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The Chums of Scranton High at Ice Hockey by Donald Ferguson

Part 3 out of 3

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Far West, it appears. Her money ran out just too soon and they had
to leave the train at a station this side of Waldron Falls. She was
go determined to reach Scranton before night that she actually
started out afoot, it seems, despite the cold and the snow-covered
roads. Several kind-hearted men gave them lifts on the way; but it
was a long journey, and she became exhausted before reaching her
destination. But come with me, Hugh; she wishes to thank you face to

Hugh did not like that part of it. As a rule, he ran away from such
scenes; but in this case he knew that would never do, since he wished
to learn further concerning Joey and his mother; and, besides, had
some pleasant information to tell her that must cheer her heart
amazingly, and also hasten her recovery.

So he followed his mother into the spare room where the young woman
lay. She had been propped up with extra pillows by Mrs. Morgan while
they talked, though kept well covered up. Indeed, the loving hands
of the older lady had succeeded in placing a warm, knitted sack upon
her arms and shoulders, Hugh saw.

She looked eagerly at the boy. Her face was not so feverish as
before; indeed, he could see without being a physician that the
patient was much better.

"And this is Hugh?" she said, in a voice that trembled. "Yes, I seem
to remember your face, and how you listened to me trying to tell you
how much I wanted to get to Scranton before I fell sick, for I could
feel it coming on. And your mother tells me you carried us both home
in your sleigh. It was a generous heart that could take an utter
stranger in, as you have done, and care for her as if she were your
own flesh and blood. Please let me thank you, Hugh, from the bottom
of my heart."

Hugh took the hand she extended; but he was careful not to give it
one of his customary vigorous squeezes; she looked so wan and frail
that he knew he must hold himself in check.

"Oh! it was a mighty little thing for anyone to do, Mrs. Walters," he
said, in some confusion, but speaking the name with a purpose in view.

"How did you know that was my name, Hugh?" she asked immediately.

"You mentioned it, my dear, in your delirium," explained Mrs. Morgan;
"and then, besides, Joey told us that much."

"And did I tell you anything more in my ravings?" she asked, looking

"Only something about a certain grandfather whom you seemed to think
might not receive you as you ardently hoped when you started forth on
this long journey," the older lady told her. "But then you did not
know what was in store for you. Sometimes great blessings, as well
as dire calamities, spring upon us without the least warning. Hugh,
I shall leave the telling to you from this point on."

The young mother looked from one face to the other.

"Oh! what is it?" she almost gasped. "You are keeping something from
me I ought to know. Please tell me, Hugh, I beg of you. If it is
good news I shall be so very grateful, for little Joey's sake mostly.
Everything I do, everything I think of, is in connection with my
darling child."

"Then I hope you will forgive me if I'm rushing things too fast!"
exclaimed the eager boy, unable to restrain his news longer; "but
little Joey spent two hours last evening asleep in the loving arms of
his great grandmother; while Deacon Winslow again and again embraced
both, and gave thanks for the great blessing that had come to his

How her eyes sparkled when she heard what he said. If Doctor Cadmus
had been in the room just then he might have cautioned them against
too much excitement, lest the fever return; but surely such glorious
news could not do harm, with her heart singing songs of thanksgiving.

"Oh! tell me all about this wonderful thing!" she cried; "how could
you guess my secret, if I did not betray it in my delirium? Now that
you have said this much I must know all about it. Please go on,

He needed no such urging when the words were ready to fall in a
stream from his lips. So Hugh commenced, and rapidly sketched the
strange happenings of the preceding evening--how he had taken the
little fellow with him for a walk, and stopped at the smithy to see
the sparks flying upwards in showers; of the invitation to take
supper, and spend an hour in chatting with the deacon and his good
wife. Then, quick on the heels of this he told how Mrs. Winslow,
while holding Joey in her arms so lovingly as he slept in his
innocence, had suddenly made that amazing discovery in connection
with the baby chain, and smooth medallion, shaped like a locket.

She lay there with her eyes closed, eagerly drinking in every word
the boy uttered. The unrestrained tears crept unheeded down her
cheeks; but Mrs. Morgan did not worry, because only too well did she
know these were tears of overpowering joy; and not of grief.

Finally the story was all told, and she opened her eyes, swimming as
they were, to look fondly at each of them in turn.

"What happiness has come into my life!" she said, with a great sigh;
and, evidently, the load of years had rolled from her heart. "And
how grateful I must always be to the kind friends who have brought it
to me and mine. I can never do enough to show you how I appreciate
it all."

Then Hugh thought himself privileged to ask a few questions in turn,
wishing to thoroughly satisfy himself with regard to several points
that were as yet unexplained.

She told them how her husband had lost his life; and that, when she
and the boy faced poverty, the resolution had come to her to go East
and try to find the relatives whom she had only lately learned were
located somewhere near Scranton. She had come across an old and
time-stained diary kept by her mother's father, who, of course, was
the runaway son of Deacon Winslow; and thus she learned how he had
left his home in the heat of anger, and never once communicated with
his parents up to the time of his death, which occurred a short three
years after his marriage.

It was all very simple, and supplied the missing links in the chain.

After she had told them these things once more she asked Hugh about
the aged couple. That was a subject the boy could talk about most
enthusiastically for a whole hour, he was that full of it. And the
happy look on her face told how like balm to her heart his words came.

"And they are coming to see you early this morning," he finally
assured her. "I wouldn't be surprised if either of them has had a
single wink of sleep last night for counting the minutes creep by,
they are that anxious to claim you and Joey."

Just then the doorbell rang. Hugh laughed, as though he had been
expecting such a happening; in fact, he had heard the sound of sleigh
runners without creaking on the hard-frozen snow, and suspected what
it signified.

"There they are this minute!" he exclaimed; "shall I run down and let
them in, Mother? And ought they come right upstairs?"

"Have them take off their wraps first, and warm their hands at the
radiator," she wisely told him, thinking of the invalid who would
soon be in their embrace.

It was a very brief time before he ushered them into the room. First
the old lady was assisted across the floor, for she could hardly
walk, even when so determined to come over, and greet her
granddaughter. And when her arms were twined around the weak little
figure on the bed, and she pressed her to her matronly bosom, Joey's
mother broke down in hysterical sobs, and, in turn, twined her arms
about the neck of her newly found relative.

The old deacon looked radiant. He kissed her on the forehead, and
tried to say something appropriate, but was compelled to turn his
head aside and blow his nose vigorously, for his emotions overpowered

Presently, however, they were able to talk rationally, and then it
was all settled how Joey and his mother were to live with the old
couple, and be their very own always. Everything was explained, and
Hugh finally found himself able to "break away," being consumed by a
desire to run across lots to Thad's house, and tell him the wonderful

There is no need of accompanying Hugh on his errand, and seeing how
Thad took the amazing news. Of course, he was simply thunder-struck,
and delighted also beyond measure. He must have made Hugh tell the
full particulars as many as several times, for they were all of an
hour together. But then, Thad's folks had been called in, and told
how after all these years a descendant of Deacon Winslow had come
back to the old roof-tree, to make the happiness of the aged couple

Of course, the story was soon known all over Scranton, and everybody
rejoiced with the beloved old blacksmith who had so long been the
best friend of the boys of the neighborhood. But Hugh, who was
really the hero of the occasion, was congratulated by everybody for
being the means of re-uniting these lonely souls, and incidentally
providing Little Joey with a good home.



Another week rolled around, and once again school had closed for the
Saturday and Sunday period of rest from studies.

It seemed as though luck favored the young people of Scranton this
season, so far as fair weather went. There had been no snowfall of
consequence during the entire week; and now Saturday opened with fair
skies, as if inviting them to go forth and enjoy themselves to their
full bent.

The great hockey game with Belleville High was to take place in the
neighboring town, as Captain Kramer (known far and wide simply as "O.
K.," because those were his initials) had drawn the long straw in
settling this matter with Hugh, and was, therefore, given the choice
of territory, according to custom.

Really no one in Scranton was sorry. They had held the last match
there on the new rink, and could not expect to have a monopoly of
these happenings all through the season. Besides, they had a
splendid lake over at Belleville, which would be considerable of an
attraction to the young people of Scranton, whom fortune had not
treated so kindly, since they had formerly been compelled to trudge
several miles to Hobson's mill-pond when they wished to skate, swim,
or fish; though now, of course, they had the newly flooded area in
the baseball park for diversion.

A great many went over to Belleville in every manner of vehicle.
Sleighs were in great demand, but, besides these, cars could be seen
by dozens on the highroad leading to the rival town, situated some
ten miles away.

It must needs be something over which they had no control that could
keep any Scranton High boy or girl away from Belleville that Saturday
morning. The very atmosphere seemed to be charged with electricity,
and was calling them to hasten away, to join the throngs already
pouring forth, bent on giving encouragement to those gallant young
athletes representing their school, who had as yet not tasted of
defeat on the ice that season.

The lake just outside of Belleville was quite extensive, and could
not be insulted with the name of "pond," for it ran at least a mile
in length, and half that in width.

While the ice was no longer as smooth as had earlier been, the case,
still it seemed in fair condition. Besides, the Belleville boys had
managed to flood that section to be given over as a rink; and
ordinary skaters were warned to keep off, so that it might not be all
"cut up" with sharp runners before the match was started.

The Belleville team looked dangerous. They were, of course, pretty
much the same fellows whom Scranton High had met the preceding summer
on the baseball diamond; some of them had also taken part in the
athletic tournament late in the Fall, accounts of which events will
be found duly chronicled in earlier volumes of this series.

When all the preliminaries had been settled good-naturedly, the rival
teams lined up to hear the last instructions of the referee. This
party was the same gentleman who had officiated with such
satisfaction in the game with Keyport on the preceding Saturday.

Here is the list of players, and the positions they occupied,
Scranton having kept the identical Seven with which the last game had
been so cleverly won, though many people were of the opinion they had
a much more difficult proposition before them in the Belleville boys:

_Scranton High_ _Position_ _Belleville_
Stevens ......... Goal ............ Leonard
Hobson .......... Point ........... Wright
Danvers ......... Cover Point ...... "O. K." Kramer
Smith ........... Right End ........ Gould
Dugdale ......... Center ........... Waterman
Morgan .......... Rover ............ Conway
Juggins ......... Left End ......... Haggerty

The game had hardly begun before Hugh realized that those Belleville
fellows had determined to down the visitors, if it took every ounce
of strenuous ability they possessed. Previous defeats at the hands
of Scranton High rankled in their hearts, and they were grimly
resolved, "to do or die," as one of them told Thad Stevens while
chatting before the game was called.

They made a whirlwind beginning, and had scored two goals before the
visitors began to "find" themselves. This would never do, Hugh
determined. He gave his players a signal that called for a spurt,
and himself led the way by capturing the puck, and shooting it into
the cage of their opponents amidst loud footings of great joy from
the loyal and now anxious Scranton rooters.

Juggins distinguished himself also immediately afterwards by a
lightning play that amazed the Belleville spectators. He dodged all
interference and when finally too hard pressed, managed to send the
rubber disc across to Dugdale, who continued the good work by
shooting it into the charge of Hobson; and, almost before Leonard
could try to stop its flight, it had gone with a crash into the cage
for the second goal on Scranton's side.

Things began to look brighter. If Belleville could play brilliant
hockey through the coaching of an efficient instructor, the visiting
team knew a few things also, which were calculated to surprise their

Of course, most, if not all of the Belleville Seven had attended the
game on the preceding Saturday, their own match for that day, which
they had easily won, coming off in the afternoon. Consequently, they
had studied the methods of the Scranton boys, and believed they would
be able to profit by their knowledge later on.

But Hugh had been wise to this fact, and posted Mr. Leonard, the
coach; who, meanwhile, taught them a few new little wrinkles that
were calculated to disturb the calculations of Belleville when the
time came for the meeting. As in football, ice hockey presents a
fruitful field for diplomacy and clever tactics; and the wisest
general usually manages to carry his team to victory over those who
may be much more nimble skaters and even smarter with their sticks,
but not so able in the line of strategy.

Belleville also took a "hunch," as some of the boys called it, and
again forged to the front. Indeed, they scored three times against
one more goal for the visitors; and when the first half of the match
had been finished the game stood at five to three against Scranton.

Hugh was in a dilemma. He knew that to win out he must have an
infusion of new blood, for those husky players of the local school
were too rapid for the Scranton boys. But, according to the rules of
the game, substitutes can only be allowed in case of serious injury.
So, unless one of his player chanced to be hurt in such a way as to
necessitate his withdrawal from the game there could be no changes
made in the line-up.

This is so hedged about with safeguards against fraud that even if a
player is hurt he must be examined by someone competent to say
whether he may be able to commence work again inside of seven
minutes; and if so, the game must proceed. Should he be excused from
further participation in the contest his captain may have the
privilege of putting in another man; or, if he chooses to play with
only six on the ice, the other side must also eliminate a player, so
as to make the line-up equal.

Perhaps some of Hugh's comrades must have guessed what was gripping
their leader around that time. Nothing else could have induced
Smith, for instance, to say, as he did to Hugh, while they were
resting in preparation for the last half of the game to start in:

"I'm awfully ashamed of that rotten run I made, Hugh, when you handed
me the rubber so handsomely. If I'd known my business as I should
I'd have landed it in the wire cage as snug as anything. But I
fumbled, and that Conway got it away from me, the robber. I'm no
good, Hugh; and I'd give a heap if only you could kick me out of the
game, and get a better substitute."

"It can't be done, Just," Hugh told him; "a player has to be pretty
badly hurt to be dropped, you know, and a substitute taken on. Cheer
up, and get a fresh start. Two goals shouldn't be a hard job for us
to tackle, once we get going at our old pace. There are a few tricks
left in the bag still, before we reach the bottom."

"But, see here, I'm pretty lame at that, after the stumble and fall I
had, Hugh," said "Just" Smith eagerly; "perhaps the referee would let
me throw up my job if he saw how badly my shin has been scraped."

"Oh! you're in pretty good shape still, 'Just,' and you know it,"
remarked Hugh, smiling at the evident determination of his friend to
sacrifice himself for the general good. "When we start play again
we'll try the last dodge Mr. Leonard taught us, and see if it'll work
for a goal. It's clean sport, and nothing tricky, you know."

So "Just" Smith shrugged his shoulders, and did not seem at all
happy, though he let the matter drop. Hugh wondered, though, what
that grim look on his face meant, and, later on, had a hazy idea that
he had found out.

The game started again. Encouraged by their success, Belleville
again took matters in their own hands and forced the fighting. There
were several weak places in the Scranton High line-up. Many who
diagnosed the play were of the opinion that the game was already as
good as lost.

Then came a most violent scrimmage, into which "Just" Smith plunged
with the utmost recklessness, as though determined to wipe out all
his former mistakes in some brilliant playing. Suddenly the
referee's whistle called the game. Something had happened to bring
about a stoppage of play. A fellow was down on the ice, with half a
dozen others bending over him.

It was "Just" Smith, and he was apparently badly injured in the
bargain. A doctor was speedily called, who pronounced it a fracture
of the leg, and decided that the player would have to be taken home
immediately for a physician's attention.

As "Just" Smith passed his captain, being carried by two husky
players to a waiting car that would convey him home, he actually had
the nerve to grin in Hugh's face. A suspicion came into the latter's
mind to the effect that the player had purposely taken terrible risks
in the hope that he might be disabled, so that a substitute could be
put in his place; though, of course, Hugh tried to banish this
thought as soon as it gripped him.

"Get your substitute, Hugh, or else we'll have to drop a man!" called
the Belleville captain; and Hugh glanced apprehensively around; then
broke through the dense crowd, and seized upon a skater who had been
hovering near.

It was Nick Lang!

"We need another player, Nick!" Hugh exclaimed eagerly; "and I want
you to help get the team out of this nasty hole, for the sake of good
old Scranton High. So don't say you won't, but come along, and do
your level best to bring us out ahead!"



The look upon the face of Nick Lang when Hugh spoke in this way told
the leader of the Scranton Hockey Seven he would fight with might and
main to turn the tables on the winning Belleville team.

Nick's hour had struck!

The long-awaited opportunity to prove the genuine nature of the
change that had taken place within his heart had arrived. He was
going into play as one of the Regulars; he had been especially picked
for that important service among twenty likely lads who only too
gladly would have accepted a chance to distinguish themselves in such
an emergency.

Accordingly Nick had a large letter S fastened to his jersey, to mark
the side on which he fought, so that the referee might easily know
where he belonged. One word from the coach as he strode forward Nick
would never forget as long as he lived; it was a word of confidence;
and, remembering how Mr. Leonard had at one time detested and
distrusted this boy, it meant everything to Nick.

The game started again after the lapse of seven minutes.

Belleville considered that they had "the edge" on the visitors, and
immediately went at it as though bent on adding considerably to the
number of goals marked to their credit. But almost immediately it
was discovered that the infusion of new blood had somehow altered the
complexion of things greatly.

Thanks principally to the marvelous agility and strategy of Nick, a
goal was shot inside of two minutes. It was immediately followed by
another, this time Nick winning the score without the least help from

Wild applause rang out from parts of the crowd, where, of course,
Scranton rooters mostly congregated. How sweet those cheers must
have sounded in the ears of Nick Lange, who for years had only earned
the hoots and jeers of his fellows in Scranton, on account of their
distrust, and his own evil ways.

Why, the Belleville folks sat up and rubbed their eyes. They had
never dreamed that any fellow not a professional player could prove
himself such a marvelous wizard on steel runners. Nick fairly
dazzled them with his speed, his eccentric twistings when hotly
pursued, and the clever way in which he kept that rubber disc just in
front of his hockey stick, always carrying it along toward the point
where he meant to strike for goal.

And when he did make that stroke vain were the frantic efforts of the
usually dependable Leonard to block its amazing passage; for almost
before he swung he heard the plug of the puck landing in the wire
cage which he was especially set to guard, and knew that another
tally had been added to Scranton's growing score.

The conditions had changed, and the shoe was now on the other foot.

Thanks to the fine playing of Nick Lang Scranton was now ahead, and
it seemed extremely doubtful whether Belleville would have another
chance to make a single tally. The boys were plainly disconcerted by
the excellent work of the substitute, and seemed to have lost much of
that aggressive spirit so absolutely necessary in ice hockey in order
to win games. They played almost sullenly, as if realizing that it
was all over but the shouting.

Vain were the efforts of Captain Kramer to put new life in his
followers. He himself fought more desperately than ever, and once
even succeeded in taking the puck away from the triumphant Nick, the
only one who attained that glory; only to lose it immediately
afterwards to Owen Dugdale, who transferred it to Stevens by way of
Hobson; and then it plunged into the cage, despite Leonard's mad
attempt to stay its swift flight.

"Who's this you Scranton boys have thrown into the game?" demanded
one chagrined Belleville gentleman, as he saw what a radical change
Nick's coming had made in the affair on the ice rink. "He plays
suspiciously like a certain Canadian I saw last winter, who set
everybody in New York City wild with his work. Is Jean La Rue
visiting anybody in Scranton; and have you rung him in on us to-day,
to send our poor chaps down to defeat?"

"Don't you believe it, Mister," chortled a boy standing near by,
whose jersey was decorated with the letters "S. H. S.," standing, of
course, for Scranton High School. "That fellow is only our Nick
Lang, who was born and brought up in our home town. The place was
never proud of that face until this great day, because Nick, you see,
has been the worst boy ever known in Scranton. Why, his escapades
would take a week to tell you. He used to be the terror of
everybody, the bully all boys feared and shunned. But it seems like
Nick has turned over a new leaf. Folks didn't all believe in his
change of heart; but after to-day, say, Nick could own the whole town
if he was so minded. I'd give a heap if I was standing in his shoes
this same day. He'll be a hero, as sure as he used to be the town

It was just that way up to the time the referee signaled that the
last half of the game had been played to a finish. Nick seemed
capable of doing almost as he pleased. Whenever he got possession of
the puck it was, as one enthusiastic Scranton boy whooped, a "regular
procession." The Belleville lads just couldn't touch him. His
actions bewildered them, so that they were continually becoming mixed
up with their own side when they thought to corner Nick and the puck.

The score?

Well, it seemed too bad that after such a brilliant beginning
Belleville should fall so low, and see the terrible figures, thirteen
to seven, marked up against them.

In the annals of sport, as chronicled at Scranton High, that contest
would always be known as the "Battle of Winchester," just because, as
in the Civil War, when the Union army was in retreat and demoralized,
the coming of a single man, General Phil Sheridan, caused them to
turn about, and presently win a conclusive and overwhelming victory.
And Nick Lang had been the Phil Sheridan for Scranton on that
glorious day!

Nick tried to make a "grand sneak" as soon as the game finished, but
the crowd would have none of that, hemming him in so that he could
not run; and then for the first time in all his life the one-time
bully of Scranton tasted of the joys of popularity.

Fellows wrung his hand who had always treated him with disdain. He
was slapped on the back and praised to the skies. Why, even Sue
Barnes, Ivy Middleton, Peggy Noland, and a lot of other school-girls
seemed proud to shake hands with Nick, who was as red in the face as
a turkey gobbler, and rendered quite breathless trying to answer the
myriad of sincere congratulations that were showered on him.

But by the happy light in his eyes Hugh knew the die was cast, once
and for all. Having tasted of the sweets of popularity and honest
praise, nothing on earth could now tempt Nick to fall back again to
his former ignoble ways. His foot was firmly planted on the second
round of the ladder, and he had his aspiring eye on the better things
nearer the top.

The deacon had come over to see the game. He and Hugh went home
together, and the talk was mostly concerning the wonderful
reformation of Nick Lang.

"I'm hoping to have Nick come to me when he leaves school," the good
old man was saying. "He has the making of a clever blacksmith in
him, and I'd dearly like to turn over my shop to him some day not far
in the future; because it's almost time the old man retired, now that
he has a sunbeam coming to his house, which is going to take up much
of his attention."

So it seemed that Nick's future was assured, if so be he cared to
take up that honorable trade, by means of which the deacon had
accumulated his little fortune.

As for the two former pals of Nick, Tip Slavin and Leon Disney, in
due time they were convicted of the robbery of Paul Kramer's store,
and sent away to the excellent State institution, to remain there
until they had reached the age of twenty-one.

There was at least a fair hope that long before that time arrived one
or both of the boys would have learned a trade and decided to live a
respectable life in the future; for many lads who were deemed
uncontrollable at home, under the lax training they received there,
have been fashioned into splendid men because of the strict
discipline at the Reform School.

There is little more to add to make our story complete.

Joey and his mother were soon installed under the hospitable roof of
the deacon, where they found themselves the objects of love and
devotion. The miseries of the past would soon be forgotten in the
great happiness that had come to them. And certain it is that no one
would be a more welcome guest there than Hugh Morgan, because it was
partly through his efforts that this joyous event had been made

Since Scranton High had taken such a leading part in the outdoor
sports so beloved by all wide-awake boys, it could be set down as
certain that the fellows in Allandale and Belleville would not be
content to let them rest upon their well-earned laurels, but would
strive with might and main to excel them on the diamond, the
cinder-path, the football gridiron, or some other field of athletic

That many fiercely contested games would result was a foregone
conclusion; and it is to be hoped that we shall have the privilege of
meeting the readers of this volume in the pages of subsequent books,
where some of those exciting happenings may be set down in an
interesting manner.


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