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Title: Frank Merriwell's Diamond Foes - Straight Over The Plate
Author: Standish, Burt L.
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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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS FOR YOUNG MEN

Merriwell Series

ALL BY BURT L. STANDISH

Stories of Frank and Dick Merriwell

Fascinating Stories of Athletics

A half million enthusiastic followers of the Merriwell brothers will
attest the unfailing interest and wholesomeness of these adventures of
two lads of high ideals, who play fair with themselves, as well as with
the rest of the world.

These stories are rich in fun and thrills in all branches of sports and
athletics. They are extremely high in moral tone, and cannot fail to be
of immense benefit to every boy who reads them.

They have the splendid quality of firing a boy’s ambition to become a
good athlete, in order that he may develop into a strong, vigorous,
right-thinking man.

_ALL TITLES ALWAYS IN PRINT_

  101--Frank Merriwell’s Nomads
  102--Dick Merriwell on the Gridiron
  103--Dick Merriwell’s Disguise
  104--Dick Merriwell’s Test
  105--Frank Merriwell’s Trump Card
  106--Frank Merriwell’s Strategy
  107--Frank Merriwell’s Triumph
  108--Dick Merriwell’s Grit
  109--Dick Merriwell’s Assurance
  110--Dick Merriwell’s Long Slide
  111--Frank Merriwell’s Rough Deal
  112--Dick Merriwell’s Threat
  113--Dick Merriwell’s Persistence
  114--Dick Merriwell’s Day
  115--Frank Merriwell’s Peril
  116--Dick Merriwell’s Downfall
  117--Frank Merriwell’s Pursuit
  118--Dick Merriwell Abroad
  119--Frank Merriwell in the Rockies
  120--Dick Merriwell’s Pranks
  121--Frank Merriwell’s Pride
  122--Frank Merriwell’s Challengers
  123--Frank Merriwell’s Endurance
  124--Dick Merriwell’s Cleverness
  125--Frank Merriwell’s Marriage
  126--Dick Merriwell, the Wizard
  127--Dick Merriwell’s Stroke
  128--Dick Merriwell’s Return
  129--Dick Merriwell’s Resource
  130--Dick Merriwell’s Five
  131--Frank Merriwell’s Tigers
  132--Dick Merriwell’s Polo Team
  133--Frank Merriwell’s Pupils
  134--Frank Merriwell’s New Boy
  135--Dick Merriwell’s Home Run
  136--Dick Merriwell’s Dare
  137--Frank Merriwell’s Son
  138--Dick Merriwell’s Team Mate
  139--Frank Merriwell’s Leaguers
  140--Frank Merriwell’s Happy Camp
  141--Dick Merriwell’s Influence
  142--Dick Merriwell, Freshman
  143--Dick Merriwell’s Staying Power
  144--Dick Merriwell’s Joke
  145--Frank Merriwell’s Talisman
  146--Frank Merriwell’s Horse
  147--Dick Merriwell’s Regret
  148--Dick Merriwell’s Magnetism
  149--Dick Merriwell’s Backers
  150--Dick Merriwell’s Best Work
  151--Dick Merriwell’s Distrust
  152--Dick Merriwell’s Debt
  153--Dick Merriwell’s Mastery
  154--Dick Merriwell Adrift
  155--Frank Merriwell’s Worst Boy
  156--Dick Merriwell’s Close Call
  157--Frank Merriwell’s Air Voyage
  158--Dick Merriwell’s Black Star
  159--Frank Merriwell in Wall Street
  160--Frank Merriwell Facing His Foes
  161--Dick Merriwell’s Stanchness
  162--Frank Merriwell’s Hard Case
  163--Dick Merriwell’s Stand
  164--Dick Merriwell Doubted
  165--Frank Merriwell’s Steadying Hand
  166--Dick Merriwell’s Example
  167--Dick Merriwell in the Wilds
  168--Frank Merriwell’s Ranch
  169--Dick Merriwell’s Way
  170--Frank Merriwell’s Lesson
  171--Dick Merriwell’s Reputation
  172--Frank Merriwell’s Encouragement
  173--Dick Merriwell’s Honors
  174--Frank Merriwell’s Wizard
  175--Dick Merriwell’s Race
  176--Dick Merriwell’s Star Play
  177--Frank Merriwell at Phantom Lake
  178--Dick Merriwell a Winner
  179--Dick Merriwell at the County Fair
  180--Frank Merriwell’s Grit
  181--Dick Merriwell’s Power
  182--Frank Merriwell in Peru
  183--Frank Merriwell’s Long Chance
  184--Frank Merriwell’s Old Form
  185--Frank Merriwell’s Treasure Hunt
  186--Dick Merriwell Game to the Last
  187--Dick Merriwell, Motor King
  188--Dick Merriwell’s Tussle
  189--Dick Merriwell’s Aero Dash
  190--Dick Merriwell’s Intuition
  191--Dick Merriwell’s Placer Find
  192--Dick Merriwell’s Fighting Chance
  193--Frank Merriwell’s Tact
  194--Frank Merriwell’s Puzzle
  195--Frank Merriwell’s Mystery
  196--Frank Merriwell, the Lionhearted
  197--Frank Merriwell’s Tenacity
  198--Dick Merriwell’s Perception
  199--Dick Merriwell’s Detective Work
  200--Dick Merriwell’s Commencement
  201--Dick Merriwell’s Decision
  202--Dick Merriwell’s Coolness
  203--Dick Merriwell’s Reliance
  204--Frank Merriwell’s Young Warriors
  205--Frank Merriwell’s Lads
  206--Dick Merriwell in Panama
  207--Dick Merriwell in South America
  208--Dick Merriwell’s Counsel
  209--Dick Merriwell, Universal Coach
  210--Dick Merriwell’s Varsity Nine
  211--Dick Merriwell’s Heroic Players
  212--Dick Merriwell at the Olympics
  213--Frank Merriwell, Jr., Tested
  214--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Conquests
  215--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Rivals
  216--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Helping Hand
  217--Frank Merriwell, Jr., in Arizona
  218--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Mission
  219--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Ice-boat Adventure
  220--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Timely Aid
  221--Frank Merriwell, Jr., in the Desert

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the
books listed below will be issued during the respective months in New
York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance
promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in July, 1929.

  222--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Fight for Right
  223--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Team Work

To be published in August, 1929.

  224--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Athletic Team
  225--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Peck of Trouble
  226--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Ordeal

To be published in September, 1929.

  227--Frank Merriwell, Jr., Birdman
  228--Frank Merriwell, Jr., at the Old School

To be published in October, 1929.

  229--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Repentant Enemy
  230--Frank Merriwell, Jr.’s, Gridiron Honors

To be published in November, 1929.

  231--Frank Merriwell, Jr., on the Border
  232--Frank Merriwell’s Diamond Foes

To be published in December, 1929.

  233--The Merriwell Company
  234--Dick Merriwell and June Arlington



Frank Merriwell’s Diamond Foes OR STRAIGHT OVER THE PLATE


  By
  BURT L. STANDISH

  Author of the famous Merriwell stories

  [Illustration]

  STREET & SMITH CORPORATION
  PUBLISHERS
  79-89 Seventh Avenue, New York

       *       *       *       *       *

  Copyright, 1914
  By STREET & SMITH
  Frank Merriwell’s Diamond Foes

  All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
  languages, including the Scandinavian.

  Printed in the U. S. A.

       *       *       *       *       *

FRANK MERRIWELL’S DIAMOND FOES.



CHAPTER I. COLONEL CARSON, OF CARSONVILLE.


Chip Merriwell, in running togs, had just taken a rail fence at a
flying leap. As he dropped into the road beyond the fence, he halted
suddenly and gave vent to a startled exclamation.

Almost at the same instant, a second figure in athletic shirt and track
pants came hurtling over the fence, pulled up abruptly, and stood
hanging on to Merry’s shoulder. This second person was Billy McQuade,
with whom Frank Merriwell, junior, was spending a few days of the
spring vacation.

The two friends had left home for a cross-country hike together. It was
now the middle of the forenoon, they were on their way back, and had
still four miles to go before reaching Carsonville.

The crisp spring air of morning gave the two runners new life at every
breath. To many a languid youth it spelled laziness and lack of all
effort, but Merry and his friend knew from experience that “spring
fever” is only a convenient name for doing nothing. Both of them were
looking forward to a luxurious relaxation in the long grass by the
Carsonville mill pond that afternoon, but they intended to make it all
the more enjoyable by an honest physical weariness.

At the point where the two friends struck the highway, it curved in a
wide horseshoe bend in order to avoid a tongue of undrained swamp land
that struck up from the river. Merriwell had come to the road on one
side of the curve, intending to follow the highway back to town.

As he took the hedge bordering the road with a flying hurdle, he had
caught sight of a buggy in the white stretch directly ahead of him.
That one flashing glimpse had shown him a man in the buggy, and, as he
came to earth, he saw the horse give a sudden leap, shying frantically
at sight of the flying figure.

Merriwell regretted instantly that he had not looked before he had
leaped, but it was now too late. Before Billy McQuade took the leap in
turn, the mettlesome steed hitched to the buggy was tearing around the
bend of road, while the lone occupant stood up sawing savagely at the
reins.

“That’s a lesson I should have learned before this,” Merriwell murmured
regretfully. “The horse shied when I came over the hedge, and he’s run
away.”

“No doubt about that,” commented Billy, watching with startled eyes.
“He looks as if he didn’t intend to stop this side of Fardale.”

The course of the runaway was anything but reassuring. The startled
horse was racing madly around the horseshoe bend, with the buggy
leaping and rocking behind him, threatening at every instant to go over.

The driver still stood erect, however. He was shouting in an angry tone
of voice, and trying vainly to curb the frightened animal. Disaster was
imminent at any moment.

“My eye!” Billy ejaculated soberly. “We’ve done it this time, Chip!”

“Then we’d better undo it,” snapped Merriwell, rousing himself. He
pointed across the marshy land to the opposite bend of the road.

“Come along, Billy! We can cut straight across over there, and beat the
horse to it. He’s forced to go clear around the bend.”

“Practical lesson in geometry,” murmured Billy, with a resigned look
at the boggy strip. “The shortest distance between two points is a
straight line. Go ahead, old man, I’m with you. Hope the buggy will
still be with the horse when it gets there!”

Chip Merriwell leaped across the road, Billy close behind him. They
vaulted the rail fence on that side, and set off across the marsh land
at the best possible speed.

It did not seem that Billy McQuade’s hope would be fulfilled. The
runaway had by this time reached the central point of the curve, and
the driver’s efforts seemed to have no effect, for the buggy was
careering and bouncing as if ready to smash up at each wild leap.

Merriwell took a glance over his shoulder, and increased his speed. But
it was difficult to cover the ground rapidly; pools of water lay here
and there, the soft grass and soaked soil sucked at every step, and
only by jumping from tussock to tussock could progress be made.

The two runners made it, however. They were nearly across the neck of
sunken land when Merriwell heard a startled cry from his friend, and
glanced around.

He was just in time to see the driver flung from the buggy!

With a thrill of fear that his carelessness had brought about an
irreparable injury, Chip Merriwell dashed forward. The horse was almost
upon him as he scrambled up and swung himself across the fence, but
the frightened beast had no time to swerve. Taking a few long running
steps, Merry flung himself sideways and caught at the bridle.

Almost directly, the horse stopped, trembling and heaving. With a
breath of relief, Merriwell began stroking his muzzle, patting his
neck, and uttering soothing words. The animal perceived that he was a
friend, and stood quiet.

One swift glance showed that the buggy was uninjured, then Merriwell
looked around for the driver, stepping back from the horse to get a
clear view.

He saw Billy McQuade meeting the driver, who had risen to his feet.
It was evident at once that he had suffered from nothing worse than a
severe shock, for, as Merriwell turned and approached the two, he heard
the driver cursing furiously. With a feeling of distaste, he inspected
the man, whose clothes Billy was hastily brushing.

The driver of the rig was a tall, spare, stoop-shouldered man. He was
very well dressed, and wore a gray mustache and goatee. There was a
hard set to his face, and a pouchiness beneath his black eyes, that
denoted self-indulgence, and a life that was anything but what it
should be.

“You good-for-nothin’ loafer!” he roared, turning furiously on Billy,
as Chip Merriwell came up. “You done this a-purpose! You----”

“It was not Billy’s fault at all,” broke in Merry warmly. “I was the
first one over the fence, and your horse shied at me.”

The driver whirled on him, his rage becoming a cold fury as he met
Merriwell’s firm, steady gaze.

“What are you doin’ in them duds?” he demanded. “So it was you, hey?”

“Yes,” and, although Merry’s eyes flashed at the tone of the man, he
kept his voice cool. “Yes, and I’m very sorry about it. Of course,
I’ll be glad to settle for whatever damage was done.”

“Lot o’ good that’ll do!” growled the other, who seemed to be eying him
with anything but liking. “What you chasin’ around in them duds for?”

“We were doing a bit of cross-country running,” Merriwell said quietly.
Billy McQuade was flashing him queer looks which he interpreted as
warnings, but he took no heed of them. “As I said, I’ll expect to make
good any damage, and I’m very sorry the accident occurred. My name is
Frank Merriwell, junior, and you’ll find me at the McQuades’ residence,
if you want me.”

The man flung Billy a hard look, then laughed sneeringly.

“Mebbe I will and mebbe I won’t,” he jeered. “They ain’t goin’ to have
a residence very long, I reckon. I s’pose he put you up to scarin’ that
hoss, eh?”

“He did not!” cried Merry indignantly. The insinuation made him angry
clear through. Billy flung him an imploring glance, but he was a chip
of the old block, and showed it in his next words.

“I don’t know who you are, my friend, but you’ve got a disposition that
I wouldn’t like to be let loose with. We’ve caused an accident, or,
rather, I have, and I’ve apologized and offered to do all in my power
to make it right.

“Instead of throwing slurs and curses into the atmosphere, it’d be a
whole lot more decent if you’d try to act white. I don’t blame you for
being mad. I’d probably be mad myself in the same circumstances. But
that’s no reason for your acting in this way.”

The stranger gave him a black look, then moved off.

“Humph!” he grunted sarcastically. “I guess you’re like your dad, if
all I’ve heard say is correct. Let’s see what damage was done. I reckon
the buggy was smashed up.”

Merriwell and Billy McQuade followed him to where the horse stood. The
man went over the buggy, then examined the horse.

“Ain’t nothing busted,” he said, almost regretfully, it seemed. “But
you kids are too gay, runnin’ around the country in them duds. It’s
goin’ to be stopped.”

“Don’t let our clothes worry you,” retorted Merry. “You know where to
find me if you want damages. Come along, Billy.”

He promptly turned his back. Billy threw a dubious look at the man,
then followed slowly. Once more the deep voice reached Merriwell.

“You’ll be sorry for this, mind my words! You ain’t a-going to talk to
me that way and get off with it, you young scoundrel!”

Chip Merriwell’s cheeks flamed a little, but he kept a firm grip on
himself and walked on. After a moment he turned to see the man climb
into his buggy and give the horse a savage cut with the whip.

“The brute!” he murmured indignantly. “What that horse needs is a kind
word, instead of the lash. More than likely that fellow had him whipped
into such a temper that he would have shied at a dead leaf.”

Billy nodded. To his surprise, Merry saw that his friend’s usually
clear, frank features were overcast and troubled.

“What’s the matter, old man? You seemed to know that fellow.”

“I do.”

Billy cast a worried look at the rig, now disappearing around the curve
of the road.

“Here’s a go!” he muttered gloomily. “I guess we’re all in for it now,
Chip.”

“Why? That man isn’t the sheriff, is he?” asked Merriwell, with a laugh.

“No. He’s a whole lot worse. That chap is Colonel Carson, who owns most
of Carsonville, and he’ll make the old burg plenty hot for us now,
believe me!”



CHAPTER II. WHY BILLY LEFT SCHOOL.


Chip Merriwell looked curiously at his friend and host.

“Has this Colonel Carson anything to do with your leaving Fardale--or,
rather, with your writing that you would not be back?”

“Yes,” Billy said, in a low voice. “Let’s walk along, Chip, and I’ll
tell you about it. It might as well come out now as any time, I s’pose.”

It was Merry’s second day in Carsonville. Billy McQuade, or, as he was
more generally known, “Billy Mac,” was a plebe at Fardale Academy.
During the preceding summer he had shown remarkable ability as backstop
on the scrub nine, and it was reported that he was in line to catch for
the regular team during the coming season. Billy Mac was also good at
first, however, so that Fardale had been in no little doubt.

Shortly before the spring vacation began, Billy had been called home
to Carsonville. His father was dead, and his mother had merely written
that she needed Billy’s presence to settle up some portions of the
estate. Then had come a letter from Billy himself--a heartbroken
letter, stating that he would be unable to return to Fardale.

He assigned no definite cause, and the reason remained pretty much a
mystery. It was a most disconcerting mystery, also. Owen Clancy, Chip
Merriwell’s regular backstop, was somewhere off in the Southwest. It
had been pretty generally settled that Billy Mac would don the mask
this season, and his sudden withdrawal was a body blow to Fardale hopes.

These had been swiftly raised, however, when on the last day of school
before the vacation Clancy had appeared without warning. He had
retrieved his family fortunes, and was ready to pitch into work at
Fardale once more. This, none the less, did not throw any light upon
the mystery of Billy Mac’s dropping out.

Both Merry and his father had been no little worried. Frank Merriwell,
senior, had finally suggested that Chip drop around to Carsonville
during vacation. Although head over ears in track and field work, Chip
had assented gladly. Billy Mac sent him a cordial invitation to come
along, and he had promptly arrived.

The McQuade home was a comfortable, old-fashioned residence on a hill
near the river, just outside of town. During his first day, Merry had
asked no questions, but his eyes had been busy. He noted the worried,
uneasy air of hospitable Mrs. McQuade, and the nervousness of his
friend. It was not hard to guess that the estate of the senior McQuade
had fallen into difficulties, though not a word had been said on the
subject.

“Let’s have it, old man,” said Merry gravely. “Nothing helps a fellow
so much as being able to spout out his trouble to some one else.”

“I know,” sighed Billy Mac hopelessly. “But this is different. I s’pose
you remember about--about dad dying just before Christmas holidays?”

“Yes,” said Chip sympathetically. “And we were all mighty sorry to hear
of it, old fellow.”

“Well,” went on the other, “things didn’t look so bad just then. Mother
had a thousand dollars of insurance money, while the house and orchard
was ours. We’ve got some mighty fine fruit trees there, and they
promised to take care of things pretty well.”

“I should think they would! Those apples you dug up yesterday were
something fine, Billy Mac.”

“They were the last of the ones we buried last fall, Chip. We shipped
off some of them, for with the apples and other things we get high
prices from the city. They seem to appreciate getting extra fine fruit.”

“Of course they do. The trouble with most farmers is that they don’t
take pains enough to market their crop right, and take care of it on
the way. But go ahead.”

Billy sighed again, and glanced heavily at the river.

“This here Colonel Carson,” he broke out, “suddenly produced a
mortgage on the house and orchard for two thousand dollars. That was
just before vacation, when mother wrote for me to come home.”

“But you knew that he had the mortgage?” queried Chip, frowning.

“We thought dad had paid it. You see, dad--well, dad was kind of
careless about money. Just the same, we _knew_ he had paid that
mortgage. Mother could find no receipt, however, and Carson vowed that
it had never been paid.”

“Somebody ought to teach him something,” said Merry warmly. “Hadn’t you
any proof whatever?”

“Not a scratch, Chip. We couldn’t find a single thing. Mother pleaded
with him, and he agreed to give us a little time in which to pay
it--over again. It hit us pretty hard, you see. We knew that dad had
paid it, but that villain Carson only wants to get hold of the place.”

“Looks as though the scoundrel had you,” said Merriwell thoughtfully.
“Can you pay it, Billy?”

“Maybe. Mother has that thousand insurance money, and--well, to tell
the truth, I’ve arranged to get a job as clerk in the Carsonville
general store. If we can hold the colonel off a while, I guess we can
fix it.”

“Pretty hard lines, just the same,” commented Merry. “So that’s why you
wrote that you wouldn’t be back to Fardale, eh?”

“Yes,” said Billy Mac miserably. “It’s all off, Chip. And now, after
what’s happened this morning--well, you can guess that Carson won’t
have much mercy.”

Merriwell whistled softly. Now he began to see the possible disaster he
had brought upon the McQuade family through scaring Colonel Carson’s
horse. Recalling the man’s face, he was forced to admit to himself that
he could not see much hope in it. Every line spelled hardness, cold
unscrupulousness.

There was good cause for Billy Mac’s worry--yet he had cast no word of
blame on Chip, whose lack of caution seemed to have brought wreck upon
him. Merry appreciated this fact. It was only another indication of the
sterling qualities of his friend.

At the same time, it gave him serious food for thought. If Colonel
Carson did come down upon Mrs. McQuade, in his rage, Chip knew that he
would be morally responsible for it.

“I’m mighty sorry about this, old man,” he exclaimed soberly, “What
kind of a fellow is this Carson? Is he well off?”

“Got slathers of money,” said Billy Mac, with added gloom. “The burg
was named after his family, and he owns most of the main street, the
bank, and everything else, even the baseball team.”

“Baseball team?” inquired Merriwell sharply. “A professional team?”

“No, the Clippers are made up of amateurs, and stand pretty high in the
Amateur League. But it’s like everything else, Chip. The colonel is
said to be mighty careless about methods in everything he does, so long
as he gets what he wants. The Carsonville Clippers are amateurs, all
right, but I notice most of ’em have jobs in Colonel Carson’s bank, or
on his farms, or somewhere. And the jobs don’t need much attention.”

“So that’s it, eh?” Merriwell looked thoughtful. “Are they a good
bunch?”

There was no doubt that the Clippers could play ball, and play it well
enough to win most of their games. Carsonville, of course, was not a
large-enough place to support such a team, but, where his one great
hobby was concerned, Colonel Carson was willing to spend money like
water.

One reason for this was that his own son was the star pitcher of the
Clippers. Another was that Colonel Carson had a consuming ambition to
make such a showing with his amateur team, that he could buy into one
of the larger professional-league teams as a well-known follower of the
sport.

To this end, it was necessary that his team should win games. The
Clippers did so. But--and this point Merry dragged by sheer force from
the reluctant Billy--it was whispered that Colonel Carson did not care
much how they won, so long as they did win.

“I don’t believe in repeating calumnies,” went on Billy, “whether you
like a man, or don’t. I believe that Colonel Carson is a scoundrel and
a liar where my family is concerned, but I don’t like to repeat things
that have no foundation.”

“Right you are,” exclaimed Chip. “But in a case of this kind, rumor is
apt to hit pretty close to the mark, Billy Mac. Is there a good diamond
here?”

“You bet!” cried Billy enthusiastically. “Almost as good as the Fardale
grounds, Chip. It’s laid out down below the milldam, by the river, with
concrete stands and all that. Colonel Carson certainly does things up
brown!”

“That’s what he wants,” agreed Chip. “It’ll help his reputation
with the league magnates. But if he builds his reputation on secret
chicanery and dirty work, he isn’t going to get very far, and, judging
from your own case, it looks as though Colonel Carson had a tricky
streak right through him.”

He could not help feeling sorry for Billy Mac, even while admiring his
sturdy pluck. To throw up school, athletics, and everything else in
order to take up a hopeless undertaking was a stiff proposition. And
Billy’s task looked hopeless.

His salary as clerk in the Carsonville general store would certainly
be small. It would take him a long time to get together a thousand
dollars, to add to the thousand his mother already possessed. Yet it
had been the only chance, and Billy Mac had plunged desperately at it
without a squeal for help.

Merriwell knew better than to offer financial assistance, though he
knew that his father would be glad to help the McQuades. He had seen
enough of Billy’s mother to guess at her pride, and, as though Billy
had read his secret thought, he turned to Merriwell.

“Don’t say anything to mother about my telling you this,” he said
quietly. “It may come out other ways, or she may tell you herself----”

“I understand,” interrupted Chip. “She wouldn’t like to think that her
guests had been bothered with family troubles. She’s a mighty fine
mother to have, Billy.”

“You bet your boots!” and the other’s eyes lighted up. “She didn’t want
me to quit Fardale, of course. But it was the only chance there was,
and she had to give in at last.”

“Well, the place isn’t lost yet, so brace up,” advised Merriwell.

By the time they had finished this heart-to-heart talk, they were at
the outskirts of the town, and nearing the McQuade home. Billy pointed
out a large white house set in from the road as the Carson residence.

They had just passed this point, when, from a bend in the road, came
a shrill cry in a boyish voice. An instant later they sighted two
figures. One was that of a rather small young fellow, crouching; over
him stood a tall, heavy-set figure, striking at the smaller chap, and
paying no attention to his cries for mercy.

“My eye!” cried Billy Mac hotly. “Trail along, Chip. I’ll give that
brute something else to think of!”

And Billy broke into a run, with a yell of anger.



CHAPTER III. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.


“Hel-l-lup!”

At sight of Chip Merriwell and Billy Mac, the smaller of the two
figures uttered a shrill appeal. As the bully straightened up, the
little fellow writhed away and danced over to the side of the road.

“Hello, Chub!” cried Billy, pausing. “What’s the trouble? Were you
playing?”

“Pl-l-laying nothing!” returned Chub shrilly, dancing about in his
rage, and pointing at his tormentor. “That big stiff said I rooted too
much for the visiting team l-l-l-last Saturday! He caught me and was
l-l-lambasting me!”

Chip saw that his friend was fully competent to handle the situation,
and stood back. There was something comical about the helpless rage of
Chub, and about his manner of stumbling speech, that amused Merriwell.

“You’re a fine sort of sport, I don’t think!” exclaimed Billy Mac,
addressing the bully. “Just because a fellow doesn’t root for you, you
want to punish him--and a little chap like Chub, too!”

The bully glowered at Billy Mac in a threatening fashion. He was a
hulking big fellow, wearing a sporty necktie of flaming red, and a
loud-checked suit. His features were heavy and overbearing, with
deep-set black eyes, that gleamed maliciously, and from one corner of
his mouth drooped a burned-out cigarette.

“What’s it to you, Billy Mac?” he growled menacingly. “You’d better
not try to show off around here, just because you been to a military
academy fer a few months!”

“There’s no one showing off around here except that necktie of yours,”
snapped Billy Mac. “It’s a wonder you couldn’t find a baby to lick, you
coward!”

It became evident to Merry that the two knew each other, and that his
friend cherished a thorough dislike for the bully.

“Give it to him, Bil-l-ly!” chirruped Chub, who was well out of danger
by this time. It seemed impossible for the little chap to pronounce the
letter “l” without spilling it out by degrees. “L-l-l-lam him for me!”

The big fellow sneered.

“I suppose you think you can run the place, Billy Mac, now that you’ve
been away to school, hey? You think you are a real athlete, with them
underwear things on, don’t you?”

Seeing that his friend was speechless with rage, Merriwell interfered.

“It’s quite evident that you’re not fitted to pass on athletes, my
friend,” he broke in ironically. “I’ve always found that the fellow
who goes around with a coffin nail sticking in his face is the one
who sticks in the bleachers. He doesn’t get out and toss the ball very
much.”

For some reason, this speech seemed to infuriate the bully. He whirled
on Merry with a snarl of anger.

“Smart guy, ain’t you? I suppose you’re that Merriwell kid that Billy’s
been blowin’ about so much?”

“It seems that you have some brain left, in spite of cigarettes,”
returned Merry dryly. “You’re supposing a lot of things, my friend.
It might strike you to suppose that your absence is better than your
company.”

“Oh, is that so?” The big fellow clenched his fists, glaring. “Say, fer
about two cents I’d take you down a peg, Slim-shanks!”

Billy Mac turned quickly.

“Look here, Chip, you butt out of this!” he demanded. “Chub Newton’s a
friend of mine, and this isn’t your quarrel.”

“All right, old man,” said Merriwell, waving his hand. “I’ll gladly
turn over our genial friend to you. He looks as if a dose of McQuade
compound would improve his health a good deal.”

“Yah!” shrieked Chub Newton, in wild delight. “That’s the way to talk!
L-l-listen to that, Bul-l-ly! You’re goin’ to hear things, al-l-l
right!”

Bully favored Chub with a black look.

“I’ve give you one lesson about closin’ that jaw of yours, Chub,” he
grated. “You’d better lay mighty low, mind my words!”

There was something in the tone and aspect of the fellow that struck a
responsive chord in Merriwell’s memory. What the familiarity was, he
could not fathom. However, he was sure that there was a familiarity.

“L-l-light into him, Bil-l-ly!” pleaded Chub, his shrill voice
appearing to irritate Bully like the buzzing of a mosquito. The latter
shook his fist threateningly.

“You heard what I said!” he roared. “Shut that jaw, or I’ll show you
what a real lambastin’ is, you tow-headed little rat!”

“I don’t think you will, Bully,” said McQuade. Merriwell had thrown him
a warning look, and he had curbed his temper.

“Hey? Why not?” The big fellow turned on Billy, seeming to comprehend
for the first time that he was being actually interfered with. “I
suppose you’ll stop me, hey?”

“Well, I’ve been thinking it over quite a while,” admitted Billy, with
a grin. “Try a fresh cigarette, Bully. It might help you to get ideas
faster.”

Chub Newton waved his arms in delight. A few passers-by were pausing
to listen to the altercation, and the little fellow turned to them
eagerly.

“Watch Bul-l-ly catch it!” he sang out shrilly. “He’s going to get
a fal-l-len on harder than the Sprucetown batters fel-l-l on him
l-l-l-last Saturday!”

At this the big fellow’s face went positively black with rage. It was
clear that he could think of no taunts to fling back at his diminutive
foe, so he did the next best thing that occurred to him. He took a
swift step toward Chub, his fists clenched.

“No you don’t!”

Billy Mac leaped forward and caught his shoulder, twirling him around.

“Look out!” roared Bully furiously. “I’ll mash that smart-alec mouth o’
yours, you fool! Go home an’ dress yourself!”

“I’d make a better job of it than you’ve done,” retorted Billy, with
contempt.

Among the gathering array a quick smile passed, with significant looks
at the loud attire of the big fellow. This only served to infuriate him
the more. It was clear to Chip that Bully was by no means a favorite,
though for some reason no voice was lifted against him, save that of
Chub Newton.

“Go for him, ol-l-ld scout!” Chub shrieked. “You can l-l-lick him easy!
He’s got a yel-l-ler streak!”

“And you’ve got a yelling streak,” observed Merry, with a laugh.

Glaring from his deep-set eyes, Bully stepped toward McQuade.

“I guess you need a lesson,” he growled. “You’re gettin’ too all-fired
smart around this town, for a pauper.”

Billy went white.

“I’d sooner be a pauper than the son of a crook,” he snapped. “And I’d
sooner be the son of a crook, than a crook myself, Bully!”

A murmur of applause went up from the crowd. It was cut short by a roar
from the big fellow.

“Call me a crook, will you!”

With a quick lunge forward, he aimed a vicious blow at Billy Mac. The
backstop did not appreciate the compliment, however.

Catching the blow on his arm, he took a quick step in, and there was a
dull smack. Bully went staggering back.

“Yah!” chirruped Chub, in great glee. “I tol-l-ld you! L-l-lam him
again!”

The big fellow hesitated, with a surprised expression on his face.
Evidently concluding that an accident had happened, he rushed at Billy
with a shout.

“Here’s where you get yours, smart alec!”

Billy Mac did not seem at all disturbed over the prospect. He waited
the rush quietly, and, as the big fellow drove in another blow, Billy
caught the arm. He turned, jerked the other’s wrist over his shoulder,
and Bully flew over him into the dust. This brought a shout of applause
from the spectators.

It was a simple jujutsu trick. Billy Mac had not learned it very
adroitly, but he had learned it well enough to spill his adversary head
over heels. Bully was unhurt, and was up instantly, brushing at his gay
attire.

“Got some luck, ain’t you!” he sneered furiously.

“Better not try my luck again,” said Billy Mac, with a laugh.

Chub Newton let out a shrill yell.

“L-l-look at the l-l-loud guy now! Yah! Why don’t you cl-l-laim you
stubbed your toe, Bul-l-ly Carson?”

Merriwell started. Could it be possible that this fellow was the son of
Colonel Carson, of whom Billy Mac had spoken--the baseball player? Yes,
he placed the chap now. The features and voice were not unlike those of
Colonel Carson.

However, he had no time to conjecture further. Bully went at Billy
Mac with a second rush, this time exercising more caution. McQuade
had to depend entirely on his quickness, and proved that it was quite
dependable.

He slipped aside, raising a cloud of dust as he did so, and tried to
trip his opponent. Bully staggered and lost his balance, and, as his
arm flew out wide, Billy Mac stepped in and his fist went out.

Again there came a sharp crack as the blow landed. The big fellow,
struck fairly on the angle of the jaw below the ear, shivered, and then
went reeling across the street. He pulled up at the fence, clinging to
it desperately.

“Yah! He’s scared out!” cried Chub.

So, indeed, it seemed. The blow had not been hard enough to knock him
out, yet he made no offer to return to the fight. Instead, he raised
his fist and shook it menacingly.

“You’ll suffer for this!” he exclaimed. “You wait till I see dad!”

“Yah!” shrilled Chub Newton, dancing wildly. “Go put a muffl-l-ler on
your new cl-l-lothes, Bully Carson!”

Bully moved off, evidently sick of the encounter. Since it was plainly
over, the spectators drifted away, and Chub Newton thanked his rescuer.
Billy Mac introduced him to Frank Merriwell, junior, but seemed to have
little delight in his victory.

“Now I am in for it, and no mistake!” he exclaimed, looking after the
big fellow.

“Why?”

“Didn’t you notice the resemblance?”

“Well, yes. And I heard Chub call him Bully Carson----”

“Yes, that’s his usual nickname. He is Colonel Carson’s son, Chip. And
I guess you can see that I’ve done a pretty bad morning’s work for the
McQuade family.”



CHAPTER IV. COLONEL CARSON’S REVENGE.


“I’m awful-l-ly gl-l-lad to meet you! Bil-l-ly’s tol-l-ld me a l-l-lot
about Chip Merriwel-l-l!”

“We seem to have come along just right,” said Merry, shaking hands with
Chub. “But we’d better get home, Billy Mac. We seem to attract a good
deal of attention in these running togs.”

Billy Mac nodded.

“Sure. You’d better come with me, Chub. We’ll go down to the swimming
hole near the house and have a plunge.”

Chub looked disappointed.

“I’m sorry, fel-l-lows, but I can’t. I’m workin’ at the grocery, you
know, and I got to get orders this morning. I’l-l-l see you l-l-later,
though.”

“You come down to the swimming hole,” offered Billy quickly, “and I’ll
help you make up for lost time by covering this street and taking
orders.”

“Wil-l-l you, honest!” cried Chub! “Oh, hurray! Watch me go!”

“Well, chase along to the river, then. We’ll get our duds and be right
down.”

Chub went capering off at full speed, while Chip and Billy trotted off
to the McQuade home.

Here they secured their clothes and towels, saying nothing to Mrs.
McQuade of what had happened that morning. Billy was full of fears,
but he forced them down in her presence. He did not want to worry his
mother unnecessarily.

When they left the house to get to the river, they passed a corner of
the orchard. It was bright with blossoms, whose scent came sweetly on
the breeze, and Billy jerked his head toward the gnarled trees.

“I’d hate to see those trees piling up an income for Colonel Carson,
Merry.”

Chip Merriwell nodded in comprehension.

“It would be hard, old chap. But that’s exactly what they’re doing,
right now, since you’ll have to pay the loan a second time. Even that
will be better than letting the place fall into his hands.”

“Can’t help it,” and Billy shook his head gloomily. “The mortgage is
overdue, and he could foreclose any time he wanted to, you see. He’s
going to be sore as blazes over what happened this morning, too.”

“He doesn’t seem to be very fair-minded, for a fact,” agreed Merry.
“But it’s a bad plan to worry over what hasn’t happened, Billy. Just
forget about financial troubles, and enjoy your swim.”

It would have been hard for the most hardened pessimist _not_ to have
enjoyed that plunge into the cool, quiet old river, whose waters were
backed up for half a mile by the dam below, forming an ideal swimming
pond. The warm air was fresh with the breath of fruit blossoms, for
Carsonville was in the fruit belt, and surrounded by orchards.

After twenty minutes of vigorous exercise, the three friends pulled
themselves out on the grassy bank and enjoyed a sun bath.

Somewhat to his surprise, Chip Merriwell found that Chub Newton was
older than he appeared, and was an expert swimmer. Also, he had no high
opinion of the autocrats of his native town.

“I hope the Cl-l-lippers get l-l-lambasted good and proper this
year,” he announced pleasantly. “Bul-ly Carson has the worst case o’
swel-l-led bean you ever saw!”

“He looks like it,” said Chip, stretching out lazily. “Can he pitch?”

Chub Newton snorted disgustedly, but Billy spoke up.

“Sure he can pitch, Chip. Chub has a private grouch on, that’s all.
Bully isn’t any great favorite off the diamond, but he has the knack of
tossing the ball, all right.”

“Yah!” sniffed Chub. “He’s got l-l-luck with him.”

“That’s what he said about Billy,” said Merriwell. “What’s your private
grievance against the colonel’s son?”

“Why, I wanted to pl-l-lay on the Cl-l-lippers,” bubbled the little
chap. Every time he struck the letter “l” his tongue seemed unwilling
to let go of it. “I tried out with ’em and made good. Then a bunch o’
city fel-l-lers come out here and got jobs whil-le they pl-l-layed
bal-l-l. They done me, al-l-l right, and three or four other
fel-l-lers, too. I was too short to pl-l-lay third, and one o’ them
guys was a swel-l-l shortstop. That l-let me out. L-l-lot o’ folks
think that Colonel Carson ought to ’a’ favored home pl-l-layers.”

“I don’t know about that,” said Merry thoughtfully. “Of course,
sentiment can’t enter into ball games that way, Chub. If the odds were
about even, though, he might have done so, I should think. Those city
chaps aren’t ringers, are they?”

“No, I guess not,” spoke up Billy. “I don’t think that even Colonel
Carson would try that game, Chip. He made quite a bit of bad feeling
among the young fellows here, just the same.”

“Time we were gettin’ dressed,” observed Chub uneasily. “I hate to go,
but those orders have to be in before noon.”

The three took a last plunge into the cool water, had a quick rub down,
and dressed. Then Chub and Billy Mac departed to take a short cut
back to town along the river banks, while Merry returned to the house
in order to write a letter to his father. On the way, however, he
reconsidered.

“I think I’ll let it wait till to-night,” he reflected. “I’ll have a
talk with Mrs. McQuade first, if I can work it, and see how the idea
strikes her.”

As he passed the corner of the orchard, and came to the garden patch
that stretched below the house, he paused suddenly. A sound of vehement
talking drifted down to him, and he recognized the deep voice, with a
thrill of alarm.

The next moment he made out a horse and buggy standing in front of
the house, in the drive. An exclamation of dismay burst from him, for
he recognized it at once as the same which he had encountered at the
horseshoe bend that morning.

“It isn’t possible!” he murmured. “Colonel Carson wouldn’t try such a
trick!”

He approached the house, and, as he did so, his alarm increased. There
was no doubt that the autocrat of Carsonville was present, and that
he was extremely angry. As Merriwell sprang to the wide veranda, he
clearly heard the vibrant tones.

“Yes, that graceless son of yours publicly assaulted my boy in the
streets, not half an hour ago, Mrs. McQuade. It’s the last straw, I
tell you! First he tries to frighten my horse, then he assaults my son.
If it hadn’t been for the spectators, he might have killed the poor
fellow. Now, you’ve either got to pay that mortgage or move out.”

Merry chuckled at this version of the incident. Then his face became
serious.

“Billy is a good son,” faltered the voice of Mrs. McQuade. “I’m sure
there’s some mistake, Colonel Carson. He’s going to start to work
Monday at the store, and we hope to pay you that loan before long.”

“You’ll pay up inside of five days,” stormed the angry man. “I’m sick
of this fool way of conductin’ business, mind my words! You’ve got till
Monday mornin’, then out you go, if you don’t settle.”

Merriwell stepped to the door, his eyes snapping. Colonel Carson stood
inside, and Mrs. McQuade was helplessly facing him.

“I think you’ve made a mistake, sir,” said Chip quietly. Carson swung
around. “I was present at the encounter in the street, and I assure you
that your son was in no danger. Billy hit him twice, and he lost his
nerve and started for home.”

Colonel Carson’s face purpled with fury.

“So you admit it, hey?” he roared. “You can be mighty thankful, young
man, if I don’t have both o’ you arrested for this business! Nice
goings on, this is!”

“I guess you won’t do any arresting in a hurry,” said Chip calmly. “It
wouldn’t make a very nice story to get out about your son. The ‘poor
fellow,’ as you call him, was brutally beating little Chub Newton, and
Billy stepped in to prevent it, that’s all. If there’s any arresting to
be done, it might be the other way around, for your son assaulted Billy
first.”

Mrs. McQuade gave Merriwell a grateful glance. Colonel Carson sputtered.

“That’s a lie!” he broke out.

Chip’s eyes flashed.

“I think we’ve had enough of your brand of politeness,” he said
quickly. “You have given Mrs. McQuade until next Monday to pay you, and
that settles your business in this house, Colonel Carson.”

“What’s that to you?” shouted the enraged autocrat. “You ain’t got any
right here neither----”

“I think you had better go, Colonel Carson,” and Mrs. McQuade gestured
toward the door, with quiet dignity. “I have no legal proof of the
mortgage having been paid, although the fact is morally certain. If we
are not able to pay you before Monday, we cannot resist eviction, of
course.”

“Fine chance you have of raising two thousand dollars by then!” sneered
Colonel Carson, grasping his hat. “I’ll be around at eight o’clock
Monday morning, so you’d better be packed up.”

And with that he left, still muttering threats.

“I’m sorry about this, Mrs. McQuade,” said Merriwell. “But don’t give
up hope yet. Billy told me about the matter after we met Colonel Carson
this morning.”

“It’s hard to keep up heart,” and the good woman looked out the door,
her face strained and hopeless. “You see, we are positive that Mr.
McQuade paid off that loan long ago, but we have no proof that would
stand in law. It seems hard that such a man as Colonel Carson should
drive us out!”

“He’s not done it yet,” responded Chip cheerfully. “I never knew
chicanery to get a man anything lasting, Mrs. McQuade. It may seem to
win out, but there are other things more important than money, you
know.”

“You’re a good comfort, Mr. Merriwell,” and she gave him a smile, as
she dabbed at her eyes with her apron. “Well, I’ll have to see about
those cookies----”

And she went to the kitchen, leaving Chip in a thoughtful mood. When
Billy returned half an hour later, he was wrathful at hearing of the
colonel’s ultimatum, but could see no hope ahead. During luncheon,
however, Merry made a proposition.

“If I could get a thousand dollars to add to your thousand, Mrs.
McQuade, would you let me lend it to you? You could pay me interest,
of course, and give me a mortgage to that amount, if you liked, as
security.”

This proposal was argued pro and con., but Chip had made it in such a
way that it was a straight business proposition, and in the end Mrs.
McQuade assented, providing that Merriwell could get the money.

So that night Chip wrote his father at Bloomfield. He related the
situation at Carsonville, told what had happened that day, and stated
that since he felt responsible in some measure, he would like to borrow
a thousand dollars from his father in order to help out the McQuades.
It never occurred to him that his father might refuse the loan.



CHAPTER V. THE VILLAGE GREEN.


“When are them guys coming?”

“They’ll be along pretty quick, Bully. I hear there ain’t any game
Saturday?”

“No. There’s been a flood down the valley, and them Greenville scrubs
wired that they wouldn’t be up. They’re all helpin’ flood sufferers.
Think o’ lettin’ a little thing like that interfere with our schedule!”

Bully Carson grunted sarcastically. It was evident that he had little
use for flood sufferers.

“Come on, Bully, let’s get a little practice right here,” suggested
one of the half dozen fellows standing around in baseball uniforms.
“Bunting practice.”

“Might’s well, while we’re waiting, I suppose,” assented Carson.

They were waiting by the schoolhouse, lolling about the village green,
and waiting for the remainder of the Clippers to show up for the
morning work-out. Off at one side stood a group of young fellows who
were watching proceedings with scowling faces.

Bully Carson and “Squint” Fletcher, who covered home plate for the
Clippers, stepped out and began to plunk a ball back and forth.
Hendrix, the shortstop, seized a bat and began to bunt.

At this juncture; Frank Merriwell, junior, accompanied by Billy Mac,
strolled up. They had been having a work-out of their own down by the
river, and Billy carried his catcher’s mitt. They paused not far from
the group of discontented-looking chaps, who nodded to Billy. Merriwell
was introduced, and all watched the Clippers at work.

It was the morning after Colonel Carson’s ultimatum had been delivered.
From the comments which were passed, Chip decided that the young
fellows of Carsonville cherished a distinct feeling of dislike for the
colonel’s son, who was captain of the Clippers.

“Bully gives me a pain,” declared one of the group, Bud Bradley. He
proceeded to narrate Carson’s comment on the action of the Greenville
club.

“That doesn’t sound extra well,” commented Merry. “It’d be more to the
point if the Clippers would pile down to Greenville and help out the
flood sufferers.”

“No chance of that,” exclaimed Dan McCarthy, a lanky village youth.
“Nobody ever heard o’ Bully Carson helpin’ any one, nor his dad
neither.”

“Howdy, fel-l-lers,” piped Chub Newton, as he joined the group. “Any
one want to order groceries this morning? I hear there’s no game
Saturday.”

“Open date,” returned Billy. “Too late now to rearrange things, too.”

“Look at that second baseman drop them!” growled Jim Spaulding.

“And talkin’ about bushers, watch that feller who tries to play first,”
added McCarthy.

“Yah!” jeered Chub Newton, prodding Bud Bradley in the ribs and dancing
away. “You fel-l-lers are jeal-l-lous, that’s what! You’re sore because
you aren’t inside of those uniforms.”

“And who wouldn’t be sore?” said Bradley hotly. “When that fellow
Carson blacklists his own townfolks, and drags in city players, it’s
enough to make any one hot!”

“’Tisn’t as if we wasn’t good ball players, either,” added McCarthy.
“Bully knows he couldn’t show off around us, that’s all. He wants to be
captain, and he’d stand a fine chance of us electin’ him!”

Merriwell moved off a few steps, watching the Clippers. The foregoing
remarks had indicated clearly the position of things in the town. The
group of disgruntled natives comprised several of those who, like Billy
Mac, had been ousted from the Clippers by the imported amateurs.

It was not hard to understand the reason for this, and Merry found
himself in sympathy with the feeling. Knowing what he did of Bully
Carson, he thought it highly probable that the captain of the Clippers
doubted his ability to hold that position among the young fellows who
had grown up with him.

It was much easier to impress a crowd of chaps who worked for his
father. They would be very likely to toady to him, and allow him to
lead them. This was plainly the sort of thing that Carson loved.

“Just the same,” remarked Chip to Billy, who stood beside him, “I don’t
think your friends give him full credit, old man. He looks like a good
pitcher, and those other chaps know their business.”

“You’d show him up in two jerks, Chip,” declared Billy stoutly. Merry
smiled, but did not reply.

Carson had noted the arrival of the two friends, for more than once he
looked blackly at the group, and passed remarks to his companions that
drew their eyes also. They grinned at his words as if they formed great
strokes of humor.

Merry saw at once, however, that Carson knew his business. So did the
rest of the Clippers. They had spread out over the green, and handled
the bunts in fine shape, moving in perfect harmony and whipping over
the ball with precision.

Their captain and star pitcher might have a bad case of “swelled head,”
but he showed that when it came to pitching, he was right there. As a
group of girls passed on the other side of the street, he proceeded to
cut loose.

And Merry admitted to himself that Bully Carson was a pitcher. He had
speed and good control, while his curves broke sharply.

“Aw, cut out the comedy, cap,” growled his catcher, Squint Fletcher.
“This ain’t no stage performance!”

Carson scowled, but kept silent. Perhaps he had already discovered that
his husky backstop had little desire to truckle to him.

“Say, I got an idea!” chirruped Chub Newton shrilly. His voice lifted
across to the green, and it caused Bully Carson to throw a vicious
glance in the direction of the group.

“Be careful of it,” grinned McCarthy. “You want to set on it an’ hold
it gently by the ears, Chub. Don’t push it too hard.”

“You l-l-listen to me,” went on the little fellow eagerly. “We could
get a better team right here in town than those Cl-l-lippers! I’d
l-l-like to form another one, a cl-l-lub of our own, and l-l-lambaste
the spots out o’ them!”

At this astounding proposal, the members of the group stared at each
other. Carson, who must have heard the words, looked blacker than ever,
but continued tossing the ball.

“We couldn’t do it,” and Bud Bradley shook his head. “We’ve no money
for grounds or uniforms or things, and most of us have to keep close to
work.”

“I’d like to show that second baseman up, just the same,” said
Spaulding. “But I guess there’s no chance, Chub.”

“Why not?” spoke up Billy Mac hastily. “We’ve got uniforms of one kind
and another already, haven’t we? We don’t need grounds--we can practice
up and beat the Carsonville Clippers on their own grounds, fellows!”

“Yah! That’s the stuff!” shrieked Chub, dancing excitedly. “Wouldn’t
that be a scream, though! A bunch of us l-l-lambastin’ the town
cl-l-lub! Wow!”

It was plain that Chub’s proposition appealed strongly to most of those
present, but the difficulties seemed insurmountable.

“It’d take down Colonel Carson a heap,” muttered McCarthy. “I’d do a
good deal to pay him back fer the way he gobbled our pasture lots, when
his cussed mortgage come due!”

“Look here,” exclaimed Billy Mac, with eagerness. “It isn’t near so bad
as it looks, honest! We got pretty near a full infield right here in
this crowd. We could get to work and practice off days till the ball
season gets going, then light into that bunch right.”

“Sounds good,” admitted Spaulding. “But it won’t work, Billy. Those
fellows are sluggers from Sluggville. We’d have to have a crackajack
pitcher to hold ’em down. And you know as well as I do that we’d have a
hard job hitting Carson.”

“That’s all right,” retorted Billy Mac. “Mebbe we could get Chip
Merriwell, here, to come down from Fardale and pitch!”

At this proposal, every eye went to Merry. McQuade’s eager seconding
sent Chub into spasms of delight.

“Yah!” he piped shrilly. “Put Chip in the box, and watch him l-l-lam
Carson! See him cl-l-lip the Cl-l-lippers! Yah!”

“What do you think of the plan, Merriwell?” inquired Bud Bradley
doubtfully. “Would you be willing to come over and pitch?”

Merry nodded. Before he could speak, however, his eye was caught by a
sudden movement on the part of Carson’s team.

Three or four members had just arrived. Bully Carson, who must have
heard the eager cries of Chub Newton, had immediately ceased practice.
He had gathered the Clippers around him, and appeared to be talking
vigorously, though his words were lost.

“You’d better put on the soft pedal, Chub,” advised Merry. “Seems to me
that Bully has it in for you and Billy Mac.”

“Let him come!” sniffed Billy. “But what do you think about the idea,
Chip?”

The group closed in about Merriwell, every member anxious for his
opinion, as Billy had more than once described the diamond wizard’s
prowess to his home friends.

Merry hesitated, as he glanced around the faces. It did not appear
likely that the Clippers could be easily trounced, and, besides this,
he did not like to appear to be stirring up ill feeling.

He knew that there was a strong current of dislike against the Carson
methods. At the same time, Colonel Carson controlled the town, and
could possibly make it hot for those who opposed his son. Merry
hesitated to give advice, under the circumstances, but finally nodded.

“Yes, I think the idea’s a good one, if you don’t carry your antagonism
to extremes. As to coming over and pitching for you, I can’t promise
definitely. I’d be glad to do it, of course, if things shape themselves
right.”

“Hurray!” went up a general shout of delight, and Billy Mac patted his
friend on the back, until Merry almost choked.

“Hurray for you, Chip! I knew you wouldn’t go back on us!” he cried.

“By gum, we’ll have the first practice this afternoon!” exclaimed
McCarthy, in high excitement. “Chub can get off o’ the store, I reckon,
and we’ll go down to the river an’ start things! Jim, can we get enough
fellers together?”

“I guess so,” assented Spaulding, with a nod. “Merriwell might be able
to give us some good advice, and he could get a line on our work.”

He was interrupted by a sudden cry from Chub Newton.

“Hey! L-l-look out, fel-l-lers! Here they come!”

Merry and the others turned quickly. Bearing down upon them was Bully
Carson, a bat in his hand, and crowding around him were the members of
the Clippers. One and all looked ugly in the extreme.



CHAPTER VI. A CHALLENGE.


As the Clippers approached, there was no sign of giving way in the
ground around Merriwell. The Carsonville boys were not equal in
numbers, but they were plainly anxious enough for battle. Carson paused
a few yards distant.

“Well, what do you want?” snapped Merry.

“We’re goin’ to run you out o’ town, see?” retorted Squint Fletcher,
his cross eyes glaring savagely. “You’re here tryin’ to stir up trouble
against us, eh? Well, you don’t get no chance.”

“I think you’re misinformed,” returned Chip quietly. “No one’s stirring
up a fuss except you.”

“Oh, is that so?” Bully Carson pushed forward aggressively, clutching
his bat. “I suppose you didn’t try to kill dad yesterday, hey? I
suppose you didn’t set Billy Mac on me, hey?”

“You’re doing a lot of supposing,” said Merry dryly. “Your thinking
apparatus needs oiling, Bully. Try a cigarette. It may straighten out
things.”

Merriwell’s calm demeanor, and the resolute air of the group around
him, rather cooled the ardor of the Clippers. It only angered Carson
and Fletcher the more, however.

“So you’re the famous Chip Merriwell, hey?” spluttered Squint, shoving
his undershot chin forward. “I guess we’ve heard enough slush out o’
you and the rest o’ this gang. Let’s beat ’em up proper, fellers!”

“Yah!” chirruped Chub, dancing on the outskirts of the crowd. “Try it!
Ask Bul-l-ly where he got that bump on his chin. Ask him!”

This sally scored, for Billy Mac’s fist had left unmistakable marks on
the heavy countenance of the captain of the Clippers.

“You’ll get yours, you little runt!” foamed the angry Carson,
brandishing his bat at Chub. “We’ll make you pretty sick of lettin’ off
your jaw around here!”

“Well, you’re a mighty slow bunch to git started,” observed the lanky,
bronzed McCarthy, who worked in the orchards, and looked it. He spat on
his hands. “I allus did want to paste them lamps of yours, Squint.”

“You’ll get your wish, all right,” added Bud Bradley, shoving forward
belligerently. “Let’s take Carson down and throw him in the river,
fellows!”

This proposal was greeted with high delight on the part of the town
group. The Clippers began to move forward, and Merriwell saw that a
conflict was imminent.

“You’d better go slow,” he advised the Carson crowd. “We’re not forcing
any battle, remember. Keep back there, Bradley. If they start it, let
them take the consequences.”

“We’ve got ’em scared already,” jeered Squint Fletcher. “Leave that
Merriwell kid to me. I’ll handle him!”

“Yes, you won’t!” piped up Chub Newton. “Yah! L-l-lambaste ’em,
Bil-l-ly!”

Chub’s shrill cry was the last straw. Carson emitted a furious roar and
raised his bat, while his team began crowding forward. The group around
Merry closed in compactly, and it looked as if there would surely be a
fight.

At that instant, however, a brawny man shoved in between the two
parties. Squint Fletcher was just aiming a blow, and the man seized him
by the shoulders and flung him back, sending him into Carson with a
thump.

“That’s enough o’ this!” roared the town constable, for the man was no
other. “I been keepin’ my eye on you, Fletcher. Clear out o’ here, the
bunch of you.”

“What right have you got to interfere?” cried Carson angrily. “I’ll
have my father----”

“You shut up, or I’ll pinch you!” exclaimed the constable hotly. “I
don’t care for either you or your dad. I’m constable o’ this town. Git
out, now, and do it lively, or I’ll run the lot o’ you in! Jump!”

He pulled forth his club. Seeing that he meant business, Carson flung
a sullen look around, nodded to his gang, and they melted away. The
constable turned to Merry.

“Much obliged,” said Chip, smiling. “We were afraid they meant trouble.”

“So they did,” growled the constable. “You’d better let ’em simmer
down.”

“We will,” said Billy. The group was just breaking up when Merriwell
halted them.

“One minute, everybody. What do you say to getting a game with the
Clippers this Saturday? I believe it’s an open date; I can pitch, and
if you’re willing to work between now and then, we can give them a run
for their money!”

“Whoop!” A yell of delight burst from every throat.

“Bully for you!” cried Spaulding, grabbing Merry’s hand and pumping it.

“No, us fer Bully!” said McCarthy. “You bet we will!”

“Can you get a team together?” asked Chip. “If you can, meet at Billy’s
house to-night and talk things over.”

“We can get everything but a first baseman,” said Bud Bradley, thinking
quickly.

“Well, maybe I can take care of that,” said Merry. He remembered that
Owen Clancy was at Fardale, and his chum could be induced to come to
Carsonville. “So long, then. Billy and I will get the game, and we’ll
expect you right after supper. Bring all the fellows you can get, and
we’ll start practice work in the morning.”

This sudden proposal had been simmering in Merriwell’s brain for some
moments. He knew that it would be hard for him to get away from Fardale
later in the season, and if these local players had any talent, there
might be a chance of defeating the Clippers at once.

The group broke up. Merry and Billy set off together, while the others
spread the news through the town in great excitement.

“We’ve undertaken a big contract, Billy. Let’s go up and see the
colonel now.”

“I’m willing,” said Billy Mac. “But he’ll want to bet on the game,
Chip.”

“He’ll--what?”

McQuade explained hastily. It seemed that Colonel Carson was used to
plunging heavily on his own team, in common with a number of other men
who followed the Amateur League. Some large sums of money changed hands
as a result of the games.

“If he only knew it,” exclaimed Merry, frowning, “that will hurt his
chance of ever buying into a big-league team. That sort of a man is not
wanted in baseball to-day. However, we’ll see if he’s willing to play
us.”

The two friends wended their way to the large white house occupied
by Colonel Carson. They were met at the door by that gentleman, in
person, who did not ask them inside, but stiffly inquired their
business.

Merriwell stated it, saying that he understood the Clippers had an open
date on Saturday, and that he would like to meet them with a pick-up
Carsonville team. The colonel tugged at his goatee suspiciously.

“What’s your object?” he snapped. “Want to play for the gate receipts?”

“Not at all,” said Chip. “We just want to play the Clippers off their
feet, and we intend to do it.”

“Humph!” grunted the other. “Got a mighty good opinion of yourself,
hey?” His face cleared suddenly. “Mebbe you’d like to make a little
side bet, you or Billy?”

“No, thanks,” returned Merriwell. “I don’t gamble, and I don’t think
Billy does.”

“Well, look a-here,” went on Colonel Carson wheedlingly, addressing
Billy. “I know you’ve got some insurance money, McQuade. You put it up
on this game, and I’ll give you odds, two to one. How’s that? Ain’t
that fair?”

“Fair enough,” grinned Billy Mac. “Only, I’m not in your class as a
gambler, colonel. No, we’re in this just to show up that club of yours,
and do it proper. That’ll satisfy us.”

“But if you won,” persisted the other, taking no heed of the taunt,
“you’d have enough to pay off that mortgage, and some over!”

Billy wavered, but only for an instant.

“Nothing doing,” he declared firmly. “If you want to play us, we’ll
make your old team hump itself. If you’re scared of getting beaten, all
right. Just say so.”

“What! The Clippers scared o’you!” Colonel Carson laughed scornfully
as he eyed the two. “Well, I guess not! It’s a go. The reg’lar umpires
will be here, anyway, so I guess we can use ’em?”

“Certainly,” said Merriwell. “We may have the ball park for practice?”

“Not much,” retorted Colonel Carson. “Get your own practice ground.
Mebbe you had a notion I’d lend you uniforms!”

“No, we’d hate to play in Clipper uniforms,” returned Merry gravely.

Colonel Carson was not quite sure how to take that remark, so he let it
pass.

“Too bad you’re scared to bet on yourself,” he said cuttingly. “Got any
battery picked out yet?”

“We’ll be it,” said Billy, with a grin. “Merriwell pitches for Fardale,
you know.”

“Humph! And you’ll do the ketchin’, hey? Well, I don’t wonder that you
fellers don’t want to bet, then!”

Merry flushed a trifle.

“You’re wrong, Colonel Carson. I don’t believe in betting on principle.
And especially where baseball is concerned. It’s an unhealthy element
to drag into the game, and the big baseball men have no use for a
gambler, any more than good business men have.”

This speech caused Colonel Carson to flush. His hard-lined, unhealthy
face took on a most unpleasant aspect.

“Oh, you think you’re smart!” he observed darkly. “Young man, I’ve not
forgotten what took place yesterday morning. You’re goin’ to regret it.
I intend to make you so sick of this town that you’ll never come back
to it.”

“Thanks,” said Merry easily. “The town looks pretty good to me,
though--all except the name. Well, you haven’t said whether we’d get
that game or not.”

“Of course you’ll get it,” said Colonel Carson. “We’ll run up such a
score on you that you’ll quit before the third inning.”

“Thanks again,” and Merry chuckled. “Maybe you’ll change your mind
about that. Anyhow, we’ll make you hump.”

“Humph!” grunted the colonel, as if to echo the last word. “Two-thirty
this Saturday. I’ll provide the umpires, and they’ll be our regular
league men.”

“That suits me,” said Merry, and the two friends took their departure.

Billy stated that there need be no worry about the umpiring, as that
end of the league was in good hands, and the umpires were excellent men.

“That’ll help a whole lot, then,” said Merry. “To-day is Wednesday,
Billy. We will get started to-morrow morning. Two days of practice
looks pretty slim, but I guess we can pull through. Want to get out
with your mitt for signal work this afternoon?”

“You bet!” cried Billy excitedly. “And I’ll catch you in a real
game--my eye!”

“Let’s hope we don’t make exhibitions of ourselves,” said Merry.



CHAPTER VII. CHIP GETS A LETTER.


That evening, the McQuade homestead thrummed with eager voices. Six of
the best local players, carefully picked by McCarthy, had gathered. A
good many more had offered their services, but most of these had more
enthusiasm than baseball knowledge.

“We sure need a first baseman,” exclaimed Spaulding. Merry smiled.

“I wired my chum, Owen Clancy, this afternoon,” he explained. “He’s at
Fardale now, and has been out West. He’s just getting over a sprained
ankle, but I think he can cover first for us all right. Now, let’s get
down to business and map things out.”

Billy Mac, of course, would be backstop. He had been practicing all
afternoon with Merry, and Chip had found that he could ask no better
partner. The lanky Dan McCarthy would cover third, and looked as if he
would do it efficiently.

Jim Spaulding made a bid for the central sack. He was one of the town
players who had been ousted by Bully Carson, and was correspondingly
bitter against the Clippers. Chub Newton would take care of short.

“We won’t be a cl-l-lassy-l-l-lookin’ bunch,” announced the little
fellow, as he inspected the ancient and tattered uniform he had
brought along, “but we’l-l-l be right there when it comes to bal-l-l
pl-l-laying!”

“You bet!” chuckled McCarthy, eying his own faded green shirt and
baseball pants. “If I don’t bang out a two-bagger, I’ll quit tryin’ to
play ball, by gum!”

The outfield would be taken care of by Moore, also an ex-Clipper;
Henderson, who had been a high-school star two years before, and a
tremendously built young chap named Nippen. This Nippen was almost a
giant in build, possessed of terrific strength, and apparently had the
general aspect and intelligence of a cow.

He was the one member of the gathering who did not impress Merriwell as
being especially adapted for baseball. Billy, however, reassured his
friend in a whispered aside that Nippen would produce the goods.

“He doesn’t look up to much, Chip, and he lumbers around like an
overgrown puppy. But when he lands on the ball, he kills it, and the
way he covers center field is something wonderful to watch. You wait!”

So Merry smiled and waited. Every one present displayed inspiring
eagerness to work. There was one thing, however, which troubled
Merriwell. This was the ill feeling which they displayed.

“You’ve got to watch that, fellows,” he said. “I noticed to-day that
you weren’t a bit anxious to avoid trouble. Now, if we start in to win
that game, it’s going to make the other crowd sore. They’ll try to get
us into a fight and break up things. I want you to promise me that
whatever they say or do, you’ll keep your heads and let the scrapping
wait till later. We can’t afford to get rattled, you know.”

All save McCarthy recognized this fact and readily extended their
promise. The lanky third baseman held back, however.

“If that feller Squint Fletcher gets gay, I’m goin’ to paste him,” he
declared stubbornly. “I won’t take any talk or any dirty work from him.”

“All right,” said Merry quietly. “We’ll have to find another man to
cover third, I’m afraid. We can’t take any chances that way, fellows.”

McCarthy was taken all aback by this. When he found that Merriwell was
in earnest, he scratched his head and reconsidered.

“All right,” he said, “I’ll promise not to start anything like a scrap,
no matter what Squint does. But I’m goin’ to file my spikes, jest the
same. I reckon we’d better make Merriwell captain, fellers.”

There was an instant shout of agreement. Chip held up his hand.

“Hold on, everybody! I think that Billy Mac ought to be your captain.
I’m an outsider, and I’m only butting in here, anyhow----”

“Not on your life!” yelled Billy.

“Yeh! You’re it, Merriwell!” chirped Chub Newton. “I’l-l-l bank on you
every time! L-l-let’s make it unanimous, fel-l-lows!”

Merry’s protests were voted down amid wild enthusiasm, and he was
elected captain of the pick-ups. Spaulding suggested that they call
themselves the Carsonville Clippings.

“That’s it!” cried Chub. “The Cl-l-lippers and the Cl-l-lippings--wow!
Won’t Bul-l-ly Carson be mad, though!”

The name was adopted with a yell of delight. The meeting was just
breaking up when there was a ring at the doorbell, and Billy returned
with a telegram for Chip.

“It’s from Clancy,” cried Merry, tearing open the envelope. “Hello!
Listen to this, fellows!”

And, holding up the message, he read as follows:

  Coming on the jump. Ankle fine. Bringing your uniform and some balls.
  Arrive to-morrow noon via _Hornet_.

  OWEN CLANCY.

“What’s the _Hornet_?” inquired Billy, in wonder. “There’s no noon
train in!”

“That’s Clancy’s car,” laughed Merry. “It’s an old auto that he took
off the scrap heap and made into a racer, though it doesn’t look up to
much. He brought it with him from the West.”

“I’d like to put him up,” volunteered Spaulding. “We’ve got lots of
room at our place, and he’d be welcome to stay a month.”

Billy protested, for he wanted Clancy as a guest himself, but Merriwell
knew that two guests would sorely tax good Mrs. McQuade’s resources, so
he accepted Spaulding’s offer gratefully. The meeting broke up with the
first practice set for the following morning, Chub Newton stating that
he would get off work easily enough, as his employer had no love for
the Carsons.

Merriwell rather expected that he would get a letter from his father in
the morning’s mail, but none came. Though he said nothing of it, this
worried him slightly. He had explained to Billy that he had written his
father, asking for the thousand dollars, and he began to wonder if his
letter had miscarried.

He soon forgot his worry, when the Clippings assembled on an old
diamond used by the high school. It was in a meadow beside the river.
Three or four old balls were produced, and Merry at once set to work to
get an idea of what his team could do.

The results were both encouraging and discouraging. The diamond was
rough and uncared for, so that the infield had a tough time judging
balls, but the base throws were excellent, and they showed good form.

Merry handed up slow ones, and the batting practice proved that in
this quarter his team was lamentably weak. Chub Newton would bite at
anything. McCarthy faced the plate wickedly, but his eye was poor on
slow ones, and it was said that Bully Carson did his best work with a
fadeaway ball.

Spaulding proved to be a fair batsman, while Nippen landed on Merry’s
first ball and knocked it into the middle of the river. Henderson and
Moore did poorly, and, although the three outfielders showed up better
on gathering in high ones, Merry was not greatly encouraged when he and
Billy went home for lunch.

“We’ve got a tough nut to crack here, old man,” he remarked soberly.
“Can the Clippers hit pretty well?”

“That’s their strong suit,” gloomily returned Billy Mac. “They get a
pitcher going, and it’s all off with him. They’re pretty ragged when it
comes to headwork, but they give Carson mighty good support. Yes, they
can certainly hit. Squint Fletcher leads the league.”

“Slugging doesn’t always mean hitting,” said Merry cheerfully. “Brace
up, old man! We’ve a day and a half for practice, and we’re going to
improve a whole lot.”

“We’ll need to,” muttered Billy. He halted suddenly, staring up at the
house just ahead of them. “Hello! There’s a machine standing out in
front!”

“Clancy must have come ahead of time!” cried Merry.

The two burst into a run. Reaching the veranda, they found a red-haired
young fellow seated in a rocker. He was talking with Mrs. McQuade. At
sight of Merriwell, he leaped up and vaulted the railing.

“Hello, Chip!” he cried, wringing Merry’s hand. “Wow! I’m glad to see
you!”

“Same here,” returned Chip. “I see you’ve already met Mrs. McQuade, eh?”

“We’re old friends by this time,” said Clancy. “Hello, Billy! I haven’t
seen you since last fall. How’s everything?”

“Pretty good,” stated Billy, forgetting his troubles for the moment.
“When do we get some eats, mother?”

“Lunch is all ready,” said Mrs. McQuade, who had taken a fancy to the
red-haired chap already. “Do you want to bring your stuff inside, Mr.
Clancy?”

Merriwell hastily explained that Clan was going to stop with Jim
Spaulding, and they turned to examine the load heaped in the vacant
seat of the machine.

This was composed of two Fardale uniforms, together with a catcher’s
mitt, protector, and mask, and a half dozen balls. On these Billy
pounced with delight.

“Wait till this afternoon, Chip! We couldn’t do much with those old
balls this morning, but we’ll show you something this afternoon! Say,
this looks pretty good to me.”

“Something to eat would look pretty good to _me_,” said Clancy. “I’ve
been hitting the high places ever since early this morning. Say, it
certainly did feel good to go out and have your mother pump water over
me, Billy. Reminded me of days on the farm.”

The three settled down about the table, and Merry at once launched into
a description of events at Carsonville. Billy and his mother never
tired of watching the bronzed young fellow, who had been regaling Mrs.
McQuade with tales of his adventures in Arizona, and Clancy polished
off the good things before him with astonishing rapidity.

“It listens good to me,” he commented, with a sigh, when, at length, he
could stow no more away. “I hear at Fardale that Billy has developed
into quite a backstop, eh?”

“Sure,” said Merry. “He’s a wonder, and no mistake, Clan.”

“Oh, my eye!” sniffed Billy. “Just because I happen to hold on to your
double shoots, you needn’t raise my modesty like that!”

“It isn’t every one who can hang on to them,” said Clancy. “Oh, by the
way, Chip, I came mighty near forgetting! Your father was at Fardale
yesterday on a flying visit.”

And he began to dig excitedly at his pocket, finally extricating an
envelope which he handed to Merry.

“Your father asked me to give this to you. He said it would get to you
quicker than if he mailed it.”

Merriwell nodded. With a word of apology to Mrs. McQuade, he tore open
the envelope, half expecting to see an inclosure. None fell out. He ran
his eye quickly over the letter, and his cheeks paled a trifle, then he
refolded it, and put it in his pocket.

Five minutes later he stood on the veranda with Billy. Clancy was down
in the drive explaining the hidden beauty of his car to Mrs. McQuade.

“What’s the trouble, Chip? Wouldn’t he let you have the coin?” asked
Billy.

“I’m sorry, old man,” and Merriwell bit his lip. “He didn’t think it
wise.”



CHAPTER VIII. GETTING DOWN TO WORK.


Merriwell drew out the letter and sank into a chair. While Billy
listened, he read over that portion of the letter referring to the
request for a loan. Chip read as follows:

  “I sympathize very deeply with both Billy and his mother, Frank, and
  I would be glad to have you read this to Billy, and assure him of my
  best regards and wishes. As to lending you the money, however, I do
  not think that this would be wise, for several reasons.

  “The first and most important is that it seems to me to be a poor
  way in which to checkmate a scoundrel like this Colonel Carson. I
  have made inquiries about him, and find that he had a reputation as
  a plunger on ball games, and is wrapped up in the success of his own
  team.

  “I think you have done well in raising a team to defeat the Clippers,
  as intimated in your wire to Clancy. I was going to suggest that very
  thing. If you and Billy can beat his club, it would be an ideal way
  in which to punish him. I only wish that more of the Fardale boys
  were here, so that they could come down and help, but vacation has
  scattered them.”

“That’s all very well,” interrupted Billy mournfully, “but licking the
Clippers isn’t going to save this house for mother, Chip. I wish--I
wish we’d taken a chance on it, and taken up that bet he offered!”

“No, you don’t,” exclaimed Merriwell. “Hold on, Billy. I haven’t
finished yet.”

  “Go ahead and whip Carson’s team, Frank. You and Billy and Clancy can
  do it if you try, and remember that I’ve every faith in all of you.
  Do it, and I will see that Billy and his mother do not lose the roof
  over their heads.

  Your loving father,
  FRANK MERRIWELL, SENIOR.”

Merry looked up to meet his friend’s startled gaze.

“What does he mean by that, Chip?”

“Search me,” said Merry, as he stowed away the letter. “But you can be
sure that father means something, all right.”

“I guess he does,” rejoined Billy, new hope dawning in his eyes. “My
eyes! It’s a promise, Chip! I’ll bet he means that if we beat the
Clippers he’ll lend you the coin!”

“No,” and young Merriwell shook his head decidedly. “He doesn’t think
it a good plan, old man, and that ends it. Father doesn’t have to say a
thing twice. Yes, it’s a promise, I imagine. I’ve no idea what he means
by it, of course, but he has some kind of plan up his sleeve. You quit
worrying.”

“I’ll try,” said Billy, with a sigh. “But I wish he’d said something a
little more definite than that.”

“So do I, Billy,” confessed Merry. “He didn’t, so there’s no use
wondering. I’m not going to say anything to Clan about this business,
so now let’s go around to Jim’s house with him, then we’ll get out to
the ball field again.”

Merriwell decided that the McQuades’ trouble was a personal affair. He
had entered into it largely through accident, and he did not consider
it a matter to share even with Clancy. So all three of the friends
piled into the _Hornet_, Billy standing on the running board, and they
made a triumphal progress to the Spaulding residence.

Despite his unbounded confidence in his father, Chip could not help
feeling disappointed over that letter. However, the definite promise at
the end served to relieve his anxiety, to some extent, but he could see
no light upon the subject. How could his father prevent Colonel Carson
from carrying out his threats?

As he obtained no answer to this mental query, Merriwell tried to
forget the whole thing, and trust that his father knew best. But it was
no easy matter.

That afternoon they met the other Clippings on the village green,
going from there to their practice ground. Chub Newton had been given
a vacation until Saturday night, and his employer had promised that if
the Clippers were beaten, Chub would get full pay.

In fact, the entire town was already plunged into excitement over the
sudden contest. Public disapproval of Bully Carson had long simmered
beneath the surface, kept under cover by the influence and general fear
of Colonel Carson.

It was not yet daring enough to show itself openly, but it peeped forth
in minor ways. Every one knew that Billy McQuade, prompted by his guest
from Fardale, Chip Merriwell, had dared to defy Colonel Carson. Also,
that half a dozen of the town’s best local baseball talent had joined
the two friends.

Consequently, the grocer’s son, who was taking Chub Newton’s place
behind the counter temporarily, ran out with a bag of apples and
deposited them mysteriously on the ground by the astonished Clippings.
A little later, as they passed the one ice-cream parlor in the place,
the proprietor appeared suddenly and thrust a paper bucket of ice cream
into Spaulding’s hand, then vanished without a word.

By such tokens as these, Frank and his friends soon discovered that
they were not without secret good wishers, though none of the latter
dared come into the open.

“Talk about a scared town!” laughed Clancy, munching an apple
vigorously. “Looks like your friend Carson had this place buffaloed for
sure, Chip!”

“Well, there’s good reason for it,” explained Spaulding. “The colonel
owns the bank here, and pretty near half the farms and orchards around.
If he said to smash a merchant, that merchant would be apt to smash. I
know, because he’s done it before this, and he’d do it again.”

“It’s a pretty poor kind of influence to hold over people,” declared
Frank. “I’d hate to walk down the street and know that nine out of ten
people hated me in their hearts.”

“The colonel doesn’t know it. He’s got too much vanity. And he wouldn’t
care very much if he did realize it, I guess.”

“Somebody ought to l-l-lam him good,” piped Chub. “I’d l-l-like to see
him run out of town!”

“Maybe you will some day,” growled McCarthy ominously.

“Don’t forget your promise,” said Frank, in a low voice.

“No danger o’ that, Merriwell. I filed them spikes o’ mine, though.”

“See here, Dan, I don’t want to have any of that work----”

“I ain’t goin’ to start anythin’, I said,” broke in the lanky youth
doggedly. “And I won’t. But I ain’t goin’ to let trouble hit me over
the ear, you bet. I’ll be jest as meek as a lamb until they try dirty
work on me, only I want to be ready.”

Frank nodded. After all, he did not greatly blame McCarthy for
distrusting the caliber of Squint Fletcher, or, for that matter, the
rest of the Carsonville club. He did not believe in fighting fire with
fire, but he saw that it would be useless to try argument with Dan
McCarthy.

So he let the matter drop, confident that the lanky third baseman would
not be the first to start any “dirty work.” The general sentiment of
the Clippings was that the Clippers would not stop at anything to win,
but that the umpiring would be fair.

“I want you to help me out, Clan,” said Frank, as he walked along
beside his old chum. “These chaps are just aching for a good chance
to start a scrap with the other team. They’ve all promised me that
they’d go slow during the game, but I want you to get after ’em during
practice.”

“In what way, Chip?”

“By showing them how necessary it is that they keep their heads. That’s
our only hope. If our boys get rattled, the Clippers will walk away
with us. Impress on them, Clan, that, no matter what provocation they
get, they have to keep quiet while the game is on. What happens later
doesn’t concern me.”

Clancy grinned. “All right. Count on me, Chip.”

Upon reaching the practice grounds, Merry at once sent the men to their
positions. He took the bat, and for half an hour gave the entire team a
driving practice work-out. The new white balls seemed, oddly enough, to
put new heart into his team.

It showed them that Frank and Clancy meant business. It was a little
thing, but it is just such little things that count tremendously. The
red-haired chap covered first like a demon, scooping up everything that
came his way. His example fired the others.

As Billy had foretold, the Clippings seemed like a different set of
players. They went after the ball with a vim. Spaulding, Chub, and
McCarthy tackled anything, and managed to smother the stiffest ones
Frank drove at them.

In the outfield, the marvelous fielding of Nippen astonished Merriwell.
The gigantic, overgrown fruit picker, in his lumbering fashion, fairly
ate up the ground. When he went after a high one, he seemed never to
know where it would fall, but when it came down, it invariably plunked
into his mitt. He had no science, but he seemed to have luck.

“How do they strike you?” inquired Merry, as he and Clan conferred
during a brief rest.

“Pretty promising bunch, Chip. But when they get up against those
Clippers, it’ll be a whole lot different. Those fellows can do in their
sleep what this crowd has to break their necks over.”

“That’s true, but, just the same, they’ll improve a lot by Saturday.”

Clancy shook his head doubtfully. It was clear that he was not greatly
impressed by the Clippings.

The batting practice that followed served to back up Clancy’s opinions.
Calling in the outfielders, Frank kept putting over nothing but outs
and ins and straight fast ones, yet the batters could not seem to
connect.

His coaching helped them a good deal, but nothing wonderful resulted.
Nippen seemed to have spent all his energy on the one ball he had
struck that morning. Chub Newton could hit nothing. Henderson was
afraid to stand up to the plate, and Billy McQuade seemed to have lost
his batting eye.

McCarthy, however, fell on the ball, and pounded it viciously until
Frank served him up slow floaters, when he failed lamentably. Then
Merry put Billy through his paces as backstop, using everything from
the double shoot to the jump ball; and the work-out was over.

“It’s a bum lookout,” observed Billy, when they were walking together
past the orchard to the house. “We did pretty rotten at bat to-day.”

“Oh, not so bad,” said Frank encouragingly. “We’ll all be nerved up
more on Saturday, for one thing. Then remember, Bill, it isn’t the
sluggers who win.”

“That’s right, Chip. Do you honestly think we’ve got a show?”

“I do,” replied Frank earnestly. “Our fellows are fine on
base-throwing, and when they get to work on a decent diamond, the
results will be astonishing. I really think we’ve an excellent chance,
old man.”

“Then that takes a load off my mind,” said Billy, with a sigh. “I
thought you’d be pretty disgusted with us.”

Frank smiled and patted him on the back cheeringly. But in his heart he
felt that, while the Clippings might have a chance, it was a terribly
slim one.



CHAPTER IX. COLONEL CARSON MAKES A BET.


On Friday morning, the day before the game, Colonel Carson was
standing in the lobby of the Carsonville Bank. He appeared extremely
discontented.

“Not a one,” he said disgustedly. “Everybody in town is scared to bet
on them Clippings.”

“I don’t wonder,” sneered Bully Carson derisively. “They’re a bunch of
pick-ups.”

Bully Carson wore his most flamboyant attire, for he would not go to
work-out with the Clippers for another hour. From one corner of his
mouth drooped a limp cigarette.

“Too bad you can’t place a few dollars,” he went on. “It’d be easy
money.”

“Is your arm all right?” inquired the colonel.

“Never better. Hello, who’s that gink?”

The two turned to gaze at the doorway. The bank had just been opened
for business, and, as things were not very brisk in Carsonville, this
was the first customer of the day. And he was evidently a stranger.

“Must ’a’ come in on the mornin’ train,” observed Bully.

He was a well-set-up, quietly dressed man, and would have attracted
little attention save for his remarkably fine build. A soft crush hat
was pulled down over a pair of very keen but pleasant eyes, and the
lower portion of his face was hidden by a curly dark beard.

The stranger gave a single glance at the two, and walked to the
teller’s window. With a nod and a cheery “Good morning,” he drew out
a long bill book and opened it. Colonel Carson gasped and clutched
at his son’s shoulder, for the bill book appeared to be crammed with
yellowbacks.

“I have a couple of certified checks I’d like you to cash for me, if
you will.”

His voice was quiet and self-restrained.

“Certainly, sir,” replied the teller.

The stranger shoved the two checks he had taken out through the window.
The teller glanced at them, and his jaw fell. He excused himself, then
beckoned to Colonel Carson to come over.

“These are pretty large checks, colonel,” he said apologetically.

“Humph!” grunted Carson, and turned to the stranger. “Made out to John
Smith! Is that your name?”

“Aren’t those checks sufficient warrant?” smiled the stranger. “They’re
certified, and ought to be as good as gold, Colonel Carson.”

“You know me?” The bank owner looked surprised.

“I’ve heard of you,” returned John Smith pleasantly. “You see, I’m
quite a follower of baseball, though I don’t often get away from home.
I’ve heard a good deal of the Carsonville Clippers, and came over to
have a look at them.”

Bully Carson swelled visibly. His father turned to the teller.

“It’s all right, I guess. Two thousand is a big sum, but they’re
certified. Mr. Smith, meet my son. He’s the pitcher o’ the Clippers.
Goin’ to stay for the game to-morrow?”

“Perhaps,” smiled John Smith. “I’ll see what the chances are for
placing a few bets around here.”

He winked knowingly, and Colonel Carson flung Bully a warning glance.

“We got an awful tough team to go up against,” he said, tugging at his
goatee. “I’d like to bet on the Clippers myself, but durned if I don’t
think we’ll get beat.”

Bully had caught that look.

“Yes, they got a feller named Merriwell,” he said dolefully. “I dunno’s
I’ll be much good against him, either.”

“Oh, Merriwell! I’ve heard of him often,” exclaimed the stranger. “By
Jove, I’d like to get a bet down on his team, whatever it is! I suppose
I could see the two teams at work, couldn’t I?”

“Sure, I’ll take care o’ you, Mr. Smith,” volunteered Bully.

He went off arm in arm with the stranger, and Colonel Carson turned to
his teller.

“There’s an easy mark! When Bully gets through with him, he’ll be ready
to put up some real coin on them Clippings, mind my words!”

Colonel Carson’s confidence in his son was well placed. Indeed, Bully
had no easy task, for not a soul in Carsonville had any great belief
that the Clippers would be defeated the next day.

The stranger went out to the park with them, and was pleasantly
astonished by the concrete stands and excellent diamond.

“You have quite a place here, eh,” he observed. “Go ahead, boys, don’t
mind me.”

The Clippers did not appear to mind him in the least. They went
to work, and, after watching them a little time, the stranger was
evidently well satisfied. Bully Carson seemed to have difficulty in
finding the plate. His infield gave him wretched support, making wild
throws, and letting the ball tear through them.

His outfield did little better. On the whole, the stranger was anything
but well impressed by the Clippers, and did not hesitate to say as much
on the way back to town. Bully Carson agreed that they were in poor
shape, but when the stranger had left him, he congratulated his team
warmly.

“I guess that feller’s hooked,” he observed sagely, and hastened home.

After casual inquiries about town, John Smith found his way to where
the team captained by Frank Merriwell, junior, was working out during
the afternoon. As this was their first visitor, the Clippings displayed
no little curiosity, seeing that he was a stranger to them, but he held
aloof from the diamond.

“Who is he--one of the umpires?” inquired Frank.

“Search me,” returned Billy Mac. “He’s a new one in this burg.”

“It’s a scout for the Phil-l-ladel-l-lphia Ath-l-letics,” chirruped
Chub Newton from second. “He’s l-l-lookin’ for recruits.”

“What’s that?” cried McCarthy excitedly, taking Chub seriously.

“Sure, he’s goin’ to sign you on, Dan,” grinned Spaulding.

McCarthy did not see the joke. He advanced to take his turn at batting,
and, when Frank handed him a stiff inshoot, he fell on it and knocked
the ball through Chub’s hands. Then Merry began teasing him, but he
refused to bite, until he caught one on the nose and lined it out.

“Wow? Mebbe that’ll show him what Dan McCarthy can do!” he yelled, as
the ball zipped.

When he discovered that he had been victimized, he turned on Chub.

“You blamed little yapper!” he said. “You’d be a whole lot s’prised to
find that he _was_ a big-league scout, wouldn’t you?”

“Yah!” piped Chub jubilantly. “L-l-line her out again, Dan!”

The stranger hung around for an hour, speaking to no one, but watching
the practice intently. Finally he drifted off in the direction of town.

Once back in the town, he began inquiries as to Colonel Carson’s
whereabouts. That individual was not hard to find. In fact, he was on a
still hunt for the stranger, and finally encountered him near the bank.

“Well, Mr. Smith, how’d the two teams strike you?”

“The Clippers didn’t look up to much, to my mind,” said the stranger
easily. “Of course, I may be mistaken, but Merriwell’s crowd seemed
to be pretty good. Why, one of those fellows lammed the ball a mile,
Carson!”

“Yes,” and Colonel Carson fingered his goatee, “them fellers can hit,
Smith. Placed any bets yet?”

“Well, no,” replied the stranger. “I rather thought I might induce you
to put up a little money.”

“I ain’t very flush right now,” said the colonel cunningly. It was not
the first time that he and Bully had worked together to good advantage.
“Still, I dunno as I’d mind placin’ a little on the Clippers, seeing’s
they belong to me.”

“Ah, you’re a true sport!” cried Smith heartily. “Oh, by the way--I
have some friends here by the name of McQuade. Perhaps you know where
Mr. McQuade lives, colonel?”

“Well, yes. He lives in the cemetery, right now, Smith. He’s been dead
quite a spell.”

“Dead! You don’t say!” The stranger was visibly perturbed. “Poor
McQuade! He never had much head for business. I suppose he died poor?”

“He died owin’ me two thousand,” said Colonel Carson grimly. “I got a
mortgage on his place over by the river, right in my safe. I’m goin’ to
foreclose, too.”

“Well, well! Did he leave any family?”

“Son an’ widder,” jerked the other. “Son’s ketchin’ on Merriwell’s
team.”

John Smith glanced around. The town constable stood at a little
distance, and the stranger pointed at him.

“That’s the constable, isn’t it, Carson? Well, let’s bring him into
your office, and if we can make a little bet, he could be stakeholder.
Eh?”

Colonel Carson grinned to himself, and agreed with some show of
hesitation. With the constable following, they entered the bank and sat
down in the owner’s private room.

“Look here, Carson,” said the stranger affably. “I’ve been thinking
this thing over. McQuade used to be an old friend of mine, and I hate
to think of his widow and son being left out in the cold. I tell you
what I’ll do. I’ll set two thousand dollars against that mortgage you
hold.

“If you win, the money’s yours. If the Clippers are beaten, then I get
the mortgage. How does that sound?”

“No good,” stated Carson firmly. “The McQuade place is worth a heap
more’n that sum, Smith. I got that mortgage cheap.”

The stranger looked disappointed.

“Well,” he remarked, replacing the bill book which he had taken from
his inner pocket, “I don’t know that I’m very anxious to bet against
the Clippers, anyway. I’d risk the sum for the sake of McQuade’s
family, out of pure sentiment, but---- Well, I’ll hang about town and
see if I can’t get a bit of money down on your team. After all, it’s
safer.”

He rose, with a gesture of dismissal to the constable.

“Hold on!” cried Colonel Carson. “You ain’t in earnest, Smith?”

“Why, of course!” said the stranger. “Merriwell’s team is untried and
green. After all, I might be foolish----”

“Set down, set down,” and the colonel reached out to his safe. “I’ve
got that mortgage right here. I reckon I’ll take a chance, Smith.”

And once more he grinned to himself.



CHAPTER X. HOW THE GAME OPENED.


Carsonville was emptying itself.

Every person in town, young and old, was a baseball enthusiast. The
grand stand and bleachers of the club grounds were invariably crowded
every Saturday. But on this one Saturday it seemed as though the town
had gone crazy over the game.

So, after a fashion, it had. Despite its support of the Clippers,
Carsonville turned out to see baseball, rather than to see the Clippers
play. It loved the game for itself. Down underneath the surface,
however, it cherished a warm dislike for the Clippers and their captain.

This dislike had been, perforce, hidden, for fear of antagonizing the
autocrat of Carsonville. When the home team had been playing, all
personalities had been forgotten in the game itself. On such occasions,
even Bully Carson had become popular for the moment, if he won a game.

It was quite different on this Saturday, however. The Carsons had been
defied, and when the crowd had streamed into the park, it forgot all
about its fear of Colonel Carson’s power.

“I hope them Clippers get trounced! I hope Bully Carson gets knocked
out of the box!” cried old Abner Powell, on whose forty acres the
colonel held a heavy mortgage.

“So do I! Hurray for the Clippings!” yelled the teller of the
Carsonville bank.

“Here’s where the colonel gets took down!” shouted the Carsons’ hired
man.

Every one had forgotten their fears, under the magic influence of the
ball park. And every one had raised the price of a seat. By general
consent, it was the largest crowd that the Carsonville park had ever
held.

Every man on the two teams was known personally to the fans, except
Merriwell and Clancy. Even they were known by reputation, though few
of the townsfolk had dared to show support by watching the Clippings
practice.

The line-up of the two teams was announced that morning by bulletin:

  CLIPPINGS.
  McCarthy, 3d b.
  Nippen, c. f.
  Clancy, 1st b.
  Merriwell, p.
  McQuade, c.
  Spaulding, 2d b.
  Moore, l. f.
  Henderson, r. f.
  Newton, ss.

  CLIPPERS.
  Fletcher, c.
  Burkett, 1st b.
  Bangs, 3d b.
  Ironton, ss.
  Johnson, r. f.
  Murray, 2d b.
  Carson, p.
  Runge, l. f.
  Merrell, c. f.

The diamond was in perfect condition, its caretaker having spent all
morning getting it in shape. Every line was freshly marked, every inch
carefully raked free of hindrances. The very sight of it was a joy to
the fans, empty though it stood.

And it was joy to Merriwell and Clancy, also, when they arrived at
the clubhouse beneath the grand stand. Both had been too busy to look
at the place, but they were instantly delighted by it. Meantime, the
_Hornet_ proceeded around to the field with Mrs. McQuade and Jim
Spaulding’s young brother.

“It’s a peach of a place, Chip!” cried the red-haired chap.

“Yes--look at that diamond! I don’t remember when I’ve seen a better
cared-for place.”

Merry continued his inspection as the rest of his team poured in to
dress. There were bleachers behind first and third, all well filled,
and the only symptom of neglect was in the high board fence. Directly
behind second, in the center fielder’s territory, there was a strip of
fence ten feet wide that had been leveled. This, it appeared, had been
cut out to erect a large score board, but there had been delay in the
shipment of materials, and the gap was unfilled.

Billy Mac pointed to the river, which ran about a hundred yards behind
the fence.

“No home runs in this field,” he said, “unless the ball goes into the
river. You see, the diamond inclosure is a little small, Chip. Outside
of the fence it’s marshy, and it would have cost a lot to fill in. So
they compromised on that ground rule. If the ball goes into the river,
it’s a home run. It’s never yet gone in, though.”

“Queer kind of ground rule,” growled Clancy. “But there’s no accounting
for tastes, so let’s try to put the ball in the water, fellows!”

“We’l-l-l try,” piped Chub resolutely. “When do we practice?”

“Right now,” exclaimed Frank. “We’re a little early, so we’ll get to
work and let the Clippers howl, if they want to.”

When the Clippings walked out, they were greeted by a long yell from
the fans. Then there rose a buzz of voices as the players trotted out
to their places, and Merry began to drive hot ones along the infield.

Every one was wondering how the home talent would show up. No sooner
had the ball begun to snap around the bases than shout after shout
pealed up. Despite their rare and wonderful uniforms, the Clippings
showed form!

Even Frank was surprised. On the level diamond his team proved that
they could do something, after all. They went after the ball with
ginger, and the way they snapped it up was astonishing.

The Clippers now produced themselves, and promptly spread out behind
the foul lines to inspect their opponents. They delivered themselves
of comments, which were audible over most of the field.

“Look at the uniforms!” yelled Squint Fletcher. “They used them kind
fifty years ago! Pipe the Irish third baseman! Wow!”

“Who’s that scrubby runt playin’ short?” cried Ironton, waving his
fists. “Wait till I land on him!”

“I’l-l-l show you!” chirped Newton angrily. “Wait til-l-l----”

“Listen to him!” cried Ironton. “Wow! He talks like a washing machine!”

Even the crowd laughed at that, for every one knew Chub. The little
fellow lost his temper, and sent the ball far over third.

“They’re easy,” commented Bully, in contempt. “We got their goat
already. You watch when that Merriwell gets up to the plate. I’ll lam
him in the head.”

“You’d better try it!” retorted Clancy heatedly. Merry signed to him to
walk up toward the box, with Chub.

“You fellows keep quiet,” he said. “Pass the word around not to give
any back talk unnecessarily. First thing we know, this will be a
free-for-all, and we have to avoid that if possible.”

The Clippings tried to restrain themselves, but it was hard work for
them to keep from answering the taunts that poured in from Bully
Carson’s men. At length, Frank signed to his team, and they trotted
in. The Clippers spread out on the field, and began to amuse themselves
with threats of what they would do to their opponents, while they
tossed the ball around.

In Colonel Carson’s private box, square in the center of the grand
stand, sat the colonel and his new acquaintance, John Smith. The latter
had accepted the proffered seat gratefully, though he refused the
proffered stogies, pleading that his health did not permit smoking.

As the Clippings came in to their bench, they looked up and saw the
stranger.

“There’s your scout, Dan,” chuckled Billy. “Only it looks like he was
friends with the wrong side.”

The stranger waved a hand at them.

“Go in and win!” he cried. “You’ve got ’em licked, Merriwell!”

“You bet!” returned Clancy quickly. “Just watch our smoke, Whiskers!”

The stranger’s white teeth flashed through his beard, and he turned his
attention to the Clippers as they fell to work.

“They seem to do better than they did yesterday,” he remarked suddenly.

Colonel Carson leaned back and grinned complacently.

“I reckon they slept well last night, Smith,” he drawled. “Any team is
liable to an off day, you know.”

“Yes, I know,” returned Smith sharply. “It looks to me as if you had
let me in for a bit of sharp practice, Carson.”

“Sport is sport,” observed the colonel, with a grin. “You risks your
money, and you takes your chance.”

“I’ve a good mind to call the bet off!”

“No, ye don’t! The constable’s down keepin’ order in the bleachers, and
you can’t locate him ’fore the game starts if ye want to. ’Sides, I
reckon you ain’t a welsher.”

The stranger allowed himself to be soothed down, and settled himself to
watch the progress of things.

Frank and Bully Carson met with the two umpires, and went over the
ground rule regarding a home run.

“No chance o’ your scrubs gettin’ the ball in the river,” jeered
Carson. “Don’t need to worry over it. Ain’t never been done, anyhow!”

“That’s no sign it can’t be done,” said Frank, with a smile.

A gong rang out. Merry and Carson quickly discussed the question of
outs and ins, while the umpires were announcing the batteries.

“I’d like to git in the box first crack, an’ knock your block off,”
growled Bully. “But I dunno’s I wouldn’t jest as soon knock you out o’
the box. Take your choice.”

“Thanks,” said Merry easily. “Since you’re so kind, I think we’ll give
you a chance to get a home run, Bully. According to the batting order,
I’m afraid you won’t get a crack till the third inning, though.”

Carson, whose name stood seventh on the list, glowered derisively.

“Huh! We’ll prob’bly bat around twice in the first inning, you joke!
You’d better get another pitcher warmin’ up.”

“Come on, Bully,” cried Squint Fletcher. “Leave that poor simp alone!”

No one had any need to hear the umpires’ announcement, and it was
drowned in a roar of cheers as the Clippings went out to their
positions. Colonel Carson glowered and tugged at his goatee, then
smiled as Squint Fletcher advanced to the plate amid a mingling of
hisses and cheers. Squint had his backers, who liked him for his
rough-and-ready tactics.

Indeed, it soon developed that the Clippers were not without friends.
The general sentiment was against them, but there were plenty of
hoodlums and toadies who were willing to cheer them. Also, many farmers
had come in, who were used to yelling for the Clippers.

The umpires took their positions, and Merry whipped over three balls
to Billy. Squint stepped up to the plate, with a sneer, and balanced
himself aggressively. Billy Mac signed for the double shoot.

Frank nodded, took his time, and, amid a wild shriek of delight from
the crowd, delivered the first pitched ball. Squint Fletcher pulled
down his bat--and there was a crack like a pistol shot.

Squint had landed square on Frank Merriwell, junior’s, famous double
shoot!



CHAPTER XI. THE CLIPPINGS GET WILD.


The connection, however, was so plainly an accident, and Squint himself
looked so bewildered, that every one roared with laughter.

The ball went almost straight up in the air over first, until it seemed
to lose itself in the sky. Fletcher came pounding down the base line,
while Bully Carson, behind first, sent a roar at Clancy.

The red-haired first baseman was not rattled, however. He calmly
stepped back, pulled down his cap, and waited. The ball came down like
a bullet and stuck in his glove.

“Out!”

Roar after roar of applause went up. The Clippings, who had been
nervous and unsettled, instantly regained their poise and confidence.

“Take your time, Chip!” snapped Spaulding, from second.

“That’s the ticket, old man!” cried McCarthy encouragingly.

“L-l-lam into ’em!” piped up Chub.

Frank smiled. Burkett, who covered first for the Clippers, advanced to
the plate, pulled down his cap, and waited.

“We’re all behind you, old-timer,” chirped Clancy.

“Let him hit it, Chip!” cried Billy. None the less, he signaled for an
inshoot.

Burkett was plainly anxious to hit. Frank put over a fast inshoot. The
ball fairly smoked with speed, and Burkett swung too late.

“Strike--uh--one!”

“Land on him!” yelled Bully Carson. “All he’s got is speed!”

Billy called for another of the same, but Merry shook his head. He
guessed that Burkett wanted speed, and would be looking for it, so he
put over a fadeaway that drew Burkett for another strike.

“This fellow’s a cinch!” cried Billy. Burkett looked determined.

Studying him for a moment, Frank nodded at the signal for a jump ball.
He sent the sphere down to the plate waist-high. Burkett brought down
his bat, but the ball seemed to jump over it, and plunked into Billy’s
mitt.

“Out!”

Cheer after cheer rolled up, as Burkett sullenly retreated, and was
replaced by Bangs. The Clipper third baseman was a wiry, alert fellow,
and he chopped down his bat as if ready for anything that could come
along. Merry determined to let him hit.

So, without pretending to pitch, he merely tossed over the ball and
waited. Bangs gasped, then struck viciously. Another crack, and the
ball went on a bee line to McCarthy. And Dan fumbled it.

A groan swelled out from the crowd, but it changed instantly to a
cheer. For McCarthy had picked up the ball and slammed it over to
Clancy a yard ahead of Bangs.

“One, two, three!” yelled the crowd, confident now that it would see a
real game of ball. A storm of applause greeted the Clippings as they
walked in.

“Rotten fumble,” grunted McCarthy.

“Don’t you believe it!” cried Clancy, slapping his shoulder. “You
retrieved it before it had a chance to work, Dan. Fine business!”

“You’re up first, Dan,” said Merry. “Now go in and repeat!”

McCarthy grinned happily, and strode out to the plate. He waited while
Carson tossed over his warmers-up.

“This pie-eater’s pretty soft, Bully,” snarled Squint. “Let him hit. He
ain’t worth fanning.”

The lanky chap opened his mouth, then snapped it shut again, and
stepped into the box. Carson eyed him a moment, and the bleachers fell
silent in suspense.

“Speed fer him, Bully,” cried Fletcher. “He’s scared already.”

Carson nodded and wound up. The ball seemed to come with startling
speed. In reality it was a slow fader, and it fooled McCarthy
completely.

“Strike--uh--one!”

Squint returned the ball. Almost without a pause, Carson snapped over
a hot one across the inside corner. Dan was taken by surprise, and a
second strike was called. It was followed by a third.

“This bunch of rubes is soft!” chirruped Bangs from third.

“Whoop! Down they go!” cried Ironton, as the big Nippen stalked out.

“Who’s the cow?” inquired Murray, from second. Carson grinned.

“This is an animal show, Bully,” snapped Squint. “Watch the elephant
fan his ears!”

The crowd could not help laughing at the awkward figure of Nippen.
Carson burned a hot one across. Nippen swung, after it had plunked home.

“Gone to sleep at the switch!” grunted Squint, while the bleachers
roared a storm of advice and criticism. The big fellow flushed angrily.

“Hit him in the ribs and wake him up!” cried Murray.

Carson grinned again. He sent over a smoking-hot ball that forced
Nippen to leap back. The huge fruit-picker looked at him furiously.

“You watch out!” he cried warmly.

“Shut up, Nippen,” exclaimed Merry. “He doesn’t dare hit you.”

As if to disprove this, Carson launched another in the same place.
Nippen jumped back, and, as his bat fell, the ball struck against it
and rolled out into the diamond.

The big fellow leaped out toward first. Bangs darted in to secure the
ball, laughing as he did so. He straightened up with it, and slapped it
to Burkett, but a cry of amazement went up. Nippen had beaten out the
throw!

“Watch the elephant run!” shrieked the fans.

Clancy walked out to the plate, while Chub went down to coach at first.

“Hello, carrot-top!” growled Squint. “Watch out you don’t scorch the
ball on his thatch, Bully!”

Carson knew that Clancy was dangerous. He put over a fast drop, but
Clan refused to bite. Then came a slow fadeaway, and the red-haired
chap took it on the nose.

There was a groan of dismay. The ball soared high, and Merrell raced
back toward the fence. Then he stopped, and waited, and the ball came
down into his glove.

Nippen, showing poor judgment, had dashed for second as soon as the
ball settled softly in Merrell’s glove. The center fielder did not wait
an instant, however, and threw the ball to Murray, who made Nippen an
easy out.

The Clippings were retired. The inning was over, without a run.

“We’re holding them, fellows,” said Frank quietly, as they walked out.
“Keep up the good work, and we’ll win, sure.”

“We’ll do it, Chip,” cried Spaulding.

“L-l-look out for Ironton,” snapped Chub, as the Clipper shortstop
walked out. “He’s l-l-like-l-ly to start something.”

Billy Mac evidently thought the same thing, for he signaled for the
double shoot. Merry shook his head, and compromised on the jump ball.
Ironton struck vainly.

“Hoop-a-la!” sang out Clancy. “He’s going!”

“Let him soak it,” pleaded McCarthy. “We’re all behind you, old scout!”

Billy called for a fast drop. Although doubtful of its wisdom, Frank
put it across, and Ironton murdered it. With a clean crack, the ball
began to soar toward center field, and Ironton went racing toward first.

“Wake up, Nippen!” roared the fans. “What’s the matter with the
elephant?”

The huge fruit-picker stood staring up at the ball. Suddenly he turned
and began lumbering toward the fence. He did not even look over his
shoulder at the ball, but continued through the ten-foot gap, while the
crowd sent a storm of catcalls after him.

“He must be going for a swim!” gasped Merry.

“Whoop!” yelled Dan McCarthy. “Look there!”

Nippen had turned abruptly. The ball was seen to fall squarely into his
glove--and stick! A wild roar rose from the crowd, then it died away
into a groan, as the base umpire motioned Ironton to hold third.

“What does this mean?” exclaimed Frank, walking back. “That ball was
caught!”

“Outside the fence,” said the umpire. “That gap shouldn’t be there
by rights. It went over the fence, and Ironton is entitled to his
three-bagger.”

“By gum!” yelled McCarthy wrathfully. “What kind of----”

“Quiet!” snapped Frank.

He turned and waved back his angry players, who were crowding forward.

“That’s a mighty queer decision,” he said, forcing himself to calmness.
“Does it go for every ball that drops outside the fence?”

“Yes,” said the umpire.

Frank saw that the umpire regretted his hasty decision, but would not
change it.

“All right,” he said.

The crowd looked at it otherwise, however. One howl of indignant
surprise went up as Ironton was seen to be safe. The mob threatened to
pour out on the field, and only when Frank was seen to be taking up his
position again did the fans restrain themselves.

As for the Clippings, they could not understand the decision. It looked
to them like foul play, though Merry saw that the umpire had not meant
to be unfair. Nippen started to bellow out his rage, Spaulding managed
to quiet him, and the game proceeded. But the Clippings had been
demoralized.

This became evident when Johnson popped up a foul. McCarthy went after
it, and let it drop. He made a throw to catch Ironton at the plate, and
sent the ball into the grand-stand wiring. Ironton scored and Johnson
stopped at second.

Frank saw that the balloon was going up, and wasted no more time. He
struck out Murray with three pitched balls, and then Carson slouched up
to the plate with a wide grin.

“Good-by!” he called cheerfully. “Here’s where we knock the Fardale
wonder out!”

His hopes were not realized, however. Frank handed him a fadeaway, and
Carson swung vainly. Billy called for the double shoot. Carson saw the
ball break for an in, and brought down his bat, but the sphere suddenly
curved away from him.

“Strike--uh--two!”

Mindful of the fellow’s threats, Frank put all his speed into the next
ball. It was a shoulder-high, straight one, that nipped the inside
corner of the plate. So fast was it, that Carson instinctively jumped
back, then flung down his bat with a curse. As he did so, Johnson
leaped toward third.

Billy whipped off his mask and slapped the ball to Dan. The lanky
chap took it and slammed it down on Johnson in a cloud of dust. The
Clippers were retired.

“See here, fellows,” pleaded Merry, as he picked out his bat, “this has
to stop right now! Cool down, everybody. Billy, you work Carson for
your base. Clan, get down to first and coach. We’ve got to break their
streak.”

And Merry went out to the plate, with a badly demoralized crowd on the
bench behind him.



CHAPTER XII. CLIPPING THE CLIPPERS.


“Here’s the boy wonder!” announced Squint Fletcher. “Soak him in the
bean!”

As Carson began to wind up, a voice pierced the roar of cheers that
startled Frank. It seemed like a voice that he knew well.

“Fardale forever! Hurrah for old Fardale!”

Merry could not tell whence that voice came, but he gripped his bat
hard at the sound of it. Carson unwound, and a white streak shot toward
the plate.

Whether he intended it or not, the ball came straight for Frank, who
was forced to step back. Squint grinned.

“Look out for your bean!”

Again Carson sent the ball whizzing down, but this time Merry
connected. There was a crack, and the sphere went sailing over second,
and Frank went to first.

“Hold it!” cautioned Clancy, as Billy came up to the plate.

“Here’s the champion human mistake, Bully!” sang out Squint.

Carson gave Billy a black look and whipped over the horsehide.

“Ball--one!” announced the umpire. A storm of cheers floated across the
field.

The next ball broke sharply. It struck Billy on the arm, and the
backstop at once flung away his bat and took first. He gave Frank a
grin as the latter advanced.

Spaulding came up, and Carson fanned him. The Clippers were evidently
waking up.

Moore managed to pop up a weak fly, which Ironton gathered in easily.
Henderson followed, and struck out, leaving Billy on first and Frank
marooned on second. Two innings were finished, and the Clippers were
one run to the good.

In the third, Merry shut out the Clippers, but, although McCarthy
connected for a long drive, he was caught trying for third. In the
fourth the heavy end of the Clippers was up, but Burkett, Bangs, and
Ironton fanned in beautiful harmony. Clancy was up for the Clippings.

“Lay out a soft one, Clan,” said Merry. “This has been an old-time
slugging match so far. Get to first, and work the hit-and-run.”

The red-haired chap nodded and stepped to the plate. Carson sent over
a wide one, and Clancy swung viciously, drawing a chuckle from Squint.
Again he swung at a poor one, then Carson lashed a fast high one across.

To the surprise of the Clippers, Clancy choked his bat and laid a neat
bunt down the third-base line. So astonished was Bangs that Clancy beat
his throw easily, and Frank came up to bat, smiling.

Carson paused, scowling. He did not like Merry’s smile, and knew that
his speed had not fooled Frank before. So he wound up as if delivering
a fast one, and his famous slow fadeaway floated down toward the plate.

Instantly Clancy was sprinting for second. Merry was not altogether
fooled by that delivery, and he fell on the ball for a short, choppy
stroke that sent the sphere zipping along the ground to Carson.

The pitcher tried to stop it, but it went through him. Murray was
backing him up, but before the ball reached first, Merry was standing
on the bag, and Clancy was safe. Roar upon roar swelled out from the
fans; but Frank did not again hear the voice which had startled him.

Billy McQuade strode out and pounded the plate with a determined air.
Carson fooled him twice with a slow fader, and, at the second strike,
Merry gave Clancy the signal for a double steal, doubting whether Billy
could connect.

As Carson unwound, the two sprinted for third and second. Billy saw the
movement, and stepped forward desperately. He managed to bunt, and,
although he was nailed at first, Clancy and Frank were safe.

It seemed as though they would remain safe, however, for Spaulding put
up a foul tip that was easily smothered by Squint Fletcher. Moore came
up, and as he was a notoriously weak batter, Frank gave his chum the
signal to steal.

Clancy grinned, ready for anything. Carson kept him close to third,
but, as the big pitcher wound up again, Clancy went toward home like a
streak. Instantly Carson let the ball fly.

Moore, however, knew his business. He was in his box, and, although
Squint yelled at him to get out of the way, he stepped forward and
bunted the ball along the first-base line. Clancy came sliding to the
plate in a cloud of dust, and the umpire motioned him safe, Moore, in
the meantime, getting to first.

Squint at once moved for a new trial, but the umpire denied the motion,
and the Clippings and their admirers sent up a shrill yell as they
knew the score was tied. During the argument Frank stole third, but an
instant later Moore was caught off first, and the inning was over, with
the score tied.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh passed without another run. In the
eighth, Runge took third on a long fly, which Henderson dropped, but
he died there. Henderson made good his error by a hit in the next
half, and Chub Newton astonished every one by getting another, but the
Clippers woke up and effected a beautiful double play that retired the
side.

The ninth opened with the heavy end of both sides at bat. The crowd was
now silent and tense, for the game was apt to jump either way without
warning. Merriwell seemed airtight, and Carson had superb support
behind him.

Squint Fletcher strode up to the plate, and came down on the first ball
Frank put over. The hit was a clean one, the sphere flying out between
Moore and Nippen for a Texas leaguer, but Squint was not content with
this. He tore around first and went on to second like a whirlwind.

Moore sent the ball in to Spaulding perfectly. The second baseman stood
off the line, and, as he stooped for the catch, Squint came slamming
into him in a whirl of dust. The ball was seen to drop, and, when
the dust cleared off, Spaulding was fiercely addressing the grinning
Squint, whose spikes had gone into his leg.

“Rotten! Murder him!” went up the yell.

“Dirty work! Smash him, Jim!” cried McCarthy.

Spaulding was about to obey, when Chip Merriwell leaped on him and
restored him to sanity. Muttering, the angry Spaulding wiped the blood
from his leg and limped to his place. Frank returned to his box, glad
that trouble had been avoided.

Burkett fanned, but Bangs clipped a high one that Moore misjudged.
Squint was halted at third, while Bangs took second on a close
decision, with one out. Ironton came up and deliberately stepped into
Merry’s double shoot, but did it so cleverly that the umpire was
deceived into giving him a base. The sacks were filled.

The next man up was Johnson. Frank fooled him once, then snapped the
ball to Clancy in an endeavor to catch Ironton. The effort failed, but
Squint Fletcher took a chance on reaching home.

Clancy sent in the ball far ahead of him, and Squint turned to get back
to third. As he did so, Billy put the ball into McCarthy’s hand. Squint
gave a yell and flung himself at Dan feet first, in an undoubted effort
to spike.

A shout of anger burst from every man on the field. The lanky McCarthy
was not so easily caught, however. As Squint came at him, he writhed
aside and drove down his fist with the ball into Fletcher’s face.

Squint was knocked a yard away, and rose with a yell of wrath, blood
streaming from his nose. McCarthy was only too ready to pitch into him,
but Bully Carson dragged his backstop away, and Merry caught Dan by the
shoulder.

“You paid him out for spiking Jim,” cried Frank. “Now simmer down, Dan.”

Squint was greeted with howls and catcalls as he came in. But, during
the storm, Bangs had stolen third, and Ironton had taken second. Frank
gave Johnson a fast high one, and Johnson hammered it for two sacks.

Murray fanned, but the evil was done. The score stood three to one,
and the Clippings seemed lost when McCarthy came out to the plate and
went out on a high fly. The crowd began to stream away from the field.

Nippen lumbered up to the plate, and, with a grin, Carson handed him
an out. A shriek of astonishment went up as the huge fruit-picker
connected. The ball went up and up, and the Clipper outfield raced
back. Then they halted in dismay.

Silence fell on the crowd--broken by a gasp. Nippen passed second,
rounded third, and held on home. The ball not only cleared the fence,
but--dropped into the river! The huge outfielder had knocked a homer!

When the fans understood what had happened, they went wild. Amid the
confusion, Clancy came to bat and rapped out a single. The field became
a bedlam. Shrieks and wild yells rose on every side, and the thump of
feet rose into a dull thunder. When Merry came out to bat, the entire
crowd went crazy all over again.

As for the Clippers, they were thunderstruck. Carson tried to gain
time, but the umpire commanded him to play ball, and he threw a vicious
one straight at Frank’s head. Merry calmly stepped back and bunted it
toward first.

Carson leaped for it and fumbled. Clancy sprinted down to second, and,
before the big fellow could decide where the ball ought to go, Merry
was safe on first and Clancy was taking third.

“Wake up, you bonehead!” growled Squint, as he walked out and met his
captain. “Say, you’re the limit!”

“He’s l-l-limited, al-l-l right!” chirruped Chub, from behind third.
“The bal-l-loon’s gone up, fel-l-lows! Tag al-l-long!”

Carson scowled as Billy Mac faced him. Frank seized his chance and went
down to second. Again the crowd lost its head with delight, yelling and
stamping in a frenzied manner.

“Finish it up, you bonehead,” grated Squint. “Fan this man and we have
’em.”

Billy laughed. A moment later the ball came down, and he cracked it
squarely. It shot back at Carson like a bullet. The big fellow leaped
aside amid a yell of derision, and, before Murray had fielded it,
Clancy and Merriwell had crossed the plate.

The Clippings had clipped the Clippers!

Merry and Billy reached the shelter of the dressing room first, but the
rest of the team was caught by the frenzied crowd. As the two entered,
they found the black-bearded stranger waiting for them. He held out a
paper to Billy.

“Here,” he said, with a laugh, “is something for your mother, Billy. I
think you won it pretty fairly, old man!”

The stranger caught at his beard, and it came off in his hand. Chip
took one glance, then leaped for him with a yell.

“Father!”

And Frank Merriwell, senior, smiled quietly as he took Chip’s hand.



CHAPTER XIII. BEATEN AT HIS OWN GAME.


“Now, boys, I owe you a word of explanation.”

Frank Merriwell, senior, faced the victorious Clippings, who were lined
up around Mrs. McQuade’s extended dinner table.

“I want you to know why I did this. It wasn’t to gamble, as most of
you know that I don’t countenance that so-called sport for a minute.
It wasn’t to fight Colonel Carson with his own weapons. That’s another
thing I don’t believe in.

“But I do enjoy beating a man at his own game, when I can do it cleanly
and make him learn a lesson. Now, in plain words, I knew that Colonel
Carson was little short of being a crook. When he gambled, he wanted to
gamble on a sure thing.”

“That’s right,” went up a murmur.

“But I did not make this bet with him in the prospect of winning money.
I made it in order to get that mortgage from him--that mortgage which
my good friend, Mrs. McQuade, had the pleasure of burning just before
dinner. He had obtained it legally. Then he had been paid for it. By
some mischance, Mr. McQuade had not obtained it, and had no receipt to
show.

“Colonel Carson produced it after his death, and claimed that he had
never received payment. He intended to oust Mrs. McQuade from this
house on Monday. If she had borrowed the money and paid it off the
second time, Carson’s villainy would have triumphed. This I did not
want to see.”

He paused, his grave eyes sweeping from face to face.

“As I wrote you, Frank, that would be a poor way to defeat him. So I
came to Carsonville myself, in disguise. The worthy colonel tried to
entrap me into betting against his team. I appeared to fall into the
trap, and wagered my money against his mortgage. He tried to induce me
to bet against his money, but this I would not do. I want you to get
the difference, and get it clearly.”

“I do, father,” exclaimed Chip quickly.

One after another the rest nodded assent.

“What would you ’a’ done if you’d lost?” queried McCarthy.

Frank Merriwell, senior, smiled.

“I watched you at practice work, Dan, and felt sure that I couldn’t
lose.”

At this retort a yell of delight went up, and Dan flushed and wriggled
in his chair. The speaker went on quickly:

“Are you sure, all of you, that you get my point? I’m not defending
betting, even in a righteous cause, mind; it is demoralizing, and
every sport in which it is allowed is sure to suffer. Colonel Carson
is doing a great injury to baseball to-day. But in this case I might
plead extenuating circumstances. I was not betting in order to win. I
would cheerfully have let Mrs. McQuade borrow the money, except that
this would have been knuckling under to a scoundrel. I won nothing for
myself except the satisfaction of having been of service to a lady whom
I am proud to number among my friends, and to her son, whom I am proud
to number among my son’s friends.”

And he leaned forward, took up his glass of water, and, with the warm
smile which had endeared him to so many hearts, proposed a toast.

“To Mrs. McQuade and her hospitable roof-tree!”

A resounding cheer shook the rafters, and the good lady herself,
between tears and laughter, was unable to respond. But she could not
have made herself heard.

“And here’s another to Frank Merriwell, senior!” shouted Billy McQuade.
Another roar went up.

“And another to the ‘Chip of the old block’!” yelled Clancy
frantically. Chip held up his hand for silence.

“I guess,” he said, looking around with the smile that was so much like
his father’s, “I guess we’d better call off another to the Carsonville
Clippings--the picked-up nine that clipped the Clippers!”



CHAPTER XIV. “SOUR GRAPES.”


“Too bad about Ted Crockett,” said Garding, pulling on the weights.

“For Fardale, you mean,” returned Lee Chester. “Fine for Ted.”

“Uh-huh,” Hunt Garding paused with a sigh. “Going around the world with
his dad, eh?”

“He’s foolish! I’d sooner be captain of the Fardale nine than go around
the world a dozen times! When does he leave, Hunt?”

“Monday night--right after the Franklin Academy game. Say, Chesty!”

“Huh?”

Garding dropped his voice with a glance around. No one appeared to be
in hearing, and he leaned forward.

“Do you think Chip will get it?”

“Get what?”

“The captainship. Ted’s going away leaves it vacant, you know.”

“Holy smoke! That’s right! By golly, we’ve got to root for Chip!”

Hunt Garding nodded, but looked doubtful. He and his brother plebe were
among Frank Merriwell, junior’s, stanchest supporters at Fardale. In
common with many other students, they had remained at Fardale during
the spring vacation.

It was Saturday morning, the last day of the vacation. Owing to a
conflict in the schedules, a postponed game with Franklin Academy was
to be played off on the following Monday, a half holiday having been
declared by the two schools. Franklin was Fardale’s ancient rival, and
as it was the second game of the season, feeling was running high.

Unfortunately for the Fardale team, its second baseman and captain, Ted
Crockett, was leaving school. He had been called away suddenly to take
a long trip with his father, but had managed to postpone his leaving
until after the Franklin game.

His abrupt departure would leave vacant an important office, that of
captain of the nine. It was of this that the two plebes were talking in
the gymnasium. They did not observe a figure which stood just around
the corner, and which was that of Bob Randall. He had just emerged from
the locker room, had caught their words, and was listening for the
remainder.

“I’m not so sure, Chesty. Chip isn’t certain to get the place, you
know.”

“I’d like to know why not!” broke out Lee Chester indignantly, glaring
at his chum. “Why, he’s the best pitcher Fardale ever had, barring his
father and uncle!”

“Of course,” said Garding. “Best all-around athlete, too.”

“Well, what’s the matter with you, then? All we’ve got to do is to get
the fellows on their toes, and----”

“There are several things the matter. First, there’s another chap on
the team who’s a mighty fine tosser.”

“You mean Bob Randall?”

“Yes.”

The silent figure around the corner drew back, with a little smile
playing about his clean-cut mouth. Randall was a handsome, dark-eyed,
fiery-tempered Southerner, who could play ball like a fiend, when he
wanted to.

He was full of pride, and his greatest fault was his temper. Despite
this, however, he was a prime favorite. At Lee Chester’s next words his
face flushed darkly, and his smile changed to a quick scowl.

“Randall? Nonsense, Hunt! He’s a dandy fellow, and is a peach of a
pitcher, but he’s not in Chip’s class.”

“Naturally not, since Merry is a chip of the old block,” said Garding,
with a chuckle. His face instantly became serious, however.

“You’re wrong, Chesty,” he went on. “Bob Randall is popular.”

“So’s Chip, according to my notion.”

“Sure. There’ll prob’ly be an election right after the game on Monday.
But Chip, Clancy, and Billy Mac are over at Carsonville, and who’ll
look after their interests? You can bet that Chip will not try to get
the captaincy, but he ought to.”

“I s’pose there will be some campaigning done,” admitted Chester. “But
I don’t think Randall has much show. He’s too hot-headed to work as
captain. Now, look at Chip Merriwell. Did you ever see him rattled? Not
enough to notice it. He can pitch rings around Bob Randall, too. Wait
till Monday, and you’ll see.”

“Well, you wait yourself. Randall doesn’t think a heap of Chip, I
guess----”

“You’re wrong there, Garding.”

The two plebes whirled in surprise as Bob Randall stepped out. With an
effort the latter had wiped the traces of discontent from his dark,
good-looking features.

“You’re wrong,” he repeated easily. “I do think a good deal of Chip
Merriwell, but since you seem to be discussing the subject frankly,
I’ll say that he hasn’t any more chance of being elected captain than
you have.”

The two plebes were inclined to be angry at being overheard by Randall,
of all persons, and much more so by his words.

“Who gave you any license to butt in?” snapped Chester.

“I happened to overhear what you said, that’s all. This is a public
place, isn’t it?”

“Generally considered so,” said Hunt Garding, with a grunt.

Randall saw that he had hurt himself with these two plebes, and he
quickly tried to regain lost ground. He was not the kind to do any
disguising of his true sentiments, however, and stated his ground
bluntly.

“Look here, fellows, you seem to have the idea that I’m sore on
Merriwell. I’m nothing of the kind. But there’s no use beating about
the bush, after what’s been said, and I’m quite willing to admit that I
want to be captain.”

“We guessed it,” retorted Chester dryly.

“Well, there’s no harm in that, is there?” Randall began to grow warm.
“Can’t a fellow contest an elective office with Chip Merriwell?”

“Some fellows could, maybe,” said Garding. “But if you want it
straight, Bob, you’re not the fellow, in this case. He’s out of your
class as a pitcher.”

Randall’s dark eyes flashed, but he controlled himself.

“I don’t acknowledge that. Who’ll go into the box for Fardale when Chip
isn’t around? Tell me that.”

“You will, because you’re the next best pitcher,” retorted Hunt. “You
don’t need to get sore, Randall. I’m not decrying your ability when I
say that you’re not the equal of Merriwell, because you’re a blamed
good pitcher.”

This only added fuel to the flame, however.

“Well, that remains to be seen,” declared Randall hotly. “Chip gets
away with it because he has luck, that’s all. A whole lot depends on
this game with Franklin, Monday, and the fellow that pitches and wins
the game for Fardale will be the next captain of the regulars!”

“And that’ll be Chip Merriwell, for he’ll surely pitch,” said Chester.

“He won’t!” cried Randall, losing his temper. “I’m slated for that
game, and I’m going to show you fellows what a real pitcher can do
when he gets started. The trouble with a lot of you plebes is that you
truckle to Merry because his father and uncle are old-time diamond
stars!”

Lee Chester showed his wrath at this charge.

“I guess that lets you out,” he exclaimed angrily. “You’re so blamed
jealous that your brains are twisted, Bob Randall! Nobody gets truckled
to around this school, unless he’s got the goods, and you’re a long
ways from having them.”

“Well, I should hope so!” flashed back Randall. “I’d hate to have a
crowd of decent fellows thinking that I was a little tin god on wheels!
That’s what you seem to think about Merry.”

“Better take it easy, Bob,” advised Hunt Garding, with a frown. “Go out
and cool off, and you’ll see it differently.”

“I see it well enough, thanks,” snapped Randall furiously. “It isn’t
hard to see that a bunch of you fellows toady to Chip Merriwell
because you think it’s going to get you something. That chap is
overrated. He’s got ability, but it’s your crowd that has given him
such a case of swelled head that he thinks he can cop off everything.
He’s going to find that he can’t.”

“Aw, go away and sneeze! Your brain’s dusty!” jeered Chester.

“I’ll tell you two something!” cried Randall, shaking his fist and
advancing a step. “We’re going to win this game on Monday, and I’m
going to do it! Look at the team--it’s all shot to pieces! Billy
McQuade has left school. Crockett’s going to quit. Clancy is off with
Merry at Carsonville, instead of being back here practicing to get into
shape to cover first. What kind of a captain would Chip make, when he
allows this on the eve of an important game, tell me that?”

“He’d make a better one than you would, losing your fool head this
way,” retorted Chester. “He’s at Carsonville trying to persuade Billy
Mac to return, and you know it! Say, if I had that jealous disposition
of yours I’d hang it on the back fence and throw stones at it! You make
me tired!”

Randall’s temper lashed out. His face went white with anger.

“Yuh impudent little Yankee!” he roared. Whenever he forgot himself his
voice took on a soft Southern drawl, which it now assumed abruptly. “I
reckon I’ll teach yo’-all somethin’ right heah! I’ll show yo’-all yo’
cain’t talk to a Randall like he was a low-down niggah!”

He started for Chester, and Chester started for him with great
willingness. Before they could strike a blow, however, Hunt Garding
dashed in between with a quick warning, pointing across the gym.

“’Sh-h-h! The athletic instructor’s coming!”

Randall flung a look toward the door, then sullenly jammed his hat over
his eyes and strode away.



CHAPTER XV. THREE CHEERS FOR CHIP!


On that Saturday evening there was a momentous discussion under way at
the quarters of Colonel Gunn, principal of Fardale Academy.

It was here that Coach Trayne occupied a room, and in his room was
seated Ted Crockett, the present captain of the Fardale baseball team.
The two were discussing the future destinies of the nine.

Crockett was extremely popular among his teammates. Coach Trayne knew
that his influence would go far toward the selection of a new captain,
and had asked him over for a frank talk. He had certain information
which was bound to startle Captain Crockett, and which would startle
all Fardale when it was made public. The coach did not intend that it
should be made public for the present, however.

Meanwhile, Villum Kess had seen Crockett enter Colonel Gunn’s quarters,
and the astute German lad guessed at once that a consultation was going
on regarding the new captain of the nine. He started off hastily, and
bumped into a dark figure.

“Who’s that?” demanded the voice of Lee Chester.

“Kess,” returned Villum, panting.

“Guess?” cried Chester. “Get out into the light, you dub!”

“Kess!” shouted Villum. “Dot iss vot I----”

“Oh, it’s you!” said Lee Chester, with a chuckle. “What’s your hurry?”

“Vait! You hafe mein vind pumbed avay!”

Villum hung on to Chester’s arm for a moment, then straightened up.

“Grogett hass yust gone into der house, yes, no,” he cried excitedly.
“Dey vos goin’ to elegtion a gaptain, Jesty!”

“Whew!” gasped Chester. “Looks like business, eh? Think they’re going
to make a choice to-night?”

“Yah, aber ve moost hellup oud Chip. I should faint fits oof dey bicked
any one else. I bet you’ve moost get der poys togedder und root!”

“Say, you’re not so far off, old scout!” exclaimed Chester. “Come
along! We’ll settle Randall’s hash right here!”

And the two disappeared in hot haste.

The captain and coach of the Fardale nine were engaged in animated
discussion, while Villum Kess and Chester were getting to work. Captain
Crockett was learning something that carried dismay to his heart, for
the success of Fardale was very dear to him, and it looked as though
Fardale’s hopes were going glimmering for that year.

“I’m afraid I have bad news for you, Ted,” said Coach Trayne gravely.
“I suppose you know that Frank Merriwell, senior, ran over from
Bloomfield last Thursday?”

“Yes, sir,” said the perplexed Crockett. “I know he made a hurry visit,
and I supposed that it had something to do with Clancy’s jumping off
for Carsonville.”

“Not altogether. He came over to make certain arrangements, and to
let me know about something important that has just turned up. Mr.
Merriwell gave me permission to use the information at my discretion.
I suppose you will regard it as confidential if I pass it on to you,
Crockett?”

“Why, certainly, sir!”

Crockett sat up, his eyes beginning to bulge. He knew that something
serious had come up, for it was seldom that Coach Trayne used his
“business tone” when off duty.

“I hope that nothing really grave has happened, sir?”

“You can judge for yourself, Ted. We’re likely to lose the services of
Chip Merriwell for the rest of the season.”

“Wh-a-a-t!”

Crockett stared at the trainer as if he thought the latter’s senses had
taken flight. Lose Chip Merriwell, just when Fardale was counting on
sweeping all her foes before her! Impossible!

“Are you joking, Mr. Trayne?” he gasped.

“I’m sorry to say that I’m not,” returned the worried trainer. He
sighed, for he, too, had had visions of what his team would do with
Merry in the box.

“No, it’s anything but a joke, Crockett. I am not at liberty to say
very much, and in fact I’m not aware of the definite reasons myself,
but the fact remains that Chip may leave school before long.”

“But why?” queried the astounded captain of the nine. “He’s not sick or
anything, is he?”

“No. As I understand it, his father and uncle are going West, and
intend to take Chip with them. Mr. Merriwell did not go into details,
but it’s easy to imagine that it must be something of importance to
necessitate Frank’s leaving school at this juncture. It’s going to be a
hard blow to the team, for he was the mainstay.”

Crockett nodded. He was absolutely unselfish, and realized fully that
much of the school’s success in sports was due to Frank Merriwell,
junior.

“That’ll be awful news to get out!” he murmured. “It’s going to jar
things on the campus, all right!”

“Well, don’t let it out for a while,” went on the coach. “I’ve told
you about it because I wanted to ask you who you had in mind to fill
your position when you leave. I’d like to have the election held right
after Monday’s game, if possible.”

“Well,” replied Crockett gloomily, “if you hadn’t told me this, I’d
have said that Chip himself was the man. He’d make a better job of it
than I would, in fact. But since he’s going to drop out also, I’d say
Bob Randall.”

“Randall? Yes, he’s a good man, Ted. But if Chip does leave, isn’t that
the very reason why he ought to be elected?”

“Huh! I don’t get you,” said Crockett, his mind in a whirl.

“It’s like this,” smiled Coach Trayne: “Frank has done a whole lot for
the school, and for the baseball team. It’s not settled that he’s to
leave, remember; but I think that whether he does or not, the school
ought to avail itself of the chance to give him honors while it can.”

“You’re right,” assented Captain Crockett quickly. “Yes, I get your
angle now, sir. I suppose he’ll go in the box for us on Monday? That’ll
cinch the game, and it’ll throw everything his way when I mention to
the boys that he ought to be captain.”

“I’m glad that such is your opinion,” said the coach, with a breath of
relief. “I happen to know that Randall is moving heaven and earth to
get the election, and---- Hello! What’s all this?”

From in front of the house had risen a sudden burst of cheering. Coach
Trayne went to the window and flung it open. Instantly a renewed shout
went up.

“Merry for captain! Whoop-ee!”

A crowd of students was gathered before the windows. They had been
hastily marshaled by Chester and others of Merry’s adherents, and more
were assembling at every moment. On the edge of the crowd, hidden by
the darkness, stood Bob Randall. He was flushed and angry, but he knew
better than to give way to his inclinations before this gathering.

“Vot’s der matter mit Randall?” shouted the voice of Villum Kess.

A chorus of groans answered, mingled with jeers and catcalls. The
dark-haired lad in the shadow clenched his fists and muttered
wrathfully, but he kept himself under control. A roar went up.

“Chip Merriwell! We want Chip for captain!”

Coach Trayne slammed down the window and turned to Crockett with a
smile.

“Hardly representative of the team, Ted, but they show the trend of
public sentiment. But if Merry wins Monday’s game, and is elected, what
about Randall?”

“That’s what I was thinking,” said Crockett uneasily. “He’s a splendid
chap, except for his hot, Southern temper, Mr. Trayne. He really
believes that he’s as good as Chip on the mound, and I must say that
he’s the best we have after Merry himself.”

“I understand you,” nodded the coach. “I think he’s a bit jealous of
Merry, and it’s quite certain that he is anxious to be elected himself.
However, he’s a bit too quick to pick up grievances. I’d be afraid
of him as captain. You understand, old chap, that I’m not trying to
dictate?”

“Of course, sir,” smiled the captain. “You’re dead right, just the
same. He has the clear-headed ability to serve as captain, but he’s apt
to lose it all in a quick flash of temper. A captain has to be a pretty
cool sort--I guess the only qualification I had for the job was my
coolness. By the way, have you heard from Chip whether Billy Mac will
return or not?”

“No word yet,” and the coach shook his head. “Things look bad,
Crockett. With Billy gone, Clancy will have to catch Merry on Monday.
Who’ll go to first in his place I haven’t decided yet. After you go,
the team will be badly disrupted, I’m afraid. When Merry goes--well
may----”

And he flung up his hands in hopeless despair. Ted Crockett stared
gloomily at the window, and listened to a new burst of cheers that came
from the campus.

As if in answer to these, there came a knock on the door. Coach Trayne
answered it, and uttered a cry of satisfaction as he received a yellow
envelope.

“A wire, Crockett! Let’s hope it’s from Chip.” It was not from Merry,
however, but from Owen Clancy.

“Read that, Ted!” cried Trayne, and handed the message to Crockett. It
was brief and very much to the point:

  Chip won great game in Carsonville. Billy McQuade returning to
  Fardale with us. On deck bright and early Monday morning.

“Hurrah!” cried Crockett jubilantly. “Billy’s coming back! Say, may I
read this to the fellows, Mr. Trayne?”

The coach nodded a smiling assent. The news that the backstop was
coming back to school after writing that he would not return, was a
great relief to him.

Crockett flung up the window and read out the message. It was greeted
with a storm of frantic cheers. Then he held up his hand for silence,
and after a moment the crowd fell quiet.

“Three cheers for Captain Chip!” he shouted.

Another roar of cheers welled up through the night as the crowd
acclaimed this good news. Then the meeting slowly broke.

With bitter heart and darkening brow, Bob Randall had heard the
message read, and had heard the cheers that followed Crockett’s shout.
He slipped away across the campus and toward the barracks, a fierce
anger welling up within him.



CHAPTER XVI. A WILY PLOTTER.


Randall slowly returned home to the barracks. His heart was hot against
Chip Merriwell, and hotter yet against the crowd who had acclaimed his
rival.

“Confounded Yankees!” he muttered. “Whatever did I come to this part
of the country for, anyway! Just because I had an uncle livin’ at
Carsonville, I reckon. I wish I had stayed down home an’ taken a chance
on the Annapolis examinations!”

The cool night air calmed down his heated anger a little, and by the
time he reached the barracks it had changed into a dull despair. It
seemed to him that no one had a chance to rival one of the Merriwells
at Fardale.

Yet Bob was not a bad sort of fellow at heart. His impulsiveness
sometimes led him into hot-headed errors, which he bitterly repented
later. He had tried to conquer himself, and to some extent had
succeeded. None the less, in this case he had given way to his
bitterness without restraint.

As he reached the door of the barracks he detected a figure lurking in
the shadow to one side. A keen glance showed him that the figure was
not in uniform, and was one of the village youths.

“Here!” cried Randall sharply. “What are you doing around here?”

“I’m lookin’ for Bob Randall,” came the surprising answer.

Randall started.

“You’re not looking for him, but at him,” he answered. “What’s your
business?”

The village youth held out a paper.

“Here’s a message I was to bring you. And the feller said that you was
to keep it under your hat.”

Randall took it in some wonder, and the youth darted off. When he
reached his room, where his roommate, Harlow Clarke, was busy over his
books, Bob opened the paper, and read the message it bore:

  Come over to Dobb’s Hotel. Must see you and talk with you at once.
  Don’t let any one know you’re meeting me.

  YOUR UNCLE.

Randall whistled. His uncle! He had had the pleasure of meeting that
gentleman on his arrival in the North, and he had not been greatly
impressed by Colonel Carson’s rather uncouth accents and hard features.
Still, Colonel Carson was his uncle, and had come up from Carsonville
to see him, it appeared.

He turned quickly to his roommate.

“I’ve got to go over to town, Clarke,” he said. “Will you fix the rope
in the window so I can get in without running the guard?”

“Surest thing you know, old man,” said Clarke. “Will you get in before
taps?”

“I can’t tell yet, but probably not.”

“Well, get along, then. I’ll fix up a dummy that’ll fool the inspector
when he comes to look at the beds. You’ll find the rope out of the
window as usual.”

Quickly but quietly, Bob left the barracks and the academy grounds. It
was not the first time that he and his roommate had wanted to come in
after regulation hours, and by the aid of the rope and dummy this was
invariably effected without much danger of detection and punishment.

Randall found his uncle waiting for him at the hotel, and was quickly
taken to a private room.

“Glad to see ye, Bob, glad to see ye!” he cried effusively, as he
pressed Bob into a chair. “Shall I send for a drink, eh?”

“I don’t drink, thanks,” said Randall. “You must have been in something
of a rush to see me, uncle!”

“Well, might’s well admit that I was,” and Colonel Carson fingered his
goatee thoughtfully and eyed his nephew. “I hear there’s to be a game
here on Monday?”

“Yes,” and Randall’s face fell a trifle. “Franklin Academy is coming
over. It ought to be a pretty good game. Will you stay over?”

“Mebbe. Hard to say, though, Bob. I know about them Franklin fellers.
I been keepin’ tabs on their pitcher, thinkin’ to pick him up for the
Clippers next year. I wanted to see ye about that game, Bob.”

“I’m glad some one wants to see me about it,” returned Randall
bitterly. “I thought that I was going to pitch for Fardale. If I
pitched and won, I’d probably get elected captain afterward--our
captain leaves Monday night, you know.”

For some reason Colonel Carson looked perturbed.

“Yes?” he prompted.

“But it seems they’ve slated Merriwell to pitch. That means he’ll do
me out of the captaincy. Everybody seems to knuckle down to these
Merriwells over here. I can’t understand it!”

Colonel Carson looked relieved. He eyed his nephew keenly.

“I s’pose that if Merriwell pitched, it’d be a cinch for Fardale, Bob?”

“It’ll be a cinch, anyhow,” exclaimed Randall. “If I got in the box I’d
draw rings around those fellows.”

“Well, I’m talkin’ about Merriwell. He’d do considerable more, wouldn’t
he?”

Randall hesitated.

“Yes,” he replied unwillingly. “I’m bound to say that his very name
seems to scare Franklin out of its boots. Why?”

Colonel Carson tugged at his goatee slowly.

“Well, I figure on gettin’ you in the box, Bob,” he said reflectively.
“I want to do a little bettin’ on that game. If it wasn’t for
Merriwell, I think that Franklin pitcher might have a chance to win.”

“He couldn’t do it,” exclaimed Randall quickly. “If I got a chance at
him I’d show him up!”

The older man’s eyes narrowed suddenly.

“I don’t s’pose you’d throw the game?” he snapped out.

Randall flushed and sat up. He looked hard at his uncle, but the latter
was smiling. Bob sank back, with an uncertain laugh.

“I pretty nearly thought you were in earnest, uncle! Of course, I know
you’d never think of such a thing, though. No, if I can win that game
I’m pretty sure to get the election that will follow it.”

The colonel tugged at his goatee once more. He seemed to get all kinds
of inspiring thoughts from that patch of gray hair on his chin. Just at
present his thoughts were anything but inspiring, however.

“I’ve got him placed,” he was reflecting inwardly. “He thinks that
Franklin feller is no good. Now, if I can keep Merriwell out and let
Bob pitch, I can go ahead and place some bets on Franklin. I hate to
see Bob get the spots licked off him, but business is business.”

Aloud, however, he expressed himself quite in an opposite fashion.

“Well, nephew,” he said pleasantly, “I’d like to see ye get a fair
chance. It don’t seem to me like that feller Merriwell gives any one
else a show, does he?”

“You wouldn’t think so if you were here at Fardale!”

“I don’t need to be here to tell that. If you go on the mound Monday
afternoon, you’re pretty sure to win, eh?”

“Dead certain,” said Randall. “We’ll have a bang-up team, and we’ll
hand it to Franklin pretty hot, uncle.”

“Glad to hear it, nephew, glad to hear it. I’ll see to it that
Merriwell does not do ye out o’ your chance.”

“You’ll--what? What do you mean?”

“None o’ your business,” and Colonel Carson, with a dry chuckle, pulled
out his watch. “I got you placed, Bob. You go right ahead and ’tend to
business. I’m a-goin’ to help out one o’ my kin when I get the chance,
that’s all.”

“But what influence have you with Captain Crockett and Coach Trayne?”

Colonel Carson gave Bob a look of commiseration. Was it possible that
his own nephew was so green?

“Not much, I reckon. But I got some influence with Merriwell. There’s a
train out o’ here in twenty minutes, Bob. It’ll get me to Carsonville
before midnight. I reckon I’d better take it, to make sure. I got a
heap o’ things to see to.”

Randall looked at him in astonishment.

“But I thought you’d be here for the game, uncle!”

“I reckon I will be,” laughed the colonel quietly. “Now, you lay mighty
low, Bob. Don’t say nothin’ to any one about seein’ me, or about what I
said. But as sure’s you stand here, nephew,” he went on impressively,
“you’ll be the one to pitch in that game on Monday, mind my words!”

“I’d like to know how you’re going to work it!” said Randall, in some
wonder. “If you do, you’re a wizard!”

“Well, some folks have called me worse’n that,” said Colonel Carson,
with a chuckle, as he reached for his suit case. “You’ll be pitchin’,
and I’ll be here, and I’m a-goin’ to lay some whoppin’ good bets, let
me tell you!”

After Randall had taken his departure, not knowing whether to feel
delighted or dejected over his uncle’s promises, Colonel Carson laughed
softly.

“Oh, yes, I’ll lay some bets!” he chuckled again evilly. “But it’ll
be on Franklin, all right! I guess you’re goin’ to get a pretty bad
lickin’, nephew--but business is business. I see where I get revenge on
that cussed Merriwell kid!”



CHAPTER XVII. A NIGHT ATTACK.


“There’s nothing like being square, fellows. You can’t beat it, I don’t
care what any one says. It’s not so much whether you win or lose, it’s
simply that you feel square inside. That’s what Davy Crockett meant
when he said: ‘Be sure you’re right, then go ahead!’ Davy didn’t care a
snap about dying--he knew he was right, and he won out!”

“Lecture on history by Frank Merriwell, senior,” laughed Chip. His
father smiled as he watched the lights of the train flashing up the
valley.

“It’s a fact,” he went on, turning to Chip and Billy McQuade and
Clancy, who had accompanied him to the train. “I’m not preaching, and
you know it.”

“But Davy Crockett died in the Alamo,” interjected Clancy doubtfully.

“Sure,” flashed back Frank Merriwell, senior. “That’s why he won,
that’s why he’ll live forever, Clancy. He knew he was right--get that?
Defeat is no sign of failure, not a bit of it. This Colonel Carson, of
Carsonville, has been winning consistently until you fellows turned the
trick on him. Now he’s started in to reap the whirlwind.”

“He reaped it, all right, when Chip pitched to-day,” said Billy Mac.
“He reaped a few double shoots he didn’t expect--or, rather, the
Clippers did.”

“You’ve got the idea,” said Merriwell, as the train pulled in. “Well,
so long for the present, everybody. Good luck to you on Monday, Frank!
I’ll try to run down from Bloomfield to see that game, but I can’t
promise. I’ve got some important affairs on with Dick--you’ll learn
about them later.”

He handed his grip to the porter and sprang up the steps. The
eleven-o’clock express was already late, and there was only time for a
last wave of the hand before the train began to move, then drew away
into the night.

“I wish you fellows wouldn’t go to the hotel,” said Billy, as the three
friends started toward town. “We’ve all kinds of room at home.”

Chip flung his arm over the other’s shoulder, smiling.

“Cheer up, Billy! Clan and I haven’t had much chance to get together
since he came home from the West, you know. We’ll have an old-time
gabfest, and will get acquainted again before we come up to the house
to-morrow. By gracious, these streets are dark!”

“I’m sorry now we didn’t come down in the _Hornet_,” said Clancy
regretfully. “We could have piled into her somehow.”

Late Saturday night in Carsonville was, indeed, a dark time, especially
for the Carsonville Clippers!

       *       *       *       *       *

Quite naturally, Colonel Carson and his son had not taken their beating
with a good grace. Bully Carson was an excellent pitcher, but so far
did Chip outclass him, that he and his father were furious over the
disgrace of being beaten by a pick-up nine from their own home town.

No sooner was the game over, than they put their heads together in
order to concoct a plan which would assist them both in humiliating
the Merriwells and in winning a few side bets upon the Franklin game.
Colonel Carson was fond of gambling, but he usually liked to know
beforehand which way the game was going to come out.

As a result of their conference, the astute colonel hurriedly caught
the late afternoon train for Fardale, determined to gain revenge on
Chip and his father, and recoup his losses at the same time.

He needed only a lever in order to get his machinations into working
order, and this lever he found in the person of Bob Randall. Having
discovered that his nephew was not cut on his own pattern and merely
disliked Chip Merriwell with an open and manly fervor, he had changed
his tactics. Obtaining the information he was after, he caught the late
train back to Carsonville, passing that which bore Frank Merriwell,
senior, on the way. Things were shaping themselves very nicely, indeed,
he reflected.

Meantime, Bully Carson had been busy trying to obtain his own revenge.
During the evening his team met at the town pool room, which they
frequented the greater part of the time, and Bully set to work.

Squint Fletcher, his catcher, could barely walk. Bully passed him up
with a scowl, and turned to the rest of the assembled Clippers.

“We hadn’t ought to let them fellers get away with it,” he declared
cunningly. “They put the spurs to us right, then they beat up Squint
here.”

“If you hadn’t blown up they wouldn’t have beaten us,” growled Ironton,
the Clippers’ shortstop.

This criticism was quite true. But Bully Carson was loath to admit it,
so he merely frowned the more.

“If we’d had a little decent support from you guys,” he snapped, “I
wouldn’t have gone up. How can a pitcher do anything when he don’t get
any support?”

“How can he get support when his balls get knocked a mile outside the
grounds?” snapped back Ironton.

A general grin went up at Carson’s expense. It was quite true that when
he had started to lose his head, Chip’s men had fallen on him and
pounded the ball unmercifully, and Bully knew it.

“Well,” he insisted surlily, “we oughtn’t to let ’em get away with
it, just the same. They’d ought to go back home so’s they’d know what
they’d been up against.”

A general mutter of assent went up. On this point, at least, it was
evident that the Clippers thoroughly agreed with their captain.

“Well, what’s the process?” inquired Murray, the second baseman.

Bully gathered them around him, with a wary glance at the other
occupants of the pool room. He lit a cigarette, got it drooping in
approved fashion from one corner of his mouth, then explained himself.

“I happen to know that Merriwell’s old man is goin’ off by the express.
I heard ’em say somethin’ about it. More’n likely, the kid and that
carrot top who played first will come down to see the old man off. It’s
gettin’ along toward train time, and if we went down we’d be liable to
meet them two comin’ back. If the whole crowd’s with ’em, so much the
better.”

“Count me out,” growled Squint Fletcher. “I got both eyes shut.”

“It ain’t so bad, Bully,” said Ironton. “We can beat ’em up proper, eh?
Guess there’s enough of us without Squint.”

Bully Carson’s proposal was accepted without any great enthusiasm,
but it was decided that Merriwell and his friends needed a lesson,
consequently they must be given it without delay.

So, after rolling fresh cigarettes, the party decamped toward the
railroad station. There were six of them, all told, for two had
remained to help Squint Fletcher home, but it was conceded that six
Clippers would be enough to handle Merriwell and as many of his “gang”
as might be with him.

While nearing the station, which was situated at some little distance
from the center of town, the train was heard pulling out. Ironton had
hastened ahead, and a moment later he returned with word that Merriwell
and two others were coming. The Clippers hastily disposed themselves in
a dark doorway.



CHAPTER XVIII. THE INITIALS IN THE HAT.


“Why don’t you finish the year at Fardale, Chip?”

Billy Mac was distinctly worried. So was Owen Clancy.

“I’m sure I don’t know,” returned Frank, with a frown. “Dad only hinted
that he and I might go West. Looked as though Uncle Dick was mixed up
in it, too, but I couldn’t get him to say anything definite.”

“Looks bad for Fardale if you have to leave,” remarked Clancy. “We’ll
lick the spots off Franklin on Monday, anyhow. With Ted Crockett going
away, too, the team will be all bust up for sure.”

“I s’pose there’ll be a new captain elected,” said Billy slyly.

“That’s right!” exclaimed Chip.

“I guess there’s only one fellow going to nab that honor, Chip.”

“Who?” inquired Frank. “Randall would be a mighty good man, and I’d
like to see him get it----”

“You old humbug!” cried Clancy. “You’re it, of course! Why, Chip, if
you didn’t get it I’d never set foot on the diamond again!” He broke
off abruptly as he stubbed his toe. “Why don’t you get some light in
your blamed old burg, Billy?”

“We’ve got shining lights right now if you’d only take your hat off,”
grinned Billy Mac. “But Clan is right, Chip. Captain Chip, I should
say!”

“Nonsense!” said Merry. “Of course, I won’t say that I wouldn’t
appreciate the honor, fellows, but I think that Randall is the one for
the place. Besides, remember, dad talked as if he and I would go away.
I sure hope it won’t come true.”

He paused suddenly, for he had detected a dark figure lurking against a
wall ahead of them.

“Do you ever have holdups here, Billy?” he went on, in a low voice.
“Looks as if that fellow was waiting for a belated traveling man, eh?”

“No danger,” scoffed Billy Mac, after a glance at the hulking figure,
which remained by the wall in shadow. “This isn’t a particularly good
residence section, but the constable keeps things pretty clean around
here. No, I sure hope you won’t leave----”

He was interrupted as the lurking figure slouched out and barred their
path. Chip took a keen look, but did not recognize the man at once,
for it was dark, and the fellow’s hat was pulled down over his eyes.
Something about the figure suggested Bully Carson to him, but he
dismissed the swift suspicion that flashed over him.

“Where ye goin’?” demanded the fellow, in an obviously disguised voice.

“That’s our business,” flashed Merry. “Get out of the way.”

The figure lunged forward with a swift blow. So rapidly was it done
that before Frank could dodge he felt the man’s fist strike his breast,
flinging him violently back against Clancy. At the same instant the
eager voice of Carson rose in a low cry:

“We got ’em, boys! Come along!”

Out from an adjacent doorway poured a group of dark shapes, while
Carson flung himself forward with another blow at Merriwell. Before
it landed, however, Chip had recovered himself, and he realized the
situation in a flash. Darting under the big fellow’s lunge, he snapped
in a blow that caught Carson full in the mouth and jarred him to an
abrupt stop.

“Against the wall, fellows!” he cried quickly. “We’ll have to fight
them off!”

“It’s Carson’s gang,” exclaimed Billy, as he and Clancy ranged up
beside Chip.

“You bet it is,” responded a voice, and the dark figures closed in on
them.

It seemed that there was no hope for the three friends, as the crowd
rushed in at them with furious blows. Chip, however, had hastily pushed
back into an angle formed by the union of two house walls, where it
was difficult for the Clippers to get at them.

This fact, together with the darkness, rendered the odds somewhat more
even. Carson’s followers were confused by Merry’s quick move, and when
they came shoving forward in a mass Clancy stepped out and let fly with
his fists.

“Look out!” cried Ironton, trying to get back. “They’ve got clubs,
boys! Watch out for ’em!”

“Quit your crowding,” exclaimed Bully Carson, to those behind.

He was flung forward, however, and Merry’s fist cracked into his right
optic. Unable to see what had hit him, he staggered back with a howl.

“Look out fer sledge hammers!” he cried. “They got some bricks--get
back, you fellers!”

Merry was smiling slightly--that old, self-confident smile which
spelled danger had the Clippers but seen it. Before Carson could
retreat, Chip stepped out and followed up his first blow with two swift
punches from right and left. The big fellow was sent reeling back
headlong into his own men.

Meanwhile, Clancy and Billy Mac had not been idle. Taking advantage of
their opponents’ momentary confusion, they had immediately carried the
battle into the enemy’s camp. Every head was that of a foe, and they
struck out with amazing carelessness as to whether they hurt any one.

Taken by surprise at these bewildering tactics, the Clippers tried to
shove back from the niche in the wall. Their numbers were against them,
however. Those behind were still trying to get into the conflict, and
the two or three in the front rank were getting all the benefit of the
three friends’ flying fists.

A fragment of rock crashed against the wall behind Frank. Flaming with
anger at the whole cowardly attack, he leaped forward with a cry to
Clancy and Billy. Carson met him with an angry bellow.

The big fellow lacked all science, however. Already smarting under his
punishment, his attack was futile. Merry’s fists beat a tattoo on his
heavy face, while his own vicious blows merely beat the air. Once again
Chip’s knuckles landed against his puffing eye, and he measured his
length in the dust.

One of the Clippers had hurled a rock at Clancy, which had struck
the red-haired chap on the shoulder and staggered him. He recovered
instantly, however, and as Carson went down the three leaped forward,
carrying the fight back into the street.

Ironton went reeling away, clasping his stomach where Billy’s fist
had located his solar plexus. Clancy floored Murray, while Chip sent
another of the assailants staggering. How the battle would have ended
was doubtful, had not Bully Carson scrambled to his feet at this
juncture and promptly started for home.

Already demoralized by their failure to carry the three friends off
their feet at the first rush, the Clippers lost any further desire for
combat on seeing their leader streaking his way into the darkness.

Hardly had his flying figure disappeared when the others broke. They
attempted no retaliation for the blows they had received, but simply
melted off into the night and vanished. Billy McQuade would have
pursued, but Chip seized his arm and dragged him back.

“Hold on,” he panted, with a laugh. “We can be mighty glad they’ve
decided to go, Billy. No use getting after them, or they might change
their minds.”

“Bring ’em on!” cried Clancy vigorously. “Hoop-a-la! I’m just getting
ready to scrap, Chip!”

“Who were they?” asked Frank, getting Billy calmed down. “Was it Carson
and the Clippers?”

“Didn’t you recognize Bully’s voice? Sure it was.”

“Here’s a job for the town constable, then,” said Clan energetically.
“Chip, if this wasn’t a cowardly, no-account, low-down assault, then
I’ll eat my hat!”

“Eat this one instead,” laughed Frank. He picked up a soft felt hat
which lay on the ground at his side.

Billy struck a match. The hat bore a violent scarlet band, and on the
sweatband inside were stamped the letters “E. T. C.”

“Who does that stand for?” asked Chip.

“Bully Carson,” spoke up Billy promptly. “Edward T., otherwise Bully.
Say, fellows, I guess we can land that bunch in the lockup, hey? There
must ’a’ been six or eight of ’em, and with this for evidence we can
maybe jail the whole bunch.”

“Seemed to be more like a dozen,” said Clancy.

Merry laughed.

“Come along, you two fire eaters. Billy’s right, for I counted six.”

“You were cooler than I was, then,” commented Clancy. “Shall we go wake
up the constable, old man? There’s no doubt about our being able to----”

Frank shook his head.

“I think they’ve had enough punishment, to judge by the way they acted.
Let it go, fellows. You aren’t hurt?”

“Nary scratch,” said Clancy. “Somebody hit me with a brick, but it
struck my shoulder and didn’t hurt. Of course, if you think it’s better
not to prosecute ’em, I’m agreeable. But I’d like to see that cuss
Carson do time for this business.”

Frank nodded. He knew exactly how his chum felt in the matter, but the
Clippers had received fair punishment, and their attack had failed.
When he went on to state that by prosecuting Carson they would be
detained in town, the others agreed instantly.

“Sure,” said Billy. “We couldn’t afford to miss that Franklin game. I
wish you two obstinate mules wouldn’t go to the hotel, though.”

“We’ll let your mother get a little sleep,” said Clancy. “She got a
bang-up supper after the game, and it wouldn’t be fair to impose on
her, Billy. I’ll take you back to-morrow in the _Hornet_, if you’ll sit
on the running board.”

“You bet I will! Just the same, I wish we were goin’ back to-night,”
added Billy, with a worried note in his voice. “The Carsons are down on
you because you helped me, Chip, and they never overlook an injury.”

“I don’t think Bully will overlook anything for a day or two,” said
Frank. “I landed on his right eye twice, anyhow. Nonsense, Billy! He’s
tried for a cowardly revenge and he’s failed, and that closes up the
incident. We’ll get back to Fardale to-morrow night if your mother
doesn’t kill us with that chicken dinner she promised for to-morrow.”

“Yum!” and Clancy smacked his lips. “Billy, don’t say anything more
about our going back to-night, or I’ll assassinate you! Wow! Your
mother’s chicken dinners certainly do hit me in the right spot!”

“All right,” retorted Billy Mac. “But I’d bet you fifteen thousand
dollars and a half that we hear from that crowd again!”

Merry flung the initialed hat into the street, and they went on their
way. None of the three observed a shadowy form that followed them at a
little distance, as if spying on their movements.



CHAPTER XIX. FATHER AND SON.


Bully Carson, long after midnight, was still sitting over a washbowl
in his room at home, bathing a startlingly black eye. It was a painful
operation.

He was growling savagely to himself as he worked. There was a strong
smell of arnica in the air, while his room was decorated with cigarette
stubs and hastily discarded garments. These latter were calculated
to be striking in appearance, and they were. When attired in all his
glory, Bully Carson, as Billy Mac said, could be heard coming a full
mile away.

Just at present he was attired only in his underwear, however, and in
several bruises. He had been adorning these with arnica, but not with
arnica alone, for ranged beside him were all manner of bottles.

At intervals of five minutes, Bully would anxiously pick up a hand
mirror and examine his injured eye. It was something of a job, since he
could only see out of the other one, and he gained little joy from it.

“He must ’a’ hit me with a brick!” he muttered vengefully. His mutter
mingled with a groan of despair as he took another look at his eye.

“Wow! I guess I’ll get my auto and get out o’ town fer a while--this
is only gettin’ worse every minute! Yes, sir, that’s what I’ll do, as
soon’s Ironton shows up. He’s watchin’ them fellers, and if they get
the constable I reckon I’ll have passengers in that car o’ mine.”

Bully Carson was disheartened, there was no doubt of that. He was
also discolored, and realized the fact thoroughly. He had counted on
flashing a particularly flamboyant necktie on the girls the next day,
but the colors would not harmonize very well with his eye. And his eye
was immense, and growing more so. Bathing only seemed to help it along.

He began to dress. Late as the hour was, he was determined to get his
car and slink out of town, rather than display his facial adornments to
Carsonville’s admiring gaze. He realized just how admiring that gaze
would be.

Suddenly he paused, at the sound of some one entering the house. He
started, then recognized his father’s step ascending the stairs. This
was strange, for when Colonel Carson had left for Fardale he had
expected to remain over Monday. A moment later the colonel opened the
door of his son’s room and stepped in.

“Still up, eh?” he said. Then his eyes took in the array of bottles,
and he sniffed. “Arnica?”

“Arnica,” repeated Bully sullenly, keeping his back to the light.

“What have you been doing?”

“I been sittin’ on the roof eating scrambled eggs--what’d you suppose?”

Being used to Bully’s disrespectful manner, Colonel Carson took no
notice.

“When I left, you agreed that you would get Merriwell laid out,” he
said. “Did you succeed?”

“If I had, I wouldn’t be packin’ up,” returned Bully. He moved around
until the light struck his face. “See that peeper? Well, I’m goin’ to
take that car o’ mine and beat it. I’ll be back in a few days.”

“Hold on, son, hold on,” but Colonel Carson could not help smiling,
angry though he was. “Do you mean to say that kid licked you?”

“Don’t look that way, does it? He had about a dozen fellers hid in a
doorway, and they jumped us with clubs. We couldn’t do nothin’.”

Bully reeled off this astonishing lie with assurance. His father
examined the black eye with commiseration and rage.

“My poor boy! We’ll make that fellow rue the day he ever came to
Carsonville, son! So you were going away, eh?”

“Yes. I reckon I’ll lay over in Orton fer a few days.”

Orton was a small town fifteen miles from Carsonville, a mere country
village, where it would be easy to remain and pass over the injury
with any excuse. Colonel Carson nodded thoughtfully.

“That’s not so bad, son. I dunno’s it won’t fit in pretty well, too.”

Bully looked up suddenly.

“Thought you was goin’ to stay over in Fardale? You must ’a’ done some
tall hustling to get back on that late train! Did you see Randall?”

“Yes,” and Colonel Carson’s hard face darkened suddenly. “He’s no good
the way we thought, Bully. He won’t throw the game.”

“Huh? Why not?”

“I didn’t get down to reasons--didn’t have to. He’s one o’ these here
goody-goody fellows who believe in sport for sport’s sake, prob’ly.
Anyway, he shied when I mentioned it, so I changed my plans around a
bit.”

“You’re a wonder!” and Bully chuckled suddenly, in unholy admiration.
“You got the slickest brain I ever did see! What’s the idea now?”

“Well,” and Colonel Carson sank wearily into a chair, “you know that I
want to get down some bets on this Fardale-Franklin game, Bully. The
only thing is how to know which team will win, d’you see?”

“Sure--even with this eye,” said Bully, with a grin. “Go on.”

“The Franklin pitcher is a wonder, but they don’t know it at Fardale.
Randall thinks he can win easily, if he pitches. And he’ll pitch if
Merriwell doesn’t show up, that’s certain. So if Randall pitches, it’s
a dead sure thing that Franklin wins the game.”

“And if Merriwell pitches----”

“Then it’s not so sure. But listen here, Bully! Randall put me wise to
something, something that made me alter my plans. We want to get back
at Merriwell, at both of ’em, father and son. The father will get hit
if Fardale loses, and the kid gets hit if he don’t pitch.”

“How so?”

“’Cause whoever pitches that game gets ’lected captain o’ the Fardale
team. I don’t understand it all, but that’s how she lays. If Randall
pitches, Merriwell loses out all around, d’you see?”

“And if he pitched, then he’d get the ’lection?”

“That’s it, Bully.”

The son grimaced, as he knotted a yellow-purple necktie about his neck.

“Then he can pitch, fer all o’ me. By thunder, I know when I got
enough, pop. If you can figger out any way----”

“Hold on, son, hold on!” and Colonel Carson tugged at his goatee,
smiling craftily. “You ain’t never seen the old man lose out very long,
have you? He ain’t a-goin’ to this time, either. Merriwell ain’t goin’
to pitch that game, see?”

“How you goin’ to keep him out?”

“That depends. Where is he now?”

“Gettin’ the constable to arrest me, mebbe,” returned Bully easily. “I
lost my hat, and he slung it away after seein’ whose it was. Ironton is
watchin’ to see where he goes fer the night.”

“Well, we can take care of him easily enough,” announced Colonel
Carson, with great complacence. “Your goin’ to Orton will come in jest
right, too.”

“Me? Not on your life!” exclaimed Bully fervently. “You don’t get me
mixed in no more doings with that kid, Merriwell, pop. Not much! I’m
done.”

“Oh, no you’re not!” said the other easily. “I’ll get over to Fardale
for that game, and I’ll get a good bunch o’ money down on Franklin.
That cussed fool Merriwell done me out o’ the McQuade mortgage, and I’m
goin’ to make him and his kid sweat for it, you bet!”

“I guess he wasn’t so much of a fool if he did you out o’ anything,”
muttered Bully, under his breath.

“Yep, it’s a good scheme, a mighty good scheme,” mused his father
reflectively. “I’ll give you a rake-off on them bets, Bully. Ain’t the
kid got an uncle named Dick Merriwell?”

“Sure. What’s the idea?”

Bully began to take a keener interest in the subject. He knew that the
wily Colonel Carson was rarely bested at such an encounter as this, and
hope sprang anew that his father could succeed where he himself had
failed.

“You wait, son. I ain’t got the precise details figgered out, but
they’re a-comin’. Yes, they’re on the way, all right.”

Colonel Carson fell to tugging thoughtfully at his goatee. An instant
later there came a soft whistle below the windows.

“There’s Ironton now,” exclaimed Bully.

He crossed to the nearest window, and flung up the sash.

“That you, Bully?” came the voice of Ironton.

“Sure, it’s me. What’d you find out?”

There was a trace of anxiety in his tones. He still half feared that
Merriwell would arrest him for that night’s work.

“It’s all right, Bully. I heard ’em talking. They ain’t goin’ to do
nothin’ about it, but figure on goin’ home to-morrow.”

“Ask where Merriwell is,” spoke up Colonel Carson hastily. Bully
repeated the question.

“He and the red-headed guy went up to the Morton House,” answered
Ironton. “How’s the eye?”

“Black,” said Bully, with a curse. “I’m goin’ to skip out o’ town fer a
few days. Much obliged, Ironton. See you later.”

He closed the window. Colonel Carson had risen, and was reflectively
fingering a telegraph blank he had extracted from his pocket.

“I’m glad to get that information, Bully. I guess I can fix Mr. Chip
Merriwell without much trouble!”

“I’d like to know how,” growled Bully.

“You will, as soon as you get your car out. I want you to do an errand
over at Orton, and I guess there won’t be any chance to go wrong this
time. Get ready, and when the car’s out come to my room.”

And Colonel Carson made his exit, whistling softly to himself.



CHAPTER XX. LURED AWAY.


“No use--I can’t sleep a morning like this!”

Chip Merriwell jumped out of bed and went to the window. It was early
Sunday morning, and from the room at the hotel which he and Clancy
occupied he had a clear view of the village green, the streets leading
on down toward the river, and the green opposite slope of the valley
beyond.

The air was heavy with apple blossoms, warm with spring richness, and
Frank drank it in eagerly. From somewhere about the place he heard the
pur of a motor car, but could see nothing of the machine.

“I don’t believe I can stay indoors,” he sighed softly, and turned to
where his clothes lay on a chair.

Indeed, the morning was a perfect one. The little town lay still,
deserted, apparently empty of all life. Yet its streets were clothed
with freshness, and its feathery-leaved trees were green with new
spring life. From the fruit orchards that hedged Carsonville there
drifted renewed sweetness on every breeze.

Chip glanced at his chum, but Clancy was sleeping the sleep of the
just. The red-haired chap put in his daytime most energetically, and
when he slept he did it with just as much vigor.

“I’ll let him pound his ear,” smiled Chip, as he flung on his clothes,
impatient to be outdoors. “Anyway, I’d just as soon have a walk all by
myself for a change. I’ve a good notion to go down and take a dip in
the mill pond, by gracious!”

At thought of the cool, inviting waters of the river, which he had
explored with the aid of Billy Mac, he finished his dressing hurriedly.
The hotel was still dead to the world, and Frank quietly let himself
out into the silent corridor.

Downstairs, however, he found the clerk sweeping out the office. The
clerk looked up with a cheery greeting and a wide grin, for Chip was
already a popular hero in Carsonville, after the game of the day before.

“Up early, ain’t you?”

“Too fine a morning to sleep,” said Chip. “What’s that machine I heard
buzzing around?”

“The garage is down the street a ways,” explained the clerk, leaning on
his broom. “They’ve got one machine there for hire. Want to get it?”

“No, thanks,” and Frank laughed. “I was only mildly curious. Clancy’s
car is all right?”

“Sure, I seen it out in the back yard only just now.”

Merry nodded and passed on to the veranda. At sight of the upturned
chairs he was attacked by sudden laziness, and with a yawn turned
over one of the chairs and seated himself, drinking in the clear air
greedily.

“Mornings like this make life worth living,” he reflected contentedly.
“I’ll wager that if folks knew how good these early spring mornings
were, they’d go to bed earlier and get up earlier. It’s worth all the
rest of the day!”

He sprawled out comfortably. He was still weary with his stiff game
of the previous afternoon, and his long evening following, and soon
realized that if he sat here very long he would be fast asleep once
more. So, after five minutes, he forced himself to rise.

“I never thought I’d be getting lazy!” he murmured. “Well, down to the
river and have a quick dip, then a rest on the long grass, and back to
rout Clan out in time for breakfast.”

He paused as he reached the steps, for he caught sight of a solitary
figure that seemed to be approaching the Morton House.

The figure was that of a farmer, but this signified nothing in
Carsonville, where every one owned farms or orchards, or else worked in
them. The man was tall, round-shouldered, and his face was decorated
with a yellowish wisp of beard. He seemed to be a powerful fellow, Chip
thought.

As he approached the hotel, Merry caught sight of the man’s face. It
was not exactly a pleasant one, for the eyes were very close set, and
there was a general look of shrewd cunning about the man which was not
reassuring.

Frank would not have noticed him, had the man not been inspecting him
rather closely as he drew near. It occurred to Merry that the fellow
might be looking for him.

“Good morning!” he exclaimed. “This is certainly great spring weather,
eh?”

“Purty good,” and the man looked him over curiously. “Say, mister,
mebbe you kin tell me if there’s a feller at the hotel by the name o’
Merriwell? Frank Merriwell, I guess the front part of it is.”

Merry wondered. Without any undue self-glorification, he thought it odd
that the man did not know him, for every soul in town had witnessed the
game of the previous day. He himself had come in for a good deal of
attention.

“I believe he’s stopping here,” he said. “In fact, you happen to be
talking to him at this moment. Why?”

“Well, now!” The man stared up. “Are you him?”

“I’m it,” laughed Frank. “Anything I can do for you?”

“Why, I was down to the railroad dee-po jest now, when a tellygram come
in fer a feller o’ that name. The agent, he couldn’t come up very well,
so I said I’d fetch it along and see if you was here.”

While he spoke, the man began fishing in the pocket of his overalls,
and at last pulled out a yellow envelope. Merry took it with a nod. He
knew that there was no regular telegraph office in the little town,
messages being handled from the railroad station, so he thought little
of the matter.

“Well, I’m much obliged to you for your trouble,” he said, taking out a
quarter as the man handed him the message. “If you’ll take----”

“No, thanks, mister,” and the man turned away without taking the money.
“I couldn’t take nothin’, thanks. So long.”

“So long,” said Frank.

He tore open the message, as the man slouched away down the street.
It was a typewritten message, and had evidently been received at
Carsonville some ten minutes previously.

“By gracious!” he said. “What the deuce has struck Uncle Dick, anyhow?
And where or what is Orton?”

This was the message that caused him so much wonder:

  FRANK MERRIWELL, JUNIOR, Carsonville: Have your father meet me
  not later than nine, Sunday morning, Orton. Very important. Keep
  destination secret.

  UNCLE DICK.

Merry stared down at it, frowning. There must be a place named Orton,
though he knew of none in the vicinity. But what was Dick Merriwell
doing there?

He turned at a step, to find the clerk sweeping out the refuse through
the doorway of the hotel. Chip knew that he would be able to get
information at once, and spoke.

“Where is Orton? Is that any place near here?”

“Orton? Sure, Mr. Merriwell!” The clerk jerked his thumb over across
the valley. “It ain’t what you might call a metropolis, nohow, but it’s
got a smithy and a couple o’ stores and a schoolhouse. Thinkin’ o’
goin’ over there?”

Frank started. Going over there! Why, of course!

“How far is it from here?” he queried.

“About fifteen mile by road, I take it. ’Bout ten, as the crow flies.”

While the clerk paused to stare at him curiously, Merry considered.
If his uncle was at Orton, he must be expecting his father to meet
him there. But Frank Merriwell, senior, had returned home on the late
train! And Dick had stated that it was very important, so there was but
one thing to do.

“Clan hasn’t waked up yet,” thought Chip, “so I guess I won’t disturb
him. I’ll go down and see if I can get that garage machine, and if it’s
taken then I can rouse up Clancy and get the _Hornet_ buzzing.”

He turned to the clerk, with quick decision, shoving the telegram into
his pocket.

“Yes, I just received a telegram----” he stopped, remembering the
admonition in that telegram. “But, by the way, I’d rather you wouldn’t
say anything to any one about my going to Orton, will you?”

“Sure not,” assented the clerk at once.

“Tell Clancy that I’ll be back before noon,” went on Merry, turning.
“I’ll get a car if I can, and be back by then, easily. Much obliged to
you!”

“You got a good morning for the trip,” called the clerk after him.
“Good luck!”

Chip waved his hand in return, and walked down the street toward the
garage. He glanced about for the messenger, but doubtless the man had
returned to the station, and he sighed.

“I see where I don’t get that early swim this morning! Well, that’s
what comes of a fellow having a family!”

And with a whimsical grimace he saw the garage ahead of him. In front
was an old-fashioned but comfortable-looking car, with a young fellow
busily engaged in washing it off.

“Must be expecting Sunday traffic,” thought Frank. “That looks a
whole lot better than Clan’s bumpy old scrap heap, just the same.
Six-cylinder, too, so probably she can go some.”

Approaching the washer, he inquired if the car was for rent. The young
fellow hailed the proprietor of the garage, inside, and the latter came
out and nodded to Chip at once.

“You’re young Merriwell, ain’t you? I seen that game yesterday, by
thunder! Is it you who wants to get a car?”

“I want to go over to Orton and back,” said Merry, “if your car’s for
rent.”

“For rent? To you?” A wide grin came over the man’s face. “Say,
Merriwell, you couldn’t rent no car off’n me, not if you was to offer
me a cold million dollars!”

“Eh!” Merry looked at him in astonishment. “What do you mean?”

“Anybody that lays over Colonel Carson like you did yesterday, son, can
have my car when he wants it, see? No, don’t do any hollering. I won’t
take no pay, except for gas and the chauffeur. Just expenses. You’ll
have to get back by noon, though. I only got the one car, and it’s
engaged for the afternoon.”

Finding that the man was absolutely earnest in his refusal to take
money, Chip assented.

“We’ll be back as soon as we can reach Orton and turn around,” he said,
getting into the car. “And I’m much obliged to you, sir!”

“Pleasure’s all mine, son,” returned the other, with a grand air.



CHAPTER XXI. WHERE IS MERRY?


“Great morning, Chip!”

Clancy was drowsily looking out of the window. His eyes had just
opened, and he had not yet observed the absence of his chum.

“Wake up and take a look at things, you lazy----”

Clan turned over to give Merry a punch, then suddenly sat up.

“Well, by Jupiter!” he gasped.

He noticed for the first time that his chum’s clothes had disappeared,
as well as Chip himself. Then he turned toward the window, hearing a
church bell ringing sweetly across the valley, and noticed the maturity
of the morning.

“Jumping whippoorwills! I must have overslept a whole lot----”

At that moment there came a sudden, furious knocking on the door.
Clancy paused, half out of bed, and poised a pillow to fling as the
door opened.

“Come in!” he yelled. “I’m not deaf. Come in, you imitation of a real
man! You don’t fool me, Chip Merriwell----Wow! Get out o’ here!”

Clancy had thought that it was his chum, but as the door opened wide
his voice shot up to a shrill yell. For there, looking in with rolling
eyes, was one of the two negresses who acted as waitresses and bell
boys at the hotel.

“Get out o’ here!” shrilled Clan, pulling the bedclothes around
him. “Can’t you hear? Shut that door! What d’you think I am, a
moving-picture show?”

The door shut. From the outside came the voice of the startled negress:

“Ah thought yo’ said to come in, suh. Ah suttinly did!”

“I was wrong,” retorted Clancy, grinning in spite of himself. “I meant
to say go climb up the flagpole and kill flies. What do you want?”

“Why, suh, dar’s a gem’man downsta’rs askin’ foh yo’ an Mistuh
Merriwell.”

“What’s his name, and what time is it?”

“It’s dat ar McQuade boy. It’s ten o’clock, suh.”

“Send him up,” and Clancy leaped for his clothes. “Great Scott! Ten
o’clock! Say, there must be something in this Carsonville air! I
haven’t slept as late as this for a month of Sundays.”

He tore open his suit case, and went into dressing with such furious
energy that the room was filled with baseball uniforms and sections of
underwear and clean shirts when Billy flung open the door.

“What’s goin’ on here?” demanded the astonished Billy Mac.

“Me, mostly,” said Clancy. “Where’s Chip?”

“How do I know? Say, are you just getting up?”

“No!” roared Clancy, half into a clean shirt. “I’m sitting on Brooklyn
Bridge making mince pie, you bonehead!”

“Oh, don’t let me disturb you,” said Billy sarcastically. “If you
haven’t got your beauty sleep, old sorrel top, go right back to bed.
It’s only ten o’clock, and I thought maybe you’d like to take a sunrise
swim down in the mill pond.”

Clancy cut these remarks short by seizing a pillow and letting fly.
Billy was sent back into the corner, and came up grinning.

“Where’s Chip?”

“Look under the bed,” retorted Clancy. “I just woke up. I suppose he’s
dug out for the river himself. There’s no sign of a bathroom around
this jay hotel.”

“What d’you expect for three dollars a week? There, leave off that
white shirt, Clan! We’ll go down to the crick and meet Chip, then come
back here and dress.”

This program suited Clancy to perfection. On their way down to the
street, however, he stopped and asked the clerk whether Chip had left
any message for him.

“Sure, Mr. Clancy. Said he’d be back before noon.”

“Huh? And when was that?”

“A little before seven this morning.”

“Holy smoke!” cried Clancy. “Before seven! Then Merry’s been gone for
three hours, Billy! He isn’t down at the river, you boob!”

“Quit calling names,” retorted Billy, a trace of anxiety in his clear
eyes. “It didn’t improve your manners to go West, I reckon. Sure, we’ll
go down and see, anyhow. He might be asleep in the sun down there.”

Clancy asked the clerk if he knew where Merry had gone. The clerk,
mindful of Chip’s injunction, said that he “couldn’t say,” and the two
friends went off toward the river in helpless wonderment.

Billy said nothing, but he was not a little worried. Clancy suspected
nothing wrong, though he knew that it was not Chip’s usual custom to
disappear without leaving any word of where he had gone.

Upon reaching the mill pond they found no sign of Merry. Clancy scoffed
at the fears of his friend, so they stripped and took a hasty dip, then
dressed and made their way back to the hotel.

“If he don’t show up pretty soon,” said Billy, “mother will be all
balled up with her chicken dinner, Clan.”

“Well, we aren’t going to wait for him,” said Clancy firmly. “I want
that chicken dinner, believe me! We’ll give him half an hour, then
we’ll load into the _Hornet_ and go up to your house. Maybe he’s there
now.”

Mrs. McQuade had been requested to prepare an early dinner, as the
three friends intended returning to Fardale in the _Hornet_ that
afternoon. So promptly at eleven-thirty Clancy got out his car and
ordered the reluctant Billy to climb in. Since there was a strong
possibility that Merriwell was at the McQuade house, Billy finally
obeyed.

“Nothing could happen to him,” scoffed Clancy, as they climbed the
hill. “He’s off on a walk, that’s all, and probably has gone to sleep
on the shady side of a tree.”

Mrs. McQuade had seen nothing of Merry, and since her dinner was all
ready and waiting, she put aside a generous portion to keep warm for
Chip and insisted on Clancy and Billy pitching in at once.

They did so, but as the meal progressed Clancy began to feel the same
anxiety that was worrying his friend. Finally he asked Mrs. McQuade to
hold her pies in the oven for a little.

“Billy and I will run back to the hotel. He might be there, or on the
way.”

The two jumped into the _Hornet_, and Clancy hit only the high spots
until they drew up before the hotel. A man came down the steps, and
Clancy recognized him as the garage proprietor.

“Say, Mr. Clancy, where’s Mr. Merriwell?”

“Isn’t he here?”

“No,” returned the man, in a worried voice. “I got that auto rented
this afternoon, and----”

“Auto!” yelled Billy. “Did he rent your auto?”

“Why, sure! Didn’t you know that?”

“Not yet, I didn’t!” snapped Clancy. He wakened abruptly to the fact
that there must be something seriously wrong. “When was this?”

“About seven o’clock.”

“Where did he go to?”

The garage proprietor hesitated.

“Well, last thing he says was not to say anything. But mebbe you boys
could go and see if anything’s wrong. Anyhow, you’re his pals, so I
reckon he wouldn’t mind me tellin’ you so much. He went over to Orton,
or said he was goin’ there.”

“What the deuce was he going to Orton for?” queried Billy, in
astonishment. “Why, there’s nothing there but a schoolhouse and a
smithy!”

Clancy frowned. He looked to see the clerk coming down toward them in a
hesitant way, having heard the conversation.

“There ain’t nothin’ wrong, is there?” inquired the clerk.

“Seems to be,” and Clancy gave him a sharp look. “Didn’t Merry say he
was going to Orton?”

“Oh, you know about it, then?” said the clerk, looking relieved. “Why,
yes, the telegram come from Orton, I think he said----”

“What’s the matter with you?” sang out Billy. “There’s no telegraph
station at Orton, and you know it! Did he tell you that?”

“Well, he got a telegram, then he started askin’ me about Orton,”
returned the clerk. “I didn’t ask no questions, so I don’t know where
it come from. He seemed rather fussed, though.”

“There’s something wrong, Clancy,” murmured Billy, leaning over and
speaking in a low voice. “It isn’t like Chip to go off like that.”

“No,” agreed Clancy, “that’s not his regular trail at all.”

He turned to the garage proprietor.

“Don’t worry about the car, sir. We’ll do a little inquiring around
here, and then start out after it. But whatever loss you incur will be
made good.”

“I wouldn’t give a whoop,” explained the man, “only I’d promised the
car for this afternoon to another party. Far’s I’m concerned, Merriwell
could have the car out all day without payin’ a cent. But I hate to
disappoint folks.”

“Well, we’ll see what can be done,” said Clancy. “How far to this
place?”

“Fifteen miles or less. The roads ain’t none too good, but it ain’t a
long ride at all. The car was in good shape, too.”

“H’m!” grunted Clan. “Mighty funny if it’d take a car five hours for
that! But he might have had a breakdown somewhere. It’d be a good play
to run out and take a look at Orton, Billy.”

“Better look at that telegram first, Clan.”

“Huh? Why?”

“Because we might learn something.”

“Where’s the office here?”

“At the depot. But I’d bet you thirteen thousand dollars and fifty
cents that we’ll find there hasn’t been any message for Chip received.”

“Say, what’s got into you?” queried Clancy. “Too much chicken pie?”

“Oh, you know same’s I do, only you won’t say it,” sniffed Billy
forebodingly. “It’s foul play, Clan. Merry has helped me, and those
Carsons are getting even with him, that’s what it is!”

“Well, I’m beginning to think so myself, all right,” said Clan soberly.
“Only I didn’t want to scare you out.”



CHAPTER XXII. INVESTIGATING.


Once more assuring the garage proprietor that any losses he might incur
would be made good, Clancy opened up the _Hornet_ and started for the
railroad station.

“Colonel Carson owns a lot of land over toward Orton,” stated Billy
gloomily. “He’s mixed up in this somewhere, you can believe me!”

Clancy grunted, but made no reply. When they reached the railroad
station they had no difficulty in finding the combination agent and
telegraph operator.

“Morning, Mr. Martin!” sang out Billy. “Did you get a wire for Mr.
Merriwell about seven this morning?”

“Not me, Billy,” returned the agent. “Was he expecting one?”

“Not that we know of, but he got one,” exclaimed Clancy. “Are you sure
that none came in this morning or last night?”

“Nobody here last night, and nothing has come this morning.”

The operator regarded them with curiosity.

“Did you say Merriwell got a telegram, Billy?” he asked.

“No, I said so,” snapped Clancy. “He certainly got a telegram this
morning, and if it didn’t come through you, it’s a mighty queer thing!”

“Yes, I reckon it is,” returned the agent calmly. This merely
exasperated the red-headed chap.

“Well it’s a darned funny thing,” he exclaimed, “that telegrams can be
received here without the telegraph operator knowing it!”

“Ain’t no message come this morning,” declared the agent again, and
with a nod to Billy, he turned and went back into his place of business.

For a moment the two friends were at a loss what to do. It was quite
evident that Chip Merriwell had been called away to Orton by some
important affair, yet this agent declared that no message had arrived
for him!

“I guess we’ll go back and grill those fellows over again,” said
Clancy, starting the _Hornet_. “We want to make sure about this
telegram business.”

“It’s easy enough to send a fake message,” suggested Billy Mac.

“We’ll soon see, then.”

Returning to the hotel, they questioned the clerk anew. By this time he
was in enough anxiety to speak out fully, and stated emphatically that
he had seen the telegram, and that Merriwell had mentioned it.

“I guess that settles it, Clan,” exclaimed Billy, with a gloomy
countenance. “He got a message, all right, but it didn’t come through
the station agent.”

“Do you suppose that Colonel Carson or his son had a hand in it?”

“Sure I do! Only, what’s their reason? Do you think they tried to get
Merry where they could beat him up?”

“From what I saw of the colonel,” said Clancy thoughtfully, “he
wouldn’t go into anything so raw as that, old man. Bully tried it and
got all that was coming to him last night. Granted that Chip was lured
away, there are some folks who would have a decidedly good reason to
keep him out of sight for a day or two.”

“Who?”

“Some of the Franklin Academy crowd. I may be doing him an injustice,
but I’d be more apt to blame Bob Randall than the Carsons, Billy.”

Billy Mac stared in open disbelief.

“Randall? But why should he try to keep Chip away from Fardale?”

“Because he wants to pitch in Monday’s game against Franklin. It looks
to me as if Randall was trying for the place Ted Crockett will leave
vacant. If he won the Franklin game he’d be a popular hero----”

“Cut out this foolishness, Clan!”

Billy Mac leaned forward earnestly. He was a staunch friend of
Merriwell’s, but he had seen Bob Randall at his best, and both liked
and admired the fiery, handsome Southerner.

“You’re away off. Bob Randall isn’t that sort, not by a good deal.
He doesn’t like Chip particularly, but it’s an honorable, open-faced
dislike, and it won’t last. If he knew anything like this was going
on, he would be the first one to warn Chip. No, if there’s any one to
blame, Clancy, it’s the Carsons.”

The red-haired chap nodded. He was quick to recognize that his words
might have been an injustice to Randall, whom he did not know at all
well. Moreover, if anything was wrong it was no doubt inspired by Bully
Carson or his father.

“Yes, Billy, I got a bit out of perspective there, I reckon. Randall or
the Franklin crowd wouldn’t be down here. Well, our best plan will be
to hit for Orton and see if Merry’s car got disabled.”

By dint of inquiries they soon found that there was but one road to
Orton, and that if they took it there was no chance that they could
miss Merry. Clancy was for going to call on Colonel Carson and putting
it up to him straight, but Billy Mac persuaded him to adopt the more
sensible course of taking the road to Orton and tracing up Merriwell.

“Let’s go up to your house, then,” said Clancy, “and load up with some
rations. Chip may be pretty hungry when we find him, and there’s no
knowing how long we’ll be gone. Besides, we’d better tell your mother
nothing of what we suspect. No use worrying her, Billy.”

This was sound argument, and when they arrived at the McQuade home they
said nothing of their uneasiness. Clancy stated that Chip had been
called over to Orton very unexpectedly, and that they were going over
to meet him, and might possibly proceed on to Fardale without returning.

So, loading the _Hornet_ with their belongings and a generous amount
of Mrs. McQuade’s toothsome edibles, the two started out on the trail
of Frank Merriwell, junior. Once outside of town, Clancy opened up the
_Hornet_ and showed what she could do.

“I took her off the scrap heap,” he declared proudly, “and while she
doesn’t look up to much, she can certainly go some!”

Billy’s interest was only perfunctory, however. He was still thinking
about Chip and the Carson family.

“Funny we didn’t see Bully around town, Clan. He usually sports around
in his gay duds on Sunday, and runs an old car he bought second-hand.
The colonel sticks to horses, but Bully likes to make an impression
with his car.”

“I guess Merry gave him a black eye last night,” said Clancy. “That may
account for his failure to sport around. I guess the whole crowd is
laying low and keeping quiet for the present.”

Billy grunted, but relapsed into silence.

The Orton road was a rough one, and after the first mile Clancy had
to slow down a bit. They were going directly away from the railroad,
and as they proceeded without seeing any trace of the garage car, they
found that the country lost its prosperous aspect, and became a good
deal rougher and wilder.

More than once they passed rocky farms that had been abandoned years
before, although the flowering orchards around Carsonville had proved
that, with industry and skill, the country could be made productive.

Mile after mile reeled off without any token of their quarry, other
than tracks of auto tires in the road, which might have been left by
any one of a dozen machines. At length they topped a rise and saw Orton
itself, two miles farther on. It was a miserably small place, and
Clancy’s heart sank.

“There’d be an elegant place to hold Merry prisoner,” said Billy,
pointing to a deserted farmhouse that stood back from the road to one
side. It was the fifth place he had pointed out with the same idea,
and Clancy grunted.

“You’re off, Billy. I don’t believe Merry was ever in this jay town.
There’s nothing to it but a blacksmith shop and a couple of stores.”

“But don’t you think that’s what’s happened?” persisted Billy Mac.

“No, I don’t. Chip may have been lured away, all right, but Colonel
Carson has too much gumption to work that kind of a racket, according
to my notion. No hotel here, is there?”

“No,” said Billy anxiously. “We can find out if Merry was here by going
to the smithy. The blacksmith lives just behind it.”

Orton was not even large enough to be possessed of a church, it
appeared. The little place seemed absolutely desolate in the Sunday
afternoon quiet, but as the _Hornet_ drew up in front of the smithy,
Clancy saw that the blacksmith was standing under an apple tree,
watching them.

Leaping out, the two hastened into the orchard behind the smithy, and
proceeded to question the burly smith.

“I couldn’t say,” he responded to their inquiries. “I’ve seen two or
three machines go past, but didn’t pay much attention. Mebbe my wife
did. Hold on a minute.”

He turned and lifted a shout at the house in the rear. A tired-looking
woman came forth, and made response that she had seen Bully Carson’s
machine early that morning, but had not noticed the others.

“Bully Carson!” exclaimed Billy, in a low voice. “We’re on the trail,
Clancy!”

Clancy considered. If they were to make inquiries through the place,
it might be best to leave the _Hornet_ here. Turning to the smith, he
found that the latter sold gasoline to the few cars coming through the
place, and arranged to leave the _Hornet_ in his care.

Returning to the car, he brought it around behind the smithy, and with
Billy made his way to the tree-bordered street. An instant later, Billy
clutched his arm.

“I hear a car, Clan! It’s coming this way!”

The two friends stopped, the slow exhaust of a motor car coming clearly
from ahead of them. The car came into sight, running slowly toward
them. There was a single figure at the wheel.

“By gracious, it’s Bully!” cried McQuade excitedly.

The car rolled toward them at a slow pace.

“Get ready to jump her,” ordered Clancy, in a tense voice.

“What you going to do?”

“We’ll do a little kidnaping on our own hook, Billy. Watch out, now!”



CHAPTER XXIII. THE THIRD DEGREE.


Carson was evidently quite unsuspecting. Possibly he did not see the
two figures that waited at the roadside. At all events his car rolled
slowly past the smithy, and, as it came opposite to their waiting
place, Clancy nudged Billy and leaped forth.

He believed in doing a thing thoroughly, when he _was_ doing it.
Consequently, as he saw Bully twist around in his seat with a start of
alarm, Clancy gave him no chance to increase his speed, but put all his
energies into a flying leap.

A cry broke from Carson, but he was too late. Clancy rose in the air
like a bird and struck full against him, driving him down at once. The
two fell in a confused tangle under the steering wheel, while the car
went slowly along the road.

Meantime, Billy Mac jumped to the running board and piled into the
tonneau. He leaned over the back of the front seat. Before he could
lend assistance, the two figures came erect, and Clancy shoved Carson
bodily over into the tonneau.

“Keep him there, Mac,” he ordered.

“What you going to do?” gasped Billy.

“No time to talk,” said Clancy, jumping to the steering wheel. “Throw
a robe over that fellow’s head! Sit on him, you chump!”

Carson, indeed, was rising to the occasion. He had landed in the
tonneau on his head and shoulders, and was squirming upright, letting
out wild yells as he did so. The peace of the Sabbath was being
terribly shattered.

Billy Mac saved the day by adopting Clan’s suggestion. Seizing the
heavy blanket that did duty for an auto robe, he threw it over Carson’s
head, managed to evade the waving fists, and plumped himself on top of
the big fellow.

Carson was forced to the floor of the car, which had leaped into speed
under Clancy’s touch. Billy McQuade being a chunky fellow for his age,
made no light weight, and Carson’s bellows for help were stifled.

So quickly had it all occurred, that, while Bully Carson must have
recognized his assailants, he had been too startled to propound any
questions. In fact, he had been hustled about so rapidly that when
Billy came down on him he had no more breath left with which to shout.

After a moment Clancy stopped the car on a lonely stretch of road,
and told Billy to shove their prisoner out. Billy did not stand on
ceremony, but opened one of the side doors and sent Carson tumbling out
like a bag of flour.

The big fellow landed in the dust, came to his feet, flung off the
robe, and emerged, spluttering with rage.

“What’s this mean!” he exclaimed hotly. “I’ll have you dubs pinched fer
this!”

Clancy grinned.

“No, you won’t, Bully. You’re liable to get pinched yourself for what
took place last night. Where’s Chip Merriwell?”

“How do I know?” demanded Carson, working himself up into a rage.
“You’d better clear out, and do it quick, or I’ll smash your carrot
head in about----”

“No more of that talk,” said Clancy. “You’re a coward, my friend. If
you try fighting, you’ll get the worst of it by a good deal. Where’s
Chip Merriwell?”

Clancy gave no sign of his inward perturbation. He had conducted this
assault absolutely without evidence, and on a momentary impulse. If
he failed to extract any information, he was apt to find himself up
against the law.

“I don’t know anythin’ about him,” said Carson sullenly.

“Don’t lie,” said Clancy angrily. “You sent him a fake telegram that
got him over to Orton this morning. Where is he?”

Carson went white.

“How’d you know that----” he began, then checked himself and tried to
bluster it off. “You’re crazy, you boobs! I ain’t seen the feller----”

“You make me sick,” said Clancy, with renewed self-confidence. “You
gave yourself away right there, Bully. Now come across, or take the
consequences.”

Carson glared at him out of his one good optic.

“I’ll show you!” he bellowed. “You ain’t a-goin’ to get clear with this
kind o’ doin’s around here----”

And turning swiftly, he shoved Billy Mac aside and made a break down
the road. Clancy grinned inwardly. Carson was not only scared, but he
was extremely anxious to get away.

Clancy caught the big fellow within fifty feet. Carson showed fight,
but the red-haired chap decided to waste no further time. Catching the
arm of Carson, he twisted it behind the other’s back, and had him at
his mercy.

“Take his arm, Billy,” he commanded. “Put him into the machine and keep
him quiet. If he yells for help, twist his arm and it’ll break just
below the elbow.”

Carson went green.

“Hey, what you fellers tryin’ to do?” he whimpered. “Ouch! I’ll go
along--don’t twist that arm, Billy! We allus been friends, ain’t we?”

“Not much,” retorted Billy Mac, with unconcealed contempt. “I always
knew you were a coward, Bully, but I thought you’d show a little
fight! Get along with you.”

Clancy climbed into the driver’s seat, feeling highly satisfied with
himself. He had forced a practical admission from Carson that his
suspicions were correct, and he grimly made up his mind to force a good
deal more from the fellow.

“Where you goin’, Clan?” inquired Billy, with some anxiety.

He had shoved Carson into the tonneau and followed him, still grasping
his arm.

“Well,” said Clancy, with a wink that Bully did not catch, “I think
we’d better take him to that deserted house you pointed out, as we came
into town. Then we can torture him until he confesses.”

“Fine!” grinned Billy. “We’ll do some fancy branding on him, and if
that don’t work, we can hang him up by the thumbs and roast his feet,
eh?”

Unfortunately, perhaps, he overdid the matter. Carson’s evil conscience
had turned him into an arrant coward, but it had not destroyed his
judgment by any means. He perceived that the two were trying to
frighten him, and he relapsed into a sullen silence.

“You’d better tell us where Merry is,” stated Clancy, turning to look
into the heavy, surly features. “I’ll warn you, Bully, that we’re not
inclined to show you any mercy.”

“Go to thunder!” growled the captive, and followed it with a string of
curses. Clancy flushed angrily and threw in the clutch.

“All right, my friend,” he grated. “You’ll get yours!”

Ten minutes later they drew up at the deserted house outside town.
Clancy drove around to the side, installed the machine in the
half-ruined barn, and reconnoitered the house. A door was swinging on
its hinges, but the place in general was in tolerable condition. He
returned to the barn and took out his handkerchief.

“Put his wrists together,” he ordered.

“Give him a chance to talk,” pleaded Billy. Clancy nodded.

Carson, however, merely poured out a string of curses and began to
plunge in a furious attempt to escape. His twisted arm soon made him
quiet.

“Take him up to the house,” said Clancy, when he had been bound. “I’ll
get some stuff to make a fire with.”

Billy obeyed. He deposited Carson in an empty room, tied his ankles
securely, then returned to Clancy with an anxious face.

“See here, Clan, how far are you goin’? You don’t mean to torture him?”

“I should hope not,” said Clancy, with a grin. “I feel like it, but
I don’t believe I’d go that far. I’m goin’ to walk back and get the
_Hornet_. We’ll have something to eat, and maybe you can scare him
into talking before I get back.”

Clancy’s hope was vain. When he returned with the _Hornet_ and their
provisions, he found that Carson had absolutely refused to say a word
on the subject. Billy was not a little anxious, but Clancy stood firm.

“Billy, I’m goin’ to make that fellow talk if I have to bust every law
on earth. Just stop to think--he’s done something to Chip, and knows
where he is. He seems to have a notion that we’re throwing a bluff into
him about torture and----”

“So we are,” interjected Billy. “You know it blamed well.”

“Sure,” admitted Clancy, with a grimace. “But I’m goin’ to make him
think he’s wrong, if I can.”

There ensued a series of bluffs at torture on Clancy’s part, but they
had not the slightest effect on Carson.

But Bully Carson stood pat. The first shock of alarm over, he resisted
all of Clancy’s efforts with a grim silence that could not be broken.
He knew that he was helpless, but he also knew that despite Clancy’s
talk the red-haired chap would not dare to proceed to extremities. And
as long as he could hold silence, he intended to do so. Merriwell must
be kept out of that Franklin game. He knew that his father had gone to
Fardale and would doubtless plunge heavily on the result of the game.
Since money meant more than anything else to the Carson family, Bully
intended making a hard fight of it.

He did so. Clancy and Billy built a roaring fire in the old fireplace
when darkness came on. This took the damp from the main room of
the farmhouse, and rendered it habitable. They ate some of their
provisions, refusing to give Carson anything to eat or drink. Finally
Clancy gave up in disgust.

“All right,” he said grimly to the prisoner. “You’ll stay here a month
if you don’t loosen up, old scout. Billy, we’ll take turns keeping him
awake to-night. He must have been on the go most of last night and
to-day, and that’ll bring him to terms.”

When morning dawned, Bully Carson was haggard and drawn, but still
refused to open his lips. Clancy was desperate. Thirsty and hungry
though their captive was, nothing seemed to have any effect. Yet their
only hope of rescuing Chip Merriwell lay in making him talk.

“I’ve had enough of this,” said Clancy, when the morning was half gone.
“Billy, we’re up against it. Right or wrong, that fellow’s going to
talk.”

“You’re not going to really torture him?” asked the white-lipped Billy.

“I am.”



CHAPTER XXIV. QUICK WORK.


Carson was worn out with lack of sleep and exhaustion. When Clancy
dragged him to the fireplace, took a burning brand from the fire, and
approached him, he let out one frightened yell.

The red-haired chap knew that he could not carry out his bluff, but he
held so desperate a countenance that Carson was overborne. Even Billy
himself half thought that Clancy meant to put his bluff into effect.

“I give in!” yelled Carson wildly.

Clancy drew a long breath of relief, but did not let Carson see it.

“Where’s Chip Merriwell?” he demanded grimly.

“Don’t burn me!” yelled Carson frantically. “Give me a drink!”

“You’ll drink when I get ready, and not before,” roared Clancy.
“Where’s Chip Merriwell? Hurry up, you galoot!”

“He’s at the Brundage Farm, on the other side of Orton,” gasped Bully.
“For Heaven’s sake, give me a drink!”

The bully had given in completely and absolutely. None the less, he
knew that since it was getting on toward noon, all hope of getting to
Fardale for the game must now be over.

“Get up,” and Clancy kicked him to his feet. “Billy, take him out to
the car and you take the wheel. I’ll come along in the _Hornet_. Make
him guide us to this Brundage place, and do it quick!”

“Give me a drink first,” pleaded Carson.

“You’ll drink when you get there, not before. Jump lively!”

With a groan, Carson followed Billy. The fellow was in a pitiable
plight, but at thought of Chip, Clancy lost all pity.

He soon ascertained from Billy Mac that Brundage was a farmer living on
one of the Carson farms, just outside Orton, but on the opposite side
of the town from where they were at present. Also, Carson loosened up
with the story.

He confessed to having lured Chip away, and stated that both he and the
driver of his machine were being held at the farm in question, in order
that Chip should be detained from the Franklin game. At this Clancy
climbed into the _Hornet_ with a groan of despair.

“The harm’s done, now!” he reflected bitterly. “Billy, Chip, and I will
be out of the game for certain. That means that Franklin will have a
walk-away, unless old Fardale comes up to the scratch, or a miracle
happens.”

Billy, driving Carson’s car with the owner huddled in the tonneau, shot
out on the road, while Clancy followed in the _Hornet_. Poor Carson
was almost in a state of collapse, but Billy allowed him no sleep.

The two cars shot through Orton like a streak, giving Carson no chance
to call for assistance. On the other side of town they came in sight of
their goal--a large white farmhouse, set back from the road.

Billy turned in at the drive and whizzed up to the side of the house.
As Clancy followed him, two men appeared, one carrying a shotgun.
Clancy instantly perceived that their troubles had just begun, and took
charge of the situation.

“Get a drink of water for Mr. Carson,” he cried, and the man with the
shotgun leaned the weapon against the side of the house and hurried
toward the well. The other came forward.

“This Mr. Brundage?” inquired Clancy.

“It is. What ye want? What’s the matter with Bully?”

Clancy turned and drew a breath of relief at sight of Bully, who had
fallen sound asleep from utter weariness.

“We came after Merriwell,” he stated, turning to the farmer. “Get him
out here in a hurry. Bully is tired out, that’s all.”

This statement was perfectly true. At Clancy’s air of haste, Brundage
clawed his whiskers for an instant, then turned and hurriedly stamped
into the house. Before the other man returned, Clancy caught up the
shotgun and thrust it into Billy’s hands.

“Climb into the _Hornet_ and be ready to light out,” he exclaimed.
“Keep that fellow covered.”

As the man approached, Billy ordered him to put up his hands. Clancy
was already examining the barnyard. In one corner appeared an
automobile, which beyond a doubt was that of the Carsonville garage.

The astonished farm hand obeyed Billy’s abrupt order. Bully Carson was
in no danger of awakening for the present, and Clancy made ready to
depart as soon as Chip was produced.

“We’ve got to hit her up for Fardale, Billy. When Chip comes, you give
him that seat and climb out to the running board----”

“Take Carson’s car,” suggested Billy.

“No. We’ll do it in the _Hornet_. That old bone wagon of Bully’s
couldn’t keep up with us for a mile.”

At this moment Brundage appeared at the door.

“Shall I let the other feller out----” he began, then stopped abruptly
at sight of Billy covering the farm hand with the shotgun. “Hey! What
you fellers up to?”

“You send Merriwell out here and do it in a hurry,” said Clancy,
striding toward the door.

“All right, Brundage!” sang out the farm hand, with a grin. “I’ll
’tend to these fellers--that old gun ain’t loaded!”

He started for Billy on the jump. Brundage slammed the door and
vanished.

At the man’s shout, Billy hastily examined the shotgun. He found that
it was unloaded, and flung it to the ground. Clancy, flaming with anger
and despair, returned hastily to the machine just as the farm hand
leaped at Billy.

The red-haired chap was in no mood for argument. His fist shot out and
caught the farm hand underneath the ear. The fellow gave a grunt, then
slumped weakly to the dust, and lay quiet.

“We’re up against it, Clancy,” exclaimed Billy, looking at the house.
“He would have fallen for it if he hadn’t seen me holding that chap up,
or trying to.”

“It’s all my fault,” said Clancy, with a groan. “But we know that he’s
got Merry in there, and that’s some comfort. We’ll have to get him out.”

“I don’t see how----” began Billy, but at that instant he was
interrupted.

A shrill yell arose from inside the house. Then there followed a wild
commotion.

Without warning, there was a crash of glass, as a china plate came
through one of the lower windows. Another followed, and another, then a
chair burst through the window.

“Wow! Lemme out o’ here!” came a shrill yell. “I want to go home!”

Through the window protruded a frightened countenance.

“It’s the garage driver from Carsonville!” yelled Billy. “Come on, old
scout!”

“Wow! Lemme out o’ here!”

It was evident that the young fellow was scared almost out of his head.
He took a flying leap through the window and landed in a rose-bush. In
his hand he held two more plates, and as he scrambled to his feet he
hurled them against the house.

Then, paying no attention to Clancy and Billy, he rushed across the
barnyard and cranked up his machine. It was evident that he had broken
loose, and was too frightened to do anything but hit it up for home.

“Let him go,” said Clancy. “We’ll get in that window, Billy!”

He started for the house. The chauffeur, wild-eyed and reckless, got
his machine slewed around and went shooting down the drive like a crazy
man.

“Wow!” he yelled, as he passed. “Git the constable! Wow!”

Renewed sounds of commotion came from within the house. Clancy dashed
at the window. Billy gave him a boost to the sill, and the red-haired
chap shot over the edge headfirst and tumbled to the floor inside.

He found himself in a darkened room, evidently the dining room of the
farmhouse. It was in wild confusion. Chairs were flung around, the
floor was littered with smashed crockery, and over in the corner Clancy
made out two figures in furious combat.

As he rushed up, he saw that Chip Merriwell was being gripped by the
enraged Brundage, and that the young athlete was fighting furiously for
his freedom, despite the handicap of handcuffs on his wrists.

“Whoop-ee!” yelled Clancy, charging across the room. “Here we are,
pard!”

Merry managed to break loose, and, raising his handcuffed wrists, he
brought them down across the brow of the farmer, who toppled forward.
Clancy caught his chum in his arms as the man fell senseless.

“Come along, Chip----” he cried, but Merry broke in.

“Get the key for these irons, Clancy! He’s got it in his vest pocket.”

Clancy leaned over, and, after a short search, found the key of the
handcuffs in the farmer’s pocket. Straightening up, he inserted it in
the lock, and Merry’s hands fell free.

“Bully for you, Clan! I thought you were never coming!”

“We’ll put these fellows over the road,” cried Billy, who had also
entered. “This will land the Carsons in jail, all right.”

“I guess they’re all right,” said Merry. “They got me over here on the
pretext that Uncle Dick was here. This man Brundage slipped the irons
on me, and they imprisoned me and the chauffeur. Where’d he go?”

“Went home on the jump,” said Clancy. “What happened?”

“Brundage came in and released him. Then he went to the door a moment.
The chauffeur was almost wild with rage and fright, and he started to
smash his way out. I guess he did it, all right!”

“Looks that way, Chip! Say, do you know it’s ’most noon Monday? Let’s
get out of this!”

The three hastily left by the window and ran to the _Hornet_.

“We’re off for Fardale and the big game,” cried Clancy exuberantly.

“You can’t get us there in time, can you?” asked Merry anxiously.

“By thunder, I can try!” returned Clancy. “Hang on, Billy! We’re off!”

And the _Hornet_ darted away.



CHAPTER XXV. WON IN THE NINTH.


Fardale field was clothed in gloom. The only bright spot was the stand
occupied by the Franklin rooters, and they were certainly making things
lively in that quarter.

The great game was on, but as far as Fardale’s chances were concerned,
it seemed to be all off. Inning after inning had run along, and time
after time Fardale had been saved from disgrace only by mere good luck.

As it was, the eighth inning had started with the score four to one in
favor of Franklin. And Peters, the Franklin pitcher, had tightened up
after the first inning, and was invincible.

Randall, pitching for Fardale, had started out strong. In the fifth he
had let in a run, and in the sixth his poor support had sent him up in
the air. For Fardale had certainly put a poor team in the field, with
substitutes behind the bat, on first, and in the pitcher’s box.

Even so, Randall might have held Franklin had his own men been able to
hit the swift curves of Peters. Once he loosened up, however, Franklin
romped away with the game, and the slaughter was on. All Fardale
could now hope for was to hold down the score, and she was fighting
desperately to that end.

Coach Trayne and Captain Ted Crockett were talking anxiously together
while the Fardale batters were being mowed down in the final half of
the eighth.

“We’re gone completely now,” announced Crockett gloomily. “We’ll get
another chance next inning, but the game’s over.”

“I can’t understand it,” said the coach, in perplexity. “I’ve had no
answers to any of my telegrams from Chip or Billy or Clancy. At noon I
wired the hotel there, and they said that all three had left yesterday.
Nobody knows where they are.”

“Something’s happened to ’em, all right,” said Ted, as a storm of
cheers swept out from the Franklin bleachers, announcing that Peters
had fanned a second man. “Maybe that car of Clancy’s has blown up. Did
you wire Mr. Merriwell?”

“I’ve wired everybody in the country!” cried the coach desperately.
“Nobody knows anything about it. Merry left Carsonville yesterday
morning, with Clan and Billy. That’s all. They’ve dropped completely
out of sight.”

“It’s a rotten shame,” muttered Crockett. “We had to put Randall in,
and they have simply murdered him. The boys are all up in the air, too.”

“Well, hold the score down,” said Coach Trayne, in desperation. “That’s
all we can hope for now.”

Another roar went up from Franklin as Peters fanned the third man.
Villum Kess trotted out to right field in gloomy fashion.

“Ve vos complexicated now,” he said, as Crockett joined him. “Ve make a
losings ven Chip vos gone, yah! Ve vos our feet viped off der earth of,
Ted!”

“We’ll have to hold ’em,” said the captain glumly. “We get one more
chance.”

Randall went into the pitcher’s box amid a storm of cheers from the
Fardale bleachers. The Southerner realized that he had been outclassed,
but he was resolutely trying to hold his self-control.

“All right, Randall!” cried Crockett. “We’re all with you, old man!”

“Yah, ve vos all mit you,” piped up Villum. “But I vish dot Merry vos
mit us, like plazes!”

As the first Franklin man came up, Fardale redoubled its cheers. It was
the first of the ninth. If Franklin could be held to its four runs,
there was still a slim chance that Peters might be pounded in the next
half. But every one admitted that the chance was too slim to be hoped
for. Peters had everything.

The batter fell on Randall’s first ball, and cracked out a neat single.
The next batter tried for a sacrifice, but he was unable even to put
himself out. The ball rolled down to third, and the third baseman made
a wild throw to first. Both men were safe, and the Franklin cheers
redoubled.

It was too much for Randall. In his anger he sent a fast one at the
plate, and Peters himself landed on it. The ball streaked down toward
first, but the unhappy substitute, playing Clancy’s position, muffed
it. By the time he got through booting it around, the bases were
filled, not a man was out, and Franklin seemed fated to run up a
tremendous score.

The next man advanced to the plate with a wide grin at Randall. The
heavy end of Franklin’s batting order was up. At this instant, however,
a shrill yell ascended from the gate.

“Merriwell! Merriwell! Stop the game!”

The yell rose to a roar. Men rose in the bleachers, stamping and waving
their hats. Every one knew of Merriwell’s unexplained absence. Randall
went white, and would have delivered the ball had not the umpire
stopped him.

Across the field careered a dust-white _Hornet_, with three uniformed
figures clinging to it. Ted Crockett turned with a wild yell as Clancy
drew up behind third.

“Get in the game!” he shouted. “Merry, pitch! Take first, Clan! Catch,
Billy!”

A renewed storm of yells swept the field as the sudden shift of players
was comprehended. Randall, white-faced, tried to protest, but Crockett
waved him off the field. The three friends had made shift to don their
uniforms as they rode into town, not without difficulty. Coming through
the village they had heard how the game was going, and had hastened on
to the field.

While they took their positions, and Merry was given a moment to warm
up, the crowd fell silent. Even the Franklin rooters had cheered, for
they were clean sportsmen, but the Fardale fans began to realize that
Merry had arrived too late.

“They can’t do anything now except hold ’em down,” declared Coach
Trayne.

New life had been infused into the team, however. Villum Kess was
capering around in right field trying to stand on his head, and almost
succeeding. The ball was being snapped around the bases in wonderful
fashion. One and all, the team were leaping into action as if the
coming of Merry and his friends had turned the tide.

Yet the score stood four to one, and the bases were filled, there were
none out.

“Play ball!” called the umpire.

The Franklin batter stepped into his box. Merry poised himself on the
mound and nodded at Billy’s eager signal.

Then Merry did a strange thing:

He knew that the men behind him had regained confidence, and he
proceeded to show his confidence in them by lobbing over a slow,
straight ball. The batter almost gasped with astonishment, but swung
and took it on the nose.

“Wow!”

The crowd came up on its toes. The ball drove across the field like a
bullet, so quickly that it could hardly be seen what had happened. The
shortstop put out his glove, and the ball struck. Instantly he leaped
to second.

The runners had leaped at the crack of the bat. Touching second, the
shortstop whipped the ball to Clancy. It came straight and true, and
the man on first tried to get back, but too late. Three men had been
retired, in less than twenty seconds from the time the ball was hit!

“Great Scott!” gasped Trayne, watching with bulging eyes. “It’s
incredible!”

The crowd went mad with excitement. Such playing had rarely been seen
on Fardale field since the time of Frank Merriwell, senior. The Fardale
players had moved like clockwork, with such absolute precision that
they had accomplished a triple play before they themselves realized the
fact!

Small wonder that the fans went crazy as the team trotted in. The grand
stand was in bedlam, screaming and shouting and stamping. The bleachers
shrieked that the game was not lost yet, and implored Crockett to send
Merry to bat.

Crockett did not lose his head in the excitement, however. He himself
was up, and he was fairly confident of a hit. As he strode out to the
plate, the uproar died away. After all, Franklin was three runs to the
good, and the case for Fardale looked hopeless.

As it happened, Clancy, Billy Mac, and Chip would come to bat in the
order named.

Crockett fell on the first ball for a clean safety, Clancy walked out
and the Fardale followers greeted him with a storm of yells.

These died into a groan, as Clancy swung twice without result. Peters
was a cool pitcher, and he tried to tease Clancy into a third strike,
but in vain. With three balls, Clancy settled himself for a good one.

It came over--a sharp drop. Clancy chopped at it, and the ball went
sizzling toward third. Instantly Crockett was speeding toward second,
and managed to beat out the ball by an inch. Once more the crowd went
wild with excitement.

“A hit, Billy Mac!”

“Billy Mac to bat!”

“Win the game, Billy!”

Yell after yell pealed across the field, as Billy Mac went forth.
Peters conferred with his catcher, and steadied down his rather
demoralized team, then went back to the box.

Billy looked like easy money. He swung widely at two teasers, and
Franklin began to grin. With the next ball down, however, Billy
suddenly changed his tactics and met it on the nose. The ball sailed
up over second, continued its course beyond reach of the center
fielder, and, before it was retrieved, two men had come in and Billy
was grinning happily from third.

“Four to three! Hurray!”

The band struck into “Fair Fardale” and hundreds of voices picked up
the song and thundered it forth as Merry was seen to step toward the
plate, bat in hand. The chorus rose and shrilled up into a wild scream,
drowning out the Franklin cries. Peters waited, then shot the ball down.

Frank struck--and missed.

Again Peters poised himself. Again he uncurled his slim length and sent
the white sphere sizzling down. Again Merry swung wickedly at it, and
missed.

The song died away and settled into silence. Peters grinned easily,
glanced at Billy at third, and sent another hot one over the plate.

Merry struck. A sharp crack, and the ball began to rise. But the
Franklin outfielders took one look at it, then flung up their gloves
and ran in. It was a home run, and Fardale had won by one run!



CHAPTER XXVI. CAPTAIN OF THE NINE.


“Hey, Chip! We got him!”

The players grouped about Coach Trayne in the clubhouse turned. They
had been waiting for the arrival of Clancy and Billy Mac, who was still
to vote on the new captain, as the coach had demanded a written ballot.

“By gracious!”

The exclamation burst from Merry. Between Clancy and Billy was a
drooping figure which he recognized as that of Colonel Carson. The
man’s clothes were torn, and by the fierce glances he cast around it
was clear that he had not been captured without a struggle.

“We knew he was somewhere,” explained the panting Clancy. “So we went
to the gate and grabbed him. Let’s tar and feather him, fellows!”

“Stop!”

Merry stepped out as the yell went up. He flung Billy and Clancy aside,
and faced the frightened Colonel Carson.

“Colonel,” he said quietly, “I think you’d better get out of town at
once. You tried dirty work, and I fancy that you’ve paid up for it,
since you intended betting on Franklin. Fade away, and do it lively.”

Colonel Carson faded.

“He plunged pretty heavily, I hear,” said Trayne, holding back the
indignant Fardale men. “Let him go, boys. Merry’s right. Get in here
with your ballots, you fellows, and quit delaying things!”

“Hold on a minute, please,” said Chip. “I only want to say that the
fellow to be elected is Owen Clancy----”

“Pho! Shut up, you rube!”

“Yah! Listen to der peesness! Go vay und talk mit yourselluf, Frankie!”

“Clan didn’t knock the home run!”

Coach Trayne quieted down the yelling mob, and roared for ballots. When
he had written out his, Merry turned to the silent and unhappy figure
of Bob Randall and held out his hand.

“Bob,” he said, smiling, “I want to congratulate you on your game
to-day! That Franklin chap, Peters, seems to have been a general
surprise, and with a smashed-up infield behind you, I think you did
remarkably well to keep them down!”

Randall hesitated, then accepted Frank’s hand. There was a quick
glitter in his dark eyes as he searched Merry’s face.

“Do you mean it?” he faltered. “You--you’re not sarcastic?”

“Well, I should say not!” cried Merry warmly. “Old man, if you’d had
Clan and Billy in their regular positions to steady things down, you’d
have won in a hand down!”

“Thanks,” said Randall, and turned away. “It’s--it’s mighty good of
you, Chip.”

There were fifteen men present, counting the substitutes, who, of
course, each had a vote. When the last ballot had been handed in, Coach
Trayne read them one by one. Then he held up his hand.

“Men,” he said, “I received fifteen ballots in the vote for a captain
of the regular team to succeed Captain Ted Crockett, who leaves Fardale
to-night. The results are as follows: One vote for Randall, the other
fourteen votes are all for Merriwell, so I guess we can claim that the
new captain has been unanimously elected.”

A shouting mob surrounded Chip, who had, in truth, been surprised. His
thoughts had all been with Colonel Carson, and he had failed utterly
to consider the captaincy. Through the crowd pushed Randall, his eyes
shining.

“And I want to congratulate you, Merry,” he said simply, holding out
his hand to Frank. “You’re the man for the job!”

“Thank you, old man,” said Merry, as he met Randall’s eyes. “I’m proud
to have you behind me!”

And their hands met, amid a renewed storm of cheers.



CHAPTER XXVII. A CHALLENGE.


“Where’s Bob Randall?”

“Search me, Chip. He didn’t turn up for practice. Bet a dollar he’s
still sore over not getting elected captain.”

“Nonsense, Clan! He came around finely, congratulated me----”

“Oh, I know all about that. But the galoot got hot all over again, when
he got to thinking it over! I know his kind. He goes on impulse.”

Merry turned away. Despite his efforts to convince himself to the
contrary, he knew that Clancy was right. Randall “went on impulse.”

“Well, I’ll do the best I can,” thought Merry anxiously. “Bob is too
fine a fellow to do this. If I leave Fardale he ought to be captain, I
think.”

The first and second teams were at practice on the Fardale ball field.
There was an hour left before the drums would sound assembly for supper
formation, and Merry was putting his men through their paces.

“I hear there’s no game for Saturday,” said Billy McQuade, joining
Merry.

“Right. Had to be canceled. I’m sorry, because I may have to leave next
week, and I’d like to play one more game----”

Frank broke off abruptly as the cadet orderly from Colonel Gunn’s
office came up and saluted.

“Telegram, just arrived.”

“Thank you.”

Merry took the message and tore it open. A cry of amazement broke from
him, followed by an incredulous laugh. Then he turned.

“Mr. Trayne! Clan! Come over here!”

Coach Trayne and Clancy joined him, and Merry proceeded to read the
message aloud:

  “FRANK MERRIWELL, JUNIOR, Captain Fardale Baseball Team: The
  Carsonville Clippers challenge you to a game next Saturday, at
  Fardale. Anxious to meet regular Fardale team. Wire my expense.

  “COLONEL CARSON, Owner.”

Frank looked up, his eyes twinkling.

“Say, fellows, talk about nerve!”

“Nerve!” cried Clancy. “After you went over to Carsonville, picked up
a team, and beat them! After Colonel Carson and his son tried to keep
you out of the Franklin game last Saturday by kidnaping you! Nerve’s no
name for it, Chip. Tell ’em to go to thunder.”

“That fellow’s a pirate!” cried Billy Mac excitedly. “Wire him a
hundred words collect with a kick at the end, Chip!”

“There’s something crooked behind this,” declared Clancy hotly. “The
Clippers are crooked clear through, Chip, and we’d better not mix up
with them.”

“They’re an amateur team, though,” said Coach Trayne doubtfully. “It’d
be a good game, boys.”

“Sure it would,” added Billy Mac scornfully. “Colonel Carson wants to
recoup for his losses, Mr. Trayne. He has the reputation of being a
dirty gambler, and there’s something behind the challenge, you can be
sure of that!”

Frank smiled.

“His crooked work doesn’t seem to have won for him, just the same! Look
here, fellows, there’s no game Saturday, so we might accept this. It
will be lots of fun to pound Bully Carson out of the lot.”

“I guess Bully won’t pitch,” declared Clancy, with a grin. “It’d take
him more than a week to get over what I did to him, Chip.

“That’s one thing that looks queer to me,” continued the red-haired
chap. “You can bet a fistful that Colonel Carson isn’t out for sport,
Chip. He’s out for revenge and boodle, and he doesn’t care how he gets
either, so long as he gets it.”

“Let him come after it,” said Coach Trayne. “There’s no prospect of
getting another game for Saturday, and the athletic association can use
the money. That game would draw a big crowd, Clancy.”

“We don’t want to let him yell that we had cold feet,” said Frank.

Billy Mac grunted.

“But what’s the sense in playing him, Chip? We ought to have that
shyster put in jail for kidnaping you, and we could do it, and his son,
too. Everybody knows his crowd is crooked and----”

“So much the more glory in beating them squarely,” said Frank. “What do
you think about it, Mr. Trayne?”

“It looks all right to me,” returned the coach. “I’d say to take the
game, and then lick the stuffing out of those fellows. We’re playing
the Clippers, you know, not Colonel Carson himself. They could
certainty raise a holler if we refused, for they’re the crack team of
the Amateur League. We’ve no good reason for turning them down, except
on the score of crookedness, which we can’t raise against the team as
a whole. Carson’s private dirty work doesn’t blanket his whole team,
remember.”

“That’s true,” said Clancy, “but the team is a bad lot, too. They tried
to beat up Chip, Billy, and me down at Carsonville, after our pick-ups
licked them. But you suit yourself, Merry. I’ll stand back of you.”

“Same here, Chip,” said Billy. “I’d just as soon help to do the bunch
up brown, anyhow.”

“All right, then,” said Frank. “I see the practice game is over, so
I’ll trot across to the office and phone down a telegram of acceptance.”

“Oh, by the way, Merriwell,” said Coach Trayne, stopping him, “who are
you working out to fill Crockett’s place?”

“Well, Mr. Trayne, my choice happens to be holding down second right
now,” and Frank looked across the diamond with a twinkle. “What do you
think of him?”

The party turned. Standing awkwardly on second and waiting for a
grounder from the batter was Villum Kess. He stood full on the sack
itself, as though firmly determined not to let it get away from him. A
burst of laughter went up, though Trayne kept silent.

“Him!” cried Clancy derisively. “He’s done nothing but right field up
to now, Chip! Why, he’ll fall all over the infield!”

“He’s a joke,” said Billy Mac. “Oh, my eye! Look at that!”

Clancy gasped. As the batter sent a twisting grounder at the place
Kess should have been standing, the German youth appeared to lose his
balance and topple from the bag. He stumbled over his own foot, tried
to recover in vain, and went headlong to the ground in front of the
ball. By some weird chance it seemed to hit his glove, and as he sat up
he grinned and tossed it to first.

“Dot vos der pusiness!” he squawked, as every one roared with laughter.
“Yaw! Didn’t you toldt me so? You pet!”

“Talk about luck!” gasped Clancy. “Surely you’re not in earnest, Chip?”

“I am,” said Merry. “Maybe it’s luck, but I’ve noticed that Villum
always makes the luck break his way, Clan. Get out to first and see if
you can make him miss your pegs. If you can, I’ll reverse my decision.”

Clancy trotted off with a whoop, and Coach Trayne smiled.

“I wish you were going to stay at Fardale as captain, Chip! You’d
either smash up the team or else it would be a wonder to behold!”

“Thanks for them kind words,” said Frank, with a chuckle, moving away.
“You can announce that game for Saturday, Mr. Trayne!”

And he departed for Colonel Gunn’s office, in order to telephone his
wire to the village.



CHAPTER XXVIII. LAYING THE WIRES.


It was commonly reported around Carsonville that the estimable Colonel
Carson could tug more Satanic inspiration out of his yellow-gray goatee
than Satan himself. At the present moment he seemed to be highly
satisfied with himself.

He was sitting in his study at Carsonville, and with him was his son.
Bully Carson’s face was decorated with a large black eye, over which he
wore an eye patch.

He was clad in a loud checked suit, flaming-red necktie, and green
waistcoat. From one corner of his mouth drooped a negligent cigarette.
His face looked pasty and unwholesome, and reflected the same hard,
unscrupulous look that shone in his father’s eyes.

“Son, here’s where we even up with them Merriwells for good and all.”

Colonel Carson tugged at his goatee again, and glanced down at Merry’s
telegram of acceptance. He used the Clippers as a means to win money by
gambling. And when he did gamble, it was usually a sure thing. This he
proceeded to prove in his next words.

“Bully, I’m going to clean up a lot on this here Fardale game,” he
stated reflectively. “I got word to-night that Southpaw Diggs will
come.”

“Whew!” Bully peered at his father in admiration. “Pop, you’re a slick
one! Ain’t you afraid they’ll recognize him?”

“Not at Fardale. He’ll take a fictitious name and shave off his
mustache. I’m going to pay him well for it. Also, I’ve got a semipro
catcher to take the place of Squint Fletcher, whom some of the town
boys trounced. Squint was always insolent, anyhow.”

“Yes,” said Bully, with a scowl. “He didn’t have no respect for me at
all. Then you’ve got two other fellers from that outlaw league, ain’t
you?”

“For first and third,” replied his father. “Our own second baseman is
excellent, and with Southpaw Diggs we’ll have a walk-away, son.”

Bully nodded. Diggs was a famous professional pitcher. In his good days
he was one of the best in the country, but he had been let out by the
last team he had been with for drunkenness.

“Sure Diggs won’t get boozed up, pop?”

“Quite sure. He has agreed to let me bet half the amount I am to pay
him on our team. He’s also agreed not to touch a drop meantime, and, as
he needs the money, we can depend on him fully.”

Carson, junior, looked down at the floor, then lifted his one good eye
suddenly.

“Pop, I want some money,” he blurted out. “I want to get down some
bets on this game for myself, and I’m busted.”

“Nothing doing,” and his father’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll make a clean-up
for the family, son.”

“Aw, loosen up!” exclaimed Bully disgustedly. “You durned old tightwad,
you got more dollars in the bank than I have cents! Why, you own the
bank, yet you won’t come over with a hundred!”

“I should say not!” cried Colonel Carson, horrified at the mere idea.
“Ain’t I brought you up all your life? Ain’t I paid for them clothes
you got on?”

“Well, you needn’t holler so about it,” retorted his son. “I want some
coin, hear that? I’m tired o’ lollin’ around without any money to go
on, and I’m goin’ to have some.”

“Get out and rustle for it, then, like I did,” retorted his father
grimly.

Bully grunted with contempt. He had the same keen love for dollars that
his father had, but he did not possess the elder Carson’s aptitude to
pick up cents. However, he fully intended to get hold of some money to
bet on the Fardale game.

There was no doubt that the Clippers would win, none at all. With Diggs
on the mound the academy team would be helpless, to say nothing of the
other professionals who would masquerade as amateurs for the occasion.
It was a “raw deal,” but Colonel Carson was famed in sporting circles
for his ability to put raw deals over successfully.

“This is the surest kind of a good thing,” he mused reflectively. “If
Diggs shows up in good shape, Bully, I’ll get down about a thousand
that we shut them out without a run.”

“You’d better go easy on them fancy bets,” growled Bully. “That
Merriwell kid is liable to connect with a streak of luck and jab out
a homer, like he done against Franklin. You thought that was a sure
thing, too.”

Colonel Carson winced. Merriwell’s homer on that occasion had cost him
more money than he liked to think about.

“You may be right, Bully,” he said slowly. “But he would be helpless
before Southpaw Diggs.”

“He’s got the durndest luck you ever seen,” insisted Bully doggedly.

Colonel Carson began to pull at his goatee once more, frowning at the
floor. He knew that Merriwell’s success was not so much due to good
luck as it was to pluck, skill, and honesty. He could not blind himself
to this, but the knowledge only swerved his mind toward vindictiveness.

“No,” he replied slowly, “it isn’t all luck, son. Just the same, I’ve
no fears that he’ll be able to buck Diggs. There’s no harm in making
sure against all chance, however. If we could get him out of the way,
Randall would pitch. That’d cinch the whole thing.”

“Huh!” sniffed Bully. “You said that once before----”

“Shut up!” snapped his father violently. “I’ve had enough of your
insolence! We’ll fix that kid this time, and no mistake.”

“You will, you mean. Count me out right here, pop! I’ve had all I want
o’ that kid, and if there’s any ‘fixing’ to do, I ain’t goin’ to mix in
it. No, I’m cured, I am, and I reckon I’ll stay cured quite a spell.”

He felt his injured eye tenderly. His father continued to pull at his
goatee, and suddenly he nodded in decision and rose.

Going to a cabinet that stood against the wall, he opened a small
drawer and extracted a tiny folded paper. With this in his hand, he
returned to Bully.

“All right, son, we’ll let your goody-goody Cousin Bob Randall handle
this for us. You go over to Fardale to-morrow and see him. Give him
this”--and he held up the folded paper--“and tell him to get Merriwell
to drink it any time in the forenoon next Saturday. It’s a powder, and
all Randall will have to do is to shake it into a glass of water. It’ll
fix him.”

Colonel Carson’s eyes were malevolent as he spoke. Bully hung back,
however.

“No, you don’t, pop,” he cried, with something like fear, “I ain’t
goin’ to mix up in no poisoning----”

“Shut up, you fool!” snarled his father, glancing around. “This ain’t
poison, but a powder that’ll send him off into a sound sleep for a
while. It won’t hurt him in any fashion, but it’ll put him out o’ the
game for sure.”

“But what about Randall?” Bully queried weakly. “You tried to get him
to throw the game with Franklin, and he got sore. He ain’t the kind to
do this, pop.”

“Oh, I sized him up pretty well,” chuckled the elder Carson wickedly.
“Now listen, Bully: You work this right, and I’ll give you ten per cent
of all I win on the game, see? This part of it depends on you, and you
can do it fine.

“Go to Fardale and get hold of Randall. Talk to him slow and easy, and
get him madder and madder. He’ll be sore about not getting elected
captain, anyhow. Work on that string. Play him good and strong, and get
him to promise that he’ll give the stuff to Merriwell. Then we’ve got
him. He’s one o’ them fellers who’ll stick to a promise, no matter what
comes. But you’ll have to handle it right.”

“You can trust me for that,” said Bully, with a growl, as he took the
paper.

His eyes shone with vindictive cunning. He had tried to injure
Merriwell, but vainly. Therefore, it was quite natural that he should
bear bitter hatred toward the fellow he had tried to injure.

He saw that by working through Randall he would be freed of all
personal responsibility, and this thought cheered on his little soul.
He was willing enough to do anything for which another could be made to
suffer, and this sort of chicanery was precisely what he could do well.

None the less, he did not forget that he wanted money. He saw that his
father’s scheme depended upon him, and grinned evilly.

“Now, come across, pop!”

“Hey?” Colonel Carson glared. “What do you mean?”

“Come across, I said!” Bully lolled back negligently in his chair, and
eyed his father coolly. “I ain’t workin’ for my health.”

“Confound your insolence!” sputtered the other angrily. “You’re working
for me! I’ll give you no money to squander, you reprobate!”

“Nothin’ doing, then, old tightwad,” and Bully made as if to hand back
the folded paper. He carelessly took his cigarette from his mouth and
exhaled a cloud of vile-smelling smoke.

“Why--do you mean--do you refuse to go to Fardale?” Colonel Carson was
almost speechless with rage.

“Surest thing you know!”

Colonel Carson reached into his pocket and drew out two five-dollar
bills.

“Here’s ten dollars--take it or leave it. Go to Fardale and stay over
Saturday. Use this as expense money.”

Bully sniffed, and his father exploded:

“You’ll do what I say! Take this expense money and work this business,
and you get ten per cent of the winnings. Refuse, and you can go to the
dickens for all o’ me! I’ll not have a worthless thing like you loafin’
around here any longer, understand?”

It was the first time Bully had ever seen his father aroused against
him, and he was cowed. Reaching out, he took the money and put it in
his pocket with the paper.

“All right,” he said, “I’ll do it.” But to himself he muttered
sullenly: “And I’ll have a wad to bet on that game--somehow!”

“Ah, I thought you’d come around, son!”

And once more Colonel Carson complacently tugged at his goatee.



CHAPTER XXIX. A THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CASH.


With eight dollars in his pocket, after purchasing his railroad ticket,
Bully Carson climbed aboard the express.

He did not go into a Pullman, for that would cost more money. Instead,
he sauntered up to the smoking car, rolling a cigarette as he went. For
this occasion he had abandoned his “swellest” clothes, being simply
clad in a black-and-white, shiny-buttoned suit that shrieked aloud, a
plain orange-and-white necktie, and a pair of patent-leather shoes with
green uppers. Bully desired to avoid all prominence during his stay in
Fardale, and so had picked out his meekest raiment for the trip.

He found the smoking car fairly well filled, and with his mind still
occupied with the subject of raising some money with which to bet for
himself, he dropped into a seat beside a small, dried-up little man.

Now, there are many people who gauge other people’s importance by their
clothes, and who do so without any regard for taste. Ezra Hostetter had
run a laundry all his life, and he was the simplest-hearted person that
ever ironed a collar. Being of extremely dull taste as regarded his
own attire, he entertained an unlimited admiration for those fortunate
men who could afford and carry off gorgeous apparel with perfect ease.

Consequently, he directed one startled glance at Bully’s glorious
harmony of colors, and was lost. With honest longing stamped on his
face, he directed sly but highly admiring side looks that feasted on
everything from the green-topped shoes to the scarlet-and-blue hatband
incasing Bully’s purple felt hat.

To be sure, the eye patch slightly detracted from Bully’s appearance.
Ezra Hostetter began to swell with importance at sitting next this
ornate personage. Possibly it was a prize fighter, or, at the very
least, a follower of sports!

Not being a judge of character, the little man stole further worshiping
glances as Bully grandly lighted his cigarette and snapped the match
away. Being an excellent judge of character and delighting in posing,
Bully was not slow to detect the point-blank admiration of his
seatmate, and to delight in it.

“Fine weather, ain’t it?” he remarked condescendingly. “Goin’ to
Fardale?”

Ezra Hostetter jumped, then stammered out an overjoyed assent:

“Yes, I’m going to buy a laundry there, Mr.---- Mr.----”

“Carson,” prompted Bully, settling his thumbs in his vest and leaning
back. “Ed Carson, of Carsonville. I’m glad to meet you, Mr.----”

“Hostetter, Ezra Hostetter,” said the dried-up little laundryman.

Bully positively basked during the next few moments. He had had little
opportunity to do any basking around home, of late, and the chance was
too good to be missed. And since he could also be very genial when
he chose, he soon fell into a conversation with Hostetter which was
extremely pleasant on both sides.

He did not uncase his splendor all at once, however. Having seen the
simplicity of his companion’s heart, he began to take a keen delight in
letting him discover his grandeur by degrees.

It seemed that Hostetter had heard of Colonel Carson, and, upon
discovering that he was talking with that famous man’s son, his
admiration eclipsed all bounds. After a little he ventured a timid
query as to Bully’s profession.

“I’m a ball player,” announced Bully, with quiet dignity. “Not a
professional, y’ understand, though I may consider an offer from the
Giants this summer.”

This was the final straw. Poor Hostetter, blinded by the limitations
of his own experience, carried away by the glamour of Bully’s
wondrous raiment, positively groveled. And Bully continued to bask in
open-mouthed admiration of the other, until it occurred to him that he
had better account for his black eye.

“I got this in my last game,” and he lightly touched the patch. “I was
pitching, and the batter hit out a liner at me. I tried to stop it, but
the ball broke through my hands and struck my eye. Even so, I caught it
before it reached the ground, and so won the game.”

He reeled off this fabrication with amazing ease. Across the aisle was
seated a man who had got on at Carsonville, and who knew nothing of how
Bully had really obtained that injured optic. He grinned, and nudged
the man beside him. Bully did not notice it, however.

Presently the conversation became even more personal. Bully discovered
that his companion was proceeding to Fardale to invest in a laundry
there, which was for sale. After a cautious glance around, Hostetter
pulled forth a long black wallet and opened it out.

“Look at this!” he exclaimed proudly, anxious to prove to the great man
that he, too, had symptoms of nobility. “There’s a thousand dollars in
cash--in cash, mind you! I’m going to buy that laundry with it.”

Bully leaned over. At sight of the ten hundred-dollar bills his senses
reeled, and sparks danced before his eyes. A thousand dollars in cash!

“By glory!” he gasped inwardly. “If I only had that much, what a
clean-up I’d make on this Fardale game!”

He was more cautious in expressing his thoughts aloud, however.

“Why didn’t you get a draft? You could ’a’ cashed it at Fardale in the
morning. Ain’t you afraid some one will hold you up?”

“It’s kind o’ risky,” admitted the little man, replacing the wallet.
“But I don’t like to trust to banks, Carson. I had a bank bust on me
once, in Chicago, and I ain’t never going to trust ’em again. I guess
no one’s going to hold me up, though.”

Bully pulled down his hat over his eyes. He knew that they were
glittering covetously, and he desired to hide the glitter from his
companion.

A thousand dollars in cash! The words drove through his brain over and
over, and fitted themselves into a refrain that chimed with the click
and clatter of the wheels underneath him.

He had visions of himself nonchalantly sauntering through the grand
stand, waving those hundred-dollar bills and petrifying the Fardale
fans with his grandeur. The more he thought it over, the more the idea
appealed to him, and the more he mentally condemned his father for a
tightwad.

“He’s just rolling in money,” he thought sullenly, “and here I am
almost without a cent! I’ll have to run close to the wind to make this
eight dollars last me, at that. If I only had that thousand in cash, I
guess I’d cut a swath in Fardale!”

Bitter and black thoughts filled his mind during the remainder of the
journey. Little by little his mind edged to the conviction that he was
a badly injured person, and that he was quite justified in resenting
the injury in any manner possible. After all, he had warned his father
quite fairly that he intended to raise some money, and if his father
refused to take the warning--so much the worse for him!

“What hotel do you patronize here, Mr. Carson?” asked Hostetter, as the
train was pulling into Fardale.

“Me?” responded Bully, with careless magnificence. “Oh, I usually
frequent the Dobbs Hotel. Are you going there?”

“Well--well, to tell the truth, I--I think I will,” said Hostetter. “It
ain’t expensive?”

Bully grinned to himself, fingering his eight dollars.

“Not ’specially so. I’d be glad to have your company, old man.”

“Thank you!” and the other glanced about nervously. “You see, Carson,
I’d feel a little bit safer if I had a friend in the vicinity. Of
course there’s no danger, only I can’t transact my business till the
morning, and----”

“Give your money to the hotel proprietor,” suggested Bully.

“Not me! I’ll keep it right on me all the time, and if I lose it, it’s
my own fault. I wouldn’t trust any hotel man that ever lived!”

“Well, I dunno’s you’re wrong,” said Bully, nodding sagely. “Come
along--we’ll get supper at a restaurant, if you like, then go up to the
hotel.”

At this proposal the little man fluttered with conscious pride. They
left the train and entered a restaurant together. Here, Bully found
that his raiment created a sensation, that was highly soothing to his
spirits. After supper they went to the Dobbs Hotel and registered,
being given rooms directly across the hall from each other.

Bully Carson had already sent a message to Randall, informing him of
his arrival and stating that he wanted to see him that evening at the
hotel. He knew that his cousin would have little difficulty in evading
the academy regulations about being out of the grounds after taps.

However, Bully’s thoughts were still running on that thousand dollars
in cash. Reaching his room before Hostetter arrived, for the latter
had paused to telephone the men with whom he was to do business, Bully
covertly took the key from his own door and tried it in that across the
hall.

The key worked both locks!

A few moments later the little man arrived at the room which had been
assigned to him. He soon came over and knocked on Carson’s door,
entering with a worried expression on his face.

“The bolt on my door is broken,” he exclaimed. “Do you think it’ll be
quite safe there, or had I better get another room?”

“Oh, you’re all right,” Bully said carelessly. “Lock the door and put
the key in your pocket--don’t leave it in the door, or it can be turned
from outside. Then shove that wallet under your pillow, and you’re
safer’n if you was locked up in a vault. It’s a cinch, old man!”

“Well, I’ll take your advice,” said Hostetter, with a relieved air.
“Much obliged to you, I’m sure!”

Saying good night, he vanished. Bully could hear him lock his door and
withdraw the key.

Carson sat smoking until the room was so full of smoke that he was
forced to open the window, much against his will. A thousand dollars in
cash! The words seemed to burn into his brain. He walked up and down,
trying to fling off the black thoughts that filled him, but finally he
paused and brought down one fist on the table.

“I’ll do it!”

At that instant there came a soft knock at the door. Bully started, and
swung around. The door opened.

“Oh, it’s you!” he cried, and laughed a little. “Come in, Bob. I was
waiting for you.”



CHAPTER XXX. CRIMINAL WORK.


Bob Randall slipped quickly inside, shut the door swiftly behind him,
and stood as if listening.

On his high, dark, and undeniably handsome face there was a look of
mingled worry and anger. His eyes seemed haggard, and Bully Carson
chuckled to himself as he recalled what his father had said about
Randall brooding over a fancied injury. It was quite plain that Randall
was in good shape to be worked on.

“What’s the matter?” inquired Bully. “What you listenin’ for?”

Randall dropped into a chair, wiping his brow.

“I thought old man Dobbs had seen me come in,” he explained nervously.
“You see, I got held up at school, couldn’t get away earlier, and had
to sneak past the guards. I came in the hotel by the back entrance.”

“How’ll you get back to your room?”

“Easy,” said the Southerner. “Rope to the window. I won’t want to be
seen around here, though, or I might get reported. Old Dobbs knows me
by sight.”

Carson nodded, and flung himself into a chair.

“I hear you got beaten to the captaincy of the nine,” he observed.
“That kid Merriwell seems to cop out everything.”

Randall’s face flushed.

“What did you want to see me about?” he said, with a scowl.

“About Merriwell,” Bully stated calmly. “Of course, he’s got you slated
to pitch against the Clippers Saturday?”

“Yes he has--not!” Randall lost his temper, and slipped into his
Southern dialect as usual when he became excited.

“I wouldn’t pitch if he did! I’ve had enough of these heah Yankee ways!
I’m goin’ to leave Fahdale, Cahson, for wheah a man doesn’t hog it all
because his fatheh is a big athlete! I cain’t swallow it and I won’t!”

“Good for you!” said Bully approvingly. “He has certainly treated you
mis’ably, old hoss. You ought to be captain of the Fardale team right
now! It ain’t fair treatment, I say.”

“I reckon not! These low-down Yankees truckle to him abjectly, Cahson.
You-all haven’t any idea of what goes on heah! When we played Franklin
last Satuhday, that fellow held out the best men on the team until I
was beaten. Then he showed up, put ’em in, and managed to win with
luck.”

Randall leaned back, trying to collect himself. Bully chuckled quietly.
It was evident that his cousin had worked himself up into a riotous
state of mind.

Randall was honestly convinced that his version of the Franklin game
was the true one. Had he pitched and won, he would have been elected
captain. He pitched, and was being knocked out of the box when Merry
arrived in the ninth inning and saved the game.

All Fardale knew that Merriwell had been held prisoner, and that Clancy
and Billy Mac had rescued him, all three appearing in the nick of time.
Yet Randall only accepted that as a story put forth by Merry.

He had brooded by himself, had pointedly avoided Chip on the baseball
field, and gradually managed to get himself into a badly overwrought
condition. Twisting every little incident, seeing everything in the
light of his jealousy and bitterness, it was not hard for him to
convince himself that he was the victim of a cleverly executed plot.

His state of mind was a bad one, and would require some severe and
sharp correction before his angle of vision could be straightened.
Fortunately for himself, he had not attempted to convince any one else
on the subject.

“That’s right,” Bully encouraged him, playing his cards cunningly.
“He’s done you dirt, Bob, for a fact. You ought to get even with him.”

“What chance have I?” Randall asked bitterly. “I’m all alone here.”

“Oh, I dunno about that. Pop and me, we figure to stand by our kin,
Bob. Didn’t he try to help you by keepin’ Merriwell out o’ that
Franklin game?”

Randall nodded, forcing himself into a strained calmness.

“Yes, and I want you to thank him for me, old man. It was no use,
though.”

“Virtue is its own reward,” quoted Bully. “We done our best. Now, pop
would like to see you pitch against the Clippers on Saturday, Bob. O’
course, we mean to beat you, but I ain’t goin’ to be in the game, and
pop would like to----”

“No chance,” broke in Randall, with renewed bitterness. Then he glanced
up, half suspiciously. “Why is your father so interested?”

“Because he likes you, Bob.”

Bully was too wise to persuade Randall along crooked lines. He sneered
at his cousin, in his own mind, for being a “goody-goody” fellow.

“I’d like to even up with Merriwell, Bob,” he went on cautiously. “We’d
like to have you pitch Saturday ’cause you’re a better pitcher than
Merriwell. We’ve got a new pitcher for the Clippers, and if we beat
Fardale at its best, there’ll be all the more glory in it.”

“I suppose Colonel Carson intends to do some betting?” Bob queried
keenly.

“Oh, a little, mebbe. Not much. Now see here, Bob: This guy Merriwell
ain’t used you right, to my notion. He’s played dirty against you, and
he’s got all Fardale persuaded that he’s a little tin god on wheels,
with a bell to his neck. There ain’t no use tryin’ to hit back at him
fair and square. We got to use his own methods.”

Bully worked himself into a virtuous glow. He almost believed his own
words.

“You tried ’em last Sunday,” retorted Bob gloomily. “They didn’t work.”

“We didn’t know just how slick he was, Bob. He could ’a’ got away
from us sooner, only he wanted to come in at the last minute for a
grand-stand play. He thinks that if he pitches against the Clippers
he’s sure to win. But we’d sooner have you pitch, ’cause you ain’t
crooked. We want to play a clean game; get me?”

Randall nodded. Wrapped up in his own thoughts, he did not even attempt
to penetrate Bully’s sudden show of conscious virtue.

“That’s right, Carson. And I’d sure like to hand him one hot one before
I leave school!”

“You’d hand it to him if you pitched against the Clippers, Bob. I’ll
pass it to you on the quiet that we don’t know much about our new
pitcher, and he might pan out wrong. If he does, you stand a chance o’
winning the game. Of course, I want to see the Clippers win, but if you
could beat us square, I’d be satisfied. It’d make this Merriwell kid
squirm ten ways from election.”

Randall could readily understand that, according to his notions of
Merry’s character.

“Yes,” he assented, growing excited as the golden vision arose before
him. “Yes, I reckon yo’ ce’tainly have it doped out. If that could come
about, he’d sho’ learn a bitteh lesson, the low-down scoundrel!”

Bully grinned to himself. He could read his cousin like a book, and was
playing on the other with beautiful precision.

“Well, Bob, pop and I figgered up a plan. It ain’t a nice plan, but
this is our last chance to slip one over on Merriwell. He ain’t played
the gentleman in his dealings with you, and we don’t mind fightin’ fire
with fire for once.”

This amazing display of innocence did not astonish Randall. He knew
little of his precious relatives, and Bully’s assumed hesitation seemed
quite natural to him.

“Neither do I!” he growled, in return. “Where he is concerned, Carson,
I’d feel justified in doing anything!”

“Then do this, Cousin Bob.”

While he spoke, Bully took from his pocket the carefully folded paper
that had been given him by his father. Randall looked at it.

“Here’s the plan we figgered out, Bob: To get Merriwell out o’ this
here game, we got to keep him out by force. It ain’t no use appealing
to his fairness. He ain’t got any such thing!”

“Force won’t work, here at Fardale,” muttered Bob.

“But this powder will,” said Bully, leaning forward and dropping his
voice. “Hold on!” he cried, as Randall gave a quick start. “It ain’t
only a sleepin’ potion, Bob. If you could get Merriwell to drink
it any time Saturday mornin’, which is to-morrow, he’d sleep clear
through till supper time. They couldn’t wake him up, and if they did he
wouldn’t be no good.”

Randall flushed, drawing back.

“It’s a bad business,” he faltered.

“So’s your losing out for captain, Bob. Go in and win this game. What
if Merriwell does know you doped him? He can’t prove it. If you win the
game, you’ll show him up for fair. If you get beat, they’ll say he got
cold feet. You win comin’ and goin’, and we’ll even things up with him
once and for all. What say?”

Randall still hesitated. Looking at the folded paper which his cousin
held out to him, the criminality of the thing appalled him. His
chivalrous nature rebelled at the very thought.

But Bully’s cunning words worked on his mind. His fancied wrongs loomed
up large on his mental horizon. Once more a flood of bitterness swept
over him, and he felt himself justified in doing anything.

“I’ll do it,” he said thickly, and took the paper.

“Promise?”

“My word is my promise,” cried Randall, half angrily. Then he glanced
around with sudden alarm. “Say, I’ve been here too long. See if any
one’s in the hall, so I can get out the back way to the side street.”

Bully opened the door and announced that the coast was clear. On this
Randall silently shook hands with him, then stole off down the corridor
on tiptoe.

For a moment Bully watched, then his eyes went to the opposite door.
In the silence he could plainly hear a gentle, regular snore. Still
watching that door, he drew the key from his own lock.

Then he snapped off his own light, and in two quick steps was across
the hall. For an instant he fumbled at the door, with deft fingers
that turned back the lock in perfect silence. Slowly and cautiously he
pressed the knob and opened the door.

Half a moment later he reappeared and locked the door as silently as
he had unlocked it. Darting swiftly into his room, he switched on the
light and drew something from his pocket, examining it swiftly. His
eyes glittered, and he again snapped off his light and undressed in the
darkness, carefully stowing away the object in his coat pocket.

“A thousand dollars in cash!” he murmured, as he crept into bed. “Pop,
if you could only see me now!”



CHAPTER XXXI. BEFORE THE GAME.


“How’s everything, Chip?”

“Great, Mr. Trayne! We’re going to do some topside playing this
afternoon!”

“Glad to hear it,” said the coach, with a smile. “Have you decided to
keep Kess at second?”

“If you approve, sir. Lowe at third, Harker at short, and O’Day
in Villum’s place in right. It’s a new line-up, but I think it’s
tremendously strengthened.”

Coach Trayne nodded quick assent.

“You’ve done wonders with those chaps already, Chip! Crockett was a
dandy captain, but he seemed content to keep the men in their old
positions. This change of yours is going to give the fans a big
surprise.”

“And a pleasant one, I hope.” Merry’s smile suddenly died away. “Only
I’m not quite certain about the pitching end.”

“What!” Coach Trayne’s face expressed sudden concern. “Aren’t you going
in?”

“I hope so. But I was thinking what would happen if anything went
wrong with me, or if I got pounded badly. You see, Randall is our best
substitute man, and he’s been acting badly lately. He refused to come
out to practice the last two days, and virtually announced that he was
through with baseball.”

“I know,” and the coach looked worried. “Personally, I’d like to kick
him around the block, Chip! But for the school’s sake we ought to try
to placate him.”

It was late Saturday morning, the day of the game with the Carsonville
Clippers. Everything looked bright for Fardale. The Clippers were due
to arrive on the noon train, and, as their reputation was great, a
record crowd was expected. Word had spread around that this might be
Chip Merriwell’s last game for the season, and excitement was intense.

“I wouldn’t worry, though,” advised the coach. “You’re all right, old
man, and those Clippers will never get to you. We won’t need Randall.”

“I don’t know, Mr. Trayne. The Clippers are amateurs, but they’re crack
players. Still, I wasn’t thinking of the game alone. I may go away next
week, and if Randall can only be brought into a right frame of mind,
he’d make a great captain.”

Trayne flung him a keen look.

“Do you mean it? After the way he’s acted toward you----”

“Yes,” said Chip soberly, “I think that he’s merely viewed things
wrongly, and I feel now that he’d make the best captain of any one on
the team. I think I’ll run up to his room right now, Mr. Trayne. I’ll
have a frank talk with him, and it may be that I can win him around.”

“That’s not a bad idea, Merriwell. If you can do so, it’ll surely be
a great good thing for Fardale. We can’t afford to have a man of his
caliber brooding over his imagined wrongs. Good luck to you, and let me
know how he shows up.”

“I will,” said Chip, and he turned away toward the barracks.

As regarded his leaving Fardale, Chip himself knew very little. He had
heard from his father that they were going West, together with Dick
Merriwell, and that he must hold himself in readiness to leave when his
father sent for him at a moment’s notice. Therefore, it was possible
that this was his last diamond work for Fardale.

The cause of this summons was a mystery to him, but he knew that he
would find out in due course. In fact, he was looking forward to the
trip with no little anticipation. Frank Merriwell, junior, was a chip
of the old block in nickname and in fact, and he knew that with his
father and his Uncle Dick he was apt to experience a lively time.

He quickly made his way to the room in barracks occupied by Bob
Randall. At his knock, the Southerner’s voice called “Come in!” and
Frank entered.

“You!”

Randall came to his feet, fists clenched and eyes flashing. He had
been sitting beside a table, on which lay a pitcher of water and some
books. Evidently he had been trying to get through some study.

“I’d like a talk with you, Bob,” said Merry quietly. He took no heed of
the other’s constrained attitude.

“Sit down,” said Randall, his innate hospitality showing through his
anger. “I’m rather surprised to find you coming here, Merriwell.”

“I thought you would be,” and Frank coolly plunged into the discussion,
without any false premises. “I’ve observed that you’re worked up over
something, Randall. More than one fellow has told me that you’re sore
at me over my getting elected captain, and I wanted to straighten
things out with you if I could.”

Randall trembled with anger, and seemed on the point of a violent
outburst. Then he made an effort and curbed himself. Forcing his voice
down, he spoke slowly and with apparent calmness, which did not deceive
Frank.

“That’s quite right, Merriwell. You fooled me at the time, but I’ve
been thinking it over since then, and I’ve seen how you jockeyed me out
of that election. Naturally, it looked like anything but gentleman’s
work.”

Chip flushed a little.

“I think you’ve made a big mistake, old man,” he returned. “I thought
you understood me better than that, and I can’t see how you imagine
that I didn’t play fair.”

“Perhaps you did, from your viewpoint. You kept Clancy and Billy Mac
out of the game and smashed up the team. Then, when I was beaten, you
sailed on the field, slapped the team together, and won out. That’s why
you got elected. I’d have won with the whole team behind me, and you
know it!”

“Keep your temper,” Chip said crisply. “You’re away off, Bob. I was
kidnaped, and those two fellows pulled me out. If you’d won the game
I’d have been the first to congratulate you. As it was, I had already
proposed you for captain, if you’ll believe it.”

“You had?”

“Yes. Ask Coach Trayne or any of the fellows. I don’t think you’ve
given me a square deal in this, Bob, and yet I can see how you look at
it. I’m sorry that I didn’t come to you before and have it out frankly,
but I’ve been pretty busy, and didn’t understand just what was behind
it all.”

Randall was not at all convinced. He stared down at the table, and his
eye fell on a tiny folded paper inserted in his Cicero. His cheeks
flushed a trifle, and he gave an imperceptible start.

“In that case,” he said slowly, his clenched hands at his sides in
self-repression, “I--I may have been wrong. But it seemed to me
that you hadn’t been the one to hand out a square deal, Merry. I was
helpless in trying to fight you for an elective office. Everybody
around here seems to toady to the Merriwells----”

“Hold on, right there, Bob,” Chip interrupted quickly, his eyes
flashing with a hint of anger.

“You know that’s not the case. If there’s any one who hates to be
truckled to and toadied to, I’m the one. I didn’t go after the
captaincy, in this particular instance, and it was handed to me before
I knew it. As to toadying, you ought to know the fellows too well to
lay that charge, Bob.”

“Haven’t you everything your own way?” demanded Randall. His eyes still
held to that folded scrap of paper, and his face looked troubled. “You
run everything around here, and nobody else gets a look-in----”

“Old man, for Heaven’s sake get your brain untangled!” Chip leaned
forward earnestly, setting aside his own irritation. “I don’t want to
run anything. Whatever I have done has been done for Fardale, and I’ve
had nothing further in view than the best good of the school. Let me
prove this by something which I ought not to tell you.”

He found Randall staring at him with a peculiar look, and fancied that
his words were bearing fruit.

“I was just talking to Coach Trayne about who will be elected captain
if I have to leave school--which may be at any minute now. I urged you
for the place, since I honestly believe that you’re the man for it. He
could not understand why I overlooked the way you have acted lately,
until I explained that I hoped to talk it over with you and straighten
things out for the good of Fardale. I don’t care a whoop about myself,
Randall. I’m only thinking of the school, and I want you to do the
same. Now, slip into your things and come over to the gym with me. The
fellows will know that the hatchet’s been buried, and you will leap up
at a bound in their estimation, and everybody will be happy. Will you
do it, old fellow?”

Randall had turned, and was gazing out of the window. Merriwell could
not see the dark flush of anger that flitted across his face, but after
a moment he heard the low and tense voice of Randall.

“I’ll do it, Chip. I’m sorry.”

Randall turned quickly to the closet and pulled out his shoes, for he
had been at work in bath robe and slippers.

“Good!” Frank cried, in delight. “Get on your duds, and we’ll forget it
all!”

He walked over to the window, looking out on the campus, and stood
watching the flitting crowd below. Randall had come around all right,
he thought, and, with a little careful handling, would soon be his old
self.

Meantime, however, Randall had given a quick glance at his back. A
crafty smile leaped to his face, and, while still watching Merriwell’s
motionless figure, he reached out and seized the folded paper.

Tearing off one end with a quick motion, he emptied a flickering white
powder into the glass that stood beside the pitcher. Still covertly
eying Chip, he deftly obtained a second glass from the closet shelf and
placed it on the opposite side of the pitcher. Then he poured water
into both glasses.

The white powder dissolved instantly. At the sound of the pouring
water, Merry turned, and Randall straightened up with a smile that set
queerly on his features.

“I say, Merry,” he called, with seeming candor, “let’s drink a
toast to the success of the team to-day, and the continuance of our
friendship--a toast in aqua pura!”

“Bully!”

Merriwell stepped forward, with a smile. At this instant there was a
sudden interruption, however.

The door was flung open, and a panting cadet orderly appeared as the
startled Randall swung round.

“Mr. Randall! Colonel Gunn wants to see you at once in his office.”

This summons could mean only one thing--trouble. Randall had already
slipped into his clothes, and he seized his hat, instantly forgetting
everything else. Was it possible that his visit to the village of the
previous night had been discovered?

“Wait for me, Merry,” he said hastily. “I’ll probably be right back!”

“I’ll be here, old man,” Chip assured him, and Randall left hurriedly
with the orderly.



CHAPTER XXXII. WHO GOT IT?


“Too bad we didn’t drink that toast!” murmured Merriwell, as the
echoing steps of the orderly and Randall died away down the corridor.
“Still, I’m mighty glad that Bob saw fit to come around. It’ll clear
things up wonderfully.”

He crossed the room and sank into a chair. Picking up a magazine, he
began to turn over its pages. As he did so, his hand went out to the
nearer of the two glasses, and he brought it to his lips, sipping
slowly.

With a sigh, he emptied the glass and replaced it on the table. Five
minutes passed, and Merry flung the magazine back to its place, rising.

“Wonder what kind of a row Randall has got himself into now?” he mused,
going to the window and looking down on the campus, with a frown.

Colonel Gunn was the principal of Fardale, and if Randall had been in
some kind of a scrape, it might injure his chances on the diamond.
However, there was a chance that the Southerner had been guilty of some
infraction of the military routine of the school which would merely get
him a “call-down” and a few black marks.

Suddenly Chip turned, as a sharp knock sounded at the door.

“Come in!”

The door opened. Merry gave a gasp of astonishment, for framed in the
doorway, stood Bully Carson. The latter turned and shut the door, not
observing him.

“You came over to see the game?” Merry asked pleasantly.

Bully whirled with a swift cry, his face black.

“You! Why--why--where’s Bob Randall? Isn’t this his room?”

The startled surprise of Colonel Carson’s son was quite evident. In
fact, he was wildly disconcerted. He had expected to see his cousin,
and instead he found Merriwell.

“Don’t get scared out, Bully,” said Chip. “Bob will be right back. I
was waiting for him myself, so I hope you won’t mind my company.”

Merry thoroughly enjoyed the confusion of the other. He bore Carson no
malice, for he knew that the other had been thoroughly punished for
his wrongdoings. He fancied that Bully’s confusion sprang from fear at
being found in Fardale--fear of new retribution for the past.

“Sit down,” he urged pleasantly. “Sit down and rest your eye, Bully.
One of ’em looks pretty tired. Hot day, isn’t it?”

Bully growled out something inarticulate and sank into a chair with a
scowl at Merry. Since he had blundered into it, he was determined to
stick.

As Chip remarked, it was a warm day for that time of year, and no
mistake. Bully Carson was heated by his walk from the village, and he
was perspiring profusely. He pulled out a handkerchief of purple silk
with red bars, and mopped at his face, eying Merry furtively. Seeming
to conclude that he was safe for the present, he regained his composure
slowly.

Chip knew that Carson was a thorough bully and coward. In fact, he
had himself presented Bully with that black eye, when the other had
attempted to “beat him up” in Carsonville the previous Saturday. He
scanned Bully’s attire with a humorous twinkle in his eyes.

“You ought to be more careful, Bully,” he remarked, with mock
solicitude. “If you were seen on the Fardale streets in those duds,
you’d be in danger of arrest.”

“Huh? What for?” Bully growled suspiciously. He looked down at himself.

“For disturbing the peace,” said Chip, with a laugh, dropping on the
window seat.

“Think you’re cussed smart, don’t you?”

“Not a bit of it,” Chip gravely assured him. He found Bully capital
amusement. “I only wonder at your nerve in coming here!”

“You should worry,” retorted Bully, with a scowl. “Ain’t I got a right
to visit my cousin?”

“Sure. Only, if you had another cousin in jail, you’d have a better
right to visit him, seems to me.”

“Huh?” Carson turned pale and mopped at his face again. “What you goin’
to do about it?”

Chip knew that he could have both Bully and his father arrested for
what had taken place at Carsonville. This, however, was far from his
thoughts.

“Nothing. Make yourself right at home, old man. Only I wouldn’t advise
you to light up that cigarette in here.”

Bully had started to roll a cigarette. He paused, looking up quickly.

“Why not?”

“It’s not allowed. Go ahead and suck it all you want to, but don’t
light it. We don’t approve of coffin nails at Fardale, and if the
guards smelled smoke they’d throw you out of here in a hurry.”

Carson grunted. Nevertheless, he apparently decided to take Chip’s
warning in good part. There was an undernote to Merry’s voice that told
him the other was not joking this time.

He finished rolling the cigarette, licked it, and carefully inserted it
into one corner of his mouth. Then he lolled back in his chair, glanced
around, and favored Chip with a black look.

“You fellers are goin’ to get the hide licked off you to-day,” he
announced. His confidence was returning, as Merry made no hostile move.

“Thanks for the news,” said Chip easily. “Are you going to pitch?”

“No. We got a new feller named Green. He’ll show you dubs what real
pitchin’ is, and I’m goin’ to back him to the limit.”

“I hope he’ll show us more than you did,” and Frank settled himself
among the pillows in the window seat. “We’re always willing to be
shown, Bully.”

Bully grunted.

“You get yours to-day, all right.”

“Who’s Green?” asked Chip curiously. “Is he an amateur?”

“Sure!”

“And I suppose your father is going to bet on him, as usual?”

Bully grinned, and patted his pocket knowingly.

“Pop’s goin’ to do a little betting, I reckon. So’m I.”

“Why don’t you bet on Fardale, for a change?” Merry queried pleasantly.
“It might get you something, old man!”

“I suppose you think I’m a piker, hey?” scowled Bully. “I suppose you
think I ain’t got money myself?”

“You always were good at supposing,” said Chip. “This time you hit it
dead right.”

“That shows how much you know! I got a thousand dollars in cash, right
here in my pocket, and I’m goin’ to meet a feller now and bet on the
Clippers, see?”

Chip was somewhat amazed at this intelligence, though he gave no sign
of it. He knew that Colonel Carson himself was a heavy plunger, but
from what he had seen of Bully he had not thought that the latter was
exactly flush with money.

“You must have bet on Fardale during that Franklin game,” he murmured
gently. “Or has your respected father become generous?”

“None o’ your business,” said Bully, with a growl, finding the subject
abruptly distasteful. “Whew! I’m certainly het up. I guess I’ll run
along and place that bet, then come back here and find Bob.”

“Suit yourself,” chirped Merry. “If you’re warm, take a glass of water.
When you get outside, light that cigarette. Then you’ll get nice and
warm again, and it’ll fur up your tongue.”

Bully merely grunted at this sarcasm. He seemed to decide that part of
the advice was good, however, for he caught up the other glass that
Randall had filled and carried it across the table to his lips.

“I suppose you’ll pitch to-day?” he inquired, pausing.

“Once more your suppositions are correct,” returned Chip ironically.

Bully grunted and gulped down the water, replacing the glass on the
table with a deep sigh, then threw his sleeve across his lips.

“That certainly tastes good! Well, I hope you’ll get pounded out of the
box, Merriwell. Green will shut you fellers out without a hit.”

With this pleasant wish Bully came to his feet and moved toward the
door, inspecting a few pictures and pennants as he went.

“Don’t hurry,” pleaded Chip, with mock anxiety. “You’re not going to
tear yourself away so soon, I trust?”

“Tell Bob I’ll be back later,” said Bully, with a grunt.

“With pleasure. Maybe you’d like to have me throw the game for you
to-day?”

Carson merely scowled and passed outside, slamming the door viciously
after him. From the window Frank could see him start across the campus
in the direction of the riding hall, stopping to light his cigarette.

“Big brute!” he thought, disgusted. “I wonder how Randall ever got a
cousin like that? But--what on earth is he doing here? If he and Bob
are getting thick, I feel sorry for Bob.”

This thought was disquieting to Merry. Could it be possible that Carson
was back of Randall’s queer actions?

It seemed improbable, for Randall had been keeping to himself, and
Carson had not been seen at Fardale previous to this. Yet Frank knew
that Bully possessed a crafty and cunning mind. He felt disturbed over
Carson’s impudence in daring to show himself about the place.

“Oh, well, I guess Randall can take care of himself,” he mused, and
dismissed the subject lightly, and settled himself among the pillows
again.

He had been up early that morning, and it was a warm spring day.
Consequently, it was only natural that he should feel drowsy. Taking
advantage of the moment to relax utterly, Merry put back his head and
closed his eyes. Almost before he knew it, he had dropped off into a
light doze.

He was roused by a sharp knock at the door, and sprang up instantly
with a shout to enter. The door swung back and disclosed Colonel Gunn’s
orderly.

“You’re wanted at the office, Mr. Merriwell,” said the cadet, with
symptoms of flurried haste. “Colonel Gunn sent me after you on the run.”

“What’s up?” queried Frank, in surprise. “Is Randall in trouble?”

“In up to his neck,” said the cadet. “But I’d better not say anything
about it, I guess.”

“All right,” and Merry seized his hat. “Come along!”



CHAPTER XXXIII. ACCUSED OF THEFT.


Colonel Gunn was fat, ponderous, and highly dignified. He owned his
military title by virtue of having been an aid on the governor’s staff,
but none the less he was an extremely capable man.

Merry had no inkling of what trouble Randall was mixed up in, for the
orderly had wisely refrained from discussing it. Upon entering the
office of the principal, Chip found Colonel Gunn seated at his desk.
Before him was Randall, white-faced and evidently badly frightened,
while at one side stood the constable from Fardale village.

To judge by the general air of things, the situation was anything but
pleasant for Bob Randall. Merry came to attention.

“Ah, Mr. Merriwell,” exclaimed the colonel, in his ponderous
style, “I sent for you at--ah--Mr. Randall’s request. There is a
considerable--ah--difficulty, and Mr. Randall seems to think that you
can--ah--help matters out. I’m sure I hope so.”

“Yes, sir,” returned Frank, quite in the dark as yet. “I didn’t know
that Randall was in any trouble, sir.”

“I did not intend to convey that--ah--intelligence, Merriwell. I
merely ventured the--ah--statement that there was a difficulty. You
will please note that there is not only a technical, but a moral,
difference--I might say a tremendous difference--between leveling an
accusation of--ah--guilt, or presupposing such a conclusion, and making
a statement of bare and unvarnished fact.”

Merry was tempted to smile, but knew better.

“Yes, sir,” he gravely answered. “I beg your pardon, Colonel Gunn, for
having unintentionally miscomprehended your prior remark. If I may be
allowed a word with Randall, sir, it might serve to----”

“Ah--certainly, certainly!” wheezed the colonel.

Merry turned. Until then, Randall had not dared to break silence,
knowing that the principal was a stickler for discipline. Now he leaned
over the table toward Frank, his face white and tense.

“Chip, I swear that I didn’t do it!” he cried passionately. “I never
dreamed of such a thing!”

“I hope not,” returned Frank, his eyes twinkling. Then, noting the
terrible strain that Randall labored under, he became serious. “What is
it, old man? What kind of trouble are you in?”

“This heah officeh says that I stole a thousand dollahs last night!”
cried out Randall, indicating the constable.

Merry smiled. To any one who knew Bob Randall, the preposterous
absurdity of such a charge was evident. Randall might be a murderer,
but never a thief.

“Why, old man,” said Frank, “surely there’s no evidence for such a
charge? You have plenty of money, for one thing. For another, any one
who knows you must believe you incapable of such a thing.”

“Yo’ sho’ ahe true blue, Chip!” Randall cried eagerly. “Of co’se, no
one would accuse a Randall of theft, except a low-down Yankee----”

Colonel Gunn cleared his throat heavily. His face looked troubled,
and Chip saw that he also found it hard to reconcile the charge with
Randall’s character.

“You--ah--are presupposing a good deal, gentlemen,” he declared
ponderously. “In the first place, allow me to make the assertion
that--ah--no one has accused Mr. Randall of the theft. Is that not
right, constable?”

“Yes, sir,” said the perplexed officer. “I didn’t accuse him, exactly.
I only wanted to know how much he knew.”

“A distinction with a difference,” said the colonel.

Frank made a grimace of despair. If he was going to get to the bottom
of this before time for mess, he would have to wade in.

“Excuse me, sir,” he exclaimed, “but I know nothing of the
circumstances referred to. I don’t see how I can help Randall, but if
you’ll be good enough to explain the nature of the difficulty I’ll be
only too glad to tell anything I know, or to do anything I can to help
out matters.”

“Ah--quite so, quite so, Merriwell!”

Colonel Gunn swung around in his chair, taking a paper from the desk
before him, and proceeded to elucidate.

“Putting up at the Dobbs Hotel in the village, Merriwell, is a
gentleman named--ah--Hostetter, Ezra Hostetter. It is his assertion
that at some time last night, some person or persons unknown
did feloniously gain admittance to his room at the hotel, and
did--ah--remove from beneath his pillow a black leather wallet,
containing--ah--certain papers. The wallet also contained a thousand
dollars in hundred-dollar bills.”

“He must have been pining for adventure, sir, to carry that much around
with him in currency,” observed Frank. The colonel’s mouth twitched
slightly. “But if the thieves are unknown, where does Randall come in?
He was in barracks last night, as would be easy to prove.”

“That is just the--ah--difficulty,” observed the colonel heavily,
fixing his eye on Randall. “According to the inspector’s report, Mr.
Randall and his roommate were asleep at the proper time. But when I
asked Mr. Randall whether he had been to the village last night, he
admitted it. Is not that correct, sir?”

“Of course, Colonel Gunn,” said the Southerner proudly. “There was a
dummy in my bed to fool the inspector. But when you asked, of course, I
would not lie about it, sir.”

“A highly proper--ah--sentiment, Mr. Randall,” said the colonel.
He stopped Merry with uplifted hand. “One moment, sir! Mr. Randall
was seen to enter the hotel in question, and to leave, each time by
the back door, and in a stealthy manner. When I asked him for an
explanation, he--ah--asked that you be sent for.”

Merry looked at the Southerner in astonishment. Randall stood erect, a
dark flush in his cheeks, his eyes desperate. But he had regained his
self-control.

“I was frightened, Chip,” he said quietly. “Of course, you know nothing
about it, only the evidence seemed so terribly circumstantial that you
were the first person I thought of.”

“I’m glad you did think of me, old man,” said Chip, smiling. “But let’s
get this business straightened out. May I ask who observed Randall’s
entry and departure, Colonel Gunn?”

“Mr. Dobbs himself,” stated the colonel, referring to his paper. “But
allow me to--ah--mention that Mr. Randall makes no denial, and no
explanation.”

Frank glanced again at Randall, in perplexity.

“What’s the answer, old man?”

“I received a letter from my cousin, Edward Carson, the son of Colonel
Carson, of Carsonville,” said Randall. “He asked me to meet him at the
hotel on important business. I was unable to get away before taps, so I
left my room by means of a rope, and entered the hotel quietly, hoping
to avoid observation.”

“Ah, Mr. Randall,” wheezed the colonel, “and what, may I inquire,
was the nature of the--ah--important business to which your cousin
referred?”

“I must refuse to answer, sir,” and Randall suddenly went white. “I
give you my word, sir, that it was entirely personal and private. More
than that, I cannot say.”

A little silence ensued. Frank studied Randall, but could find no
trace of guilt in the dark, handsome features. Nor did he believe the
Southerner guilty.

“You know nothing of the theft, of course?”

“Nothing, Chip.”

“I must say, colonel,” exclaimed Frank, turning to the principal, “that
I do not think Randall at all guilty. He could have easily lied out of
the whole thing, and the inspector’s report would have borne him out.
The fact that he refused to do so must surely count in his favor?”

“Most certainly, Merriwell. It has just--ah--occurred to me that if
we could locate this Carson, we might thus exonerate Mr. Randall
completely. Such a consummation would be--ah--highly pleasing to me.”

“He ain’t at the village,” spoke up the constable. “Mr. Hostetter was
lookin’ fer him, sir.”

“Hostetter knew him, then?” inquired Chip quickly.

“They was friends,” replied the constable. Frank turned.

“Carson was at Randall’s room just before I left, Colonel Gunn. He
departed across the campus, and he might be easily located, I think.”

“Ah--by all means!”

The principal hastily summoned his orderly and ordered a dozen cadets
dispatched in search of Carson, who could be easily recognized by means
of his black eye and patch. Randall was looking at the floor, a tumult
of emotions in his face.

How much Merry knew of the attempt to drug him, he could not guess. Yet
Frank was doing his best to help him out of his scrape. The Southerner
was smitten with remorse and self-condemnation, but dared say nothing.

“We’ll clear you, old man,” said Merry warmly. “This might be a plot
to ruin your character--and knowing Carson, as I do, I would not put it
past him.”

He briefly recounted to Colonel Gunn his late experiences at
Carsonville. The principal, however, did not agree that there could be
any plot against Randall, and Frank himself had only suggested it as a
forlorn hope.

“Your anxiety for your friend--ah--does you honor, Merriwell. Yet I
would point out that until Mr. Dobbs volunteered his--ah--information,
Mr. Randall was not thought of in connection with the unfortunate
matter.”

Poor Randall was miserable enough, and looked it. He could not doubt
Frank’s sincerity in helping him, and his conscience smote him. He
wondered whether Merry had drank that glass of water, but Frank gave no
signs of being drugged.

Going over the facts once more, Merriwell was forced to admit that
things looked black for Randall. If he should be arrested and brought
before a jury, there was little doubt but that he would be convicted on
circumstantial evidence. And yet it was incredible that he should have
stolen the money!

One by one the searchers brought back word that there was no sign
of Carson anywhere about the grounds, and on telephoning the hotel,
Colonel Gunn found that he had not returned. Randall’s entire hopes of
vindication rested upon his cousin.

“I’m sure the constable will be willing that Randall should remain here
in your care, colonel,” suggested Merry. “Carson is sure to turn up at
the game, and he can be brought over at once to clear Randall.”

“Good!” cried the colonel, the constable nodding assent. “And to
express my--ah--belief and confidence in Mr. Randall, he shall sit in
my box during the game!”

Randall tried to thank Merry with his eyes, as the bugles rang out for
mess, but Frank departed with an uneasy feeling that something was
certainly weighing on the Southerner’s mind. Could he be guilty by any
chance?



CHAPTER XXXIV. A MYSTERY.


There was no doubt that the Clippers were a drawing card.

Although their team was one of the best in the Amateur League, the
rumor had spread abroad that it had been largely reconstructed by
Colonel Carson for this game, and the near-by towns had sent their
contingents of fans, in no little expectation.

Fardale field was crowded long before the time for the game. Before
two o’clock the grand stand was sold out. There was no overflow crowd,
since the long bleachers were full able to handle every one, but
automobiles were parked by the score at all available points, and it
looked as if ground rules would have to go into effect.

There had been a big shift in the Fardale team, also. News of this had
leaked out, and consequently both cadets and baseball fans were eager
to see what Captain Merriwell had done in the way of a shake-up.

Man after man purchased a score card, and then gazed at it in blank
amazement. If he happened to be a Fardale rooter, the amazement was
tinctured with dismay. If he was a Clipper fan, he stared at his card
in perplexity, and began to ask questions of the men around him.

This was the line-up that caused the crowd so much confusion:

  FARDALE.
  Lowe, 3d b.
  O’Day, r. f.
  Kess, 2d b.
  Clancy, 1st b.
  Merriwell, p.
  Harker, ss.
  McQuade, c.
  Chester, l. f.
  Lang, c. f.

  CLIPPERS.
  Ironton, ss.
  Murray, 2d b.
  Green, p.
  Smith, 1st b.
  Olcott, c.
  Johnson, r. f.
  Craven, 3d b.
  Runge, l. f.
  Merrell, c. f.

“That’s a queer proposition,” said a Clipper fan, turning to the man
behind him. “Who’s this fellow Green? And Smith?”

“Search me. All we got left o’ the old Clippers is short and second.”

Over in the Fardale bleachers there was little short of a sensation,
for Chip’s line-up had not been made public before the game.

“We’re gone!” groaned one man despairingly. “With Kess on second and
O’Day out in the field, it’s ‘good night’ for us!”

“Merriwell must be crazy,” exclaimed another. “That blundering Dutchman
can’t hit beans! And Lowe and Harker switched around, and a substitute
in left field! I wish Ted Crockett had remained captain, by thunder!”

“Oh, pickles!” scoffed a plebe derisively. “Who left the door open for
you to get in? You wait and see what happens to those Clippers!”

None the less, Fardale was anxious. So were the Clipper sympathizers.
When the time for practice drew near, the crowd was literally on its
toes, watching for the first sight of the players. Both teams were
an unknown quantity, in their present shape, and the only comfort
remaining to Fardale was that Merriwell was slated to pitch. The
umpires were two Yale men, specially obtained for the occasion.

Frank was forced to dismiss his worry over Bob Randall, as the time for
work drew near. Nothing had been seen of Bully Carson, and Randall was
due to witness the game from the principal’s box--partly as a guest,
partly under surveillance. The village constable was somewhere about
the field, hunting for Carson.

Colonel Carson himself was in evidence in the grand stand, laying as
many bets as he could find Fardale takers. Most of these latter were
out-of-town men, for there were few among the cadets themselves who
cared to do any gambling. The colonel knew nothing of his son, it
appeared, and had not seen him that day.

“I’ve heard a lot about this Merriwell guy,” stated a Fardale fan to
the world at large. “Has he got anything?”

“Has he!” A fat man below him turned around, brandishing a fan in one
hand and a pop bottle in the other. “Say, ever see the old Frank
Merriwell pitch?”

“Uh-huh, once.”

“Well, the kid is a chip of the old block, take it from me!”

“I guess I’ll not let Colonel Carson slide past me, then,” and the
Fardale rooter took out his pocketbook.

Finally a tremendous burst of cheering started in the bleachers and
gradually spread around the field. The two teams had arrived for
practice work! Every head was craned to look, and a howl of expectation
rose as the Clippers took the field first.

The howl rose to a roar of applause as the ball began to whip around.
The new Clipper infield was a wonder! Their precision was magnificent,
and the way they put the sphere to the bases made Fardale gasp.

With Coach Trayne, Merry stood watching them work. Off to one side,
Green was limbering up with his catcher, Olcott. He was a tall,
slender, wiry man with a very brown face and terrific speed to his
practice ball.

“Chip, that fellow is a tartar!” murmured the coach. “Watch how easily
he puts those sizzlers down, eh? He moves as if every muscle was run by
clockwork!”

“He certainly is a beautiful pitcher,” Frank said admiringly. “And look
there--see that fellow Craven pick up that hot one! Ironton and Murray
are the only infielders left from their old team, but I guess Colonel
Carson knew his business!”

Wild cheers went up as Craven picked a sizzler from the ground, darted
to his base, and sent the ball across to third like a bullet. Just then
a bat boy touched Merry’s arm.

“A man in one of the boxes wants to speak to you, Chip.”

Frank followed his guide back to the grand stand. A keen-eyed man
with a long black cigar in his mouth was standing by the netting, and
beckoned.

“You wanted me?”

“Yes. Say, Merriwell, do you know that fellow Green--the Clippers’
pitcher?”

“Why, no,” returned Chip, smiling. “He looks mighty good, though.”

“Well, I’m a traveling man, but I’m rooting for Fardale. Did you ever
hear of Southpaw Diggs?”

“Often. He’s one of the best pitchers in the country, if he’d let booze
alone. What’s on your mind?”

“That fellow Green is a dead ringer for Diggs, Merriwell! He ain’t got
Diggs’ big rainbow mustache, but I’ve seen Diggs work too often not to
recognize that wind-up.”

Frank looked up at the man, startled.

“Impossible, my friend! The Clippers are all amateurs----”

“Oh, rats! I know too much about the game to swallow that talk,
Merriwell, especially when Colonel Carson talks it.”

Merry looked troubled. He knew Carson was crooked as a corkscrew, but
it was incredible that such a barefaced thing could be attempted.

“If you can swear that Diggs and Green are one and the same,” suggested
Frank, frowning, “we could protest him.”

“No,” returned the traveling man regretfully. “I never seen Diggs close
up, but I could recognize that wind-up a mile away. I couldn’t swear to
it very well, though.”

“Then the game has to go on,” said Frank.

At this point the man next to his informant, who had been listening,
chipped in the conversation.

“Old man Carson is betting all kinds of money, Merriwell. If that
fellow is really Diggs, would it queer the bets?”

“Not exactly,” said Merry. “If we could prove it, of course, the bets
would be off, and so would the game. But I see no chance of proving it.”

“Well, I’m backin’ your crowd,” went on the man anxiously. “I had a bet
at even money with the colonel’s son, but he must have got cold feet.
He ain’t showed up.”

“Was it much of a bet?” asked Frank.

“A thousand even.”

“You’d better keep your money in your pocket,” advised Chip, turning
away. “Betting is mighty poor business, especially where the Carson
crowd is mixed up in it.”

He stood looking across the field, suddenly thoughtful. A thousand
dollars--and Bully Carson also had boasted that he had a thousand in
cash to bet--and Hostetter had been robbed of exactly that amount!

“That’s a mighty queer coincidence,” reflected Merry, worried.
“Hostetter and Bully were friends, according to Colonel Gunn. Could it
be possible that Carson did steal that money? But where is he now?”

That was a mystery. Evidently Bully had failed to meet the man with
whom he was to bet, yet he had left Randall’s room for that express
purpose.

“I believe he can explain that theft,” muttered Frank. “And I’ll make
it my business to find him after the game.”

Returning to Coach Trayne, he repeated the information given him by the
traveling man, and Trayne watched Green closely.

“He does resemble Diggs in general outline,” admitted the coach. “And
his wind-up and delivery are exactly similar. Chip, I’ve a good notion
to stop this game now!”

“You’ve no proof, Mr. Trayne. The Clippers are vouched for as amateurs
by their owner, and even if he has put in a few ringers, that can’t
hurt our standing, if we play them. And it would be a bad business to
start something we can’t finish.”

Trayne saw the justice of this argument, and Merry caught up his glove,
as the bell rang, and ran out. While he was warming up with Billy Mac,
the other Fardale men began to work, and Merry’s judgment was soon
vindicated by the fans, except in the case of Villum Kess.

The Dutch lad seemed awkward. He committed no glaring errors, but it
seemed to the crowd that any one would have been better at second than
he. However, Fardale was now committed, and every rooter hoped for the
best as the Fardale yell began to ring out: “Ha, ha, ha! ’Rah, ’rah,
’rah! Rigger-boom! Zigger-boom! All hail--Fardale! Fardale! Fardale!”

The Clipper sympathizers had no regular yell, but they made good
with a thunder of feet stamping, and a roar of shouts and yells. For
an instant these fell silent while the two umpires announced the
batteries, then they rose again into a wild storm as the Fardale nine
trotted out and took the field.

“Play ball!” cried the strike umpire, adjusting his mask. Ironton
stepped out.

The game was on.



CHAPTER XXXV. THE FIGHT OF HIS LIFE.


“Ve vos all pehind you, Chip!” squawked Villum Kess, capering around
second.

“Take your time, old man,” advised Clancy.

“Let this boob hit it,” grinned Billy Mac, as Ironton stepped into the
box.

Frank paused. He had seen clearly that Green was a whirlwind, and
decided to hold his best ball, the jump, in reserve. If Green was
really Diggs, then he had his work cut out for him.

“Get on to that guy on second!” yelled a fan.

Villum Kess had come to rest plumb on his bag, and stood waiting.

“Play off there, you lobster!” shrieked another rooter frantically.

“Blay off yourselluf,” returned Villum hotly. “Shud oop und say less.
Make a glam of yourselluf if I vas a lopster yes, no! Yaw! You vait
till you show me!”

Frank nodded to Billy, and put over a low, straight ball. Ironton
waited.

“Strike--one!”

The Clipper shortstop was a wicked hitter, as Merry knew. Seeing that
he stood up close to the plate, Chip put over a sharp inshoot, and
again the umpire called a strike, as Ironton swung vainly.

He refused to bite at two teasers, however, and again Merry used his
in. As if sensing the ball, Ironton pulled back and chopped.

Crack!

Merry reached after the hot liner in vain. It went straight toward the
position that Kess should have been playing, while Ironton dug down
toward first, amid wild whoops from the bleachers. Then Villum did a
surprising thing.

Flinging himself out toward the ball, he lost his balance and slid
forward, whirling around. He came down in a cloud of dust.

“By glory, he sat on it!” yelled the fans.

Villum reached beneath himself and pulled out the ball, staring at it
in mild astonishment.

“Put it over, you boob!” shrieked Clancy.

Kess looked up, saw the runner nearing first, and scrambled to his
feet. With astonishing precision, he sent the ball to Clancy, and the
umpire motioned Ironton out.

“It was an accident!” cried Craven, on the coaching line. “He’s an
idiot!”

“Go avay mit yourselluf!” squawked Villum, brushing the dust from his
shirt. “Vait till I vos shown you how you don’d blay, yes, no!”

Murray advanced to the plate, and with evident determination to hit.
After trying to connect with three sharp curves, Murray slung away his
bat and yielded up his place to Green.

Frank saw the wiry pitcher pull down his cap and dust his hands,
and the quiet confidence of the man went far to show that he was no
amateur. Grimly resolving to fan him, Chip wound up for the double
shoot, and the ball hummed down.

Green did not attempt to strike. Then a swift look of astonishment
overspread his lean brown face. Merry had changed from his right to his
left hand!

“Great Scott!” gasped Green. “It’s impossible!”

“Go on and knock it over the fence,” chuckled Billy Mac.

Green tried to, but the double shoot fooled him completely. With a
smile, Frank delivered a sharp out with his left hand, and Green
reached for it in vain.

“We’ve got ’em!” whooped Clancy as he ran in. “One, two, three!”

“Easy money,” cried Billy, and Chip touched his cap to the yelling
grand stand as the Fardale cheer ripped out.

Fardale’s hopes received an abrupt shock, however. Smiling a little,
but saying nothing, Green put over nine pitched balls, and retired
Lowe, O’Day, and Kess!

“He can’t pitch anything but strikes!” gasped Clancy.

“Don’d you see dot sbeed!” muttered Villum. “Dot pall a pullet vos, so
hellup me!”

“We’re up against something pretty hard, fellows,” said Chip, as they
went out. “Everybody pull together, now, and we’ll win.”

His confidence had been sorely shaken, however. Smith strode out and
landed on Frank’s first ball for a foul that went up over the grand
stand. Twice more he fouled, but the double shoot retired him finally.

“They’re all bad actors,” cried Lowe from third. “Let ’em hit it, Chip!”

Olcott, the new Clipper catcher, was a short man, with tremendously
wide shoulders. Chip tried him with a low fadeaway, but Olcott chortled
with glee and fell on it. The ball rose and began to travel for the
right-field fence.

O’Day raced back, then stopped short. The crowd hooted, for the ball
seemed certain to go far beyond him. The fans had forgotten the wind,
however, and, when the sphere came down it nestled into O’Day’s glove,
and stuck there. Johnson fanned, and the Fardales went to bat.

That is, they went to bat technically. Clancy was the first up, and
although usually a slugger, he was retired on three pitched balls.
Merry took his place, with the bleachers screaming for a hit.

Green studied him a moment, then changed his position abruptly. He used
something that he had hitherto held in reserve--a remarkable spit ball.
Frank guessed it, but could not hit.

Again Green used the same thing, and again Merry missed it. He touched
the third one for a high foul, however, that cleared the grand stand.
With a new ball thrown out to him, Green deliberately put over three
balls that were wide of the plate.

“Put it over!” snapped Chip. “You’re scared to put it over, Green!”

Green looked at him, and grinned tantalizingly. Then he calmly sent
over the ball, ten feet wide of the plate. Frank angrily flung his bat
away, and walked.

The Fardale rooters went wild, but Chip was not fooled. He knew that
this was a deliberate effort to rattle him, and that Green had meant to
show his contempt. This was proved when Harker was sent down on three
pitched balls, though Green again held his spit ball under cover.

His curves were wonderful, and would have fooled better men than
Fardale owned. Seeing that he was marooned on first, Chip made a
desperate attempt, and stole second, but only got there safely because
Murray dropped a terrific ball, that Olcott placed perfectly. Billy Mac
immediately struck out, and the inning was over.

“That man Green is beyond anything I ever saw!” cried Coach Trayne, as
Chip came in to confer with Billy. “Watch out for Craven, Merry!”

Frank nodded toward the bench. Craven was a slender, lanky fellow with
a large jaw. He was chewing tobacco, and carried his bat easily.

Using his right hand once more, Merry resorted to the double shoot,
refusing Billy’s agonized plea to use the jump ball. Craven fanned
twice, seeming to be awkward at the plate, but on the third ball he
struck too quickly, whirled, and the ball hit him between the shoulders.

He went down to first, apparently badly hurt. But Chip caught a quick
grin from him, and realized angrily that the umpire had been “worked”
very neatly. He fanned Merrell, then Runge, but Craven romped down
to second without hindrance, exchanging compliments with the enraged
Villum, as he did so.

Ironton again was at bat. Chip sent the ball sizzling over for two
strikes, but Ironton had solved the double shoot. He connected with the
next ball and dropped it over second for a neat single--the first hit
of the game. Craven went to third, with the crowd frantic, and Murray
was up.

Chip switched hands in desperation, and Murray fanned twice. Then
Ironton tried for second, and Billy Mac made a wretched throw that
Villum barely hung on to, a yard from the sack. When Frank put the
ball down again, Murray cracked a liner at Lowe--and Lowe fumbled it,
booting it across the infield to Harker.

The crowd came to its feet, as Craven raced over the rubber. Harker
lost his head and made a throw ten feet wide of the plate. Billy went
after it, but Ironton came in like a whirlwind. Frank ran in and put
the ball on him as he slid, but the umpire called him safe, and the
Clippers had secured two runs, with Murray on third and Green up.

“For Heaven’s sake use the jump!” implored Billy desperately,
conferring with Chip. But Merry, grim-lipped, refused.

“I’ve got to hold it, Billy. This game is only three innings old.”

He walked back, determined to retrieve the errors that had overwhelmed
his team. Green faced him with a wide grin, the Clipper fans howling
for a hit to bring in Murray. And Green was confident of getting it.
Murray’s lone hit had started things.

Frank did the very last thing Green expected. With a lengthy
preliminary, he sent in a fast straight ball over the heart of the
plate. Green had watched his fingers, and expected a drop, striking a
foot beneath the ball.

“That got him!” yelled Clancy.

“Another of the same,” cried Billy.

“Sure, give me another,” begged Green.

Chip smiled. He knew that Green would now be certain of a swift curve.
So, making as if to throw an out, Chip sent down another straight ball.

“Strike--uh--two!”

“That’s headwork, old man!” cried Harker.

“Led him dood it!” cried Villum. “Ve vos all behind you, Frankie!”

Merry stood quietly. He refused Billy’s signals time after time,
knowing that Green was watching him like a hawk, until the crowd yelled
for action. In desperation Billy tried the signal for another straight
ball, and Merry nodded.

Again he wound up carefully. This time he cut loose with every ounce of
speed at his command, and the ball went down fairly scorching. Green
hit, but hit too late, and Billy was taken off his feet by the speed of
the ball. None the less, he held on to it; Chip had fanned his rival
with three straight balls!

Not only those in the grand stand, but the bleachers had also noted the
fact, and there was a deep roar of cheers as Fardale came in. Merry
passed Green, and the latter gave him a quick smile.

“Merriwell,” he said quietly, “I take off my hat to you! That was
magnificent.”

Chip looked at him, found sincerity in the wrinkled eyes, and warmed
instinctively.

“Thanks,” he said significantly. “Coming from you, that means a good
deal, Mr. Diggs!”

Green started, gave him one keen glance, then passed on with a laugh.
But in that moment Chip knew that he now knew his man.

“That man is Diggs, right enough,” he said to Coach Trayne, as his next
three men proceeded to fan. “But he’s not beaten us yet.”

“Yaw!” squawked Villum from behind. “Dot vos right, Chip! Two runs
don’d a pasepall game make, you pet me! Vait till I dood it!”

For the second time, Green retired Fardale on nine pitched balls.



CHAPTER XXXVI. THE JUMP BALL.


The fourth inning started off badly, Smith beating out a bunt to first,
but he held on while Merry tightened and fanned the next two men with
the double shoot. At this Smith went down to second, where Villum was
standing on the sack as usual.

Billy Mac sent down a perfect throw from the plate, but Villum appeared
not to see it, for he was staring at Smith.

“Jump, you chump!” yelled Smith, and flung himself down in a beautiful
fall-away slide.

For the second time that day, Villum sat down suddenly. The ball
plunged into the cloud of dust, and a groan from the bleachers.
When the dust cleared off, Villum was seen to be smiling blandly at
Smith, holding the ball against the latter’s chest; Smith’s leg was
hooked about Villum’s waist, and the Clipper was staring up with wild
astonishment.

“You vas oudt,” exclaimed Villum. “You vos hooked me aroundt vhere I
down sit, und you thought it vos der pase, yes, no?”

“Well, I’m jiggered!” gasped Smith.

The crowd roared with laughter at this evidence of Villum’s playing,
but it fell into somber silence once more as Fardale came to bat and
O’Day struck out.

Then Villum came up to the plate, and, in trying to hit the first ball
over, he lost his balance and was hit himself. The umpire hesitated,
then motioned him to first, and Olcott’s protest went unheeded.

“Yaw!” triumphantly blatted the Dutch lad, as he trotted down. “I toldt
you I’d dood it! Britty soon der ball vill hit Chip a home run vor, you
pet me!”

“Sacrifice, Clan,” ordered Merry quietly. “You can’t hope for a hit.”

“Why not?” said Clancy, pausing as he was going forth.

“Because we’re up against Southpaw Diggs. Bunt it.”

The red-haired chap tried hard to obey, but failed. Villum went to
second, however. Murray stood square on the base line, trying to block
him off, and Villum arrived at about the same time as the ball. He
flung himself straight at the sack and Murray went down amid a cloud
of dust, from which the ball was seen to roll. Instantly Villum jumped
up and went tearing toward third, regardless of Lowe’s orders to hold
second. Murray pegged the ball down to Craven, but made a poor throw.
It was a close decision, but Villum got the benefit of the doubt.

“Bring him in, Chip,” said Clancy.

For the second time, Merry faced his rival, and for the second time
Green resorted to his wonderful spit ball. Once Chip fouled, and once
struck in vain, then at the last instant he choked his bat and met the
third ball for a bunt.

The slippery ball twisted along toward first, and Merry sped after it
like a deer. Green went for it, but Chip beat out the throw, and Villum
was safe with the first run for Fardale. Harker fanned, and the inning
was ended.

“Well, that showed that they aren’t invulnerable, fellows,” said Merry
cheerfully. “We’ll even up pretty soon!”

“You’re the only one of us who has a hit so far,” said Billy Mac.

“And that was a bad scratch,” chuckled Merry. “Well, go to it!”

Craven, the dangerous third baseman, was again up. He could not solve
the double shoot, however, and Merrell and Runge went down, also. Merry
had repeated Green’s feat of retiring the side with nine pitched balls.

As he walked in and met Billy, however, he shook his head doubtfully.

“I’m using that ball too much,” he said, in a low voice. “I don’t want
to use the jump unless I have to, but I can’t throw the double shoot
all the time, Billy.”

“Change arms, then.”

“I have. Well, let’s see what happens.”

Billy, Chester, and Lange went down in regular order to the smiling
Green, although Lange managed to send up a pop fly that was gathered in
by Murray. The sixth started with the heavy end up, and Ironton came
out confidently.

Frank tried to avoid using the double shoot, with the result that
Ironton poled a hot liner toward third. Lowe made a beautiful stop that
drew an admiring yell from the bleachers, but dropped the ball, and
Ironton beat it out.

The next man up was Murray, and Chip handled him carefully, forcing
him to put up an infield fly, that Villum easily absorbed. Then Green
strode out, smiling.

Chip gathered every energy. He put over the double shoot, reversing
from an in to an out, and Green fanned. Then, using his left hand, he
reversed the shoot, and once more Green struck in vain, Ironton going
down to second. Knowing that it was useless to attempt luring Green,
Frank once more threw every effort into a terrifically swift, straight
ball--and again Green fanned.

The speed of that ball was too much for Billy, however. It went through
him and rolled back to the grand stand, while Green tore to first and
Ironton to third. Both were safe, and Smith advanced to the plate.
Frank signaled to Billy to come up.

“It’s no use, old man,” he said quietly.

“I’m sorry, Chip,” and Billy was almost in tears. “They can’t touch
you, and if you only had a decent catcher----”

“None of that,” said Merry. “You’re all right, Billy. But I daren’t use
the double shoot again. I’ve pitched nothing else, and I can’t give
away the jump ball just yet. I’m going to try the spit ball, so watch
out for bad ones.”

The almost constant use of the double shoot had been a tremendous
strain on Frank’s arm, and Billy was forced to assent. Merry did not
half like using the spit ball, as he had not practiced it for some
time, but the need was imperative.

In fact, his first two balls went wide of the plate, and nearly let
in a run. Then he found himself, and Smith fanned twice, Billy vainly
trying to catch Green at second. By sheer good luck, Smith connected
and walloped out a beauty to the left garden, which Chester gathered.
But Ironton beat the ball to the plate for the third tally.

“He’s gone!” came a voice from the grand stand that Frank recognized
for that of Colonel Carson. “Knock him out of the lot! He’s gone!”

“I’ll show you something, you old scoundrel!” muttered Chip angrily, as
Olcott pounded the rubber and begged for a good one.

He seemed unable to fulfill his prediction, however, for Olcott bunted
the first ball to Harker, the shortstop made a poor throw to first,
and Olcott was safe. Johnson came up, but ended the inning by popping a
foul, that Billy Mac neatly garnered.

“Four to one,” said Lowe, with a groan, as they came in. “We’re done!”

“We’re not,” said Clancy warmly. “Chip hasn’t begun to pitch yet.”

Merry smiled faintly, and stared aghast as Green again put over nine
pitched balls and retired Fardale. The man seemed made of iron!

In the first half of the seventh it seemed that only luck saved
Fardale. Chester dropped Craven’s fly, and Merrell let the ball hit
him. Runge fanned, and Ironton came up with second and third filled,
and one out. He knocked a hot one to Villum, who promptly dropped it;
while every one yelled at him, the Dutch lad stared at the runners in
astonishment.

Then he picked up the ball and slammed it to third, catching Merrell,
and Lowe snapped it to Billy for a double play that retired the
Clippers.

“Get a hit, Clan,” said Merry quietly. “Green’s weakening.”

Clancy brightened up perceptibly, and though Green showed no sign of
weakening, Clancy was hit by the ball, and went to first. Merry came
up, made a quick guess that Green would give him an in, and swung with
all his strength. He hit the ball on the nose.

“Wow!”

A shrill yell went up from every fan as the ball sailed out, cleared
the fence, and was no more seen. As Merry jogged in from third he
grinned.

“All luck, Green,” he cried.

Frank had netted two runs with that homer, but the eighth opened with
the score four to three in favor of the Clippers, and Craven at bat. He
grounded out to Clancy, Merrell fanned, and Runge flied to Lowe. Green
again fanned three men, leaving Kess up, and the ninth inning was on.

“All right, Billy,” said Chip quietly. “Every ball a jump.”

“Hurray!” yelled Billy, in delight. “Nine balls, Merry!”

Ironton was up. Merry put the first ball down to him right in the
groove, and he swung viciously at it. The ball seemed to leap over his
bat into Billy’s glove.

“Hey!” cried Ironton, amazed. “What’s the matter with that ball?”

“Take another look,” said Chip, with a grin.

Again he sent it squarely over the plate, and again Ironton failed
utterly to find it. The third ball looked even better, and with
wondering desperation Ironton brought around his bat.

“Out!”

“What kind of a ball is that?” demanded Ironton savagely.

“Plain straight ball,” chuckled Billy. “Couldn’t you see it?”

The grand stand began to appreciate a change in Merriwell’s pitching as
Johnson came into the box and proceeded to strike out also.

“He’s using a new ball!” yelled the traveling man who had recognized
Green-Diggs.

“Look at Johnson swing!” shrieked another fan excitedly. “Where’d he
get that ball? What is it?”

Johnson watched the third one come, and tried helplessly to find it. He
was motioned out, and flung his bat away heatedly.

“There’s some crooked work here!” he cried.

“And it smells like Southpaw Diggs,” chirped Clancy, as Green came out
swinging two bats. He flung one away and stepped into the box.

The Fardale fans began to pluck up hope. They roared out hoarse
entreaties to fight it out, and as he glanced at the grand stand Merry
saw Colonel Gunn standing up and excitedly waving his hat, dignity
utterly forgotten, while Randall clutched him around the neck and
yelled like a crazy man.

“Here’s a nice straight one for you, Green,” said Chip.

Green evidently believed him, for he swung at the ball wickedly. But
the sphere took a queer upward jump into Billy’s mitt, and Green
stepped back with a single gasp of amazement.

“What you got on that ball?” he queried wonderingly.

Smiling, Merry sent down another, square in the groove. This time Green
stood back and watched it, then grinned.

“Let her come!” he cried, and Chip knew that he had solved the jump.

With that, he sent down a straight ball. Green grinned again, struck a
foot above it--and was out!

But the Clippers were still one run to the good.



CHAPTER XXXVII. A DESPERATE FINISH.


Fardale field was a pandemonium.

Grand stand and bleachers alike were crazy with excitement. The band,
unheard, blared forth amid the din. Men shouted and shrieked for the
score to be tied, begged Merry to crack out another homer, hit each
other over the head, and threatened to smash the stands with their
frenzied stamping.

With suddenness that was almost appalling, the din died away as Villum
Kess was seen walking out to the plate. The rooters held their breath.

“That settles it,” groaned a man near Colonel Gunn’s box. “That
dunderhead will be the first out--it’s all over.”

“Confound your impertinence, sir!” roared the irate colonel,
twisting about and threatening the fan with personal violence. “It’s
not--ah--all over till the last man has--ah--gone down!”

Then he turned and sent another roar at the field.

“Get a hit! Get a hit!”

The crowd took up the swinging words. “Get a hit! Get a hit!” rose the
thunder of many voices, pierced by the shrill yells of the Clipper
fans, who implored Green to “Hold ’em down!”

Then Kess stepped into the box, and instantly the silence fell anew.

“Yaw!” squawked the Dutch lad, his voice sounding distinctly all over
the field. “Didn’t I toldt you I vos goin’ to dood it! You vos a
skinch, so hellup me!”

“You’ll get skinned, all right,” yelled Olcott. “Let the Dutchman hit
it, old man! He’s easy!”

“Shut oop mit your mouth!” retorted Villum, turning angrily.

As he did so, Green unwound and the sphere came down like a bullet.
Villum tried to strike, but overreached himself and fell forward,
sitting on the plate.

“Vot der matter vos?” he inquired blankly. “Vhere vos der pall?”

“Get up or you’ll have another strike called,” said Olcott.

Villum scrambled to his feet. His actions disgusted the excited crowd,
however, and a storm of objurgation began to rain upon him.

“Take him out! Send in a ball player!”

“Get the hook! Get the hook!”

“By Yimini, you shoot oop!” roared Villum, waving his bat at the grand
stand. “How vos I to hear der pall coming vhen you vos making such a
yelling?”

Green smiled and once more put the ball across while Villum was glaring
at the crowd. He whirled around as the ball plunked home.

“Vot vos dot?”

“Strike--two!” called the umpire.

“Vell, by shinks!” gasped Villum angrily. “You vos der advantage oof me
dake, yes, no?”

“Watch out,” advised Olcott, with a wide grin. “Here it comes again.”

Villum spat on his hands, pounded the plate, and settled down. Even the
nonchalant Green was laughing, but his laugh ended suddenly.

For, as the ball came glinting down, Villum gathered together, swung
mightily, and connected!

“He’s done it!” shrieked the fans, coming to their feet with a howl.

The ball went sizzling along the ground to Craven, while Villum Kess
labored toward first. The third baseman was so astonished at his hit
that when he scooped up the ball he fumbled it. Then he picked it up
again and whipped it to first.

“Look oudt!” yelled Villum. “I vos coming!”

He came, too, in an unheralded slide. Smith, the semipro, had probably
never seen any one slide for first before in all his life. He was so
startled at the action that he missed the ball, which went past him.

Instantly Villum gained his feet and plunged toward second, repeating
his bull-head effort of the fourth inning. While Smith chased the ball
the crowd began to yell encouragement at him, remembering that he had
scored the first tally.

On reaching second, Villum took a look over his shoulder and started
for third. Smith had gained the ball, and was sending it across the
diamond to Craven, but none the less he pounded on, head down and
elbows working.

He was only halfway from second when Craven picked up the ball and
started for him with a grin. Villum never slacked up, despite the
frantic yells that were directed at him. Just as Craven reached out to
tag him, however, he stumbled over his own foot and fell like a shot,
headfirst.

He struck squarely against Craven’s knees. The latter’s hand was
distinctly seen to fly out, while the ball dropped and rolled away. Out
of the whirling arms and legs emerged Villum, bounced to third, and
turned toward home.

“I toldt you I vos a home run got!” he bellowed.

This time, however, this amazing luck seemed to have deserted him.
Craven rolled over and got the ball, and quickly snapped it home.
Olcott stepped out to get it, flinging aside his mask, and a groan
swelled out from the crowd.

“He’s done for!”

“Nefer!” roared Villum, bouncing along desperately.

Once more he shot to earth, just as the ball came whizzing along over
him. Olcott took the ball and fetched it down, but Villum had already
come to a stop, hands outstretched before him.

“Shudgement!” he squawked at the umpire. “You pet me dot I vos safe!”

He had the tips of his fingers on the plate--and had effected a home
run without making a hit!

“Yaw!” he shrieked, in delight. “Vot vos I toldt you! You pet me der
score she vos died, yes, no?”

“Right you are, Villum,” laughed Chip, escorting the Dutch lad to the
bench in mingled wonder and joy. “Take off your hat!”

Villum did so, then looked at it curiously. His eyes went to Chip’s
face, then to the grand stand, and for the first time he seemed to
realize that the crowds were yelling at him in frantic madness. He
bowed, stumbled, stood on his head, and vanished under the players’
shed.

As Clancy walked out, Green seemed to lose his composure for the first
time.

“Wake up, you boneheads!” he shouted wrathfully at his amazed team,
who were still trying to find out what had happened. “They’ve got four
runs on us, with only two hits. And Merriwell got them both! Wake up
and play the game!”

“Here’s where we get another hit, Southpaw Diggs,” said Clancy merrily,
as he danced into the box. “Put her over, old sox!”

Green obeyed, and the ball had so much speed that Clancy merely leaped
backward in actual terror.

“Hey!” he cried. “You don’t need to kill a fellow!”

Green smiled, having regained his lost poise, and brought out his spit
ball in this emergency. Clancy swung at it vainly.

“Strike--two.”

Once more the ball sped down like a white streak. This time Clancy
connected with a crack that fetched the crowds up standing. But the
roar was followed by a groan, as the ball lifted into deep center field
and Merrell went after it.

Merrell was more intent on the ball than on the ground, however. Clancy
was running along to first and watching him when Merrell stumbled and
fell. The ball came down a yard beyond him, and O’Day sent Clancy on to
second, while once more the roar swelled out from the bleachers.

“Green’s blown up! Merry to bat!”

“A hit, Merriwell! Get a hit! Get a hit!”

“One run wins the game! Get a hit!”

That fly, which fell well within Merrell’s territory, and should have
been fielded easily, went as an error instead of a hit. Therefore,
in spite of the fact that Fardale had four runs, Merry was the only
one who had so far been able to hit Green. One of his two hits was
a scratch, and the other was a lucky jab by his own admission.
Therefore, as he came up to the plate, he was anything but confident.

He had already given Clancy the hit-and-run signal, for he himself had
little hope of making another decent hit. As he stepped in the box and
faced Green, he saw the man’s lean brown face smiling at him, and knew
that the other was even cooler than he himself.

For the second time, Green read danger in Merry’s eyes and resolved to
take no chances. He sent down a wide one, and Chip lashed out at it in
order to give Clancy a chance.

The red-haired chap went to third, safe by a narrow margin. After that,
Green sent down no more wide ones, but instead he placed them so high
that Olcott was forced to get on his toes to reach them. Yet they never
went too high for him; Green was a perfect master, and his control was
absolute.

Three of them sang past, while Merry waited desperately. He knew
perfectly well that Green intended to pass him, in order to strike out
the next three men.

“I’d sooner die fighting than be left at the post,” he muttered grimly,
taking a firm grip on his bat.

Again Green smiled, scarcely taking the trouble to wind up for the
throw. He sent the ball down to Olcott, far too high for a good strike,
but Chip was past caring whether it was good or not.

With an effort, he swung up and reached for it. There was a crack, and
the sphere shot out over second base--for his third hit off Green!

Merrell made a hard run in for the ball, secured it on the first
bounce, and relayed in a beautiful throw to Olcott. Clancy was tearing
for home, and he ran along as he had never run before. Glancing around,
he saw the ball almost even with him, and as he neared home he went
down in a desperate slide.

Olcott received the ball perfectly, and there was a moment of suspense
as the dust rose and hid the play. Then the umpire’s figure emerged,
hands down.

Fardale had won on Merry’s hit--the closest finish ever seen on Fardale
field.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. CAUGHT WITH THE GOODS.


“It’s Merry’s game, all right!”

“I’m not so sure of that, fellows,” said Merry, as he entered the
dressing room and heard Lowe’s remark; “I’d say that it’s Villum’s
game. Didn’t he get the run that tied, and get it without assistance?”

A roar of laughter went up. As Merry went to his locker, however, he
was approached by Colonel Gunn’s orderly, who shoved hastily through
the crowd.

“Come outside, Mr. Merriwell!” cried the cadet. “The constable wants
you!”

“Tell him I’ll be dressed in a minute,” returned Chip.

“No, get a move on right now!” insisted the other excitedly. “Colonel
Gunn is waiting, too.”

“That’s a horse of another color, then,” said Chip, and made haste
outside.

He found the constable, who greeted him eagerly.

“Say, Merriwell, come along over to the riding hall. Colonel Gunn’s
gone over, and said to bring you along.”

“Me? What for?”

Merry had forgotten all about the affairs of Randall in the excitement.

“Why, they found that feller Carson, and he seems to be drunk, or hurt,
or something,” explained the constable hurriedly, as they started out.
“One o’ the boys phoned over to the grand stand just before the game
ended.”

“That’s bad,” commented Merry. “You don’t know any more?”

The constable did not, except that he had seen Colonel Carson slinking
away from the grounds in woeful plight. It was said that the colonel
had lost a large sum of money on the game.

With the orderly, they hastened to the riding hall. Grouped in the
rear, they found a small crowd of cadets, in the midst of whom stood
Colonel Gunn and Randall, while a motionless figure could be made out
on the ground.

“Ha--Merriwell!” cried the principal, who had recovered his momentarily
lost ponderous manner. “Here is the--ah--individual of whom we were in
search. He appears to have been in this posture for some little time.”

Merry and the constable pushed through, to see Bully Carson lying on
the ground. He was motionless, and was breathing stertorously. Although
his one good eye did not open, he seemed dimly conscious that others
were around him.

“Go ’way!” he muttered thickly. “Go ’way!”

“He don’t look drunk, exactly,” observed the constable, “and he ain’t
hurt.”

“No, he does not--ah--appear to be under the influence of liquor.
Perhaps he is merely--ah--reposing in the arms of Morpheus.”

“No, Murphy was lookin’ for him to-day,” rejoined the constable,
referring to his assistant. Colonel Gunn’s lips twitched.

“See if you can resuscitate him, Merriwell. The sooner we
could--ah--relieve Randall of the unfortunate difficulties surrounding
him, the better.”

Merry knelt over Bully and raised his head, shaking his shoulders in
no very gentle fashion. Bully grunted and opened his eyes in a dazed
manner. At the same instant a small, very much flustered man pushed
through the group.

“Hello, here’s Hostetter now,” announced the constable. “Colonel Gunn,
this is him.”

“I heard that Carson had been found,” exclaimed Hostetter. “Nothing has
happened to him, I trust?”

Bully answered for himself. Sitting up suddenly and pushing Merry away,
he glanced around with dull and yet frightened eyes.

“Who’s that?” he muttered thickly. “Where’s Hostetter?”

“Right here, old man,” cried the little laundryman fervently. “Have you
managed to locate my pocketbook? You know you said this morning that
you might be able to get a clew.”

“Nothin’ doin’,” said Bully thickly. “I must ’a’ been asleep--it was
that there glass o’ water, I’ll bet a dollar!”

He tried to get to his feet, Chip assisting him, but stumbled and fell
back. As he did so, a long black object fell from his pocket. Hostetter
pounced on it with a shrill yell.

“My wallet! How----”

As he examined it feverishly, Bully once more came to life. He clapped
a hand to his pocket, then staggered up.

“Where’s my wallet!” he growled, clutching for support.

“Your wallet!” cried Merry. “You mean Hostetter’s wallet. Where’d you
get it, eh? Are you the one that stole it?”

Bully seemed to shrink suddenly into himself, muttering and mumbling.

“Who says I stole it?” he grunted defiantly, only half conscious yet.
He gave a lurch and caught at Merriwell for support. “Hostetter--durned
little fool----”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Merriwell sharply. Bully tried to rouse
himself. “Here, one of you fellows get a bucket of water, will you?”

“Lemme go,” grunted Bully, trying to reel away. “I got to place
bet--thousand-dollar bet--little fool Hostetter handed me his money----”

“That’s a lie!” snapped Hostetter suddenly. “I believe you stole that
money, Carson!”

“I believe so, too,” said Merry dryly. “Constable, you’d better get
ready to take charge of him when--ah, here’s the water now!”

One of the grinning cadets arrived with a pail of water. Bully had
already relapsed into slumber, and Merry took the water and soused it
over his head.

A second later Bully was on his feet, shaking his head and bellowing in
fury.

“That’s enough out o’ you,” said the constable, tapping him on the
shoulder. “I guess you can come along to the lockup, my man.”

Bully let out a yell of fear.

“What fur!” he wailed, as the constable gripped him firmly. “I ain’t
done nothin’! Take your hands off’n me!”

“For the theft of Mr. Hostetter’s pocketbook,” said Colonel Gunn, in
his most military voice, facing the astounded Bully. “You, sir, have
been--ah--apprehended with the stolen property on your person. While
still in a condition of semi-coma, you made certain admissions which
most undoubtedly will--ah--be put to service in the cause of justice.”

“I’ll give it back!” wailed Bully. “It was only a joke--I didn’t
mean----”

“Constable, remove the--ah--prisoner!”

The constable did so. The last that was seen of Bully Carson, he was
trailing along and tearfully expostulating. Colonel Gunn turned to
Randall.

“I congratulate you, Mr. Randall, on being thus--ah--exonerated of all
the faint suspicion which--ah--clung to your footsteps, in a manner of
speaking. You will kindly report at my office Monday morning to state
why you should not be punished for leaving your room and the school
grounds without permission last evening. Gentlemen, I bid you good day!
Oh--one moment, Merriwell! That--ah--that was the most remarkable,
I think I may say the most spectacular, game of baseball I ever
witnessed. Sir, I heartily congratulate you on your playing!”

And with a stiff bow, Colonel Gunn beckoned his orderly and strode away.

Merry looked after him, then turned to Randall with a smile, his hand
out.

“It’s all right, old man!” he said. “Come along over to the gym while I
get into my clothes, will you? I’ve got something I want to say.”

Randall gave him a half-frightened look, but merely nodded assent. The
two walked to the gym together, and more than one cadet looked after
them significantly, with the remark that Randall had been fetched
around, after all.

“What do you suppose was the trouble with Bully?” queried Chip, as they
entered the gymnasium building. “It looked to me rather as if he had
been drugged, Bob!”

Randall flushed.

“Maybe he had,” he said bitterly. “I knew that he was pretty bad, but I
never suspected that he could stoop to being a thief.”

“I guess there are a whole lot of things about your cousin that you
never suspected,” returned Merry dryly.

They found the dressing room almost deserted, the members of the team
having disappeared long since. Merry had his shower and rubdown, and
returned to his locker where Randall was waiting.

“That was a great finish to-day, Chip,” said the Southerner, rather
awkwardly. “And your pitching showed me a whole lot I had never even
guessed. If I had been in your place, they’d have pounded me off the
mound in two innings, Chip.”

“Not much,” said Chip. “Luck broke with us, that was all. By the way,
their pitcher was Southpaw Diggs, Bob. Some credit in beating him, eh?
I was almost gone in the seventh, for a fact.”

“Diggs!” Bob gasped. “I guess you had mighty little luck in that game,
Chip, and a whole lot of good playing! I heard a fellow near us saying
that he thought the first baseman was a semipro player from Buffalo.”

“Likely enough,” said Chip thoughtfully. “I wouldn’t be surprised if
Colonel Carson had got professionals all the way through, because he
expected to clear up a big wad. It must have cost him a lot, even
besides what he lost! Well, that only goes to show that a fellow gets
exactly what he gives, Bob. Your attitude toward the world will be
bound to be reflected back at you from the world.”

“I suppose that’s about right,” and Randall’s handsome face clouded.

“By the way,” said Chip suddenly, “I may leave Fardale almost any time
now, old man. I had a notion of having a team meeting to-night or
Monday, and putting it up to them about electing you captain----”

“Hold on a minute, Chip,” broke in Randall, his eyes fixing those of
Merry in a peculiar fashion. “Did you and Carson drink those glasses of
water I had poured out?”

“Eh?” Merry’s thoughts went back swiftly to the scene in Bob’s room.
“Why, yes!”

“Then that’s what’s the matter with Bully,” and Randall faced Merry,
white-faced but firm. “I had doped one glass of water, hoping to
put you out of the game for the afternoon. He got it by mistake. I
pretended to be placated by your words this morning, Chip, and--well,
I began to see differently later, that’s all. Now go ahead and do
anything you want to--I’m glad that I’ve made a clean breast of it.”

“So am I,” said Chip quietly. “As I was saying, I hope you’ll be
elected the captain, to succeed me when I leave, Bob.”



CHAPTER XXXIX. CONCLUSION.


“You what!” gasped Randall, staring. “You’re joking with me!”

“Not a bit of it,” said Merry. “I suppose Bully persuaded you to dope
me?”

“Well, he had a little to do with it,” admitted Randall, too proud to
cast the blame where it rightly lay. “I can only apologize, Chip, and
you----”

“Why, old man, forget all about it!” exclaimed Merry, catching the
other about the shoulders and turning toward the door. “There was
nobody damaged in any way except Bully.”

He broke off suddenly, and laughed.

“Look here, Bob! He tried to make you the goat to put me out of the
way, see? He probably figured that Southpaw Diggs could handle either
one of us, but without the double shoot Fardale would get pounded. Then
he got hold of that stuff by accident and it laid him out. Except for
that, you might still be under suspicion of stealing Hostetter’s money!
It was only his being doped that really saved you!”

“That’s right, Merry!” and Randall’s eyes flashed. “I believe he’d have
let me suffer for it, too, the cowardly cur! Look here, old man, will
you take my hand and accept my apologies?”

“Great Scott, how often do you want me to tell you so?” returned Chip,
with mock despair. He wrung the Southerner’s hand heartily.

“Now let’s get out into the open air. I’m about ready for something to
eat, if you want to know it!”

They left the building behind and started across the campus for the
barracks. It still being some time before assembly and mess. As they
neared the barracks, they were approached by a tall figure neatly clad
in a dark-blue suit. He gave them a keen glance, then stopped them
quietly.

“This is Mr. Merriwell, isn’t it?”

Merry flung him a look, and started.

“Hello! It’s Green--or I should say Diggs!”

“Yes, Southpaw Diggs,” and the other smiled as he held out his hand.
“I just want to congratulate you on winning a remarkably fine game,
Merriwell--one of the best I ever saw, in fact. If you’d only consider
big-league work and----”

“No, thanks,” said Merry. “I’ve had a sample of professional ethics
this afternoon, when you and your friends masqueraded as amateurs.
That’s one reason, though I don’t blame you as I do Colonel Carson.”

“What can a fellow do when he needs the money?” and Diggs shrugged his
shoulders good-naturedly.

“He can get busy and make it cleanly,” retorted Chip, watching the
other. With a quick impulse he added: “And if he’d cut out the booze,
Diggs.”

Diggs flushed and his eyes kindled. Then he smiled again and nodded.

“Right you are, Merriwell, and I know you mean me. Well, I’m only
twenty-four, and if I brace up I’d have a few years ahead of me of
baseball. I’ve been thinking it over, and, to tell you the truth, I’ve
not had a drink for a good while. I was testing my nerves out on you
fellows to-day, for one thing.”

“I hope they suited you?” said Merry.

“Oh, mine were all right until you pulled that last bag of tricks.
Well, so long, son, and good luck go with you!”

“And the same to you, Diggs,” said Merry earnestly.

He walked on with Randall, neither speaking. At the door of the
barracks they came upon Clancy and Billy Mac, who immediately met them
with wide grins.

“Buried the hatchet, you two?” queried Clan.

“I think so,” said Chip. “By the way, I’d like to ask a special favor
of you fellows, sight unseen. Will you grant it?”

“Surest thing you know,” returned Clancy.

“Anything you want, old man,” said Billy Mac.

“Well, I’m thinking of proposing Bob for captain in my place, and I
want you two fellows to second it. How does it strike you?”

Clancy looked at Randall, and grinned.

“Sure,” he said. “Only I’ll give you a run for your money, Bob, because
I’m going after that job myself. I’ll second you, just the same.”

“Same here,” said Billy. “But I guess I can see right now where
Carrot-top Clancy gets snowed under about two miles! Shake, Cap
Randall!”

Merry smiled.

THE END.

No. 233, the next title of the MERRIWELL SERIES, is entitled “The
Merriwell Company.” This story, from the pen of Burt L. Standish, has
to do with several of the most prominent characters in this popular
series of books.

       *       *       *       *       *

NICK CARTER STORIES

New Magnet Library

_Not a Dull Book in This List_

ALL BY NICHOLAS CARTER

Nick Carter stands for an interesting detective story. The fact that
the books in this line are so uniformly good is entirely due to the
work of a specialist. The man who wrote these stories produced no
other type of fiction. His mind was concentrated upon the creation of
new plots and situations in which his hero emerged triumphantly from
all sorts of troubles and landed the criminal just where he should
be--behind the bars.

The author of these stories knew more about writing detective stories
than any other single person.

Following is a list of the best Nick Carter stories. They have been
selected with extreme care, and we unhesitatingly recommend each of
them as being fully as interesting as any detective story between cloth
covers which sells at ten times the price.

If you do not know Nick Carter, buy a copy of any of the New Magnet
Library books, and get acquainted. He will surprise and delight you.

_ALL TITLES ALWAYS IN PRINT_

  901--A Weird Treasure
  902--The Middle Link
  903--To the Ends of the Earth
  904--When Honors Pall
  905--The Yellow Brand
  906--A New Serpent in Eden
  907--When Brave Men Tremble
  908--A Test of Courage
  909--Where Peril Beckons
  910--The Gargoni Girdle
  911--Rascals & Co.
  912--Too Late to Talk
  913--Satan’s Apt Pupil
  914--The Girl Prisoner
  915--The Danger of Folly
  916--One Shipwreck Too Many
  917--Scourged by Fear
  918--The Red Plague
  919--Scoundrels Rampant
  920--From Clew to Clew
  921--When Rogues Conspire
  922--Twelve in a Grave
  923--The Great Opium Case
  924--A Conspiracy of Rumors
  925--A Klondike Claim
  926--The Evil Formula
  927--The Man of Many Faces
  928--The Great Enigma
  929--The Burden of Proof
  930--The Stolen Brain
  931--A Titled Counterfeiter
  932--The Magic Necklace
  933--’Round the World for a Quarter
  934--Over the Edge of the World
  935--In the Grip of Fate
  936--The Case of Many Clews
  937--The Sealed Door
  938--Nick Carter and the Green Goods Men
  939--The Man Without a Will
  940--Tracked Across the Atlantic
  941--A Clew from the Unknown
  942--The Crime of a Countess
  943--A Mixed-up Mess
  944--The Great Money-order Swindle
  945--The Adder’s Brood
  946--A Wall Street Haul
  947--For a Pawned Crown
  948--Sealed Orders
  949--The Hate that Kills
  950--The American Marquis
  951--The Needy Nine
  952--Fighting Against Millions
  953--Outlaws of the Blue
  954--The Old Detective’s Pupil
  955--Found in the Jungle
  956--The Mysterious Mail Robbery
  957--Broken Bars
  958--A Fair Criminal
  959--Won by Magic
  960--The Piano Box Mystery
  961--The Man They Held Back
  962--A Millionaire Partner
  963--A Pressing Peril
  964--An Australian Klondike
  965--The Sultan’s Pearls
  966--The Double Shuffle Club
  967--Paying the Price
  968--A Woman’s Hand
  969--A Network of Crime
  970--At Thompson’s Ranch
  971--The Crossed Needles
  972--The Diamond Mine Case
  973--Blood Will Tell
  974--An Accidental Password
  975--The Crook’s Double
  976--Two Plus Two
  977--The Yellow Label
  978--The Clever Celestial
  979--The Amphitheater Plot
  980--Gideon Drexel’s Millions
  981--Death in Life
  982--A Stolen Identity
  983--Evidence by Telephone
  984--The Twelve Tin Boxes
  985--Clew Against Clew
  986--Lady Velvet
  987--Playing a Bold Game
  988--A Dead Man’s Grip
  989--Snarled Identities
  990--A Deposit Vault Puzzle
  991--The Crescent Brotherhood
  992--The Stolen Pay Train
  993--The Sea Fox
  994--Wanted by Two Clients
  995--The Van Alstine Case
  996--Check No. 777
  997--Partners in Peril
  998--Nick Carter’s Clever Protégé
  999--The Sign of the Crossed Knives
  1000--The Man Who Vanished
  1001--A Battle for the Right
  1002--A Game of Craft
  1003--Nick Carter’s Retainer
  1004--Caught in the Toils
  1005--A Broken Bond
  1006--The Crime of the French Café
  1007--The Man Who Stole Millions
  1008--The Twelve Wise Men
  1009--Hidden Foes
  1010--A Gamblers’ Syndicate
  1011--A Chance Discovery
  1012--Among the Counterfeiters
  1013--A Threefold Disappearance
  1014--At Odds with Scotland Yard
  1015--A Princess of Crime
  1016--Found on the Beach
  1017--A Spinner of Death
  1018--The Detective’s Pretty Neighbor
  1019--A Bogus Clew
  1020--The Puzzle of Five Pistols
  1021--The Secret of the Marble Mantel
  1022--A Bite of an Apple
  1023--A Triple Crime
  1024--The Stolen Race Horse
  1025--Wildfire
  1026--A _Herald_ Personal
  1027--The Finger of Suspicion
  1028--The Crimson Clew
  1029--Nick Carter Down East
  1030--The Chain of Clews
  1031--A Victim of Circumstances
  1032--Brought to Bay
  1033--The Dynamite Trap
  1034--A Scrap of Black Lace
  1035--The Woman of Evil
  1036--A Legacy of Hate
  1037--A Trusted Rogue
  1038--Man Against Man
  1039--The Demons of the Night
  1040--The Brotherhood of Death
  1041--At the Knife’s Point
  1042--A Cry for Help
  1043--A Stroke of Policy
  1044--Hounded to Death
  1045--A Bargain in Crime
  1046--The Fatal Prescription
  1047--The Man of Iron
  1048--An Amazing Scoundrel
  1049--The Chain of Evidence
  1050--Paid with Death
  1051--A Fight for a Throne
  1052--The Woman of Steel
  1053--The Seal of Death
  1054--The Human Fiend
  1055--A Desperate Chance
  1056--A Chase in the Dark
  1057--The Snare and the Game
  1058--The Murray Hill Mystery
  1059--Nick Carter’s Close Call
  1060--The Missing Cotton King
  1061--A Game of Plots
  1062--The Prince of Liars
  1063--The Man at the Window
  1064--The Red League
  1065--The Price of a Secret
  1066--The Worst Case on Record
  1067--From Peril to Peril
  1068--The Seal of Silence
  1069--Nick Carter’s Chinese Puzzle
  1070--A Blackmailer’s Bluff
  1071--Heard in the Dark
  1072--A Checkmated Scoundrel
  1073--The Cashier’s Secret
  1074--Behind a Mask
  1075--The Cloak of Guilt
  1076--Two Villains in One
  1077--The Hot Air Clew
  1078--Run to Earth
  1079--The Certified Check
  1080--Weaving the Web
  1081--Beyond Pursuit
  1082--The Claws of the Tiger
  1083--Driven from Cover
  1084--A Deal in Diamonds
  1085--The Wizard of the Cue
  1086--A Race for Ten Thousand
  1087--The Criminal Link
  1088--The Red Signal
  1089--The Secret Panel
  1090--A Bonded Villain
  1091--A Move in the Dark
  1092--Against Desperate Odds
  1093--The Telltale Photographs
  1094--The Ruby Pin
  1095--The Queen of Diamonds
  1096--A Broken Trail
  1097--An Ingenious Stratagem
  1098--A Sharper’s Downfall
  1099--A Race Track Gamble
  1100--Without a Clew
  1101--The Council of Death
  1102--The Hole in the Vault
  1103--In Death’s Grip
  1104--A Great Conspiracy
  1105--The Guilty Governor
  1106--A Ring of Rascals
  1107--A Masterpiece of Crime
  1108--A Blow for Vengeance
  1109--Tangled Threads
  1110--The Crime of the Camera
  1111--The Sign of the Dagger
  1112--Nick Carter’s Promise
  1113--Marked for Death
  1114--The Limited Holdup
  1115--When the Trap Was Sprung
  1116--Through the Cellar Wall
  1117--Under the Tiger’s Claws
  1118--The Girl in the Case
  1119--Behind a Throne
  1120--The Lure of Gold
  1121--Hand to Hand
  1122--From a Prison Cell
  1123--Dr. Quartz, Magician
  1124--Into Nick Carter’s Web
  1125--The Mystic Diagram
  1126--The Hand that Won
  1127--Playing a Lone Hand
  1128--The Master Villain
  1129--The False Claimant
  1130--The Living Mask
  1131--The Crime and the Motive
  1132--A Mysterious Foe
  1133--A Missing Man
  1134--A Game Well Played
  1135--A Cigarette Clew
  1136--The Diamond Trail
  1137--The Silent Guardian
  1138--The Dead Stranger
  1140--The Doctor’s Stratagem
  1141--Following a Chance Clew
  1142--The Bank Draft Puzzle
  1143--The Price of Treachery
  1144--The Silent Partner
  1145--Ahead of the Game
  1146--A Trap of Tangled Wire
  1147--In the Gloom of Night
  1148--The Unaccountable Crook
  1149--A Bundle of Clews
  1150--The Great Diamond Syndicate
  1151--The Death Circle
  1152--The Toss of a Penny
  1153--One Step Too Far
  1154--The Terrible Thirteen
  1155--A Detective’s Theory
  1156--Nick Carter’s Auto Trail
  1157--A Triple Identity
  1158--A Mysterious Graft
  1159--A Carnival of Crime
  1160--The Bloodstone Terror
  1161--Trapped in His Own Net
  1162--The Last Move in the Game
  1163--A Victim of Deceit
  1164--With Links of Steel
  1165--A Plaything of Fate
  1166--The Key Ring Clew
  1167--Playing for a Fortune
  1168--At Mystery’s Threshold
  1169--Trapped by a Woman
  1170--The Four Fingered Glove
  1171--Nabob and Knave
  1172--The Broadway Cross
  1173--The Man Without a Conscience
  1174--A Master of Deviltry
  1175--Nick Carter’s Double Catch
  1176--Doctor Quartz’s Quick Move
  1177--The Vial of Death
  1178--Nick Carter’s Star Pupils
  1179--Nick Carter’s Girl Detective
  1180--A Baffled Oath
  1181--A Royal Thief
  1182--Down and Out
  1183--A Syndicate of Rascals
  1184--Played to a Finish
  1185--A Tangled Case
  1186--In Letters of Fire
  1187--Crossed Wires
  1188--A Plot Uncovered
  1189--The Cab Driver’s Secret
  1190--Nick Carter’s Death Warrant
  1191--The Plot that Failed
  1192--Nick Carter’s Masterpiece
  1193--A Prince of Rogues
  1194--In the Lap of Danger
  1195--The Man from London
  1196--Circumstantial Evidence
  1197--The Pretty Stenographer Mystery
  1198--A Villainous Scheme
  1199--A Plot Within a Plot
  1200--The Elevated Railroad Mystery
  1201--The Blow of a Hammer
  1202--The Twin Mystery
  1203--The Bottle With the Black Label
  1204--Under False Colors
  1205--A Ring of Dust
  1206--The Crown Diamond
  1207--The Blood-red Badge
  1208--The Barrel Mystery
  1209--The Photographer’s Evidence
  1210--Millions at Stake
  1211--The Man and His Price
  1212--A Double-Handed Game
  1213--A Strike for Freedom
  1214--A Disciple of Satan
  1215--The Marked Hand
  1216--A Fight with a Fiend
  1217--When the Wicked Prosper
  1218--A Plunge into Crime
  1219--An Artful Schemer
  1220--Reaping the Whirlwind
  1221--Out of Crime’s Depths
  1222--A Woman at Bay
  1223--The Temple of Vice
  1224--Death at the Feast
  1225--A Double Plot
  1226--In Search of Himself
  1227--A Hunter of Men
  1228--The Boulevard Mutes
  1229--Captain Sparkle, Pirate
  1230--Nick Carter’s Fall
  1231--Out of Death’s Shadow
  1232--A Voice from the Past
  1233--Accident or Murder?
  1234--The Man Who Was Cursed
  1235--Baffled, But Not Beaten
  1236--A Case Without a Clew
  1237--The Demon’s Eye
  1238--A Blindfold Mystery
  1239--Nick Carter’s Swim to Victory
  1240--A Man to Be Feared
  1241--Saved by a Ruse
  1242--Nick Carter’s Wildest Chase
  1243--A Nation’s Peril
  1244--The Rajah’s Ruby
  1245--The Trail of a Human Tiger
  1246--The Disappearing Princess
  1247--The Lost Chittendens
  1248--The Crystal Mystery
  1249--The King’s Prisoner
  1250--Talika, the Geisha Girl
  1251--The Doom of the Reds
  1252--The Lady of Shadows
  1253--The Mysterious Castle
  1254--The Senator’s Plot
  1255--A Submarine Trail
  1256--A War of Brains
  1257--Pauline--A Mystery
  1258--The Confidence King
  1259--A Chase for Millions
  1260--Shown on the Screen
  1261--The Streaked Peril
  1262--The Room of Mirrors
  1263--A Plot for an Empire
  1264--A Call on the Phone

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the
books listed below will be issued during the respective months to New
York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance
promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in July, 1929.

  1265--Nick Carter’s Convict Client
  1266--The House of the Yellow Door
  1267--Nick Carter’s Round-up

To be published in August, 1929.

  1268--A Masterly Trick
  1269--For a Madman’s Millions

To be published in September, 1929.

  1270--The Four Hoodoo Charms
  1271--The Man in the Auto

To be published in October, 1929.

  1272--The Jeweled Mummy
  1273--The Vanishing Emerald

To be published in November, 1929.

  1274--A Live Wire Clue
  1275--The Vampire’s Trail

To be published in December, 1929.

  1276--The Crimson Flash
  1277--The Vanishing Heiress

       *       *       *       *       *

BOOKS THAT NEVER GROW OLD

Alger Series

Clean Adventure Stories for Boys

The Most Complete List Published

The following list does not contain all the books that Horatio Alger
wrote, but it contains most of them, and certainly the best.

Horatio Alger is to boys what Charles Dickens is to grown-ups. His
work is just as popular to-day as it was years ago. The books have a
quality, the value of which is beyond computation.

There are legions of boys of foreign parents who are being helped
along the road to true Americanism by reading these books which
are so peculiarly American in tone that the reader cannot fail to
absorb some of the spirit of fair play and clean living which is so
characteristically American.

In this list will be included certain books by Edward Stratemeyer,
Oliver Optic, and other authors who wrote the Alger type of stories,
which are equal in interest and wholesomeness with those written by the
famous author after whom this great line of books for boys is named.

_ALL TITLES ALWAYS IN PRINT_

By HORATIO ALGER, Jr.

   1--Driven from Home
   2--A Cousin’s Conspiracy
   3--Ned Newton
   4--Andy Gordon
   5--Tony, the Tramp
   6--The Five Hundred Dollar Check
   7--Helping Himself
   8--Making His Way
   9--Try and Trust
  10--Only an Irish Boy
  11--Jed, the Poorhouse Boy
  12--Chester Rand
  13--Grit, the Young Boatman of Pine Point
  14--Joe’s Luck
  15--From Farm Boy to Senator
  16--The Young Outlaw
  17--Jack’s Ward
  18--Dean Dunham
  19--In a New World
  20--Both Sides of the Continent
  21--The Store Boy
  22--Brave and Bold
  23--A New York Boy
  24--Bob Burton
  25--The Young Adventurer
  26--Julius, the Street Boy
  27--Adrift in New York
  28--Tom Brace
  29--Struggling Upward
  30--The Adventures of a New York Telegraph Boy
  31--Tom Tracy
  32--The Young Acrobat
  33--Bound to Rise
  34--Hector’s Inheritance
  35--Do and Dare
  36--The Tin Box

In order that there may be no confusion, we desire to say that the
books listed below will be issued during the respective months in New
York City and vicinity. They may not reach the readers at a distance
promptly, on account of delays in transportation.

To be published in July, 1929.

  37--Tom, the Bootblack
  38--Risen from the Ranks

To be published in August, 1929.

  39--Shifting for Himself
  40--Wait and Hope

To be published in September, 1929.

  41--Sam’s Chance
  42--Striving for Fortune

To be published in October, 1929.

  43--Phil, the Fiddler
  44--Slow and Sure

To be published in November, 1929.

  45--Walter Sherwood’s Probation
  46--The Trials and Triumphs of Mark Mason
  47--The Young Salesman

To be published in December, 1929.

  48--Andy Grant’s Pluck
  49--Facing the World

       *       *       *       *       *

NOW IN PRINT

By EDWARD STRATEMEYER

   98--The Last Cruise of _The Spitfire_
   99--Reuben Stone’s Discovery
  100--True to Himself
  101--Richard Dare’s Venture
  102--Oliver Bright’s Search
  103--To Alaska for Gold
  104--The Young Auctioneer
  105--Bound to Be an Electrician
  106--Shorthand Tom
  108--Joe, the Surveyor
  109--Larry, the Wanderer
  110--The Young Ranchman
  111--The Young Lumberman
  112--The Young Explorers
  113--Boys of the Wilderness
  114--Boys of the Great Northwest
  115--Boys of the Gold Field
  116--For His Country
  117--Comrades in Peril
  118--The Young Pearl Hunters
  119--The Young Bandmaster
  121--On Fortune’s Trail
  122--Lost in the Land of Ice
  123--Bob, the Photographer

       *       *       *       *       *

By OLIVER OPTIC

  124--Among the Missing
  125--His Own Helper
  126--Honest Kit Dunstable
  127--Every Inch a Boy
  128--The Young Pilot
  129--Always in Luck
  130--Rich and Humble
  131--In School and Out
  133--Work and Win
  135--Haste and Waste
  136--Royal Tarr’s Pluck
  137--The Prisoners of the Cave
  138--Louis Chiswick’s Mission
  139--The Professor’s Son
  140--The Young Hermit
  141--The Cruise of _The Dandy_
  142--Building Himself Up
  143--Lyon Hart’s Heroism
  144--Three Young Silver Kings
  145--Making a Man of Himself
  146--Striving for His Own
  147--Through by Daylight
  148--Lightning Express
  149--On Time
  150--Switch Off
  151--Brake Up
  152--Bear and Forbear
  153--The “Starry Flag”
  154--Breaking Away
  155--Seek and Find
  156--Freaks of Fortune
  157--Make or Break
  158--Down the River
  159--The Boat Club
  160--All Aboard
  161--Now or Never
  162--Try Again
  163--Poor and Proud
  164--Little by Little
  165--The Sailor Boy
  166--The Yankee Middy
  167--Brave Old Salt

       *       *       *       *       *

  175--Fighting for Fortune      By Roy Franklin
  176--The Young Steel Worker    By Frank H. MacDougal
  177--The Go-ahead Boys         By Gale Richards
  178--For the Right             By Roy Franklin
  179--The Motor Cycle Boys      By Donald Grayson
  180--The Wall Street Boy       By Allan Montgomery
  181--Stemming the Tide         By Roy Franklin
  182--On High Gear              By Donald Grayson
  183--A Wall Street Fortune     By Allan Montgomery
  184--Winning by Courage        By Roy Franklin
  185--From Auto to Airship      By Donald Grayson
  186--Camp and Canoe            By Remson Douglas
  187--Winning Against Odds      By Roy Franklin
  188--The Luck of Vance Sevier  By Frederick Gibson
  189--The Island Castaway       By Roy Franklin
  190--The Boy Marvel            By Frank H. MacDougal
  191--A Boy With a Purpose      By Roy Franklin
  192--The River Fugitives       By Remson Douglas

       *       *       *       *       *

READ

When you want real recreation in your leisure hours, read! Read the
STREET & SMITH NOVELS!

They are the cheapest and the most interesting reading matter published
in America to-day. No jazz--no sex--just big, clean, interesting books.
There are hundreds of different titles, among which you will find a lot
of exactly the sort of reading you want.

So, when you get tired of rolling around in your Lady Lizzie or
listening to the blah-blah of your radio, hie yourself to the nearest
news dealer, grab off a copy of a good detective, adventure or love
story, and then READ!

Read the STREET & SMITH NOVELS. Catalog sent upon request.

Street & Smith Corporation

79 Seventh Avenue New York City

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Burt L. Standish is a pen name for William George “Gilbert” Patten.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.





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