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The Circus Boys on the Plains Or The Young Advance Agents Ahead of the Show

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"Get up and come into the stateroom. There is business on hand."

Billy hopped out of bed, wide awake instantly, and ran to
the stateroom.

Phil briefly explained the situation and what he had planned
to do. After he had finished Billy eyed him approvingly.

"You're a wonder," he said. "What about breakfast?"

"I am having some prepared at a restaurant. But the men will not
have time to eat it. They may take it with them and eat it on
the road."

"I'll rout out the crew," returned Billy, hurrying back into
the car.

There was much grumbling and grunting, but as soon as the men
were thoroughly awake they were enthusiastic. Not a man of them
but that wanted to see this bright-faced, clean-cut young car
manager beat out his adversaries.

By the time the men had washed and dressed the rigs began
to arrive. These were quickly loaded with brushes, paste
cans and paper, all with scarcely a sound, the men speaking
in subdued tones by Phil's direction.

The darkness before the dawn was over everything.

At last all was in readiness.

Phil handed each man his route.

"Now, boys, it is up to you. I look to you to put the Greatest
out of business, for one day at least. You should be out of town
and on the first daub inside of thirty minutes. I will go with
you and pick up the breakfasts; then you will go it alone.
Don't leave a piece of board as big as a postage stamp uncovered.
Wherever you strike a farmer, make him sign a brief agreement not
to let anyone cover our paper. Pay him something in addition
to the tickets you give him. Here is an agreement that you can
copy from. Make your route as quickly as you can and do it well;
then hurry back here. I may need you."

"Hooray!" muttered Rosie the Pig.

"Hold your tongue!" commanded Billy, "Think this is a Fourth of
July celebration?"

"Go ahead!"

Phil hopped into one of the wagons, and off they started. It was
but the work of a few minutes to load the packages of breakfast
into the wagons, after which the men drove quickly away.
Phil paid the bill. But he was not yet through with his early
morning work. He made his way to the livery stable.

"Send another rig over to the car at once. I want you to bring
the day's work of lithographs and banners here, and my men will
work them out from your stables. I do not want the opposition
car to know what we are doing until it is nearly all done."

"Whew, but you're a whirlwind!" grinned the livery stable man.

The horse and wagon were made ready at once, Phil riding back to
the car with it. The banner-men and lithographers who were to
work in town had not been awakened. Phil wished them to get all
the sleep possible; so, with Teddy's help, he loaded the paper on
the wagon and sent the driver away with it. Then he awakened the
rest of the men.

Phil briefly explained what had happened.

"Now, I want all hands to turn out at once. Go to the restaurant
on the third street above here and get your breakfasts. Here is
the money. By daylight some of the business places will begin
to open. I want every man of you to spend the forenoon squaring
every place in town. Make an agreement that no other show is to
be allowed to place a bill in their windows. While you are
eating your breakfasts I will lay out the streets and assign you.
I have the principal part of the town in my mind, now, so I can
give you the most of your routes. Teddy, you will turn in and
help square. I will collect the addresses of the places you
have squared, early in the morning, and by that time I shall
have a squad of town fellows hired, to place the stuff.
Now, get going!"

All hands hurried into their clothes; after locking the car, Phil
led them to the restaurant. But the Circus Boy did not take the
time to eat. Instead he busied himself laying out the routes for
the town men to work.

By the time that they had finished their breakfast faint streaks
of dawn were appearing in the east.

"Now, boys, do your prettiest!" urged Phil.

"We will; don't you worry, Boss."

The men hurried off, full of enthusiasm for the work before them,
while Phil started out to round up a squad of men to distribute
the lithographs after his own men had squared the places to
put them.

In an hour he had all the men he wanted. This done, Phil took
his way slowly back to the railroad yards and stepped up to the
platform of his own car. The freight cars had been removed from
in front of him and the rival car stood out gaudily in the
morning light. All was quiet in the camp of the rival. Not a
man of its crew was awake.

"I hope they sleep all day," muttered Phil, entering his own car
and pulling all the shades down, after which he took his position
at a window and watched from behind a shade.



It was nearly seven in the morning when Phil's vigil was
rewarded by the sight of a man in his pajamas, emerging
from the rival car. The man stood on the rear platform and
stretched himself. All at once he caught sight of Car Three.

The fellow instantly became very wide awake. Opening the car
door he called to someone within; then three or four men came out
and stared at the Sparling car.

"They are pretty good sleepers over there, I guess," grinned the
rival car manager, for such he proved to be.

The men dodged back, and there was a lively scene in the
rival car. The men realized that they had been remiss in
their duty in sleeping so late, but still they had not the
least doubt of their ability to outwit their rivals, for
the crew of Car Four was a picked lot who had never yet
been beaten in the publicity game.

About this time Phil Forrest strolled out to the rear platform of
his car. He was fully dressed save for coat and vest and hat,
yet to all appearances he, too, had just risen.

The manager of the rival car came out and hailed him.

"Hello, young fellow!" he called.

"Good morning," answered Phil sweetly.

"Seems to me you sleep late over there."

"So do you," laughed Phil. "There must be something in the air
up this way to induce sleep."

"I guess that's right. Who are you?" inquired the rival manager.

"I am one of the crowd."

"You're the programmer, perhaps?"

"I may be most anything."

The manager of the rival car strolled toward Car Three, whereupon
Phil started, meeting him half-way. For reasons of his own he
did not wish his rival to get too close to the Sparling car.

"I never saw you before," said the rival, eyeing Phil keenly.

"Nor I you."

"What's your name?"


"Glad to know you, Philip. How long have you been with the car?"

"A few weeks only."

"Who's your car manager?"

"A fellow named Forrest."

"Never heard of him. Is he in bed!"

"No; he is out."

"Humph! What time do you start your men on the country routes?"

"Usually about seven to seven-thirty."

"Well, you won't start them this morning at that time."

"No; I think not."

"I'll tell you what you do; you come and take breakfast with me.
We won't go to any contract hotel, either."

"Thank you; I shall be delighted. Wait till I get my
clothes on."

Phil hastened back to his own car.

"That fellow is playing a sharp trick. He is trying to get me
away so he can get his men out ahead of mine. I will walk into
his trap. He knows I am the manager. I could see that by the
way he acted."

Phil stepped out and joined his rival.

"I believe you said you were the manager of that car, did you
not?" asked the rival.

"I am, though I do not recollect having said so."

"A kid like you manager of a car? I don't know what the show
business is coming to, with all due respect to you, young man."

"Oh, that's all right," answered the Circus Boy with a frank,
innocent smile. "I am just learning the business, you know."

"I thought so," nodded the rival. "My name's Tripp--Bob Tripp."

"You been in the business long?"

"Fifteen years, my boy. After you have been in it as long as I
have, you will know every crook and turn, every trick in the
whole show business," said the fellow proudly. "You are a
bright-faced young chap. I should like to have you on my car.
Don't want a job, do you?"

"No, thank you. I am very well satisfied where I am. I can
learn on a Sparling car as well as anywhere else, you know."

"Yes, of course."

The couple stopped at the leading hotel of the town, where the
rival manager ordered a fine breakfast. Phil Forrest was quite
ready for it. He already had done a heavy day's work and he was
genuinely hungry.

"Guess they don't feed you very well with your outfit,"
smiled Tripp.

"Contract hotels, you know," laughed Phil. "I do not get a
chance at a meal like this every day."

"Do the way I do."

"How is that?"

"Feed at the good places and charge it up in your
expense account."

"Oh, I couldn't do that. It would not be right."

"That shows you are new in the business. Get all you can and
keep all you get. That's my way of doing things. I was just
like you when I began."

They tarried unusually long over the meal, Tripp seeming to be in
no hurry. Phil was sure that he was in no hurry, either. And he
knew why there was no need for hurry. Bob, in the meantime, was
relating to the show boy his exploits as a manager. In fact he
was giving Phil more information about the work of his own car
than he realized at the time.

Now and then the Circus Boy would slip in an innocent question,
which Bob would answer promptly. By the time the meal was
finished Phil had a pretty clear idea of the workings of his
rival's advance business, as well as their plans for the future,
so far as Tripp knew them.

"By the way, how did you happen to get a berth like this,
young man?" questioned Tripp. "I thought a fellow by the
name of Snowden was running Car Three for old man Sparling."

"He was."



"What for?"

"I would rather not talk about that. You will have to ask
headquarters, or Snowden himself. You see, it is not my
business, and I make it a rule never to discuss another
fellow's affairs in public."

"Nor your own, eh?"

"Oh, I don't know. I think I have talked a good deal
this morning. But you and I had better get back to our
cars and get our men started, had we not? This is a
late morning all around."

"No hurry, no hurry," urged Bob. "Why the men haven't got
back from their breakfast yet. Wait awhile. Have a smoke."

"Thank you; I do not smoke."

Tripp looked at him in amazement.

"And you in the show business?"

"Is that any reason why a man's habits should not be regular?"

"N-n-n-o," admitted the rival slowly.

"Well, I must be going, just the same. I have considerable work
to do in the car."

Bob rose reluctantly and followed Phil from the dining room.
He had hoped to detain the young car manager longer, or until
his own men could get a good start on the work of the day.

He looked for no difficulty, however, in outwitting his
young opponent.

As they approached the railroad yards each car stood as they had
left it, shades pulled well down and no signs of life aboard.

"Looks as if your crew was still asleep," smiled Tripp.

"I might say the same of yours, did I not know to the contrary,"
answered Phil suggestively.

Bob shot a keen glance at him.

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing much. Of course I did not think your men would be
asleep all this time. They are surely out to breakfast by
this time."

"You ain't half as big a fool as you look, are you?" demanded the
rival manager. "Well, I will see you later."

Each went to his little office and began the work of the day, but
there was a grim smile of satisfaction on the face of each.

Fully an hour passed, and one of the lithographers from the rival
car went aboard with the information that they were unable to get
a piece of paper in any window in town thus far.

"Why not?" demanded Tripp.

"They say their windows are already contracted for," was
the answer.

"Contracted for?"


"By whom?"

"I don't know. That's all the information we can get."

"Seen any other showmen about town this morning?"

"No; not any that I know, nor any with paper and brush under
his arm."

"H-m-m-m," mused the showman. "That's queer. It can't be that
the young man across the way has got the start of us. No; that
is not possible. He is too green for that. Have his men gone
out on the country routes yet, or are they still asleep?"

"I don't know. Nobody has seen a living soul around that car
this morning, so far as I know."

"I'll go over town and do a little squaring on my own hook.
I'll soon find out who has been heading us off, if anyone has."

The manager hurried off with his assistant, but even he was
unable to get any information.

He was baffled and perplexed. He did not understand it.
Tactics entirely new had been sprung on him. He was an expert
in the old methods of the game, but these were different.

In the meantime, Phil Forrest, the young advance agent, sat
calmly in his stateroom, now and then receiving a report from
Teddy Tucker who sauntered in under cover of a string of freight
cars on the opposite side, then slipped out again.

Teddy was Phil's blockade runner this day.

At noon the party on the rival car all adjourned for luncheon,
and there they were joined by their manager, who discussed the
queer situation with them. This was the time for Phil Forrest.

"Now for the surprise," he said, hurriedly going uptown, where he
got his own lithographers together, and the crew that he had
hired in town. Every man had been pledged to silence, as had the
livery stable man and his helpers.

"Now, shoot the stuff out! Get every window full before those
fellows are through their dinner. A five-dollar bill for the man
who covers his route first. The banner locations we cannot fill
so quickly, but they are all secured, so our friend can't take
them away from us. Now get busy!"

They did. The men of Car Three forgot that they were hungry.
Never before had the lithographers and banner men worked as they
did that day. With the extra help that Phil had put on he was
able to cover the ground with wonderful quickness.

When the men of the rival crew emerged from the contract hotel,
and sat down in front to digest the contract meal, they suddenly
opened their eyes in amazement.

In every window within sight of them there hung a gaudy Sparling
circus bill, some windows being plastered full of them.

They called the manager hastily.

"Look!" said his assistant.

"What! We're tricked! But they haven't got far with their work.
They haven't had time. Don't you see, the lazy fellows have just
got to work. After them, men! Beat them out! You've got to out
bill this town!"

As the men hurried out into the other streets the same unpleasant
sight met their eyes. Every available window bore a Sparling
bill; every wall obtainable had a Sparling banner tacked to it.
One could not look in any direction without his gaze resting on a
Sparling advertisement.

Bob Tripp was mad all through.

He had been outwitted.

In his anger he started for Car Three. Reaching it he discovered
the young advance agent on the shady side of Car Three, lounging
in a rocking chair reading a book.

Phil's idea of dramatic situations was an excellent one.

"What do you mean, playing such a trick on me?" demanded the
irate rival.

The Circus Boy looked up with an innocent expression on his face.

"Why, Mr. Tripp, what is it?"

"Is that the way you repay my hospitality?" he shouted.

"Please explain."

Phil's tone was mild and soothing.

"You have grabbed every hit in this town. It's unprofessional.
It's a crooked piece of business. I'll get even with you
for that."

"Why, Mr. Tripp, how can that be, I am green; I am only a
beginner, you know," answered the Circus Boy, with his most
winning smile.

Bop Tripp gazed at him a moment, then with an angry exclamation
turned on his heel and strode back to his own car.

Half an hour later Phil Forrest's men drove in from their
country routes. They had covered them quickly, having got
such an early start.

Phil heard their reports. They had left nothing undone.
Phil then hurried over town to pay the bills he had
contracted, first leaving word that not a man was to
leave the car until his return.

He was back in a short time.

"We go out at two o'clock, boys," he announced upon his return.
"I am leaving the banner men here. They will take a late train
out tonight, and join us in the morning."

An express train came thundering in, and before Bob Tripp knew
what was in the wind it had coupled on to Car Three. A few
moments later Phil Forrest and his crew were bowling away for
the next stand. His rivals would not be able to get another
train out until very late that night.

Late in the afternoon Bob Tripp's country crew returned, tired,
disgusted and glum.

"Well, what is it?" demanded the now thoroughly
irritated manager.

"Not a dozen sheets of paper put up by the whole crew," was the
startling announcement. "That Sparling outfit has plastered
every spot as big as your hand for forty miles around here."

"What! Why didn't you cover them?" shrieked the manager.

"Cover them--nothing! They had every location cinched and
nailed down. Every farmer stood over the other fellow's paper
with a shot gun."

"Sold! And by a kid at that!" groaned Bob Tripp settling down
despairingly into his office chair.



"I'm only a beginner," mused Phil Forrest, as his car spun along
at a sixty-mile gait. "And I'm green, and I have a whole lot to
learn, but if Bob Tripp catches up with Car Three, now, he will
have to travel some!"

The next town was made quite early in the afternoon.
Phil, however, did not settle down to wait for another day.
He had wired the liveryman in the next town to meet his car,
so, immediately upon arrival, he bundled his billposters off on
the country routes.

"Work as far as you can before dark, then find places to sleep
at a farmhouse. Do the best you can. We must be out of these
yards before noon tomorrow, and as much earlier as possible.
If you can post by moonlight do it, even if you have to wake
the farmers up along the line to get permission."

The men were well-nigh exhausted, but they rose manfully to
the occasion. They realized that there was a master hand over
them, even if it were the hand of a boy inexperienced in their
line of work.

No manager had ever reeled off work at such a dizzy pace as Phil
Forrest was doing. It challenged their admiration and made them
forget their weariness.

The country routes started, Phil set his lithographers at work.
The men kept at it until nearly midnight. They had completed
their work in the town and in the meantime Phil and Teddy had
squared the hits, as they are called--the places where the
banners were to be tacked up--all ready for the banner men to
get to work when they arrived in town next morning, or late
that night.

They arrived about midnight, but the other car did not come on
the train with them. They brought the information that the train
was a limited one, and would not carry the rival car. Bob Tripp
would not be able to get through until sometime the
next forenoon.

Phil felt like throwing up his hat and shouting with delight,
but his dignity as a car manager would not permit him to do so.
No such limitations were imposed upon Teddy Tucker, however,
and Teddy whooped it up for all that was in him.

All hands were weary when they turned in that night. At about
eleven o'clock the following morning, the country billposters
came in, having completed their routes. Phil had made his
arrangements to have his car hauled over the road by a special
engine, and shortly after noon Car Three was again on its way,
every man on board rejoicing over the drubbing they had given
their rival.

Phil Forrest was a hero in their eyes. Not a man of that crew,
now, but who would go through fire for him, if need be!

That afternoon the same plan was followed, Phil driving his men
out to their work.

"I am sorry, boys," he said. "I don't like to drive you like
this, but we've simply got to shake off Tripp and his crew.
In a day or so we will be straightened around again so we can
settle down to our regular routine, unless, perhaps, we run
into more trouble. You have all done nobly. If it hadn't
been for you I should have been whipped to a standstill by
that other outfit."

"Not you," growled the Missing Link. "They don't grow the kind
that can whip the likes of you," in which sentiment the entire
crew concurred.

No more was seen of Bob Tripp and his men on that run.
Tripp heard from his general agent, however, with a call-down
that made his head ache. The general agent kept the telegraph
wires hot for twenty-four hours, and in the end, sent another
car ahead of Tripp into the territory that Phil Forrest and
his men were working.

Phil, of course, was not aware of this at the time, but he found
it out before long.

His car had slipped over into Kansas, by this time, and the crew
were now working their way over the prairies.

"It seems to me that it is time you were attending to your press
work, Teddy Tucker," said Phil on the following day. "You have
not called at a newspaper office since we started under the
new arrangement."

"Nope," admitted Teddy.

"Why not?"

"Why, do you think?"

"I am sure I do not know."

"Well, you ought to, seeing you have been keeping me running my
legs off twenty-four and a half hours out of every day."

"You have been pretty busy, that is a fact. But you had better
start in today. You have plenty of time this afternoon to attend
to that work."

"What shall I tell them?"

"Oh, tell them a funny story. Make them laugh, and they will do
the rest."

"But I don't know any funny stories."

"Tell them the story of your life as a circus boy. That will be
funny enough to make a hyena laugh."

"Ho, ho!" exploded Teddy. "It is a joke. He who laughs first
laughs last."

"You mean 'he who laughs last laughs best,'" corrected Phil,
smiling broadly.

"Well, maybe. Something of the sort," grinned the Circus Boy.

"And look here, Teddy!"


"Have you written to Mr. Sparling yet, as he requested you
to do?"


"And why not?"

"Same reason."

"You must write to him every day, no matter how busy you are.
Sit up a little later every night; go without a meal if
necessary, but follow his directions implicitly."

"Implicitly," mocked Teddy.

However, Mr. Sparling was not without news of what had been
going on on Car Three. Billy Conley had written fully of
Phil Forrest's brilliant exploits. After one of these letters,
Mr. Sparling wrote Conley, as follows:

"Those boys will never tell me when they do anything worthwhile.
It isn't like Phil to talk about his own achievements. So you
write me anything of this sort you think I would like to know.
I do not mean you are to act as a spy, or anything of the sort.
Just write me the things you think they will not write about."

Bill understood and faithfully followed out his
employer's directions. Mr. Sparling proudly showed
Conley's letters to all of his associates back with
the show, where there was much rejoicing, for everyone
liked Phil; not only liked but held him in sincere
admiration for his many good qualities.

That evening, however, Teddy sat down at the typewriter and
laboriously hammered out a letter to his employer.

"Hang the thing!" he growled. "I wish I had only one finger."

"Why? That's a funny wish," laughed Phil. "Why do you
wish that?"

"Because all the rest of them get in the way when I try to run
a typewriter."

"I am afraid you never would make a piano player, Teddy."

"I don't want to be one. I would rather ride the
educated donkey. It's better exercise." Teddy then
proceeded with his letter. This is what he wrote:

"Dear Mr. Sparling:"

"Nothing has happened since you were here."

One of the lithographers had a fit in the dining room of the
contract hotel this morning (I don't blame him, do you?) and they
hauled him out by the feet. We run amuck with another advance
car, the other day, but nobody got into a fight. I thought rival
cars always--excuse the typewriter, it doesn't know any better--
got into a fight when they met.

"One of the billposters fell off a barn--it was a hay barn,
I think. I am not sure. I'll ask Phil before I finish
this letter. Let me see, what happened to him? Oh, yes,
I remember. He broke his arm off and we left him in a
hospital back at Aberdeen. Phil let one of the banner men
go this morning. The fellow had false teeth and couldn't
hold tacks in his mouth. I tell him it would be a good plan
to examine the teeth of all these banner men fellows before
he joins them out, just the same as you would when you're
buying a horse. Don't you think so?"

"By the way, I almost forgot to tell you. We ran over a
switchman in the night last night. I don't think it hurt the
car any."

"Well, good-bye. I'll write again when there is some news.
How's January? Wish I was back, riding him in the ring.
Expect I'll have an awful time with him when I start in again.
Don't feed him any oats, and keep him off the fresh grass.
I don't want him to get a fat stomach, because I can't get
my legs under him to hold on when he bucks."

"Well, good-bye again. Love to all the boys."

"Your friend,"

"Teddy Tucker."

"P. S. Did I tell you we killed the switchman? Well, we did.
He's dead. He's switched off for keeps."

"T. T."

"P. S. Yes, Phil says it was a hay barn that the billposter fell
off from. Wouldn't it be a good plan to furnish those fellows
with nets? Billposters are scarce and we can't afford to lose
any good ones."

"T. T."



"More trouble," announced Teddy, one morning a few days later,
when the boys awoke in Lawrence, Kansas.

"What's the trouble now, Old Calamity?" demanded Phil, who was
washing his face and hands.

Contrary to his usual practice, he had not looked
from his stateroom window immediately upon getting up.
Teddy had, however. His eyes grew a little larger as
he did so, but otherwise the sight that met them did
not disturb his equanimity in the least.

"The usual."

"What do you mean? Have we run over another man?"

"Worse than that."

"You are getting to be a regular calamity howler."

"I'm a showman, I am. I keep my eyes open and I know what's
going on about me. That's more than you can say for some people
not more than a million miles away."

"All right; I will take that for granted. But tell me what it is
that is disturbing you so early in the morning?" questioned Phil
with a short laugh.

"We're all surrounded," answered Teddy grimly.



"I don't understand."

"You will, pretty soon."

"Surrounded by what?"



"What's the matter, can't you hear this morning?"

"I hear very well, but I don't understand what you mean when you
say we are surrounded by opposition. It strikes me we have been
surrounded by nothing else since we took charge of Car Three."

Teddy nodded.

"Yep, that's right. But this is different. On our left, if
you will observe closely, you will notice the canary yellow
of Car Three of the so-called Greatest Show on Earth. On your
right, if you still keep your eyes open and look hard, you will
discover the flaming red of the Wallace advance car. And--"


"And, as I was saying, if that fails to make an impression on
you, a glance to the rear will discover to your feeble eyesight,
one John Robinson's publicity car."

Having delivered himself of this monologue, Teddy calmly sat down
and began to draw on his trousers, yawning broadly as he did so.

"Methinks, milord, that trouble is brewing in bucketfuls,"
he added.

Phil sprang to the car window, threw up the shade and peered out.
He stepped to the other side of the car, looking from the
window there.

"You're right."

"Of course I am right. I'm always right. How does it happen you
did not discover all this after we got in last night!"

"They were not here then. They must have come in afterwards."

Dashing out into the main part of the car Phil called the men.

"Wake up, fellows!"

"What's up," called a voice.

"The yards are full of opposition. Three advertising cars are
here besides our own."

No other urging was necessary to get the crew out of bed.
They came tumbling from their upper berths like as many
firemen upon a sudden alarm. All hands ran to the windows
and peered out.

"Sure enough, they are all here," shouted Conley. "I reckon they
have caught us napping this time."

"No; they are not awake yet. I hope they sleep as well as Bob
Tripp's crew did," answered Phil. "But we have a big job before
us today. You had better hustle through your breakfasts, boys.
I will call up the livery and get the country routes off at once.
Perhaps we can get ahead of the other fellows."

Phil did so, but as his teams drove up another set swung over the
tracks, pulling up before the canary car.

"Hustle it! Hustle it!" cried Phil. "You drivers, if you get
out ahead of the others and keep ahead, you'll get a bonus when
you come in tonight."

Each side was now striving to get away first. The crew from the
canary car made the getaway ahead of Phil's men, but they had
less than a minute's headway.

The Circus Boys had their coats off and were hustling cans of
paste over the side of the car into the wagons. Every move on
their part counted. There was not a particle of lost motion.

Phil sprang into the first wagon to leave.

"Come on, fellows! Never mind the horses. I can buy more, if
these break their necks."

With a rattle and a bang both rigs smashed over the tracks,
and were on their way down the village street, each team on
a runaway gallop. Phil's team was gaining gradually.

"Hang on to the cans!" shouted the Circus Boy. "We are coming to
a bad crosswalk!"

People paused on the street, not understanding what the mad
pace meant. A policeman ran out and raised his stick.
Teddy, who had hopped on behind at the last minute, not wishing
to lose any of the fun, now stood up unsteadily, hanging to the
driver's coat collar and nearly pulling that worthy from
his seat.

They overhauled the first wagon from the canary car and
passed it.

"Ye--ow!" howled Teddy as their wagon swept by. "This is a Wild
West outfit!"

The paste cans in the two wagons were dancing a jig by this time.
Teddy suddenly lost his grip on the driver's collar, sitting down
heavily on the nearest can. At that moment they struck the rough
crossing, whereat Teddy shot up into the air, landing in a heap
by the side of the road.

"Whoa!" commanded Phil, at the same time jumping on the can to
keep it from following in the wake of Teddy.

"Go on!" howled Teddy, partially righting himself.

The driver urged his horses on and the team sprang away with
loud snorts. But the rival wagon had taken a fresh start,
and was drawing up on the Sparling outfit, the rear team,
with lowered heads, appearing to be running away.

These horses struck the crosswalk with a mighty crash. The rear
wheels slewed. The big can of paste was catapulted over a fence,
narrowly missing Teddy Tucker's head as it shot over him.
He flattened himself on the ground, but was up like a flash,
sprinting out of harm's way.

There was reason for his last action. Other things were coming
his way. As the wheels of the rival wagon slewed, they struck
a gutter.

The wagon turned turtle, and men, paste brushes, paper and all
were scattered all over the place.

"Oh, that's too bad!" muttered Phil. "But we can do nothing
for them if we stop. There are plenty back there to
lend assistance."

His tender heart told him to go back, whether he could be of
service to his rival or not, but his duty lay plain before him.
He must outdistance the enemy.

A second team came plunging down the road from the canary car,
close behind the unfortunate wagon. These horses, too, were
instantly mixed in the wreck. The wagon did not turn turtle as
the one before it had done, but one of the horses went down.

Now came other wagons of the Sparling outfit. They were running
two abreast in the road. But the drivers saw the obstruction in
time, slowed down and dodged it. They were off at a tremendous
speed, and a few moments later branched off on different roads,
quickly disappearing in a cloud of dust.

Phil's wagon crew discovered a farm barn just ahead of them.
They drove up to it on a run. All hands piled out. And how they
did work! In a few moments the old barn was a blaze of color.

"First blood for the Sparling Combined Shows!" shouted the boy.
"Now hit the trail for all you are worth!"

They were off again. A cloud of dust to their rear told them
that one of their rival's wagons was after them. At the next
stop the pursuing wagon rolled by them, the men
yelling derisively.

"It is the Wallace Show's crowd!" shouted Phil.
"Get after them."

The Wallace people went on half a mile further. As Phil drew
up on them he shouted to his driver to go on to the next stop.
When they made it finally, they were passed by the crew from
the canary advance car.

It was give and take. Such billing never had been seen along the
Kansas highway before. But, up to the present moment, the
Sparling crew had much the best of it.

"This won't do, boys; I have got to get back. I have no
business here. Keep this right up. Don't lag for an instant.
Is there a town near here?"

The driver informed Phil that there was one about a mile ahead
of them.

Phil rode on until he reached it. Here he jumped out, taking a
bundle of paper with him, ordering his men to drive on. With him
he carried a bucket of paste and a brush.

Phil went to work like a seasoned billposter, plastering every
old stable and tight board fence in the village. By the time
the rival crews drove in there was little space left for them,
and such spots as were left were all on back or side streets.

"I guess they will know we have been here," decided Phil. "Now I
must find a way to get back to the car."

Inquiring at the post office he learned where he might be able to
hire a rig.

Losing not a minute the boy hunted up the man who owned the
horse, and, by offering to pay him about twice what the service
was worth, got the fellow to take him back.

The journey back to town was executed in almost as good time as
that which Phil had made in driving out. The rig rattled into
town at a gallop, and Phil was landed on his car again, safe and
sound after his exciting rides.

"Did you beat them," cried Teddy, as Phil drove up.

"We did and we didn't. But we have got the start of them on
the billing. Were any of the other men hurt?"

"One of the canary bird crowd got a broken arm. The others were
pretty well bruised up, but they are still in the ring."

"What is doing in the town?"

"I sent our men out to square the locations. Told them not to
put up any paper, but to hustle the squaring."

"Good for you, Teddy! You are a winner. Where did you learn
that trick?"

"Oh, it's a little trick I picked up the other day. I'm a
professional publicity man, you know."

"Are our opposition friends doing the same thing?"

"I think not. I got the start of them by fully an hour.
Worked the same game on them that we did on Tripp the
other day. You remember?"

Phil nodded. Indeed, he did remember.

"The men were so excited over the race that they couldn't spend
time to attend to business. I got a pretty good bump, but I
thought it was a good time to get back in the town and hustle
our fellows, seeing that you had hit the long trail. I didn't
expect you back before the middle of next week, the rate you
were going."

Phil laughed good-naturedly.

"You remain here and watch the car, Teddy. I am going to run
over town. Had your breakfast?"

"Say, I forgot all about that. I haven't had a thing."

"Your appetite will keep. I must look around a little.
Something may be going on that needs attention from our side."

Phil had reason, a few minutes later, to be thankful that his
instinct had prompted him to hurry over town.



"The Robinson people, at least, have got to work," muttered the
Circus Boy as he made his way downtown. Here and there, at rare
intervals, he came across a window bill of the show mentioned.

There were blocks of windows, however, with no billing in them.
Phil interpreted this to mean that his own men had secured the
requisite permission to place their own bills there.

He smiled as he thought of the little trick. It was an idea
of his own to square locations ahead of the lithographers.
Ordinarily, the lithographer made his rounds with a bundle of
bills on his arm. Entering a store he would say, "May I place
this bill in your window?" Phil had adopted the plan of sending
the men around first. After they had obtained the signed
permission they would go back over the same ground and place
the bills. This took a little more time, but it had the merit
of fooling his rivals and getting many more places squared than
could have been done in the old way.

Suddenly a great wall loomed ahead of him.

Phil paused and surveyed it critically.

"Wouldn't I like to fasten Sparling banners all over that
place, though. What a hit that would be. Why," he added
looking about him, "it could be seen pretty much all
over town."

Phil started on, intending to find out who owned the building.
As he did so he saw a man from the canary-colored car entering
the building. The man was going into a store on the
ground floor.

"I'll bet he is after that very wall. Oh, pshaw! Why didn't I
stay in town and attend to my business, as I should have done,
instead of racing over the country at that mad pace? I'm going
over to see what he is up to."

The Circus Boy hurried along. Entering the store he saw the
man from the rival car, who proved to be the manager of it,
engaged in earnest conversation with a man whom Phil supposed
to be the proprietor.

After a little the manager of the other car hurried out.
Phil stepped forward.

"Are you the proprietor?" he asked politely.

"Yes; what can I do for you?"

"Do you own this building?"

"No, but I am the agent for it."

"Very good. You are the man I want to talk with. I am from the
Sparling Shows. I should like the privilege of fastening some
banners on that south wall there."

"You're too late, young man. I just gave the other man
permission to do that."

"Did he pay you?" asked Phil sweetly.


"Did you sign a contract with him?"


"May I ask how much he is to give you for the privilege?"

"Twenty-five dollars."

"He ought to be ashamed to offer you such a mean figure as that
for such a privilege."

The proprietor grew interested.

"Where has he gone?"

"Said he had to talk with someone back with the show by long
distance telephone before he could close the bargain."

Phil glanced apprehensively at the door.

"I guess you had better sell the privilege to me while you have
the chance. He may not come back, you know; then you will be out
all around."

"I couldn't think of it. I gave him the privilege of buying
the wall."

"Money talks, doesn't it, sir?"

"It does, young man. It always makes such a loud noise around me
that I can't hear much of anything else."

Phil grinned.

"Yes; it's pretty noisy stuff."

The lad calmly drew a big roll of bills from his pocket, placing
it on the counter before the storekeeper. To the pile he added
his watch, a jackknife, a bunch of keys and a silver matchbox.

"Help yourself," he begged calmly.

"Wha--what?" gasped the storekeeper.

"I said help yourself. I want that wall. I leave it to you to
say what is a reasonable price for it--a price fair to you and
to me. You admit that money talks. This money is addressing
its remarks to you direct, at this very moment."

The proprietor hesitated, glanced at the money and other articles
that Phil had arrayed so temptingly before him, and turned
reflectively facing the rear of the store.

"I will scribble off a little contract," said Phil softly.
"How much shall we make the consideration?"

"What'll you give?"

"I've got him!" was Phil Forrest's triumphant thought, but he
allowed none of his triumphant feeling to appear in his face.

"Well, were I making the offer I should say the wall was worth
about forty dollars, no other bills to appear on it until
after my show has left town. But I told you to help yourself.
I'll stick to my word."

"Count me out forty dollars and take it. I like your style.
Your way of doing business makes a hit with me."

Phil inserted the agreed-upon price in the contract.

"Just sign your name there, please," he said, still in that soft,
persuasive voice.

The storekeeper read the brief contract through, nodded
approvingly, then affixed his signature with the fountain pen
that Phil had handed to him.

This done, the lad counted out forty dollars, stowed the rest
away in his pockets, together with his other belongings, then
extended his hand cordially to the proprietor.

"Thank you very much," murmured Phil, his face all aglow now.

"You're welcome. When do you put up your bills?"

"At once. We leave town tonight, and we have a lot of work to
do first."

"Let's see; were you one of the fellows mixed up in that race
this morning?"

Phil blushed.

"I am afraid I was very much mixed up in it.
Well, good afternoon."

The lad turned and started for the door. At that moment
someone entered. It was the manager of the canary car.

"It's all right. I'll take the location," he announced, smiling
broadly, as he walked rapidly to where the proprietor was
standing, laying two tens and a five-dollar bill on the counter.

"I--I'm sorry," stammered the storekeeper, flushing. "I have
just sold it to another party."

"Sold it!"

The manager's face went several shades paler.


"To--to whom?"

"To that young gentleman there."

The manager whirled and faced Phil.

"Who--who are you?"

"My name is Forrest," answered Phil, smiling easily. He could
well afford to smile.

"And you--you have bought this location?"

"I have."

"Whom do you represent?"

"The Sparling Combined Shows."

The Circus Boy's rival flushed angrily.

"I demand that the location be turned over to me instantly!
It belongs to me, and I'll have it if I have to fight for it.
Here's my money, Mr. Storekeeper. I command you to make out
a paper giving me the right to bill that wall."

"I do not think he will do anything of the sort, my dear sir,"
spoke up Phil. "I have bought and paid for the location and
I propose to hold it. You had no more right to it than any
other man. You did not have the nerve to put down your money
for it when you had the chance, and you lost your opportunity.
You will see the wall covered with Sparling banners in a very
short time."

"I will not!"

"Be on your way, my man. Let me tell you the Sparling banners
are going up."

"There's my money!" shouted the manager of the canary
colored car. "The wall is _mine!_"

He dashed out of the store and started for his car on the run.

"If you let those other showmen banner the wall I'll have
the law on you!" announced Phil sternly. Then the Circus
Boy ran out of the store, starting off at a lively sprint
for his own car. He caught up with the rival manager in
a moment, passed him and bounded on. His rival already
was puffing and perspiring under the unusual effort.

"Turn out every man in town!" he called, dashing into the car.
"Teddy, run to the main street and send everyone of our banner
men and lithographers to the Ward Building. You and Henry carry
over there at once all the banners you can scrape together.
Do not lose a minute. But wait! I'll telephone the liveryman
for a wagon to carry the paper, brushes and paste pots over.
You remain here, Henry, and go with the wagon. Teddy, you
hustle for the men. Run as if the Rhino from the Sparling
menagerie were charging you!"

Teddy leaped from the car platform and was off, with Phil
sprinting after him in long strides.

They passed the manager of the canary colored car just as they
were running across the switches in the railroad yard. He was
only then getting to his car.



Phil's plans were formed instantly.

He ran to a place where he had seen a painter's sign earlier
in the day. Reaching there he ordered the painter to send out
to the Ward Building a gang of painters with their swinging
platform, tackle and full equipment, telling the man briefly
what was wanted of him after the apparatus reached the building
in question.

"Now hurry it, and I'll double the price you ask if you get there
and do the work I am asking of you."

The painter needed no further inducement. Once again money made
its announcement in unmistakable tones.

Phil again started off on a run. Reaching the Ward Building he
found his banner men and lithographers gathering. A few moments
after his arrival the livery wagon with the paste, brushes and
paper, came dashing up with Henry, the porter, standing guard
over it. Teddy had thoughtfully turned out all the available men
in the livery stable and came charging down the street, driving
them before him, howling at every jump. That is, Teddy was
howling; as he did whenever the occasion presented itself.

By this time quite a crowd had been attracted to the scene,
not understanding what all the excitement was about. None of
the rival posters had appeared as yet. Phil had got a very
good start.

Telling off three of his banner men he sent them to the roof,
while the painter was preparing to swing his scaffold.

"I am afraid I shall have to block your store for a short time,
Mr. Storekeeper," said Phil, entering the store. "Our friend is
going to try to take the place by storm, I think, and we shall
have to stand him off."

"He had better not try it," growled the proprietor.

"He will, just the same. But, with your permission, he will not
get upstairs to the roof while I am here."

"Do whatever you like. I've got his money, but it's here for him
when he wants it."

Phil, having arranged with the proprietor, went out and gave his
final instructions to his men.

"You are not to let a man through here unless with my
permission," he said. "I am going up to the roof. If anything
occurs, call me at once. Teddy, I leave the front of the store
in your hands while I am away. There is trouble brewing. I feel
it in my bones."

"Yes; trouble for the other fellow," grinned Teddy.

In a very short time the painters had succeeded in swinging their
scaffold over the roof. An interested crowd was watching the
proceeding from the street.

The banner men climbed down on the swinging platform, and, as if
by magic, the Sparling banners began appearing on the big wall.

About this time shouting down in the street drew the attention of
Phil Forrest. Stepping to the edge of the roof he looked down.
A crowd was pressing his men back.

In the lead was the manager of the canary car.

"Drive them off!" roared Phil. "Don't let them get by you!"

"We will!" shrieked Teddy Tucker, now in his element.

Phil turned and hurried down the ladder to the upper floor, then
took the stairs in a series of jumps until he had reached the
ground floor.

Teddy Tucker had proved himself a real general. He had armed his
forces with paste brushes, which he had first thoroughly soaked
in the sticky paste pots.

Teddy was dancing up and down the line.

"Paste them, fellows!" he roared. "Paste them good and proper.
We'll stick them to the walls when we get them properly daubed!"

With a yell the Sparling crowd began wielding the paste brushes.
They wielded them effectively, too. Every sweep of the brushes
found a human mark.

Shouts of rage followed the onslaught, above which could be heard
the voice of the manager of the canary car, urging the crowd on
to violence.

Phil came dashing out.

"Drive them back!" he shouted. "But be careful that you do not
hurt anybody. Keep your heads, men!"

"Look out--the police are coming!" shouted a voice.

"Never mind the police! Give it to them!" cried the rival.

A squad of bluecoats came charging down the street.

"Steady, fellows! Don't do anything that will cause the police
to take you in," cautioned Phil.

The crowd in front gave way as the police charged in; and, as
they did so, the Circus Boy pushed his way to the front of his
own line.

A sergeant made for him with upraised club, but Phil did
not flinch.

"Wait a minute, officer!" he cautioned.

"I arrest you for disturbing the peace!" was the stern reply.

"You will do nothing of the sort, sir. We have not broken
the peace. We are within our rights, protecting our own
property and the property of this gentleman," pointing to
the proprietor of the store.

"Arrest them! They are stealing my property!" came the cry from
the rival manager.

"I guess you had better both come over to the police station, and
we will let the captain settle this," decided the sergeant.

"Wait!" commanded the rival. "I have here an injunction
commanding this fellow to stop work. I have bought the right to
banner this location, and he has stepped in and taken it away
from me."

"Is this right?" demanded the sergeant, appealing to the
storekeeper, whom he knew well.

"No, it's all wrong. That man has bought nothing. He left
his money on my counter after I had sold my wall to this
young man here."

"Is this right?" repeated the sergeant turning to Phil.

"I am inclined to think it is. If that man has obtained an
injunction, he has done so by false representation. Here is my
contract, properly signed, giving us the right to put up our
banners, and that is exactly what we are going to do in spite of
all the police in the state. You can't stop us. You had better
not try."

The sergeant glanced over the paper and scratched his head.
He was at a loss what to do. At that moment a lieutenant came
running up, demanding to know what the trouble was about.

The sergeant explained, handing the contract to his superior.
After perusing it, the lieutenant passed the paper back to Phil.

"You can't stop this man as long as he is not disturbing
the peace. That fellow's injunction is not worth the paper
it is written on. This is a contract as plain as the nose
on your face."

"That is the way it strikes me," answered Phil, with a
pleasant smile.

"Disperse the crowd. Keep half a dozen men on duty here, and, if
there is any further disturbance, lock them all up."

"Thank you," said Phil, edging near the lieutenant. "And, now
that the matter is all settled, if you will call at the Sparling
advance car this afternoon, at five o'clock, I shall be happy to
furnish you with tickets for yourself and family. That is not a
bribe, because we have got the matter all straightened out."

The lieutenant smiled.

"I'll do it," he said. "Five o'clock, you say?"


"Now, get out of here, the whole crowd of you. And you, young
fellow," indicating the manager of the canary rival, "if you
create any further disturbance in this town, you'll go to the
cooler, and stay there. Do you understand?"

The rival manager tried to protest, but the lieutenant started
for him.

"I want my money!" he shouted.

"Come and get it. I don't want your money."

"I told you that before," called the storekeeper.

"Go, get your money, and get out of here!" commanded
the lieutenant.

Crestfallen and now thoroughly subdued, the manager of the canary
car made his way through the crowd; his money was thrust into his
hands; then, calling upon his men to follow him, he hurried away.

"There, I guess we won't hear any more from our canary bird
friend today," decided Teddy, strutting about and throwing out
his chest.

"Not today, perhaps," answered Phil Forrest; "but I am thinking
we have not heard the last of him yet. We shall have to look
pretty sharply, or he will get the best of us yet. This is
a game that one person cannot expect to win at every day.
Boys, you may go back to your lithographing now. The police
will see that we are protected until we have finished bannering
this building."

Phil walked off half a block to survey the work going on high up
in the air.

"That location is worth five hundred dollars to any show,"
he mused. "And I got it for forty. Good job!"



The work was completed late that afternoon. The Sparling crowd
had got the best of their rivals in the window work as well.
Sparling show bills were everywhere.

But Phil was thoughtful. He did not like the methods he was
obliged to follow, yet he knew that it was a part of the
show business. He had the satisfaction, too, of knowing that
he had done nothing unfair. He had got the best of his rivals
by perfectly fair methods, and he would pursue no others, no
matter how badly he was beaten.

After making a round of the town, during which he had twice
passed the scowling manager of the canary car, Phil returned
to his own car, as there were frequently matters arising there
that needed his attention. He found a telegram awaiting him
from Mr. Sparling.

"The greatest work ever done by an advance car. I congratulate
you all. Keep it up," was what Phil read.

Phil rubbed his forehead in perplexity.

"Now, how in the world did he find out about this so soon, I
wonder?" questioned the boy. As a matter of fact, the manager of
the Robinson Show's car, who was a friend of Mr. Sparling, had
wired him of the day's doings. It was too good to keep, and then
again Mr. Sparling's friend was too delighted at the downfall of
Snowden, the man whom he thoroughly disliked, to be at all
jealous of Phil's triumph.

Phil went over to the yardmaster to find out what train he would
be able to go out on that night.

"We are going to send the whole bunch of you out on number 42,"
was the reply.

"What time does number 42 leave?"

"Half-past eleven."

"What do you mean by 'the bunch of us'?"

"All you advance car fellows. I have got to do that. That is
the only train through tonight. You will have to go on that or
wait until tomorrow morning."

"Very well; I do not know as I care whether my rivals go on the
same train or not. It would do me no good if I did object."

That night the unusual sight of four advance cars hooked together
was presented to those who chanced to be in the railroad yards
when number 42 pulled out of the station.

Car Three had been coupled up first, the others being hooked on
behind it, with the canary car at the rear.

"I am afraid we shall not cut a very big slice tomorrow, Teddy,"
said Phil after they had got under way.

"Why not?"

"What, with all those crews working against us? It will be a
case of three to one. Of course we shall do as much as any one
of them, and perhaps a little more, but we cannot expect any
great results."

"Maybe I can think of something," mused Teddy.

"I wish you might."

"What would you say to ditching the other fellows?" asked
Teddy innocently.

"Teddy Tucker, I am ashamed of you!" exclaimed Phil.

"Sometimes I am ashamed of myself, I am so easy. If it wasn't
for my tender heart, Phil, I would have been a great showman by
this time."

"Yes, it really is too bad about your tender heart. I--"

His words were cut short by a jolt that nearly threw the lads
from their chairs.

"Collision!" yelled Teddy. "Brace yourself!"

"Don't get excited," laughed Phil. "They have forgotten or
neglected to couple the airbrake pipes up. Someday one of
these crews will wreck us all. I have talked until I am tired.
You see there is air on the front end of this train, but these
show cars have not been coupled up with the air pipes of the
regular train. It is very bad business. I'll report it when
we get in tomorrow."

"Let me. I know how to do it up brown."

"No, I will attend to it myself."

"Say, Phil!"


"If the air was coupled on and the train broke in two in the
middle what would happen?"

"Why it would bring everything up standing. Breaking the air
circuit would set the brakes the entire length of the train."

"And if the air was not coupled up, what then?"

"In that event nothing would happen."

"The train wouldn't stop?"



"Why do you ask?"

"For information. What do you suppose I am asking for unless I
want to know."

Teddy relapsed into a moody silence.

"Why don't you go to bed?" Teddy asked after awhile, looking
up suddenly.

"I guess it would be a good idea," replied Phil. "We shall
have to get up rather early in the morning. I will set my
alarm for three o'clock. I have an idea some of the rival
crews will be up and out about that time. They won't be so
easily beaten tomorrow."

"Oh, I don't know," answered Teddy. "Maybe so and maybe not.
You can't most always sometimes tell."

"Aren't you going to turn in?" demanded Phil, beginning
to undress.

"No, not yet. I am not very sleepy tonight."

"You will be, in the morning, and you will not want to get up,"
cautioned Phil.

"I will take the chance."

Teddy picked up a book and settled himself to read.

Little conversation passed between them after that, and Phil,
tumbling into his berth, was soon asleep.

Teddy eyed him narrowly. He waited until his companion was
sleeping soundly; then Teddy got up and strolled out to the
rear platform. It was deserted. The trainmen did not come
back that far, because the doors of the show cars were kept
locked so they could not. Show people do not like strangers
about them.

Teddy lay down on the platform, peering down between the cars.

"No, no air is coupled on. They ought to be ashamed of
themselves," he muttered. "I guess they must have fixed it up
for me on purpose."

Teddy opened the door of Car Three softly, listened, then closed
it again. Next he leaned out and looked along the tracks, which
he could see fairly well, for the moon was now shining brightly.

"I guess there is no grade here." Stepping across to the
platform of the car to the rear of him, the boy partially set
the brake until he could feel it grinding on the wheels.

"Now, I think we are all ready," he muttered, as, stepping back
to the platform of his own car, he grasped the coupling lever
firmly with both hands, giving it a mighty tug.

At first it would not budge. The drawheads of the couplers of
the two cars were straining because of the drag of the brake that
he had but just set.

Teddy loosened the brake a little, then tried the coupling
lever again.

This time it swung over with a bang. The lad lost his balance
for an instant, and nearly went overboard.

"My, that was a close shave," he exclaimed, hanging desperately
to the platform railing, the wind blowing about him in a
perfect gale.

"Hello, I wonder what has become of our friends?" laughed the
Circus Boy to himself.

Teddy had uncoupled Car Three from the others in their rear, and
the cars of his rivals were dropping behind rapidly. He could
see the dim lights in the car nearest to him, but even these were
rapidly disappearing. A few minutes later as the train swept
around a bend, the rival advertising cars disappeared from sight.
Teddy knew that they would stop in a few minutes, and lie
there stalled.

Teddy Tucker had done a very serious thing, but in his zeal he
thought he had accomplished a great feat. Well satisfied with
his efforts the lad entered his own car softly, undressed in the
corridor and crept quietly to bed. In a very short time he was
snoring, sleeping the sleep of peace and innocence.

Teddy hardly moved again that night, until he was roused out by
Phil at three o'clock the next morning.

The lad grumbled sleepily and finally tumbled out rubbing
his eyes.

Phil stepped out to the rear platform before dressing, for a
breath of the fresh morning air.

"Why, Teddy!" he called through the open door.


"The opposition cars are not here. The other train must have
carried them on. I wonder if those fellows are stealing a march
on us?"

"Is that so?"

"Yes; come out and see for yourself."

Teddy stumbled out to the platform, gazed about sleepily and
looked solemn.

"No, not here," he said, turning back into the car.

Phil was worried. He could not imagine exactly what the plans of
his rivals might be.

"I will wire on to the next stand as soon as the telegraph office
opens, and find out if they are there," he decided.

In the meantime Teddy was taking his time about dressing, while
the men of the crew were hurrying into their clothes. Phil did
the same, then dropped from the car and walked about the yards,
rather expecting to find the cars of his rivals hidden behind
freight cars.

They were nowhere in sight.

"Well, it cannot be helped, even if we are beaten into the
next stand. This is a small place, but an important one.
I cannot afford to skip it, no matter if the other
fellows have."

Teddy went about his morning duties as usual, solemn faced
and silent, but there was a triumphant gleam in his eyes that
Phil Forrest as yet had failed to observe.

Phil was pacing up and down on the platform station, waiting
uneasily for the operator to appear. After making ready, the
men went off to breakfast, Teddy hanging about the car, busying
himself with trifling matters. The car seemed to hold an unusual
interest for him that morning.

At six o'clock the livery rigs drove up and the rural route men
were soon off for their day's work. Phil started the
lithographers and banner men out soon thereafter.

About that time the operator arrived; Phil wrote a message to
the liveryman at the next town, inquiring if his rivals had
reached there.

The answer came back that nothing had been seen of them.
They had not even passed through. The operator at the
other end said they were at Salina, where Phil's car was
at that moment.

This was a puzzler.

"I am afraid it will take a better railroad man than I am to
figure this problem out," mused Phil. "Hey, Teddy!"


"What do you suppose could have become of those other cars?"

"How should I know?"

"They were on this train last night, when we started, and
they have not arrived at the next stand yet. They surely
are not here."

"Maybe they got a hot journal and had to stop," suggested Teddy.

"Nonsense! Something has happened to them. However, it is not
my business to worry about my rivals. As long as I know they are
not ahead of me I shall not disturb myself. It is up to me to
improve the opportunity and bill this town from one end to the
other," decided Phil, starting off over town.

The work went on at a lively pace, Phil urging his men to greater
efforts, momentarily expecting to see the canary and red cars
come rolling into town.

But no cars came. The next train from the direction Phil had
come was not due until nearly noon, the road being a branch road
with little traffic over it.

After a time Phil strolled down to the railroad station.

"Any news?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the operator. "They have found the cars."


"It seems they broke away from the train during the night and lay
on the main track until morning. One of the crew walked back ten
miles to the next station to ask for an engine to pull them out.
They will be here on the next train."

"Funny the train crew did not discover that when they put us on
the siding here. I do not quite understand it yet?" Phil walked
slowly back to his own car, thinking deeply.



Teddy was sitting on the platform of Car Three narrowly watching
Phil as he approached.

"Anything doing?" he asked.


"What is it--have you heard from the opposition?"

"Yes. It seems their cars broke away from us during the night,
and lay all night on the main track miles from anywhere."

"You don't say!" exclaimed Teddy, in well feigned surprise.

"That is what happened. We are in luck this morning,
Teddy Tucker. I suppose I should be sorry for our rivals.
But it is the chance of war. We all have to take them in
the show business."

"We do," answered Teddy sagely. "At least the other fellow does.
When are they coming in?"

"About noon, I understand. I should think someone would lose his
job for that piece of carelessness. If it were my car that had
been laid out there would be trouble; I can assure you of that."

"Yes; I wouldn't stand for a mean trick like that myself."

Phil stroked his chin and surveyed Teddy thoughtfully. Light was
beginning to dawn upon him. All at once he recalled his
companion's questions about the air brake pipes the night before.

He fixed his gaze upon Teddy Tucker's scowling face.

"Young man, do you know anything about those cars breaking away?"
demanded Phil sternly.

"I understand they broke away--don't you know that the train
broke in two?"

"Yes," answered Phil dryly; "I have heard something to
that effect."

Phil stepped over to examine the coupling of his own car, Teddy
watching him furtively.

"What I want to know is how it happened," continued Phil.

"Why don't you ask the train crew? They ought to know."

"I'll ask you instead. You uncoupled those cars, didn't you?"

Teddy nodded slowly, his eyes on the ground.

"Is it possible that you did a thing like that?"

Teddy nodded again, demanding sullenly:

"Well, we beat 'em, didn't we?"

"Yes; but do you know what would happen, were it known what you
have done?"

"I'm easy. What would happen?" Teddy was rapidly assuming a
belligerent attitude.

"You would be arrested, and nothing could keep you from state's
prison, Teddy Tucker."

"Oh, fudge!"

"You may scoff all you will. It is the truth, nevertheless.
I should not be surprised if there were an investigation over
this affair--"

"And you'll go tell all you know, won't you?"

"Not unless I am put under oath. If I am, and am asked, I shall
have to tell the truth. I ought to sail in and give you a good
thrashing here and now."

"You can't do it!"

"Perhaps not, but I could try." A smile struggled to dissipate
the clouds on Phil's face. "Listen to me! Do you know that you
might have imperilled a great many lives by that foolish act of

"No. How?"

"In the first place, being cut loose from our train as they were,
they might have continued on, provided we were on a down or up
grade and--"

"We weren't. I looked to see," interjected Teddy.

"Oh, then you admit the charge. I am glad that you
have confessed."

"I haven't confessed!" shouted Teddy, his face growing very red.

"If you said that on trial it would be jail for you for some
years to come. To return to the subject under discussion, all
the men were asleep in those cars, or at least they were supposed
to be. Had there been another train over the road, last night,
the chances are that it would have run into those show cars
and killed every man in them, besides wrecking the train itself
and killing a lot more people. I am willing to take long chances
in the line of duty, but I should hope I never would commit a
crime in so doing. Let this be a warning to you, Teddy Tucker.
Never do a thing like this again. We will beat our rivals by all
fair means and we will stop there."

Phil paused, eyeing his companion sternly.

Teddy glanced up inquiringly.

"Is the sermon over?" he asked.

"I have no more advice to offer at the present moment. I hope
for your sake that the inquiry in this matter will not extend
to us. If it does, I feel sorry for you."

An inquiry did follow. It was stirred up most thoroughly by the
manager of the canary colored car. But, fortunately for Teddy
Tucker, no suspicion of the truth ever dawned upon the rival
manager, and the railroad got out of the scrape by disciplining
the train crew that had lost the three cars without knowing it.
However, the lesson was a wholesome one for Teddy, even though he
would not admit the fact. The lesson lasted him pretty nearly
all the rest of the season.

The three rival cars came rolling into the yards early in
the afternoon of that day. All hands were angry and ready
for trouble. Phil passed the time of day pleasantly with
his opponent of the previous day, but the manager of the
yellow car did not deign to make any reply to his greeting.

The hour was late before he was able to start his men out, and by
that time Phil's crew had pretty well covered the town and the
surrounding country, though the posters of the latter territory
had very long drives, and were not expected to return until very
long after dark.

Phil chafed under this, fearing that he would be obliged to miss
the last train out that night, which would again put him on the
same train with his rivals next day.

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