Part 2 out of 4
"Sure, and I think he likes me, which shows Kaiser has good taste.
But I'm willing to be the victim, if you'll all promise to see
that my remains are gathered up and given a fitting burial.
Everyone who likes a good show, this way, now. The only and
original dog-tamer is about to give an exhibition of how not to do
Kaiser was acting in a very ugly way, as they approached the spot
where he had been tied up by his master, upon reaching the hall.
He jumped up and out in a furious manner, always in the one
direction, Frank noticed.
"You see, fellows, he pays no attention to us. His growls are for
someone else, and he is trying to break loose, in order that he
may chase after them. I shouldn't be surprised if we had some
success, after all. Do it, Buster. The whole world is looking to
you now as the hero of the occasion."
Buster gave Frank a plaintive look, as he bent down, and began to
speak soothingly to the furious dog.
"Listen to his soft soap talk, would you!"
"Buster knows how to lay it on; he's kissed the blarney stone!"
"Pat him, why don't you, old fellow; he likes the taste of you all
But to none of these suggestions did Buster pay the least heed. He
was working with the end of the rope all the time he talked so
soothingly to the brute. Frank suspected what might happen if this
suddenly came free when the dog was making one of his frantic
plunges. Consequently, he made sure to be ready to seize hold, so
as to assist the fat boy.
It was just as he thought. Only for the quick clutch he made, the
dog must have sped away like the wind, and they would have been as
badly off as before. But with the weight of the two boys on the
rope, even the powerful Kaiser was not able to go faster than the
crowd could follow.
"Ralph, keep close beside me!" called out Frank, who did not want
a second disaster to overtake them while trying to remedy the
It was really a curious sight to see that crowd of boys rushing
over the territory adjoining Dyckman's Hall, following the pair
who pooled their strength in order to restrain the wildly eager
Frank quickly took note of a certain fact.
"We're heading for the water, fellows!" he exclaimed, as well as
he was able, while being tugged along by the erratic rushes of
Nearly everyone knew what he meant. It was that the abductors of
Bones meant to duck him in the river, and treat him so harshly that
he would be in no condition to play in the morrow's game.
Still, that did not surprise anyone. They might easily have
expected just such an ending to the affair, knowing as they did
what conscienceless scamps were in all probability engineering the
The dog had led them in almost a bee line for the river. Several
hundred yards had already been covered, without the least sign
being seen of those whom they fully believed must be ahead
"Ain't this fierce?" gasped Buster, as he held on to the rope
with a desperate clutch; indeed, but for the sustaining hand of
the more agile Frank, the fat boy must have fallen flat on his
face more than once as he tripped over obstacles in the way.
"Kaiser'll eat 'em alive if he gets half a chance! Listen to him
growl, will you? Don't let him loose, Frank, on your life, or
he'll just murder some of them!" exclaimed Jack Eastwick, who was
running alongside the two who gripped the leash.
"If Buster ever falls flat I'll never be able to hold on alone. Be
ready, somebody, to take hold!" was what Frank cried in return, as
he was dragged along by the furious rush of the dog, more eager
now than before.
But no one appeared to be particularly anxious to extend a helping
hand. The appearance of Kaiser was not at all reassuring, and
none of the boys fancied being "liked," as Buster admitted he was.
"Listen!" called Molly Manners, suddenly.
Everyone strained his ears. It required some effort to catch any
sound from beyond. Kaiser was making such terrible noises as he
ran, and the rush of many feet over the ground rather deadened
anything else. Still, between times they caught what seemed to be
boisterous laughter, accompanied by a loud splashing, as of
somebody being cast into the river, to be hauled out again, only
to have the operation repeated.
"They're ducking Bones, that's what!" coughed Buster, in real
Just then he struck some sort of obstacle that caused him to fall
flat on his stomach with a fierce grunt. Of course, the rope was
torn from his hands. And as the shock was too much for Frank to
stand, he, too, was compelled to release his clutch in order to
save himself from a bad tumble.
There was a furious burst of savage satisfaction from the tugging
dog at the end of the leash, and then he vanished from their
sight, running like mad!
THE LINE-UP WITH CLIFFORD
"Oh, won't they get it now!" cried Jack Eastwick.
"Keep on running, fellows. Some of them may be half killed, if
that dog gets hold of them! Faster, boys; faster!"
Frank himself increased his speed. He had no love for the
miserable cowards who, in order to gratify their private spite,
would cripple their school team until the enemy must have an easy
victory on the morrow. And yet he did not like to imagine what
terrible things might follow if Kaiser got in among the boys who
were treating his master so shamefully.
Perhaps they deserved whatever befell them; but Frank was himself
a boy, and in a position to understand the true meaning of such a
prank as was now being pulled off.
There had come a decided change in the racket ahead. No longer was
it hilarious shouting and jeering, such as indicated sport for
the boys, but something else to the human frog. True, the sounds
had even grown in volume, but they were of a more serious nature.
"Listen to 'em howl, would you?" cried Lanky.
"The shoe's on the other foot, now. Wow! ain't they getting nipped
hard, though?" shouted Herman Hooker, hardly knowing whether to be
pleased or frightened.
"Faster!" gritted Frank, between his teeth, for he did not like
Possibly the boys had picked up clubs, and were trying to beat
Kaiser off, in order to continue their cruel sport of tossing poor
Bones into the water, and pulling him out again by means of a rope
fastened around his ankles.
Now the runners were close upon the spot.
"They're scattering!" called Lanky, as the shouts appeared to come
from various localities.
"And I think Bones has got hold of the dog. I can hear someone
speaking to him, and trying to quiet the brute!" gasped Paul Bird,
who was also a keen runner, able to "keep up with the procession"
as well as the next fellow.
"That's true. Hold on to him, Bones, old fellow!" Frank managed to
A dozen seconds later, and they came upon the river bank. The half
moon up in the western sky gave enough light to show them how
"Hurrah! Kaiser cleared the decks! The last of the pirate horde
has fled!" cried Amiel Tucker, whose reading was always along the
"And there's our friend Bones, all to the good, fondling that
bristly terror! I say, three Bones for cheers!" shouted Red
Huggins, known among his mates also as "Sorreltop," and who, when
greatly excited, often became twisted in his mode of speech.
They clustered around, while Kaiser growled deeply, and licked the
face of his young master. Jones was soaked to the skin, and
already shivering, though possibly more from the nervous strain
than the cold.
Frank immediately took off his own coat, and threw it over the
shoulders of the boy who had been ducked again and again.
"What happened to you, Bones?" asked Lanky, who always wanted to
know the full particulars, for he expected some day to branch out
as a shining light in the legal profession, and believed he ought
to practice while young.
"They jumped me, that's all," chattered the other, trying to
"When you went out to quiet your dog?"
"Yep. I hadn't gone half way when they pounced on me. Couldn't let
out more'n a little peep when they covered my head with some sort
of old horse blanket, and grabbed hold of me. After that it was
all over. I heard good old Kaiser carrying on to beat the band.
Oh, how I did wish he could break loose! Wouldn't he have
scattered the bunch, though!" observed Bones, as he calmly
accepted a second coat offered by another sympathizer.
"Which he did in the end, anyway. Say, what did he do to those
sharks?" demanded Buster, coming panting up at this moment.
"You missed the sight of your life. They were having a grand good
time dousing me in the drink, you see, when, all of a sudden,
Kaiser burst among them. Such whooping and howling I never heard
in all my life! You'd sure thought a lunatic asylum had broken
loose, boys," and Bones laughed as well as he could between
"And then what?" persisted Lanky.
"Oh, they scooted like fun. Some went one way and others tumbled
into the river, they were so badly scared. I think Kaiser nipped a
few of the bunch before he ran over to lick my face, and I got a
cinch hold on his collar. Only for that, he'd have gone back
again, and mauled a few that couldn't run fast enough. But how did
you come to think of putting him on the scent, fellows?"
"Give Frank here the credit for the bright thought," said Paul.
"Yes, he's all to the good when it comes to a question of doing
something in an emergency. The balance of us were jumping around
like so many chickens with their heads off, when he suggested that
Kaiser would lead us to the place where you were. It was a grand
idea, and it worked, too," remarked Lanky, warmly.
"Oh, piffle! Cut that out. If I hadn't thought of it, somebody
else would have, in about a second. I just happened to get in
first, that's all. But we must rush Bones home in a hurry, before
he takes cold. A chill just now would knock him out of the game
to-morrow, and hurt our chances of a win," with which Frank
assisted the wet victim of the kidnappers to his feet.
Bones protested, but they would not listen to him. He was rubbed
down with many willing hands, and patted and pounded in a way to
start his circulation going at fever heat.
Kaiser hardly knew what to think of all this good-natured
tussling, and many times growled his disapprobation, so that a
word from his master was needed to influence him not to sink those
gleaming teeth in the limbs of Buster or Lanky.
All the while they were making for town. Fortunately, Bones did
not live a great distance off, and by making haste, they presently
reached his house.
Buster volunteered to remain over with him and see that he was
properly looked after.
"Somebody explain to Mattie King just why I can't get back!" he
"Oh, don't bother yourself about that, Buster," remarked Jack
Eastwick, coolly, "for I'd already made up my mind to see her
"You have? I've got half a notion--but, no, this once won't count.
It isn't often you get a show, Jack, so improve the shining
opportunity," answered Buster, from the stoop of the Shadduck
Of course, as the crowd wended its way back to the hall where the
glee club had met for this one occasion, while the assembly room
in high school was being repaired, the talk was wholly upon the
"It certainly was that to those chumps," laughed Lanky. "Oh, how
much we missed in not being on the spot! All Buster's faults for
stumbling when he did, and letting go of the rope. Why under the
sun didn't he hold on with a death grip?" demanded Tom Budd.
"Hold on? Goodness gracious, that dog would have dragged him over
every rock and stump for a mile. A pretty sight he'd have been
after that. I think Buster showed the finest judgment of his life
in knowing when to _let go_!" said Lanky.
"Yes, that's so. They say a stitch in time saves nine. Think how
many stitches would have been needed to sew Buster up if he needed
mending," spoke up Sorreltop.
When finally they arrived at the hall, the girls, and those among
the boys who had failed to join in the hunt, were, of course, just
wild to hear about what had happened.
Everything else was, for the time being, forgotten, as they
clustered around and excitedly demanded that the facts be given.
One told a portion, and another took up the recital. In this
fashion, by degrees, the entire story was made known. Nor were the
boys at all backward about giving the credit for the ingenious
thought to Frank, who laughingly tried to declare that he deserved
no more applause than the balance of the flock.
"They're all good fellows, every one, and as much deserving of
your praise. We are of the opinion that there will be several
limps noticeable at the game to-morrow, so if you happen to
observe any fellow making a face as he walks, just whisper one
word in his ear in passing. Do you know what that word is?" he
"Kaiser!" they roared in concert.
"Oh, Kaiser, don't you want to buy a dog?" sang Jack Eastwick, and
amid much laughter and merry exchange of talk, the glee club
disbanded for that evening.
Ralph walked home with Frank and Helen. Others among the boys
persisted in hovering near them, greatly to the annoyance of
Ralph, and the amusement of the girl, who thought it something of
Frank had Flo Dempsey on his arm, and seemed to be unusually
merry. To tell the truth, though, considerable of this was
assumed. He happened to know that just back of them, Minnie
Cuthbert and her new friend, Dottie Warren, were walking, and
undoubtedly they could hear much that was being said.
That night, when alone in his room, Frank seemed to lose much of
his merry demeanor. His face took on the grave look that had
characterized it of late, ever since that minute when Minnie had
given him the cruel cut direct.
"I wonder will I ever know what is the matter?" he mused, as he
undressed, preparatory to tumbling into his inviting bed; "or must
it always remain a deep mystery. I never thought she could treat a
fellow that way, cutting him out without giving him the least
chance to explain. But I'm not going to complain. They say there
are as good fish in the sea as ever yet were caught."
With this philosophical reflection, he jumped into bed. Having a
good control over himself, Frank was able to go to sleep. In this
way, when he awoke in the early morning, he was refreshed and
feeling splendid, so easily does youth recuperate.
"Anyhow, it's going to be a sharp day. That air feels like snow,
only the sky is clear. Great football weather! I wonder how it
will all come out," and hustling into his clothes, he immediately
went out to the place arranged for the secret meeting to practice
The others were soon on hand, and under the coaching of the
experienced old Princeton graduate, they went through all their
paces with a cleverness that caused their trainer to nod his head
"That's enough, boys," he said, warmly. "You've got your work cut
out for you to-day, and it would be poor policy to tire you at
this early hour. Back to the house now, and eat a breakfast such
as I laid out for you; nothing more, mind. Everyone of you must
consider himself at the training table now, until that game with
Bellport is over with on Thanksgiving morning. That's all!"
When, about ten o'clock, Frank reached the athletic grounds, clad
in his soiled suit and with his entire bunch of players along, he
found that a tremendous crowd had swarmed over the big field,
fully equal to any that had witnessed the hard-fought baseball
battles during the preceding Spring and early Summer.
It was an enthusiastic crowd, too, shouting until the sound was
not unlike the roar of a tempest. Thousands of miniature flags
were waving, representing both schools. There were also many from
Bellport present, some to enjoy the game, others to get points
with regard to the playing of the Columbia eleven, against which
their own team expected soon to be pitted.
"Ain't this the greatest sight ever?" asked Lanky, as they came
upon the field, and the waving flags and handkerchiefs made the
grandstand look like a vast flower garden in a strong wind.
"Columbia! _Veni! vidi! vici!_ to-day we swallow the
rooster!" came a concerted shout, as Herman Hooker got his cheer
band in working order.
The emblem of the Clifford school was a rooster, while that of
Columbia, like Princeton, was the tiger.
Immediately the Columbia fellows began booting an old ball about,
and falling on it with reckless abandon, just as they had been
taught to do by the coach.
"Look there, will you!" exclaimed a girl close to Minnie Cuthbert
in the grandstand. "How nice and white the suits of Clifford
seem, while our boys are dirty. They ought to be ashamed, I should
think. We have just as good a laundry in Columbia as they have up
But to those who knew more about such things there was an
atmosphere of strictly business about the soiled suits of Frank's
team. They looked as though they were on the field for hard work,
and not to show off, or "play to the gallery."
And the wise ones took stock of this fact. Some of the sporting
men even began to hedge in their bets, and might have tried to
even up all around, only that they happened to know of a secret
upon which they were building great hopes.
And that secret concerned the signal practice of the Columbia
The Clifford boys were continually waving their hands to some
people in the crowd they recognized. There was an air of assurance
about them that seemed to loudly proclaim the fact that they
anticipated no great trouble in putting the "Indian sign" on
On the other hand, the home team seemed to notice nothing, save
the fact that the ball was there to be shot around, and tumbled on
heavily. They had a grim look, too, and in vain did the girls try
to attract their attention, for it was rarely that one of the
eleven so much as turned a look toward the spectators. All of
their time was taken up in play, and observing their rivals.
"Just wait, and we'll dirty those sweet white suits some,"
chuckled Lanky, as he passed the ball like lightning to Shadduck.
Minnie was watching one player intently. For the first time in a
long while he did not look along the rows of faces until he saw
her waving wildly, and doff his cap, or in this case, wave his
hand, since he had no cap to lift.
She trembled with secret delight as she finally saw Frank raise
his head when the ball was in another quarter. But when he made a
motion with his hand, it was in a different direction entirely,
and looking over, Minnie saw that Helen and Flo Dempsey sat there.
"They're getting ready to line-up. See, the referee has the two
captains over by him. It's going to be a toss for position," cried
one eager spectator.
"Not much choice to-day, though, since the wind is light,"
"But there always is one side better than the other. The sun will
be in the eyes of the fellows who lose. That may count for
something. And the breeze may grow stronger as the game goes on.
There, Frank has won, for he's taking his men to the lower goal.
But that gives Clifford the kick-off. That looks bad."
"Oh, I don't know. It will only spur them on to working a little
harder. Wait and see. I've got a hunch that Frank Allen has a
surprise or two up his sleeve for these gay white birds from up
river. I'm not worrying. I've seen that boy on the baseball field,
and on the river in the boat races. He is all there with the
goods, and they're a full yard wide. You hear me!" and the
enthusiast jumped to his feet, to flap his elbows as though they
were wings, while he emitted a shrill crow that caused a laugh to
break out in the immediate vicinity.
"Now we're going to se some fun!" called a fellow who was waving
the colors of Clifford with great vim.
And under the eyes of thousands of eager spectators, the rival
elevens took the places assigned to them to await the signal for
A HARD FOUGHT FIRST HALF
Although there might be changes at any time during the progress of
a fiercely contested game, the line-up at the start was as
Allen, Captain. West.
Shadduck. Oakes. Harper. Bird. Daly. Eastwick. Morris.
_R.E. R.T. R.G. Center. L.G. L.T. L.E._
Evans. McQuirk. Roe. Gentle. Ross. Adkins. Smith.
_L.E. L.T. L.G. Center. R.G. R.T. R.E._
Clifford was to kick off.
Hastings, the big captain, stood there, poising himself for the
effort, and every eye was glued upon his really fine figure. Hastings
knew it, and purposely lingered just a trifle longer than he would
have done had there been no mass of spectators hedging in the field
on all sides in a solid bank of humanity.
There was a shrill whistle, the referee's signal, and it called
into life the twenty-two motionless figures that stood about the
field. Big Hastings ran forward, glancing sharply about to see
that his men were on the alert, and the next moment his shoe made
a great dent in the side of the new yellow ball. Away it sailed
into the air, far over toward Columbia's territory.
Straight toward Lanky Wallace, the plucky little quarter-back, it
came, and Wallace was right under it. Into his arms, with a
resounding "pung!" the spheroid landed, and, like a flash, the
quarter passed it to Jack Comfort for a return kick.
Comfort's toe found the pigskin as if his shoe belonged there, and
back through space went the twisting oval, in a long spiral curve,
while the cohorts of both teams loosed the yells that had been
long on tap.
"That's the stuff, old man!"
These cries of encouragement to both sides were soon lost in the
riot of cheers and appeals to the teams to "go in and win!"
Big Hastings once more had the ball, and booted down the field
with a tremendous, smashing kick. Lanky and Oakes ran to get under
it, with good intentions, but with misdirected energy, and
collided forcefully, while the ball bounced from Lanky's shoulder
and rolled along the ground, a prize for whoever could first get it.
"By jove, our fellows have lost the ball!"
"Get to it, Columbia!"
Exclamations of dismay, and frantic appeals came from a thousand
throats. Like mad the whole twenty-two players darted for the
There was a mixup, a confused mass of struggling forms, an
indiscriminate whirlwind of waving arms and legs, and then, after
the frantic blowing of the referee's whistle, and when, slowly,
player after player crawled off the heap, Frank emerged, somewhat
bruised and dazed, but with the precious ball tucked under his
"Fine, old man!"
"Frank's got it, all right! That's the stuff. Did you see him
slide right in front of Ross, their husky right guard, and cover
it? Say, this is a little bit of all right--all right!" cried an
enthusiastic follower of Columbia.
It was on Columbia's twenty-five yard line now, rather closer to
the goal than Captain Frank liked, but he resolved to get right
into the play now, and called for the line-up. There was a
whispered conference between Wallace and Allen, and then the
quarter began calling the signal, emphasizing the first number. A
thrill seemed to run through the Clifford players, and when Paul
Bird snapped back the ball to the captain, instead of to the
quarter, who, all along, had acted as if he meant to take it,
there was a sudden rush on the part of Clifford, but it was too
They had prepared for a play around their left end, but Frank
quickly passed the pigskin to Ralph West, the left half, who
sprang forward on the jump, and tore through a hole made between
the unsuspecting right guard and tackle of Columbia's opponents.
Through Ralph plowed, heaving and plunging his way, aided by a
splendid interference, knocking aside Wentworth, the opposing
right half, and struggling forward for a good gain.
"Oh, look at that, would you! Look! Look! He'll get a touchdown!"
"Touchdown nothing!" growled a disgusted Cliffordite, "What's the
matter with our fellows, anyhow, to be fooled like that?"
"Guess they read our signals wrong!" retorted the admirer of
Columbia High, with a chuckle.
"Oh, wow! Look at that! Hastings nailed him that time!"
Ralph had gone down under a fierce tackle by the big opposing
captain, but the plucky left half had made a good gain, and, as he
rose and held his hand on the ball until Bird came up to take it,
there was an outburst of cheers that warmed his heart.
"Good work, old man!" whispered Frank, as he ran up. "We fooled
'em that time!"
Herman Hooker led his gallant band of shouters in an impromptu
war-dance back of the grandstand, their frenzied shouts of joy at
the splendid play sounding loud above the other yells.
Then came quiet, while the players again lined up, and the calling
of the signals could plainly be heard across the gridiron. It was
useless for Clifford to listen, if, perchance, she had sneakingly
obtained a line on the play system of Columbia, for Lanky was
using the changed code, and only he and his men knew it. Slowly
he called off. It was an indication for Frank to take the ball, on
a try around right end.
Back came the oval with a clean snap, and the next moment Frank,
with it firmly tucked under his arm, was circling around Evans,
while Oakes, Harper and Shadduck had gotten into play on the jump,
and had successfully pocketed their opposing end tackle and guard.
Forward leaped Frank, with Shadduck and Oakes forming splendid
interference for him. Down the line they sprinted, while once more
the frenzied shouts broke forth:
"Go it, old man! Go it!"
It began to look as if Frank would score, for big Hastings was the
only man available to tackle him, as the other two backs had
played in so far that they were now hopelessly in the mixup of
"Go on! Go on!"
"Yes he will! Wait until Hastings tackles him!" this from a
boastful Clifford player.
Hastings was waiting for the man with the ball, but Frank was
running behind Shadduck and Oakes now, and they were on the alert.
Hastings made a dive between them, seeking to come at Frank, and
for one fearful moment there was fear in the hearts of his friends
that the plucky right half would be downed. But Oakes fairly threw
himself at the big opposing captain, and the two went tumbling in
a heap, thus ending any chance Hastings had of tackling the man
with the ball.
Amid such yells as were seldom heard on the gridiron, Frank,
accompanied by Shadduck, whose interfering services were no longer
needed, touched the ball down exactly in the middle of the line,
behind the two posts, while the straggling Clifford players
straggled madly down the field, but too late. Behind them came
their leaping, dancing and exulting opponents.
"Oh, you, Allen!"
"Great work, old man! Great work!" And indeed it was a splendid
Such shouting and yelling as there was! Herman Hooker and his band
of "Indians" were hoarse with their efforts thus early in the
game, but gallantly they kept at it. There was a little silence
while the Clifford players lined up back of their goal posts, and
then Ralph West kicked goal, the ball sailing true between the
posts, and making the score six to nothing in favor of Columbia.
"That's the stuff! That's going some! Keep it up, you Columbia
Tigers, we're all proud of you!" hoarsely called a big man,
stamping about and waving his cane adorned with Columbia colors.
He had graduated from the old school twenty years before, and he
had never lost his love for it, nor for her sons of the gridiron.
There was an exchange of punts on the next kick-off, and when that
sort of playing was over, Clifford had the pigskin on Columbia's
"Now, fellows, go through 'em!" grimly called Hastings, and Style
began to give the signals in a snappy voice. In another instant
Wentworth, the Clifford right half, hit the line with a tremendous
smash, going for a hole between Eastwick and Daly. Their mates
rallied to their support, but there was smashing energy in the
attack of Columbia's opponents, and hold as Frank and his players
desperately tried to, they were shoved back, and Wentworth had
gained four yards.
"Another like that!" called Hastings. "Go to 'em, now! Eat 'em
Once more a smashing attack, and three yards more were reeled off
around Shadduck's end.
"This won't do, fellows!" said Allen, seriously. "We've got to
"How's that? Guess we're going some now, eh?" demanded a Clifford
admirer, who sat next to Mr. Allen.
"Yes, you have a good team," was the answer. "But our boys are
only letting you do this for encouragement."
"Oh, ho! They are, eh? Just watch."
Indeed, it looked a little dubious for Columbia. Her players were
being shoved back for loss with heart-stilling regularity. There
was no need for Clifford to kick, and all of Frank's frantic appeals
to his men to hold seemed of no avail.
There was somewhat of a bitter feeling when, after some tremendous
line-smashing, Coots, the left half, was shoved over the line for
a touchdown, and that gave the cohorts of Clifford a chance to
break loose. They did not kick the goal, however, and that was
some encouragement for Columbia, since it left them one point to
Once more came the kick-off, and then, when Columbia had the ball,
and had lined up, she went at her opponents with such smash-bang
tactics, such hammer-and-tongs work, that she tore big gaps in the
wall of defense, and shoved player after player through. Frank was
sent over for a seven-yard gain, then came a fine run on the part
of Ralph, netting eighteen yards, while the crowd went wild. There
was grim silence on the part of the Clifford adherents as the
line-up came on the ten-yard mark, and then, amid a great silence,
Comfort smashed through for another touchdown.
"Oh, wow! How's that? Going some, I guess, yes!" howled the big
man, who had been a player in his youth. "Oh, pretty work!"
The goal was missed, for the ball had been touched down at a bad
angle, but the score was now eleven to five in favor of Columbia,
and there were still several minutes of play left in the first
There was only a chance for an exchange of kicks however, ere the
referee's whistle blew, signifying that time was up, and the
players, who were just ready for a scrimmage, with the ball in
Clifford's possession on her opponent's fifteen-yard line,
dissolved, and raced for their dressing rooms.
A SCENE NOT DOWN ON THE BILLS
Columbia enthusiasm broke out louder than ever when the
intermission between the two halves was called. Their boys had
thus far not only held their own, but scored more than twice as
heavily as the enemy.
Still, the Clifford enthusiasts did not appear to be downcast.
"Wait," they kept saying mysteriously on all sides, while shouts
of encouragement went out to Hastings and his doughty warriors.
"What do they mean by that?" asked Mr. Allen, of the man from
above, who sat near him on the bench of the grandstand.
"Well, Clifford is a slow team to get started. They always do
better in the second half of a game. That with Bellport was a
fake, because their signals had been given away. They learned this
when the first half had been played. It made them savage. The
result was Bellport didn't score again, and Clifford made a few
points before the end came. They'll wake up presently!" was the
Among the most enthusiastic of the vast crowd was Minnie Cuthbert.
She waved her little banner and joined her voice in the general
clamor, for the mad excitement had seized girls as well as boys
And yet all the while she seemed to have eyes for no one but the
agile captain of the Columbia team. Wherever he happened to be,
her gaze was either openly or covertly upon him.
Again she saw Frank wave his hand cheerily, and looking in the
direction where his attention seemed to be directed, she
discovered that Helen and Flo Dempsey were flourishing bouquets of
flowers made up of purple and gold, to illustrate the school
And, moreover, Minnie understood full well that these had
undoubtedly come from the conservatory of the Allens. Somehow, it
pained her to know it. From that time on she resolutely set her
eyes toward anyone on the field, so long as it was not Frank.
There was much consultation during the rest spell. Coaches and
captains had their heads together, trying to ascertain if it were
possible to strengthen their teams by bringing in a fresh man as
Several had been more or less injured in the fierce mass plays,
and were showing it, despite their efforts to appear natural. Not
for worlds would anyone of them express a desire to be taken out
of the game. If the captain decided against their continuing, well
and good, for he was the sole judge of a man's fitness; but each
fellow believed he could still carry himself to the end.
The general excitement was such that a man might be seriously hurt
and not be aware of it, buoyed up, as he was, with the wild desire
to accomplish glorious things for the school he loved.
"How are you feeling, Bones? Any bad result from your immersion in
the cool drink last night," asked Lanky, as he and the right guard
"Not an atom, glad to say. You fellows saved me by your prompt
action, and the general rubbing down I had after the rescue. True,
my left wing feels sore to the touch after that slamming I got
when I went down with the ball over their fifteen-yard line, and a
dozen fellows piled on top; but I don't think it's broken, and I
haven't said anything to Frank, because I'm afraid he'd yank me
Lanky carefully massaged the arm in question, eliciting a few
grunts from the stoical player under the process.
"Only bruised, old fellow. By the way, have you noticed any
limpers around this morning--among the spectators, I mean?" he
"Sure, two of them, Jay Tweedle and Bill Klemm," laughed the other
immediately. "They hustled away when they saw me looking, and it
was all they could do to keep the agony off their faces. But it
would have to be more than a mere dog bite to keep any fellow with
red blood in his veins away from a scrap on the gridiron like
this, though I reckon both of them are hoping to see Clifford win,
"Well, there's another poor chap limping somewhere around the
grounds--Asa Barnes. Good old Kaiser must have put his teeth in
his calf pretty sound, for you can see the tear in his trousers'
leg. That was a great time, and I envy you the privilege of having
seen it. What a scattering of the boasters, and all on account of
"Yes, Lanky, but _such_ a dog! He thinks the world of me.
Why, I could hardly tear myself away from him this morning, he
wanted to come with me so bad. After this you needn't ever think
of giving me a guard; Kaiser can fill that position up to the
limit," said Bones, proudly, as became the owner of such a
"Time's nearly up. Are we going to bring any new horse out of the
stable? Did any fellow make serious blunders? Is anyone hurt?"
"If they are, they keep it to themselves. But there's Shay coming
out, while Eastwick goes to the seats. I was a little afraid that
Jack might prove too light as a tackler. Why, twice he failed to
bring his man down, and was carried more than a few yards before
another fellow caught on. Shay ought to be an improvement."
"What do you think, so far, Bones?"
"We've about held our own, that's comforting," was the reply.
"But the score isn't as big as I hoped it would be," expostulated
"Yes, but we owe that first touchdown and goal to the fact that
Clifford was confused with the signals you called. They thought
they meant the old version, and rushed to meet the play. That gave
us almost a clear field."
"I guess you're right," returned Lanky, thoughtfully.
"Now, see where we stand. They got a clear touchdown, and were
over our fifteen-yard line when play was called. I tell you, we're
going to have our work cut out to score again, and you can see
that every fellow of the opposition is out for blood. To be licked
by Bellport hurt; a second drubbing is next to unthinkable with
them. Mark my words, they'll die hard!"
"Bones, you're right. We've got to do our level best in the
second half. Once let us develop a weak spot, and they'll aim for
that every rush. There's Frank calling to me again. Five minutes
more, and we'll be at it, hammer and tongs," and Lanky hurried
away to where the captain stood, with the very last word in the
way of orders.
The line of play had been decided on long before. This had been
arranged in accordance with what they knew about Clifford's line-up.
Just as Lanky had declared, once let a weak place show, and from
that minute on the opposition bends every effort toward pushing
the ball in that quarter, until, finally, the defense gives way,
and the oval is carried triumphantly across the line.
Gradually the players began to take their places again. Clifford,
too, showed a new face; Hollingsworth being substituted in place
of Evans, as right end, the other having been injured in a
scrimmage, thought not enough to get out at the time.
It was Columbia's kick-off this time, and Jack Comfort was the one
to do the honors which would inaugurate the second half of the
game. Just as he stood there ready to make the first move, the
picture was one that would never be forgotten by the thousands who
Every breath seemed hushed. A mighty silence hung over the wide
field, as eyes were riveted on the crouching figures, whose faces,
so far as seen, because of the disfiguring head harness, showed
the earnestness that possessed each soul.
It was at this critical moment that suddenly loud shouts arose.
They seemed to come from behind the grandstand, and quickly
swelled in volume, until it was a deafening roar that broke forth.
Frank called out something, and the referee instantly blew his
whistle, to signify that delay was imperative until the cause of
all this row could be ascertained and the noise quelled. It was
simply impossible to continue the game while so much racket held,
as the players would be wholly unable to hear the signals.
But now the tenor of the wild cries began to be understood.
Players looked at each other in blank dismay. Never before had
they heard of a football game having been interrupted by such a
strange and terrible cause.
"Mad dog! Mad dog!"
That was what the people were shrieking over and over. The entire
mass of spectators seemed to be writhing as they leaped to their
feet. Faces grew white with sudden fear. Women and children cried
and shrieked, and hands were wrung in the abandon of despair.
It was easy to discover the immediate scene of the disturbance,
for there the lines swayed more violently than elsewhere. People
crushed back against each other, forgetting all else in the frenzy
of fear that possessed them. What could be more terrifying than
the coming of a mad dog in the midst of such an assemblage of
merrymakers, out for a grand holiday?
"Run, you fellows; he's heading out on the field! Get a move on
you!" roared a voice through a big megaphone.
It was, of course, the wonderful cheer captain, Herman Hooker,
who thus gave warning of the coming peril. Indeed, his cry was
hardly needed, for the two elevens could mark the passage of the
terror by the swaying back of the lines upon lines of spectators,
all of whom seemed to be possessed of a wild desire to climb up
on the highest seats, so that the panic was fierce.
Then through the mass came the running beast, with his head close
to the ground, and trailing a chain behind him. His actions were
certainly queer, and well calculated to strike terror into the
timid hearts of the helpless ones gathered there to witness the
spectacle of a football contest, and not a mad dog hunt.
And running valiantly after the brute came Officer Whalen,
doubtless intending to attempt to shoot the animal when once he
found a chance.
Suddenly the raging brute uttered a series of fearful sounds, and
started directly for one of the players on the field, as though
intending to attack him first. The vast crowd shrieked all manner
of imploring directions, and unable to render assistance, just
stood there and looked and prayed.
But Frank Allen neither started to run nor moved to the aid of the
threatened player for he had discovered that the one who stood
there was Bones Shadduck, and in the leaping dog he had recognized
the persistent Kaiser!
CLIFFORD'S LAST HOPE
"Why doesn't the fool run?" cried one man, quivering with
"It's too late now! See, he's going to tackle the brute! He's got
his hands out ready! Gee! what nerve!" bellowed another, this time
A third laughed harshly, for the strain had been beat on everyone.
"Its all off, fellows. That's _his_ dog!" he shouted.
"Well, I'll be hanged! Look at him jumping up to lick the boy's
face, will you? Did you ever? This takes the cake!"
The crowd had by this time discovered that it was a false alarm,
and by degrees the hysterical feeling wore off, though there were
many who would not soon forget the awful sense of fear that had
almost paralyzed their systems.
Kaiser had apparently broken loose long after Bones had left home,
and determined to find his beloved master, had trailed him to the
Possibly the faithful animal believed that there might be further
need of his services, and that there were more fellows in need of
Of course the game had to be delayed until Bones could lead Kaiser
away, and secure him in a little room under the grandstand. The
crowd howled and cheered as he went by, and Shadduck grinned in
his usual happy fashion, feeling that for once at least he was in
the exact limelight--thanks to Kaiser!
Once more the two opposing teams faced each other on the field.
The rushers were crouched, ready to spring forward as soon as the
ball had been put into play. Comfort prepared to send in his best
kick, after which the whole field would be in motion in the mad
endeavor to urge the ball toward the goal of the opposing side.
Jack was a famous punter and also a gilt-edged drop-kicker. He had
a peculiar spiral kick that was calculated to be exceedingly
puzzling to the enemy. And since much depended upon how far he
sent the oval into the enemy's territory, all eyes were eagerly
glued upon him now.
Away sailed the ball with the most erratic motion the Clifford men
had ever seen in all their experience. Some ran this way, and then
suddenly changed their course, as they realized the deceiving
nature of the ball's aerial flight. But the Columbia ends knew
just how the full-back would send the ball, and they shot for the
spot, determined to reach there almost as soon as the enemy, and
cut short his advantage for a run.
Coots managed to catch the ball, and darted back with it, but was
downed, almost in his tracks, by a fierce tackle on the part of
Shadduck, who had slipped through the interference.
"Down!" howled Coots, after he had recovered his wind. The players
lined up, while Style began calling off the signals. The Columbia
players braced for the attack they knew would soon come. And come
it did. Their line tottered and wavered under the smashing impact,
but it held, and Wentworth was hurled back for a slight loss.
"That's the way to do it!" cried Frank, in delight. "Hold 'em
again, fellows, and they'll have to kick!"
Once more Clifford, in desperation, for she wanted to keep the
ball, tried for another advance, this time around her opponent's
left end. But Morris and Shay were on hand, and nailed the player
before he had gone two yards.
"They've got to kick!" came the cry, and indeed that was the only
play left for Clifford. Still, it might be a fake one, and Frank
signalled this to his men, so that they might be on the alert. But
Comfort ran away back, and it was well that he did, for the ball
was booted well into the Columbia territory.
The full-back caught it and managed to rush back fifteen yards
before he was fiercely downed.
"Now's our chance, fellows!" called Frank, while Paul Bird came
up, took the pigskin and waited for Lanky to give the signal.
"I-m-p-o-r-t-a-n-c-e!" spelled out the quarter.
Instantly after the last letter was given, there was a sudden
movement. The center had flashed the ball to Allen, who started
furiously around the outside of the Clifford line. West was
running diagonally, and passed him. Many did not notice that as
they crossed Frank dexterously passed the ball to Ralph, but kept
on running and dodging as though he still held it.
The trick was not a new one by any means, but when well done it
was apt to deceive at least a portion of the rattled opposition;
so that several of the Clifford players were, for the instant,
really in doubt as to which of the two half-backs carried the
Thus in the beginning the force of pursuers was divided. Ralph was
a sprinter, and could avoid interference in a manner that was
simply marvelous. He had the entire bunch against him, trying to
block his play, but with wonderful skill managed to dodge each in
turn, until when finally brought down he had reached the enemy's
A burst of applause from the eager spectators; then again
absolute silence, for once more the heavily breathing players had
gathered in battle array. Again came a hot scrimmage. The ball was
over the side lines now, and out of bounds. So it had to be
brought in. Clifford had it for a change, but the conditions were
desperate with them now, with their home goal close behind. Let a
Columbia player once get his hands on the oval, and the chances
were he could carry it over the line for a touchdown.
The man who did the thinking in this emergency knew his business.
When the next scrimmage was on, many of the spectators were
astonished to see a Clifford player jump away from the melee with
the ball in his grasp, and hurl himself deliberately across his
Immediately the crowd gave expression to their feelings. Some
cheered, while others groaned, as the play was understood best.
"Why, that man is a traitor to his team!" exclaimed one indignant
A Columbia graduate, who happened to be sitting next to the
speaker, gave him a look of contempt, as he remarked:
"On the contrary he proved to have an exceedingly clever head on
him. Stop and think for just a minute. They were close up to
Clifford's goal. The chances were ten to one in that scrimmage
that Columbia would get the ball, and with the next play carry it
across the line. That meant a touchdown. Then if they could kick a
goal, as is likely, they would count six. As it is now, Columbia
gets only two because that quick-witted fellow put it over his own
line. More than that, the next play is back at the twenty-five
yard line; so you see how easily Clifford gets out of a bad
As little time as possible was lost getting in position again. So
eager were both sides to accomplish things that they begrudged the
The tide of battle surged back and forth. Dozens of plays were
pulled off that it would take many chapters to describe. But what
cheered the enthusiasts of the home team was the fact that most of
the work was being done on hostile territory!
In between times when there was no need of silence the raucous
voice of Herman Hooker could be heard, as he led his band around
back of the crowd, and shouted again and again in unison the
thrilling yell of Columbia, with the intention of stirring the
blood in the veins of each player, and investing him with renewed
pluck and zeal.
As if it were needed, when each one of those sturdy champions had
already been keyed up to top-notch speed. Time was slipping away,
and despite the almost superhuman efforts of Clifford they could
not seem to get the ball over that strenuously defended line of
In vain did the rooters urge them on to renewed efforts. Columbia
seemed to have thrown up a stone wall in front of her goal lines,
and no matter what strenuous plays were called off they were met
with a stubborn tenacity that robbed them of results.
Only seven more minutes remained of the second half. Columbia
adherents were jubilant. They already began to discount a victory,
and were winding up preparatory to making the air ring with their
The wise ones kept close watch of the play. They had known
occasions just like this when the winning team became over
confident, and the last few minutes witnessed their utter rout.
Would it happen so in this case? Clifford was exerting every
effort to bring about such a happy condition of affairs. Frank had
warned his men against the slightest slackening of speed or
vigilance. No game is won until the referee's signal announces
that the end has come.
Now the determined Clifford hosts had carried the ball over into
the territory of their rivals. Columbia was visibly weakening
before these fearful plunges, and it seemed as though flesh and
bone could not hold out against them. Seconds counted now. How
desperately Frank and his backers fought to ward off the
threatening evil. Every lawful tactic that would bring about delay
was brought into bearing. Twice had the ball gone out of bounds,
which necessitated a new alignment, and consequent passage of
those precious seconds.
Columbia was on the defensive; but it was a splendid exhibition of
harrying play they put up, thanks to the instructions of Coach
Willoughby. On their fifteen-yard line they faced the Clifford
crew for the last struggle. Despite the prediction of the man who
had declared them a great second-half team, Clifford had failed to
add to their score during the half hour that had elapsed, that
lone touchdown standing to their credit.
"Boys, we want a bigger score than this!" called Captain Allen
eagerly, when time was taken out to enable some wind to be pumped
back into Style. "We've got thirteen points, and they have five.
It's too close a margin. We've got time enough to make another
"If we can get the ball," added West.
"We've _got_ to get it!" cried the captain. "It's the first
down. Hold 'em, and throw the man with the ball for a loss if you
can. They may kick on the second down instead of waiting for the
third. Then we'll have 'em."
The whistle blew and Style came slowly back into the line. He was
pale and weak, as the manner in which he gave the signals showed.
There were anxious looks on the faces of his mates, and glances
of eager expectation on those of his opponents.
Wentworth came smashing for a hole he expected would be opened up
between Daly and Shay, but Shay was ready and did more than his
partner to block off the play. Wentworth was hurled back, and
there was a net loss of two yards to Clifford.
"Look out for a kick!" warned Frank.
It came, for Clifford was desperately afraid, and Comfort got the
ball. Tucking it under his arm, with head down, he started for the
goal line, well protected. The enraged Clifford players managed to
get at him, however, and he was downed after he had covered
fifteen yards. But it was a good run back, and Columbia had the
ball, and there were still several more minutes to play.
"At 'em now, fellows! Tear 'em apart!" cried Lanky Wallace.
He called for Ralph West to take the ball around Smith, as the
quarter had noticed the weak defense the right end was putting up.
Around circled West, and he made a good gain before he was downed.
Again came smashing plays--several of them, Columbia keeping
possession of the ball. In vain did Clifford brace and hold. It
was useless. She was being shoved right up the field. Her men were
exhausted and discouraged. Columbia's were eager and triumphant.
"Touchdown! Touchdown!" came the insisting cries from the
spectators. The ball was on Clifford's fifteen-yard line.
"Touchdown it is!" declared Wallace grimly.
He called his signal with snap and vim. Frank got the ball and
made a desperate dive for a big gap that was opened up between Roe
and McQuirk. Forward he staggered while Shadduck and Oakes managed
to circle around to form interference for him.
"He's through! He's through!" came the cry, and indeed the captain
was through the Clifford line, and legging it toward the goal.
Hastings started after him, but slipped and fell. Then, like a
flash, Wentworth emerged from the tangle of players and set off
after Allen. He came on like the wind, and managed to slip past
Shadduck, but Oakes was on the alert and tackled off the plucky
Then it was all over but the shouting. With the fall of Wentworth
ended Clifford's hopes of preventing another touchdown, while as
for her own hopes of making one they had vanished some time ago.
Allen touched down the ball. Amid frenzied cheers the goal was
kicked, making the score nineteen to five in favor of Columbia.
There was preparation for another kick-off, but before it could be
made the whistle blew; and the game had passed into history.
DR. SHADDUCK FEARS AN EPIDEMIC
"There he is!"
"Cut him off; he's trying to dodge us!"
"No you don't, Frank; we're just bound to give you a ride around.
These things don't happen every day. Up with him, fellows!"
Fully fifty wild Columbia students had gathered around the
captain, effectually blocking his escape from the field. Frank,
suspecting some such design, had tried his best to slip off
unobserved; but hundreds of eyes were on him, and even his fellow
players showed treachery, handing him over to the crowd.
He was immediately hoisted upon the shoulders of several brawny
chaps, and with a motley crowd following, after they set out to
parade the field, shouting the battle cry of the school, and
singing the famous song that always thrilled the hearts of
Columbia's patriotic sons and daughters.
Those who had remained in the grandstand cheered as the procession
swept past, and among these was Minnie Cuthbert. Frank never
looked that way once, she noted, and yet there had been a time,
not so very far back, when he would have thought of her the first
And yet Frank was perfectly conscious that she was standing there,
leaning over the railing, and watching the fun with eagerness.
Sometimes it is possible to see without looking direct.
When he could escape Frank hurried home. He was of course
overjoyed to realize that his team had won the game; but the
strain of those last ten minutes had been simply terrific. What
would it be with the Bellport eleven, every member of which had
undoubtedly been present, picking up points that would be useful
in the big Thanksgiving Day game?
Of course there must a celebration that night. Victory deserved
something of the sort, and the boys were bound to make the fact
known to every citizen of the town. Fires would be blazing, horns
tooting, firecrackers exploding, and a general hurrah taking
place, with crowds of students, roaming around, and ringing the
various college songs they loved so well.
Frank found a warm welcome at his home. His father declared he was
proud of the fact that he had a boy so well able to manage affairs
of great moment. It was a great day at the Allen house, and Helen,
for the time being, even forgot her grief in connection with the
unexplained desertion of her once fondly loved chum, Minnie
Just after lunch Frank was called to the telephone. Ralph had
dropped in to talk over matters connected with the game, which, of
course, must be the one important topic of conversation among the
Columbia students until the concluding meeting came about that
would settle the championship.
"Hello! who's this?" Frank asked, as he picked up the receiver,
and placed it at his ear.
A laugh was the first sound he heard.
"That you, Bones?" he demanded, thinking he recognized a
peculiarity about this chuckle that stamped the identity of the
one who seemed so merry.
"Sure; that you, Frank? Say, it's an epidemic that's struck us!"
called the one at the other end of the wire.
"What do you mean. Make it plainer; I'm all up in the air,"
answered Frank, who knew Bones was a great fellow for joking, and
wondered what he had in hand now.
"They had my dad guessing some, I tell you. He began to think it
was his duty to warn the town authorities so that they could take
proper precautions; for honest now, it did look like the whole
place was overrun with frisky canines, snapping at every one they
"What's that you say?" asked Frank, pricking up his ears at the
mention of dogs; for the memory of several recent experiences was
fresh in his mind.
"Why, you see, every one's getting bitten. It's the latest fad. My
dad had just three come to him early this morning to have wounds
cauterized to make sure!"
"Good gracious! you don't say?" ejaculated Frank, waiting for
further explanations, which he knew would not be long in coming.
"Yes, and the funny part of it is all of them were boys. The dogs
seem to have taken a great fancy for the breed. Guess you could
give a close hazard about who they were. Perhaps you know their
limp, for they showed it plain enough at the game," went on Bones,
with another series of chuckles.
"I saw Bill Klemm rubbing his calf and talking to Jay Tweedle;
yes, and when they walked off I thought each of them seemed to
have a stiff leg. How about that; were they to see the doctor?"
asked the captain of the football team, eagerly.
"Sure as you live, and Asa Barnes ditto. Asa said he was passing
an empty lot last night when a brindle cur just deliberately
jumped out and nabbed him. Of course he kicked the beast away,
and it ran off howling; but his father, on being told the
circumstances this morning, thought he ought to have a little
caustic applied so as to take no chances. Think of it--a brindle cur,
and that sneak kicked him! Oh! my!"
"And where did Bill say he got his dose from?"
"He's got a little bit of a poodle, you know. Well, he had the
nerve to declare the baby beast bit him! Dad said he found it hard
to believe, for judging from the marks of the teeth it was a jaw
three times as big as Tiny's that did the business. Dad knows
"Then you told him all about Kaiser's work last night?"
"Sure; I had to. He was for putting off to warn the town police to
look out for all brindle dogs, and shoot 'em on the spot--which
spot I don't know. But you see, somebody had told him about Kaiser
acting that way at the field, and he was ready to order him
massacred before he went mad too. So I had to relate the dreadful
story of how Bill and Asa and Jay got their little tattoo marks."
"What did he say then?" asked Frank, greatly amused.
"Nearly took a fit laughing over it. Instead of being chloroformed
or otherwise exterminated Kaiser is going to get a new collar now,
dad's especial gift. Hurrah for Kaiser! He's the whole circus
"Yes," said Frank, quickly, "he came near getting his finish
though to-day. Old Officer Whalen was on his trail and meant to
fill him full of holes, if he could ever get close enough. It was
a narrow escape for Kaiser."
"A narrower one for the crowd. Did you ever see Officer Whalen
practice firing at a mark? Well, I have. The man couldn't hit a
barn door thirty feet off. Can't you come over, Frank? I've got
something to propose to you. The afternoon is too fine and bracing
to stay cooped up in the house. We'll soon have to hibernate, you
know. Come along!" called Bones.
"Ralph is with me."
"All right. Bring him along. Glad to have him."
"Look for us soon then. I've got something I want to ask you
anyway. Good-bye," and Frank turned from the phone to explain to
the wondering Ralph just why he had been so overcome with
Of course Ralph thought the joke a good one when he too heard the
particulars of the sudden run upon the good doctor's supply of
"No wonder they limped after all that; the remedy was worse than
the disease, I reckon. I don't suppose anything serious will come
out of those bites now?" he said, after he had stopped laughing.
"Oh! hardly. Thousands are bitten every year by angry dogs, and
how few cases of hydrophobia you hear about. They'll limp around a
little while and then forget all about it But Bones wants us to
come over to his house, so if you have no objections we'll just
saunter across lots and see what he's got going."
"Just as you say." remarked Ralph, rising immediately; "though
unless you object I thought of dropping in at the post-office on
the way. There's a mail in, and possibly a letter might come for
me that I could get before the carrier came around."
Frank looked at him with pity in his eyes. He knew how secretly
Ralph was suffering all the pangs that can come with hope long
deferred; and that each day seemed like an eternity to the boy who
was yearning to feel the loving arms of a mother about his neck, a
mother whom he had never known.
"Certainly; that's only a step out of the way. But be careful as
you go, and if you see a brindle pup in a vacant lot run for your
life! They're mighty dangerous, I'm told," at which both boys
laughed again, and the cloud passed from Ralph's rather pale face.
As chance would have it, as they issued from the front door a
vehicle passed the house, and in it were seated Minnie Cuthbert
and Lef Seller, the fellow whom she had more than once declared
she never meant to speak to again. It was Lef's rig, and the
object he had in view in thus deliberately passing Frank's home
Frank, after that one start, was prepared. He immediately doffed
his cap with the most excruciating politeness. Minnie turned
white, then red. She hardly knew what to do under the circumstances;
but found herself nodding her head as though she could not help
it, even after cutting Frank on the preceding day.
Frank saw the grin of triumph on the face of his rival, but though
his blood was fairly boiling with indignation at his coming out of
the way to let him see their renewal of friendship, he simply
looked after the vehicle and smiled.
Ralph was chuckling as if amused.
"Sometimes girls' friendships are so quickly changed they make me
think of that wonderful Finnegan and his report of the accident on
his section of the railroad. You know how his boss had taken him
to task because he stretched things out so. When the old train had
another wreck he just wrote out his report: 'Off again, on again,
gone again, Finnegan.' Yesterday it was you, to-day Lef, and
tomorrow--well, tomorrow hasn't come yet, so we won't anticipate.
Come along, Frank," and linking his arm in that of his chum, Ralph
drew him away.
And in the lively talk that followed Frank soon forgot his bitter
feeling at the strange actions of the pretty girl he had once
thought so charming.
THE GREAT MARSH
"Glad to see you, fellows! Say, by the way, I hear that Clifford
won the great football match against Columbia!" was the way the
way Bones Shadduck greeted them as they reached his door and rang
"You don't tell me," said Frank, with a smile; "when did it
"Oh! last night some time. It was a great victory. I'm told they
nearly painted the town red over it," responded the other.
"Well, for my part I prefer to do the celebrating after the thing
is over to shouting before hand. Perhaps they celebrated too hard,
and that might account for several fool plays that were made. I
had an idea that several of Clifford's best players looked rather
red-eyed, as though they didn't get much sleep," remarked Frank,
as they entered.
"And I shouldn't be surprised if you were right. I was told they
had a dance and it was all hours of the morning when they went
home," echoed Bones.
"But what did you want us over for in particular?" asked Frank.
"Something to show you and then a proposal to make. I had a
birthday to-day, and my dad's been mighty good to me. What do you
think of that?"
Bones whipped out a beautiful shotgun from behind a case and
handed it over to the others to admire.
"Looks like a dandy, all right. And I wager she'll do some good
work when you get to looking over the sights. Handles great, too.
Although I think I like my own gun a little the better, still
that's only a matter of prejudice. You're lucky to have such a
dad, Bones," remarked Frank, as he drew an imaginary bead on some
object seen out of the window.
"And now for my proposal. I'm just wild to try the new gun, and I
had word from father's farmer, Benson, that the ducks were in the
old swamp that adjoins our big patch of ground over Wheaten way. I
can get our horse and the three of us might take a spin over to
see what we can do," suggested Bones, eagerly.
"But I thought duck shooting was always done in the early
morning?" ventured Ralph.
"It usually is; but in some localities there is apt to be a good
evening flight. That happens to be the case over at the swamp.
I've seen them come in there to spend the night by twos and
dozens, until the air was thick with them. And I've had the best
sport of my life in knocking them over on a runway, or rather
flyway. Say you'll go, Frank?" pleaded the enthusiastic sportsman.
"Well," answered the one addressed, "it always appeals to me, and
in this case I'd just as soon be away from town to-night, because
the boys are going to do stunts, and they hinted that they might
get hold of me to ride me around, something I object to seriously,
on general principles. So far as I'm concerned I'll be delighted
to go along, Bones."
"Ditto here," exclaimed Ralph; "only I shall have to go to be the
pick-up, for I haven't got a gun. I used to handle an old one of
Mr. West's, but, of course, didn't bring it along with me."
"Oh! that's easily fixed. If you don't mind you can use my old
one. She's a steady shooter. If you cover your bird you get him
every time. And I've got plenty of shells. Suppose you chase back
and get your double-barrel, Frank, while I see about the rig.
Ralph will stay with me and help, I know."
It was speedily arranged and Frank, on returning with his gun,
found the others ready to make a start. Just as he had said the
arrangement pleased him first-rate, for he really did want to get
out of town until a late hour that night. It was not at all to the
liking of the football captain to be carried around on show, just
as if he were a hero on exhibition; especially when he avowed that
he deserved not one whit more honor for the victory than each
other member of the team.
"I hope they get Lanky, and trot him around some to see how he
likes it. He was scolding me for not behaving right to the boys
to-day, when they grabbed me on the field after the game. I'd give
something to see him wallowing around on a platform and made to
bow to the right and to the left, over and over again."
All of them laughed heartily at the picture Frank conjured up.
Then they clambered into the vehicle and the start was made.
They had been wise enough to hide the guns, so that while some of
the boys who were on the streets saw them ride off, they had no
suspicion that the one bright particular star of the intended
celebration intended to be far away at the time.
It was a ride of more than ten miles. The horse, while not a fast
animal, could keep up a steady pace, and in good time they arrived
at the farm which Doctor Shadduck owned.
As the afternoon was passing, and night comes early after the
middle of November, the three young sportsmen hastened to head for
the swamp where they anticipated having an hour or so of pleasure
before dark actually shut in.
Bones had often come up here on a similar errand, though this was
his first visit this year. Still, he kept things in such shape
that there was little time wasted making the necessary arrangements.
He had a few painted decoys that had seen much service and these
they carried along with them from the house.
Seeing Frank curiously examining one of the stools he carried,
Bones broke out into a hearty laugh.
"Wondering what peppered that wooden decoy so, eh, Frank? I'll
tell you, though you'll never enjoy the story as much as I did the
actual thing. I had a cousin up here last winter. He was from New
York City, and had never shot at real game, though he was a deadly
marksman when it came to the trap, and could break bats and clay
pigeons right along."
"I've seen the breed," commented Frank, with a grin.
"Well, when we came crawling out here I forgot that I had asked
Benson to put my little flock of decoys out for me. The first
thing I knew I heard a bang close to my ear, and then a second
shot, after which Cousin Hal jumped up shouting that he had
knocked over the entire bunch. He had, but you ought to have seen
his look when I sent him wading out to retrieve the game. Still,
he laughed himself at the joke, and begged me not to tell it till
after he left."
"I guess they'll float about as well as ever, even if weighted
down with shot. Have you got a boat up here, Bones?" asked Ralph.
"Sure I have, and a dandy one to shoot out of, being flat-bottomed
and steady as a church floor. But I only use it to retrieve the
game generally; because you see, we can shoot from the land as the
ducks fly over to enter the swamp."
Frank had often heard of this style of shooting, and wanted to try
it; so that he was very glad he had come. After the tremendous
strain of the morning some relaxation of this kind would be a good
thing too, for all of them.
"I told my people not to expect me home to supper; and also that
they might be having game tomorrow for dinner, if we were lucky,"
"And nobody will bother whether I show up or not," observed Ralph,
with a nervous little laugh.
"Never mind, old chap, I calculate that there's going to come a
decided change in your condition before a great while. You're
showing true grit in bearing up as well as you do. Any day you may
get the letter that tells you the ones you look for are on the way
here. Then your troubles will be all in the past. Hello! how's
this Bones? Have we arrived?" and Frank looked around curiously
when the guide came to a sudden halt.
"Here we are, fellows. You see that abrupt break in the heavy line
of trees. It seems to form a sort of avenue, and the ducks in
flying toward the swamp just naturally drive into it, following
after each other as though it were really a road. In fact, few of
them ever enter the swamp by any other way than this."
"If we're going to shoot over a place like this, as the ducks come
in, why the decoys?" asked Ralph.
Bones laughed as he replied:
"I generally keep them out here during the season, in a little
shelter I have. Nothing like making fellows useful, you know; and
while we were coming I thought three could carry them better than
one! Sort of making you work your passage, see?"
Knowing the ground, and the habits of the waterfowl, Bones quickly
placed his two friends. Then they anxiously awaited the coming of
the first game.
A sort of routine had been arranged. This was to prevent any waste
of ammunition, through two of them shooting at the same quarry.
"Frank, you try the first chap, Ralph the second, and I'll
experiment with my new gun when the next pilgrim spins along.
Don't forget that they are swift customers right here, and the
chances are you'll shoot back of them," said Bones, as they stood
at their posts.
"There, Frank!" exclaimed Ralph, as a couple of dark objects
suddenly burst into view, and sped past them.
But Frank was not taken unawares. He had shot ducks more than once
before, and knew how to properly gauge their flight. Beginning a
little behind the pair he swept his gun forward so as to pass
them; and at just the instant it covered the game in its swinging
movement he pressed the trigger.
One of the ducks fell, stone dead, and the other went on with
diminished speed as though crippled. Almost instantly the second
barrel spoke, and this time down came the second bird.
"Fine!" exclaimed Bones, who had never seen Frank shoot before;
"why, really, I'm ashamed to show my clumsiness before such a
"None of that, now. And don't believe I can do that sort of work
right along. Next time it may be a clean double miss. Ducks are
unreliable things. I've known the best of shots to miss, time and
again. Ralph, step up and toe the mark. You're next on the
docket," laughed Frank, as he hastily replaced the discharged
shells with fresh ones.
"Better retrieve your game while the balance of us keep a lookout.
Otherwise we'll get things mixed, and perhaps lose some of it.
Did you mark the places?" said the host of the little hunt.
"Oh! yes, I always do that. It gets to be a habit with any fellow
who hunts much. I think they fell dead, so I oughtn't to have much
trouble," replied Frank.
"Beware the oozy spots along the border of the marsh. I've had no
end of trouble getting stuck instead of duck," called out Bones,
as the other moved away, carrying his gun along with him as a wise
hunter always does.
Just as he retrieved the second victim to his accuracy he heard a
single shot, and a heavy body fell not ten feet away. Ralph had
dropped his first duck also.
"There you are," remarked Frank, throwing the three birds down, as
he returned to the rendezvous; "and they do certainly look fine
and plump. Reckon you have quite a few muskrats in this old marsh
of yours, Bones. I saw a lot of houses in the water, made of
sticks and trash?"
"I was told there were. Of course I've seen the little varmints at
times, when I've been hiding in a duck-blind; but they never
trouble me, and I don't go out of my way to interfere with them.
He threw up his gun, and a second later two shots rang out in
rapid succession. Quite a bunch of teal had swung into the
avenue, heading for the marsh. They were just everlastingly
hurrying, as Ralph said, and while Bones succeeded in knocking
down a couple, one only wounded, which he never did find, he
declared he ought to be ashamed for not doing better.
"Still, I like the feel of the gun all right. I'll do something
worth while when I get used to the hang of it," he remarked, as he
went off to look for his game.
Then Frank had another chance. Sometimes the ducks were higher up;
then again they came at such speed that it was next to impossible
to make a hit.
So the fun went on for three-quarters of an hour. It was actually
getting dusk, and the flight seemed about over. Ralph had dropped
a single duck, and gone off to try and find it, though Bones said
he doubted whether he would succeed, because of the gathering
About five minutes afterwards, as he and Frank were sitting there
on the log, exchanging stories of former hunts, they heard Ralph
"Hello! what's the matter?" exclaimed Frank, starting up.
"I don't know, but I can give a pretty good guess," remarked
Bones; and then elevating his voice, he shouted:
"What d'ye want, Ralph?"
"Better drop over here, please!" came the reply.
"He's in some sort of trouble," suggested Frank, judging from the
half apologetic tone of his chum.
"Yes, and I expect stuck in the ooze of the marsh, worse luck!"
THE DANGERS OF THE MUCK HOLE
"Where are you?" called Bones, as he and Frank pushed forward in
the gathering dusk.
"Here! Be mighty careful, fellows, or you'll get in too!" came the
answer, not far away.
"Told you so," remarked the doctor's son, with a little laugh;
"poor Ralph; I pity him, because I've been there myself. When I
come alone out here I always carry a short rope along. If I get
stuck it helps me out."
"A rope? How under the sun can that help?" demanded a voice close
by; showing that they were very near the boy who was stuck in the
ooze, and also that he was alive to the inconvenience of his
"Why, you see, in most cases there's a limb of a tree hanging
over, and it's dead easy to throw the rope across it. After that,
one can pull out, unless he's allowed himself to sink too deep.
Got a match with you, Frank?" asked Bones.
"Lots. I've found them handy on too many occasions lately to go
without. Here you are, Bones. Going to make a fire, are you?" and
Frank, bending down, commenced to assist in gathering some dead
"Well," replied the other, "we ought to have some light to see how
to work him free. It would be a tough joke if the whole bunch of
us got stuck. I don't hanker after such an experience. Things are
pretty dry up here, so we must be careful not to let the blaze
The fire was quickly a positive fact, and being fed with some
small branches it leaped up grandly. In this fashion the entire
neighborhood was illuminated.
Frank looked around. The sight was peculiar, and as the marsh ran
into an actual swamp, he thought he had seldom seen a more weird
effect. Still, what interested him most of all was the picture of
Ralph, up to his knees in the soft slime that lay concealed under
the dead leaves and green scum.
"I've tried all I could to get out, fellows, but the worst of it
is, when I lift one foot the other only goes that much deeper
down. If a fellow could only get hold of enough stuff to make a
sort of mattress he might roll over on it and do the trick that
way. I'd be trying that if I had daylight, and was alone here,"
remarked the imprisoned boy, calmly.
"Say, I never thought of that. It's a clever idea, all right. Next
time I get stuck I'm going to see how it works," remarked Bones.
"Why not now, since you haven't your rope along. Here's just the
ticket--some old fence rails lying in a heap. Cheer up, comrade,
we'll have you out of that in a jiffy now," sang out Frank,
seizing one of the long, cast-off rails, and dropping it on the
surface of the muck.
Bones fell to along side, and between them they speedily formed a
regular corduroy road out to where Ralph stood, watching the
building with interest.
One of them got on either side. Then, with the aid of other rails
they pried Ralph loose, so that he could crawl over to the
"mattress," and get secure footing. After that nothing was needed
but to walk ashore.
"I'm a fine sight, mud up to my knees, my hands full, and I tell
you, it isn't just as sweet as it might be," lamented Ralph, as he
started to scrape himself off with a splinter.
"Hold on, we'll play valet to you. Take that leg, while I manage
this one, Frank," observed Bones, who was really enjoying seeing
some other fellow in the same mussy condition that had been his
lot more than once.
They scraped so well that presently Ralph declared he felt quite
presentable once more.
"But I'll make sure to let nobody see me in this condition," he
added; "and this pair of trousers will have to go to the cleaner's
Monday morning, you bet."
"Well, are we off now?" asked Frank, as he started to make sure
that the fire was extinguished to the last spark.
"That's the ticket, Frank," observed Bones, approvingly, "I like a
fire all right, but hate to see it burning up a marsh or a woods.
Had one little experience that I aint going to forget in a hurry.
I guess she'll do now. Let's shoulder our game and make tracks for
the farmhouse. Supper will be ready, I suppose."
"Supper?" echoed Ralph.
"Why, sure. You didn't suppose I meant that we'd go hungry when I
invited you to come up here for a little relaxation, after our big
strain this morning? Benson promised to have something for us.
They're only plain country folks, you know, so don't expect much
"Style!" exclaimed Ralph, with a snort, "do I look like I could
put on a heap, with these mussed-up trousers? All I ask is a
chance to wash my hands and face. But it was mighty good of you
thinking of the grub part, Bones."
"I don't see how. I always eat with Benson when I come up here for
a shoot. It was only a case of selfishness. Say, this is something
of a load--four apiece all around, and they're heavy chaps, too.
This one is so fat he actually burst when he fell."
"But I have no use of any game. Perhaps you'd better give the
farmer my share, for his kindness," suggested Ralph.
"That's nice of you, old fellow. And I'll take you up on it, too.
Benson has no time to shoot, and I don't believe he knows how; but
all the same he does like a taste of game, to sort of change the
bill of fare. Follow me, now, for the house."
Bones led the way, and presently they arrived at the farmhouse, a
low-roofed building, where light gleamed cheerily in the small
windows. Benson had a wife and several small children. The table
was set, country fashion, right at one end of the big kitchen, and
the odors that greeted the hungry and cold boys as they entered
certainly promised an appetizing repast.
Ralph was soon made happy with a tin basin and a bucket of water.
He managed to repair damages pretty well, and was only too willing
to respond to the farmer's hearty invitation to take a chair and
Perhaps it was their sharp-set appetites that made them think the
food tasted unusually fine. No matter, there was a great
abundance, and by the time they got up from the table every fellow
declared he could not eat another mouthful if he were paid for it.
"I'll have your rig at the door in short order," declared Benson,
as he went out with a lantern.
With a ten-mile drive, and a horse far from fresh, Bones had
decided that they would do well to start without any delay. He had
tried out his gun, and was satisfied; while on Frank's part, he
rejoiced in the fact that he would be away from town while all the
glorification was going on.
"Hold on, Mr. Benson, that's enough. Eight is all we want to take
back with us. Ralph here is boarding and has no use for his share.
So he asks you to accept it," called out Bones, as the farmer
started to toss the game in the back part of the doctor's buggy.
"That's kind o' him, and I'm sure much obliged. We don't get any
too much game up here, close as we are to the marsh. I'm too busy,
you see, and then besides, I never was a great hand to shoot. In
summer I pull in quite some fish at odd times, and that's all the
sport I take."
It was about eight o'clock when they finally left the farmhouse.
The good wife and the three children called out good-bye, as Bones
chucked to the horse, and they were off.
"It won't be so awful dark on the road, for there's a half moon
peeping out up yonder behind those clouds," said Frank.
"Glad of that," returned Bones, who was doing the driving,
"because you see, the road is pretty rough till we get on the main
one, and if it was pitch dark we might stand for getting tumbled
into a ditch alongside. There are same nasty places I've got to
look out for. I know them pretty well though; ought to, for I've
been in two of 'em."
"We'll help you look out then. I wouldn't hanker after a tumble
into a muddy ditch just now," laughed Frank.
"Think of me, fellows! Why, my lower extremities are still damp
from one trip. That was bad enough, but think of going in head
first! Ugh! excuse me, if you please!" groaned Ralph.
They made out to get along with little or no trouble. The horse
kept the middle of the road as a rule, and three pair of keen eyes
were quite enough to pilot the vehicle along toward the junction
of the two thoroughfares.
When the firmer road was reached Bones declared he was glad.
"Now we needn't worry, boys. Get-up, Strawberry; it's home for you
and another measure of oats. I had the farmer give him only a
small quantity. Keep a horse a bit hungry if you want him to
hustle for home," he remarked.
"Sounds reasonable at any rate, Bones. And Strawberry is doing
pretty good hustling right now, considering the heavy condition of
our weight, in the way of game. My folks will think I'm something
on the shoot, I guess," remarked Frank, humorously.
"You really got seven--" began Ralph, when his friend interrupted.
"Never mind about that. One fellow is always lucky above the rest.
Never knew it to fail. To-day it might be me, to-morrow you. So it
goes. Forget it, both of you."
Ralph said nothing more. He knew the nature of his chum, and that
Frank had not a selfish bone in his body. If there was any sport
going around he wanted every one to have their full share of it,
nor could he rest happy unless this were so.
They had passed over several miles of the main road, and all of
them were somehow feeling a bit drowsy from their unusual
exertions of the day, when, without warning, the horse snorted
and came to a full stop.
"What's this mean?" demanded Bones, in astonishment.
"There's something on the road ahead of us," declared Ralph,
bending forward in order to see the better, for the shadows fell
across the tree-bordered pike.
"I'm not sure," ventured Frank, "but it seems like some sort of
vehicle to me. Perhaps there's been an accident. Wait while I jump