvillers. He sent
a resounding ball safely to the right field, got to first base, but,
overrunning the second base, was neatly put out by Hart Stirling, the
second base man of the Catalpas. Thus closed the innings--two runs for
the visiting Nine.

"Not much to brag of," remarked Bill Van Orman, the big pitcher of the
Dean County Nine. "Not much to brag of, and I don't think that the
Jonesvillians are feeling first rate over this. Let them wait until
Al Heaton and Charlie King get after them. Then they'll sing small, I
allow."

"Hush up, you, there goes Lew Morris to the bat for the Catalpas. He'll
show them something. Look at that chist of his! Golly! don't I remember
him, though!" remarked Hank Mitchell.

Lew Morris, tall, handsome and sinewy, deserved the praises lavished
upon him, as he stood, modestly but confidently, to open the innings
for the Catalpas. But, to the great disappointment of his admirers, he
failed to make a hit and was sent to first base on three called balls.
Charlie King justified the expectations of his friends by striking a
tremendous ball to right field, on which Lew Morris tallied one, but
in trying to get to second base, was put out by Studley in excellent
style. Hart Stirling followed, making the first quarter, and Will
Sprague went to second base on a strong hit to right field, which
brought Stirling home. John Brubaker next went to the bat, with an air
of serene confidence, but he failed to satisfy the expectations of the
on-lookers, and went out on a foul tip.

"Your champions do not seem to be in good condition, to-day, Alice,"
said the Judge, demurely. "I am just beginning to become interested
in the game, and I must say that I shouldn't like to see the Catalpas
beaten."

"Thank you, papa," said Alice, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "I
thought you would get waked up if you once saw the play and realized
how much depends on the game to-day."

"It's the championship of the Northern District, is it not, my child?"

"Yes, and if the Catalpas don't win now, I am afraid--well, I don't
know what I am afraid of. But they will be dreadfully discouraged."

"So shall I be," said the Judge, gravely turning his eyes to the stand,
where Hiram Porter, the first base man of the home nine, and an honor
man in his class at Ann Arbor, had taken up the bat. Hiram retrieved
the failing fortunes of the Catalpas by a powerful ball to center field
on which he reached the first base. George Buckner, who followed, sent
a high ball which was beautifully caught by Studley, on second base,
amidst murmurs of applause, as if the townsmen and townswomen of the
Catalpas were half-ashamed to give full expression to their extorted
admiration of the visitors' good play.

"That was well done, anyway," remarked Hank Mitchell, "and that winds
up the first inning with three outs and three runs to two for the
Jonesvillians. Come, you must wake up, Catalpas, or we shall get licked
again."

"Wait until the Catalpas come in on the last innings, and then you'll
see some fun. They are laying low for black ducks, and don't you
forget that. We've tried them too many times, Hank, and you know it."
This was Van Orman's shrewd comment, as the second inning began with
Martin, the Jonesville left fielder, at the bat. He should not have
made the first base "by rights" as the observant Hank remarked, under
his breath, but Charlie King and Hiram Porter fumbled the ball, and
he got safely to first. Simpson struck the ball straight into the
pitcher's hands and went out ignominiously. Then Berthelet went out
on three strikes, and the spirits of the sympathetic spectators rose
perceptibly. Two out and no runs for the visitors.

"Things are looking dark for your friends from Jonesville," said the
Judge. "And, by the way, isn't there danger of their getting what you
call 'a goose-egg' in this game, Alice?"

"O yes, papa," she answered, "I shouldn't wonder the least bit if they
should be whitewashed in this inning, but there are so many chances
against it that I wouldn't like to boast too much beforehand. Those
Jonesville boys are awful sly!"

"That's Sam Alexander at the bat now, trying in vain to strike the
ball." And, as Alice spoke, Alexander walked to first base on called
balls, and Martin cleverly made his home run, scoring one for the
Jonesvillians. "So they will not be whitewashed, at all events," said
Alice, with a little sigh.

Studley now made his second base by a ground ball to third base which
Will Sprague failed to stop, and by which also Alexander came home.
Larry Boyne, smiling, but keenly alive to the critical condition of
affairs, now went to the bat, made a magnificent ball to center field
and went to first base whither he was quickly followed by Morrison, and
Studley scored another run for the Jonesville Nine. Next, amidst great
excitement, for the play was now waxing hot, Ellis struck a splendid
right fielder, by which Larry and Morrison easily reached the home
plate and Studley got to second base. The spectators trembled with
excitement as Wheeler made a capital safe hit to center field, Studley
got in, Wheeler reached the second base, stole to third, and, by the
wild throwing of the Catalpas, got home on a passed ball.

Next, Martin got to first base on a slow ball to right field, and then
home on passed balls. He was followed by Simpson, after two strikes,
on which he got to first base and came dangerously near being put out
by Hart Stirling, who made a fine one-handed catch amidst the ringing
applause of the spectators, Alice Howell's small handmaid exciting much
mirth by her shrill exclamation of "isn't he grand!" when Hart, with a
tremendous leap, secured the ball as it was flying far above his head.

Berthelet then went out on a foul tip leaving Simpson on the base and
closing the innings for the Jonesvillians. Al Heaton having gone to the
bat for the Catalpas, made his first base on called balls, and when Ben
Burton, who succeeded him at the bat, made a good hit, he reached third
base. Burton then got to second base, and Al Heaton reached the home
plate, while Larry Boyne was attempting to throw Burton out at second
base. Lew Morris next got to first base through the muffing of Studley,
but was forced out by Charlie King, who sharply followed him to the
first. Will Sprague sent the ball well up into the sky, but Berthelet,
the agile and keen-eyed young Frenchman in the right field, caught it
handsomely, and Will retired in good order. John Brubaker went to first
base, and then Ellis, the Jonesville pitcher, made a muff with his
ball, giving the Catalpas one tally. Hiram Porter followed with a safe
hit, but George Buckner went out on a foul ball and the inning closed
with a score of ten for the Jonesville boys and eight for the Catalpas.

The Jonesvilles opened the third inning by sending Alexander to the
bat. He was sent to first base on called balls, and was followed by
Studley, who sent a ball to Ben Burton at short stop, but which Ben
muffed, and Studley got safely to first base. Larry Boyne followed
with a winged ball which he sent flying to the right field and which
enabled him to reach second base and brought Alexander and Studley
home. Morrison sent an air ball to left field, by which he reached
first base, and Larry came home. Then Ellis hit a ground ball to Ben
Burton at short stop, which Ben muffed again, allowing Larry to come
home and Ellis to get to first base. Wheeler made first base on a
ground ball to left field, and Martin sent a slow ball to center field
which reached the first base before him. During the passage of the
ball, however, Morrison came home, and Ellis subsequently tallied on a
passed ball. Simpson went to the bat and was struck out, and Berthelet,
who followed, was neatly caught out on a foul fly by Ben Burton, who
thus partially retrieved his reputation and the inning was closed for
the Jonesvilles.

The showing for the Catalpas was now pretty dark, and it did not
improve during their next inning. Al Heaton, who led for the home nine,
was put out in attempting to steal from first to second base, and Ben
Burton, who followed him, met with a similar disaster. Lew Morris
went to first base on a ball to short stop which Alexander overthrew
to first base. Next, Charlie King hit an air ball which was caught by
Alexander at short stop, leaving three out with Morris dead on the
second base. The score then stood, Jonesvilles, 15; Catalpas, 8.

"A whitewash!" cried Hank Mitchell, uncertain whether he ought to exult
as an old adversary of the home club, or be downcast as a citizen of
the town of Catalpa. But, his patriotism rallying in time, he cried to
Andrew Jackson Simis, a Jonesville spectator, "I s'pose you think your
boys are going to get away with us, this time? Just you wait till the
last innings, and then you will see them come up with a rush."

"They'd better begin to rush pretty quick, then," was the sneering
answer. "I guess your goose is cooked." There was a stir among the Dean
County Nine, who, with their friends, sat together at the end of the
range of seats, when this unfriendly remark was flung out. There were
threatening glances and clenched fists in the group of Catalpa boys.

"Here! here! no squabbling!" cried Deputy Sheriff Wheeler, hurrying up,
as his vigilant eye fell on the angry-looking knot of lads. "These men
are visitors; can't you behave yourselves?"

But the Catalpas were in nowise cast down. Lew Morris, their captain,
went among the boys and impressed on them something of his own cheerful
courage and roused them to the importance of making a tremendous effort
in the next inning. Perhaps the Jonesvillians were unduly elated. Their
first man at the bat, Alexander, was put out by sending the ball almost
directly into the hands of Hiram Porter at first base. Then Studley
sent a good ball to center field, on which he went to first base, and
went to second while Larry Boyne was batting. Larry tipped a foul fly
which Al Heaton caught, and Morrison, who succeeded him, was caught out
in a precisely similar manner, and the inning closed with Studley left
on the second base and a "whitewash" for the visitors.

There was great uproar in the crowd around the field, as soon as the
Catalpas went in their turn to the bat. The townsfolk forgot all
decorum in their delight over the semblance of victory thus snatched
from defeat. They cheered the Catalpas as they came in from the field,
and by their noise, at least, showed that no impartial judgment
could be expected from the majority of the spectators. Judge Howell
critically looked over the crowd and remarked to Alice that he thought
it was bad mannered in the townspeople to exult over the defeat or
reverses of their visitors.

"But it is because they know that the Catalpas are going to be beaten,
after all," said Alice, with a tone of great despondency.

"Going to be beaten?" asked the Judge, with surprise. "Why, haven't
they just given the Jonesvilles a whitewash, as I think you call it,
and the score is 15 to 8, with your favorites going to the bat?"

"Yes, papa, that is so; but you see that the Jonesvillians play a much
better fielding game than the Catalpas, and I am sure that our club
will never be able to regain what they have lost."

Miss Alice soon began to think that she had lost hope too soon, for the
Catalpas scored three runs in their inning, Hart Stirling having made
a home run on a tremendous ball sent to left field where it was muffed
shamefully, first by Martin and then by Simpson. Will Sprague and John
Brubaker followed him successfully, and Hiram Porter, who had made his
first base, was put out by Morrison. The same fate overtook George
Buckner and Al Heaton, who were put out by the active and vigilant
first base man of the Jonesvilles. Nevertheless, the inning closed
with a decided gain for the home nine, the score being 15 for the
Jonesvilles, 11 for the Catalpas.

There was intense but suppressed excitement all around the field, as
the visitors sent Ellis to the bat, and he was at once caught out by
Hart Stirling on a fly sent to second base. Wheeler made first base,
and Martin, who followed him, was put out on first base, while Wheeler
came home on a ball balked by Charlie King. Simpson was put out on
first base, and the Catalpas took their inning, sending Ben Burton to
the bat. He was caught out by Studley; then Lew Morris was put out at
first base by a ball sent by Alexander to Morrison; next Charlie King
went out on called balls, and, amidst cries of "another whitewash!" the
inning closed with a score of 16 to 11, in favor of the visitors.

In the sixth inning, the Jonesvilles added eight to their score, and
the Catalpas gained seven, thus making the home nine a little more
hopeful, although the relative distance of the two nines was not
changed. The feature of this inning was a grand hit to the center
field made by Larry Boyne, on which he made first base and brought
home Alexander and Studley, who were on the second and third bases,
respectively. The score stood thus: Jonesvilles, 24, Catalpas, 18. And
there was no exultation in the ranks of the townsfolk.

Larry Boyne went to the bat in the next inning, for the visiting Nine.
He sent a magnificent air ball so high that it seemed lost in the misty
blue of the October sky. But it descended straight into the hands of
John Brubaker in the right field, and a chorus of "ah-h-h's" went up
from the assembled multitude. Morrison was caught out on a foul fly;
Ellis shared his fate, and Wheeler was put out on first base. Great was
the exultation among the citizens of Catalpa. The Jonesvillers had been
again whitewashed. The short October day was wearing on apace, but the
chances of the Catalpas were improving as the light went down in the
west.

The home nine added three to their score in the inning, home runs being
made by John Brubaker, Hiram Porter, and George Buckner. Al Heaton
and Ben Burton were both put out by foul flies. Charlie King was put
out on first base, leaving Lew Morris on third base. But as the score
stood 24 for the Jonesvilles and 21 for the home nine, the spirits of
the majority of the spectators, whose sympathies were all one way,
began to rise. Perhaps the Jonesvillers would be sent home without the
championship.

But these hopes were dashed by the next inning, which was the eighth,
the Jonesvilles having gained one run, while the Catalpas were
ignominiously "whitewashed." The visitors showed their good qualities
in the field by a fine double play in their inning. Hart Stirling being
on the first base, Will Sprague hit short to Ellis, who sent the ball
to Studley at second base, cutting off Stirling; and John Brubaker, in
attempting to steal from first to second base, was run out by Studley
and Morrison.

Nobody stirred from the field, although the day was dying slowly and
the simple habits of the Catalpa women called them home to their
household duties. The decisive inning was near at hand, and as Alice
stood up in her father's carriage, in order to get a better view of
the game, the hitherto orderly crowd closed in around the players.
Spectators and players drew a long breath as Larry Boyne went to the
bat for the Jonesvilles. He wielded the bat with great skill and
dexterity; but Charlie King's pitching was wonderfully clever, and
Larry went out on a foul tip to Al Heaton, catcher. Morrison made third
base on a safe hit; Ellis made first base and Morrison came home on a
ball muffed by Charlie King, and then Martin, on a center field ball
hit, brought Ellis and Wheeler home. Simpson now made first base on a
hit to the right field, and an overthrow brought Martin home and gave
second base to Simpson. Berthelet was caught out on a foul fly by Al
Heaton, and Simpson, in attempting to steal home, was run out by Al
Heaton and Will Sprague.

"Three out on the last inning!" roared two or three of the Dean County
Nine, great hulking fellows, who stood near the carriage of the Judge.
Alice looked at them reproachfully, although her cheeks were ruddy with
half-suppressed excitement.

"It's real mean of them, isn't it, papa?" she said. "They will not seem
to consider that we should be very angry if we were treated thus in
Jonesville."

Now went Hiram Porter, big and handsome Hiram, to the bat for the
Catalpas. Hiram looked as tall as a giant in the gathering twilight,
and he stood up in manly fashion. But Hiram was put out on first base
by a ball sent by Studley to Morrison, and George Buckner, who followed
him, had great ado to save himself. But he made first base, and Al
Heaton next sent a singing ball to center field, on which he went to
second base and Buckner to third. Ben Burton then undertook to bat
Buckner home, but he was, himself, put out on first base. Lew Morris
then took the bat, sent a high ball to center field and secured the
first base. Charlie King followed to the first, and amidst despondent
cries of "Three out!" the game and the inning ended with a score of 29
for the Jonesville Nine and 23 for the Catalpas.

Deputy Sheriff Wheeler, forgetting for the time his official dignity,
stood up in what was once the judges' stand and shouted, "Three cheers
for the champions of Northern Illinois! Now, then! Hip! Hip! Hip!"

The cheers were given with a pretty good will, considering how great
was the disappointment of the townspeople. The captain of the Catalpas
set a laudable and manly example to his comrades by going straight to
Larry Boyne, the captain of the Jonesville Nine, and, grasping him
warmly by the hand, congratulating him on the victory so honorably and
handsomely won.

"Of course you can't expect that a fellow can say that he is glad to
have lost the day; but you have worked hard for the pennant, and it
belongs to you without any grumbling."

Larry, with his ruddy face still ruddier than before, responded in
frank fashion and then the crowd began to melt away, for the darkness
was coming on. Passing by the Judge's carriage, yet entangled in the
throng of vehicles, Larry glanced up at the pretty girl whom he had
noticed with distant admiration. The Judge intercepted his glance, and
leaning over with what was meant to be a gracious smile, said, "This
is Larry Boyne, the famous catcher of the down-river nine? Well, I
congratulate you, young man, on your well-won victory and on your own
beautiful playing."

Larry very much taken aback by this unexpected condescension from the
great man of Catalpa, touched his cap, blushed and stammered and gladly
rejoined his comrades.

"Fine young man, that," said the Judge, sententiously, as his carriage
slowly drew out of the crowd and moved toward the gate.

"If a few such players as he were in the place of some of the muffs in
the Catalpa Nine," said Alice, "I think that the championship of the
whole State would belong in this town."

"Why I do believe my little daughter is crying!" cried the Judge.

"I am not crying," said Alice stoutly. "But I confess that I am mad
enough to cry. Are we always going to be beaten by every scrubby nine
that comes here, I'd like to know?"

Dr. Selby, the staid and dignified village town apothecary, who was
walking by the carriage, heard the indignant outburst, and looking up,
said with a smile, "We've got the timber here for a first-class nine,
Miss Alice, but the thing is to get the timber together."

Judge Howell, with his grandest manner, said, "If there is any movement
to retrieve the honor of Catalpa in the base ball field, please count
on my assistance and support."



CHAPTER III.

AFTER THE BATTLE.


To say that the town of Catalpa was very deeply mortified by this
latest and most signal defeat of the favorite Nine would be a mild
way of putting the case. For weeks afterwards, nothing was talked of
in the place but the disgraceful overthrow of the Catalpa Nine. Very
soon, so high did the debate run, there were two sides formed among the
townspeople, one party blaming the Catalpas for their lack of training
and practice, and the other excusing them for their evident inability
to cope with the sturdy farmer boys from "down the river."

"I tell you it is not mere brute muscle that our fellows want," said
Squire Mead, one of the great lights of the town, "it's not brawn, but
skill, that they must acquire before they can stand up against the base
ball players of this part of the country. Let them pay more attention
to work, and less to frills, and they will come out all right."

But Dr. Selby, whose son was one of the rising players in the less
aristocratic Dean County Nine, would have none of this sort of
argument. Tom Selby was not only a wiry and agile player in the field,
but he was the best oarsman on the river, and he could lift a barrel of
flour, properly slung, "without turning a hair." He had done it often.
His father believed in muscle.

"Now there's Bill Van Orman, the Dean County Nine's catcher," Dr. Selby
would say, "who is like an ox in appearance, and I really believe could
stave in the panel of that door with one blow of his fist, but who
gets about the bases as spry as a cat, and who has got down the curve
to such a fine point that nobody can pitch like him in half a dozen
counties. Sam Ellis, the champion pitcher of the Jonesvilles, cannot
hold a candle to Van's pitching. And do you pretend to tell me that
any light-waisted young fellow, like Will Sprague, for instance, could
ever, by all the training in the world, make such a catcher or such a
pitcher as Bill?"

It was the old question over again--skill against muscle. But Judge
Howell, whose opinions on all subjects whatever commanded respect,
probably gave voice to the average public judgment when he said, "What
we want, gentlemen, is muscle _and_ training. I am confident that
in this good town of Catalpa there are more than nine young men who
can give time to the practice necessary for the purpose, and who are
endowed by nature with the requisite powers for the development of
first-rate base ball players."

"Good for you, Jedge!" It was Tony May, an aged and disreputable
loafer in the store where this debate was taking place, who spoke. Tony
was usually called "Rough and Ready" because of his frequent use of
that phrase as applied to himself. Having applauded the Judge's remark,
he drew back, a little confusedly, and murmured "'Scuse me, Jedge, I
didn't mean to be interruptious, but you know I'm rough and ready,
rough and ready, Jedge, and that 'ere remark of yourn does seem to be
about the fust sensible thing I've hearn in this 'ere jag of words.
'Scuse me, Jedge, fer sayin' so; you know I'm rough and I'm ready." And
the speaker subsided into a corner pulling his 'coonskin cap down over
his shaggy brows.

Judge Howell, with an additional stiffness perceptible in his
manner, waved his hand towards the dry goods boxes in the angles of
which "Rough and Ready" had dropped and said, "Our friend here is
enthusiastic. He has a right to be. His son Fremont has certainly
distinguished himself, before now, as the right fielder of the Dean
County Nine. But does anybody know if that handsome young Irish lad,
Larry Boyne, could be drawn from the Jonesville Nine, in case we should
desire to reinforce our home nine by drafts on foreign material, so to
speak?"

Nobody knew; but Jason Elderkin, the storekeeper, leaned over his
counter, pausing in his occupation of measuring off a yard of Kentucky
jean, and said:

"I tell you what it is, Judge, that's the likeliest young fellow in
these parts. He lives with his mother over to Sugar Grove, and
started in to read law with 'Squire Welby, over to Dean Center; but
he had to give it up on account of his father's being killed by being
crushed under a tree that he was felling. Awful blow to the boy,
likewise to his ma. The Jonesvilles pay him something for playing with
them; so I've hearn tell."

[Illustration: "WHAT WE WANT, GENTLEMEN, IS MUSCLE _AND_
TRAINING."--Page 37.]

This suggestion created a momentary stir in the congress, for the
gathering had by this time assumed such a character. Two or three
of the speakers did not see how anybody could think of making a
professional club out of an amateur, such as the Jonesville Nine
pretended to be. If Larry Boyne was paid a salary, why were not others?
And if salaries were paid to the men, it was a professional club,
wasn't it?

"I don't know enough about what we may call the etiquette of the game
to decide what is an amateur and what a professional club," remarked
Judge Howell, in slow and dignified accents. "But if we are in earnest
in this proposition to organize a really creditable base ball club in
Catalpa, and I take it that we are,"--and here he glanced at "Rough and
Ready," who had slid forward into sight again,--"and I take it that we
are, I say, we may as well make up our minds to put our hands into our
pockets and help the boys a little, otherwise we shall go down again."

"Right as a trivet, Jedge," cried Rough and Ready. "Right as a trivet;
for unless we take hold all together, we shell go down to where
flour is nine dollars a bar'l and no money to buy it at that; 'scuse
me, gen'lemen, but I'm rough and ready, you know. I allow that the
Jedge here speaks the senterments of the community." And the old man
retreated into the depths of his 'coonskin cap.

The oracle of the grocery store was right in saying that Judge Howell
spoke the sentiments of the community in regard to the necessity of
taking hold in earnest and organizing a base ball club, if anything
serious was to be accomplished. The project took definite shape at once.

"Why," said Weeks, the bridge-tender, who, from his position, came into
contact with half of the townspeople, nearly every day, as they crossed
and recrossed the river. "Why, every town north of Bloomington, as far
as I know, has got a champion base ball nine, and why should Catalpa
be behind the rest? That's what I want to know. And if we are to have
champions, we have got to take hold and help the boys, like they do in
other towns. And the very first thing I want to see done is the licking
of them Jonesvilles. They are so everlastingly set up by their carrying
off the pennant that they are ready to challenge all creation. So I'm
told."

Around many an evening fire and in many a lounging-place in the town,
the question was animatedly discussed, as autumn waned into winter, and
most outdoor sports became a little unseasonable. It was decided, in
that informal and irregular way with which a western community settles
its internal affairs, that there must be in Catalpa a first-rate base
ball nine, and that it must be organized before the spring opened.



CHAPTER IV.

REORGANIZATION BEGINS.


"Where now, Larry?" asked 'Squire Mead, meeting Larry Boyne, on Stone
River bridge, one wintry day in November. Cold weather had set in
early, and huge cakes of ice had already formed on the edge of the dam,
and a light fall of snow gave promise of sleighing for Thanksgiving
week, then not far off. Larry was mounted on a sorry-looking nag,
borrowed from a Sugar Grove neighbor, and he carried behind him a big
bundle of knitted mittens, the handiwork of his mother and sisters, to
be exchanged for goods at one of the stores in town.

"Oh, I'm just going to town to trade a bit, and I have a message from
Al Heaton that he and his father want to see me about joining a new
base ball club to be gotten up here. Know anything about it, 'Squire?"

"Well, yes," replied the 'Squire, "I'm told that there is something of
a stir in town about the matter." The crafty old lawyer did not say how
much the stir was indebted to him for its existence. "Quite a stir,
Larry, and they do say that they will get up a new nine; even if they
have to hire players to go into it."

Larry's cheeks flushed even deeper red as he replied, "There is no
disgrace in hiring players to help out, I suppose, 'Squire? I was paid
a share of the gate money while I was with the Jonesville Nine, and
they have offered me a regular salary if I go with them next season.
But I wouldn't touch a penny of it if I thought it was the least bit
off-color for a fellow to take pay for his services."

"No, no," said the 'Squire, warmly, "there is nothing in that that an
honorable and high-toned young fellow like you are could object to;
and if I were you, I would make the very best terms I could for next
year. You have been obliged to give up studying law, I hear, on account
of the death of your father. If you do well in the ball-field, next
summer, you might save up enough to set you right next year, so far as
studying is concerned. And, between you and me and the gate-post, Al
Heaton and his father are bound to have you in the new nine. So make as
good a bargain for yourself as you can. Al can't play next season."

"Why, what is the matter with Al? Why can't he play any more?"

"It's mighty cold standing here talking on the bridge, Larry, and I
don't know that I have any right to give Al's reasons, but I have a
notion that his mother objects to his going around the country playing
base ball. She's got high and mighty airs since her Uncle George was
elected to Congress from the Sangamon District, and I reckon that that
is what is the matter with Al's base ball business. Pity 'tis, too, for
Al is a first-rate catcher. Nobody like him, unless it is Larry Boyne,"
he added with a kindly smile.

Larry thanked the 'Squire, and, with a hearty "good-bye," went
thoughtfully on his way across the bridge. As his steed climbed Bridge
Street, Larry was conscious that he had several new ideas in his head.
And when, his little errands done, he found his way to Mr. Heaton's
counting-room in the mills near the dam, he had made up his mind
that Jonesville had no claim on him and that he belonged no more to
Jonesville than he did to Catalpa. In other words, he was in the market
for employment. The mortgage on the farm must be paid off; his sisters
and the little brother must be kept at school, and he had his own way
to make in the world. To take one season's compensation as a base ball
player would help matters at home very much. It was a gleam of hope in
an otherwise gloomy outlook for the young man.

"Glad to see you, Larry," said Mr. Heaton, heartily. "Al's been waiting
for you this some time, and we may as well go right to business. The
boys are talking of getting up a first-class nine, and as my son cannot
very well go into it, next year, he has coaxed me to turn in and help
the others. And so I will, for I want to see old Catalpa come out ahead
at the end of the season."

Young Heaton, with evident regret, told Larry that he would be unable
to play in the Catalpa nine, but that it was his dearest wish that the
club should be the champion club of the state. "So," said he, "with
my father's consent, I have agreed to give my monthly allowance for
the benefit of the club, and that will help make up a pool to pay
expenses. We can't get good players (I mean players to compete with
Chicago and Springfield, and other large cities), without paying them
something--gate-money anyhow, and perhaps more."

Larry said not a word. It was yet a new proposition, this of earning
money as a professional ball player. Somehow it did not strike him
pleasantly. But he listened respectfully while Mr. Heaton unfolded
the plans that had been slowly matured since the signal defeat of
the Catalpas, last October. They must organize a new nine. Some of
the old players must be dropped, and two, Al and Lewis Morris, had
already declined to play any longer. New men must be found to take
their places. Would Larry join the new nine? Did he recommend any other
players in the vicinity?

Larry's ruddy face glowed as he walked up and down the little
counting-room, thinking over the situation. Mr. Heaton watched the
young man's well-knit and graceful figure with admiration, and winked
at Albert, as if to say, "That is your man. Get him if you can."

"I'll consider any offer that you make in behalf of the new nine, Mr.
Heaton," said Larry, "and if I were to suggest any other players from
the Jonesvilles, I should like to say a good word for Sam Morrison and
Neddie Ellis. Morrison is our first base man, and Neddie is as good a
pitcher as there is in the country, unless it is Charlie King. I hope
your men don't think of letting out Charlie?"

"Oh, no," replied young Heaton, "they want him to stay, and he says
that he'll not only stay but will give in his share of the gate-money
for the use of the club. Oh, Charlie's clear grit, he is, and he'll
stand by the club," said the young man, with friendly warmth, dashed
with a little regret, perhaps, that family complications forbade him a
similar sacrifice.

The details of the bargain could not be settled at once. Mr. Heaton
and his son were the representatives of a company of public-spirited
citizens who were bent on getting up a good base ball club. They
could only secure Larry's promise to wait for terms from them before
accepting any other engagement, and to give them some hint as to what
compensation he should expect. This last, however, Larry resolutely
declined to do; and, after some debate, young Heaton exclaimed, "Well,
hang it all, Larry! What's the use beating round the bush! I think our
folks have made up their minds that they will give you a share of the
gate-money, say one eighth, and a salary of a thousand dollars for the
season. Does that strike you favorably?"

Larry's eyes shone as he said, "It strikes me as being more than I am
worth."

"Well, this is all informal and entirely between us, you know," said
Mr. Heaton. "You will keep the matter to yourself until we have
reported to the rest of the committee, for there is a committee,"
he added with a smile. And so the matter was concluded, and Larry,
mounting his horse, with a cheery salutation to father and son standing
in the mill-door, rode across the bridge into the November twilight,
with a light heart.

The next day, Lewis Morris rode over to Sugar Grove to expostulate with
Larry. He had heard that the Heatons had offered Larry one thousand
dollars and one-eighth of the gate-money. "Now," said he to Larry, "I
cannot play with the nine, next season, neither can Al Heaton, and the
chances are that Will Sprague will drop out, too. Charlie King does not
need any pay or any income from the playing to induce him to go. So he
will not want any gate-money. Geo. Buckner says he will go along as an
extra man, and he will take neither salary nor gate-money. If we get
Sam Morrison and Neddie Ellis, we shall have to pay them gate-money
at least. But there will be, according to my figuring, only seven out
of ten to draw on the gate-money, for Hiram Porter, I am sure, will
decline to take anything for his services."

Larry expressed his entire satisfaction with the terms offered him by
Mr. Heaton, on behalf of the new club. He was willing to do what he
could, short of any great sacrifice, to make up a strong nine. He would
take less salary, or less of the income of the club, if that were
necessary to induce the best men to join it.

"That's very good of you, Larry, old boy," said Morris, heartily, "but
you can't afford to waste your summer playing base ball for nothing. I
want them to take Bill Van Orman from the Dean County boys. How do you
think he would do?"

"First-rate! First-rate!" cried Larry, with enthusiasm. "I do not think
of another fellow on the river as good as he is as catcher, unless it
is Al Heaton, and he is out of the question."

"Unless it is Larry Boyne," said Morris, reproachfully. "You are a
great sight better catcher than Bill Van Orman, and I should hope you
would take that place if you were to go into the new Catalpa Nine."

Larry protested that he had watched Van Orman's catching for two
seasons, and had made up his mind that he was the best man in that
position that could be got, now that Al Heaton was out of the field.
Would Van Orman serve at all?

"Oh, yes," replied Morris. "All of the Dean County boys are just wild
to get into the new nine. They are willing to play for Catalpa, and
they don't care whether they are in their own nine or in a new one.
They drop all thoughts of rivalry, so far as the future is concerned."

As Lewis Morris cantered back from his visit to Sugar Grove, he met
Cyrus Ayres, driving homeward from town, his lumber-wagon making a
great din as it rattled and rumbled over the rough, frozen road. The
two young men exchanged greetings as they passed, and Cyrus call out to
Lewis something which the noise of the wagon drowned; so, turning back,
he said, "What was that you were saying about Bill Van Orman?"

"Oh, I only said that Bill is to be catcher in the new nine. I was in
Jase Elderkin's store, just now, and he allowed that Bill would take
anything the boys had a mind to give him. But Charlie King and Ben
Burton said that Larry Boyne wouldn't want to serve as catcher, if he
did go into the new nine, and that Bill would be the next best man, and
Larry would go on one of the bases. Say first base. How's that, think
ye?"

"I don't like it," said Lewis, "but we'll see what we shall see. I am
willing, so far as I am concerned, to leave it all to Larry. He has got
a level head, and don't you forget it."

"Right you are," responded Cyrus, as, giving the reins to his impatient
team, he rattled noisily down the river road.

As he passed Judge Howell's handsome house, Lewis looked up and caught
the glance of Miss Alice, who was sitting in the window-seat, curled up
on a big cushion, and scribbling something that seemed to puzzle her
very much. The girl wrote, re-wrote, erased and wrote again. Finally
she held her work, somewhat blurred and scratchy as it was, at arm's
length, and said in soliloquy,

"I really think that is the very best thing that could be done! But I
wonder what I put that young Irishman's name at the head of the list
for?"

With a faint pink tint suffusing her cheek, she drew a line through the
name at the top of the page, wrote it at the bottom, and then laughed
softly to herself. Just then Lewis Morris rode by, gallantly taking off
his cap as he passed the house. If Mr. Lewis could have looked over
Alice's shoulder, he would have read this list of names:

 S. Morrison, L.F.
 Neddie Ellis, C.F.
 Charlie King, P.
 Hart Stirling, 2d B.
 John Brubaker, R.F.
 Hiram Porter, 1st B.
 Ben Burton, S.S.
 Wm. Van Orman, 3d B.
 Lawrence Boyne, Catcher.

Alice concealed the paper in her pocket, as she saw her father drive
up the road from the bridge. Then she took it out again with a pretty
little air of determination, saying to herself. "My papa knows that I
am so much interested in the new nine scheme, why shouldn't I tell him
that this is what I think about the re-organization?"

So, when the Judge, that night, drew his motherless child to his knee,
she brought to him the list of players which she had made out.

"Perhaps you will think it mannish in me, papa," she said, "but I have
made out a list of the players in the new Catalpa nine. I have a whim
that this is about the way they will be placed."

The Judge took the crumpled and blurred paper, and running his eyes
over it, said, "That is a good cast, as they say in the theaters,
Alice; but don't you think you are a little premature? The new nine is
not yet formed, and until they begin to practice they can hardly tell
where each player should be placed. I don't pretend to know much about
the game; not so much as my little daughter does, for example, but
isn't that about the way it strikes you?"

Alice admitted that her father was right. But she had given a great
deal of thought to the matter. Everybody in the town was discussing
this absorbing topic. And, out of all that she had heard, she had
evolved this cast of characters, so to speak. Anticipating the story
of the Catalpa nine a little, it may be said that Alice Howell's list,
although its features were known only to herself and her father, was
adopted with two exceptions, Larry Boyne was chosen to the third base
and Bill Van Orman took the position of catcher. But this was not done
until far later in the winter, when the new nine was finally organized
for the summer campaign.



CHAPTER V.

NOTES OF PREPARATION.


On the ridge above the town of Catalpa stands a huge building known
as "The Fair Building." When the Northern District Agricultural Fair
was held in Catalpa, this structure was used for displays of mammoth
squashes, women's handiwork, exhibits of flax, wheat, flour, and the
other products of the fertile region of Northern Illinois. Now it was
given over to desolation and neglect. The men who had helped to pay for
its erection were not willing to signify by tearing it down that they
had given up all hope of ever winning back to Catalpa the institution
that had moved away up to the northern part of the state. Some of these
days, they said, the Fair would come back to Catalpa, and then the
building would be ready for the show, as of old.

The promoters of the new base ball club scheme had no difficulty in
securing permission for the players to practice in the building.
Accordingly, when the leisure days of winter came on, the lads betook
themselves to the lonesome and barnlike structure and warmed themselves
with the exercise that pitching, catching and running made needful.

"If we had had this old ark built for us," said Hiram Porter, whose
father was one of the Directors of the Agricultural Society, "it
couldn't have been better planned. Suppose we call a ball sent up there
where Marm Deyo used to spread out her wonderful bed-quilts a foul
ball? And then we might imagine that the lower gallery is full of girls
looking on at Larry's scientific pitching. Gals--gallery; see?" and the
boys all laughed at Hiram's small joke, for their spirits rose as they
warmed to their work.

Thither went, also, occasionally, a favored few of the townspeople who
were very much waked up now over the work of the Nine that was to be
the champion of the region, if not of the State. To such an extent had
the men, women and children of Catalpa been aroused by what was going
on, that a stranger coming into town and hearing the gossip around the
street corners and in the more comfortable stores and shops, would have
supposed that Catalpa was devoting itself exclusively to the practice
of base ball. It was the dead of winter, and, except a few teams slowly
pulling in from the outlying country, with a few farmers in quest
of the necessaries of life from the town stores, very little life
was visible about the place. Occasionally, a fierce snow storm would
sweep over the town, blocking the streets, and cutting it off from all
communication except by railroad. The main street would be desolate,
and the bridge show only a solitary passenger whom dire necessity
brought out in such a cold and wintry gale as the "blizzard" proved to
be.

At such times, however, up in the big Fair Building whose yawning
cracks let in the driving snow, and on whose roof the shingles rattled
merrily, a party of hardy and stalwart young fellows was sure to be
found practicing arduously for the work of the coming summer. Around
the hot stoves in the lounging-places, down town, grown men were
talking of base ball, and small boys, hanging eagerly on the outer
edges of the groups, drank in with silent intelligence the words of
wisdom that dropped from the lips of their elders. For a time, at
least, it looked as if nothing would ever be done in that town but to
prepare for the base ball season of the next year.

But the winter wore away and the regular industries of the Stone River
Valley began to revive. The ice went out of the river with the usual
rush, and people wondered, as they always had, if the bridge would
stand the pressure of the ice-flood. The roads were once more channels
of bottomless mud, and eastern people, whom business errands brought
out into that part of the country, sourly berated a country "in which
everything depended on the state of the roads." The blue jays were
calling from the tree-tops and the meadow larks were whistling along
the fences. The prairies were gradually growing green, and the low
places and hollows where the snow lately lingered became shining pools
reflecting the tender blue of the spring sky.

One day, Bill Van Orman, after carefully going over the Agricultural
Fair Grounds in company with Al Heaton, reported that it was about
time to begin practicing out of doors. For months, the members of the
new nine had been wishing for the day to come when they could get out
into the open air and put some of their indoor practice into actual
work. So, with the assistance of a few of their associates who were not
members of the new club, they organized two nines and went to work in
earnest.

The long winter had borne its fruit. The talk and gossip of the town
had run almost altogether to base ball. There was nobody in Catalpa,
unless it was poor old Father Bickerby, who was stone deaf, who had
not heard the smallest particulars of the progress of the new nine
discussed. Did Larry Boyne make a particularly fine running, one-hand
catch in the practice of a winter's afternoon? It was minutely
described that night over a hundred tea-tables in Catalpa. Did Charlie
King bewilder everybody, some day, by the dexterity and rapidity of the
balls that he delivered, so that even the players, always reluctant to
praise each other, applauded him? Sage old men hanging over the open
fire in the drug store would say that Charlie King "would warm those
Jonesvillers, next summer."

And, what was of more immediate importance, the financial arrangements
necessary to start the club prosperously on its way were perfected
while the dull times of a western winter pervaded the town of Catalpa.
Judge Howell, himself, with an air of great condescension, headed a
list of gentlemen who agreed to give a certain sum to enable the club
to carry out their campaign. Others followed the great man of the town,
according to their ability. And others, again, pledged themselves to
lend any sum that might be required to make up a possible deficiency.
But, so many who were able to give outright to what they called "the
good cause" came forward with their gifts, there was no chance for any
deficiency. Since the outbreak of the war, when everybody was scraping
lint, making "comforts" for the soldiers, or marching to the front,
there had not been so hot a fever of enthusiasm in Catalpa.

The soldiers of this new campaign were the lusty young heroes up in
the Agricultural Fair Grounds who were doing battle, every day, with
imaginary foes and making ready to face the real antagonists who could
not now be very far off; for the base ball season would open in a
few weeks. There was a little jealousy over the choice of a captain.
Gradually, the place of each man in the nine had been settled without
much debate. As we have seen, the list that Alice Howell had made up,
in the privacy of her own solitude, became that which the players
finally fixed upon, except that Larry Boyne went to third base and Bill
Van Orman took the place of catcher, instead of the positions which the
fair Alice had assigned them in her draft of an ideal nine.

Ben Burton was supported for the captaincy of the club by several of
the members, all of the new players, except Larry Boyne, being in
favor of choosing him. Ben was a warm champion of his own claims to
the place. Larry, on the other hand, modestly, but very decidedly,
supported Hiram Porter for the post of Captain. He was in every way fit
for it, and he and his father had done more for the new club than any
others. Besides all that, the Porters held a first-rate social position
in Dean County and that would count for something in the organizing of
the campaign. The young men considered the withdrawal of Al Heaton, and
the cause of his loss to them, and they laughed at the thought. Ben
Burton was very savage at the suggestion that his family was not just
as good as the Porters. What had family to do with base ball, anyway?

The discussion grew warm, after a while, and Larry and Ben were brought
into sharp antagonism. There had been rumors that Larry Boyne had dared
to show to Miss Alice Howell some of the little attentions with which
the young swains of the region were wont to manifest their admiration
for a young lady of their choice. He had even gone so far as to ask
her to allow him to drive her to a little dancing party given in
Darville, one of the numerous rivals of Catalpa, a little prairie town
on the Rush River Railroad, twelve miles distant. Alice, warned by a
suggestion from her father, who exhibited a species of panic at the
bare idea of the invitation, had declined the young man's kindly offer,
and had staid at home to murmur at her hard fate. Ben Burton could not
seriously cherish a belief that Larry Boyne was "paying attention" to
the Judge's daughter; but he felt that he, somehow, owed him a grudge.

The impending storm, if any really did impend, blew over when it was
ascertained by ballot that Hiram Porter was the choice of the club. And
Hiram, who was tall, dark, strong, long of limb, handsome and skillful,
was accordingly chosen captain of the Catalpa nine. Ben Burton, with
some show of generous magnanimity, clapped Hiram on the back and
boisterously congratulated him on his having secured the coveted honor
of the captaincy. But Larry, with a manly air, said, "You'll find that
all the boys will take orders from you, Hi, with as much cheerfulness
as if we were soldiers in the field and you were leading them to
battle. Isn't that so, fellows?"

The rest of the young men noisily and heartily asserted their
allegiance to their chief, and the new club began their final
preparations for the field with enthusiasm and harmonious good-will.

By the evening lamp, that night, in Judge Howell's house, the matter
was discussed by the Judge and his daughter. "It is an excellent
choice, Alice, my child, don't you think so?"

"Certainly, papa, but it is not of very great importance, after all,
who is captain of the nine. 'The play's the thing,' as Hamlet says;
isn't it Hamlet, papa?"

"I don't know about that, my little girl, I am somewhat rusty in my
Shakespeare; but the play is the thing, I suppose. Nevertheless, since
social rank does not go for much in base ball, I should have been glad
to see Larry Boyne made the captain of the new nine."

"Oh, papa, that was not to be thought of. He is a new recruit. Who
knows how he may turn out? He may be a secret emissary from Jonesville
to 'throw the game,' some day."

"Bless my life!" cried the Judge, "I never thought of that."



CHAPTER VI.

AN INTERESTING EPISODE.


Although the stock of the Catalpa Base Ball Club was divided among
many share-holders in the town of Catalpa, it was evident that the
mere holding, or non-holding, of shares made no difference with those
who were engaged in the active duties of playing. To be sure, the nine
had not yet begun their summer campaign. The first of April was early
enough for the beginning of outdoor practice, and active work in the
field would not open until the first of May; but enough had been done,
in the preliminary organization and preparing for the summer's work,
to test the temper of the members of the club. It was not a purely
business-like venture into which these young men had gone for the
purpose of making capital or money for themselves. They were burning
to retrieve the reputation of "Old Catalpa" as they called their town,
albeit it was one of the youngest in Northern Illinois.

And so, as Larry Boyne and Al Heaton were sitting on the rail fence
that encloses the Court House of Dean County, in Catalpa, discussing
the future prospects of the club, both were confidential and intimate
in their exchange of opinions concerning the members of the nine.

"No, I tell you that you are wrong, Al, in your estimate of Ben
Burton," said Larry, earnestly. "I do not think that I could be
prejudiced against Ben; and I try to judge him fairly; and so I cannot
bring myself to believe that he would be tricky, or that he would
undertake to play any foul game on me, or on anybody else, for that
matter. He is sullen and moody, at times, and I know that he took to
heart his defeat as candidate for captain of the club. I know that he
don't like me, although I don't know why he should dislike me, as he
certainly does."

"Pooh! Larry," was Albert's frank reply, "you know well enough that he
fancies that you are in his way as a suitor for the hand of a certain
young lady, whose name shall not be mentioned even in this very select
society. He knows that that young lady smiles on you in the most
bewitching way, and he knows--"

"Oh, see here, Al," interrupted Larry, with flaming cheeks, "you are
riding your horse with a free rein, don't you think so? I have no right
to think of any young lady with the seriousness you seem to put into
the matter. I am young, poor, and without friends or influence."

"Hold on there, Larry," cried young Heaton, warmly. "You have no right
to say that. You will never want for friends. You have a town-full of
them, and when you need any one to stand by and back you up in anything
you undertake, you can just put out your hand, without getting off of
this rail, to find one friend that will be the man to stand right there
as long as he is wanted."

Larry laid his hand on Albert's knee as he said, "I know that, Al, and
it is good to know it and to have you say it in that straightforward
way of yours, and I will say too, that your father called me into the
mill, the other day, and said pretty much the same thing to me; and
he told me that he should consider it a favor, or something of that
sort, if I would allow him to have a fatherly lookout for the folks at
home, while I am off, this summer, in case anything should happen." And
Larry's honest blue eyes filled with moisture as he looked far off over
the outlying prairie, in the vain effort to conceal how deeply he had
felt the kindness showed to him.

"That was very good of the Governor, I'm sure," said Albert, stoutly,
"and I don't care if he is my father of whom I am saying it. But it's
nothing more than fair for him, and for the rest of us who stay at
home, to do what we can to keep your mind at ease about your folks
while you are out in the ball field for the summer. But what I was
getting at is this: Ben Burton is down on you; he will try to get the
advantage of you, if he can; and, what is of more consequence to all of
us, he would not scruple to bring the whole club into disgrace for the
sake of gratifying any selfish purpose that he might happen to have in
view."

"But what evil purpose could he have?" demanded Larry.

"As I said before, I don't know. I don't want to do Ben an injustice,
but I do know that he is underhanded and mean. So you look out for him.
As far as his relations to you are concerned, I might say, if you were
not so everlastingly toploftical about it, that he is jealous of you on
account of your supposed good standing with Alice Howell--"

"Oh, hush-h-h-h!" cried Larry, looking around in unfeigned
consternation, to see if there were listeners near. "You really must
not mention that young lady's name in that manner, nor in any manner
connected with my own. It would be almost insulting to her, it would
fill the Judge with wrath (and I shouldn't blame him for being angry),
to know that gossiping young fellows like us were using his daughter's
name in this light fashion."

"And why, I should like to know?" answered Albert. "He need not put
on any high and mighty airs. I have heard my father say that when the
Howellses came here from Kentucky, when the Stone River country was
first settled, and old man Hixon was running his ferry across the
stream here, they were so poor that they wore bed-ticking clothes,
went barefoot, and lived on hog and hominy for many a year afterwards.
Side-meat was good enough for them then. The fat of the land is not
good enough for them now. It just makes me sick! Such airs!" And honest
Albert got down from the fence to give freer expression to his deep
disgust.

Larry went away from this casual meeting with his stanch friend Albert
with a sense of depression. His nature was unsuspicious and he chose
to think that all men were as honest and as frank as he certainly was.
Young Heaton's talk had shaken his faith in human nature as far as that
was represented in one man--Ben Burton, the open-eyed and bluff Ben
Burton. No wonder Larry repelled Al Heaton's notion that Ben "was not
altogether square" and should be watched.

Larry was to stop at Armstrong's blacksmith shop, on the north side, on
his way home, to have his horse shod. So, as he was leading the animal
across the bridge, lost in thought and dwelling somewhat darkly on his
conversation with Al Heaton, he did not notice that a young lady, very
charmingly dressed and daintily booted and gloved, was tripping along
toward him from the opposite side of the river, in the foot-walk that
skirted the lower side of the rickety old wooden bridge. He did not
look up until his steed, never very easily startled out of a heavy and
slouching gait, jumped wildly at a sudden flash from a sky-blue parasol
which the young lady deliberately shook at him.

"Whoa, Nance!" cried Larry, astonished at the beast's unprecedented
skittishness, "you old fool!" but here he stopped, for his eyes fell on
the bewitching apparition on the other side of the timbered rail, and
he colored deeply red as he beheld Miss Alice ready to giggle at his
confusion.

"Good day, Mr. Boyne," said the girl, "I am glad I have met you. I
wanted to ask you how the club is getting along, and if you think you
will be in good condition for the coming season. To be sure, papa tells
me that he has every confidence in your success; but then, papa is
hardly a judge in base ball matters, you know, although he has learned
a great deal lately, and so have many other people, and they all seem
very confident; but the wish is father to the thought, you know, and so
I thought I would like to see some one in whose judgment and candor I
could put a great deal of confidence, a very great deal, you know, and
see what he thinks about the prospect before us. I say 'us,' you see,
because it is a sort of town matter. Now isn't it?"

The young lady had rattled on in a random manner, as if she was giving
time for Larry to recover himself. Certainly, he needed time. He was
covered with blushes, not altogether becoming, for his natural color
was quite deep enough for all artistic considerations. But as he stood
there, cap in hand, the river breeze lightly lifting his brown curls
and fanning his hot cheeks, the maiden's bright eyes rested on the
picture with a certain sense of satisfaction, and she said to her most
secret and hidden inner self that there were very few handsomer
young men in the region than he who stood before her.

[Illustration: "I WANTED TO ASK YOU HOW THE CLUB IS GETTING
ALONG."--Page 64.]

Larry, laying his brown hand on the timber guard that capped the
railing betwixt them, said, "You startled me so, Miss Alice, that I
almost forgot my manners; and I haven't much. Oh, you wanted to know
about the prospects of the Catalpa Nine? Well, I do not think it would
be wise to build many hopes on the future until we have met at least
one of the best nines of the country about us. Some of our friends
think we are going to sweep the deck. Excuse the expression. And some
are even talking of our being the champion nine of the state."

"Why," said the girl, "don't you hope for the championship? Is not that
what you are going out to get?"

"Of course, Miss Alice, we hope for everything that is in sight, as
the saying is; but we cannot expect, with any sort of reason, for so
great success as that during our very first season. The matches are now
nearly all made up for the coming season, and if we were never so good
players, we should have no chance for the championship, I am afraid."

"I never thought of that," said Alice. "What an awful lot you know
about base ball. But then that is because you are a man. My papa says
that girls have no business learning about base ball. Now what do you
think, Mr. Boyne?"

"I am not used to being called 'Mr. Boyne' for one thing," replied
Larry, gallantly, "and I should feel very much honored indeed if Miss
Howell would remember that I am only 'Larry' the new third base man of
the Catalpa Nine."

The heavy rumble of a farm wagon driving up on the town end of the
bridge at that moment warned Larry that he must get out of the way. So,
with a few concise words as to the all-absorbing topic of the day, he
bowed, replaced his cap, and passed on to North Catalpa.

Sal Monnahan drove the sorrel horses that now came pounding along
the wooden way. When she reached her home in Oneosho Village, that
evening, she informed her nearest neighbor that she had seen "Larry
Boyne lallygagging with that high-strung darter of Judge Howell's, on
the North Catalpa bridge, that arternoon, and then when the gal came
off she looked as if she had been talking with her sweetheart, her eyes
were so shiny, just like dimonds, and her cheeks were as red as a poppy
in the corn. It do beat all how that young Irish feller gets on with
folks in town. Gals and fellers--all the same."

As for Larry, he went across the bridge, leading his nag, and walking
so lightly that it seemed to him that his steps were in the air. While
Armstrong was shoeing the horse and chatting the while with Larry, he
thought within himself that this was a particularly fine young fellow,
and that it was a pity that he was poor. Presently his thoughts took
shape and he said:

"Don't you think you are too smart a chap, Larry, to waste your time
playing base ball?"

"I am not going to waste much time playing, Tom. I know enough about
base ball to know that a player doesn't last as a good player more than
ten or twelve years. He is too young to play before he is seventeen
years old, and he is done for and is dropped out by the time he is
thirty. So if I had any notion of making ball-playing my calling in
life, I should have that fact in view to warn me. Oh, no Tom, I am only
making this a bridge to carry me over a hard place."

"That's good sense. I was afraid you were going off with the base ball
fever, and so never be fit for anything else. That's what will become
of some of those young kids over in town who don't think of anything,
from morning till night, but base ball. I always thought you had more
sense into you than most of the boys around here. You are older than
your years, Larry," and the plain-speaking blacksmith looked admiringly
in the young man's face, "older than your years."

"Older than your years." These words rang in Larry's ears as he swung
himself lightly into his saddle and ambled down the river road to Sugar
Grove.

The blacksmith looked after him and muttered to himself, "He is smart
enough to be anything in the way of a lawyer that there is in these
parts. And if he were to cast sheep's eyes on the Judge's daughter, or
on anybody else's daughter, for that matter, I just believe he would
win her in time. He's got such a taking way with him." And honest
Thomas Armstrong resumed his work with a mild glow of pleasure stealing
through him as he thought of Larry Boyne and his possibilities.



CHAPTER VII.

IN THE FIELD.


It was an impressive occasion when the Catalpa club started on their
first pilgrimage. They had arranged a practice game with the Black Hawk
Nine, of Sandy Key, in the central part of the State, to begin the
season with. Other games were arranged for later work, but this match,
which was partly for practice, and partly to test the material of the
new nine, was felt to be one of the most important. From Sandy Key the
Nine were to go to Bluford to play the famous "Zoo-zoo Nine," as they
called themselves, of that city, and then they were to begin a struggle
for the championship of Northern Illinois with the Red Stockings of
Galena. How much depended on the result of the meeting of the Black
Hawks and the Catalpas, you who have followed the career of a base ball
nine can best reckon.

In Catalpa, at least, the game would be watched with great, although
distant, interest and absorption. Two or three of the more active
promoters of the Base Ball scheme were to go down to Sandy Key, which
is on the Illinois Central Railroad, to witness the struggle of their
favorite champions with the strangers. The Black Hawks were renowned as
fielders. They had acquired a reputation that inspired terror among the
base ball players of the southern portion of the state; and when it was
noised abroad that a new nine from Dean County, heretofore unknown in
the Diamond Field, had actually challenged the Black Hawks, experienced
amateurs and professional players made remarks about the assurance of
the new men from the North that were not intended to be complimentary
or encouraging.

The Catalpas had adopted blue as their standard color, and a uniform
of blue and white, with a pennant of white, edged and lettered with
blue, carried the colors of the club into new and untried fields. Great
was the enthusiasm of the townspeople when the club, packed into two
big omnibuses, with their friends, finally departed for the railway
station, which was on the outer and upper edge of the town. A vast
number of sympathizing friends and well-wishers attended the party to
the station, and those who remained in town watched with a certain
impressiveness the coming train as it skirted North Catalpa, crossed
the tall trestle work that spanned the river below the town and finally
disappeared in the grove of trees near the depot.

It had been told all abroad that the new nine was to make its first
sally on that train, and the jaded and dusty passengers from the
North looked from the windows with languid interest as the lusty young
fellows made a final rush for the cars, followed by the irregular
cheers of the bystanders and accompanied by a goodly number of their
old associates who were "going to see fair play." The conductor, with
an affectation of indifference that he did not feel, disdained to look
at the surging and animated crowd, but turned his face toward the
engine, waved his hand, and shouted "all aboard!" just as if he did
not carry Catalpa and its fortunes with him. The train rolled away,
innumerable handkerchiefs and caps waving from its windows, and hearty
and long resounding cheers flying after it. A cloud of yellow dust,
a hollow rumble of the train on the culvert beyond, a tall column of
blackness floating from the engine over the woods, and the Catalpa Nine
were gone.

"I never felt so wrought up in all my life," said Alice Howell,
confidentially, to her friend Ida Boardman, as they descended the hill
toward the town. "It seems, sometimes, as if I was sure that our Nine
would win, and then, again, I am almost certain that they will be
beaten by the Black Hawks. I saw the Black Hawks play the Springfields,
last summer, and they were glorious players; such fielding! Oh, I am
almost sure they will out-field our boys."

"If our nine were all like that Larry Boyne; why, isn't he just
splendid? If they were all like him, I should have no fears for
Catalpa. And then there's Hiram Porter, how beautifully he does handle
the bat! Don't you think Larry Boyne is the handsomest young fellow in
the Nine, Alice?"

Alice colored, she knew not why, as she made answer: "I don't see what
good looks have to do with playing. You are so illogical, Ida. What do
you think of Ben Burton, for example. Don't you think he is handsome
enough to make a good player?"

"Ben Burton! why he is perfectly horrid, and so disagreeable and high
and mighty in his ways. I detest him, and if anybody loses the game,
to-morrow, I hope it will be he. No, I take that back, for I cannot
bear to think that anybody will lose the game for our Nine. Do you,
Ally?"

Alice agreed most heartily with her friend that it would be a strange
and lamentable catastrophe if the game at Sandy Key should be lost by
the Catalpas.

"But I am afraid, I am afraid," the girl repeated as the twain
slowly paced down the plank walk leading to the town. Her words were
re-echoed, that day, many times by the people of Catalpa who would have
given a great deal if "the boys" could have been thereby assured of
success on the morrow.

Meantime, as the train was speeding onward, the nine were in high
spirits and full of fun. For a time, at least, their thoughts were
with those left behind rather than with the unknown adversaries that
were before them. They were too young and buoyant to borrow trouble.
Their spirits rose as they plunged forward into new scenes, and all
suggestions of possible defeats were left unheeded for to-day.
Only Larry, "older than his years," felt a little foreboding at the
entrance of this most important crisis of his young life. But his
cheery face showed no sign of distrust or anxiety. He was, as usual,
the center of a lively and talkative group of his comrades. He wore
in his button-hole a delicate knot of flowers which had come there so
mysteriously that none of the noisy fellows about him could guess who
had put it there.

"Who is she? Why didn't we see her?" queried the laughing boys as
they pressed around Larry, affecting to sniff great delight from his
nosegay. Larry's face beamed as he told them that this was a reminder
that every Irishman must do his duty, and that he was going to carry
the little bouquet to the field of victory for the Catalpas.

"Those pansies grew in Judge Howell's garden," said Ben Burton,
surlily, from his seat. Larry's eyes flashed at the covert insult that
he thought he saw under Ben's sneer. But he said not a word.

"For shame, Ben Burton!" cried Al Heaton, "for shame to call names like
that!"

There was a little cloud over the sun for a fleeting moment. But
Larry's bright face and cheery voice soon dispelled the transient
shadow, and the talk was turned into merrier channels. Ben Burton
grumbled to himself, and, as he saw how his fellows clustered around
Larry, whose brown and shining curls were only now and again visible
among the lads who pranced about him, he said to Bill Van Orman,
"Thinks he's the biggest toad in the puddle; don't he, Bill?" Bill,
whose nickname was "The Lily," because he was so big, and red, and
beefy, only opened his eyes in surprise.

The telegraph office in Catalpa was in the second story of Niles's
building, a brick structure on the main street of the town and chiefly
occupied by lawyers and doctors. The narrow stairway was found too
narrow for the throngs of people who flocked thither, next day, to
learn the news from the contest in Sandy Key. Arrangements had been
made by _The Catalpa Leaf_, the only daily paper in the place, to
publish bulletins from the base ball ground, as fast as received. To
all inquirers, Miss Millicent Murch, "the accomplished lady operator,"
as the local newspapers called her, stiffly replied that the telegraph
office had no news to give away and that the editor of _The Leaf_ would
distribute his intelligence as soon as received.

Even to so great a personage as Judge Howell, who early appeared
in search of information, the young lady gave her one unvarying
answer. But public excitement ran high when, about two o'clock in
the afternoon, a despatch from Al Heaton was received by his father,
saying that the game had been called and that "the boys were in tip-top
condition." Mr. Heaton signified his intention of staying at the office
or thereabouts, until the game was over, in order to receive Al's
despatches.

"Is Albert going to send despatches from the ball ground, all day,
Mr. Heaton?" asked Alice Howell, who, with sparkling eyes, was eagerly
waiting for news from the absent company.

"Indeed he is, Alice," said Mr. Heaton. "That is what he went down to
Sandy Key for, and I think you know my boy well enough to believe that
he will keep us informed. Al is as much of an enthusiast in base ball
matters as you and I are, my dear, and if he is alive and well we will
hear from him until the fortunes of the day are decided." Mr. Heaton
smiled in a kindly way as he looked down into the bright face of the
young lady, and added, "And I believe and hope that he will send us a
pleasant message before the day is done. Depend upon that."

"I hope so too, Mr. Heaton," Alice replied, with a slight cloud passing
over her countenance, "but somehow, I feel as if we were to be defeated
this time. I don't know why. But that is my superstitious notion about
it."

Meantime, the telegraph machine had been industriously ticking and Miss
Millicent writing as industriously, while the bystanders were talking
in low tones.

"A message for Mr. Heaton," said the operator, with perfect composure,
as she folded and placed in an envelope, duly addressed, a telegraph
despatch which she handed to Mr. Heaton.

"Hateful old thing!" murmured Miss Ida Boardman, "she has had that
message all the time and said nothing about it until she got good and
ready."

"Hush!" said Alice, in a sort of stage whisper, "let us hear the news."

Mr. Heaton, having glanced hurriedly over the despatch, cried, "Good
news from the boys! Hear this!" A dead silence prevailed in the office
as the beaming miller read:--

  _Hurrah for our side! First two innings over. Catalpas score two.
  Black Hawks none. Great excitement in Sandy Key. Everything lovely._

 _ALBERT._

"Hooray!" broke from many lips, and the waiting crowd below the
windows, hearing the cry, took it up and a fusillade of irregular
and scattering hurrahs scattered along the street. Judge Howell, who
had lingered during the noonday recess of his court, admonished the
crowd that the lady at the telegraph desk would be embarrassed by the
confusion, whereupon the company went out and added their joy to that
of the assemblage that crowded around a bulletin that was at once
posted by the door of _The Catalpa Leaf_ office.

"What did I tell you, Alice," said Miss Ida, regardless of the fact
that she had told her nothing. "Didn't I say that the Catalpas would
win?"

"But the game has only just begun," said Alice. "I am still hoping and
fearing, and I am not going to be put off of my base, so to speak,
by the first news which happens to be good. Only two innings, Ida;
remember that."

The cheering of the small boys and the excited comments of the still
smaller girls, however, proved infectious. One would think that a
great battle had been fought, and that victory was already assured to
the household troops. The dry-goods man laid down his yard-stick; the
carpenter dropped his plane, and even the old bridge-tender forsook his
post long enough to stroll into the nearest barber-shop and ask for the
news from "the boys" in Sandy Key.

"Another bulletin!" cried Hank Jackson, the burly short stop of the
Dean County Nine, as the tall form of Mr. Heaton emerged from the
telegraph office. This time, the face of the ardent champion of
Catalpa's prowess was not illuminated by a smile. Mounting a convenient
dry-goods box, he announced that two more innings had been played and
that the score then stood two and two, the Black Hawks having made two
runs, and the Catalpas having added nothing to their score. A blank
silence fell on the assemblage and Henry Jackson vengefully planted his
big fist, with a tremendous thud, upon the short ribs of a side of beef
that hung from the doorway of Adee's butcher shop. "That for the Black
Hawks," he muttered, with clenched teeth.

But a great triumph was in store for the friends of the absent sons of
Catalpa. Even while Alice Howell was trying to cheer her despondent
friend Ida with the suggestion that the game was "yet young," the
Editor of _The Leaf_, whose despatches were sent to him across the
street in a flying box attached to a wire, put his dishevelled head
out of his office window and excitedly cried, "Three cheers for the
Catalpa Nine! Fifth inning, Catalpas, five; Black Hawks, one!"

There was something like a little groan for the discomfited Black
Hawks and then a wild yell broke out for the home nine. The small boys
hurrahed shrilly and lustily, and even the street dogs, sharing in
the general joy, barked noisily and aimlessly around the edges of the
crowd. Miss Anstress Howell, scanning the joyful mob from the windows
of her brother's office, remarked to herself, with aggravated sourness,
that it was perfectly ridiculous to see Alice mixing herself up there
in the street with a lot of lunatics who were making themselves absurd
over a pesky base ball game, away down in Sangamon County. It was
unaccountable.

Judge Howell, sitting on his judicial bench in the court-house on the
hill, heard the pother in the town below and covertly smiled behind his
large white hand to think that the home nine was undoubtedly doing well
in Sandy Key.

Once more the traditional enterprise of the daily press vindicated
itself with the earliest news, and Editor Downey put out of his
office window his uncovered head, every hair of which stood up with
excitement, as he bawled, "Sixth inning, Catalpas, none; Black Hawks,
two. Seventh inning, no runs scored."

"Now you yoost keep your big fists out of my beef!" said Jake Adee,
with his wrathful eye fixed on Hank Jackson, who was looking around
for some enemy to punch. There was depression in the crowd, but Alice
Howell smiled cheerfully in the rueful face of Mr. Heaton and said that
she felt her spirits rising. She was getting more confident as the rest
of the party became despondent.

[Illustration: "THREE CHEERS FOR THE CATALPA NINE."--Page 78.]

The innings had been made rapidly. Scarcely an hour had passed, and,
so intense was the interest in the game, that everybody thought the
despatches had trodden upon each other in their hurry to tumble into
Catalpa. It was a warm, bright day, and the prairie wind blew softly
down the hill above the town. To look into the knots of people standing
about the street corners, one would suppose that it was an August noon.
Everybody was perspiring. It was a warm engagement down there in Sandy
Key where the boys were vigorously doing battle for the honor of old
Catalpa. But it seemed even hot in the town where the people waited for
the news.

So when Mr. Heaton, radiant with joy, and without waiting to come down
the stairs of the telegraph office, put his leg and his head out of the
window of the building and cried "Good news again!" everybody stood
breathless. As Miss Anstress Howell afterwards remarked, with disdain,
one might have heard a pin drop.

  _Victory! victory! Eighth inning, Catalpas, nine; Black Hawks, none.
  Glory enough for one day. Your loving son,_

 _ALBERT_.

Then went up a shout that reached the jury in the case of the County
of Dean against Jeremiah Stowell, shut up in the close room provided
in the court-house for jurors and other criminals, and which startled
Judge Howell, who, looking out of the window from his private room,
beheld his daughter, flushed and almost tearful with joy, hurrying
across the court-house green, eager to tell her father the good news.
The solitary horse-thief in the jail heard that hurrah and wondered
if relief was coming to him from his long-delayed accomplices. Dr.
Everett, reining his sturdy steed at the next street corner above the
telegraph office, asked a wandering small boy what had happened, but
got no answer, for the urchin was off like a shot to tell his mates
who were bathing prematurely down under the mill dam. And careful
housewives, making ready their early suppers, in houses beyond the
railroad track, heard the yell of triumph, and softly laughed to be
told in this far-off way that the Catalpa nine were victorious over
their adversaries in Sandy Key.

The game was virtually decided. The ninth and last inning showed one
run for the Catalpas and a "goose egg" for the Black Hawks. There was
more cheering in the street under the windows of the telegraph office.
Somebody suggested that the flag should be hoisted on the Court House,
but fears of Judge Howell's displeasure and veto prevailed, and the
proposition fell dead. Hiram Porter's father, however, raised the stars
and stripes over the Catalpa House of which he was proprietor. Editor
Downey flung out from his third story window the red bunting with the
white Catalpa Leaf that symbolized his standard sheet to the world
below.

Later on, when the wild shower of despatches from Al Heaton, Hiram
Porter, and others of the home nine, had ceased for a time, this
bulletin appeared on the board of _The Catalpa Leaf_.


  A GLORIOUS VICTORY FOR OUR NINE! OLD CATALPA TO THE FRONT!

                         1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
 Catalpas                2 0 0 0 5 0 0 9 1=17.
 Black Hawks             0 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 0= 5.

 _First Base by errors_, Catalpas, 8; Black Hawks, 1.
 _Earned Runs_, Catalpas, 7; Black Hawks, 1.
 _Struck out_, Catalpas, 2; Black Hawks, 5.

  _Our esteemed fellow citizen, Benjamin F. Burton, especially
  distinguished himself with his fine play at short stop, and Larry
  Boyne, of Sugar Grove, did some of the most brilliant work in
  the game, having made the highest number of runs of any man in
  the Nine, and being 'like lightning' as a third base man. Great
  excitement prevails in Sandy Key, but our men have been treated with
  distinguished courtesy by the citizens. The receipts at the gate were
  nearly $1,000._

When Al Heaton came home, next day, he was the hero and oracle of the
hour. By reflection, he was shining with the honors of the Catalpa
Nine. Wherever he went about the town, he was sure to become the
center of an admiring knot of fellow-citizens and small boys, eager to
learn how the absent ball-players bore themselves in the arena at Sandy
Key.

"I tell you what it is, fellows," said Albert, "you should have seen
'The Lily,' as they call Bill Van Orman, get on the home base in the
fifth inning. He never stopped to look for the ball. He seemed to have
eyes in the back of his head, and just as he was on the point of being
caught out, when he was at least ten feet from the home base, he gave
a lunge and threw himself flat on his stomach, ploughed up the turf as
he plunged forwards, and, reaching out, grabbed the bag with his hands
before he could be put out. Ten feet did I say? Well, I should say it
was nearer fifteen feet. And you should have seen 'The Lily's' track
where he scooted along that turf."

"The _Leaf's_ correspondent telegraphed that Ben Burton covered himself
all over with glory," remarked Jason Elderkin. "How was that?"

"Well, you see that Ben, being at short stop, had many opportunities to
do good work, and he put in some very fine licks at different times.
For instance, in the first play he put out Harris, the Black Hawk's
pitcher, after having muffed the ball, and then picked it up on the
run. Everybody said it was one of the best in-field plays of the day.
And in the eighth inning, he made a beautiful run, stealing two bases
just as easy as falling off a log. Oh, I tell you, Ben is a first-rate
player, and they say that the Captain of the Chicago Calumets was down
there and wanted to know if Ben would go into their Nine, next season.
Ben was very high and mighty about something, and I guess that that was
what was the matter with him. He was very much set up about something."

The mention of the famous Calumets evoked much enthusiasm among the
base ball connoisseurs of Catalpa, and it was noised about the town
that that club might be induced to accept a challenge from the Catalpa
Nine. Albert Heaton, when asked what he thought of the possibility of
such an event, shook his head.

"I tell you what, Doctor," he said to Dr. Selby, "we all thought it
pretty cheeky in our boys to accept a challenge from the Black Hawks,
and it is astonishing that we got out of the scrape as well as we did.
To be sure, we came off with flying colors, and we have made a great
reputation, that is to say, the boys have, for I am not in the Nine.
But the Calumets are the champions of the State, and I suppose they
will be to the end of the season; to the end of the chapter, unless
something very unexpected happens. I guess our boys had better be
contented with the laurels they will win outside of Chicago, this year,
at any rate."

But that very day while Albert was strolling across the bridge with
Miss Alice Howell, and pouring into her ear a glowing account of
Larry Boyne's prowess in the field at Sandy Key, he told her, in the
strictest confidence, that the Catalpas would never be satisfied until
they had measured their strength with the famous Chicago nine, the
Calumets.

Alice's eyes sparkled, whether with the excitement stirred by Albert's
narrative of Larry's exploits, or at the prospect of so bold a dash for
fame as that proposed by the Catalpas, it is not easy to say. The young
girl's ardor cooled when she considered the chances against the success
of the Catalpas in so unequal a contest.

"I did not believe that we should beat the Black Hawks," said she. "I
was almost sure that we should be defeated, and when the tide began to
turn in favor of the Catalpas, I could not bring myself to believe that
we were actually going to carry off the honors of the day. It was a
famous victory, to be sure, and I hope that the Nine will be able to do
as well through the season, and then, if all goes well, another season
may see them pitted against the best nine in the state, even the best
in the country; who knows? They have made a glorious beginning, haven't
they, Albert?"

Of course this was conceded by so fast a friend of the absent Nine as
Al Heaton certainly was, and it was also clear to even an impartial
observer that the Nine had made something of a name for themselves, at
the very outset of their career, by defeating the Black Hawks, a Nine
of established reputation, victors in many fields.

"What would you think if our nine were to play the Calumets, papa?"
asked Alice that night, as they lingered over the tea-table.

"Think?" said the Judge. "I should think that it was a great piece of
assurance."

"So should I!" replied Alice; "but I wish they could do it."



CHAPTER VIII.

A TURN OF THE TIDE.


Defeat, utter and overwhelming, followed the Catalpas to Bluford,
where they played the "Zoo-Zoo Nine" of that city. The "Zoo-Zoos"
were picked players, the lineal descendants of a company of Illinois
Zouaves renowned in the Civil War for their bravery, dash, and skill
as skirmishers. The original founders of the club had long since
disappeared from the field of action, but their successors bore up the
banner of their illustrious namesakes with infinite credit. None of the
Catalpa people had gone to Bluford to witness the game, Al Heaton being
sick at home and the other immediate friends of the Nine being too busy
with their farms and merchandise. And so it happened that the only news
that came to the town from Bluford dribbled in from the Keokuck evening
papers, sent by wire to the editor of _The Catalpa Leaf_, late at
night. Mr. Downey did not think it worth while to post on his bulletin
board the discouraging news that the "Zoo-Zoo Nine" had beaten the
Catalpas by a score of eleven to one. But the news got out, of course,
for the whole town was on the alert to hear the result from Bluford.

Albert Heaton was sitting up in bed, alternately shaken with ague and
parched with fever, when his little sister brought him the unwelcome
tidings. He groaned aloud and asked if Alice Howell had heard the
news. Mrs. Heaton, a motherly woman who had no patience with base
ball players that go about the country, like circus-riders, remarked,
with some asperity, that she should suppose that Judge Howell would
put a stop to Alice's giving so much time and attention to base ball.
For herself, if she had a grown-up daughter, she would try and put
something else into her head than base ball and such mannish and vulgar
doings. If Alice's mother was alive, it would be mighty different in
the Howell family. As it was, the Judge allowed Alice to do just about
as she pleased, and it was a shame, so it was, for a nice young girl
like Alice to be permitted to make a tom-boy of herself. Flirting with
that young Irish fellow from Sugar Grove! Did anybody ever hear of the
like?

"Oh, mother," sighed poor Albert. "If you only knew how sick and sore I
am for the boys, you would let up on Larry. If you had let me go with
the Nine, perhaps I might have helped them out of the defeat. At any
rate, it might have been less of a clean-out than it is. Dear me! How
cold I am! Cover me up and let me be."

With a pang of remorse at having added unwittingly to Albert's
sufferings, his mother soothed the sick boy and left him to sorrowful
meditations. "And I was fool enough to think that the boys would be
able to challenge the Calumets." With these repentant meditations,
Albert sunk into a feverish and uneasy sleep. He might have dreamed
(perhaps he did) that at that very moment, Alice Howell was looking out
into the gloom of the moist summer night and lamenting with bitterness
the defeat of "our nine."

Next day, when _The Leaf_ came out, and fuller particulars of the game
were made known in a despatch from Charlie King, there was nothing to
mitigate the gloom of the friends of the Catalpas. Singularly enough,
some of the Dean County Nine, who had been among the most enthusiastic
"boomers" of the Catalpa Nine, now assumed a most discouraging
attitude. They were sure, so they said, that the Catalpas would be
defeated all along the line. They had won the game at Sandy Key by a
scratch. They had found their true level in Bluford. They would be
beaten along the river, for it was well known that the nines in the
river towns were far ahead of those in the interior of the state.

Something of this talk reached the ears of Al Heaton, who was still
suffering from fever-and-ague. He took up his bottle of cholagogue and
shook it at his terrified little brother (who had retailed the gossip
of the drug store, where he had been sent on an errand), and said, "If
you hear any such infernal nonsense as that, down town, Dan, you go
and tell Tom Selby that I want him to lick the first fellow that says
anything against our nine. Do you mind me?"

Little Dan promised stoutly that he would give Tom the message. Whether
he did or not, it came to pass that Henry Jackson and Thomas Selby had
a discussion, that very night, and that Dr. Selby sent his son home
with strict injunctions to cover his face with brown paper and vinegar,
while the big-fisted Henry went to bed with a bit of raw beef on his
eye.

There is nothing like news from the field of battle to bring out the
partisan feelings of a community far from the scene of strife. Catalpa
was stirred to its very depths by the ill tidings brought from Bluford.
Those who disapproved of base ball asserted themselves in the most
unexpected and exasperating manner. Nobody had suspected that there
were in Catalpa so many who sympathized not with the home nine and who
secretly wished that they might be defeated. But the fact that the nine
had met with disaster only stimulated their friends to new courage and
stronger hopes for the future. This was a time, they said, for the
friends of the nine to show themselves. Mr. Heaton sent an encouraging
despatch to Larry Boyne, assuring him that the temporary reverse had
only strengthened the confidence of home friends of the club. Even
Judge Howell, who was greatly concerned lest the nine should be unduly
depressed by their reverses, authorized Lewis Morris to write to Hiram
Porter, as Captain of the club, and say to him that the club must be
prepared for occasional defeats and that the next news from "the front"
would undoubtedly be inspiring to the many supporters of the Catalpas.

"The Judge is a brick!" said Larry Boyne, when this message was read
to the members of the club, as they lounged in one of the bed-rooms
of Quapaw House, in Galena, where the boys were waiting to begin the
championship series of games with the Red Stockings.

"That's just what he is!" exclaimed "The Lily," bringing his somewhat
battered fist down with emphasis on a convenient pillow. Bill had had
hard luck in the late contest. His fingers had been badly sprained and
twisted, and he had played with infinite difficulty on account of the
battering that he had received in a game played with the Fulton City
Nine, when the Catalpas were on their way to Bluford from Sandy Key.
But he was still confident and determined.

"I suppose some of the folks at home think that we are going to get
beaten right along, every day from this out," he continued, with a
scornful laugh. "They don't know us, do they, Larry? They don't know
what we had to contend with in Bluford, what with being used up with
that hard ride on the strap-iron railroad and the lame fingers of your
humble servant. Oh, yes, I suppose there is downheartedness among the
boys at home."

"But I know one chap who is not downhearted," said Larry Boyne,
cheerfully, "and that is Al Heaton. He will never get discouraged,
whatever happens. And then there is his father, his despatch shows
where he stands. Al is clear grit and so is his father; you may depend
on that, boys."

Ben Burton, who had virtually lost the game in Bluford by his repeated
muffing of the ball, as well as by his failure at the bat, sneered as
he said, "I suppose a certain young lady in North Catalpa prompted the
Judge's despatch, didn't she, Larry?"

Larry, with reddening cheeks, protested that he had no idea that Judge
Howell needed any prompting from anybody to send a good word to the
boys when they were away from home; he was too kind-hearted a man,
although a little stiff, to require any hint from outsiders to do the
fair thing by the Base Ball Club in whose welfare he had already shown
great interest.

"I didn't say 'outsiders,' Larry," replied Burton, persistently. "I
said that he was probably prompted by a young lady."

At this, Larry deliberately rose and walked out of the room, without a
word.

"I say, Ben, can't you quit your everlasting nagging of Larry," broke
in Hiram Porter, as the door closed with a bang behind that indignant
young man. "What's the use of your getting into a debate, every day or
two, about some mysterious young lady that you two fellows are thinking
about? Let up! I wish you would."

Ben muttered something about the Captain's showing his little brief
authority in matters that did not concern the club, when, by general
consent, the meeting was broken up for the more important business of
practice on the Galena Base Ball Grounds, placed at the disposal of the
visitors by the managers of the championship series.



CHAPTER IX.

HOPE AND SUSPENSE.


It was the custom in Catalpa for the storekeepers to hang out at their
doors a little blue flag when they wanted the services of an errand
boy. Seeing this signal at the door of Jason Elderkin's dry-goods
store, Rough and Ready, wearing in the heats of summer as in winter his
'coonskin cap, shambled in and asked what was wanted. Jason lifted his
spectacles from his nose and said, jocularly: "Why, Rough and Ready, I
thought you had gone up to Galena to see the match between the boys and
the Galena Club."

"No sir-ee," replied the old man, "I have staid at home to keep the
town in order. Me and Jedge Howell, we have to look after the boys
at home, you know, or some of these frisky young colts like Jase
Ayres would get away with the town whilst we were gone." And the old
man chuckled as he added, "Cap. Heaton, he and his boy Al have gone
together, and they do say that Mrs. Heaton is just wild because she
can't keep the old man at home when base ball is going on. Well, it
does beat all natur', don't it? Here's Al kept out of the Nine because
it isn't high-toned enough for Mrs. Heaton; and here's father and son
gone a-galivanting up to Galena to see the show."

"I hear that Al has sent a despatch to the Judge's daughter saying
that the Catalpas are going to carry off the honors this time, and no
mistake," said the storekeeper. "How's that, Rough?"

"Seein' as how this bundle is going over to Boardman's, I'll jest drop
in at the Jedge's house on my way back, and see if Miss Ally has got
any news from the seat of war, as it were, and if she has, she'll be
sure to tell me. Oh, she's clear grit, too, is that gal, and she knows
that I set a heap by Larry. Larry! why, it was him what give my boy all
the points he has got in the game, and you may lay your bottom dollar
that that boy is goin' to be the all-firedest batter in the Stone River
country; and you put that down to remember."

The garrulous old man shouldered his bundle as he spoke and plodded
down Bridge Street and so across to the north side of the town. It
was the day for the first game of the championship at Galena. The hot
sun poured down into the Stone River Valley with great power, and the
bleached surface of the old wooden bridge shimmered with undulating
lines of heat as Rough and Ready toiled on his way. The roar of the dam
had a cooling sound, and the group of cotton-woods and willows on the
little island above were green and refreshing to the eye. But no breeze
drew up the river, and all of the north side was steeped in liquid
sunshine, the trees standing motionless and the yellow road glaring
in the blinding light. The toll-keeper's dog panted in the shade of
the toll-house, lolling his tongue as old Rough and Ready passed by,
without stopping for a word of gossip with the keeper who dozed within
the doorway.

The old man paused, when half-way across the bridge, to lift his furry
cap from his head and wipe the servile drops from off his burning
brow. While he rested his bundle on the guard rail of the bridge, Miss
Anstress Howell, the Judge's aged sister, came mincing along from the
North Catalpa side, cool and fresh as if she had never before been
outside of a bandbox.

"I wonder ef it will be safe to tackle her for news from Galena?"
muttered the old man to himself. "She's a dangerous team to fool with.
Mebbe she'll get away with me, but I'll try it."

"Good arternoon, Miss Howell. Fine hot day. Good growin' weather, as
the farmers say. Hev you heerd that any of your folks got a despatch
from Galena givin' any account of how the ball opens?"

Miss Howell's manner stiffened a little as she said, with a slight toss
of her head, "Judge Howell, my brother, is holding court in Pawpaw,
to-day, for Judge Sniffles, and nobody else but the Judge would be
likely to have any despatches concerning base ball."

"Well, Miss Howell, I heerd over in town that Miss Ally had a message
of some kind, no offence to you, marm, and I want to hear from the boys
powerful bad, you see, and so I make bold to ask if Miss Alice mayn't
hev a despatch, or something from Larry, I mean Al."

"There is altogether too much nonsense about this base ball business
in Catalpa, Mr. Rough,--excuse me, I forget your other name. It does
seem to me as if the people had gone crazy, and the weather so hot too!
Excuse me, I don't know anything about what is going on in Galena, no
more than a child, I may say, and if any grown people want to begin
over again and make children of themselves with playing ball, they have
my sympathy."

So saying, and flirting off an imaginary fleck of dust from her gown
with a spotless handkerchief, Miss Howell resumed her deliberate walk
across the bridge. Rough and Ready replaced his cap, and looking after
her said, "Sarves me right! I might hev knowed that I should get the
worst on it in a talk with her. My grief! But she is a teaser. Has
forgot all about the time when she was a young gal, it's so long ago.
P'raps she never was young." With this, the old man shouldered his
bundle and slowly made his way northward.

But Alice had received a telegram from Galena, and as Rough and Ready
climbed the slope by the Judge's house, a sunny head was popped from
one of its upper windows and Alice's cheerful voice cried, "Oh,
Roughy,--excuse me for calling you Roughy, but I'm so glad!--Albert
Heaton has telegraphed to me that the Catalpas have made ten runs in
the first three innings and the Galenas only one! Isn't that perfectly
splendid? Does anybody over in town know anything about it?"

[Illustration: "GOOD ARTERNOON, MISS HOWELL. FINE HOT DAY."--Page 95.]

"Bless your bright eyes! Miss Ally, no; the whole town's asleep. It's
a hot day, you know, and there's nobody stirring. All the farmers are
busy with their crops, and the streets are as lonesome as a last year's
bird's nest. Ten to one, did you say? By the great horn spoon! I must
go back and wake up the folks."

Suiting the action to the word, the old man tossed Mrs. Boardman's
bundle of sheeting over the fence and made his way back to town as fast
as his rheumatic legs would carry him. Half way across, he met Lewis
Morris who was on his way over to verify the rumor that he had caught
concerning the early success of the Catalpas in Galena.

"Hooray for our side!" cried Rough and Ready, exultingly. "I have heard
it from the gentle Miss Ally. Our boys have made ten runs in the first
three innings, and the Galena fellows have made one--one whole one."

"Then I'll turn right around and tell the news in town!" said Lewis,
with excitement. "I'll have to stir the people up, for the whole town
has gone to sleep, except Dr. Selby, and he was sweating at every pore,
as I came by the drug store, for thinking of another defeat for the
Catalpas."

Rough and Ready gazed after the rapidly retreating form of the young
man who turned and stepped swiftly across the bridge. Then, putting
his hand to his 'coonskin cap, as if trying to recall something to
his mind, he murmured, "If I didn't go and leave that ther bundle of
sheetin' in the Judge's dooryard! 'Pears to me as if that pesky base
ball had knocked my wits clean out." And, smiling at his own feeble
joke, he retraced his steps to the North Catalpa side of the river.

When Lewis Morris reached the center of the town, he saw a knot of men
and boys gathered around the bulletin board of _The Leaf_. "Just my
luck," he muttered. "Downey has got the news out, and they have taken
the edge of it off before I could get back."

But Lewis forgot his little disappointment when he eagerly scanned the
bulletin which the editor had posted during his brief run across the
bridge. This was what he read:

  _An overwhelming victory for our nine! In the contest to-day, the
  Catalpas were the victors by a score of 13 to 3. Great enthusiasm
  prevails and the visiting nine are now being cheered by the excited
  populace. The result has astonished everybody, none more so than
  the defeated nine and their immediate friends. Our esteemed fellow
  townsman, Mr. Albert Heaton, Senior, has telegraphed to_ The
  Leaf _the score by innings, as follows:_

                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9    _total._
 Catalpas             5 4 1 0 0 2 1 0 0       13.
 Galenas              1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1        3.

 _Errors_, Galenas, 13; Catalpas, 1.

"Here's Lew Morris!" cried brawny Hank Jackson, "Glory enough for one
day! hey, Lew? Everybody in Galena was astonished, they say, and so was
everybody in Catalpa, for that matter. Why, I was just coming along
the street with Andy Brubaker, and we was a-talking about the chances
of our nine's giving up the season if they got cleaned out in Galena,
when I heard Mr. Downey tell Dr. Selby that the home nine had beat the
Galenas on the first six innings, and says I to him, 'If that's so, Mr.
Downey, why don't you put it on the bulletin?' Sure enough, he went
up them stairs, five at a time, to have it done, and no sooner had he
got up there than he put his head outen the winder and screeched, 'The
Catalpas have won the game by thirteen to three!' Gosh! you should have
heerd the whoop that the boys gave! And there it is, as big as life."
And Hank regarded the bulletin board with an affectionate interest.

The fact was that the community of Catalpa was unprepared for any such
victory as that which had dropped in upon them, as it were, like a
bolt out of a clear sky. The defeat at Bluford had unnerved all but a
few faithful and undaunted spirits, and the usual dull current of town
life had resumed its sluggishness until the unexpected news from the
north had startled the townsfolk into new alertness. It was a great
achievement, as the Galenas were famed for their prowess in the Diamond
Field. They were reckoned as first in the number of batters in their
nine. One of them, Devoy, stood very near the head of the list of
champion batters in the state, and another, Shallcross, was not far
behind him in his general average. Yet the Catalpas had "got away with"
the famous players. It was marvellous how the news flew through the
town and out upon the prairie, so that by the time the moon rose, red
and full, over the bluffy banks above Catalpa, in innumerable cabins
and farm-houses, far out on the distant wheat-farms, and over many an
evening meal, the details of the triumph and its probable effect on the
fortunes of "our nine" were discussed with a glow of pride, or with a
lively curiosity.

"The boys," in Galena, resting from their labors, and withdrawn from
the admiring attention of the citizens of the town, lounged in a
big bedroom in the Quapaw House, and told, over and over again, the
stirring incidents of the day--incidents on which so much depended that
they now became almost like ancient history in importance. They were
not too tired to play another game right then, so exhilarated were they
by their unwonted success. There was no murmuring, no jealousy, and no
"nagging" in the party now. Every man was elated and flushed with a
sense of his own value as a factor in the game that had been played, as
well as in that which was to be played on the morrow.

"Somehow, boys, I feel it in my bones that we are going to beat
to-morrow," said Larry Boyne, who had won fresh laurels in the field,
that day. And Larry's bright eyes sparkled anew as he spoke.

"Well, that's a new rôle for you to play, Larry," said Al Heaton who
was admiringly hanging over Larry, whom he regarded as the rising
player of the country. "You always were a croaker, you know, Larry, old
boy, and for you to say that you feel confident of victory now, makes
me almost shudder. It seems as if you were losing your head; only I
know you are not."

"No, old chap, I am not losing my head. But you know I am rather
superstitious; at least, my mother says so, and I have a queer notion,
to-night, that we are going to do as well to-morrow as we did to-day."

"That's an encouraging sign, Larry," broke in Captain Hiram Porter.
"But you fellows must all do your level best, all the same, and we
mustn't let any notion of our superiority run away with us, for we
are not superior, perhaps except that I do think that we are better
fielders than the Galena boys."

"Whatever happens to-morrow, Al," said Larry, as they broke up their
sitting for the night. "Put it down that I said that we were to win the
second game in this championship series."

"And if we lose, you will charge it to some adverse fate, won't you,
Larry?"

"In the bright lexicon--you know the rest, Al."

By a singular coincidence, at that very hour, Miss Alice Howell,
writing to her father the glad news, added a postscript thus: "You
will think me overconfident, but I am sure the Catalpas will win the
championship."



CHAPTER X.

HOW THE GOOD NEWS CAME.


Catalpa was wide awake, next day, although the weather was hotter than
ever and the little breeze that drew in from the prairie was laden
with heat. The unexpected result of yesterday's game had set everybody
to speculating on the issue of this day's contest. Some scandal was
created by the appearance of Hank Jackson on the street with a roll of
bills, offering to make bets on the game. It had never been the custom
of anybody in Catalpa to wager anything on a base ball game, and there
was some frowning now on the part of conservative and upright people;
and those who were not specially conservative, but who disapproved
of gaming, did not hesitate to reprove Hank in terms more forcible
than elegant. Hank had spent some days in Bloomington, where he had
frequented pool rooms and had acquired a taste for betting, and his
brief experience was regarded by the younger portion of Catalpa with
much awe and interest. He was followed about by the smaller boys of the
town who listened while he bantered some of his cronies into making
bets.

But public opinion in Catalpa was not yet educated to the point of
engaging in gambling on the uncertain result of a base ball game.
Added to this, it should be said, was Hank's persistence in offering
bets on the defeat of the home nine. That was an unpopular side.
Almost everybody wanted the Catalpas to win the game. It would decide
the championship; and, although it was almost too much to hope for,
there was a feeling of confidence through the town that was quite
inexplicable. So, Hank, after making a swaggering tour of the shops and
stores, but without receiving much popular countenance, quietly dropped
out of the throngs which gathered at the street corners and in other
public places. It was in vain that he argued with rude logic that it
was just as safe to bet on a base ball game as on a horse race. Very
few who listened to him cared to encourage this new sort of gambling.

This time, it was Al Heaton who fired the heart of Catalpa with the
first intelligence from the Diamond Field. It was nearly three o'clock
when his first despatch arrived, and the game had been called at two
o'clock. There was much grumbling in the main street of the town, where
numerous groups stood in the shade of awnings and tall buildings,
waiting for the news. The windows of _The Leaf_ office opened on this
street, as well as on the side street on which the telegraph office was
situated. Editor Downey had announced that he had made arrangements
with Albert to send news directly from the base ball grounds in
Galena, and that he would display a bulletin from his office windows.

Accordingly, when there was hung out a big white sheet of paper, with
black lettering thereon, the assembly below was hushed in expectation.
The despatch ran thus:

  _Everybody confident. Larry Boyne says our nine will win the game.
  Weather hot, and the dust intolerable. Look out for fun._

 _ALBERT HEATON._

"What does he mean by looking out for fun; and who cares what Larry
Boyne thinks?" growled Hank Jackson. "I should think he might send us
something more bracing than that by this time."

But the straggling cheer that greeted Albert's encouraging message
drowned Jackson's grumbling, and the crowd showed by their excitement
that they were ready to accept the slightest omen as proof positive
that the Catalpa nine would carry the day. So, when Judge Howell's
carriage drove up and halted under the shade of the huge catalpa tree
that grew in front of Dr. Selby's drug store, from which the fair Alice
could see the throng and watch for the bulletin from the newspaper
office, there was a little hurrah from some of the younger lads. They
seemed to think that the young lady, in some fashion, represented the
absent Judge, who was now recognized as one of the steadfast friends of
the band of heroes.

"That's a good sign! I'll swear to gracious!" said Rough and Ready, in
a low and hoarse whisper, as he saw the Judge's handsome bays, champing
their bits, and prancing uneasily under the shade of the spreading
catalpa. "It's a good sign, for that gal never went back on the nine,
and her coming will bring good luck. Mark my words, Jake!" Jake, the
big butcher, nodded his head and only said "yaw," when the bulletin was
again flung out from the window of the printing-office.

The magical black letters were read in silence broken only by the
stamping of the horses tethered along the street and worried by the
flies. This is what the eager spectators read:

  _First inning--Catalpas, 1; Galenas, 0._

"A big round goose egg!" screamed Lew Morris, with delight. Then he
raised a hurrah, and the small boys took up the yell. Horses jumped and
tore at their halters and vagrant dogs barked madly about the street.
Then there were smiles and even broad laughter among the devoted
supporters of the home nine. Almost everybody looked pleased, and Dr.
Selby, with the easy confidence of an old friend, went to the side
of the Judge's carriage and shook hands heartily with Miss Alice who
was waving her parasol with a vague notion that it was necessary to
celebrate the auspicious opening of the game.

"I didn't tell you, did I, doctor, that I dreamed, last night, that we
had won the game? Well, I did. Aunt Anstress says that dreams go by
contraries and that that means our nine will be defeated. But I don't
believe that; do you, doctor?"

"Well, I don't believe in dreams, anyhow, Miss Alice, and so I hardly
think that that counts. But we will keep on thinking that the boys will
beat, to-day, and even if we are disappointed, we have yet one more
chance."

The doctor, accepting Alice's invitation, took a seat in the carriage
from which advantageous point he looked over the gathering throng, now
reinforced by arrivals from the region roundabout the town, for the
news had gone forth that despatches were coming in from Al Heaton, and
every man, woman and child who had the least interest in the game (and
these were many) and could leave the labors and duties of the day, was
there to hear.

"It looks as it did in the war, when the news from Shiloh and Vicksburg
was coming in; doesn't it, doctor?"

"I don't know about that, Alice. I was in the war, myself, you know;
was at Port Hudson and Vicksburg. You were a baby then, and I believe
your father was in Congress. Yes, I guess it does look like war times.
But see! There comes another bulletin!"

Editor Downey had rigorously excluded from his office all outsiders,
and was devoting his personal attention to the all-important business
of the day. With his own hands, he hung out the paper sheet bearing
these words:

  _2d inning,--Catalpas, 0; Galenas, 1; 3d inning, Catalpas, 0;
  Galenas, 0._

"Not so good as it might be," remarked Dr. Selby, cheerfully, "but it
will grow better, by and by."

A little cloud passed over the face of Alice, and she bit her lip with
vexation as Hank Jackson bawled with a rough voice, "Ten to five on the
Galenas!"

"If I were a man, I'd like to take that offer," she said, her eyes
sparkling.

"Oh, no, you wouldn't, Alice," cried her friend Ida. "You wouldn't
encourage gambling on base ball, I'm sure."

"Perhaps not; but if I were a man, I would like to thrash that big
ruffian."

Better news came, after a little while. The bulletin for the fourth
inning showed four for the Catalpas and a big round "0" for their
opponents. At this, there was a general and apparently concerted hurrah
from the company in the street below. Editor Downey, as if thinking the
cheer a personal compliment, put his frowsy head out of the window and
bowed with as much grace as was possible under the circumstances.

"Mr. Downey's hair looks as if he was laboring under great excitement,"
said the apothecary, blandly smiling at the editor's somewhat towseled
appearance. "Every individual hair is standing on end, as if he were
charged with electricity."

Alice laughed joyously and seemed glad to find something under which
she could cover her great elation at the good news from the North. Miss
Ida uttered sarcastic remarks about the editor's exuberant comments in
the morning paper regarding the coming contest in Galena. She declared
that she did not think the game nearly as important as any one of the
decisive battles of the war. And she was sure that _The Leaf_ would
be perfectly ridiculous, next day, if the Catalpas were to win the
championship. Her remarks were cut short by the display of another
bulletin announcing the result of the fifth inning in these terms:--

  _Hurrah for our nine! Fifth inning--Catalpas, 0; Galenas, 0._

"What in thunder does that mean?" asked Lew Morris, angrily. "Why does
the numbskull tell us to hurrah for our nine when both sides have a
zero?"

A yell of derision went up from the crowd, and the editor, hearing
groans and cat-calls in the street below, put out his head and, with
much trepidation, cried, "It was a mistake. I forgot to put on the
sixth inning. Catalpas, one; Galenas, nix!"

A loud laugh greeted this sally, and the crowd good-humoredly proposed
three cheers for _The Catalpa Leaf_, which were given in a random
fashion, mingled with laughter. Mr. Downey, now well-smeared with ink,
and perspiring with excitement, acknowledged the salute with gravity.

"Six innings played and the Catalpas are six to the Galena's one!"
exclaimed Alice, who was keeping the score with an assiduity that
seemed to come from a belief that exactness in the figures would,
somehow, affect the final result. Scraps of paper, on which observers
had marked the score and had set down their prognostications of the
innings yet to come, were circulated through the crowd. The Catalpas
now had the lead, and it would be difficult for their adversaries to
come up with them.

Lew Morris, leaning on the door of the carriage, chatted with Alice,
drawing on his vivid imagination for pictures of the nine as they
were probably looking now, away up there in Galena. He could see, he
thought, Hiram Porter devouring the ground as he made his bases with
a giant's stride, his handsome face glowing with mingled heat and
determination. He could even hear Larry's voice, in a stage whisper,
crying, "Go it, Hiram!" And he could see Larry, at third base, when the
Catalpas were in the field, making one of those superb running catches
of his, Ben Burton looking on, "as if he would eat him up," added
Lewis, jocularly.

"Why should Ben want to eat Larry up?" asked Dr. Selby, innocently.
"Does he love him so?"

"On the contrary, quite the reverse," laughed Lewis. "Larry is showing
himself to be the best player in the nine, and as Ben thought that
_he_ was the best, and is finding out that he is not, he loves Larry
accordingly. Besides that, he is jealous of Larry for other reasons,"
and the young man fixed a bold look on the blushing face of Miss Alice.
She turned away to see if another bulletin were not ready, and the
doctor shook his head deprecatingly at Lewis.

There was much time for talk, however, before another despatch from the
seat of war appeared. The impatient crowd, panting in the heat that
was more and more oppressive as the sun approached the west, flung all
sorts of appeals upwards to the windows of the office of _The Leaf_.
There was no response, although Mr. Downey, as if to contradict Hank
Jackson's loud jeer that the editor had gone to sleep, showed his
shaggy head at the window and made a negative motion with the same.
There was no news.

Finally, just as some of the less patient were beginning to make their
way homewards, like a banner of victory, the sheet of paper again
appeared. This time, it was blazoned with these returns:--

  _7th inning--Catalpas, 1; Galenas, 0; 8th inning--Catalpas, 0;
  Galenas, 1._

"An even thing for the two innings!" cried Lew Morris triumphantly.
"The Galenas cannot possibly pull up in the last inning! The game is
ours! The game is ours!"

Lew's jubilant shout was taken up by the crowd, which now grew denser
again, and the excitement mounted to fever heat as the sun sank behind
the cotton-woods below the town. Satisfied that the game and the
championship were virtually won, some of the elder citizens, after
exchanging congratulations with everybody that had a word of joy on
their lips, walked homewards. But some of them stopped on the road and
turned a listening ear towards the main street to hear the rousing
cheer that soon went up, telling the town and all the Stone River
Valley that the game was won and that our nine had captured the pennant
of Northern Illinois.

A grimy and inky young imp, on the roof of _The Leaf_ building, hoisted
a particularly inky and grimy flag as the editor hung out from his
window this bulletin:--

  _The victory is complete! Old Catalpa to the front! Glory enough for
  one day! Following is the score by innings:_

                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9    _total._
 Catalpas             1 0 0 4 0 1 1 0 1       8.
 Galenas              0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1       3.

  _The Galenas will banquet the Catalpas at the Quapaw House, this
  evening, when a right royal time is expected._

 _ALBERT HEATON._

"And now for the championship of the State, dad?" shouted Tom Selby,
exultingly, as his father descended from the carriage of the Judge.
Alice, who was beaming with delight, could hardly speak her joy. The
great contest was over, and the home nine would come back covered
with glory. But she shook her head at Tom's vain-glorious remark. The
league games were all made up for the season, she knew, and it would be
difficult, if not impossible, to secure a challenge from any club in
the league. Oh, no, she couldn't think of it. Tom must not think of it,
at least, not until another summer.

The good doctor smiled at the lad's enthusiasm and said that glory
enough for one day meant glory enough for one season. There were other
contests before the home nine, and they could be content, or they
should be, to wear the laurels already won, whatever happened to them
hereafter. They could not lose any prestige by any manner of means.

When Judge Howell arrived by the early evening train from Pawpaw, he
was surprised to see the dingy flag of _The Catalpa Leaf_ drooping
lazily from its staff. He had not forgotten that the second game in the
Northern District Championship was to have been played that afternoon;
and he remembered his daughter's prediction of success. But it seemed
incredible that this should have actually come to pass. As he alighted
from the train, his judicial dignity a little soiled by travel and
perspiration, he was met by Rough and Ready, who, with a slight touch
of his 'coonskin cap, the only recognition of high station of which
he was ever capable, said, "Any baggage, Jedge? carry it as cheap as
anybody. Our nine has flaxed out the Galenas--eight to three! Big
thing, Jedge! Lemme take that grip-sack. Great day for old Catalpa,
Jedge. Your darter, she said as how she allowed that you mought like to
get the news straight, so I told her I'd come up and tell you quick.
Thank you, Jedge." And, dropping a silver quarter into his pocket,
Rough and Ready turned and collared a stranger from whom he wrested his
valise and marched triumphantly down into the town.

When the Judge, clothed once more in the dignity of cleanliness and his
home headship, heard that night from the animated lips of his daughter
the story of the winning of the championship, he said, with an air of
graceful condescension, "It was a famous victory, Alice. We have reason
to be proud of our nine; and I will venture to say that when we get
the full particulars of the game, we shall find that that fine-looking
young fellow, Lawrence Boyne, contributed the largest share to the
triumph."

When the details of the game were brought to Catalpa, next day, in a
letter to _The Leaf_, it was found that the Judge knew just what he was
talking about.

But greater news than this came with Larry Boyne and Hiram Porter, a
week or two later. The nine had been playing a few games along the
river towns and had rested for a day or two in Rock Island, after
playing the Dacotahs of that city. Several of the nine took advantage
of a lull in their engagements to visit Catalpa. Mr. Heaton and Albert
had returned home, and Larry and Hiram had gone to Chicago on some
mysterious errand, nobody knew just what. Neddie Ellis was one of those
who had come back to Catalpa while the time was passing before they
should play the new series of games beginning with the Moline club.
Neddie looked very wise when asked where Larry and Hiram had gone, and
Albert Heaton assumed a most important air whenever he said anything
about the doings of the two absent members of the nine.

But it all came out in due time. Captain Porter and his trusty
lieutenant arrived by the noon train, and before the sun had set
everybody in Catalpa knew that a match had been arranged between the
Catalpa nine and the Calumet club for the State Championship. It was
indeed wonderful news, and nothing since the war had happened to stir
the population of that region as the intelligence. There were divers
opinions regarding this unexpected development. Many thought that
it was indiscreet for so young and green a club as the Catalpas to
challenge the Calumets--the famous and renowned Calumets. Then there
were others who thought that it was presumptuous for the Catalpa boys
even so much as to ask any leading club to play them merely because a
triumph had been unexpectedly achieved in Galena. But all agreed that
it was a great feather in the cap of "our nine" that the Chicago club
should have accepted the challenge, or should have agreed to meet them
on any terms whatever.

"I am not certain whether I am glad or sorry that our nine will play
the Calumets, papa," said Alice Howell. "I mean that I cannot tell yet
whether I shall be disappointed if they lose. I depend a great deal on
my impressions, you know, and I haven't any as yet."

The Judge smiled at his daughter's odd notion of waiting for
impressions, and replied, "I do not wait for any inspiration on the
subject, my child. I am sure that the Catalpa nine will be badly
beaten. I don't know much about base ball, but I do know enough to know
that the Calumet club has been in the newspapers for a long time as the
great base ball club of the northwest."

"That's so, papa," sighed Alice, "and I have dreadful forebodings when
I think of the risk that they have undertaken."

"Nothing venture, nothing have, Alice, and it will be no disgrace if
our nine are defeated by the Calumets. Unless they are very badly
beaten indeed, and that is not improbable, to be sure, they will bring
some new honors off the field."

The Judge's conservative and moderate view of the case was that of the
average of Catalpa. To play the Calumets was in itself an honor.

Henry Jackson represented the most discouraging element in Catalpa
public opinion. And when Ben Burton returned to town for a day's
holiday, and became at once unusually familiar with Hank, Larry's
face clouded and Alice Howell confidentially informed her friend Ida
Boardman that she never could abide Ben Burton, and that now she knew
he was a man who would consort with mean companions. Nothing could be
lower, she thought, than the course that Henry Jackson had taken during
the late contest between the Catalpas and the Galenas.

It was only by a lucky accident that the Calumets had been able to
find a place in their later engagements for a championship series
of three games with the Catalpas. The sudden sickness of several
members of the Osceola club, engaged to play the Calumets, had made
it necessary to cancel all the engagements of the former club for
the season. The Osceolas had been overtaken by a contagious disease
that had made sad havoc that summer, as many will remember, among
strangers who visited the lower portion of the State, which had been
under water from late in February until the beginning of May. But the
ill-luck of the Osceola club was the means of opening a way for the
Catalpas to play the Calumets; and that was felt to be something almost
providential--at least, in the town of Catalpa.



CHAPTER XI.

IN A NEW FIELD.


"I wish so many of the Catalpa folks had not come in to see the game,
to-day," said Larry Boyne, discontentedly, on the morning of the first
of the championship series of games in Chicago, late in the following
October. "It is bad enough to feel like a cat in a strange garret as I
do here, without the feeling added of being watched by our friends from
home, who will be so awfully cut up if we do not win."

"But you are not afraid of our losing, are you, Larry? And I am sure
there is one young lady, at least, whose smiles will encourage you,"
said Hiram Porter, with a grin that was meant to be sly and also
cheery. "It is pretty generally understood among the boys (and as long
as we are alone together, there is no need of our being shamefaced
about it) that you and Miss Alice have come to an understanding, as the
saying is. You needn't say whether that is so or not, Larry, my boy.
But, if I were in your place, I would be glad to have those beautiful
and sympathetic eyes watching my play. It would make me put in my very
best licks, you may be sure of that."

Larry murmured something about there being a difference in people, and
turned the subject to the preparations to be made for the day's event.
The Catalpas had had only a little opportunity to make themselves
familiar with the Chicago base ball grounds. At the end of a game
played on the previous day, they had a little practice at pitching, and
had taken in the situation of the arena sufficiently to enable them to
be not entirely strangers to the place.

They found themselves inside of a complete enclosure, skirted by a
grand stand at one end and uncovered and open seats at the other. A
high board fence bounded the grassy lawn on which the Diamond Field was
laid, and the seats for spectators rose above this fence, so that the
players were securely left to their own devices while the game should
be in progress. A breeze from the lake, tempered by the October sun,
swept over the grounds, and was broken, when the wind arose, by the
screen formed by the board enclosure.

When the nine, with beating hearts and quickened pulses, entered the
grounds on the day so fraught with importance to them, they were a
little dumbfounded to see that an immense crowd of people, perhaps ten
thousand, all told, occupied the vast array of seats that lined the
amphitheater. A brass band blared and brayed in a tall stand set apart
for them, and the entrance of the Catalpa nine was the signal for a
burst of kindly applause that helped to reassure the lads composing
that now well-known club. Since the matches played in the river towns,
the nine had met some of the best-known clubs in the State, and in
Iowa. With varying success, but generally doing credit to their own
native place, the Catalpas had attracted attention by their uniformly
excellent play, their manly bearing, and by their steady habits.
They had made no enemies. So, when the young fellows, clad in their
blue and white uniform, came into the range of vision of the throngs
in the grand stand and boxes, a round of applause greeted them, and
one enthusiastic citizen from Catalpa, no less a person than the
deputy sheriff of Dean County, ventured to propose three cheers for
the Catalpa nine. The proposition fell very flat, and, covered with
confusion, the deputy sheriff sat down and mopped his manly brow.

As Hiram Porter threw up the penny for the toss, Larry's eye
involuntarily sought a curtained box to which his attention had been
directed, the day before, as he had inspected the grounds in company
with Miss Ida Boardman, Miss Alice Howell and two other ladies from
Catalpa. The party was under the guidance of Mr. Heaton. Albert was
never long in one place. He was too highly excited to be depended upon
as an escort for the young ladies, and he divided his time between his
old companions of the Catalpa nine and the pitcher of the Calumets,
Samuel Morse, an old school chum, who had helped signally in arranging
the present contest.

So, as Larry's glance lighted on the first box to the right of the
grand stand, it caught an answering smile from Miss Alice, and Albert
Heaton, who was momentarily fluttering about the box, waved his hand to
the favorite third base man of the Catalpas and said, under his breath,
"Sail in, old boy!"

"You don't imagine that Mr. Boyne heard that, do you, in all this
noise?" asked Alice, with rosy face and sparkling eyes.

"No, I don't suppose that Larry heard or saw anything but what he saw
and guessed at in that telegraphic look of yours, Miss Ally," replied
Albert, mockingly. "Larry, the dear boy, knows well enough what I would
be saying to him; and I hope he knows what you would be telegraphing
him by way of encouragement. Hurrah! Hiram has won the toss! He'll send
the Calumets to the bat, see if he don't."

Albert was right. The home club were sent to the bat, and Thomas Walsh,
of the Black Hawks, took his place as umpire. This was the order in
which the two clubs were named and stationed on that eventful day:--

 _Catalpas._
 Larry Boyne, 3d B.
 Samuel Morrison, L.F.
 Neddie Ellis, C.F.
 Charlie King, P.
 Hart Stirling, 2d B.
 John Brubaker, R.F.
 Hiram Porter, 1st B. (Capt.)
 Ben Burton, S.S.
 Wm. Van Orman, C.

 _Calumets._
 Darius Ayres, 1st B. (Capt.)
 Samuel Morse, P.
 John Handy, 3d B.
 Rob Peabody, R.F.
 Thomas Shoff, C.F.
 Glenn Otto, S.S.
 James Kennedy, 2d B.
 Charlie Webb, C.
 James McWilliams, L.F.

The Catalpa boys thought there should have been breathless silence
in the enclosure as Hiram Porter, having carefully placed his men,
called to the umpire "play!" Play was accordingly called, but there
was silence, by no means, in the grounds. The clatter of late comers
reaching their seats, the buzz of conversation that yet arose from the
crowds in the amphitheater, and the cry of boys selling score-cards
disturbed the serenity of the ardent champions of the Catalpa Nine.
They wondered why people should talk when so momentous a game was
about opening. And Alice, with a feverish sigh of impatience, said to
Miss Ida that she should think that the Chicago people had very little
manners. Whereupon Miss Anstress, with great severity, said that the
spectators were not so much in love with the players that they cared
a pin whether either side won. This unkind remark was turned aside by
Mr. Heaton who said that there were not a few among the on-lookers who
had bet money in the gambling rooms outside and who did care very much
which side won the game.

All this talk was brought to an end when Darius Ayres, the captain of
the Calumets, stood up at the bat and made ready for the first play.
Darius was a tall and shapely young fellow, renowned for his long-field
hits, and a swift runner. He had an evil look in his eyes, as some of
the Catalpa visitors thought, and when he struck a straight ball, like
a cannon shot, to right field, there was a little shudder in one of the
private boxes. But John Brubaker, always alert, captured it on a hard
run. This put the Catalpas in good spirits at once. The game had opened
well for them. "Two good signs, Alice," said Ida Boardman. "Won the
toss and caught out the first man!"

John's clever catch did not pass unnoticed, for the numerous supporters
of the Catalpas raised a little cheer which was taken up and continued
around the enclosure as Sam Morse went to the bat for the home club.
But Samuel fared no better than his captain, and retired on a short
and easy fly to Ben Burton. The first half of the inning was ended by
John Handy, who hit a hot grounder to Larry Boyne at third base. Larry
mastered it in fine style and made a lightning throw to Hiram Porter on
first base. The eyes of the visitors and their friends fairly sparkled
as the Catalpas came in from the field. They had made a good beginning.

But no sooner had the nine reached the players' bench than Ben
Burton began to criticise the manner in which honest John Brubaker
had been rewarded for capturing what Ben was pleased to call "a
two-old-cat fly." Larry, politely requesting Burton to be civil,
picked up his bat and faced the pitching of the renowned Sam Morse.
He made two ineffectual plunges at the ball, and, while the catcher
of the Calumets was adjusting his mask so as to enable him to come up
closer to the player, Larry stole a glance at his comrades and was
mortified and annoyed to see a derisive smile on the blonde face of Ben
Burton, while the other seven occupants of the bench wore an uneasy
expression. Ben Burton was evidently making them uncomfortable. Larry
moistened his hands, and, carefully gauging one of Morse's favorite
in-shoots, hit the ball with all his might. The flying sphere went
swiftly into the left field and yielded the stalwart third base man of
the Catalpas two bases. Alice involuntarily clapped her hands, happily
unmindful of the sour looks of her observant aunt.

Sam Morrison next stood up before the redoubtable Morse, and hit an
easy grounder to Glenn Otto, at short stop, and Samuel was retired
at first base. His shot, however, advanced Larry to third base, and
Neddie Ellis took up the bat. But Neddie could not yet understand the
puzzling curves of the Calumet's pitcher, and, having wildly struck the
air three times, went out. This made two out for the Catalpas, with
Larry Boyne anxiously waiting on the third base. Not long did he wait,
however, for Charlie King, long of limb and keen of eye, came to the
bat with great expectations on the part of the sons of Catalpa. Charlie
thought favorably of the first ball pitched at him by Morse and he sent
it flying to the center field for one base, and allowed Larry to come
home amidst a little round of applause from the Catalpa section of the
spectators. During the cheer that greeted the successful play, Charlie
attempted to steal to second base but was thrown out by Billy Webb, and
the ardor of the spirits of Catalpa was consequently soon dampened.

The Calumets now went to work with a will at the beginning of their
second inning, and, after receiving some hints from Jamie Kennedy,
who assumed to know a little about the mysteries of King's curves,
Robert Peabody, the Calumet's right fielder, a Michigan University man
and a famous athlete, handled the bat and called for a low ball from
the pitcher of the Catalpas. This was delivered, but not where Rob
had asked for it, and he politely refused to strike at it, muttering
to Captain Darius, "I won't strike until I get one just knee-high."
Charlie King overheard this little byplay and continued to put the
ball in the vicinity of Peabody's shoulder until the umpire called
"six balls." It was now about time for King to give the Chicago player
a good ball, but Peabody could not be tempted to strike at it, after
being ordered by his captain to try and take his base on called balls.
The result was that tricky Charlie King delivered three balls in rapid
succession just where the dissatisfied right fielder of the Calumets
had requested them, and the umpire called, "One strike!" "Two strikes!"
"Three strikes!" "Striker out!"

The ashen stick was then taken up by Tom Shoff, who sent the ball in
the direction of Ben Burton at short stop, and who fumbled it, dropping
it several times as if it were a hot potato, allowing Tom to reach
first base in safety. Next, Glenn Otto hit a ball to Hiram Porter who
fielded it handsomely, putting out the striker but allowing Shoff to
go to second base. While Jamie Kennedy was at the bat, a passed ball
allowed Shoff to complete three quarters of his homeward journey.
With two out and a man on third base, Captain Porter naturally felt
alarmed. He cautioned his men to be cool and careful, "especially
cool," he added. After two strikes were called on Kennedy, he solved
one of Charlie King's in-shoots and, to the delight of the Chicago
on-lookers, sent the ball rolling in center field while Shoff sped
swiftly homewards; and the score stood 1 and 1. The Calumet's half of
the inning was ended by the retiring of Webb on a foul fly to "The
Lily," as Bill Van Orman was now universally called. The Catalpa
boys were not disheartened; they had confidence in each other, and
they went to work again with a determination to try and recover what
they had lost. In the second inning, however, they found themselves
unsuccessful. Hart Stirling was fielded out at first base by Jamie
Kennedy; John Brubaker, following him, met with the same fate, being
thrown out at first by Glenn Otto; and Hiram Porter ended the inning by
hitting a sky-scraper to James McWilliams at left field.

There was intense depression in the Catalpa section and among the
nine of that famous town; only the face of Larry Boyne still bore any
semblance of contentment. Larry smiled with his attempt to infuse a
little more hopefulness into the Catalpa bosom. And looking to the box
where Mr. Heaton's tall white hat towered conspicuously, he caught an
answering smile from the young lady who carried a blue parasol.

The score now stood even at even innings, and the faces of the Chicago
players wore a broad smile of complacency in place of the gloomy
look that had previously been their characteristic expression. Full
of confidence, James McWilliams picked out his favorite bat and
faced "Tricky Charlie," as they had already dubbed the pitcher of
the visitors. King was determined to retire this particular player,
as "Mac" had often expressed a desire to "take the conceit out of
that chap from Catalpa." Charlie did some of his fine work for the
occasion and his friend McWilliams threw down his bat in disgust, after
hearing the third strike called by the umpire; and Captain Darius
Ayres, with a look of vengeful determination, took the place vacated
by his club mate. He hit a sharp grounder between first and second
bases and reached the first bag. At this point of the game, the boys
from Catalpa had lost some of the hope that they had cherished at the
beginning of the contest; and they were not cheered in the least by a
sarcastic smile that adorned the face of their short stop, Ben Burton,
who appeared to be almost glad that the chances of his own club were
diminishing, instead of increasing.

Even from her distant point of vantage, Alice Howell, scanning Ben's
sour face through her field glass, saw with uneasiness that forbidding
look and said, in a tragic whisper to her companion, "Ida, if that
scamp could throw the game, I believe he is mean enough to do it."

Sam Morse made a base hit to the right field, and Ayres went safely
home to third base, while Morse stole to second base. With second and
third bases occupied and but one man out, the Catalpas did not feel in
jovial mood, and the deputy sheriff of Dean County looked around upon
the bright faces of the local spectators with the air of one who is
indignant at an outrage which he is powerless to abate.

The next man to the bat was John Handy, who had the reputation of being
"a slugger," and as he called out in a stern voice, "Give me a low
ball, and I'll knock it's cover off," some of the excitable players
quaked in their shoes; but Hiram Porter quieted his men by saying, in
a low tone of voice, "Keep cool, fellows! keep cool and we will double
them up yet!" Handy hit the ball, the first that was delivered him,
and it went like a rocket to Larry Boyne at third base. That young
gentleman was ready to receive it, and by making a difficult one-hand
catch, he succeeded in making a double play as Ayres had vacated third
base without once dreaming that Larry would be able to capture the ball.

Ben Burton came now to the bat for the Catalpas, in this inning; but
Ben had not established a very good reputation as a batsman, and his
speedy retiring on a foul ball excited no remark. "The Lily" took his
place at the bat and at once gave evidence of his prowess by hitting
the ball for two bases which he made with neatness and despatch. Larry
Boyne followed him and gently tipped the sphere for a single base-hit,
without ado, whereat "The Lily" slipped to third base. The spectators
eyed Sam Morrison as he swung his bat over his shoulder and strode
to the home plate. Sam was a stocky, well-built young fellow, with a
well-shaped head and shoulders, and a fine pair of very long arms.
He was anxious to do something to send up the score of the Catalpas,
but he sent up nothing but a small fly to Morse, and he was at once
succeeded by Neddie Ellis, the rather diminutive center fielder of the
Catalpa Nine. Neddie owed the club three base hits, as he thought, and
was falling behind in his batting record as the season had advanced. He
moistened his hands and, with the avowed intention of losing the ball,
he made a plunge, and, as Al Heaton from his perch remarked, "hit the
ball on the nose" and sent it flying over the center fielder's head.
After Larry and "The Lily" had cleared the home plate, Neddie tried
his best to make a home run. Tommy Shoff, however, handled the ball in
clever fashion, and by fielding it quickly, caught Neddie at the home
plate, ending the inning and making the score three to one in favor of
the Catalpas.

A murmur of applause, mingled with the little buzz which always
follows the close of an inning, like a sigh of relief, went around
as the Catalpas went to the field with light hearts. Two or three of
the baser sort of the gambling on-lookers jeered the visitors with
derisive remarks, but this indiscretion was speedily suppressed. "Fair
play for the visitors" was the watchword of the day. The Catalpa boys
disposed of their opponents at the opening of the fourth inning without
allowing them to send a man around the circuit. In fact, not a player
of the Calumet club reached first base in safety during this inning.
Rob Peabody secured first base on called balls, and was followed at
the bat by Shoff who hit a grounder to Hart Stirling, at second base,
and who delivered the ball in fine style to his captain on first base,
after making a neat pick-up. Glenn Otto managed, by great craftiness,
to send the ball outside of the diamond with tremendous force, but he
lifted it too high and he fell a victim to Sam Morrison's alertness in
the left field.

Jamie Kennedy, who succeeded at the bat, also gave the ball a
tremendous whack, but he, too, lifted it too high, and Neddie Ellis,
in center field, captured it without serious difficulty. The Catalpa
club, in this inning, was obliged to be contented with a zero, and Ben
Burton's face was a puzzling study to Alice Howell and her friend Ida,
who scanned the unconscious Benjamin through their glass, as if his
tell-tale countenance were an indicator of the progress of the game.
This time, they could not make out whether the Catalpa short stop
was pleased by the ill fortune of his own club, or dismayed by the
advancing prospects of the Chicago boys. They gave up the riddle with
disgust.

There was yet no real occasion for dismay, although there was when
Charlie King began the work of going out by hitting a slow ball to
Darius Ayres at first base, and Hart Stirling followed his example
by a foul tip to Charlie Webb. John Brubaker, "Honest John," as he
was called, hit the ball with all his might and had covered half
the circuit before he realized that the sphere had gone outside of
the foul flags. He made a second attempt, however, and was retired
without hitting the ball, Sam Morse's out-curves being more intricate
than anything that he had yet encountered. Honest John's inglorious
withdrawal closed the inning.

The Calumets sent Webb first to the bat at the opening of the next
inning, but Charlie was not fortunate. He hit the ball several times,
and it went high in air, and escaped the vigilance of the Catalpas. But
Webb sent up one foul too many and the watchful and agile Larry Boyne
captured it, after a hard run. James McWilliams for the second time
faced Charlie King's pitching, and as he left his seat, said, "Boy's,
I'll eat clover for a week if I don't hit him safely this time." Mac
had fire in his eye, and his look and his remark did not escape the
attention of Charlie King, who, turning to his captain, slyly promised
to give the Chicago man an opportunity to make good his promise. King
kept his word, and, by cunning pitching, retired McWilliams on strikes
after six balls were charged against him.

Captain Darius Ayres hit safely to the left field, but it was too late,
as Sam Morse ruined all chances of the scoring of the Calumets by
sending a fly which was neatly caught by Hart Stirling at second base.
The Catalpas also failed to add any runs to their score in the fifth
inning. At this point, Sam Morse was pitching in admirable style and it
was with difficulty that the visitors could hit the ball at all. Morse
had a very effectual out-curve, and he had made good use of it during
the last two innings.

Captain Hiram Porter went to the bat with some of the confidence
that he had tried to inspire in the breasts of his comrades, but he
failed to accomplish his dearest desire, and went out on the strikes
successively called by the umpire. He was followed by Ben Burton, who
walked up to the batsman's position with a lazy and indifferent manner,
hit the ball in an off-hand fashion, and had the pleasure of seeing
it fielded by Glenn Otto, and was retired at first base. Here "The
Lily" made a desperate attempt to achieve a home run, and he probably
would have been successful if he had hit the ball far enough into the
out-field, judging from the manner in which he "sprinted" to first base
on a slow ball which was readily fielded by Jamie Kennedy.

"This is our lucky inning," said Captain Ayres to John Handy, as the
latter started to face the pitching of Charlie King in the sixth
inning. "Here, take my bat for luck," he added, "and see if you can't
use it to advantage." Handy accepted the offer of the captain's club
and used it with good effect. He called for a high ball, caught King
off his guard as he struck, and so secured a good hit on the very first
ball, and made first base. Rob Peabody followed and hit a liner to
Neddie Ellis who misjudged the distance, and the ball went over his
head and allowed Rob to make two bases, while Handy got safely home.
This put the figures three to two in favor of the Catalpas and seemed
to inspire the Calumets with new confidence, their captain remarking
with glee, "I told you this was our lucky inning."

Right here, however, Tommy Shoff went out on a fly to Larry Boyne, and
"The Lily" caught a sharp foul tip from the bat of Glenn Otto, which
left Peabody on second base and two men out. The prospects of the home
nine were not brightening.

Next to the bat came Jamie Kennedy, who tried his best to make a short
right field hit that should send his colleague safely home, as Peabody
was a good base runner and needed only "half a chance" to make a home
run. Jamie hit the ball in the right direction, but his blow was a
trifle too hard and the ball was cleverly caught by John Brubaker at
right field, and this left the game still three to two in favor of the
Catalpas. The latter did not, however, feel safe with so small a lead,
and they thought it prudent to send several more men around the circuit
of the bases, if possible. Larry Boyne was the first man to the bat for
the Catalpas in the sixth inning, and he secured his base on called
balls, but fell before Charlie Webb's throwing, while trying to steal
to the second bag. Sam Morrison struck out, and Neddie Ellis ended the
inning by sending up a sky-scraper which was nicely nipped, just in the
nick of time, apparently, by Rob Peabody.

In the seventh inning, both clubs failed to score. Webb hit a ball
in the direction of Ben Burton who made an overthrow to first base.
McWilliams followed and hit a short one to Hart Stirling at second
base, who, with the aid of Hiram Porter, made a very pretty double
play. Darius Ayres secured his base on called balls, stole to second
base, but was left there, as Sam Morse retired on strikes. Not one of
the Catalpa players reached first base. Charlie King and Hart Stirling
both went out on flies, the former to Tom Shoff and the latter to Glenn
Otto. John Brubaker failed to hit the ball and was consequently called
out on strikes.

"The Calumets have everything to gain and nothing to lose," remarked
Mr. Heaton, sagely, as he regarded the field from the box from which
the little party of interested Catalpans overlooked the beautiful scene
below. The yellow sun, now declining westward, tinted the woodwork of
the stands and enclosures with a golden hue, and a breeze from the lake
flaunted the many-colored flags that adorned the structure. The yellow
light only intensified the brilliant greenness of the lawn, on which
the Diamond Field was laid, and the brilliant costumes of the players
were tricked out with a new and strange luster as the sunshine rained
down through veiling mists. But the absorbed spectators, as well as
the intensely engrossed players in the field below, had no eyes for
the picture. Every eye was fixed on John Handy, as he went to the bat
for the Calumets. It was felt that they would take desperate chances.
On the next few plays might turn the issue of the game. Silence as
complete as if there was not a soul in the vast enclosure reigned as
Handy took his place at the bat.

He placed the ball safely in the center field and was followed by
Peabody who also gained a single hit, sending the ball into the left
field. The next ball was hit to Ben Burton by Shoff. Ben was unable
to handle the ball properly, and Hart Stirling came to his rescue and
as Ben dropped it out of his hands, Stirling picked it up and sent it
to first base in time to head off Shoff. At this point in the game,
only one man was out and the second and third bases were occupied. A
trifling error would tie the game. A single base hit would give the
Calumets the lead. The attention with which the play was now regarded
from the seats was something almost painful in its tenseness.

Glenn Otto stood before Charlie King's pitching with a look of
resolution and defiance. He had been ordered not to strike at a ball
until it was put where he asked for it, and to take the chances of the
catcher of the Catalpas having a passed ball charged to him. In this
little scheme there was one error. King very well knew the purpose of
his opponent, and he managed his own points so well that, before Otto
could realize what was about to happen, King had him out on strikes.

Jamie Kennedy was the next man to fall before the destructive tactics
now followed by the Catalpas. Jamie hit a sharp ball to Larry Boyne,
who, with characteristic skill, retired him at first base. This clever
bit of play took a load from the hearts of the Catalpas, and, in the
excitement of the moment, Deputy Sheriff Wheeler ejaculated "Gosh all
hemlock!" whereupon everybody in that region laughed, as if glad of a
pretext to slacken their attention from the play for an instant.

But the riveted intentness of the spectators was at once resumed as the
boys of Catalpa went to the bat in the eighth inning, and succeeded in
placing another run to their credit. Hiram Porter hit to Kennedy at
second base, and was retired at first base. Ben Burton followed his
example and "The Lily" finally secured the home run which he had been
looking for ever since he had left Catalpa. "The Lily" had many strong
points, but base-running was not one of them. He had two strikes called
on the first two balls pitched, and then made ready for the third, and,
as the ball curved in, he stepped backwards a few inches and hit it
with all his might, which was a great deal, for "The Lily" was a man
of brawn and muscle. The ball flew over the center fielder's head like
a rifle-shot and Bill covered the entire circuit with ease, winning an
irrepressible and resounding burst of applause from the multitudes that
crowded the amphitheater.

"Splendid, Bill! perfectly splendid!" cried Alice Howell, wholly
oblivious of the fact that there were other people than herself in
the circle about her. Mr. Heaton looked around with admiration at
the impulsive girl, while the dignified maiden aunt glanced into the
next box to see if anybody had caught the words of her erratic ward
and niece. While this little byplay went on, Alice's eyes were fixed
on Larry Boyne who ended the eighth inning by sending a fly ball to
McWilliams and so going out.

The score now stood four to two in favor of the Catalpas. To his
infinite chagrin, Captain Ayres saw defeat staring him in the face.
Hastily calling his men about him, he held a hurried consultation, as
they came in from the field. He said,

"Boys, we must take all the chances this time. They lead us two runs,
and, in order at least to tie them, you must trust to errors, and,
above all things, do not hug the bases."

Captain Darius was right in this particular, and the men obeyed his
instructions to the letter in regard to hugging the bases; but it
was impossible for them to show any sign of insubordination, as not
a man went beyond the first base. Every member of the Calumet club
was retired as fast as he went to the bat. Charlie Webb gayly faced
"tricky Charlie," and hit the first ball pitched. It went sailing out
of the Diamond and into the hands of Sam Morrison. The second victim
was McWilliams who failed to take down the pride of King, as he had
promised himself that he would; and Charlie felt prouder than ever as
he sent his formidable antagonist to the players' bench, put out on
strikes.

Darius Ayres made several ineffectual attempts to hit the sphere,
and at last struck the ball fairly, but Larry Boyne was prepared for
its coming his way. Running backwards, with his eye fixed on the
little black speck that dropped out of the clouds with lightning-like
swiftness, Larry moved over the turf without seeming to move. Ida
Boardman so far forgot herself as to cry out, at this critical
juncture, "Catch it! catch it!" The sphere fell into Larry's
hardened hand with a resounding thud, and with a fervent "Heaven bless
you!" the young lady sunk back into her seat, while a prodigious cheer,
frightening to flight the sparrows that twittered on the edges of the
structure, and faintly heard far out by sailors on the lake, proclaimed
the contest ended with a famous victory for the Catalpa Nine.

[Illustration: "IDA BOARDMAN SO FAR FORGOT HERSELF AS TO CRY OUT AT
THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE: 'CATCH IT! CATCH IT!'"--Page 136.]

The band broke forth into a pæan of triumph, and while the majority of
the spectators began to shuffle out with eager haste, a few, other than
the delighted visitors from Catalpa, remained to gaze with undisguised
admiration on the stalwart and handsome young fellows who had so
unexpectedly won the day.

The two captains, as the game was concluded, advanced towards each
other with outstretched hands.

"Your men are capital players," said Hiram Porter, a glow suffusing his
cheek, "and I consider it a great honor to have defeated them."

"Aye, aye," said Captain Ayres, not without a wince. "It is a little
hard for our boys to be defeated after playing a game without errors;
but your victory was due to lucky batting, and it does not signify
that your men are the better players. We will try and turn the tables
to-morrow."

The visitors gave three cheers and a tiger for their opponents, and
then retired from the field. It would be useless to attempt to describe
the thrill and the suppressed exultation with which they read on the
bulletin boards of the city newspaper offices, as they went to their
lodgings, the following score:--

                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
 Calumets             0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0=2.
 Catalpas             1 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0=4.

 _Runs earned_--Calumets, 0; Catalpas, 4.
 _Base hits_--     "      5,    "      6.
 _Errors_--        "      0,    "      3.
 _Umpire_, Mr. Thomas Walsh.
 _Time of game, two and a half hours._



CHAPTER XII.

AFTER THE VICTORY.


"The boss says he would be obliged to you if you would make less noise."

It was a tall and red-faced young man who brought this message to
the Catalpa Nine, as they were gathered in the room of Captain Hiram
Porter, in their lodging-house, after the great match game. Al Heaton
had hurried to join the boys, as soon as he had sent to Catalpa his
despatch announcing the result of the contest in the most glowing terms
consistent with the rate of telegraph tolls and the needed conciseness
of a despatch. All hands were in that flow of animal spirits that
might have been expected from nearly a dozen young fellows who are
elated over a great victory and who have laboriously repressed their
jubilation until they are alone.

"There! I told you, boys, that your skylarking would bring up the
landlord. Oh, I say, Neddie, quit your fooling. You can't throw 'The
Lily,' if you try all night; and we are making such a racket that the
whole house is disturbed." This was Captain Porter's admonition.

"Besides," said Larry Boyne, who was panting with the unwonted exertion
of boosting Charlie King over the headboard of the bedstead, where
Charlie was determined he would not go, "besides all that, it's time
for you and me, Hi, to get ready to go out to dinner."

"Where are you two fellows going to dinner?" demanded half a dozen
voices at once. "Are you going to throw off on us in that way?"

Captain Hiram explained that he and Larry had accepted an invitation to
take dinner with Judge Morris, with whose family Mr. Heaton and Albert
were staying during the progress of the games in Chicago. The Morrises,
he added, lived on the north side of the river, and he and Larry should
be ready to start, instead of "cutting up" to show how tickled they
were with their recent victory.

"But 'twas a famous victory," quoted Larry, "for all that, and I would
just as soon stay with the boys and celebrate it as go out to dine with
Judge Morris, who, they say, is a heavy swell."

"I happen to know that Miss Alice Howell and her friend Miss Ida are
stopping with the Morrises, Larry," said Ben Burton, with an unpleasant
leer, "and you and Hiram will be in clover; so you can afford to shake
us until the next game."

Larry grew very red in the face at this, and there was a dangerous
gleam in Hiram Porter's eye as he noted the ill-natured scowl on
Burton's countenance. He restrained himself, however, and said, "Why
do you continually harp on the Judge's daughter, Ben? The young lady
is from our own town, and she is more interested in the success of the
Catalpas than some of its members, I reckon; at least, I think so,
judging from appearances."

"What do you mean by that, Hi Porter?" demanded Ben, hotly. "You have
insinuated that sort of thing too many times in my hearing. And I want
you to understand that you can't put on any captain's airs over me, now
that we are off the field. I am my own master for to-night anyway."

"Come, come, boys," interposed Larry, soothingly. "Don't let us mar
the enjoyment of this evening by lugging in any old quarrels or little
differences. We shall all have to pull together to-morrow, if we are to
beat the Calumets. They are going to give us a stiff brush, and you may
depend on that. Come, Hiram, let's be off."

Burton said something, sullenly and indistinctly, about the certainty
of the defeat of the Catalpas, to-morrow, which caught the ear of "The
Lily," who, still puffing with the effects of his tussle with Neddie
Ellis, was regarding the malcontent Ben with an expression of wonder on
his good-natured face. He slowly dropped out a few words of comment, in
his usual fashion, upon Burton's unfriendly attitude and then added:

"I say, I wonder why you don't give up playing base ball, since you
find so little fun in it. 'Pears to me you are all the time out 'o
sorts--like. You don't enjoy good health, Ben, and that's what is the
matter along of you. Now, why do you think that the Calumets are going
to get away with us, to-morrow?"

But before Ben could form a reply and cover the confusion that crept
over his face, Neddie Ellis, who was the universal favorite of the
club, broke in with, "Oh, I say, boys, do you know what these Chicago
people call us? why they call us 'The Cats.' That's short for Catalpas,
I suppose. We ought to call the Calumets 'The Cads,' and I guess that
would be getting even."

Under cover of the laugh which this sally raised, Hiram, Larry, and
young Heaton departed to fulfil their engagement on the north side, Ben
Burton looking after them with a darkened countenance.

"Ben is angry because he is not invited to Judge Morris's," said Larry,
as the three young fellows stepped lightly off in search of a street
car. "He has a jealous temper, and the least thing that looks like a
slight sets him off."

"Well," said Albert, "Alice said that the Judge would have liked to
have invited the whole nine, if he had had room to entertain them
properly; but he hadn't, and so he invited only those with whom the
governor was most acquainted."

"To say nothing of Miss Alice?" added Hiram, slyly.

Albert admitted that Miss Alice's wishes were consulted in the matter,
and that it was only natural that she, being a visitor, should indicate
her preferences in the matter.

"What does it signify, anyhow?" said Larry, a little impatiently.
"It seems to me that Ben Burton is ready to fly out at the least
provocation. I almost wish we had never thought of going over to Judge
Morris's. I am sure I have tried my level best to keep the peace with
Ben, but he seems to grow more and more cantankerous every day. To
think of raising a breeze over such a trifle as this of our going out
to dinner without him! It makes me ashamed of my companionship with
him."

The conversation was stopped by their entering a street car where
they were entertained by the audible comments of the passengers on
the wonderful game that had been played that afternoon. Base ball in
Chicago is one of the favorite pastimes of the people. But there was
so much of the element of unexpectedness in the result of that day's
game that it set the tongues of everybody to wagging. Unknown and in
silence, the champions of the Catalpa Nine heard themselves and their
playing discussed with great freedom and animation. The general verdict
was that "The Cats" would, next day, receive their reward in the shape
of a "basket of goose eggs" with which they would depart for home,
sadder and wiser for their visit.

"What do you think of that for an opinion, Larry?" asked Hiram,
laughingly, as they alighted from the car, one block from their
destination. "What do you think of the woman in the corner who said
that the Calumets were only encouraging us on to our defeat?"

Larry replied that that was precisely what Ben Burton thought, and
Hiram ejaculated, "Oh, he does, does he? Then it seems that our short
stop and our adversaries, or the friends of our adversaries, agree as
to what is going to happen to-morrow."

"Perhaps they are right," said Albert, cheerily. "But here we are," and
stopping before a handsome house, he darted up the steps and rang the
door bell.

While the lads waited for admission, Larry turned and looked westward,
with wistful eyes, and said,

"I wonder how they are taking the news in Catalpa, about now?"

Albert's reply that they were probably having a jollification really
described what was at that moment taking place. Tom Selby was the happy
recipient of early telegrams from Larry, and the editor of _The Leaf_
sustained his reputation by putting out bulletins from Al Heaton and
his father, at frequent intervals during the progress of the game. The
excitement waxed high as the contest proceeded, and when the final
result was reached, the town was fairly mad with joy. The event had
eclipsed everything of the kind that had happened during the season.
Every man who had a flag hung it out to the breeze. Jedediah Van Orman,
"The Lily's" father, took up a collection from the willing shopkeepers
and bought a supply of powder, with which he proceeded to fire a
salute from four anvils, the only artillery then accessible in the
town. Victory brooded over Catalpa, and in every house as the red sun
went down, that night, there was but one theme of conversation--base
ball.



CHAPTER XIII.

PRIDE HAS A FALL.


Fog and dampness covered the city of Chicago, next day, when the
Catalpa nine, shivering in the chilly air, loitered the time away
before the hour came for their little preliminary practice in the base
ball grounds. Somebody said, while Captain Hiram was marshalling his
men, that the day was a bad one for Catalpa. At this Larry laughed
heartily. "As if," he said, "the gloom of a foggy day was not just as
ominous for the Chicago boys as for the Catalpas."

"Oh they are used to it," said Ben Burton, gruffly. Soon after, when
the hour for play had arrived, Ben was nowhere to be found. Vainly they
looked for him in various nooks and corners of the structure, and they
were beginning to ask if he had not been spirited away when he hurried
in, looking very flushed and red. When asked somewhat tartly by his
captain where he had been, Ben made no answer but took up his bat and
marched in with the rest.

"He has been visiting some of those confounded pool rooms, I'll be
bound," whispered Sam Morrison, who cordially disliked and actively
suspected the Catalpa short stop. But there was no time for discussion.
The nine now emerged into the arena.

The sky was brightening as the two nines met, and the crowds in the
vast amphitheater, largely reinforced since yesterday, in consequence
of the fame of the visiting nine being spread abroad, gave "The Cats" a
cheery round of applause as they made their appearance at the entrance
to the field. "Keep a stiff upper lip, Larry, old boy," was Albert's
heartening injunction as the two friends parted at the doorways. Larry
smiled brightly and his eye involuntarily sought the upper box from
which he had seemed to draw so much inspiration, the day before. It
was empty, and he felt a little pang of disappointment. The momentary
feeling of depression was soon dissipated, however, for the serious
work of the day was now to begin, and sentimentalities were out of
place.

The Catalpas failed to win the toss, whereat Neddie Ellis gave a
comical little groan of pain and whispered, facetiously, to Ben Burton,
"Another evil sign, Bennie!"

"Yes," replied Ben, gloomily, "the worst yet."

He paid no attention to Neddie's mocking laugh, but took his place on
the player's bench, as Larry Boyne took up his bat and advanced to the
position in obedience to orders. For the scorer had shouted, "Larry
Boyne to the bat, and Sam Morrison on deck!"

As Larry, with an elastic movement of his manly figure, placed himself
squarely before Sam Morse, the Calumet's pitcher, he said, "Give me one
of your favorite high balls, and I'll try to put it over that netting."
Morse, in his turn, squared himself and at once began to deliver a
series of hot balls, but all of them too low for the Catalpa player
to strike at. But he gave one ball at the desired height, however,
and, to use the expression of "The Lily," Larry "hit it squarely on
the nose," and placed a base hit to his credit. Sam Morrison profited
by his example and put the ball safely in the left field. Neddie
Ellis then came up, with a beaming smile on his face, and justified
the expectations of the Catalpa delegation in the seats, now largely
increased by new arrivals. He hit the ball a resounding thwack which
was good for three bases, and sent in two runs, Larry and Morrison
reaching the home plate with ease.

Charlie King was the first man to be put out; he hit the ball, which
was a sharp one, to John Handy at third base, and that active young man
mastered it in fine style and retired Charlie at first base. The hit,
however, proved to be of value as it sent Neddie Ellis safely across
the goal and was the means of tallying the third run for the visiting
nine. Hart Stirling went out on a foul ball to Charlie Webb, and John
Brubaker sent up a sky-scraper which was captured by McWilliams in the
left field. This ended the first half of the first inning, and, with
light hearts and radiant faces, the Catalpas went to the field.

As Larry took his position at third base, he glanced furtively toward
the draped box on the right of the grand stand. At that moment, a blue
parasol was unfurled, for the sun now broke forth from the clouds and
mist. One glance was all that he could spare, but it was enough. "She
has come," he said to his secret heart.

The Calumets, on the other hand, were coming in from the field with
looks of consternation which did not escape the attention of the
coldly critical young ladies in the upper box. Scanning them through
her glass, Alice declared that they looked as if they were going to a
funeral, and Deputy Sheriff Wheeler, far around on the other side of
the enclosure, in the more democratic open seats, said very much the
same thing.

"Never mind, boys," said Captain Ayres, trying to instil a bit of
courage into his men. "Perhaps that is a lively ball and we may bat it
all over the field."

The gallant captain took his place at the bat, and hit a line ball
which was neatly captured by John Brubaker, who received a round
of applause, and Ida Boardman waved at him her parasol, with the
involuntary cry of "Good, John!" More fortunate than his captain was
Sam Morse, the next at the bat. He solved the mysteries of Charlie
King's in-shoot and hit the ball over Hart Stirling's head for one
base. John Handy then handled the ashen stick and sent a slow ball to
Ben Burton who fumbled it and allowed the striker to reach first base,
even so far forgetting himself as to neglect to throw the ball to
Stirling who stood ready and impatient at second base to head off Sam
Morse. Stirling grew red in the face, clearly losing his temper, and,
judging from the look he wore, the low murmur in which he gave a word
to the short stop was no pleasant one to hear.

The fourth man at the bat for the Calumets was Rob Peabody, who sent up
a short fly which fell into the willing hands of the second base man,
making two out for the Calumets with two of the bases occupied, when
Tom Shoff went to the batsman's square.

"Ah, this is my Jonah!" said Charlie King, beckoning to the fielders to
move backward, knowing Shoff's ability as a batter. In this judgment
Charlie was correct, for Shoff hit the first ball pitched, and sent it
sailing into the right field, out of the reach of the anxious fielder
there, and bringing in two runs and allowing Thomas himself to gain
the third base in safety, greatly to the comfort of the Calumets who
grinned among themselves as they saw all this from the bench.

Glenn Otto now took his turn at the bat, and it was evident that King
was out of humor, as he sent the sphere with such vehemence that he
nearly paralyzed big Bill Van Orman's hands. In spite of the heavy
gloves he wore, the unfortunate catcher's hands began to swell until,
as the Dean County deputy sheriff, from his distant post remarked,
"They looked like canvassed hams." But Otto calmly waited for a good
ball and when he got it, he gently tapped it, sending it to left field
for a single sending in, and Shoff made the score even at three and
three. Jamie Kennedy finished the first inning by hitting a short fly
to King. "Hurrah for the Calumets!" shouted some of the more excitable
spectators. "Three cheers for Tom Shoff and Glenn Otto!" cried another,
and the enthusiasm did not abate until these two complimented gentlemen
turned themselves about and doffed their caps.

"I don't think that that was very smart," said Ida Boardman, with as
much asperity as she was capable of showing. "Our boys have done much
better playing than that without making any fuss about it."

"Pretty good playing, though," said Albert Heaton, as he darted out to
send off a despatch to the anxious people in Catalpa.

"We could be worse off," was Hiram Porter's remark, who was preparing
to face Morse's curves. "Boys," he continued, "we are on even terms and
stand the same chance of winning that they do."

"Provided we are as good players as they are," put in Ben Burton, with
a little laugh.

Porter hit a swift grounder to Handy who failed to master it in time to
head off the swift base runner, who reached the first bag in safety.
Ben Burton behaved as if he were afraid of injuring the ball and the
result was that he was sent back to the players' bench by hitting an
easy ball to Glenn Otto. "The Lily" next essayed his skill and hit the
sphere with all his great might, but Jamie Kennedy handled it finely
and retired the striker at first base. Larry Boyne, whose turn came
next, was hailed by the champions and friends of the Catalpas as the
man who would put in a safe hit; but he was caught out by Peabody in
the right field. In putting him out, Peabody made a brilliant running
catch, the ball, apparently being certain to go over his head. The
profound stillness of the arena was immediately broken by a ringing
cheer saluting the successful catch.

The first striker in this inning for the Calumets was Charlie Webb, who
was known as "the chance hitter," but who invariably gave the ball,
when he did hit it, such a tremendous blow that it whistled through the
air as if it had been belched forth from a cannon. Charlie moistened
his hands and swung his bat over his shoulder, as he strode up in
front of Charlie King, calling in a big voice, "Now give me a high
ball!" He hit the ball, hit it just where he aimed to hit it, and for
a moment it was lost in the misty blue above. But Neddie Ellis, flying
for the center field fence, gave the watchful spectators an inkling of
the whereabouts of the vanished sphere. Charlie Webb, meanwhile, was
clearing the bases at a tremendous gait, and, before the ball could be
returned to the Diamond Field, he had crossed the home plate and had
put his club in the lead. There was another rumble of applause from the
sympathetic Chicago on-lookers, and Alice Howell's peachy cheek fairly
paled. But she said not a word.

Now McWilliams hit a grounder to Larry Boyne who managed, by dint of
a hard struggle, to get it to first base in good season, and Mac went
out. Ayres, the gallant captain, met with the same fate in his turn,
sending a fly to Larry; and Sam Morse ended the second inning by being
fielded out at first base by Stirling. At this, there was a sigh of
relief from the Catalpa section, and no audible cheer among the friends
of the home club.

In the third inning, the Catalpas managed to gain some of their lost
ground by making the single run necessary to put them even with their
antagonists. Sam Morrison hit a sharp ball to Handy, who attempted to
field it, but the sphere went through his hands and bounded over the
foul line. Morrison was about to return to the home plate, thinking
that the ball was "foul." But Larry Boyne impetuously cried, "Hold your
base!"

Instantly, the crowds were all excitement. Men and boys rose to their
feet shouting "Foul!" "Foul!" All was confusion, and Mr. Heaton,
Albert, and the young ladies in the upper box looked on speechlessly as
the pandemonium raged below.

The umpire seemed dazed, and the hooters, who are ever present,
yelled "Foul ball!" "Foul ball!" as if their noise would determine
the question. Ben Burton, with an expression of mixed amazement
and chagrin, watched Larry, who approached the puzzled umpire with
Spalding's official guide-book of base ball. The umpire glanced over
the open page and his countenance cleared at once.

Bowing with cold politeness, he said, "You are right, Mr. Boyne. I am
glad to see that you prairie players are well informed as to all the
points in the national game."

Larry acknowledged the compliment with a manly salutation and returned
to the players' bench. But the spectators would have no such result,
and howled on vociferously. The umpire called the game and playing
was stopped until silence was restored. When he could be heard, the
umpire read the rule in a stentorian tone of voice, whereupon there was
some grumbling, but the generous majority, seeing the justice of the
position taken for the visitors, cheered "The Curly-headed Cat." Larry
acknowledged the dubious compliment. Alice Howell hid her blushing face
behind her parasol, and the game went on.

But it was evident that this episode had shaken the Calumets a little,
as the next two strikers secured their bases by errors. Ellis won his
by a misplay by Glenn Otto, and King took his by an error on the part
of Handy. This left the three bases occupied and nobody put out--a
capital chance for the Catalpas to get in some telling work. Stirling
was retired at first base by Handy, but his being out allowed Sam
Morrison to cross the marble plate in safety, by skillful base-running.
John Brubaker hit a fly to Peabody in the right field; the latter
captured the ball and also made a fine double play as Neddie Ellis
tried to come home on it, forgetting the reputation which Peabody had
won as a long thrower. And then the Catalpas again took the field.

"I tell you what, boys, it's mighty tough work to beat these prairie
roosters," said the good-natured captain of the Calumets, as his
associates took their seats once more on the players' bench.

"If we could only once get a good lead on them," remarked Jamie
Kennedy, "I am sure they would be so badly demoralised that we should
get away with them. But they don't seem to scare worth a cent. They
hold on like grim death."

This conversation was brought to a close by the umpire shouting, "John
Handy to the bat!" and John convinced the spectators, as the Dean
County Sheriff remarked, that he was "not handy at batting," for he was
struck out; and Peabody, who followed, went out on a foul to Captain
Porter. Tom Shoff then proved that he was not wholly "The Jonah" that
Charlie King had feared him to be by merely going out on a long fly to
left field. This ended the third inning, with the contestants neck and
neck, each being credited with four runs.

As he took his position before the pitcher, Captain Hiram Porter
expressed to his comrades his conviction that the Catalpas were to do
some good work in that inning. He felt it "in his bones," he said,
whereat Ben Burton laughed contemptuously, and said to "The Lily,"
who sat next him, that if the bones of Captain Hiram were to be the
barometer of the game, the Catalpas would be in hard luck. He had no
faith in the Porter family bones, he said.

But Hiram justified his faith in his own impressions by hitting with
all his might the first ball pitched and thereby securing one base.
Ben Burton, who followed him, also took one base, but this was through
the error of Captain Ayres, who muffed a ball thrown to him by Jamie
Kennedy. "The Lily" came next to the bat. He had previously made a
small wager with Ben Burton that he would make a safe hit, and, in
order to defeat Burton and at the same time benefit the club, he kept
perfectly cool, waiting for his opportunity, refusing to strike at any
of "Morse's coaxers," as the boys styled the Calumets' pitcher's work.
When he got a ball waist-high over the plate, he hit it with sufficient
power to fell an ox. The sphere traveled on a right line as though it
were shot out of a cannon's mouth, and gave "The Lily" two bases, at
the same time sending Porter and Burton over the home plate and giving
the Catalpas a lead of two runs.

A broad smile adorned the countenance of "The Lily," and, with cap in
hand, he stood ready to fly to third base as soon as the ball was hit.
But his ardent desires were not to be gratified; the next three men
went out in "one-two-three" order, Larry Boyne on a fly to Glenn Otto,
Sam Morrison on a grounder to Handy, and Neddie Ellis on strikes. Third
base was the nearest Van Orman came to the home plate, much to his
grief; and, as he adjusted his gloves for the next turn behind the bat,
he muttered, "Well, I made that ball whistle, anyhow!" Buttoning his
hand protectors, with a series of wrenches, he jerked out, "The next
one--that Bill hits--will never be found."

Glenn Otto was the first man at the base for the Calumets in the
fourth inning; and he secured his base by Neddie Ellis's muff of an
easy ball, and Jamie Kennedy reached first base on called balls. Both
of these men, however, were left waiting, as the three players who
succeeded them at the bat failed to place the ball out of the reach
of the Catalpas. Charlie Webb went out on a fly to Larry Boyne, and
McWilliams hit an easy fly to Charlie King; then Darius Ayres was
thrown out at first base by Larry Boyne. The inning ended without
adding a run to the score of the home nine, but they kept at their work
with the steadiness and coolness of men who had a high reputation as
players and the consciousness of great strength to support them under
adversity.

Elation reigned among the friends of the Catalpa nine. In the high
box from which the fair delegation from Catalpa surveyed the field,
Miss Alice expressed her complete satisfaction with the condition of
affairs, although Miss Ida pretended to entertain feelings of distrust.
"Why," she said, "at the end of the fourth inning, yesterday, the
Catalpas were three to the Calumets' one--just leading them two, as
they are to-day. Do you suppose that the Catalpas will keep this up all
through the game?"

"You are as much of a doubting Thomas as Ben Burton is, Ida," answered
Alice. "According to Mr. Boyne, Ben is croaking all the while. If the
wish were father to the thought, he could not be more skeptical, it
seems to me. Isn't he perfectly horrid?"

But words could not be wasted now. The Catalpas went to the bat again,
and every eye was riveted on the tall form of Charlie King, who,
with his club on his shoulder, sauntered in leisurely and confident
fashion to the square. He lifted the ball too high, however, and it was
captured by Tom Shoff in the center field. Hart Stirling was deceived
by a few sharp inward curves from the pitcher of the Calumets and
retired to his seat without hitting a ball. John Brubaker hit the ball,
but was thrown out from Otto to Ayres.

The Calumets now came in with a look of determination on their faces.
"Steady, lads, steady!" said Captain Darius. "Wait for good balls; and,
above all things, keep steady."

Sam Morse, who was first at the bat, strictly obeyed orders and waited
for what he considered a good ball. He struck an easy one to Ben
Burton, but Ben muffed it, and Morse reached first base before the ball
did. A dark cloud passed over the face of Captain Hiram as he anxiously
stood at first base, and something like a cloud darkened Alice Howell's
fair cheek, far up above the brightly-lighted field, now illuminated by
the afternoon sun.

A deep sigh went around among the Catalpa contingent in the open seats,
as Stirling, having received a hot ball from Rob Peabody, failed to
pick it up with his accustomed skill, and had the mortification of
seeing the agile base runner get to the first bag in safety. It was
clearly evident now that the Catalpas were a little nervous. "We have
them rattled," whispered the Calumets among themselves, as they sat
expectantly on the players' bench. Even Charlie King, who never lost
his equipoise, appeared to have left some of his skill behind him, for
he did not twirl the ball with that bewildering dexterity that had
been, all along, the envy and the terror of the Calumets.

There was a woe-begone expression on the faces of the Catalpa
players--save one, and that was Ben Burton, who wore a settled smile of
derision. He seemed to be congratulating himself on the possible coming
true of his prophecies. Any misplay on the part of the Catalpas was the
signal for what Hart Stirling termed "one of Ben Burton's contemptible
laughs."

Shoff again faced the pitching of Charlie King and the two players
exchanged a grin, a half-defiant recognition of their friendly
antagonism. Thomas repeated his hit of the first inning, sending the
ball to the left field fence for three bases and sending in Morse,
Handy and Peabody, and putting his club in the coveted position of a
good lead. Next, Glenn Otto hit a lively grounder to Boyne who caught
it safely and retired the base runner; but Tom Shoff went triumphantly
home.

After this, "The Cats" seemed to regain something of their old vigor
and spirit. A few words of warning, impressing on them the need of
keeping cool, and reminding them that they now had everything to gain,
and nothing to lose, were dropped by their captain, as they braced
themselves for a good strong play. King neatly fooled Jamie Kennedy
with his deceptive in-shoots and the batsman of the Calumets was called
out on strikes. Charlie Webb was the last man at the bat in this
inning, and he went out on a fly to Hart Stirling.

"That ends the fifth inning!" shouted the scorer. "Score, eight to
six in favor of the Calumet club," an announcement which was not very
comforting to the gentlemen from Catalpa, whether they were in the
Diamond Field or in the boxes. Al Heaton dashed his hat down over his
eyes and went solemnly down to send a despatch which, a few minutes
afterwards, was read in the streets of Catalpa with great consternation.

In the sixth inning, the Calumets played with the good luck that
usually seems to follow a club which has the lead in the score. Perhaps
it was their self-confidence, natural and fitting, that inspired them
now. At any rate, they retired the Catalpa representatives of the
national game without allowing one of them to reach the first base.
Captain Porter was thrown out at the first base by Jamie Kennedy, Ben
Burton went out on a fly to McWilliams, and "The Lily" hit an easy
ground ball to John Handy, who made a lightning throw to first base in
time to head off the deeply disappointed William.

But the Catalpa players showed that they were not out of heart, for
their playing was remarkably strong in this part of the inning. Burton
threw McWilliams out at first base; then Darius Ayres hit a "liner" to
the left field which was very cleverly caught by Sam Morrison; and the
inning was then brought to an end by Sam Morse who struck out; and the
sentiment of the spectators was reflected by an irrepressible small boy
who cried, "Now 'The Cats' will get a run!"

Larry Boyne, who went to the bat for the visiting club, was the
fortunate man who was to make good the small boy's prediction. He
opened the inning in magnificent style by hitting the ball fairly and
the flying sphere almost struck the left field foul line. It was "a
tight squeeze," as one of the Catalpa on-lookers observed, and the
umpire's decision was invoked by the captain of the Calumets. The
umpire justly gave the ball as fair, whereupon some of the baser sort
in the amphitheater began to hoot and cry "Foul!" as if they would thus
reverse the decision of the umpire. That gentleman coolly ordered the
game to stop until the noise had ceased; there were counter cries of
"Shame!" from some of the more orderly of the spectators, and then,
quiet having been restored, the contest was resumed, Sam Morrison being
at the bat.

Samuel went out on a fly to Ayres. While Neddie Ellis was at the bat, a
passed ball allowed Larry to get around to third base. Neddie retired
on a foul tip to Charlie Webb, and it looked as if the chances for
the Catalpas to make a run were very slender indeed. But Charlie King
came to the rescue. He hit a ball to Glenn Otto at short stop, which,
luckily for the Catalpas, went through his legs and allowed King to
take his base and brought Larry Boyne to the home plate amidst the
cheers of his many admirers. But Hart Stirling dashed the hopes of his
comrades for this inning by sending up a fly to Jamie Kennedy at second
base.

Alice Howell's little hand was drumming nervously on the rail of her
box, as she regarded in dejected silence the scene, when the Calumets
came to the bat with a feeling of confidence readily manifest in their
faces. But their opponents played a fine fielding game, and the home
nine were presented with the figurative "goose egg" which had been so
often referred to during the contest. Handy struck three times the
unsubstantial air, and Peabody went out disastrously also on a fly to
Hiram Porter. Shoff reached the first base on called balls, but only to
be left there, as Jamie Kennedy failed to strike the ball after making
three terrific lunges at it.

The Catalpas were still hopeful, but not sanguine. They had only one
run to make in order to tie their competitors, and they went to work
now with a will. They were not nearly so badly off as they might have
been, was the cheery comment of Larry Boyne, as they went to the
bat once more. But fate was against them, and they were retired in
"one-two-three order," as the Calumets played a winning game. John
Brubaker hit a ball to Kennedy who sent it to first base in a manner
that won the plaudits of the crowds intently watching the contest from
the seats around the huge amphitheater. Captain Porter hit a fly to
left field which was captured by McWilliams in wonderfully fine style,
and Ben Burton struck out. The Calumets were very fortunate at the bat.
In this inning they made another run and again placed themselves two
runs in the lead. Kennedy made a base hit, and went to second base on
a passed ball, and then reached third base on Burton's error of Webb's
in-field hit. Jamie finally scored on McWilliams's out at first base.
Next Darius Ayres hit a fly to Sam Morrison and was retired, and Morse
ended the inning by striking out, leaving the score nine to seven in
favor of the Calumets.

"Small chances for our taking the championship this season," was Ben
Burton's gleeful remark, as the Catalpas took their places on the bench.

"And you seem to be mightily tickled about it," replied "The Lily,"
with an angry glare in his eyes. "If I were as pleased as you seem to
be at the drubbing we are likely to get from these chaps, I should
expect to be fired out of the club for treachery."

Van Orman did not stop to hear the reply which Burton, white with
wrath, made to this taunt. Seizing his bat, he hurried to the square
and faced the pitching of the redoubtable and confident Morse. He
waited patiently for a good ball and finally received one. With all
his might--which was a great deal--"The Lily" hit the sphere and sent
it flying to the left field, where the lithe and agile McWilliams
captured it, after a hard run which called forth an involuntary burst
of applause from the rapt spectators.

"Hang it all! Just my luck!" muttered Van Orman, as, throwing down his
bat, he returned to his seat.

But Larry Boyne, as cool and calm as a spring morning, came next,
reassuring his friends and comrades by the mere poise of his handsome
figure as he took his place in the batter's square. Not a word had he
said for the past half-hour, and it was plain to see that he keenly
felt the defeat that now stared the Catalpas in the face. But he showed
no white feather, bearing himself as if it were an every-day occurrence
to find himself in so difficult a predicament. Two strikes were called
on him in rapid succession; the third ball he struck at and missed
and he was consequently retired for the first time during the day for
having failed to hit the ball. The tide seemed to be irretrievably
running against the visitors, and many of the less interested
spectators began to make their way to the exits, saying as they went,
that the game was over.

But a little diversion in favor of the Catalpas now took place. Sam
Morrison made a long line hit to center field for three bases, and a
slight glimmer of hope dawned in the breasts of the sons of Catalpa.
The friendly champions of the club, bunched together in the seats,
yelled themselves hoarse over this little turn in the game, encouraging
their fellow-townsmen in the Diamond Field with all sorts of cheering
cries and remarks. Alice Howell, red and white by turns, and sometimes
not seeing the field for the unwonted moisture that gathered in her
eyes, waved her handkerchief at the boys below, never trusting herself
to say a word.

With breathless interest, Neddie Ellis was watched as he ran to the
bat and squared himself for a decisive stroke of business. Even the
umpire, carried away by the unwonted crisis, forgot everything but
the trembling balance of the result of the game. He was brought to
his senses by a shouting from the grand stand when he considered a
ball was too low to be called a strike, although there were only a few
persons who thought to the contrary. Neddie was made a little nervous,
naturally enough, by the commotion and the stress of the exigency.
He knew that there were some chances of winning now depending on his
making a good hit. It was a critical point in the closely contested
struggle. He made a desperate lunge at the ball, but Jamie Kennedy
was at his post and before the hapless Neddie could realize what had
happened, Kennedy had retired him at first base and the game was won
for the Calumets.

Then a mighty shout went up from the throats of the assembled
multitudes, for, although many had slipped out in time to avoid the
press of the departing throngs, those who remained were sufficiently
numerous and enthusiastic to create a vociferous uproar. In the midst
of this, the two captains met in mid-field and shook hands cordially
with a few complimentary words from each, as their respective clubs
gathered around. Then, the promiscuous cheering in the seats having
subsided, the victors gave a rousing cheer, more or less inspired by
their own exultant spirits, for their antagonists; and the Catalpas,
nothing abashed by their defeat, returned the cheer with great
heartiness.

"Meet us at Catalpa," said Captain Hiram Porter to the captain of the
Calumet club. "Meet us at Catalpa, and we will try hard to retrieve the
ill fortune of this day."

It had been agreed that the third and concluding game of the
championship series should be played at Catalpa, in case the Calumets
should win the second game. So, with a few hurried words relating to a
friendly meeting of the captains of the two nines, on the morrow, the
players dispersed from the field. This was what might have been read on
the bulletin boards as they went along their homeward way:--


BASE BALL TO-DAY.

                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
 Catalpas             3 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0    7.
 Calumets             3 1 0 0 4 0 0 1 0    9.

 _Runs earned_, Catalpas, 4; Calumets, 2.
 _Base hits_, Catalpas, 7; Calumets, 7.
 _Errors_, Catalpas, 5; Calumets, 7.
 _Umpire_, Mr. Mark B. Redmond.
 _Time of game, two hours and ten minutes._



CHAPTER XIV.

A STRANGE MESSAGE FROM HOME.


"Well," cried Neddie Ellis, cheerily, as the nine filed into Captain
Hiram Porter's room, which had been used as a rallying-place, as it
was the largest assigned to any member of the club, "well, we have one
more chance at the Calumets, and there is hope while there's life. Hey,
Larry?"

Larry did not immediately reply. He was regarding Ben Burton with
suspicion. That individual had received a telegram from the hands of
a messenger, as he came into the house, which, having read, he tore
into very small pieces and threw away with a disturbed expression of
countenance. Ben's eyes were now fixed on Hiram, who, on coming into
the room, had noticed on the mantel-piece a telegram addressed to
himself. Ben Burton's face grew white as his captain, tearing open the
envelope, read the despatch with astonishment and wrath depicted on his
usually pleasant visage.

"Read her out, Captain," cried "The Lily." "Read her out and let us
divide the bad news with you. I'm sure it's bad news, isn't it, Neddie?"

Without stopping to consider whether it were discreet or not to divulge
the message that was causing him so much perturbation, Hiram, casting a
sharp glance at Ben Burton, said, "It is bad news, boys, for it accuses
one of our number of treachery. It is from Tom Selby, and it reads
thus:--

  "'_Look out for Ben Burton; he has sold the game._'"

"It's an infernal lie!" shouted Ben, passionately, and very red in the
face, and shaky in the limbs. "What does Tom Selby know about the game,
and how could I sell the game in Catalpa? I'll thrash Tom Selby as
quick as I get home; see if I don't!"

"No you won't," said Albert Heaton, who entered the room at this
moment. "No you won't. Hear this, Mr. Burton. It's a despatch from Dr.
Selby, dated at Catalpa, 5:20 P.M. You see they had then got
the news that the game was lost:--

  "'_I am afraid you did not get Tom's despatch to the captain, for
  we hear that the game is gone. Hunt up despatch to Hiram, sent to
  lodgings._'"

"What's that despatch you've got there Hi? Is it Tom's?"

"Yes," answered the captain. "It is from Tom. Read it."

[Illustration: "READ HER OUT, CAPTAIN," CRIED "THE LILY."--Page 167.]

Albert read the despatch deliberately and said: "I see it all now. My
despatch was sent to Judge Morris's office, where I found it when I
stopped in there on my way back from seeing the ladies on board of a
street-car for the north side. Your despatch should have been sent to
the ball grounds, and the idiots here have kept it until it was too
late. Oh, this is too bad!" and Albert fairly groaned.

"They couldn't tell what was in the despatch, Al," said Larry,
soothingly. "There's no use crying over spilt milk. But what I should
like is an explanation from Mr. Burton."

All eyes were now turned on Burton, who defiantly faced his accusers.
He was evidently determined to brave out the charge made against him
from Catalpa. His cheek grew red and pale by turns, and he failed to
keep the serenity that he attempted.

"See him shake," said "The Lily," with bitter contempt. "Did any man
ever shake like that when he was innocent. Oh, no, Bennie did not play
a muffing game, this afternoon, for nothing!"

"I tell you that's a lie?" roared Ben, furious with rage. "Any man who
says I threw the game is a slanderer and I'll fight him. Any man would
show feeling and shake, as you call it, Bill Van Orman, if accused of
doing such a mean thing as selling out his club, and you know it."

More in sorrow than in anger, Captain Hiram ordered the boys to drop
the matter for the present. It could not be determined, in the absence
of specific testimony, what amount of truth would be found in the
startling charge made against a member of the club. They must wait
until they reached home, he said, before it would be worth while to
take any steps in the matter. Meantime, he would advise (but not order)
that the members of the club drop the business and say nothing about
it, especially not to any outsider.

It was good advice that the captain gave, and the members of the club
all followed it so far as speaking of the matter to outsiders was
concerned. It was asking too much that they should not talk it over
among themselves. By common consent, however, Ben Burton was avoided by
all hands. He stood about the house until after supper, then, without
leaving any word as to his intentions, he quietly disappeared and was
seen no more.

"What a wretched streak of luck!" murmured Larry Boyne to Neddie Ellis.
"If that despatch had been sent to Al Heaton, or to Hiram at the ball
grounds, all would have been well. We could have withdrawn Ben Burton
and put Will Sprague, or Al Heaton, in his place, before the game
began. Oh, why did Tom do such a foolish thing as to send the message
here?"

"Tom is an idiot!" said Neddie, indignantly. "He's a feather-head;
always was, and always will be! Let's look at that despatch again,
captain."

Critical examination of the message showed that it was received in
Chicago at half-past one o'clock. It had left Catalpa at half-past
eleven o'clock in the forenoon.

"Two hours to send that little message!" almost shrieked Neddie Ellis.
"It's that giddy, flirting girl that works the telegraph office in
Catalpa! That's what's the matter with the message. Now you just
remember that, boys."

"Softly! softly! Neddie," said Larry. "You mustn't accuse the operator.
Perhaps the line was down, or somebody else blundered. At any rate, the
mischief is done. We'll wait until we get home before we try to find
out what it all means."

"Aha!" cried "The Lily," as if he had seen a sudden burst of light.
"Now we know why Ben was late in the field. Don't you remember he stole
out after we had got through practicing, this noon, and was gone half
an hour, or so? Where was he? Why, he looked as if he had been stealing
sheep when he came back. I'll tell you where he had been. He had been
to the telegraph office on the corner below the grounds, telegraphing
to some confederate in Catalpa."

"Smart boy, Bill; but why should he go to the next block below the
grounds when there is an office in the building? And how could his
telegram to his confederate, if he has one, get back here in Tom
Selby's message?"

"That's more than I know, Cap, but I should say that he wouldn't dare
to send any crooked message from the ball grounds, where he is known."

"There is good sense in that, Billy boy," said Charlie King, who
had joined the party while the discussion was going on. "There is
plausibility in it, too, for I remember seeing Ben go into that office
and make some inquiries, as we were going to the grounds, day before
yesterday, to practice."

Meanwhile, Mr. Heaton was trying to comfort the young ladies in Judge
Morris's family, but his well-meant efforts were discouragingly
received by the fair champions of the Catalpa club. Miss Alice was
perfectly certain, she averred, that Ben Burton had purposely "thrown"
the game. She had watched him narrowly, and had been, at times, half
inclined to send down word to Mr. Boyne, or to the captain, rather (and
this was said with a blush), that Burton was playing false. The players
could not see it, but she could, and she knew him so well that she
could not keep her eyes off him while he was playing, whether it was in
the field, at the bat, or base-running.

Later in the evening, Albert came in with two or three of the Catalpa
men, bearing the doleful news from Tom Selby. "Didn't I tell you so?"
demanded Alice, with animation. "Didn't I tell you, Larry Boyne, to
beware of that young man?"

"You did indeed, Miss Howell," replied Larry, with mock dejection. "And
we would have looked out for him, as you suggested, if we had had any
tangible suspicion, or any proof whatsoever, that he was 'crooked.' But
how could we make a stand against one of our own number, merely on so
vague a hint as that which we had?"

"If _I_ were a member of the Catalpa club," said the girl, with spirit,
"I would not have so evil a young man as Ben Burton in it, evidence or
no evidence."

"Miss Alice is right," said Neddie Ellis, "I always did dislike Ben
Burton, and I would have voted against him, if it had not been that he
was such a good man at short stop that I couldn't think of putting my
little prejudices against what seemed to be the good of the nine."

Once more it was agreed that it was useless to discuss the matter until
the party had reached home, when the charges against Burton, and the
evidence, if there were any, would be brought up in due form.

By the time the players and their friends had embarked on the
west-bound train, next day, they had recovered somewhat their usual
high spirits. The buoyancy of youth and the natural hopefulness of
healthy young fellows like these came to their relief, and the gay,
chattering party that took possession of one end of a railway car, that
morning, could hardly have been compared with the depressed and angry
knot of youngsters that had discussed defeat and treachery, the night
before. If they had been sold out, they argued to themselves, and had
still fairly held their own against the famed Calumets, what was not
possible for the team when purged of an unworthy member?

So they neared home with hearts lightened of a grievous burden and
were once more cheered with the reflection that they had achieved one
notable victory, at least, since their departure for Chicago, although
a defeat counterbalanced that triumph.

And when the train drew up before the Catalpa depot, the returning
adventurers were gladdened by the sight of innumerable flags flying
over the town in the distance. They were to be received with
congratulations, after all, not as humiliated captives.

"That is because we come home neck and neck, I s'pose," said "The
Lily," as the notes of a brass band startled his ample ear.

"It's because we are not so badly off as we might be, Billy boy,"
replied Larry Boyne.



CHAPTER XV.

MIKE COSTIGAN'S DISCOVERY.


Meantime, strange things had happened in Catalpa. The town was in a
ferment on the morning of the great day when the Catalpa nine were to
play their second game with the Calumets. The glory of the first day's
victory shone brightly to encourage the friends of the club as they
loitered towards the telegraph office and clustered under the windows
of the office of _The Leaf_, when the time for calling the game drew
near.

In the office of that influential sheet there was much commotion, as
every printer at the case and every member of the slender editorial
staff, even down to the young lady who wrote fashion articles out of
the Chicago newspapers, was in some way interested in base ball. Those
who were not members of a nine were in training, or were represented
by men who were active players. Therefore, while the expectant crowd
in the street below was hungry for news from the Diamond Field, the
smaller convocation in the printing office above was even hungrier for
the opportunity to hang out the banner of victory which all were sure
would wave from the roof of _The Leaf_ before the day was done.

A few despatches, vague and dealing only in glittering generalities,
as the editor said, were sent early by Albert Heaton and were duly
bulletined by "The Leaflet," as Mr. Downey's office boy was generally
called. There were many inquiries at the telegraph office for news, but
"the lady operator," with needless asperity, referred all applicants to
the editor of _The Leaf_.

Mike Costigan, the telegraph messenger, and Hank Jackson, the
ex-champion of the Dean County Nine, were the greatest trials which
the long-suffering lady at the telegraph desk had to endure. Mike had
put his whole soul, which was large for his small body, into the base
ball championship, and he was ready to weep if the Catalpas should not
return with what he called "the skelps of them Chicago fellers" at
their belts. As for Hank, he pretended to be in momentary expectation
of a telegraphic despatch. As early as nine o' clock in the morning,
he had begun to haunt the telegraph office and demand a message that
did not come. Mike was sure that Jackson would have early news from the
seat of war, and, wisely fearing Hank's heavy hand and rough tongue,
he followed him at a respectful distance, waiting to hear something to
encourage his fond hopes of the Catalpa club.

The lad had been hurrying out with a message to Heaton's flouring
mills, and he bounced up the stairs of the telegraph office, three
at a time, and flew into the room where the hard-worked operator
was rattling at the instrument. A swift look from Mike took in the
whole situation. Henry Jackson was seated on a bench in a corner of
the office, with his back to the door, puzzling over a little book
and a telegraphic despatch. He inspected the pages of the book, then
scanned the message, and then, licking the end of a lead-pencil, wrote
something on the paper containing the despatch.

"Here, hurry with this message, Mike," said the lady in the office,
"and be quick about it; you are always loitering about the corner when
you are wanted."

Almost wild at being sent out before he could get an opportunity to
extract a bit of news from Hank Jackson, Mike flew out on his errand,
astonished the receiver of the message by telling him to hurry up with
his signature, and then went back to the office on the wings of the
wind. Alas! when Mike re-entered the room, breathless and hot, Hank
had departed without leaving any trace of the quality of the news that
he might have received. No, not quite so bad as that, thought Mike, as
he ruefully surveyed the empty bench, for there in a corner, tossed
under the bench on which Henry had been sitting, was a wad of crumpled
paper which the boy's experienced eyes told him was from the telegraph
company's stores of stationery.

Pouncing upon the ragged ball with the hunger of a small boy in
pursuit of information concerning a base ball match, Mike drew forth
a "receiving blank," torn and crumpled, on which was written an
incomprehensible message. Kneeling on the floor, his stubby hands
shaking with excitement, Mike smoothed out the torn despatch, joining
the two larger fragments so as to get the meaning of the words. And
this, after some botheration, was what was revealed to Mike's distended
eyes:--

[Illustration:

Form 2.

MUTUAL UNION TELEGRAPH CO


Errors can be guarded against only by repeating a message back to the
sending station for comparison, and the company will in transmission
or delivery of Unrepeated Messages, beyond the amount of tolls paid
thereon, nor in any case where the sixty days after sending the message.

This is an UNREPEATED MESSAGE, and is delivered by request of the
sender, under the conditions named above.

JOHN G. MOORE, President.

========================================================================

Get all the bet you can against Catalpas they lose game sure

========================================================================

READ THE NOTICE AT THE TOP.]

"Gosh all hemlock!" this was Mike's extreme of profanity, "if Ben
Burton hasn't gone and sold the game!" The lad, who was shrewd beyond
his years, carefully put the pieces of paper inside of his jacket,
buttoned it up tightly, and, after ascertaining that no message was
coming over the wires, and that he might decamp without fear, bolted
out of the office, threw himself downstairs, and darted into Dr.
Selby's shop like a shot.

[Illustration: "MIKE SMOOTHED OUT THE TORN DESPATCH."--Page 178.]

"Here! here! Tom," he gasped, almost beside himself with anxiety
and alarm. "Ben Burton's goin' to sell the game! Leastways, here's
somethin' crooked! Look at it!"

Thomas, who was keeping shop while his father was absent for a moment,
took the paper, with a puzzled look at Mike, then spreading it out on
the counter, scrutinized it carefully, and, as he felt a cold chill
running down his back at the revelation of an unsuspected rascality, he
smote the walnut plank of the counter and cried, "By ginger!" This was
Tom's extreme of profanity.

"Where did you get this?" he demanded of the excited Mike.

"In the office, under the bench there by the stove, where Hank throwed
it. I seen him readin' it, and then lookin' into a little book--one of
them books that has the meanin' of words into 'em."

"Dictionary?" suggested Tom.

"Yes, dictionary, that's what it is. And he'd get a word outen that,
then put it down. I had to get out on a message to 'Squire Dewey, and
when I got back he was gone; but I got the message. Don't you think
it's crooked?"

"Of course I do; and be sure you don't let on to a living soul what you
have seen. We'll circumvent him yet."

Mike rushed back to his post, sober with a sense of the important
secret that he carried under his ragged jacket.

As soon as Dr. Selby returned, Tom laid the matter before him. The
old gentleman was astounded and grieved. No time was to be lost. Tom
must hasten to the telegraph office and send a warning message to
Captain Hiram Porter. The lad hurried away, stopping on the sidewalk
below the office long enough to note Hank Jackson offering "two to
one," as he phrased it, against the Catalpas. The despatch was sent
and Tom sauntered back, half-tempted to take up one of the offers of
the presumptuous and boastful Hank; but he refrained. He knew that the
game of the conspirators had been circumvented. It would be his day's
delight to stand by and see the dishonest scheme recoil upon the heads
of its promoters.

But as the day wore on and despatches from the ball ground (at first
favorable and conclusive proof to the Selbys that they had nipped the
conspiracy in the bud) grew more and more discouraging, Tom became
desperate; he longed for wings that he might fly to Chicago and reveal
the depth of infamy into which one of the club had fallen. Later in the
day, when defeat seemed certain, yielding to the boy's importunities,
Dr. Selby sent a message to Albert Heaton, in care of Judge Morris.

"Where did you send Hiram's despatch to?" he asked of Tom, suddenly, as
if a new suspicion crossed his mind.

"To the Lavalette House, of course. They all stop there!"

"Oh, you idiot!" groaned his father. "They had gone to the ball ground
before your despatch could reach Chicago!"



CHAPTER XVI.

THE CONSPIRACY LAID OPEN.


The Selbys kept their own counsel, although Tom burned to tell
everybody whom he met not to bet with Hank Jackson on the base ball
match; but, after pondering the matter in his mind, he came to the
conclusion that if people would bet on a base ball game, they must run
their own risks and chances. It would serve them right, he thought, if
they did lose their money in this foolish fashion. The League, he knew,
had enacted severe rules against gaming, and the influence of that
example should be strengthened even if by the misfortunes of those who
laid wagers.

So there would have been no suspicion of Hank's complicity in any
plot, if Mike had been able to keep a secret, but Mike adored "the
lady operator" secretly and from afar. He submitted in silence and
uncomplainingly to her rebuffs and scoldings for the sake of winning
her regard. In a moment of confidence, he imparted to the object of
his dumb worship the information that the cipher message which she
had received for Jackson was "crooked." The young lady was shocked.
She had heard that Hank was going about town offering to bet against
the Catalpa nine, and now she instantly divined what was going
on, and was indignant accordingly. The fact that she had been the
unconscious channel of communicating with the culprit did not lessen
her wrath. Unhappily for Henry, he came to the office in the course
of the afternoon, and the operator, as soon as she saw him, "gave him
a piece of her mind," to his great discomfiture. Hank, unlike his
co-conspirator, did not attempt to deny anything, but tacitly admitted
all that was charged against him by the irate young lady.

After turning over in his mind the circumstances of the scrape into
which he had been drawn, Master Jackson coolly sat down and wrote the
following despatch to Ben Burton:

  _The thing is blown. Look out for yourself._

 _HENRY J. JACKSON._

It was this warning, received by Burton after the game was over, that
put him on his guard when he was confronted with the despatch sent to
Hiram Porter. Next day, when the town was alive with enthusiasm over
the reception to the returning base ball club, Henry Jackson did not
appear in any of the excited groups that accompanied the players from
the depot to their club-rooms.

The hilarity of the day was somewhat dampened by the fact that one
of the nine was a traitor, and that he must be disciplined, if the
charge were proven against him. The evidence shown to the boys on their
arrival was tolerably conclusive, but it was needful, as they thought,
to secure an admission from either Ben or Henry that there had been
collusion between them. Burton's father, a worthy and honest miller,
sought out Captain Hiram, and, with much grief, told him that Ben had
written to him from Chicago, saying that he was going to Indiana on
unexpected business, and that he would not be in Catalpa for some weeks
to come. This, to the old gentleman, who had heard the flying reports
to his son's discredit, was a suspicious circumstance. He did not like
to believe that Benjamin had done anything wrong, he said, but he was
"afeard," yes, he was "afeard."

Judge Howell sent for Hank Jackson, and that young man, although
at first disposed to be stubborn, finally broke down before the
majesterial bearing of the Judge and told all that was needful to
convict himself and Ben of having combined to make money by betting
on the game between the Calumets and the Catalpas. Ben, he said, had
suggested the trick, agreeing to "throw the game," if Hank, and any
other confederate whom he might select, would get the bets secured in
Catalpa. Henry also thought that Ben had arranged to have a similar
scheme at the same time played in Sandy Key, where he had a boon
companion.

The story of the despatches was now clearly unravelled. Ben had sent a
despatch to Henry Jackson directly after leaving the Chicago lodgings
of the club, on the morning of the second day; subsequently, he had
remembered that his friend in Sandy Key might be utilized as a fellow
conspirator, and, just before the game was called, he had hurried off a
despatch to him, also. Inquiries subsequently developed the fact that
this was exactly what had been done.

While Henry was undergoing an examination in Judge Howell's private
office, the nine were in consultation. Presently, the door opened and
the Judge and his unwilling prisoner appeared.

"Henry has decided to make a clean breast of this unhappy business,
Captain Porter," said the Judge. "Speak up like a man, Henry, and tell
the gentlemen what you have told me."

With downcast eyes and a sullen manner, Hank fumbled with his cap,
and mumbled his story, but without omitting anything relevant to the
case. He was heard in silence, although "The Lily," whose eyes glared
vengefully at the culprit, with difficulty restrained himself. And when
the door closed behind the Judge and the criminal, the ungentle William
gave a roar of rage that astonished first, and then set the club off
into fits of laughter, in spite of the solemnity of the occasion.

"Well, what is the result of your deliberations, Mr. Boyne?" asked a
brisk and somewhat seedy young man, as the boys came down from their
club-room. Pulling out a note book and moistening a pencil at his lip,
as he spoke, he continued, "Shocking case of depravity on the part of
young Burton. Quite a small sensation, on my word. Small, small for a
big city, but really sensational for Catalpa, you know. Ha! ha!" and
the young gentleman laughed at his little sally.

"Great powers!" was Larry's exclamation. "You are not going to print
anything about this disgraceful business in _The Leaf_, are you?"

"Why, certainly, Mr. Boyne. I have a lovely article written up. We only
want the action of the club to round it off, give it completeness as it
were, and there you are."

"Oh, that would be very bad!" cried Larry. "I don't mind your saying in
the paper that Mr. Burton has been obliged to leave the club, and that
we have supplied his place by placing Mr. Albert Heaton at short stop,
Mr. William Sprague being unable to play, on account of having sprained
his thumb while practicing with the club. But don't let us disgrace the
town and the club by making public Ben Burton's treachery!"

A new light seemed to dawn on the reporter's mind, and he sucked his
pencil reflectively. Finally, he brightened up and said, "Well, you
must go and see Mr. Downey. He was reckoning that we would have a
first-class story out of this. I have no authority in the premises. I
am only an humble scribbler, a mere local-items, so to speak. But a
word from you to the editor-in-chief, Mr. Boyne, will have its effect.
Yes, it will have its effect. But that is a lovely story spoiled, Mr.
Boyne."

Mr. Downey, when sought in the office of _The Leaf_, was deeply
chagrined to learn that the members of the base ball club were
unwilling that anything should appear in next morning's paper regarding
the unfortunate affair in which Ben Burton was involved. News was news,
he said, and, what was more, news was very scarce at this season of the
year. Harvesting was not wholly completed. No shooting matches had been
yet arranged, and there was a frightful dullness throughout the county.
His hated rival, _The Dean County Banner_, would be almost certain to
get hold of the affair, and, as _The Banner_ was a semi-weekly, instead
of a daily, like _The Leaf_, he would have time to work it up into that
dime novel sensation to which _The Banner_ was so addicted. And the
editor of _The Leaf_ curled his lip with fine contempt for his rival.

But the arguments of the young men overwhelmed the generous mind of the
editor, who, on condition that similar persuasion should be brought
to bear on the editor of _The Banner_, consigned to the waste-basket,
but with a pang, the highly-seasoned narrative which his reporter had
prepared.

The substitution of Albert Heaton for the derelict Ben Burton was not
effected without a struggle. His mother, firm in her conviction that
base ball was not an aristocratic game, held out against the arguments
of her husband and her son, until Judge Howell, accidentally meeting
her on the street, one day, craftily won her over by informing her that
he wished that he had a son big enough to play base ball. He was sure
that the honor and the glory of defeating the crack base ball club of
the State would now fall to the Catalpa nine. It would be a great day
for Catalpa when this happened.

The good lady surrendered. What Judge Howell thought and said seemed
to her like law and gospel, social and moral. Albert joyfully received
consent to play with the nine--"just for this once."



CHAPTER XVII.

A FAMOUS VICTORY.


It was a great day for base ball when the far-famed Calumet club came
to Catalpa to play the home nine. The visitors arrived by the evening
train and were met at the station by the greater part of the Catalpa
club, who escorted their friends to the hotel in which quarters had
been engaged. To say that the strangers were objects of curiosity to
the youths and lassies of the town would only faintly describe the
enthusiasm with which they were received by the people of Catalpa. The
morrow was to witness the final game of the struggle, already made
sufficiently notable by the narrowness of the margin left for the two
contestants, and by the notoriety given to it by the treachery of Ben
Burton, now town-talk, but (thanks to the discretion of the players)
not known outside of Catalpa.

So high ran the excitement that there were many sleepless youngsters in
Catalpa, that night, although the seasoned veterans who were the actors
in the drama slept as soundly as though the next day would not dawn,
big with the fate of rival base ball clubs. Tom Selby, as his father
reported, arose at frequent intervals through the night, looked out on
the cloudless sky across which the harvest moon was riding, and went
back to his bed with a deep-drawn sigh of satisfaction at the prospect
of another fine day for the great match.

It was a beautiful day that lighted up the valley of Stone River; and
the mellow October sun flooded the scene with splendor, when the crowds
began to flow towards the Agricultural Fair Grounds, now re-furbished
with great care, and decorated with every available bit of bunting in
the place. An enormous throng greeted the sight of the players as they
entered the enclosure and made their way directly to the officers'
old rooms, now set apart for the use of the members of the two nines.
Special trains had been run on the two railroads entering the town,
and from the country round about came long lines of farm-wagons filled
with rustic belles and beaux, stalwart young fellows from the rural
districts, elder people from outlying villages, and small boys who had
heard from afar the news of the great event that was about to happen,
and had trudged into town from distant homes, carrying their frugal
luncheons with them--all bound to see the sport.

There was Judge Howell's carriage, you may be sure, with the Judge, his
pretty daughter, and his prim sister, eager for the sight, even Miss
Anstress grimly admitting, as if under great mental pressure, that she
did hope that the Catalpas would beat and so have done with what she
thought a long and very unnecessary contest for the championship of the
State. There, too, was old Rough and Ready, alert and spry as a lad
of nineteen, making himself very busy trimming the flags, inspecting
the grounds, and running of errands for the players, conscious that
but for him the game could not go on. There was a great and tumultuous
cheer when the two nines, clad in their uniforms, finally emerged from
the unpainted little buildings near the judges' stand in which they
had made ready for the game. Hank Jackson, with what some thought
was unparalleled impudence, under the circumstances, but which may
have been prompted by a spasm of repentance, stood up on his seat and
proposed "three rousing cheers for the Catalpa nine" as that famous
organization filed into the Diamond Field. Whereupon, Mr. Heaton,
fixing his fond paternal eye on his son, now wearing the uniform of
the home club, waved his tall hat and asked for three cheers for the
visitors, and these were given with a will.

"Ah!" sighed Alice, as the Catalpas lost the toss and went to the
bat at the direction of their antagonists, "that is a bad sign; but
I have made up my mind not to notice any more signs, good, bad, or
indifferent."

"A sensible conclusion, child," said the aunt. "I have heard that
base ball players are as superstitious as sailors, and that is one
reason why I think that the game must be debasing to the morals of the
players."

Alice laughed loud and long at this, and even the Judge relaxed his
face into a smile as he heard the sage observation of the elderly lady
before him.

"Pay attention, Alice," said her friend Ida, "there goes that handsome
Larry to the bat!"

But it was needless to direct attention to the player. Every eye was
fixed on the favorite as he lifted his bat jauntily and took his
position with a knowing smile to Sam Morse, the Calumets' pitcher,
as if in recognition of their former contests. But Larry, and Sam
Morrison, who succeeded him, failed to hit the ball safely. And Neddie
Ellis, who came next to the bat, secured his base only by an error on
the part of Captain Ayres, at first base. There was then a chance for
the Catalpas to score, but this was destroyed by Charlie King's going
out on a fly. Equally unsuccessful were the Calumets, who now came to
the bat with high hopes. Darius Ayres hit a fly to John Brubaker, in
the right field, and that vigorous young man neatly captured the ball
amid the plaudits of his fellow townsmen, who were plainly glad of the
least occasion for hilarity. Sam Morse was retired at first base, and
John Handy hit a sky-scraper to Neddie Ellis, ending the first inning
without a run.

Again both clubs, watching each other with rigid scrutiny, failed to
score a run. Each of the nines played a model fielding game and the
result was that not a player reached first base in safety. For the
Catalpas, Hart Stirling struck out; John Brubaker hit a slow ball to
Jamie Kennedy who fielded him out at first base, and Hiram Porter went
out on a fly to James McWilliams.

The Calumets were retired with equal precision and celerity, Rob
Peabody being thrown out at first base by Albert Heaton, Tom Shoff
meeting his fate at the same point at the hands of Hart Stirling,
while Glenn Otto failed to hit the ball, although he made three mighty
strokes at it.

The third inning began without a run to the credit of either club, and
it ended in like manner. The Catalpas went to work with a will that
promised to achieve something for their success, but they were forced
to yield to the strong fielding game played by the visitors. Al Heaton
made his first appearance at the bat, and a little rustle of applause
ran around the crowded seats as he stepped lightly to his position. He
had been "a little shaky," as he expressed it confidentially to his
friend Larry, but the welcome he received from the spectators gave him
a bracing of the muscles, and he hit a hard ball to the right field,
where it was captured neatly by Rob Peabody. "The Lily" next tried his
best to hit the ball, but he could not send it out of the diamond, and,
as Deputy Sheriff Wheeler remarked, "he died at first base." Larry
Boyne fared no better than his predecessors, as he hit up a very easy
fly which fell to the lot of Shoff. It was the work of a few minutes
to dispose of the Calumets. Jamie Kennedy struck out; Charlie Webb
was retired at first base, after hitting a hot ball to Hart Stirling,
and McWilliams went down before the deceptive curves of the Catalpas'
pitcher.

"Three innings and not a run yet!" was the exclamation of Miss Ida
Boardman. "Why, both clubs seem to be watching each other as a cat
would watch a mouse! I wonder if either will score a run in this game?
If they don't, I shall feel as if my time was wasted, shan't you,
Alice?"

But Miss Alice, with a demure glance at her aunt, who beheld the field
with a listless manner, declared that the playing was simply splendid,
and she pitied anybody who could not appreciate the wonderful fielding
of the two clubs. She wished victory for the home nine; but she could
not withhold her generous praise for the fine playing of the visitors.

When Sam Morrison went to the bat for the Catalpas, there was on his
face a look of determination that indicated mischief, as his admirers
said among themselves. "The Lily" said, "It is high time that something
was done, and we must be the first to send a man across the plate."
Sam hit a difficult grounder to Handy, who allowed the base runner to
reach the first bag in safety, by making a poor throw to Ayres, after
accomplishing a first-rate stop, at third base. Neddie Ellis made his
first base hit of the game, and this advanced Morrison to third base.

The next two strikers, Charlie King and Hart Stirling, threw a
gloom over the spirits of the Catalpas and their allies sitting in
rapt silence in the benches around, by going out at first base. As
John Brubaker, the redoubtable, handled his bat in this inning, the
attention of the spectators was fixed on him when he took his position.
The eyes of Sam Morrison and Neddie Ellis were also riveted on John;
the former was on third base, and Neddie had succeeded in reaching
the second bag in safety. Anxiously did they wait to be sent around
homewards. John hit a ball over the head of Tom Shoff which secured
him two bases and his club the same number of runs, as Morrison and
Neddie finished the circuit of the bases on this timely hit of the
right fielder of the home nine. A great roar of applause went up from
the assemblage, and the moisture gathered in the eyes of some of the
more impressionable of the fair ones among the spectators. It was an
auspicious moment for the Catalpas. The spirits of the on-lookers were
slightly dampened, however, by Captain Hiram's being put out, which
ended this half of the inning.

Nor was the scoring of runs to be confined to one club. The Calumets,
in their half of the inning, also "broke the ice," as Rob Peabody
expressed it to Shoff. Captain Darius hit the first ball pitched and
it yielded him a base hit. Sam Morse struck up an easy fly which fell
before the skillful fielding of Sam Morrison. Next to the bat came
John Handy, who imitated the example of John Brubaker, sending home
his captain on a two-base hit. Rob Peabody took his base on called
balls, but was put out by a neat double play. Tom Shoff hit a ball to
Al Heaton who threw it to Stirling, who put out Peabody and then threw
it to first base in time to head off Thomas; and the fourth inning was
closed with the Catalpas two to one for their competitors. Whereat
there was a thundering round of applause from the partial spectators.

Inspired by this token of their success, the sons of Catalpa went
cheerily to the bat and began what proved to be a fruitless attempt to
increase the lead of their club. Albert Heaton, their first striker,
made a base hit and reached second base on a bad throw by Charlie Webb,
but he was left there, as "The Lily," Larry Boyne, and Sam Morrison
were all retired at first base. Here the Calumets played a first-rate
game and ran the bases in fine style, taking advantage of two errors
committed by their opponents, which allowed them to score the single
run needed to put them on even terms. Glenn Otto, the first striker,
went out on a fly to Larry Boyne. The next man to the bat was Jamie
Kennedy, who hit a line ball to Sam Morrison, who fumbled it and
allowed the base runner to reach the first bag safely. Kennedy then
succeeded in reaching the second base by a passed ball, and was sent
across the home plate by Charlie Webb, who struck the ball for a base
hit. McWilliams went out on a foul fly to "The Lily," and Darius Ayres
ended the inning, being fielded out at first base.

In the sixth inning, the Catalpas once more took the lead. Neddie Ellis
led off with a base hit and was followed by Charlie King, who secured
his base by an error on the part of Glenn Otto. Hart Stirling went out
on a fly to Rob Peabody and was followed at the bat by John Brubaker,
who hit safely and so sent in Neddie Ellis amidst the cheers of the
excited spectators, now fairly alive with enthusiasm. Hiram Porter was
thrown out at first base, and Al Heaton hit a long fly to McWilliams,
which the latter deftly captured, and the crowd, apparently anxious to
seem impartial, loudly applauded the catch.

The Calumets failed to tally one in their half of this inning. Sam
Morrison made a base hit and Peabody went to first on a trifling error
by Captain Porter, but Handy, Shoff and Glenn Otto were retired in
quick succession, the first-named at first base and the other two on
high flies to the out-fielders.

Once more the Catalpas added to their score, the glory of making a home
run falling this time to "The Lily." Coming to the square, he swung his
ashen bat over his shoulder, and selecting a "drop ball," he hit with
a will and with all his might, and the sphere flew far over the center
fielder's head, giving the gratified catcher of the home nine the first
and only home run of the game. Before the ball could be returned to
the diamond, Van Orman had cleared the circuit of the bases, and, as
he seated himself breathlessly on the players' bench, he was greeted
with a hearty round of cheers from the excited throng. Cries of "Good
for 'The Lily' of Catalpa!" burst from the multitude, and Ida Boardman
waved her scarf at the bashful William, who detected the compliment
from his post on the opposite side of the amphitheater.

"Get up, Bill, and show yourself proud!" cried Neddie Ellis. "You have
won an encore." At this, Bill heaved up his burly form, doffed his cap
and grimly bowed to the spectators, who cheered him more wildly than
ever.

But Larry, who now took his bat to the square, was the cynosure of
all eyes. Somehow, the confidence of the great assembly was with him
always, even as their affection seemed lavished on peachy-cheeked
Neddie Ellis. But Larry failed to win the plaudits that would have
readily followed the least pretext for a burst of applause. He made a
single hit, but did not score a run, as Sam Morrison, Neddie Ellis and
Charlie King were rapidly retired, one after another. In this inning,
the Calumets succeeded in keeping themselves within one run of their
opponents. Jamie Kennedy made a two-base hit, and, after Charlie Webb
and James McWilliams were retired at first base, they scored a run
which was achieved by Captain Darius Ayres making a base hit. Sam
Morrison ended the inning by going out on a "liner" to Larry Boyne.

The score now stood four to three in favor of the Catalpas, and as "The
Lily" sagely remarked, "It's anybody's game." The home club tried every
possible maneuver to increase their lead; but all was in vain. The
contest was now drawing to a close, and the least bit of luck falling
into the hands of the visiting nine would carry them so far ahead that
defeat would be inevitable for the Catalpa club. Hart Stirling, John
Brubaker, and Hiram Porter, the first three strikers for the home club,
went out very quickly in the order named. Then the Calumets came to the
bat with high hopes of securing at least the one run needed to bring
them up to an even score with their adversaries. But they, too, were
doomed to disappointment. John Handy, Rob Peabody, and Tom Shoff were
put out in "one-two-three order," so skillful was the fielding and so
accurate the throwing of Larry Boyne, Hart Stirling, and Al Heaton.

"The last inning! The last inning!" cried Miss Alice, gleefully
clapping her hands, "and the Catalpas are first at the bat with a lead
of one to their credit! Oh, I do hope that Albert will make a run! I
know he will! Look at him where he stands! Isn't he handsome, Aunt
Anstress?"

Miss Anstress Howell turned her cool glance in the direction of the
Diamond Field, and looking at Albert, said that she was not sure
whether a young man could be called good-looking in those singularly
ill-fitting and peculiar clothes that ball-players wore; but she was
interested in the game, as a whole, she said, without any special
interest in the players as individuals. She took in the performance
without any thought for the men who carried it forward. "You are a kind
of overseeing providence, Anstress?" said the Judge.

While they were talking, a murmur, only a murmur, of conversation
swept around the crowded enclosure, and everybody seemed to be saying
to his neighbor that this was the conclusive and crucial moment in
the struggle. All eyes were intent on Al Heaton, and even grown men
held their breath, as, with close tension of every nerve, they watched
the movements of the players in the field. Tom Selby, attended by his
faithful satellite, Mike Costigan, who had a holiday, gazed with
admiring eyes at his demi-god, Albert Heaton, and so still was the air,
now soft and warm and dimmed by the lustrous October haze, that one
might have heard a leaf drop, as Bill Van Orman eloquently expressed
it, afterwards.

Albert patiently waited for a good ball, and when he saw one come, at
last, he sent the sphere out of the reach of Glenn Otto and placed a
base hit to his credit. Next came "The Lily" who hit the very first
ball pitched, for two bases, and, with a volley of ah-h-h-s following
him, sent in Al Heaton to the home plate. Larry came next in order,
and pretty Alice Howell felt a quickening of her pulse and her color
glowing as she saw the resolute and sturdy figure of the favorite of
the club shouldering his bat and striding to position. Larry made a
safe hit to the right field, sending in "The Lily," and securing his
own base. Sam Morrison was put out at first while Larry shot to second
base. Then Neddie Ellis went out on a fly to Rob Peabody, and Charlie
King ended the inning for the Catalpas, by striking out, leaving Larry
on third base, to which he had stolen meanwhile.

The Catalpas now had a lead of three, and the Calumets came to the bat
with lugubrious faces. "But I have seen sicker children than this get
well," was Captain Ayres's philosophical remark, as Glenn Otto went to
the bat for the visiting club.

The Catalpas went to the field with an elation which they could hardly
conceal, and with a tolerably firm belief in their victory. They
handled the ball with a dexterity almost unexampled, even for them,
and speedily put a damper on any hopes that the Calumets might have
cherished. Glenn Otto went out on a fly to John Brubaker. Jamie Kennedy
was thrown out at first base by Hart Stirling, and Charlie Webb ended
the game by hitting a hot ball to Larry Boyne who made a lightning
throw to first base, before any of the spectators could see what had
become of the ball, so swift and agile were his motions.

A great cheer burst forth from the multitude. The umpire superfluously
cried "Game" in the midst of a deafening uproar, and, as the two
captains advanced towards each other to clasp hands, the Catalpas,
relieving their pent-up enthusiasm with a wild yell, swooped down
upon Larry Boyne, whose brilliant play had terminated the game, and,
seizing him bodily, carried him above their heads, shouting "Hurrah for
the 'Curly-headed Cat!'" as they swung around and round the Diamond
Field. Men and boys whooped and shouted, women waved handkerchiefs and
parasols, and numberless small boys shrilly added to the din. Truly it
was a great day for Catalpa.

For a moment, Alice could not trust herself to speak. And when, with
unsteady voice, she responded to her father's delighted comments, he
looked at her with surprise and said,

"Why, Alice, my child, I believe you are crying!"

"For joy, papa," was all she said. Just then, the lads, still carrying
Larry, with flushed face and sparkling eyes, his curly hair ruffled
by his unwonted treatment, surged towards the Judge's carriage.
Alice extended her hand, and their eyes met with one swift glance of
unspeakable elation. The Judge looked on with benignant approbation,
an unusual lump rising in his throat as he regarded with unaffected
admiration the young athlete who had carried off the honors of the day.

[Illustration: "HURRAH FOR THE CURLY-HEADED CAT!"--Page 200.]

"You are to be congratulated very heartily, Mr. Boyne," he said. "Our
club has won a famous victory, and it is a proud thing for you that
your associates fix upon you as the noblest warrior of them all."

With more cheers and congratulations, the assembly slowly dispersed,
the booming of an anvil salute falling on their ears as the men, women
and children of Catalpa descended the hill to the town. And in the
records of that proud community was written this score:--

                      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 _total._
 Catalpas             0 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 2=  6.
 Calumets             0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0=  3.

 _Runs earned_--Catalpas, 3; Calumets, 2.
 _Base hits_--     "     10;    "      5.
 _Errors_--        "      3;    "      4.
 _Umpire_, Mr. John E. O'Neill.

       *       *       *       *       *

All these things happened years ago. It would be difficult for any
inquiring stranger to gather the threads of the narrative herein set
forth. Even the name of the Calumet base ball club disappeared from
the roll of the League, after that once-famous organization had been
reconstructed, merged, and re-reconstructed. The title of the Catalpa
Base Ball Club has survived time's changes, but the founders of the
club are now sedate upholders of the dignity and credit of their city,
with little time or inclination for athletic sports. Their successors
cherish with just pride the traditions of the early achievements of the
club, and the titles of the original nine are carried with due respect
for those who first wore them. The visitor in Catalpa would note many
changes in the busy western town from which the famous base ball club
went forth to conquer. Judge Howell has left the bench; and he and his
daughter Alice have taken to themselves a partner, whose name appears
on a signboard bearing the inscription--

Howell & Boyne, _Attorneys at Law_.

Of a summer afternoon, when the cares of business may be laid down
for a while, 'Squire Boyne, as he is called by his fellow-townsmen,
may sometimes be found seated in the outer rim of the well-appointed
amphitheater of the Catalpa grounds, with other battle-scarred veterans
around him, watching the mimic combat in the field below, and telling
once more How our Base Ball Club won the Championship.


THE END.



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