Part 3 out of 3
softly to himself when she rolled up her eyes in an expressive fashion,
and declared that it surely must be getting pretty close to Paradise
to be able to go about the beautiful country in such a palatial
conveyance; poor Matilda had evidently been accustomed to considering
it an event when she managed by great good luck to get an invitation
to take a ride in an ordinary country buggy or farm wagon.
Then finally they passed in through the gate of the Hoover estate.
This estate had a reputation in Scranton as being the prettiest
little country place around. It had belonged to a wealthy gentleman
who had lately died in New York City. There were rumors that it
had changed hands, though no one seemed to have heard the name of
the new owner. Thad and Hugh could easily understand now why this
secrecy had been maintained. They caught many a sly wink from the
wizard, who sat back there with his sister and her husband, whenever
they looked around.
"Let's get out here," announced Brother Lu, with an air of importance
that must have further awed both Matilda and Andrew. "There's my
friend Billings, coming over to see who we are. I told him I wanted
to show you all around this elegant place, and he agreed to pilot
us about. Now, to look at him, managing this property, you'd never
think that Malcolm Billings was once down and out, and the worst-looking
tramp that ever took to the road; but it's true. I remember him
well. We first met riding on the rods of a freight car out on the
Santa Fe road. You see, some rich fellow took a fancy to Malcolm,
and gave him a chance to make good; and I reckon he's a-doing that
same, all right."
He greeted the other familiarly as "Mal," and having been drilled in
his part, the manager of the place called him "Wandering Lu," as
though he could not dissociate the other from the roving life of
the past. The boys, keenly watching, could see that he quickly
turned his eyes on Matilda and Andrew when introduced by Brother
Lu; and also that there was a light in their depths that told how
he appreciated this little surprise which the other was playing.
So they started to see first of all the grounds, which consisted
of many acres, all in a high state of cultivation, and with flower
gardens, vegetable ditto, and all manner of fine fruits, such as
a rich man loves to grow on his own country place. There were even
Jersey cows, and fowls of various breeds, as well as a flock of
pigeons that gave Matilda more delight than anything else; for secretly
it had always been a pet wish of hers to some day have a flock of
doves fluttering around her head, just as she had seen the tame
ones of St. Mark's in Venice do---in pictures, of course, because
Matilda had never been abroad---as yet.
Had either of them been in the least suspicious they might have
wondered just why Jerry, for instance, had taken the big car over
to the garage and started to clean it as though it really belonged
there. The boys saw this, but not Matilda or Andrew, who were in
a seventh heaven of rapture, and not walking on earth.
Then they went to the house, where a matronly woman met them. Brother
Lu, more than ever like a magician of the first water, seemed to
be friendly with the housekeeper also, for he introduced his sister
and the others to Mrs. Husted. She took her cue from Mr. Billings,
who was also present, and tried to act as though she were condescending
to agree to show these strangers through the beautiful house; but
it was an exceedingly hard task for her, because she knew that with
the wave of the wizard's wand this lady would henceforth become her
Thad, lingering behind, could hardly contain himself. He would
again and again manage to give Hugh a knock with his elbow, and
gurgle something half under his breath, only to have the other shake
a finger at him, and add a look of reproof.
They went through the house from top to bottom.
"Now, if you don't mind, Mrs. Husted, I'd like my folks to see the
dining-room, for it's the best part of the whole establishment,
according to the notion of men like Malcolm and me, who have known
what it is to go hungry many a time during our adventurous lives."
The obliging housekeeper complied with a degree of alacrity that
must have still further astonished Matilda. When they entered the
room, to discover a table set for just five persons and fairly groaning
beneath the weight of all manner of good things, Thad drew a long
breath; for now he knew that the grand announcement could not be
much longer delayed. And he also knew that poor Matilda's simple
luncheon, resting in the covered basket under the tree outside,
would in all likelihood remain untouched.
"Why, what do you think of that?" remarked Brother Lu, appearing
to be very much surprised. "Here are places for just five, the
number we count. Wouldn't it be a great joke now if we had the
nerve to sit down, and partake of this little spread. Mrs. Husted,
this is my sister's birthday, the only one she's really had, I guess,
for more than twenty years. Perhaps you wouldn't mind if we celebrated
the event and tried to do justice to this luncheon. Matilda, let me
give you this seat of honor at the head of the table. Andrew, old
scout, you are to sit opposite your wife Boys, find places, and I'll
take this seat."
Matilda and Andrew allowed themselves to be almost pushed into their
respective chairs. They were dumb, and seemed almost in a dream.
Matilda could not take her wondering eyes off this astonishing
brother of hers, who now must have looked very like the fairy prince
to her. She was an automaton in his hands, and he could have done
anything with her. But, of course, presently she would awaken,
and find it all one of those amazing dreams that so often come to
tantalize the very poor.
Now Brother Lu was standing there. He bent forward and looked
affectionately at his sister. His eyes were sparkling still, but from
quite another cause, Hugh saw; though his own orbs were also dimmed,
and he had to wink very rapidly in order to keep the tears from flowing
down his cheeks.
"Well, Matilda, how do you like your new home?" said Brother Lu;
"for henceforth you and your husband are to live here to the end
of your days. It has been bought, and placed in your name. Yes,
I'm going to own up, sister mine, that Brother Lu had been playing
a cruel joke, but with a good object. I'm not a poor, forlorn hobo,
as I led you to believe, neither am I dying by inches. I hope to
live some years yet, to see the two I love drink heartily from the
cup of happiness. All this is but a drop in the bucket to what
is coming. You shall make up for some of the lean years you've
spent so bravely, buoying up each other's courage. Yes, and that
tender heart of yours, Tilly, shall be given plenty of opportunities
to bring good cheer to those who are almost down and out. And boys,
I'm right glad that you're here with us to see the mask removed, and
Brother Lu stand out in his true colors. Matilda has stood the test,
and proved to me that her heart is of pure gold. She deserves
everything that is coming to her. Now, I know you boys haven't
lost your appetites, if the rest of us are too happy to think much
of eating; so let's get busy, and do justice to this little spread,
given in honor of Tilly's birthday!"
Which they accordingly did, and it would hardly be proper in any
one to tell how much Thad ate, and how both of them felt that they
were seeing one of the most enjoyable occasions in their entire lives.
And later on the boys were taken home in the big car, to rest up a
bit, so as to be in trim for the game with Belleville that afternoon.
SCRANTON HIGH EVENS MATTERS UP
The match with Belleville proved a walkover for Scranton, much to
the delight of all the local rooters, and the utter humiliation of
the boys from the neighboring town. Tyree was at his very best,
which meant that few among the Belleville batsmen could touch his
slants and drops and speedy balls.
They fought gamely to the very last, as all sturdy players of the
National game should, hoping for a turn in the tide; but in the
end found themselves snowed under by a score of eleven to two.
Those runs were actually gifts, for in the end Tyree slowed up,
and almost "lobbed" a few over the plate, as though wishing to take
a little of the sting of defeat away; though that is never a safe
practice for any pitcher to do. Still, eleven to nothing would
have been rubbing it into the Belleville fellows pretty roughly.
On the following Saturday Allandale had a last whirl at Belleville.
This time the boys of the third town took a brace, and for a time
put up quite a creditable game. Big Patterson, however, was too
much for them, and after the seventh inning they lost all hope of
winning. But the score was six to four, which might be considered
a little hopeful.
So Belleville, having lost all the games thus far played in which
she took part, was consequently eliminated as a contending factor
in the race for the pennant of the Three Town High School League.
This left it between Scranton and Allandale. The latter team had
a big advantage to start with, since they were already one game to
the good. But Scranton still had faith in Tyree, and if things
broke half-way decently in the next game they fully expected to
make their adversaries "take their dust," as Thad expressed it.
During this time, of course, the wonderful happenings at the Hosmer
cottage had become town talk. Everybody was greedily drinking in
such details of the story as they could manage to gather up.
Acting under the directions of Brother Lu, now known to every one
as the rich owner of the Hoover place, Mr. Luther Corbley, Hugh and
Thad did not hesitate to relate everything they knew, which, in fact,
covered the story from beginning to end. It thrilled all Scranton,
and would be related many times over as weeks and months passed by.
There had never been anything to compare with it in the annals of
all Scranton, or any other town in the county, for that matter.
Matilda and Andrew had gone to live in their new home, and the boys
were told that they might always "find the latch-string out," as
the genial genie of the whole undertaking assured both Hugh and
Thad. He seemed to have taken a decided liking for the chums, and
could not see enough of them. Many an evening did they spend over
at the new home. Thad never seemed to weary of listening to the
marvelous stories told by the great wanderer; nor did he any longer
have the least doubt regarding their accuracy. Indeed, after seeing
what marvels Brother Lu was able to bring to pass in the dull lives
of Matilda and her husband, Thad would have been ready to take anything
he said as Gospel truth.
Then came the Saturday when Allandale had to be met for the second
time. Hugh and his fellow players had worked hard through the week,
under the fostering care of Coach Leonard, to put themselves in fine
fettle for the hard game they anticipated lay ahead of them.
Never was a boy more pampered and looked after than Alan Tyree during
those last few days before the trial of skill and strategy took place
between himself and Big Ed Patterson. They were forever hearing vague
reports to the effect that the Allandale pitcher was excelling his
own record, and that his speed had reached a point where it was
attracting the attention of scouts sent abroad through the land by
some of the big teams in the National and American Leagues; so that
in all probability Patterson would be offered a contract calling for
a stupendous salary before the fall came along.
Hugh only laughed whenever these yarns reached him.
"Let Patterson keep on improving," he would say lightly, "and no
backstop can hold him for a minute any more than he could grapple
with cannon balls. We've got some pitcher, also. Tyree is better
than ever before in his life. While he may not have all the speed
to burn that Patterson has, there are a few tricks in his bag that
he means to uncork on Allandale. I'm sorry for those fellows when
they run against Alan in his present shape. Tell them so when you
see them, please."
It would seem from all this talk that the battle was to be one of
pitchers, for the most part. And when finally the time came for
Scranton to journey over to the rival town, there to take up cudgels
with Allandale High, quite a numerous host of the local people went
along, bent on learning just how much truth there might be in the
stories that had drifted across regarding the invincibility of Big
As on previous occasions, there was a tremendous outpouring of interested
spectators. If anything, it was a record crowd, and far excelled in
point of numbers and enthusiasm any gathering that had cheered the
Allandale team on in their two contests against Belleville.
There was a reason for this, of course, since the latter team had
proven to be so woefully weak that they had not thus far managed to
win a single game, and were out of the race for the pennant. On the
other hand, Scranton, while beaten in the first combat with the
locals, had fought gamely, though terribly handicapped by the absence
of their regular star pitcher. Besides, they had really beaten
Belleville both times as badly as had Allandale.
Everybody therefore was anticipating considerable real sport with the
two pitchers on the mound pitted against each other, and the regular
teams covering the various positions on the diamond.
It was a cloudy day, and looked as though it might rain. Hugh noted
this fact and understood just what Coach Leonard meant when he told
them it would be just as well to start right in, and do some scoring.
If the game should be called after a number of innings had been
played, whoever was ahead would be adjudged the victor. A threatening
day is not a time to put too much faith in a ninth-inning Garrison
finish, because the game may never go beyond five or six turns, if
the flood-gates above chance to open, and the field be deluged so
as to make a continuance of play out of the question.
Well, that was just what did happen, as it turned out, and Scranton
boys found occasion to thank Coach Leonard for his advice, since it
really gave them the decision.
Patterson certainly had amazing speed when he started, and for three
innings it was next to impossible to touch him; for that matter
Tyree was also twirling with considerable effect, though several
hits had been made, and an error allowed one run to be tallied.
Then in the fourth something happened. Allandale was still striving
with might and main to stretch that lone tally into several. They
seemed to have a batting rally, and singular to say it was the end
of the string usually considered the weakest that came to the fore.
Whipple, the right fielder, knocked a terrific fly, but it was taken
after a great run by Juggins. Brown followed suit, but also died
through clever work on the part of "K.K." out in center. It was
supposed that Big Ed Patterson as the next man up would be an easy
third, because he had struck out both times at the bat.
He surprised everyone, himself included, possibly, by sending out a
crack that by bard base running allowed him to reach second. Then
Keeler, the Allandale backstop, not to be outdone in the matter, also
met one of Tyree's mystifying balls on the tip of his bat; and
Patterson, who had not had time to even think of asking to get some
one to run for him, had to keep galloping along in mad haste, the
coach near third sending him home, which he reached after a slide.
Farmer, however, struck out immediately afterwards, so that one
tally only resulted from the batting rally. But the mischief had
been already done. Big Ed was wheezing badly when he took his place
in the box, a fact the vigilant eye of Hugh instantly noted.
"This is going to be our one chance to do something, boys," he told
his mates as they came in to start the fifth frame. "Big Ed is
tired after that running. Work him for a pass, Owen; you know how
to do it, all right."
Owen apparently did, for shortly afterwards he was perched safely
on the initial sack, with Hugh himself at bat, and filled with a
grim determination to send the runner along, as well as plant himself
on the bag.
He picked out a good one, and cracked it out for a double, Owen
managing to land on third. All Scranton arose and roared to "K.K."
to send them both home, which he obligingly did with the nicest
possible little hit that could have been made, he himself reaching
second on the throw-in.
Julius Hobson was now up, but he struck out, greatly to his chagrin.
With the score tied, and the sky looking so threatening, Hugh was
more than ever anxious that one more hit should bring in the run that
might eventually win the game.
Patterson realized his weakness, and tried in various ways to delay
the game. He had to tie his shoe once, and then managed to toss
the ball again and again to try and nip "K.K." at second. In doing
so he actually let the runner make third, as O'Malley on second
allowed the ball to slip out of his hands, and the agile "K.K." slid
along in safety, making a great slide to the sack.
Then Tyree got in the tap that scored the runner, although he himself
was caught at first. Thad sent a dandy hit out past short, but was
left when "Just" Smith struck out.
In their half the Allandale players again tried to delay the game
until the umpire threatened to call it off, and proclaim Scranton the
winner nine to nothing. Then they went to work, but without avail,
for the inning found Scranton just one run to the good.
Play was continued, even though a fine drizzle started, that caused
hundreds of the spectators to take warning and depart.
At the beginning of the seventh inning, with the score the same, the
rain came down in torrents and play was discontinued. Later, finding
that there was no hope of the game being resumed, the umpire declared
it in the favor of Scranton, and those fellows went home happy though
soaked to the skin.
A GLORIOUS FINISH---CONCLUSION
The fact that Allandale and Scranton were tied, and that there must
be played a deciding game, brought out a clause in the League contract
providing for just such a possibility. It would be manifestly unfair
to play this game on either grounds, even when tossing a penny for
choice; because luck should not enter into such a championship any
more than was absolutely necessary. So this last game was to take
place on the Belleville grounds, which were adequately supplied with
grandstand and bleachers, and really better adapted for holding a
record crowd than either of the other fields.
It turned out to be a very fine day, for which every one felt thankful,
after the bitter experience over at Allandale, when so many summer
hats and dresses were ruined by the sudden coming of the storm, and
the long ride home.
Belleville, while in mourning because of the unexpected weakness
developed by her school team, proved to be a loyal sport town, for
she opened her arms to the visitors, and many a flag decorated other
buildings besides the high school, to prove to Scranton and Allandale
folks that no bitterness was felt, since every game had been fairly
lost to superior playing.
That deciding game proved to be a fierce one, so far as the desperate
playing on both sides went, though there was no animosity displayed
on either team. All the noise made by the visiting contingents was
done in a good-natured spirit of friendly rivalry. And the Belleville
rooters acted impartially, cheering first one side and then the
other, as good plays happened to come along.
Big Ed Patterson may have been as good as ever, but Hugh and his mates
seemed to have solved his speedy shoots that came hissing over the
plate like cannon balls. At least they did not strike out as often
as during that other game. "Familiarity sometimes breeds contempt"
with regard to a baseball phenomenon in the way of a pitcher, as
well as in other walks of life; and when Hugh found Patterson for
a drive in the sixth frame "K.K." took courage and did likewise.
Then came Julius Hobson, never having forgiven himself for
striking out when the score was tied, and all Scranton had begged
him to "tap one out past second, Julius; you know how to work it,
old boy; you're a dandy, Julius; now win your game right here!"
Julius had his revenge, for what did the boy do but knock a "hummer"
clear out in far center, that it seemed the madly running Farmer
would never get his hands on; and by the time the ball again entered
the diamond three tallies had resulted, Julius having fairly flown
the rounds, to throw himself down panting, and as happy as they
ever make a baseball player.
Three to one it stood now, and those figures looked pretty big to both
sides, for the pitchers were doing gilt-edged work and heavy scoring
seemed utterly out of the question. Allandale was game to the
backbone, and they started a rally of their own when next at the
bat. Tyree, however, nipped the same in the bud by getting himself
out of two nasty holes when it looked as though the other team must
surely push men over the plate.
So the game went on, and Tyree gave no sign of falling down, standing
the strain wonderfully well. Hugh felt the joyous thrill of coming
victory. Many of the wildly cheering Scranton rooters boasted that
they could already see Allandale handing over the pennant they had
so easily won the previous summer, and which must float from the
flag-pole in front of the Scranton high school another season.
The finish was highly exciting. Allandale managed actually to tie
the score in their half of the ninth, but Scranton still had an inning
in which to do something.
Thad Stevens led the batting list in the ninth; and some other heavy
artillery followed close on his heels. Thad got first on a neat
little hit. "Just" Smith advanced him a base with a sacrifice bunt.
Then Horatio Juggins, who was seldom ever known to fail when it was
up to him to do something, met one of those speedy shoots of
Patterson on the end of his bat, and perched on second, while the
winning tally came in.
That closed the game, since Allandale had already had their turn at
bat in the ninth. Juggins was the hero of the occasion, and that
glorious hit of his would long place him on a pedestal in the
estimation of the Scranton High scholars. Indeed, all sorts of
dates would be reckoned back to "that time bully old Jug nearly
knocked the cover off the ball, and handed us the championship on
a silver plate."
Scranton boys were more than satisfied with the success that had
attended the baseball rivalry. They would be entitled to fly the
pennant of victory for the next season, beginning with the fall
session of school. Every student's heart must thrill more or less
with honest pride as he looked back to the wonderful way in which,
under such a leader as Hugh Morgan, the Scranton High spirit of
outdoor sports, which had fallen to a lamentably low figure of late,
had been boosted on high, so as to place the locals above every
other town worth mentioning in the county.
As yet, Hugh was sorry to learn, there did not seem to be much chance
of a series of football games being arranged, because somehow that
sport had never taken a firm hold upon the boys of the three towns.
But encouraging signs gave promise that by another year some thing
might be done along such lines.
However, there was to be no lack of interesting events occurring in
and around Scranton, as the fall came on. For some years now there
had been a regular tournament of athletic sports, mostly along the
line of running races, of which the boys of Scranton appeared to be
Mr. Saunders, in his capacity of teacher in the high school under
Dr. Carmack, the principal, and also county supervisor, had
opportunities to encourage this growing spirit among the pupils,
which he did every chance he found. He featured the splendid
training resulting from consistent work upon the cinder-path, and
by degrees quite a lively interest was created in the idea of having
a regular Marathon running race for all high-school boys, no matter
That this idea finally seized hold upon the good people of Scranton
to such an extent that a splendid prize was offered for the successful
competitor, may be guessed from the title of the succeeding story
in this Series, which it is to be hoped every one reading this book
will wish to secure immediately---_"The Chums of Scranton High on
the Cinder-Path; or, The Mystery of the Haunted Quarry."_