Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Jim Ludwig
THE CHUMS OF SCRANTON HIGH OUT FOR THE PENNANT
In the Three Town League
I. Some of the Scranton Boys
II. The Man with the Cough
III. Hugh has Suspicions
IV. The Barnacle that Came to Stay
V. Scranton Tackles Bellevue High
VI. A Hot Finish
VII. What Thad Saw
VIII. A Bad Outlook for Brother Lu
IX. Setting the Man Trap
X. How Jim Pettigrew Fixed It
XI. Something Goes Wrong
XII. Scranton Fans Have a Painful Shock
XIII. Hugh Tries His "Fade-Away" Ball
XIV. Farmer Bernard Collects His Bill
XV. The Puzzle is Far from Being Solved
XVI. An Adventure on the Road
XVII. The Wonderful News
XVIII. When the Wizard Waves His Wand
XIX. Scranton High Evens Matters Up
XX. A Glorious Finish---Conclusion
SOME OF THE SCRANTON BOYS
"Too bad that rain had to come, and spoil our practice for today, boys!"
"Yes, and there's only one more chance for a work-out between now and
the game with Belleville on Saturday afternoon, worse luck, because
here it's Thursday."
"We need all the practice we can get, because if that O.K. fellow,
who dropped in to see us from Belleville, tells the truth, both his
club and Allandale are stronger than last year. Besides, I hear they
have each set their hearts on winning the championship of the Three
Town High School League this season."
"For one, I know I need more work at the bat. I've improved some, but
I'm not satisfied with myself yet."
"You've improved a whole lot, Owen!"
"That's right, 'Just' Smith, he's made such progress in bunting, and
picking out drops and curves and fast ones, under the watchful eye of
our field captain, Hugh Morgan here, that several other fellows on the
nine are below him in batting average right now, and I regret to say
I'm one of the lot."
The boy who answered to the name of Owen turned red at hearing this
honest praise on the part of his fellow students of Scranton High;
but his eyes sparkled with genuine pleasure at the same time.
A bunch of well-grown and athletic-looking high-school boys had left
the green campus, with its historical fence, behind them, and were on
their way home. It was in the neighborhood of two o'clock, with
school over for the day.
Just as one of them had said, a drizzly rain in the morning had
spoiled all chance for that day of doing any practice in the way of
playing ball. Mr. Leonard, second principal of the Scranton schools
under Dr. Carmack (who was also county supervisor, with dominion over
the Allandale and Belleville schools), had consented to act as coach
to the baseball team this season. He was a Princeton grad. and had
gained quite some little fame as a member of the Tiger nine that swept
Yale off its feet one great year.
Besides Owen Dugdale, there were "Just" Smith, Thad Stevens, Hugh
Morgan, Kenneth Kinkaid and Horatio Juggins in the bunch that started
off from the school grounds in company, though they would presently
break away as they neared their several homes.
"Just" Smith had another name, for he had been christened Justin;
but he himself, in answering to the calls for Smith, would always
call out "Just Smith, that's all," and in the course of time it clung
to him like a leech.
Kenneth Kinkaid, too, was known far and wide as "K.K.," which of
course was only an abbreviation of his name. Some said he was a
great admirer of Lord Kitchener, who had recently lost his life
on the sea when the vessel on which he had started for Russia was
sunk by a German mine or submarine; and that Kenneth eagerly took
advantage of his initials, being similar to those of Kitchener of
Horatio Juggins was an elongated chap whose specialty, besides capturing
balloon fliers out in right field with wonderful celerity, consisted
in great throwing to the home plate, and also some slugging when at bat.
Thad Stevens was the catcher, and a good one at that, everybody seemed
to believe. He, too, could take his part in a "swat-fest" when a
rally was needed to pull the Scranton boys out of a bad hole. Thad
had always been a close chum of the captain of the team, Hugh Morgan.
Together they had passed through quite a number of camp outings, and
were said to be like twins, so far as never quarreling went.
This same Hugh was really a clever fellow, well liked by most of the
Scranton folks, who admired his high sense of honor. He was averse
to fighting, and had really never been known to indulge in such
things, owing to a promise made to his mother, the nature of which
the new reader can learn if he wishes, by securing the first volume
of this Series. In so doing he will also learn how on one momentous
occasion the peace-loving Hugh was brought face to face with a dilemma
as to whether he should hold his hand, and allow a weaker friend to be
brutally mauled by the detestable town bully, Nick Lang, or stand up in
his defense; also just how he acquitted himself in such an emergency.
First "K.K." dropped away from the group as he came to the corner that
was nearest his home. Boy-like, he sang out to the rest as he swung
"I'm as hungry as a bear, fellows, and I happen to know our hired
girl's going to have corned beef and cabbage for noon today. That's
said to be a plebeian dish, but it always appeals to me more than
"Huh! you needn't boast, K.K.," said the Juggins boy, "over at _our_
house Thursday is religiously given over to vegetable soup, and I'm
good for at least three bowls of it every time. Then it's also a
baking day, so there'll be fresh bread rolls, as brown on the outside
as nuts in November. Whew! I just can't hold back any longer," and
with that Horatio started on a dog-trot through a short cut-off that
would take him to a gate in the back fence of his home grounds.
So presently when Owen and "Just" Smith had also separated themselves
from the balance there were only Thad and Hugh remaining; nor did
they waste any time in talking, for a high-school boy is generally
ferociously hungry by the time two in the afternoon comes around;
although at intermission, around eleven in the morning, in Scranton
High they were given an opportunity to buy a lunch from the counter
where a few substantial things, as well as fresh milk and chocolate,
were dispensed by a woman who was under the supervision of the school
"Since our baseball practice is off for today, Thad," remarked Hugh,
as they were about to separate, "suppose you drop over and join me.
I've got an errand out a short distance in the country, and we can
walk it, as the roads are too muddy and slippery for our wheels."
"Yes, I have hated riding on slippery roads ever since I had that
nasty spill, and hurt my elbow last winter," replied the other,
rubbing his left arm tenderly at the same time, as though even the
recollection after months had passed caused him to have tender memories
of the pain he had endured. "Lucky it wasn't my right wing that
got the crack, Hugh, because it sometimes feels sore even now, and
I'm sure it would interfere with my throwing down to second. But of
course I'll join you. I've nothing else that I want to this afternoon."
"Mother asked me if I'd go out to the Sadler Farm for her the first
chance I got, and already it's been put off too long, owing to our
keeping continually at practice every afternoon this week. She gets
her fresh sweet butter from Mrs. Sadler, and their horse is sick, so
they don't deliver it nowadays. Look for you inside of half an hour,
"I'll be along, never fear," sang out his chum, as he hurried off,
doubtless smelling in imagination the fine warm lunch his devoted
mother always kept for him on the back of the stove.
Thad was at the back door of the Morgan house inside of the stipulated
time, and being perfectly at home there he never bothered knocking,
but stalked right in, to find Hugh doing something in his own room.
Like most high-school boys' "dens," this apartment was a regular
curiosity shop, for the walls were fairly covered with college pennants,
and all manner of things connected with athletic sports, as well
as pictures that indicated a love for fishing and gunning on the
part of the young occupant; but every illustration was well chosen,
and free from the slightest taint of anything bordering on the vulgar
or the sensational. There was not a single picture of a notorious
or famous boxer; or any theatrical beauties, to be seen. Evidently
Hugh's fancy ran along the lines of clean sport, and healthy outdoor
So the two chums started off for a walk, their pace a brisk one,
because the air after that recent spell of rain was quite cool and
invigorating, Indeed, once Thad even deplored the fact that Mr.
Leonard had thought it best to call off practice for that afternoon.
"Well," remarked Hugh on hearing him say that, "Mr. Leonard was of
the opinion we were rather overdoing the matter, and might go stale.
He told me so, and said that in his experience he had known more than
a few teams to overdo things, and lose their best gait in too much
work. He says one more test ought to put the proper fighting spirit
in us, and that he feels confident we'll be keyed up to top-notch
speed by tomorrow night. I think our pitcher, Alan Tyree, is doing
better than ever before in his life; and those Belleville sluggers
are going to run up against a surprise if they expect him to be an
In due time they reached the farm, and securing several pounds of
freshly-made butter that had not even been salted, and was called
"sweet butter," they started back. Thad proposed that they take a
roundabout route home, just for a change; and this small thing was
fated to bring them into contact with a trifling adventure that would
cause them both considerable bewilderment, and be a cause for
conjecture for days and weeks to come.
"I smell wood smoke," remarked Thad, after they had gone about a
third of the distance; "and as the wind is almost dead ahead the fire
must be in that direction. There's no house in that quarter that I
remember, Hugh. There, now can see smoke coming out of that thin
patch of woods yonder. I wonder if they're meaning to cut those
trees down and clear more land?"
"No, you're away off there, Thad," remarked Hugh, just then. "I can
glimpse the fire now, and there's just one chap hanging over it.
Don't you see he's a Weary Willie of a hobo, who's getting his dinner
ready with wet wood. Here's a chance for us to see just how the thing
is done, so let's make him a friendly call!"
THE MAN WITH THE COUGH
Thad seemed quite agreeable.
"Do you know I've never come in close contact with any tramp," he went
on to remark, as they turned their faces toward the patch of trees
where the smoke arose, "and I've always wanted to watch just how they
managed. I note that this fellow has a couple of old tomato cans
he's picked up on some dump, and they're set over the fire to warm
up some coffee, or something he's evidently gotten at a back door.
Perhaps he'll be sociable, and invite us to join him in his
afternoon meal. I guess they eat at any old time, just as the notion
seizes them, eh, Hugh?"
"They're a good deal like savages in that respect, I understand,"
the other told him. "You know Indians often go a whole day without
breaking their fast; but when they do eat they stuff themselves until
they nearly burst. There, he has seen us coming in, for he's shading
his eyes with his hand, and taking a good look."
"I hope we haven't given him a scare," chuckled Thad, "under the
impression that one of us may be the sheriff, or some indignant
farmer who's lost some of his chickens lately, and traced them feathers
to this camping spot."
The hobo, however, did not attempt to run. He watched their approach
with interest, and even waved a friendly hand toward the two lads.
"Why, evidently he's something of a jolly dog," remarked the surprised
Thad, "and there are no chicken feathers around that I can notice.
Hello, bo', getting your five o'clock tea ready, I see."
At these last words, called out louder than ordinary, the man in the
ragged and well-worn garments grinned amiably.
"Well, now, young feller," he went on to say in a voice that somehow
was not unpleasant to Hugh's ear, "that's about the size of it. I
haven't had a bite since sun-up this morning, and I'm near caving in.
Out for a walk, are you, lads?"
"Oh! we live in Scranton," Hugh explained, "and I had an errand up
beyond. We went by another road, and came back this way, which is
why we sighted your smoke. Fact is, Thad, my chum here, has never
seen a knight of the railroad ties cooking his grub, and he said
he'd like to drop in and learn just how you managed, because he's
read so much about how splendidly tramps get on."
"That's all right, young feller," said the other, cheerily. "Find
seats on that log yonder. I ain't got much in my larder today,
but what there is will fill a mighty big vacuum in my interior,
let me tell you. This here is coffee in the first can---mebbe
not just what you boys is accustomed to at your breakfast tables,
but good enough for me when it's piping hot. I don't take any frills
with wine either, in the way of cream and sugar, leaving all that
for those that sit at white tablecloths and have silver as well
as china dishes. In this other can I've got some soup. Never mind
where I got it; some ladies, bless their hearts, are pretty kind;
and I always make it a point to carry several empty tomater cans
with me wherever I go. Besides that, in this newspaper here I've
got some bread, and two fine pieces of bologna sausage that I bought
in a village I came through. So altogether I'm expecting to have
a right swell feast pretty soon."
Thad looked interested in these things. He even peeped into the two
cans, and decided that wherever the tramp got that coffee it certainly
could be no "slops," for it had the real odor. The warmed-over soup,
too, smelled very appetizing, Thad admitted. On the whole, he
concluded that tramps were able to make out very well, when they knew
the ropes of the game, and how to beg at back doors.
Hugh, on the other hand, was more interested in the man himself than
in his limited possessions. He saw that the other was past middle
age, for his face was covered with a bristly beard of a week's growth,
verging on gray. His cheeks were well filled out, and his blue eyes
had what Hugh determined was a humorous gleam about them, as though
the man might be rather fond of a joke.
He was the picture of what a regular tramp should be, there could
be no getting around that, Hugh determined. He rather believed
that, like most of his kind, this fellow also had a history back
of him, which would perhaps hardly bear exploiting. Doubtless there
were pages turned down in his career, things that he himself seldom
liked to remember, giving himself up to a life of freedom from care,
and content to take things each day as they came along, under the
belief that there were always sympathetic women folks to be found who
would not refuse a poor wanderer a meal, or a nickel to help him along
Apparently he had been just about ready to sit down and make way
with his meal at the time the boys arrived on the scene; for he now
took both tin carts from their resting places over the red embers of
his fire, and opening the package produced the bread and the bologna.
This latter looked big enough to serve a whole family of six; but
then a tramp's appetite is patterned very much on the order of a
growing boy's, and knows no limit.
Having spread his intended food around him as he squatted there, the
hobo gave the boys a queer look.
"You'll excuse me if I don't ask you to join me, youngsters," he went
on to say. "I'd do the same in a jiffy if the supply wasn't limited;
besides, I don't know just what sort of a reception I'm going to meet
with in your town."
"Oh! no apologies needed, old chap," said Thad, quickly. "We had
our lunch only an hour or so ago and couldn't take a bite to save us
now. But say everything seems mighty good, if the smell counts for
much. So pitch right in and fill up. We'll continue to sit here
and chat with you, if you don't mind, Bill."
"That's all right, governor, only my name don't happen to be Bill,
even if I belong to the tribe of Weary Willies. I'm known far and
wide as Wandering Lu; because, you see, I've traveled all over the
whole known world, and been in every country the sun shines on.
Just come from the oil regions down in Texas, because, well, my
health is failing me, and I'm afraid I'm going into a decline."
At that he started to coughing at a most tremendous rate. Thad
"You certainly do seem to have a terribly bad cold, Lu," he told
the tramp, as the other drew out a suspicious looking red handkerchief
that had seen better days, to wipe the tears from his eyes, after he
had succeeded in regaining his breath, following the coughing spell.
The man put a dirty hand in the region of his heart and winced.
"Hurts most around my lungs," he said, "and mebbe I've got the con.
I spent some time in a camp where fifty poor folks was sleeping
under canvas down in Arizona, and I'm a whole lot afraid I may have
caught the disease there. So, being afraid my time would soon come
I just made up my mind to look up a sister of mine that I ain't
heard a word from for twenty years or more, and see if she was in
a position to support me the short time I'd have to live."
Thad heard this with evident interest. At the same time it occurred
to him the stalwart tramp was hardly a fit subject for a speedy death;
indeed, he looked as though he might hold out for a good many years
still, except when he fell into one of those coughing spells, and
seemed to be racked from head to foot with the exertion.
Hugh saw that the fellow had an engaging manner, and a smooth tongue.
He was trying to make out just what sort of a man this same Lu might
be, if one could read him aright. Was he crooked, and inclined to
evil ways; or, on the other hand, could he be taken at face value
and set down as a pretty square sort of a fellow?
"Listen, young fellers," remarked the still eating hobo, later on,
"didn't you tell me you lived in the place called Scranton, when
you're to home?"
"Yes, that's so," Thad assured him. "Know anybody there, Lu, and do
you want us to take him your best compliments?"
The tramp grinned amiably.
"I reckon you're something of a joker, younker," he went on to say.
"Now, about the folks in Scranton, I suppose you boys know about
everybody in town?"
"Well, hardly that," Hugh told him, "since Scranton is a place of
some seven or eight thousand inhabitants, and new people are constantly
"All the same," added Thad, "we do know a good many, and it's just
as likely we might be acquainted with your friend. What's his name,
"First place, it ain't a he at all, but a lady," the other explained,
looking a little serious for once.
"Oh! excuse the mistake, will you?" chuckled Thad, highly amused at
the airs the disreputable looking grizzled old chap put on when he
made this statement. "Well, we have some acquaintance among the
ladies of the town also. They're nearly all deeply interested just
now in helping Madame Pangborn do Red Cross work for her beloved
poilus over in brave France. I suppose now you've traveled through
that country in your time, Lu?"
"Up and down and across it for hundreds of miles, afoot, and in
trains," quickly replied the old fellow, "and say, there ain't any
country under the sun that appeals more to me than France did. If I
was twenty years younger, hang me if I wouldn't find a way to cross
over there now, and take my place in the trenches along with them
bully fighters, the French frog-eaters. But I'm too old; and
besides, this awful cough grips me every once in so often."
Even the mention of it set him going again, although this time the
spasm was of shorter duration, Hugh noticed; just as though he had
shown them what he could do along such lines, and did not want to
exhaust himself further.
"But about this lady friend of yours, Lu, would you mind mentioning
her name, and then we could tell you if we happen to know any such
person in Scranton?" and Thad gave the other a confiding nod as
if to invite further confidence.
"Let's see, it was so long back I almost forget that her name was
changed after she got hitched to a man. Do you happen to know a
chap who goes by the name of Andrew Hosmer?"
The boys exchanged looks.
"That must be the sick husband of Mrs. Hosmer, who sews for my mother,"
remarked Thad, presently. "Yes, I remember now that his first name
"Tell me," the tramp went on, now eagerly, "is his wife living, do
you mean, younker, this Mrs. Hosmer, and is her name Matilda?"
"Just what it happens to be," Thad admitted. "So she is the lady
you want to see, is she, Lu? What can poor old Mrs. Hosmer, who
has seen so much trouble of late years, be to you, I'd like to know?"
The man allowed a droll look to come across his sun-burned face with
its stubbly growth of gray beard. There was also a twinkle in his
blue eyes as he replied to this query on the part of Thad Stevens.
"What relation, you ought to say, younker, because Matilda, she's
my long-lost sister, and the one I'm a-hopin' will nurse me from
now on till my time comes to shuffle off this planet and go hence!"
The two boys heard this stunning announcement with mingled feelings.
Thad looked indignant while Hugh on his part tried to read between
the lines, and understand whether there could be any meaning to the
tramp's declaration than what appeared on the face of it.
HUGH HAS SUSPICIONS
"Well, old man," remarked Thad, "I'm afraid you're in for a
disappointment about as soon as you strike Scranton; because if Mrs.
Hosmer is your long-lost sister, she isn't in any position to help
you pass the time away till you kick the bucket. Why, even as it is,
she has a hard time getting along, and my mother as well as some of
the other ladies give her sewing to do to help tide over. She can
hardly make enough to keep herself and her husband going."
The tramp shook his head sadly.
"Say, I'm right grieved to hear that, son," he went on to observe,
seriously. "Course it's goin' to be a hard blow to poor old Lu,
after working his way up here all these months, and nearly coughing
his head off at times, to find out that his only relation in the
wide world ain't well off in this world's goods. But then Matilda
she always was soft-hearted, and mebbe now she might find a hole
in her humble home where her poor old brother could stay the short
time he's got in this world of trouble and sorrow. I could do with
less to eat if I had to, gents; and blood was always thicker'n water
Thad felt indignant. The idea of this sleek-looking old rascal
settling down on his poor sister, and making her support him, was
too much for his temper.
"Well, I'd be ashamed if I were you, Wandering Lu, to even think of
letting any woman earn my living for me, no matter if she did happen
to be a sister. As it is, she's hard pushed at times to get enough
food together for herself and her husband."
"Why, what's the matter with Andrew; why can't he do his share?"
demanded the other, boldly, and Thad thought he looked disgusted at
the poor prospect before him.
"Mr. Hosmer is really sick," explained the boy; "and there's no
humbug about his ailment, either. I heard the doctor tell my mother
that it was partly due to a lack of substantial food for years.
You see, the woman herself was ill for a long time, and her husband
worked himself to skin and bone trying to provide for her. Then
she got over her trouble, and now it's his turn to go under. He has
tried to work a number of times, but fainted at his bench in the
shop from sheer weakness."
"Gee! I'm sorry to hear that," muttered the other, shrugging his
broad shoulders as he spoke, and shaking his head from side to side,
as though he feared some hope he had been cherishing was on the
point of vanishing. "But then mebbe Andrew he may get better again,
and be able to work at his trade, because if I really got consumption
there ain't any chance for me to be doin' in this world."
Thad showed signs of growing angry, but pinched his arm, and muttered
in his ear:
"Just hold your horses, Thad. We can't stop him, if he's set on
seeing his sister, you know. And besides, perhaps they'll turn him
away from the door. He's a queer sort of a chap, and I just can't
quite make out whether he's a scamp or a big joke. Let's keep
quiet, and see which way the cat jumps."
Thad heaved a sigh, but did not say anything to the tramp that he may
have had in his mind, and which possibly Wandering Lu might have
resented. The man had continued his meal and was in something of a
reflective frame of mind apparently. Hugh supposed he was wondering
what he was going to do after coming so far in hopes of finding a
snug nest for the remainder of his idle days, and meeting with a
"Say, young fellers, I'm going to ask a favor of you," he suddenly
remarked, as he brushed the back of his hand across his mouth,
signifying that he had finished his meal, and did this in lieu of
using a napkin.
"What is it you want?" asked Thad, a bit ungraciously, it must be
"Of course, you know just where Matilda lives in Scranton," observed
the man, insidiously; "and mebbe now you wouldn't mind if I walked
along with so you point out her home to me when we get near it?"
"Ought we do it, Hugh?" flashed Thad, turning toward his chum.
"What's the harm?" asked the other, instantly. "He can soon find it
by asking at some house, whether we help him or not. Why, yes, we'll
accommodate you, Lu; but I wouldn't be too hopeful if I were you,
about their asking you to stay over, because the times are out of
joint nowadays, food getting higher every day, and money hard to pick
up, since Uncle Sam's just jumped into the big war game."
"But my sister Matilda she always did have a tender heart, and wouldn't
see a poor stray cat go hungry if so be she had a bite of food,"
the tramp went on to say in the most unblushing way possible. "Unless
she's changed a heap she'll let me stay a while with her anyhow.
Mebbe I'll pick up some if I get good care, and can go on the road
again if the worst comes. But I'm much obliged to you for saying as
how you'd show me her humble home. It'll be mighty fine for a poor
old rolling stone like me to get under the roof of a blood relative,
which ain't been my luck for over twenty years."
He hastened to gather his scanty belongings together. When the pack
was complete be slung it across his back, and gave Hugh a nod.
Somehow even this tramp seemed to understand that Hugh Morgan was
the leader among his mates; perhaps it was his expression of firmness
that told the story, for there was certainly nothing of the "boss"
air about the boy to indicate as much.
"I'm all ready, if you are, younkers," the tramp said.
"Then we'll be off," remarked Hugh, Putting his words into action.
Thad began to wonder what any of their acquaintances would say should
they happen to see them in company with Wandering Lu. The tramp
looked so utterly disreputable that Thad disliked being discovered
with him; and yet Hugh, who looked deeper than his companion, was
surprised to notice that this dirt had the appearance of being rather
new and fresh. The fact caused him to take further notice of the man,
about whom he felt there rested quite a little air of mystery.
As they walked along the road headed for town, Thad's curiosity got
the better of his dislike and suspicion.
"In all this twenty years of knocking about, ail over the world, as
you claim, I suppose now there have been times when you've struck
pay dirt--what I mean is that I sort of think you haven't always been
what you are now, just a tramp? How about that, Wandering Lu?"
"What, me?" chuckled the other. "Say, I've dug gold in Alaska,
hunted pearls down near Ceylon, been at work in the diamond fields
out in South Africa, and in lots of other places in the world took
my turn at playing for high stakes with old Dame Fortune. Why,
younkers, I've had fortunes several times, and let the same slip
out of my hands. Some time, mebbe, if so be, I conclude to stay
around this section of country, which pleases me a heap as far as
I've seen the same, why I'd like to spin you a yarn or two that'd
make your eyes look as big as them there individual butter plates
they use in restaurants. I've run up against heaps and heaps of
queer adventures. In fact, it's a wonder I didn't die long ago
with my boots on. That's what peeves me, to think a feller who's
been so close to death by violence so many times should after all
be snuffed out with the pesky con."
Then he had another spell of violent coughing that quite aroused the
sympathy of Thad afresh, while Hugh observed and took note.
According to his mind, these fits of near strangulation were almost
too methodical to be genuine; still, he did not wish to condemn
any one without positive proof, though laboring under the impression
that the said Lu could not be as far gone as he tried to make them
Presently they arrived in the environs of Scranton. The boys went
out of their way to accommodate their disreputable looking companion,
for they would have struck across by another street if going home
"Mrs. Hosmer lives in that small cottage ahead of us," Hugh was saying,
pointing as he spoke.
The tramp stared, and nodded his head.
"Looks right neat, accordin' to my notion," he said. "Matilda was
always a great hand for keeping things clean. Now, I rather reckon
I'll like this place a heap."
Thad burned with fresh indignation to hear him so coolly signify his
intention of burdening the already hard pressed sister with his keep.
"Oh! is that so?" he snorted, "then I kind of think you'll have to get
a move on you, Wandering Lu, and remove a few pounds of superfluous
earth from your face and hands."
The man did not show any sign of being offended at this attack; simply
looked at his hands, and grinned as he remarked:
"Reckon that I will, younker; but then soap is cheap, and I wouldn't
want to soil Matilda's clean sheets and towels. Yes, if I'm going
to become domesticated and give up all this roving business I suppose
I'll just have to clean up a bit. Wonder now if Andrew he would
have an extra suit of clothes he could turn over to me. I'd sure
hate to make my poor sister blush to introduce her brother looking
as tough as I do just now."
"There's Mrs. Hosmer coming along the street," said Hugh at that
juncture. "She's got a bundle with her, so I expect she's been
getting more sewing to do from your mother or mine, Thad. And that's
Mr. Hosmer just opened the door to let her in. He's been watching
for her, no doubt, because they say he's always been a mighty good
husband, and it nearly kills him to see her working so hard while
he keeps on being too weak to be at his trade. We'll meet her at
They walked along, and stopped just as the good woman came up. Mrs.
Hosmer had snow-white hair, and a most amiable countenance. Every
one who knew her understood that the poor woman possessed a big
heart, and would share her last crust with a hungry man or child.
Thad, gritting his teeth at what he anticipated he would see, watched
the meeting. Hugh answered her pleasant greeting by saying:
"We chanced to come across a man who was inquiring for you, Mrs.
Hosmer, and as he asked us to show him where you lived we have fetched
him along. He can speak for himself now."
The woman turned to look at the tramp. Up to then she had hardly
noticed him, but now something seemed to stir within her bosom.
They saw her start, and bending, look more closely, at the same
time turning paler than usual.
"Oh! who can it be?" she said, weakly. "I seem to see something
familiar about the figure, and the face, but it's impossible, for
my brother Lu has long been dead."
"That's where you're mistaken, Matilda, because I'm that same Luther
Corbley, and still alive and in the flesh, though pretty far gone,
I'm afraid," and he acted as if about to start into one of his
hysterical coughing spells, then thought better of it, because
Matilda was rushing toward him, dropping her bundle as she came.
Paying no attention to his soiled and ragged clothes, the good woman
threw her arms about the neck of her long-lost brother, and actually
kissed him again and again on his rough cheek. Hugh, watching closely,
could see the man assume a pleased look, and once he thought he caught
Wandering Lu actually winking his left eye in his direction, as though
to say: "You see, she never will let me die on the road!"
THE BARNACLE THAT CAME TO STAY
The man in the doorway, Andrew Hosmer, had watched this remarkable
scene with a variety of emotions. He realized that something in the
nature of a calamity had come upon them, for if his poor, hard-working
wife had found it difficult, even with the generous help of good
friends in Scranton, to provide food for the two of them, however
could she manage to add still another to the household, and feed a
Still, this man was undoubtedly Luther Corbley, the brother of whom
she had so often talked, and who was believed to be long since dead,
because he led such an adventurous life. And surely they could not be
so inhuman as to deny him at least temporary shelter, and a share of
their slender meals.
So, greatly to the disgust of Thad in particular, Mr. Hosmer now came
forward to offer his hand to the tramp, who took it eagerly. The
look on Brother Lu's face impressed Hugh as one of strange import.
He could not make it out at all, and even found himself vaguely
wondering whether this man might not after all be some sort of artful
impostor, who, having learned about the lost brother, chose to play
the part simply to be well taken care of for a time.
But then surely Matilda would soon be able to tell, when she got to
talking of their childhood days. A thousand things were apt to come
up, and even a cunning schemer could not help betraying his vast
ignorance along such lines.
About this time Brother Lu seemed to have one of his periodical
outbursts of violent coughing. Indeed, he rather outdid himself
on this occasion, as though determined to make a good showing before
his newly-found relatives, and thus enlist their full-fledged sympathy
in the start.
Matilda seemed fairly shocked as he strained, and writhed, and almost
burst a blood vessel with his efforts. Thad stood and watched, his
lip curling as though he could no longer be deceived. To him the
whole thing was now very much in the nature of a fraud, a delusion,
and a snare. He did not doubt the identity of Brother Lu, but as
to the genuine nature of his malady, that was another question entirely,
and Thad could not be impressed again. He fully believed the man
was faking sickness just to gain the sympathy of these simple people,
and work out the game he had in view, which Thad was convinced was
to make a snug nest for himself during the rest of the summer, perhaps
for all time.
"Let's be going along, Hugh," he said, as he wheeled on his chum, the
light of honest indignation glowing in his eyes; "this thing is making
me feel sick, and I can't stand much more of it!"
Hugh himself was agreeable. He intended, however, to see considerably
more of Brother Lu in the immediate future, and expected to be able
to gauge the fellow for what he really was. If he felt positive that
there was a chance of his being an impostor, Hugh would consider it
his duty to warn Mr. Hosmer, so that with the help of his wife they
might catch the fellow in some sort of trap and expose him. Even
though he did turn out to be the genuine article, Hugh felt that it
would be a shame to have him hanging on the poor couple, and causing
Matilda to work harder than ever to provide food, while possibly this
able bodied tramp led a lazy sort of an existence.
Accordingly the two boys strolled on, not having far to go in order
to reach Hugh's home, where he could deliver the "sweet butter" he
had gone out to the farm after. Just as Hugh anticipated, Thad
"boiled over" as soon as they were out of earshot of the Hosmer
cottage. Turning to look back he had seen the wretched hobo being
tenderly escorted into the little dwelling, hardly more than a dove-cote
in point of size, Matilda on one side, and her husband on the other;
and the sight caused Thad to grit his teeth savagely.
"I tell you it's a burning shame for that husky fraud to impose
himself on that poor old couple the way he has done," grumbled Thad.
"He's no more sick than I am. Didn't you see how he devoured all
that food at a sitting? No man wasting away with consumption could
stuff like that. And see how fat he is in the bargain; why, he'd
make two of old Mr. Hosmer. Yet they are ready to take him in, feed
him three meals a day, give him the best bed in the house, most likely,
and for an indefinite time. Uh! thunder! it makes me furious just to
think of it."
Hugh was amused at seeing Thad act in this way, because it was so
unlike his usual cool demeanor. Undoubtedly he was, as he had said,
indignant from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.
"We'll both of us keep an eye on Brother Lu," remarked Hugh, "and try
to learn his little game. You know he asked us to come over and see
him, when he would keep his promise to tell us some thrilling yarns
about his adventures in many lands."
"Oh! I've no doubt the fellow has a slick tongue in his mouth, and
can spin stories that haven't a particle of foundation except in his
brain. He's no ignoramus, that's sure, and if he hasn't traveled in
all those countries he's read about the same, and can talk everlastingly
about things he imagines he's seen."
"But all the while we'll be watching to trip him up, don't you see?"
the other continued. "I'll set Matilda to fixing a trap or two that
will settle the question about his being the man he says he is."
"Oh! I'm not thinking so much about that!" burst out Thad, "even
if he is Luther Corbley, her own brother, that isn't the main trouble.
It's about his fastening himself like a barnacle or a leech on them
that I hate to consider. It makes me think of bow the Old Man of
the Sea, after being helped by Sindbad the Sailor, refused to get
off his benefactor's shoulders when asked. That's what this chap
means to do, get so comfortably settled that nothing can dislodge him."
"We'll see about that," snapped Hugh, his eyes sparkling now. "Some
of the good people of the town who are interested in the welfare of
Mr. Hosmer and his wife will object, and so Brother Lu may have to
trudge along again."
"I'm afraid you'll run up against a snag when you try that sort of
thing, Hugh. That snag will be the affection of Matilda. She's
_awfully_ tender-hearted, you can see, and would rather go hungry
herself than that any one related to her should suffer, even a little.
Just think of that beast being installed in their home. Every time
he thinks it necessary to stir up a little extra sympathy he'll start
that old gag of coughing to work again. Oh! I feel as if I could
willingly help duck him in Hobson's Mill-pond, or give him a ride
out of town on a rail some fine night."
Hugh had to laugh at hearing this honest outburst.
"No use talking, you don't seem to have much feeling for the woes of
a poor old homeless tramp, Thad," he told his chum.
"Well, I haven't, if you want me to give you the honest truth," said
Thad, bluntly; "in my humble opinion any husky man who is willing
to loaf around and let a delicate woman like Matilda Hosmer labor
for his support doesn't deserve a grain of pity. Remember, Hugh,
I'm not referring to her husband, who is a good fellow, and doing
all he can to get his strength back again, so he can go to his trade,
and allow her to take things easier. I'm going to tell my folks all
about it. The women of this town ought to do something to influence
Mrs. Hosmer, if she persists in letting that hulk of a lazybones stay
with her, and be fed at her expense."
"That might be a bright idea, in good time," assented Hugh. "Surely
our mothers would know how to manage, and could get Matilda to give
the man his walking papers; though on second thought I really believe
she would refuse, even if they declared they would have to decline to
assist her further unless she chased Brother Lu away from her cottage
home. He knows her character, too, because you remember how he told
us Matilda always was a tender-hearted thing, and would not stand by
and see a wretched dog suffer if she could prevent it by any personal
Thad did not reply immediately, but made a number of highly significant
gestures, of a nature to cause Hugh to fancy the other were punching
some fellow's head in a satisfactory fashion. And somehow actions
spoke louder than words in that case.
"Don't let this queer business weigh too heavily on your mind, Thad,"
warned the other, as they prepared to separate. "We've got a game
ahead of us, remember, and it's mighty important that the catcher
behind the bat should keep his wits about him."
"I guess I know all that, Hugh," chuckled Thad. "Once I get to
playing ball, and there's going to be nothing interfere with my
work as a backstop. I'm feeling in tip-top condition right now, and
everything working right expect to be a factor in bringing Belleville
down into the dust day after tomorrow."
"Once we get that game pulled off," observed Hugh, "and we won't
have another championship one for two weeks, because Allendale and
Belleville meet the next Saturday, though we expect to play another
team from Jenkintown, just to keep our hands in, you know. Our
next job will be to hustle with that strong Allendale combination,
that broke up everything last season, and went through with only
"But next week, with nothing on our hands, Hugh, we can turn our
attention to this miserable business again, can't we?"
"Why, I know of no reason to prevent it," observed the other. "Let's
hope that by then Brother Lu will have decided town life is too dull
for him, and be once more holding down the railroad ties in his
journeying through the country. I've read that it's mighty hard for
a genuine tramp to settle down to any civilized sort of existence.
You see, they're of a sort of migrating gypsy breed, and get as
uneasy as a fish out of water when stalled for any length of time."
"'Course that would settle it all beautifully," agreed Thad, with
a relieved look on his honest face; "but according to my mind it
would be too good to come true. That sly chap means to play the
game to the limit. As long as he isn't half starved he'll hang
on there, and work upon the sympathy of those poor people. The
only sure way to get him dislodged would be to cut his rations short;
though to do that you'd have to hurt Matilda and her sick husband.
But give me a little time, and I'll fix him, that's right, I will!"
If Brother Lu could only have seen and heard all this he might have
been made a bit uneasy, under the conviction that his soft berth
in his sister's home was not going to prove such an easy snap as
the conditions seemed to imply. Hugh found himself wondering just
how the fellow would take it. Brother Lu was becoming something
of a mystery to Hugh, and he was already making up his mind that
it would afford him great pleasure to study the rogue still further,
and see what that sly gleam or twinkle in his blue eyes really stood
"Come over tonight, Thad, and we'll talk matters over again---baseball
matters, I mean, of course," Hugh called out as his chum started away.
"Just as you say, Hugh, though I was expecting that you'd favor me
with a call. There are a few little things that had ought to be
straightened out before we hit that slugging nine over in Belleville.
I hope Alan Tyree keeps up his good work in the box. Lately he's
seemed to be doing finely, and Mr. Saunders declares he could mow
down a lot of heavy hitters in the college league. Well, we'll
know more about a heap of things when Saturday night comes around.
See you later, then, Hugh!"
SCRANTON TACKLES BELLEVUE HIGH
There was quite a big crowd at Belleville when the time came for the
game to start on Saturday afternoon. Scranton had sent a hustling
delegation of many hundreds of enthusiastic people, most of whom were
young folks, deeply interested in the fortunes of their school team,
led by Hugh Morgan.
The scene was a pretty one, for, it being a warm day, the girls were
out in force, dressed in all the colors of the rainbow, and waving
their school pennants with a patriotic fervor that did them full credit.
Then there were the groups of students belonging to each of the rival
high schools, with some fellow to lead them in cheering; they
promised to make it a day long to be remembered with their collective
noise and hearty concerted shouting.
Already the two teams were in evidence, Scranton being at practice,
with the use of the field for fifteen minutes. Some were knocking
out flies and fierce ground balls to the fielders; while the catcher
varied the monotony of things by sending down speedy balls to second
to catch an imaginary runner from first, after which Julius Hobson or
Owen Dugdale would start the ball around the circuit like lightning
before it reached the hand of the batter again.
All this preliminary work was being watched with more or less interest
by the vast crowd of spectators. There were many who pretended to be
able to gauge the capacity and fielding power of a club in this stage,
but experienced onlookers knew the fallacy of such a premature
decision. Often the very fellows who displayed carelessness in
practice would stiffen up like magic when the game was actually
started, and never make a sloppy play from that time on, their throwing
being like clock-work and their stopping of hard hit bounders simply
The umpire was on the ground, and would soon be donning his mask for
work behind the bat. He was a former Yale graduate, and as he lived
in Jenkintown, would not be inclined to favor any one of the three
clubs representing the High School League. Besides, Mr. Hitchens
was a man held high in esteem by everyone who knew him, and his
decisions were not likely to be questioned, since everyone felt certain
he would be strictly impartial, and say what he believed to be so.
When the time limit had expired the players came in, and the two
field captains were seen in consultation, as though there might be
something in the way of ground rules to be settled before play was
called. The crowd was so large that in several places it had worked
over into the field, and a rope had to be stretched to keep the
spectators from bothering the players.
It was understood that a hit in a certain quarter amidst the spectators
would be counted a two-bagger. To secure a home run on the Belleville
grounds the batter must send his ball in a direct line for center, and
far above the fielder's head. The ground has a slight slope there,
and once a good start was made it was likely to elude the running
fielder long enough to allow a fast sprinter to circle the bases.
Hugh had never played on the Belleville grounds before, but he always
made it a practice to closely examine every field before starting
a game, and discovering its weak spots. Now he realized that Belleville
must be well aware of that small slope, and the possibilities it
had for a home run. Doubtless the Belleville boys had all been
trained to aim their guns in that direction, with the hope of
accumulating a number of four-base hits during the progress of a game.
The visitors, not being wise to the fact, would waste much of their
surplus energy in sending out hits to the side of the field where,
no matter how vigorous the wallops might be, still they would only
count for two bases.
So Hugh gave each and every one of the boys the secret, and the
"heavies" were implored to do their utmost to send their hits straight
ahead, and high over the head of fielder Major, who did duty in the
middle garden. They assured him they would not be found wanting
when the time came, though, of course, much must depend on how they
were able to gauge the slants and drops of the artful Kinsey, pitcher
When the two high-school nines took the field they were found to
consist of the following players in their batting order:
Scranton High Player
"Just" Smith Left Field
Joe Danvers First Base
Horatio Juggins Right Field
Owen Dugdale Short Stop
Hugh Morgan Third Base (Field capt.)
"K.K." (Ken Kinkaid) Center Field
Julius Hobson Second Base
Alan Tyree Pitcher
Thad Stevens Catcher
Belleville High Player
Conway Left Field
Gould First Base
Wright Right Field
"O.K." Kramer Third Base
Major Center Field
O'Malley Second Base
Of course the home team elected to go into the field in the opening
inning. This brought "Just" Smith to the bat to start things moving.
Well, he proved to be the "round peg in the round hole," for what did
he do but tap the very first ball up for as pretty a single as any
one would want to see. This was certainly a good beginning. Joe
Danvers "whiffed out" after knocking several foul strikes. That was
one down, but the eager Scranton fans were saying to each other:
"Notice that our fellows don't seem to have any trouble as yet in
getting to Arthur Kinsey this fine afternoon! Oh! wait till they
limber up, and you'll see them knock him out of the box."
"Yes, just wait," some of the local rooters would call out, "and
see how he mows your fellows down in one, two, three style. Arthur
always starts in easy and stiffens up as he goes along. He has
pitched two games in an afternoon, and won both. They do say he
was better at the end of the eighteen innings than when he started.
Yes, please don't take snap judgment on our poor pitcher. There,
did you see how Joe Danvers nearly broke his back trying to hit
a ball that didn't come within a foot of the plate. He'll have
them all guessing pretty soon and eating out of his hand. The game
is long, my brother, don't settle it in the first inning."
Owen got in his little bunt, all right, and succeeded in advancing
the runner to second, as well as saving his own bacon. So there
were two on the bags, and as many down, when Hugh stepped up and took
a chance at the offerings of the wily Kinsey.
Hugh managed to pick out a good one and sent it like a bullet straight
at the shortstop, who knocked it down; and finding that he could not
reach first in time, as Hugh was jumping along like the wind, sent
it over to second, where he caught Owen just by a fraction of an
inch, and Mr. Hitchens waved him off; so after all the brave start,
no score resulted.
In their half of the first, Belleville did no better. In fact, they
only got a man on first through an error on the part of Joe Danvers,
who unfortunately slipped in reaching for the ball, and as his
foot was not on the bag the umpire called the runner safe. But he
died there, Alan Tyree cutting the next two men down as a mower in
the field might the ripe grain with his scythe.
Again did Scranton make a bid for a run in the next deal, but once
more slipped up when hope had begun to grip the hearts of many of
the anxious home rooters. In this inning "K.K." struck out, Julius
Hobson was sent to the bench on a foul that Wright out in the field
managed to settle under after a lively run; Tyree got a Texas league
hit that allowed him to plant himself on first, and Thad slipped
one over into the bleachers in right that, according to the ground
rules, allowed him to go to second.
With men on two bags up came "Just" Smith, who had done so bravely
before; but alas! as that Belleville fan had truly said, the local
pitcher had tightened up and was not such "easy pickings" now; so
Smith only whiffed, and the side was out.
Belleville, much encouraged, started hitting in their half of this
inning. Two good blows, added to a couple of errors, allowed them
to send a brace of runners around the circuit. It began to look
serious for Scranton, and Hugh bade his men brace up and do something
With Scranton at the bat Joe Danvers cracked out a clean single,
after he had had seven fouls called on him. Juggins tried to do
the same but failed to connect. Owen, after two strikes and three
balls, again bunted. He succeeded in shoving Joe down to second,
but it went as a sacrifice after all, because they got Owen before
he could cross the initial sack.
Again history repeated itself, and it seemed up to Hugh to do something
to save the inning from being a goose-egg again. He braced himself
for an effort. Kinsey apparently considered Hugh dangerous, and was
for passing him, in hopes of being better able to strike out the
next man up, "K.K." But Hugh refused to be denied, and stepping
out he smote one of those curves a blow that sent it spinning far
out in left, allowing Joe to come in, and placing Hugh on second.
Things began to look a bit brighter now. Encouraged by the aspect,
and possibly the cheers of the Scranton fans, "K.K." put one over
second that allowed Hugh to reach third, no attempt being made to
nip the batter at first.
Then up stepped Julius Hobson. As he was so fond of saying, it
was "Hobson's choice" with him, because he could not bunt, but had
to hit out. Well, he succeeded in doing a mighty thing, for the
ball went whizzing far over Major's head out in center, and started
rolling down the little incline. Hugh and "K.K." raced home amidst
thunderous plaudits, and after them came Julius, plodding along
"like an ice-wagon," some of the anxious ones declared, though after
all he had abundance of time to make the complete rounds.
There were no more runs garnered that inning, but then Scranton was
not greedy. Four against two looked mighty good to the visitors.
So the game went on. It became a regular see-saw sort of affair,
first one side being ahead and then the other.
At the end of the seventh, after considerable excitement, the two
rival nines found themselves just where they had started in the
beginning of the game, for they were tied, eight to eight, and both
fighting tooth and nail to keep the other from adding to the score,
while also endeavoring to secure a few runs on their own account.
Both pitchers had warmed to their work, however, and runs were likely
to be a scarce article from that time on.
When Scranton was going into the field for the beginning of the
eighth inning, the vast crowd settled down for an interesting close,
because when two teams are as nearly matched as these seemed to be,
it is a toss-up which will win the game.
A HOT FINISH
"It's anybody's game so far!" one of the Scranton boys was calling out.
"Well, I told you that Kinsey would grow better the longer he was in
the box," laughed the local rooter, who had spoken before. "Why,
he's just getting warmed up by now. Your fellows will be lucky
to touch him again from now on. It's as good as sewed up already."
"Don't crow too soon," Scranton told him, unflinchingly, for boys
are not to be so easily bluffed; and the Scranton fellows still had
great confidence in their team, led by Hugh Morgan, as strong finishers.
It began to look very much like a pitchers' battle from that time
on. Kinsey was fast becoming invulnerable, and batter after batter
failed to connect with his wizard delivery. He would smile at them,
and then proceed to give them something they were not expecting, so
that the heaviest Scranton batters struck out.
On the other hand, Alan Tyree was doing almost as well, and if he
fell a trifle short his teammates made up the difference, for they
performed splendidly. Several hummers that apparently were ticketed
for two-baggers, perhaps more, were hauled down by expert fingers
before they could get out of the diamond, while the fielders caught
several particularly vicious flies that would have counted heavily
against Scranton were they allowed to fall safely.
The ninth inning saw no change, for the tie was still unbroken. This
sort of thing pleased the crowd immensely, as an extra inning game
always means additional excitement, and added thrills for the money.
Even the tenth did not break the monotony, although at one time
it looked as if Belleville might add a tally to their score, and
possibly clinch matters. Leonard, their hard-hitting backstop,
sent one out in short center, failing to give it enough force to
take advantage of that incline back of "K.K." Then Conway, who had
been hitting savagely latterly, tried to knock the cover off the
ball, but only succeeded in popping up a high foul which Thad smothered
in his big mitt after dancing around for several seconds, as though
the twister were difficult to gauge correctly.
Gould bunted unexpectedly when the stage was set for a mighty blow,
with the fielders playing away out. He advanced Leonard, although
caught himself, thanks to the quick work of the pitcher, who closed
in on the ball, and tossed it to first ahead of the sprinting Gould.
So Leonard was on second, with two out, and another slugger at the
plate in the person of Wright, with Waterman to follow.
Some of the Belleville boys started cheering and they appeared to
be almost certain that a run was as good as counted, but for once
they made a mistake, because after Tyree had gotten himself into a
bad hole, with three balls and one strike called, he forced the
batter to foul, and then shut him out on a dizzy inshoot that he
failed to connect with, being called out by the watchful umpire.
The eleventh inning saw no difference in the prevailing score, which
after both clubs had had a turn at bat remained the same, eight to eight.
"Why, anything is possible with those two boys going as strong as
they are right now," the Belleville rooter was saying. "That pitcher
of yours, Scranton, is no slouch, believe me. He isn't hardly in
the same class as Kinsey, but your fellows are supporting him in
great shape, and saving many a run by fine field work. But of course
we'll win in the end; we're bound to. One of our boys will put in
the big wallop and circle the bases on a trot, and then it'll all be
over but the shouting. It's no disgrace to be whipped by a Belleville
"Spell able first!" taunted the visiting fan, still filled with
implicit faith in his school representatives.
It was now the beginning of the twelfth. Hugh had again talked to
his fellows, and once more implored them to get busy with their bats.
"Don't ever get the notion in your heads that you can't hit Kinsey's
shoots and drops!" he told them, as Julius Hobson selected his bat,
being the first man up. We've just _got_ to work a man around the
circuit this inning."
"If we don't we never will next time, because it's the unlucky
thirteenth," remarked another, who, like many baseball players,
seemed to have a touch of superstition in his make-up.
"The thirteenth is as good as any other," Hugh told him, reprovingly;
"and if we reach it I hope you'll not lie down on that account. Julius,
you're due for a wallop, remember."
"Sure thing, Hugh, watch my smoke!" chuckled the other, as he stepped
blithely out and tapped his bat several times on the plate after
a fashion he had, while Kinsey was eyeing him reflectively, as though
trying to remember what the long and short suit of the Hobson boy was.
Then he sent in a screamer which Julius as promptly sent far out
in the heavens, and started running like mad for first. They could
see the long-legged Conway out in left field sprinting like a huge
grasshopper in hopes of getting under the soaring ball in time to
set himself for the catch. As if by a preconcerted signal everybody
in the grandstand and the bleachers stood up, the better to see
what happened, because it was a most critical point of the game.
Julius was half-way down to second and still going strong when Conway
was seen to fairly leap up into the air, then take a headlong fall;
after which he hastily scrambled to his feet, holding up his hand
to signify that he had a ball, which he then threw in to the pitcher,
amidst a roar of cheers. Even Scranton fans joined in the applause,
being able to appreciate a fine bit of work, although it gave them
the keenest sort of disappointment to realize that after all Julius
had had all his run to second for nothing.
But at least his mighty blow would serve to encourage some of his
team-mates, who latterly had not been doing much with Kinsey's weird
Of course, nothing was expected of the pitcher, for Tyree was a
notoriously weak man at the bat. He tried the best he knew how
to connect, but after three attempts had to go back to the bench.
So two were down, and Thad Stevens at bat. Hugh said something
to his chum as the latter stepped forward to the plate. Thad looked
very grim as though he felt that the whole fate of the game rested
on his young shoulders just then. He waited for his ball, had a
strike called, and then connected. The sound of that blow would
never be forgotten by those eager Scranton fans. It was as loud
and clear as the stroke of a woodsman's ax on a hollow tree. And
they saw the ball speeding away out dead ahead. Everybody started
up again to watch its course, while shouts rent the air.
Major was making along like mad. No use, Major, because that ball
is ticketed for a home run, and nothing on earth but a collapse of
the part of the fellow spinning around the bases can prevent it.
When the ball struck the ground Major was not within thirty feet
of it. He did not even attempt to jump up and tag the fleeting
sphere as it passed far above his bead, realizing the absurdity
of such a proceeding. His business was simply to recover the ball,
and get it in home as rapidly as he could.
But before this could be accomplished Thad Stevens was lying on
the ground among his mates, panting for breath, but a pleased grin
on his face, while some of the fellows were patting him happily on
the back, and telling him that he had saved the day for good old
That ended the scoring for Scranton, although "Just" Smith did manage
to get on first by means of a scratch hit. Joe Danvers tried to equal
the performance of the backstop, but while he met the ball and sent
it far afield, unluckily. It went too high, and this enabled Major
to get beneath, with the result that the fly was caught, and the side
The excitement started all over again when Belleville came to bat for
their turn. It was plain to be seen that they had "blood in their
eye," and meant to redouble their efforts to score.
An error, together with two fair hits, put a couple of the locals
on the bases. Only one man was down in the bargain. Everybody
looked anxious on both sides, for the game was likely to be ended,
one way or the other, in that same twelfth inning.
A single would tie the score, a double give the game to Belleville.
Hugh signaled to his infield to play close. He wanted a double play
so as to put an end to the intense strain, which was beginning to
tell upon every player.
It was the great Conway at bat again. He looked particularly dangerous,
for he had a way of standing there like a mighty warrior, flourishing
his club, and watching the pitcher like a hawk. Conway had shown
himself to be the most consistent hitter on the Belleville team when
up against the deceptive shoots of Alan Tyree. Would he again succeed
in connecting with the elusive ball, and sending one or both
Tyree appeared perfectly cool, but of course he was far from being so.
He delivered his first offering, and the umpire called it a ball.
A second followed likewise labeled. Some thought he feared Conway
so much that he meant to pass him, to take chances with Gould, who
had been less able to connect with the ball.
But with the third effort they heard again that suggestive "crack"
as Conway struck, having finally received the ball he wanted. The
crowd gave a convulsive gasp, but that was all; there was no time
for anything more, so rapidly did events occur. Three runners were
in motion, Conway heading down for first, Leonard making for second
and O'Malley beating it along the line full-tilt toward third.
Owen Dugdale was seen to leap frantically up into the air, then
almost fall over with the force of the ball which he held tightly
in his right band. He did not make any attempt to cut the runner
down at first, partly because Conway was already out through the
catch, and then things were better fixed for him closer at hand.
O'malley was coming down like a hurricane. He saw what had happened
and tried to get back, but Julius was at the bag and ready to take
the toss like lightning.
When the spectators saw him touch the bag, and that the umpire had
made the motion to indicate that Leonard was easily out, a great
shout arose; for the game was over.
After all the intense anxiety Scranton had won the first of the series
of three games which she expected to play with Belleville, unless
the other team failed to take the next one there would be no necessity
for playing the "rubber."
So Scranton boys were able to wend their way homeward in the coming
dusk, singing their school songs, and feeling all the airs of conquerors.
A happy crowd it was, taken in all, and rosy visions of the future
naturally filled the minds and hearts of those boys who had fought
so valiantly that day to overcome the enemy.
They could even look forward confidently now to the next game, which
would be with Allendale, two weeks off; and some there were who
already saw in imagination the championship pennant of the Three Town
High School League floating from the flag-pole on the dear old campus
during the Fall session of school.
WHAT THAD SAW
Some days passed.
As there would be no championship game the coming Saturday for Scranton
High the town settled back into its ordinary condition, so far as the
young people went. There were afternoons for practice, of course, when
the full team was expected to be on deck, and renew their acquaintance
with the many intricacies of the game as taught by Coach Saunders.
Still every other day the boys were at liberty to go and come as they
pleased. Some made it a religious duty, as well as pleasure, to show
up regularly at the ball grounds, where there were always enough
fellows handy to get up a scrub game, for baseball aspirants were as
thick as blackberries in August around Scranton that season. A great
revival of interest in outdoor sports had struck the town, and
promised to stick far into the fall and winter.
On one of these off-days---it was Friday, to be exact---Thad showed
up over at the home of his chum, evidently laboring under some unusual
stress of excitement. Hugh had walked home with him from school, and
being busy with certain things had stayed in his den for two hours or
more. Then in burst Thad, his face red with suppressed news.
"What's happened now?" demanded Hugh, realizing instantly that the
other was in a perfect "sweat" to communicate something he had learned.
"Have the Germans landed on the coast, or is little old New York being
bombarded from giant airplanes? There's something amiss, I can see
from your way of bursting in on me."
"Oh! you know what I've been bothering my head over lately, Hugh,"
snapped the panting Thad. "Of course it's that hobo!"
"Meaning Matilda's now quiet and respected brother Lu, eh?" the other
chuckled. "Well, what's he been doing now---cut stick, and lit out,
as we hoped would be the case, finding life in and around a sleepy
town like Scranton too dull and commonplace to please the fastidious
notions of such a wonderful world traveler?"
"What! that leech clear out, and free his poor sister from the load
he's gone and fastened on her? Well, it's just the contrary; he can't
be shaken off, try as you will. Why, Hugh, even my respected Ma and
two of her friends couldn't do the first thing toward getting Matilda
to say she'd chase him off."
"Oh! that's the way the land lies, is it, Thad? Then some of the good
ladies of Scranton have been over trying to convince Matilda that
blood isn't thicker than water, and that she is under no sort of
obligation to give her wanderer of a brother a shelter, either
temporary or permanent, under her little roof."
"I hurried so after the show was over, Hugh, that I'm out of breath;
but I'm getting the same back now, and can soon tell you all about it.
In one way, it was as good as a circus, though it did make me grit
my teeth to see how that miserable sinner acted. Oh! I just wished
for a chance to give him a good kick or two. Why, honest, Hugh, I
believe I could willingly assist in tarring and feathering a scamp
like Brother Lu, who can settle down on his poor relative, and expect
to be waited on and fed and treated like an invalid the rest of his
life, while all the time he's as strong as anything, and as sleek
as a well-fed rat!" Hugh laughed outright at the comparison.
"Go to it, then, Thad, and relieve my curiosity. You've got me so
worked up by now that I'll surely burst if you don't spin the whole
story in a hurry."
"Well, it's this way," began the other, as he fanned his heated face
with a paper be picked up from Hugh's table. "I happened to know
that Ma and a couple of the other ladies who have been so kind to
Matilda during the last year had decided it was a duty they owed her
to pay her a visit, take a look for themselves at this Brother Lu,
to decide if he was really an object of pity, or a big fraud; and
also advise Mrs. Hosmer that she ought to give him his walking papers
"Hugh, I decided not to say anything to you about it, because I knew
you had laid out something you wanted to do at home this afternoon;
but I was resolved to be around the Hosmer shack when the ladies
called about three today, and try to learn just how the friendly
scheme came out.
"They showed up fine and dandy on time. I was hidden behind some
bushes close by, and no sooner had they passed inside, Mr. Hosmer
coming to the door to welcome them, than I found it convenient to
creep up still closer. The window was open, and I could hear the
chatter of women's tongues as they chatted away. Mr. Hosmer came
out and went downtown on some errand; I suspect that, like the wise
man he is, he smelled a rat and wanted to leave a clear field to
Ma and Mrs. Lund and Miss Carpenter. Perhaps Mr. Hosmer isn't just
as much in favor of entertaining Brother Lu the rest of his natural
life as he may have been in the start, for he must know deep down in
his man's soul that the fellow is only working his sister for his
"Well, anyway, I could hear them talking for a little while, after
which who should come out of the house but our former hobo, Brother
Lu. Say, he's actually wearing Mr. Hosmer's best suit, would you
believe it, and he seems to like to pose as a sort of retired gentleman;
it must be nice after getting such a precarious living walking the
railway ties, and begging or stealing as he went, to drop down here
in a snug nest where he has the best bed, is sure of three meals a
day, wears his brother-in-law's only Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, and
I guess smokes Andrew's little stock of tobacco in the bargain."
Thad certainly did manage to put considerable emphasis and scorn into
his vivid description of the contemptible actions of the reformed
tramp. Hugh was laughing to himself over his chum's righteous
indignation; nor did he have any doubt but that, given the
opportunity, Thad would most heartily have assisted in a little
operation calculated to furnish the said Brother Lu with a nice warm
coat of down from a pillow, plastered on with a liberal coating
of sticky black tar.
"Of course, after he came on the scene, I lost all interest in the
folks inside the cottage, and kept watching his antics," continued
Thad, after giving vent to his feelings as he did. "I couldn't make
out anything that was said, anyway, but it was easy to tell from the
way the voices dropped after he came out that the ladies were getting
in their work, and trying to show Matilda she had no business to add
to her burdens.
"Brother Lu, he acted like a sneak from the Start. I could see that
he was taking it for a big joke, because he was grinning like
everything. I guess he knew what a grip he'd managed to get on his
sister, and felt sure not even a dozen ladies of Scranton could cause
her to throw him out.
"What did he do but slide around the wall of the house, get down on
his hands and knees, and creep right under that open window, where
he could hear every word that was said. What do you think of that
for meanness, the skunk; now, it never occurred to me to try that
dodge, you know."
"I could see him as plain as anything, Hugh. He'd listen a bit, and
then just as like as not hear something that tickled him a heap, for
he'd double up and seem to just shake with silent laughter. Oh! I
was just burning like fun, and boiling over, I was so mad to see how
he carried on; because I just knew Matilda was holding the fort
against all the batteries the three ladies could bring to bear, and
telling them that it was her sacred duty to take care of her poor,
poor brother in his last sickness, because the rough world had used
him so harshly.
"Well, in the end he crawled away in a big hurry, so I knew the three
ladies must be coming out. Sure enough they came in sight, and both
Mrs. Lund and Miss Carpenter were looking as though they felt highly
indignant because Matilda she chose to stick by her good-for-nothing
brother, even when they told her they could hardly be expected to go
to the trouble to furnish sewing just to help feed such a lazy-looking
man, and keep him in smoking tobacco. Ma, she seemed dreadfully hurt,
and I guess she hardly knew what to do, for she thinks a heap of
Matilda and Mr. Hosmer.
"They went away, and Matilda, she stood there and looked after them
sort of sad like. She knew she had offended three of her best friends,
and it cut her to the quick. Still, I could see from her face that
she didn't mean to turn on Brother Lu, and tell him he'd have to
clear out; for she gave her head a stubborn little flirt as she turned
and went indoors again.
"Hugh, this thing is really getting serious, seems to me. If those
ladies think it their duty to quit giving Matilda work the poor
things will starve, because all they've got to depend on now is what
she earns by her needle. Something ought to be done to rid her of
that wart that's fastened on her bounty; if she won't give him up of
her own will, then some of us ought to see to it that he's chased out
of the neighborhood."
"Hold on, Thad, go slow," warned the more cautious Hugh. "I feel
pretty much the same as you do about it, but we mustn't think of
trying any White Cap business around such a respectable town as
Scranton. There's still lots of time to investigate; and if the
worst comes we can appeal to the mayor to help. Perhaps the police
could look up the man's record, and make him clear out on the plea
that he's got a bad reputation. That would answer our purpose, and
at the same time keep within the law."
Thad looked wonderfully pleased.
"I didn't tell you something more I saw, Hugh," he now went on to say.
"When the three ladies came out, Brother Lu he managed to be there in
plain sight. He tried to be polite like, and was of course seized
with one of those fake fits of coughing right before them. Matilda
ran to his side, and put her arm around him looking defiantly at Ma
as if to say: 'There, don't you see how far gone he is, and how can
you ask me to be so inhuman and unsisterly as to tell him he must go
out again into the cold, cruel world that has treated him so badly?'
"The ladies looked after Brother Lu as he staggered away, as if
they hardly knew what to think. But it happened, Hugh, that I could
watch the man from where I was snuggled down, and would you believe
me, he had no sooner got behind the little building they use for a
woodshed than he started to dance a regular old hoe-down, snapping
his fingers, and looking particularly merry. I tell you I could
hardly hold in, I was so downright mad; I wanted to rush out and
denounce him for an old fraud of the first water. But on considering
how useless that would be, besides giving it away that I suspected.
him, and was spying on his actions, I managed to get a grip on
"After things had sizzled out, Hugh, I came away, and ran nearly all
the distance between the Hosmer cottage and your house, I was that
eager to tell you how the land lay. And now, once for all, what can
we do to bounce that fraud, and free poor Matilda from the
three-big-meals-a-day brother who's fastened on her like a leech?"
Hugh nodded his head as though he had been thinking while his chum
continued to tell of his experiences. From his manner Thad jumped to
the conclusion that Hugh might have something interesting to say,
and in this he proved to be right.
A BAD OUTLOOK FOR BROTHER LU
"Now that you've told me such an interesting thing about this queer
tramp we ran across the other day, and who turns out to be Mrs. Hosmer's
only brother," Hugh was saying, "I want to return the compliment, and
explain that I've been doing a little missionary work or scouting on
my own hook."
Thad showed signs of intense interest.
"I sort of thought you'd be wanting to cultivate his acquaintance so
as to study the chap at closer range, Hugh," he hastened to say. "Well,
did he entertain you with some accounts of his adventures in different
parts of the world, as he promised he'd do if we'd drop around at his
new home and see him?"
"He certainly can talk a blue streak, once he gets started," admitted
Hugh, with a little whistle. "Why, that man would have made a splendid
lawyer, if he'd ever had the ambition to try; and as a promoter for
land schemes he'd take the cake. But he says he was born with the
wanderlust in his veins that would not let him rest anywhere for a
decent length of time. No sooner would he get settled nicely, and
perhaps own some big piece of land, down in Brazil once, or it may
have been out in our own West, than along would come that awful
yearning to be on the move again; and so, unable to resist, he would
sacrifice his property, and get on the jump again."
"If you could only rely on all he says, Hugh," admitted the deeply
interested Thad, "he'd be a mighty interesting character; but for one,
I firmly believe it's a great big lie; he's never been anywhere but
around this country, and that traveling on freight-car beams, and
walking the ties."
"Well," Hugh went on, "he certainly has a mighty intimate acquaintance
with all sorts of countries, for he can describe things in the most
minute way you ever heard. He kept me fairly chained while he was
talking of Borneo, Sumatra, Hong Kong, China, Japan, the Philippines,
and all those far-away countries in the South Seas. If he's only read
about them, the man has the most astonishing memory I ever
"Oh! he's no doubt a character," admitted the skeptical Thad, as
though he begrudged acknowledging even this much; "but I still believe
him to be a fake. Keep right on telling me what you did, Hugh."
"For that matter, I didn't do much of anything except listen to his
stories, for he kept up a steady stream of talk for a whole hour or
more, and covered a wide territory in that time."
"I sort of think Brother Lu has conceived a liking for me which is
hardly returned in the same ratio; though I confess there's something
almost fascinating about the fellow."
Thad acted as though alarmed.
"Be careful, and keep on your guard, Hugh, or else he'll be hypnotizing
you just like he seems to have done with poor Matilda and her husband.
That slick tongue of his can do all sorts of stunts. Why if you don't
look out we'll have you going around taking up a subscription to fit
Brother Lu out with a brand new suit of togs; and perhaps buying the
poor chap a bully meerschaum pipe; for it must be dreadful that he
is now compelled to use one of Mr. Hosmer's old corncob affairs."
His sarcasm was lost upon his chum, for Hugh laughed merrily at the
gruesome picture Thad drew of his complete subjugation to the wiles
of the schemer.
"Of course," he continued, calmly, "I didn't forget what I was there
for principally, and all the while he was talking so fluently and
holding my interest, I kept watching him and trying to study his real
character. Thad, I own up to failure. Once I thought I was a pretty
clever hand at that sort of thing, but now I'm mixer-up, and have
lost considerable confidence.
"I kept changing my mind again and again. When he'd tell some of
the most astonishing stories of the strange lands he'd roved through,
I'd begin to say to myself that he must surely be just lying. Then
the fellow'd mention some little happening that he'd describe so
vividly, would you believe it, I felt the tears in my eyes, for
it would be sort of pathetic. So during that whole hour I sat there
and changed my mind every ten minutes, now blowing hot, and again
cold. I came away in as muddled a state as I went there. His actions
seem to stamp him a rogue if ever there was one; and yet, Thad, I
seemed to see something different in the depths of his twinkling
"Oh! thunder! however are we going to get rid of such a sticker?"
groaned Thad, as though at a loss to know what next to do.
"Listen," resumed Hugh. "Among other things he mentioned was an
account of his adventures down in Texas in the big oil field there,
where he said men make fortunes one day and lose them the next in
speculation. He went into some details to tell me of a strange thing
he had witnessed there, and among other names mentioned, he chanced
to speak of a Marshal Hastings, who, it seems, is much feared by the
bad men of that community. Somehow, I thought I could detect a little
quaver in Brother Lu's voice whenever he spoke of this party; and,
Thad, do you know, the idea flashed through my brain that perhaps he'd
had an unpleasant half hour with that same Marshal Hastings himself."
"I take it that you mean the officer may have warned Lu to shake the
dust of that region off his brogans, and make himself scarce, if he
didn't want to pull hemp; is that your idea, Hugh?"
"Something along that order," came the steady reply. "At least he
could not think of Marshal Hastings without some memory that was
unpleasant, making him shiver."
Thad's eagerness increased by jumps, and showed itself on his face,
which was now lighted up with anticipation.
"I'm beginning to sense something coming, Hugh," he hastened to say.
"What you saw gave you a sort of idea, didn't it? You reckon right
now that there may be a way to frighten this lazy loafer, so that of
his own free will he'll cut stick and clear out. Well, perhaps
after all something like that would be the best way to get rid of
him. I don't believe the people in this civilized section of country
would stand for any night-riding business like they did in the
Kentucky tobacco district; or such a thing as that tar and feather
picnic. So go on and tell me your scheme."
"Well," Hugh continued, "you could hardly call it by such a name as
yet, because the idea is hardly more than half hatched. But when
he told me about the way the bad men used to shake at mention of
that brave marshal's very name, and I saw him doing something along
the same order, why, I began to figure out that if only Brother Lu
could be made to believe Marshal Hastings was here from Texas,
looking for _somebody_ he meant to take back with him, why, he might
get such a bad scare he'd skip by the light of the moon between days,
and never, never come back again."
Thad gave his chum a vigorous pound on the back that made the other
wince; but then he was accustomed to taking things of this nature
from expressive Thad.
"Oh! that sounds good to me, Hugh!" he burst out with. "I honestly
believe you are getting close to a bully scheme that may pan out
firstclass. Argument and all kinds of pleading wouldn't influence
that man a bit, because he's selfish, I know he must be, or else he
wouldn't burden his poor sister, and see her working for his
miserable comfort every day, and all day long. But, Hugh, he could
be moved by fear. If so be he has ever done anything down there
in Texas that he could be arrested for, why, just the mere knowledge
that this marshal, who always gets those he goes after, has come
north, and is looking for some one, ought to start Brother Lu on a
gallop for another distant section of country."
"It might," said Hugh, reflectively, as though the exuberance of his
comrade was having an effect on his mind.
"It surely would," repeated Thad, pounding a fist into his other palm
to express his convictions. "And, believe me, he wouldn't dare show
his smiling face in these parts in a hurry again, because he'd feel
pretty sure the marshal would have arranged it with the local police
to notify him in case Brother Lu ever turned up. Why, Hugh, we've
got the scheme right now; and it ought to work to beat the band. I
can see that hobo trailing along over the ties again at a hot pace;
and while poor Matilda may grieve for her brother, she'll heave a sigh
of relief to know it's all over, and the ladies are her friends again."
"Let's go a step further, then," insinuated Hugh, "and if we decide
to try out this little plan, which you're good enough to call a
scheme, how can we fix it so that the reformed hobo will take the
"That's where the hitch may come in," agreed the other boy, as he
allowed three separate lines of wrinkles to gather across his forehead,
which was always reckoned a sure sign that Thad Stevens was concentrating
his brain power upon the solution of a knotty problem. "One thing sure,
we can't very well up and inform him of the fact ourselves, or he'd
understand the motive right away."
"And even if a letter could be sent," continued Hugh, "how would we
be able to get the right post-mark on the envelope, unless we asked
the postmaster down in a town of Texas close to the oil fields to
mail it for us?"
Suddenly Thad started to smile. The said smile rapidly broadened
into a positive grin that spread all over his face, while his eyes
fairly sparkled with delight.
"Hugh, I've just grabbed a bright idea!" he said, explosively.
"Let's hear about it before the same gets away from you, then," his
"Listen. Perhaps you may know that I used to go some with little
Jim Pettigrew more or less before you and I became such chums. Jim
is considerably older than me, but his stature always made folks
think he was a kid. Well, of course you also know Jim he's graduated
into a regular cub reporter, as he's so fond of calling it, because
that word _cub_ is used so often in the movies, when they show up
a big newspaper office in New York or Chicago, and the latest greenhorn
on the staff is given an assignment that allows him to make the
greatest news scoop ever heard of. Jim, to tell the truth, works
on our local weekly here, the _Scranton Courier_. He rakes the
entire country for news, writes things up that have never occurred,
so as to fill space, and draw his weekly pay, attends weddings,
funerals, and all sorts of events, not forgetting baseball games
and such things.
"Well, Jim is still a good friend of mine, although he now feels
himself so mighty important that even the mayor sends for him to
communicate something he wants to appear in the next issue of the
paper. The idea that flashed into my brain, you must know, Hugh, is
to tell Jim of our great trouble with this pesky hobo, and enlist his
aid in scaring Brother Lu off."
"Suppose now, in the issue of the _Courier_ that is due tomorrow
morning there appeared an interesting write-up about a certain Marshal
Hastings who was visiting Scranton, having come all the way from Texas
to find and take back a certain party who was badly wanted there for
some serious offense; the story could give little hints that would
point to Brother Lu as the man, without actually saying so. Hugh,
tell me, what do you think of that for a scheme; and might it do the
work, would you say?"
SETTING THE MAN TRAP
Hugh jumped up from his chair and clapped a cap on his head.
"It's now about four o'clock of a Friday afternoon," he remarked,
"and if we could only run across Jim Pettigrew, and he got interested
in our story, why it might not be too late to get the little write-up
arranged before they went to press tonight."
Thad was all animation.
"Fine! Let's rush around to the _Courier_ office and see Jim!" he
hastened to say. "I've an idea he's a sort of Jack-of-all-trades
there, writing up news, setting type in an emergency, and even helping
turn off the limited edition of about five hundred copies of the
paper that are run every week. So, as Friday night is the climax to
their week's work, we're likely to find Jim there with his coat off,
and on the job."
They soon arrived at the small building on a side street where the
local paper had its offices, and, indeed, every other thing connected
with it, for that matter.
"There's Jim sitting in the editor's chair," observed Thad, looking
through a dusty window.
"Must be Mr. Adoiphus Hanks, who owns and edits the _Courier_, is
out of town just at present. Say, that would just suit us to a
fraction, wouldn't it, Hugh?"
"It might make things easier for us," admitted the other; and then
they burst in on the important if diminutive Jim, who received them
with all the airs of a metropolitan editor.
"Glad to see you, boys," he told them; "just take seats, will you,
and excuse me for three minutes. I'm winding up the main editorial
for this week's issue. Hanks is out of town, and has left me in full
charge; but then that happens frequently nowadays; and, say, some
foolish people have gone so far as to say they can tell when he's
absent because, well, the paper shows it; but I tell them they are
only saying that to flatter me. Three minutes, boys, and I'll be at
Whatever it was Jim was doing on the typewriter, he continued to
pound laboriously away for about that length of time. Then finishing
he drew the sheet out, glanced over it, made some corrections, smiled
as though highly pleased, and called out to a boy who was working
a hand press to come and take it to the lone compositor, standing
at his case in a distant corner of the den.
"That'll make folks sit up and take notice I kind of think," said
Jim, swelling out his chest with an air of great importance. "Don't
ask me what it is all about, for I want it to be a surprise to the
community. Read it in tomorrow's issue of the _Weekly Courier_.
Now, what can I do for you, Thad, old scout? Anything connected
with the Scranton High baseball team you want written up for next
week? I'm always ready to favor the boys, because I used to play
ball myself away back."
Hugh would have liked to laugh, but he refrained, not wishing to
offend Jim, who was evidently suffering from an overweening sense
of his own importance, since he had graduated into a temporary occupancy
of the editorial chair. Jim was considerably short of twenty at that,
so it could not have been more than a year or two since he used to
play ball, and train with the other boys of Scranton High.
Thad got busy, and began to tell how they had first ran across the
strange hobo in his camp, cooking a meal. He continued the story with
a description of how the long wandering Brother Lu had been so warmly
welcomed by Matilda and her sick husband, and thereupon deliberately
settled down to enjoying himself at their expense.
Thad was a pretty good hand at narrating a yarn, and he worked the
interest up by degrees until he had Jim's eyes as round as saucers,
while he hung upon every word that was spoken. Hugh only broke in
once in a while to add a few sentences to something his chum said.
Finally the climax was reached when Thad explained the scheme he
and Hugh had concocted between them, and how much they would appreciate
the assistance of Jim in this dilemma.
The temporary editor pursed up his lips and looked serious. He was
thinking, and gradually a grin began to creep across his thin little
"Why, I guess it could be worked out, fellows," he finally remarked,
greatly to the satisfaction of the eager Thad. "Course I can do the
writeup part as easy as falling off a fence, because it comes natural
for me to be able to put any old thing down on paper and hash it up
in a most interesting way. I'll have a story that will make folks
sit up and take notice all right."
"I hope, though, Jim," said Thad, "you won't overdo the thing, because
you see we haven't a peg to hang it on, since we don't know what sort
of a crime the man might have done away down there in Texas to make
Marshal Hastings come so far after him. You'll draw it a bit mild,
won't you, Jim? Just strong enough to strike terror to the heart of
that rascal, Brother Lu?"
"That's all right, Thad, you leave it to me," asserted Jim, with a
confidence born of experience, as well as reliance on his powers
of description and invention. "Yes, I can do the thing to the king's
taste. Why, in such a case it's my habit to make myself actually
believe in my work. Right now I can actually see the ferocious and
not-to-be-denied Marshal Hastings. I could even describe how he
looks so that you recognize the picture. And say, I'll give such
broad hints, without actually saying it's Brother Lu he wants, that
the poor old wretch will bump himself getting out of town on the
first freight that pulls in here. It's a scream of a joke; and
I'm obliged to you boys for putting me up to it. I need all sorts
of practice, you understand, to fit myself for a prominent post
down in New York City, where I expect to land a job as a star
reporter on one of the big dailies."
Of course Thad and Hugh were pleased with matters so far as they had
"I'm in with you, boys," continued Jim, as they arose to leave the
_Courier_ office, "to the limit; but there's one favor I want to
ask of you in return."
"Name it, Jim!" cried Thad, grasping the cold hand of the reporter,
for just at that moment he felt as though willing to do almost anything
in return for this real kindness on the part of his old-time associate.
"Listen, then," said the other, briskly, for he at least had a rapid
mind, and was in many other ways well qualified for the position
which he meant to assume in the world of newspaperdom, besides,
an abundance of nerve, or as Thad liked to call it, "cheek,"---"I
don't believe Mrs. Hosmer ever sees our sterling paper, because
the name isn't on our mailing list, or the carrier's either. But
tomorrow morning I'll have Jenkins, our boy here, go around particularly
to Matilda's cottage and leave a paper, telling her we are sending
out a large number of free complimentary copies, hoping to induce
more people to subscribe. Get that, boys?"
"Yes, and it sounds good to me, Jim; you know how to work the mill,
all right," said the judicious Thad, well aware of the power flattery
possesses to grease the wheels of human machinery.
"Well, the three of us will be in hiding close by, just as Thad
was today when his mother and those other good ladies paid their
unprofitable visit to the Hosmer home. If we're lucky we may see
Brother Lu come dashing out of the place, and strike a blue streak
for the railroad, distant half a mile or so. Should that happen,
we can make up our minds it's all serene, and that Scranton, as
well as his poor sister, will have seen the last of him. But you
must promise to come around here and wait for me, as I may have a
little business on my hands. Holding down all the positions on even
a local sheet is no easy job, you must know; and I'm the PooBah of
this joint right now."
Willingly Thad gave the desired promise. He would have done anything
else which the autocrat of the enterprise chose to demand just then,
since they looked upon Jim as their main reliance. Fortunately the
other did not see fit to bind them to any further promises, and when
they had left the newspaper office, it was with a sense of elation
such as comes after a successful venture.
Thad was fairly bubbling over with delight.
"Why, Hugh, I think we ought to shake hands, with ourselves over
getting up such a smart little scheme as that," he broke out with,
as they walked along the main street of Scranton, meeting many persons
whom they knew, and most of them ready with a cheery nod or a word of
recognition, for both lads were well liked by the best people of the
community, and particularly those who knew boy nature best, so that
they could appreciate what manly fellows the chums were.
"You're a sanguine sort of chap, Thad," laughed Hugh. "Right now
you believe we've as good as got Brother Lu on the run for the tall
timber. Don't be too sure, or you may be disappointed. There's many
a slip, remember, between cup and lip. But Jim took to the game like
a terrier does to a rat, didn't he?"
"It was right in Jim's favorite line of business," explained the
other. "He fairly dotes on writing up imaginary things, and making
them seem real. He says it's his long suit, whatever he means by
that. I only hope he doesn't make it seem too ridiculous, and so
overdo the matter."
Hugh seemed to have pretty fair confidence in Jim's judgment.
"He's a clever chap," he remarked, "and will know just where to
draw the line. I could that already he had drawn upon his imagination
to supply him with something in place of facts. It'll be a thrilling
bit of reading, and ought to give our pet aversion a cold shiver
when he gets its import. Having Marshal Hastings come away up here
after him will upset all Brother Lu's plans for a soft berth during
the remainder of his fast-ebbing life; and he may suddenly determine
that it's better to run away and live to eat another day, than to