Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Grammar School Boys in Summer Athletics by H. Irving Hancock

Part 1 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


E-text prepared by Jim Ludwig

The Grammar School Boys in Summer Athletics

or, Dick & Co. Make Their Fame Secure

By H. Irving Hancock


I. A Jolt on a Quiet Day
II. The Vanishing Man
III. Dick Marches His Nine On
IV. The Story of the Uniforms
V. North Grammars Play Real Ball
VI. Setting With a Teaser
VII. Ted Teall Faces the Storm
VIII. Two Rivals Plan Dire Revenge
IX. Hi Martin Tries to Make Terms
X. "Babbling Butt-in"
XI. Ted Feels the Flare-Back
XII. The North Grammar Captain Grilled
XIII. "Big Injun---Heap Big Noise"
XIV. "Crazy as a Porous Plaster"
XV. Bluffing Up to the Bug Game
XVI. "Ted's Terrors" Full of Fight
XVII. Dodge and Ripley Hear Something
XVIII. Hi's Swimming Challenge
XIX. Dave Darrin Flashes Fire
XX. Arranging the Swimming Match
XXI. Old Dut Gives Wise Counsel
XXII. Hi Hears Something Elevating
XXIII. Who Won the Swimming Matches?
XXIV. Conclusion

Chapter I


"There's just one thing that I keep thinking about on a day like
this," Dave Darrin sighed contentedly.

"What's that?" Tom Reade wanted to know. "Supper?"

Darrin turned, favoring Reade with a flash of disgust from his
large, dark eyes.

"I'm still waiting for the information," insisted Tom after a
short pause.

"You may as well wait," retorted Dave. "You wouldn't understand
what I feel, anyway. Any fellow who can keep his mind on supper,
on a grand June day like this-----"

"I imagine that you'll keep your mind on the meal when you reach
the table," predicted Tom, grinning.

"That'll be time enough," Dave rejoined. "But I'm not going to
profane the woods, on a perfect June day, by thinking of kitchen

"Say, aren't you feeling well?" asked Tom gravely.

"That's just the point, I guess," broke in Dick Prescott, with
a light laugh. "Dave is feeling so extremely well and happy-----"

"Now, you're shouting," Darrin assented. "But it's no use for
poor Reade to ponder over the glories of nature. All he can think
of is the region bounded by his belt."

"Glories of nature?" repeated Reade. "If that's what you're talking
about, why didn't you announce your subject earlier? Yes, sir;
nature is at her greenest best to-day. Just look off through
that line of trees, and see how the light breeze moves the tops
in that field of young corn, and-----"

"Corn?" flared Dave. "Something to eat, of course! Tom, you're
hopeless when it comes to the finer things of life. You ought
to have been born in a pen, close to a well-filled trough. Corn,

"This country would probably be bankrupt if there were no corn
crop, and you'd be digging hard for a living, instead of being
a lazy schoolboy," retorted Reade, with an indulgent smile. "Let
me see; how many hundred million dollars did Old Dut tell us the
annual corn crop brings in wealth to this country?"

All of the other boys, save Dave, glanced at Tom, but all shook
their heads. Statistics do not mix well in a Grammar School boy's

"Oh, well, it was a lot of money, anyway," Tom pursued his subject.
"I wouldn't mind having all the money that the American corn
crop brings."

"So you could buy the fanciest kinds of food, I suppose?" jeered
Dave Darrin.

"Never mind, Darry; if I had a lot of money I'd buy you the biggest
and softest mattress I could find, so that you'd have nothing
to do but lie off by yourself, look up at the green leaves and
dream your summers away. That lying on your back and looking
up at the sky is what you call reverie, isn't it?"

"Quit your kidding!" ordered Dave.

"Is it reverie?" asked Harry Hazelton, "or just plain laziness
that ails Dave?"

"Laziness, of course," laughed Tom. "Dave, I guess Harry has
more sense in naming things than any of us. Yes; that's it!
And Dick thought it was merely poetic temperament."

"Temperament? What's that?" grinned Dan Dalzell. "Is that what
you get in June by adding up the column of figures in the thermometer?"

To signify his lack of interest in the talk, Darrin rolled over
on his side, turning his gaze away from the other boys. In another
minute Dave's eyes were closed, his lips open and his breath coming
regularly and audibly.

Such was the droning effect of the warm June breezes on this glorious

"Give Dave the chorus of 'He Was the Sleepiest Boy,'" whispered
Greg to the others. "Put a lot of steam into every line!"

At a sign from young Holmes the drowsy chorus rolled out, punctuated
by timely yawns.

Darry rolled over, yawning, too, an easy-going smile on his face.

"Greg," he charged, "I'm certain that you put the crowd up to
that outrage. When I summon up energy enough I'm going to thrash

"All right," agreed Greg, "I'll take boxing lessons within a year
or two, so as to be prepared for you."

"I wish this were to-morrow afternoon," grumbled Harry Hazelton.

"I'm glad it's to-day," sighed Dave easily.

"But to-morrow will be Monday, and we can play baseball."

"And just because to-morrow will be Monday," retorted Dave, "Old
Dut will expect us to bring in those fifteen examples in insurance."

"We'll be all past that, by afternoon," Dan broke in. "Then,
as soon as the bell rings to dismiss school, we'll all pile outside
and have a ripping practice on the diamond."

"Yes; we'll have to get a lot of practice," Dick assented. "Otherwise,
you know, the North Grammar will just wipe up the field with us
Wednesday afternoon."

"The North Grammar!" sniffed Greg scornfully. "Hi Martin's crowd?

"Those North Grammar boys have been practising," Dick insisted.
"Hard work is what tells in athletics."

"Well, hang it, didn't you keep us running all through the spring?"
demanded Dalzell. "Didn't you say that would put us away at the
top in Grammar School baseball?"

"It will help us a long way," assented Dick. "Yet it won't do
everything. Each of us has to be as nearly perfect as possible
in the position that he has to play. That's why we really need
a lot more practice than we've had on the real field."

"The worst of it is" suggested Tom, "that we've got all of the
best players in the school on our regular nine, and the scrub
nine isn't made up of fellows who can really give us any work."

"Don't croak, Dick," begged Dave. "This day is too perfect to
have it spoiled by any calamity howling."

Presently Darrin rolled over on his side once more. Greg took
a peep, became suspicious, and started to hum:

"He was the Sleepiest Boy."

Smack! came a small sod, with which Dave had slyly provided himself
in advance.

"Ugh! Gr-r-r-r!" sputtered young Holmes, leaping to his feet
and spitting out the stuff from his mouth. It was mostly the
grass side of the sod that had struck his teeth, but a little
of the loam had gone in with it.

"Good enough for me, I suppose," grimaced Greg, seating himself
once more when he had cleaned his mouth fairly well. Dave, who
had turned over to grin at Greg, soon rolled back to his old posture
on the grass.

Greg, however, was not disposed to let the matter pass as easily
as the others imagined. Shortly Holmesy jumped astride of Dave
and rolled that youth over on to his back.

"I didn't eat all of the sod," young Holmes announced. "You may
have the rest, Darry. How does it taste?"

Dave shut his mouth tightly, but Greg held his nostrils. The
instant that Darrin opened his mouth for air Holmes rammed in
the piece of sod. Then he jumped up, retreating.

It was now Dave's turn to jump up and work vigorously getting
the stuff out of his month.

"Tastes immense, doesn't it, Dave?" called Holmes tantalizingly.

No answer in words came from Darrin, but he suddenly wheeled,
charging straight at Greg. Doubtless the latter would have gotten
out of the way safely, but that Dick thrust out a foot, tripping
Dave as he bounded by.

Darrin came down upon his knees. The hotheaded youth was now
very close to being angry in earnest.

"Hold up, Dave!" Prescott advised. "You started it, you know.
You will have to show that a joke is just as funny whether it's
going or coming."

"That's right, old chap," agreed Dave, halting and beginning to
cool. "Greg, come here and shake hands."

"You shake hands with Tom," Holmes retorted suspiciously. "I
appoint Tom my substitute, with full powers."

"I'd sooner fight Tom than you," mused Dave, gazing down at Reade,
who did not appear to be very much disturbed. "Tom is the fellow
who's always bringing his appetite along on the finest days that
heaven has sent us."

Dick Prescott lazily drew out his watch and glanced at it. Then
he rose, remarking:

"You may stay here and get all the comfort you can out of nature,
Dave. But it's half past five and I guess the rest of us will
want to be nearer to the source of kitchen odors."

"Whew! If it's any such time as that I'm going to move fast,"
cried Harry Hazelton, leaping to his feet. "At our house supper
is on at six o'clock, and anyone who gets in late has to take
what's left."

"Are your folks so poor as that?" laughed Tom.

"Hardly," returned Harry. "But both dad and mother are sticklers
for everyone being in his seat on time."

By this time five of the chums had started across the broad, sunny
field toward the rather dusty road.

"Coming, Dave?" Dick called, looking back.

"Oh, yes," grunted Darrin. "But I hate to see all of you fellows
running as though you didn't know whether you'd ever get another

"I wonder what is Dave's sudden grouch against the eats," Tom
mused aloud. "I've seen him at a few meals, and he was always
a clever performer."

"Probably Dave has been eating too much for this time of the year,
and has a touch of indigestion," Greg laughed.

Darrin overheard the discussion as he came along, but he did not
choose to enlighten his friends. However, unintentionally, Greg
had touched upon a part of the trouble. Dinner, that Sunday,
at the Darrin cottage, had been unusually tempting, and Dave had
eaten heavily. For that reason, when he had joined the crowd
in the early afternoon, Dave had felt just a bit sluggish. The
walk out into the country had roused his digestion a bit, and
had left him in just that state where he could contentedly lie
on the grass and doze half of the time.

On this bright Sunday all six of our Grammar School boys had attended
church and Sunday school as usual. Then, the day being so fine,
they had met and gone away on this tramp, which had ended in a
"resting match" on the cool grass under the shade of trees.

All of our readers are familiar with these six fine American boys.
Our readers were first introduced to Dick & Co., as Prescott
and his chums were locally known, in the first volume in this
series, "_The Grammar School Boys Of Gridley_." Therein the reader
made the acquaintance of six average American boys of thirteen,
and followed them through their sports and adventures---which
latter were many and startling indeed.

In the second volume of the series, "_The Grammar School Boys
Snowbound_," the same six were shown at winter sports just before
Christmas. The detection, on Main Street, of a trio of Christmas
shopping thieves led to a long chain of rousing adventures. Right
after Christmas, Dick & Co., securing permission from their parents,
went for a few days of forest camping in an old log cabin of which
they had been given the use. Another phase of their adventure
with the shopping district thieveries turned up in the woods and
contributed greatly to the excitement of their experience. While
still camping in the old, but weather-proof cabin, the Grammar
School boys found themselves snowbound in one of the greatest
blizzards that had happened in that section in years. Being
hardy boys from much outdoor life, however, Dick & Co., as our
readers know, turned hardship into jolly fun, and incidentally
made a great discovery in the woods that turned their camping
expedition into the local sensation of the hour. The reader also
remembers how some of the poorer specimens of High School boys
and a few local young "toughs," under the leadership of Fred Ripley
and Bert Dodge, tried to drive them from their forest camp.

In the third volume of the series, "_The Grammar School Boys In
The Woods_," Dick Prescott and his chums, each now fourteen years
of age, found the most startling of all the exciting happenings
that had been crowded into their short lives. How they came upon
two dangerous, tattered specimens of humanity in the woods, how
these two contrived to make Dick and Greg take unwilling part
in an attempt to rob one of the local banks, the mystery of the
haunted schoolhouse, and a host of other lively incidents---all
these are so familiar to the reader of these volumes as to need
no repetition. And Dick & Co., through the series of exciting
adventures they had encountered, had become the best-known boys
in and around the little city of Gridley. Being leaders of other
boys, they had naturally made some enemies, but that is to be
expected in the case of all who are born to lead, or who fit themselves
for leadership.

And now, on this glorious June Sunday afternoon, we find our schoolboy
friends enjoying the sacred day quietly, yet looking forward to
the opening of the contests on the diamond between the three local
Grammar Schools, the North, Central, and South Grammars.

The road they had chosen on this Sunday afternoon was one over
which they had seldom traveled. It was not the road to Norton's
Woods, to the great forest, nor yet the one that went by the "haunted
schoolhouse." It was in a wholly different direction from Gridley.

"It's a long way home, this," complained Tom Reade, as the boys
plodded along the dusty highway. "And I'm hungry."

"Hungry?" snorted Darrin. "Of course you are. You fellows sang
a verse to me a while ago. Tom, how do you and your fellow-porkers
like this lay?"

Taking a deep breath, Dave started to sing a travesty, to the
air of "America."

_"My stomach, 'tis of thee,
Sweet gland of gluttony,
To thee I sing! Gland---"_

"Stop it," ordered Tom threateningly, as he advanced upon Darrin.

"Stings, does it?" inquired Dave sarcastically.

"Yes, it does," Reade retorted bluntly. "To my mind 'America'
is as sacred as any hymn ever written, and I won't hear it guyed!
That's no decent occupation for an American boy."

"That's right," nodded Greg Holmes.

"Well, I won't yield to any of you in being American to the backbone,"
Dave retorted hotly.

"Prove it," said Tom more quietly.

"I'll prove it by my whole life, if need be," Darrin went on warmly.
"Tom Reade, I'll be glad to meet you when we're sixty years old,
talk it all over and see who has been the better American through

"Great!" laughed Dick Prescott approvingly. "That'll be a fine
time to settle the question. And that time is---let me see---forty-six
years away."

The other boys were grinning now, and Dave and Tom, catching the
spirit of the thing, laughed good-humoredly.

"But this does seem a mighty long way home," Dan complained.

"I can show you fellows a shorter way, if you want it," Prescott

"We all live on Missouri Avenue. Show us," begged Hazelton.

"It's through the woods," Dick continued. "I warn you that you'll
find some of it rough going."

"Then I don't know about it," Greg replied with fine irony. "We
fellows are not very well used to the woods."

"It's twenty minutes of six," declared Dan, glancing at his watch.
"Some of us are in danger of eating nothing but cold potatoes
tonight if we don't get over the ground faster. Find the short
cut, Dick."

"It starts down here, just a little way," Prescott answered.
"I'll turn in when we come to the right place."

Dick and Darrin were now walking side by side in advance. Right
behind them came Greg and Dan, while Tom and Harry, paired, brought
up the rear.

"In this way," called Dick, turning sharply to the left and going
in under an archway of trees. It was over velvety grass that
he led his chums at first. After something like an eighth of
a mile the Grammar School boys came to deeper woods, where they
had to thrust branches aside in making their way through the tangle.

"My Sunday suit will look like a hand-me-down by the time I get
home," muttered Greg Holmes.

"It does now," Dave called back to him consolingly.

"We suspected that Darry's grouch was due to dyspepsia," laughed
Holmes. "Now I am sure of it. David, little giant, take my
advice---fast to-night."

"I will, if the rest of you fellows will," challenged Darrin quickly.

"The truth is out," Tom burst out laughing. "Darry, by that slip
of the tongue you admitted that you've been eating too much and
that you're all out of sorts."

Dave did not deny. He merely snorted, from which sign of defiance
his chums could gain no information.

They had gone another quarter of a mile through the woods when
Dick, now alone in the lead, suddenly halted, holding up one hand
as a signal to halt, while he rested the fingers of his other
hand over his lips as a command for silence.

"What is it?" whispered Darrin, stepping close.

"Fred Ripley, Bert Dodge and some of their fellows," Dick whispered,
at the same time pointing through the leaves.

"Well, we don't have to halt, just because they're around," retorted
Darrin, snorting. "If they try to pick any trouble with us we
can give 'em as good as they send. We've done it once or twice

"But we don't want to go to fighting on Sunday, if there's any
way to avoid it," young Prescott urged, at which four of his chums
nodded their heads approvingly.

"I'm not looking for any fight, either," muttered Dave. "Yet
it goes against the grain to halt just in order to let that gang
slip by without seeing us."

"There are five of us against your single vote, Darry," Dick reminded
him. "Let us have our way."

"Well, we don't need to skulk, do we?" queried Dave.

"Oh, no," Dick assured him. "All we will do is to keep quiet
and not bring on a fight with that tough lot."

"Huh!" muttered Darrin, as though he could not see the difference
between that and skulking.

Presently, after holding a hand behind him to signal silence and
stealth, Prescott started on in the lead. He wanted, if possible,
to see just where Ripley, Dodge and their crowd went, so that
the Grammar School boys would not run too suddenly into them.
The "Co." trailed on in Indian file behind their leader.

Finally Dick halted again, his chums crowding on his heels. They
looked out into a clearing beyond. There, amid trees, stood a
small three-room house, looking still quite new in its trim paint,
though the building had stood there idle for some five years.
At one time the city had planned a new reservoir site on a hill
just above, and this little cottage had been intended for the
reservoir tender. Then a better site for the reservoir had been
found, and, to date, the cottage had not been removed.

"Ripley and his crew went around that cottage to the door side,"
Dick whispered.

"Are they in the cottage?" Dave demanded.

"I don't know. They went around to the other side. Let's wait
and see if we can guess what's up."

So, forgetful of their suppers for the time being, Dick & Co.
waited, screened by the bushes.

"There's smoke coming up out of the chimney," whispered Tom Reade.

"Yes," nodded Dick. "I had just noticed that. I'm wondering
what it can mean. No one has any right to break into the cottage."

"Fred Ripley and Bert Dodge, because they have a lawyer and a
bank officer for fathers, don't feel that they need any rights
when they want to do a thing," muttered Darrin resent fully.

It was impossible to see what might be going on inside the cottage,
for the simple reason that all of the windows were shuttered tightly.

"Let's go ahead," begged Dave, after a few more moments spent
in idle watching. "I want to know why that crowd has broken into
the cottage."

Truth to tell, even the leader of Dick & Co., usually very discreet,
felt himself a victim of curiosity.

"Shall we try to find out the secret, fellows?" Prescott inquired.

"That's just what we ought to do," responded Greg. "Especially
as Ripley and Dodge have always been so mean to us."

Dick went forward, with his best imitation of the way he imagined
an Indian scout would approach a strange house. Greg and Dan
were at his heels, while Dave and Harry went around the other
side of the cottage, Tom remaining well to the rear to watch.

Some low, vague sounds came from within the cottage. These were
not such noises as scurrying rats would make, so the boys were
quick to conclude that human beings were moving inside.

But what could possibly be going on? The noises that the Grammar
School boys heard were hard to classify.

At last Dick and Dave met before the door of the little cottage.
Nor were they much surprised at finding that the door of the
cottage stood perhaps a half an inch ajar.

This, however, did not furnish light enough to give a glimpse
of what was happening inside.

"Two or three of us may as well slip inside, eh?" whispered Dave
to Dick.

"Wait! Listen!" counseled Prescott. "We don't want to please
that crowd by stepping right into a trap. And I've an idea that
by this time they must know that we're around here."

"If they knew, they'd be out here making faces at us," retorted
Darrin wisely.

"And ordering us to get off the earth," supplemented Greg, in
a whisper.

"Listen," whispered Dick. "Perhaps we can guess what they're

"I can guess what they're doing," murmured Reade, who had now
moved around to the front with his chums. "I've been watching
the smoke of that fire come up through the chimney. Humph! I
don't believe Rip and Dodge are doing anything worse than a little
camping. There must be a stove in there, and they're cooking
some supper---playing at camping out."

"I don't smell anything cooking in there," rejoined Dick with
a shake of his head. "We can't hear anything sizzling over the
fire, either."

"Then what-----" began Harry curiously.

Bang! interrupted a crashing explosion inside the building.
Boom! Then the door flew wide open, followed by a single great
belching of white smoke.

Through the center of this cloud was hurled a human figure. A
man struck the ground and lay there, senseless or lifeless, a
pool of blood quickly forming on the ground beside him.

Chapter II


For the first few seconds the Grammar School boys stood as if
chained to the ground, their eyes staring with alarm and horror.

They stared at the man, apparently of middle age, who lay there,
and they beheld the blood.

What on earth could have happened?

Boom! It was a lesser explosion that now sounded inside, yet
it was enough to galvanize the boys into action.

"Come on!" cried Tom Reade, setting off in the lead. "We don't
know nor care what's in there!"

"The house may blow up next," added Greg, following him.

All the members of Dick & Co. were now in full retreat. They
were courageous lads, but, with the immediate landscape in seeming
danger of blowing up, getting away was the wisest possible course.

"Say, what do you make of that?" demanded Greg breathlessly, when
the Grammar School boys had halted, well out of sight of the cottage
and down in the woods.

"Bang!" replied Tom dryly. "That's all I heard."

"And blood," almost chattered Hazelton.

"But what it means is a big puzzle," Dick added. "If Rip and
his crowd are or were in the cottage, they would hardly explode
anything purposely and perhaps kill a man. That man appeared
to be dead---he must be dead. Rip and Dodge are mean fellows,
but they're hardly up to killing people."

"There was an explosion," remarked Tom judicially, though his
voice was still husky. "Now, while I don't know everything, I
believe there always has to be an explosive in order to bring
about an explosion. Am I right?"

"You stand on ground that no one can dispute," nodded Dick. "But
how did the explosive come to be in a building that belongs to
the water company, and which is supposed not to have been occupied
in some years?"

"What was the man doing in there, for that matter?" demanded Tom.

"He wasn't very well dressed," observed Harry.

"Yet he didn't look like a tramp," Dave put in.

"But the man himself, and the fact that he's hurt or dead, are
our two first points to consider," spoke Dick quickly. "If he's
hurt we are bound to bring him help. If he's dead, we'll have
to notify---some one."

"I'd like to go back there and have a look at him," quoth Tom,
"but the biggest explosion of all may come out of that cottage
at any moment now."

"Yet the facts are that another explosion hasn't come, and that
the man ought to have help, as a matter of common decency," Dick

"I'll run to the nearest house where people are living," suggested
Tom, pulling off his jacket and making ready for a run.

"What are you going to tell the folks?" Prescott queried. "That
the poor fellow is living or dead? I'm going back to find out

"We'll all go," offered Dave.

"But what happened to Rip and his mean crew?" asked Hazelton.

"We haven't seen any signs that they were in the cottage at all,"
Dick responded. "If they were, as none of them came out, they
must be badly hurt---perhaps worse."

As a matter of fact, Ripley and his party had not gone into the
cottage, but had continued directly towards their homes.

That grisly thought gave all the boys a shudder as they plodded
up the slope, between the bushes and thence stepped into the clearing.

"Talk about dreaming!" muttered Dick, halting abruptly and staring
hard at the ground around the cottage.

In the first place, the cottage door was closed. There was no
smoke now coming out of the chimney, and all looked peaceful and
deserted, save for the presence of the Grammar School intruders.
There was no injured man lying on the ground.

"Crackey!" gasped Greg. "Yet we didn't all dream together, did

"Certainly not," muttered Dick, again starting forward. The others
followed him.

"This is where we saw the man fall, isn't it?" asked Dick.

"Yes," nodded Greg.

"But there was blood on the ground then," urged Dave. "I don't
see any now."

"It must have been goblin blood, then," laughed Tom rather unsteadily,
for this mystery began to look unearthly.

"Hold on," hinted Dick. "Doesn't it look as though fresh earth
had been sprinkled here?"

"Of course it does," nodded Harry. "And the earth has soaked
up the blood."

"I don't see any soaked-up blood," objected Greg.

"No; because it's so well covered and soaked up," argued Hazelton.
"But wait until I find a stick, and we'll stir up that dirt.
Then we'll find the red stuff mixed to a sort of mud, and-----"

"Come along out of this, you ghoul!" uttered Tom almost wrathfully,
as he seized his friend by the arm.

"We'll go to the door," Dick suggested. "Perhaps we can get inside.
At any rate, we can find out whether there is any one inside
who wants help."

Dick put his hand on the doorknob, giving it a turn and a hard push.

"Door's locked tightly now," he announced.

"And it takes human hands to lock a door," Reade observed sagely.

"Is there anyone inside who needs any help?" Prescott called loudly.

All was silent inside. Then Dick played a tattoo on the locked
door with his fists. Still no sound from inside.

"All together, now," urged Dick. "Any---one---want---help?" bawled
six lusty young voices in unison.

"There is only one voice that answers," continued Dick, after
a pause, as he turned to the others. "That's the silent voice
of good sense."

"What does it say, then," challenged Dave.

"That we've done about all we can do here," Dick replied. "All
we know is that a man seemed to have been hurt here. If he was,
he was able to take himself away, and to conceal the signs of
his hurt before going. Therefore we've no further excuse for
meddling around here that I can see."

"Let's get along then," Tom urged. "And---whew! It's after half
past six!"

"You'd better run, then," jeered Dave. "Your stomach won't allow
any more fooling!"

"Now, what ought I to say to a crank like Darry?" demanded Reade,
turning to Prescott.

"You'd better overwhelm him, by saying what the man on the clubhouse
steps said," urged Dick.

"And what was that?" asked Tom eagerly.

"We-ell," hesitated Dick, "I believe that's still a secret."

The Grammar School boys were now walking rapidly through the woods,
but at mention of the clubhouse topic all had gathered close to
their young leader.

"Aren't you going to tell us now?" demanded Greg.

"I'm afraid not right away," responded Prescott slowly.

"See here, Dickins," growled Dave Darrin, "for months you've been
stringing us about what the man on the clubhouse steps said.
Time and again you've sprung that on us, and you've never given
us the slightest satisfaction. Now, you'd either better tell
us, or shut up about the man on the clubhouse steps."

"All right," sighed Dick. "I'll-----"

"Well?" insisted five boys in the same breath.

"I reckon I'll shut up," Dick rejoined.

"Say, somebody ought to hit Dickins!" grunted Reade.

"That's right," grinned Dan. "Well---let Tom do it."

Dick continued to smile mysteriously. He enjoyed this good-natured
teasing of his chums.

"What are we going to tell folks about what we saw at the cottage?"
queried Dan after another five minutes of trudging.

"If we tell anything at all," suggested Prescott, "I'll tell you
how we can win a prize."

"How?" demanded Tom innocently. "By telling the truth," Dick
smiled. Soon after the Grammar School boys came out on the road.

"See that group 'way ahead there?" asked Tom, pointing down the

"Yes," nodded Dick. "That's Rip's crowd, so we know they didn't
get hurt."

"Then the only one who did get hurt," Tom added, "was the man
who was very soon able to take mighty good care of himself."

"So we don't need to bother about the matter any more," Greg hinted.
"And, gracious! I hope mother has saved some supper for me."

"It'll be a cold hand-out for me," groaned Hazelton.

The Grammar School boys were soon on Main Street now. They hurried
along, as they had not yet come to the point of parting.

"Look at that crowd down the street," called Dave. "There's some
excitement in the wind."

"I'm not nosey," observed Tom.

"No," scoffed Darrin; "you're too hungry."

"I'm going to see what the excitement is about, anyway," muttered
Hazelton, starting forward off a run.

One by one the other boys yielded to curiosity and started at
a jog-trot for the corner where the crowd was gathered.

"No; the poor fellow isn't crazy in the ordinary sense of the
word," Dick heard a tall man, finely dressed in black, say to
some of the bystanders. "He's harmless enough, and his mind isn't
permanently astray, if only he can have prompt and good care.
But he's inclined to get away by himself and ponder over his
inventions. If he leads a too solitary life long enough he may
be past the possibility of a cure one of these days. That is
why Colonel Garwood is so anxious to find his son, and offers
such a handsome reward for information."

"Some one missing?" asked Dick in a low voice.

"Yes," nodded a man in the crowd. "A crazy inventor is lost,
or he's loose, at any rate, and his old father is trying to find
him. There is a reward of twenty-five hundred dollars for the lucky
fellow who finds this inventor with the monkey wrenches in his

"What does the man look like?" asked Dick.

The tall man in black overheard the question and wheeled quickly.

"Amos Garwood is the missing man," said the tall man. "He is
forty-seven years of age, about five feet eight in height, slightly
stooped, very pallid and with cheeks slightly sunken. When last
seen Amos Garwood was rather poorly dressed. He has just escaped
from a sanitarium, and the only person who has seen him since
reports that he looked 'hunted' and anxious, and that his cheeks
were considerably sunken. Garwood has dark hair, slightly gray
at the temples. He probably weighs about-----"

"Pardon me, sir," Dick interposed. "What kind of beard does the
missing man wear?"

"Dick Prescott has found him," laughed one man in the crowd.

"Garwood has no beard at all, save for what there may be for three
or four days' lack of shaving," quickly replied the tall man.

"Where is the missing man, Dick?" laughed another man in the crowd.

"Yes; Dick has found him," called another.

"I rather think so," Dick nodded. "At least, I believe our crowd
has seen Garwood very lately."

Prescott's evident confidence aroused instant curiosity.

"Where?" demanded a dozen voices quickly.

"I wish you young men wouldn't answer, but just come with me,"
spoke the tall man quickly. "If your information proves correct,
and we find the missing man, the reward will be yours."

Dick turned to nod to his companions, as the tall man in black
turned to lead the way. Their guide, after making sure that Prescott
was at his side, walked rapidly down the street a few doors, halting
before the street door of one of the office buildings.

"Come upstairs and tell Lawyer Ripley whatever you know," requested
the tall man.

"I don't believe you'll find him in Sundays," replied Dick.

"We shall to-day," responded their guide confidently. "Mr. Ripley
is helping us in this search."

This, then, looked like proof that the Garwood family was well-to-do,
for Lawyer Ripley seldom worked for small fees.

Running ahead, the tall man threw open the door of the lawyer's

"Mr. Ripley," he called, "here are some boys who think they have
seen Amos Garwood. Probably these youngsters are half dreaming,
yet they may have some information of value."

"I know these boys," nodded the lawyer, looking up, "and they
are dependable. They are good, bright boys. Prescott, come forward
and tell me just what you know, or think you know."

"First of all, sir," urged Dick, "let me give the best description
I can of the man we've seen."

"A good idea," nodded Mr. Ripley. "Go ahead."

Nor had young Prescott been engaged very long in his task of description
before the tall man broke in excitedly:

"That's our man, beyond a question! Where did you see him? When?"

Dick hastily recounted the strange happenings at the supposedly
untenanted cottage of the old water-works project.

"We must get there without delay," called the tall man to two
other men who, so far, had kept in the background in the lawyer's
office, but who had been deeply interested hearers. "One of you
boys must go up there with us. How far is it from here?"

"Come through into my rear office," suggested Mr. Ripley, "and
I can show you the spot from a window. Come along, Prescott,
and tell me if I'm right. Hello! There seems to be some trouble
up that way," added Mr. Ripley, as he reached one of the windows
at the rear.

"There's a fire up there under the hill," cried Dick Prescott,
as he pressed forward to another window. "Mr. Ripley, from the
location of the smoke, I should say that the cottage itself is

"And I believe you're right," agreed the lawyer.

"Poor Amos!" groaned the tall man. "The poor fellow may have
set fire to the place to destroy himself! Ripley, I can't wait
here, inactive, another second. We must start! Can I get a cab

"I think I can get an automobile for you inside of five minutes,"
replied the lawyer, hurriedly leading the way to the front office.

"Five minutes?" groaned the stranger. "Why not wait a year?"

"An automobile will save you much more than five minutes' time
on the way," returned the lawyer, snatching up his desk telephone.
"Central, give me 163-J in a hurry!"

A few minutes later the automobile was at the door. The tall
stranger and two other men who had been in the lawyer's office
were now on the sidewalk.

"Crowd on all the speed you can, my man," appealed the tall stranger.
"If you get into any trouble with the authorities I'll pay all
the fines you incur. This is a matter of life and death."

The speaker and his two men crowded into the car.

"You come, too," called the tall one to Dick.

"Is there room for one other boy?" asked Dick.

"Yes; we can squeeze him in."

"Want to come, Dave?" Dick inquired.

Darrin was by his chum's side in an instant.

"Let out the speed!" ordered the tall man. "Prescott will tell
you where to go."

Four members of Dick & Co. had been worrying about their suppers,
but now not one of them but would have waited indefinitely for
a chance to go on that one especial auto trip.

"Greg, tell my folks where I've gone, and why," Dick shouted back.

Then---whizz! The automobile was down the street and around a
corner before anyone could say "Jack Robinson!"

Chapter III


The automobile party arrived just in time to see the blazing roof
of the little cottage crash inward, sending up a shower of sparks
against the sky of the dying day.

"I hope Amos wasn't inside, hurt and helpless!" gulped the tall
stranger, leaping outside. "But why hasn't the fire department
been out here?"

"The Gridley fire department doesn't respond outside of city limits,
except on request and by permission of the mayor, sir," Prescott

"I'll drive down and telephone any message for you," offered the
chauffeur, who had left his ear behind and had traveled on foot
up to the cottage.

"Firemen would be of little use now," replied the man in charge
of the party. "We can do nothing until the blazing embers cool,
which won't be for hours yet. Still, We might go as close to
the blaze as possible, and see if there are any signs of a human
body in the embers."

While this was being done darkness came down over the summer day.
There was plenty of light, however, around the destroyed cottage.

For some time the searchers explored as well as the heat of the
glowing embers would permit.

"I am satisfied," said the tall man at last, "that no human being
was consumed in this fire. If so, we would certainly see some
evidences of remains. Still, these ashes, when cool, must be

"You don't need me any more, do you, sir?" asked Dick.

"Is it near your bedtime yet?" smiled the stranger.

"I haven't had my supper yet," Prescott smiled. "Neither has

"Bless me! What a brute I am to forget a boy's stomach!" cried
the tall one. "Here," taking a banknote from his pocket, "I will
have the chauffeur drive you back to town and then return for
us. Take this money and get the best supper you can for two,
at the best restaurant in Gridley."

"Thank you, sir," replied Dick, shrinking back; "our parents wouldn't
allow us to do that."

"Are your parents any easier on such questions?" smiled the stranger,
turning to Darrin.

"Not a bit, sir, thank you," Dave responded.

"I may at least pay you something for your kindness and trouble
in coming out here with me," urged the stranger, still offering
the cash.

But both boys shook their heads, declining with thanks. Neither
had been reared to accept money for doing a human kindness.

"If you don't need us any more," Dick went on, "we'll just find
the road and jog back."

"If you won't accept anything else," retorted the tall man, "you
will at least allow me to send you back in the auto. And you
will also accept the thanks of John Winthrop, and of Colonel Garwood,
whom I represent."

Both boys protested, with thanks, that they were able to get home
on their own feet. Mr. Winthrop, however, insisted on their going
in the car. Truth to tell, both youngsters had used their feet
so much that day that they did not object to being taken home.

"I hope you will find your man, sir, and alive," Dick called,
as he and Dave were leaving.

"I believe that we shall," replied Mr. Winthrop. "Yet it will
be by beginning the search from this point."

The chauffeur drove them home in good time, for he was under orders
to report back to Mr. Winthrop as speedily as possible.

Neither Dick nor Dave had any trouble in getting a late supper
served at home.

"You've brought home a good tale, as you often do, to pay your
mother for her extra trouble," laughed Mr. Prescott.

"I hope that poor, half-witted fellow didn't destroy himself in
his own fire," murmured Dick, as he fell to at the meal.

By morning the people of Gridley knew that the ruins of the abandoned
water-works cottage had been explored, and that the remains of
Amos Garwood had not been found there.

But an editorial in the "Blade" suggested that the cottage was
not very likely to have taken fire unless the blaze had been started
by Garwood. While the latter was declared not to be dangerous,
the "Blade" hinted that his malady might suddenly have taken a
dangerous turn.

"The good people of this section will feel much easier," concluded
the editor, "when they know that Garwood has been found and returned
to the sanitarium that awaits him. A cash reward of twenty-five
hundred dollars should be incentive enough to set many people
to the task of finding the unfortunate man."

Yet, for Dick & Co., the adventure of the afternoon before dropped
very quickly into the background. Here was Monday; on Wednesday
the boys of the Central Grammar must meet the boys of the North
Grammar on the diamond. Then the first of a series of baseball
games was to be played for the local Grammar School championship.
The South Grammar would also enter a nine.

Intense rivalry prevailed between the schools. The fact that
the respective nines were made up almost wholly of boys who were
soon to be graduated from the Grammar Schools did not in any sense
lessen the rivalry. Each young player was proud of his own school
and anxious to capture the laurels.

"Are you going to win Wednesday's game from the North Grammar,
Dick?" asked Len spencer, when that reporter met Prescott on Main
Street at noon on Monday.

"Of course we are," Dick replied instantly.

"You seem very positive about it," quizzed Len.

"That's the only way to go into athletics," claimed Dick. "A
team must enter with the determination and the knowledge that
it is going to win. Then there's little left to do but to walk
home with the victory."

"But Hi Martin was telling me, this morning, that Central hasn't
a ghost of a show against North," pursued Len.

"Hi Martin will know better, day after tomorrow, won't he, Dave?"
queried Dick, appealing to Darrin, who had just come along.

"He surely will," nodded Dave.

"By the way," asked Len, "have you seen any of the new uniforms
of the North Grammar?"

"No," Dick admitted, his face falling a trifle. "I understand
that Martin's fellows are going to wear pretty dandy uniforms,

"They are," Len nodded. "I've had a look at the uniform."

"Well, North Grammar is attended by a lot of sons of pretty well-to-do
men," Dave put in. "Our boys don't come from as wealthy families,
so we have to be content with less of the showy things in life."

"What are your uniforms going to be like?" inquired Len Spencer.

"We haven't any," Dick replied promptly.

"No uniforms at all?" demanded the "Blade" reporter.

"None at all," Dick continued. "Neither have the South Grammar
boys. In the glories of uniform the North Grammar nine will be
all in a class by itself."

"It's too bad," muttered Len.

"No, it isn't," Prescott retorted. "We fellows from Central are
going to show that uniforms don't necessarily make players. We
don't mind---that is, not very much---the absence of uniforms."

"We'll try to show that we have something uniform about our team
play, and let it go at that," said Dave cheerily. "Come along,
Dick, or we'll be late at school."

Away the pair raced. Lessons went about as usual that afternoon
with Old Dut's class, which was surprising, as nearly every boy
in the room had his mind much on baseball.

Captain Dick Prescott, of the Central Grammar nine, had called
practice for that afternoon, from half past four to six o'clock.

At recess, that afternoon, a pleasant, somewhat rotund-looking
man was seen engaged in conversation with Old Dut in a corner
of the schoolyard. At the close of the afternoon session that
same man stepped into the schoolroom, accepting the principal's
offer of a chair on the platform.

"Attention!" called Old Dut, striking the bell. "I am glad to
be able to state that no pupil has incurred the penalty of remaining
after school to-day. However, I am going to ask the members of
the Central Grammar baseball nine and their substitutes to remain
for a few minutes. I pledge myself not to interfere with the
scheduled practice," continued the principal dryly. "All other
pupils will file out promptly, and not loiter in coatrooms or

Within two minutes the place had been cleared of all but Dick's
baseball squad.

"I now wish, young gentlemen," began Old Dut, "to introduce to
you Mr. Edson Brown, who is interested in baseball, and who has
a slight favor that he wishes to ask of you."

"It's very simple," declared Mr. Brown, rising and stepping down
from the platform. "I have been greatly interested in baseball
for a number of years. Among other things I have a considerable
collection of figures concerning school teams, their sizes and
weights, I would like, with your permission, young gentlemen,
to take a few measurements. I won't detain you more than a few

"Do you want a suggestion, sir?" asked Tom Reade.

"Of course," nodded Mr. Brown, smilingly.

"Then the real crowd that you ought to measure are the fellows of
the North Grammar nine. You'd get a fine lot of chest measurements
there, I can promise you."

"Why?" asked Mr. Brown. "Are the North Grammar boys better developed

"I can't say about that," Reade replied seriously, "but they're
the only Grammar School fellows in Gridley that have baseball
uniforms, and I understand that they're the chestiest lot of young
fellows that any one ever saw."

"I'll consider the North Grammar boys later, then," nodded Mr.
Brown, smiling. "Now, will each young man oblige me by removing
his coat and vest and stepping forward for the measurements that
I want to take?"

In a notebook Mr. Brown jotted down the measurements that he made.
There being five substitute players, there were fourteen boys
in all whose measurements he recorded.

"That is all," nodded Mr. Brown finally, snapping his notebook
and tucking it away in a pocket. "I am deeply indebted to all
of you young men.

"And now I beg to add," said Old Dut, "that, as all of you youngsters
are in a hurry, there will be no criticism if you see fit to race
through the corridors."

Out on the field, just before half past four, Captain Dick Prescott
lined up his squad of fourteen, himself included, and quickly
added four more to the number, thus organizing two nines.

"Now, play ball," he called.

"Do it in a hurry," supplemented Tom Reade.

"Speed is all right," Dick retorted. "But we want to play with care,
even more than with speed. The scrub nine will go to bat."

Dick himself ran quickly out to the pitcher's box, twirling his
ball impatiently. A High School boy had been secured for umpire,
and all was in readiness.

Of course the school nine won over the scrub. Never mind the
score, which looked badly for the scrub. Dick was satisfied that
his nine was doing the best that was in it.

Tuesday afternoon there was more practice, though Captain Dick
did not allow it to continue too long.

"Now, don't take a single chance with yourselves," called Prescott,
in dismissing the squad on the field near the schoolhouse. "Don't
any one of you get a sore toe or strain a 'wing' before to-morrow
afternoon. Fellows, I believe that we are going to be able to
put it all over the North Grammar to-morrow afternoon. But we
can't do it unless we are all in the best of shape. Be careful
at table. Don't any one of you overeat between now and the game.
And all get into bed early to-night and have a long sleep."

"I put every young man in this room on honor for to-day," stated
Old Dut, facing his class, the next morning. "No matter what
the disorder or breach of discipline, no boy will be kept in after
school this afternoon, for I know that every one of you, whether
player or 'booster,' wants to be at the inter-school ball game
this afternoon. So remember, young men, that you are all on your
honor to-day. Prove yourselves worthy of it."

Never had discipline been better preserved in the eighth grade
classroom than during that day.

Soon after four o'clock scores of Gridley schoolboys had found
their way to the big vacant field not far from the Central Grammar,
the owner of which permitted its use freely by schoolboy athletes.

The principal of the South Grammar, too, was there, flanked by
rough-and-tumble Ted Teall and the South's baseball delegation.
Captain Ted had to play the Centrals on Saturday, and he wanted
to view their style. Though North Grammar was well represented,
the principal of the school did not appear, being "detained by
pressure of important duties."

"Old Dut will know enough to be here," remarked one of the Central
boys proudly. "Nothing but disaster could keep him from showing
interest in our work."

Cheering was started by a big group of North Grammar boys. A
stage had just been sighted, and this bore the North Grammar's
diamond champions. A few moments later the stage drew up at the
edge of the field, and Hi Martin and his fellows piled out, each
proudly resplendent in showy uniform of red and white, with red
caps and stockings. The North Grammar boys were dandies, and
they appeared to want, everyone to realize the fact. They formed
at the roadside and marched on to the field in step.

"Halt!" commanded Captain Hi Martin. Then he looked around curiously.

"If the Centrals are here yet, why don't they come out of the
crowd and receive us?" inquired Martin rather pompously. His
insinuation that Dick's fellows might be mixed with the crowd was a
slur on the Central boys not possessing uniforms.

"Our fellows are not here yet, but they will be soon, you bet,"
called back a Central boy. "It's only twenty minutes past four."

"Spread out, men, and practice," directed Hi Martin.

"Yah! yah!" jeered a Central boy. "Get all the practice you
can---you'll need it."

"These ragamuffins are pretty full of brag," observed Hi scornfully
to one of his lieutenants.

"They're just the kind of fellows that always do brag," returned
the player addressed. "Their brag will all be gone within a half
an hour. You'll see."

"Yes," agreed Hi thoughtfully. "If we can't trim this crowd to-day,
then they're some wonders at ball. They don't have any idea how
long we've been training in order to give them this trimming."

Some of Hi's players had already spread out over the field, and
were doing some rapid passing. Certainly Hi's fielders promised
well, from the little glimpse of their skill that was now had.

Then one of their best batsmen took up the willow, driving a few
long, swift fielders.

"This will get the Centrals nervous before they start, if they
see any of our work," laughed one of Hi's players.

Truth to tell, the North Grammar boys did show some pretty work.
Ted Teall looked on approvingly.

"Prescott has met his match to-day," remarked Ted to a friend.

"These Norths will bother you, too, won't they, Ted?"

"Us? No; not a bit. We can play all around the Norths. But
Central will have to take third place when the series is done."

"The Centrals haven't got rattled and skulked, have they?" called
Hi Martin at last.

A disdainful yell came back from the assembled Central boys.

"Then some one hurry over and tell 'em that it's time to hustle
on to the field and take their medicine," urged Hi. "We don't
want to have the game called for darkness before we're half through."

"The Centrals will be here on time," called back one of Old Dut's
boys. "Don't you worry any about them. Dick Prescott is holding
the watch over our crowd."

"It's four twenty-seven," announced Hi, consulting his gold watch.

"Four twenty-five and a half," corrected a Central boy.

"Go get your watch fixed," retorted Hi scornfully. "And some
one else run and see if he can find out where the Centrals are

"Here they come!" yelled one excited Central boy. "Whoopee!
They will answer for themselves!"

In an instant the Central cheering became tumultuous. Even Ted
Teall rubbed his eyes and gasped.

For the Central Grammar School squad was marching toward the field,
having just left the schoolhouse. At the head of all, chin well
up, marched Old Dut. Back of him, two and two, marched Dick Prescott
and his players. What marvel had been worked? For the Central
boys wore uniforms that made Hi Martin's fellows look like so
many gaudy figures on a cheap poster!

Chapter IV


"Great Scott!" gasped Hi Martin, in sheer dismay, his gaze fixed
on the approaching Centrals.

"Where in the mischief did they get those uniforms?" demanded
Tom Percival, of the North Grammars, his mouth agape.

"Well, they have 'em, anyway," added Bill Rodgers. "And they
certainly look more than fine, don't they?"

"The uniforms are made of cheap stuff, I'll wager," muttered Hi
hoarsely. There was a choke in his throat over seeing his own
nine so badly eclipsed in appearance by the despised Central Grammars.

Not less astonished were the Central Grammar boy spectators themselves.
Not one, outside of the baseball squad, had known that any uniforms
were to be worn on the field.

"Huh!" remarked Ted Teall, captain of the South Grammars, to one
of his lieutenants. "We are the only school nine in town now
without a uniform. When we get on the field to play we'll look
like a lot of rag-pickers, won't we?"

"I know where they got 'em," choked Hi at last. "Their principal,
Old Dut Jones, wouldn't see his boys look too badly compared with
us, so he bought 'em as good uniforms as he could afford. It's
a shame. That's what it is."

If Captain Dick and his baseball players walked rather proudly
onto the field, it may have been partly due to the fact that they
now knew that their uniforms were anything but "cheap." In point
of fact, their uniforms had cost more than twice as much as those
worn by Hi Martin's players.

"How did they get such uniforms?" That was the question that
passed from lip to lip.

The answer was very simple, though as yet none of the onlookers
knew what it was.

Not until one minute past four did the Central Grammar players
know anything about the uniforms. Old Dut had dismissed the rest
of the school, detaining Dick's players.

"Young men, we shall now hasten up to Exhibition Hall," announced
the principal. He marched them up there, where they found the
smiling Mr. Brown, backed by an assistant. Several boxes, opened,
lay upon the floor.

"Now, young men," called Mr. Brown jovially, "let us see how quickly
you can take your baseball uniforms and get into them."

"But what-----" began Dick, then paused in absolute bewilderment.

"It's all right," Mr. Brown cheerily assured the dazed boys.
"The uniforms are all paid for---won't cost you a cent."

"But you---you told us," protested Captain Dick Prescott, "that
you were collecting measurements of members of schoolboys' baseball

"Well, that's the truth," protested Brown, with a mock air of
injured innocence. "I'm a traveling salesman for the Haynes Sporting
Goods Company, one of the biggest baseball outfitting companies
in this part of the country. It's my business to travel and take

"But we didn't give you any orders," gasped Dave.

"Some one did," laughed Mr. Brown.

"Who did?" blurted Tom Reade.

"Did you, Mr. Jones?" cried Dick.

"Not I," laughed the principal. "But I'll tell you, boys, who
did. Prescott, you remember Mr. Winthrop, who is acting for Colonel
Garwood in trying to find the latter's son? Amos Garwood hasn't
yet been found, but Mr. Winthrop is satisfied that they are close
at his heels, and that they will soon find him. Colonel Garwood
is a very wealthy old man, and very fond of his missing son.
Mr. Winthrop inquired how he could best serve the boys who had
brought him the first word. Some one, I believe it was Len Spencer,
the 'Blade' reporter, told about your not having uniforms. Mr.
Winthrop wired the Haynes Company, placing an order for the best
of uniforms, provided they could be finished to be delivered this
afternoon. And here they are."

"When do you youngsters play?" called out Brown laughingly. "To-day
or some other day?"

"I would recommend you to make good time," Old Dut urged. "You
don't want to start the season by being late, do you. Besides
the North Grammar boys might then claim the game by default."

That was enough to set Dick Prescott and his dazed comrades at
work in earnest.

The uniforms were of blue, and of fine texture. Even baseball
shoes had been provided. The stockings were blue. Then came
the trousers. The blue jersey shirts bore proudly in front two
golden letters each, "C.G." This inscription stood, of course,
for "Central Grammar." Then there were coats of blue, to slip
on over the jersey shirts; caps of blue and belts of blue, the
latter edged with golden yellow to match the shirt initials.

Besides there were a catcher's mask, gloves for the different
field players, half a dozen baseballs and an even dozen of bats.

"Finish dressing as quickly as you can," urged Old Dut. "Your
time is slipping away."

At last they were ready. Carrying masks, bats, gloves, they fell
in by twos, Principal Jones marching them from the building, along
the street and into the field where their arrival had created
such a furor.

Yet, excited as he was, Dick had not forgotten to ask both Mr.
Brown and Old Dut not to fail to express their deepest thanks
to Mr. Winthrop and to Colonel Garwood.

Ben Tozier, of the High School baseball nine, had been accepted
as umpire for the day. He now came forward to meet Captain Dick's

"My, but you youngsters look about the finest ever," announced
Ben. "I hope you can play as well as you look. Captain Prescott,
do you claim any time for practice?"

"Not if it's time to begin playing," Dick answered.

"Yes; it is. I'll call Martin, and you two will attend me for
the pitch of the coin."

"Wait a moment, please," called Hi, from across the field.

"What's the matter?" shouted a spectator.

"The North Grammars want to go home and change their uniforms,"
shouted another onlooker.

There was a great laugh at this, which caused Hi Martin to color
and look belligerent. He came stalking across the field.

"Ladies and gentlemen," shouted Ted Teall, affecting the manner
of an announcer, "I beg to state that the game about to begin
will be between two famous nines, known as the Gentlemen and the

At this there was more laughter, while Hi Martin shook with rage.
Looking at the bright red so prominent in the North Grammar uniforms,
there could be no doubt as to which nine had been dubbed the "Chromos."

"Mr. Umpire," called Hi angrily, "have you power to preserve order
here to-day?"

"I'll do my best," agreed Tozier. "But this is an open field
that any one may enter, and there are no police here."

"Play ball, you red-heads!" jeered a boy, referring to the bright
red caps of the North Grammars. "Don't holler for the police
until you find out whether you can stand up to the Centrals."

"Now, let us stop all guying of the players and all other nonsense,"
called Tozier firmly, as he held up his right hand. "Remember
that we are here to see a game and not to listen to cheap wit."

That held the unruly ones back for a few moments. Tozier drew
a coin from one of his pockets, exhibited it to the captains,
and asked:

"Who will call the toss?"

"Martin may," nodded Captain Dick.

"Ready, then."

Ben Tozier sent the coin spinning skyward. When it turned to
fall Hi called out:


"Heads win," declared Umpire Tozier.

"Captain Martin, have you any choice?" inquired Prescott politely.

"I didn't win the toss," Hi returned sulkily.

"But we'll give you your choice if you have any," Dick insisted.

"We'd rather go to bat," Hi observed.

"Then, Mr. Umpire," continued Dick, turning to Tozier, "the Centrals
choose the field."

"Get to your places," nodded Ben. "Martin at bat; Percival on
deck," called the score-keeper.

Dick ran down to the pitcher's box, while Greg, slipping on mask
and glove, took up his position behind the plate.

Tozier carelessly broke the seal on the package enclosing a ball,
inspected it, and dropped it into Dick's hands. Dick threw an
overshoot to Greg, who mitted it neatly.

But Ted Teall could not let the occasion go by without some nonsense.

"Whack!" shouted Teall. "Woof! Did you hear it strike? And
it hurt, too. Who has the arnica bottle?"

There was laughter, but Dick ignored it, sending in a neat drive
over the plate. Greg caught it and sent the ball back.

As it once more reached Dick's hand Umpire Tozier shouted:

"Ready! Play ball!"

Greg Holmes signaled what he wanted. Dick gave the ball a twist,
and the game was on.

Chapter V


"Say, dress a kid up swell, and send him on the street---did you
ever know him to be any good?" demanded Ted Teall scornfully of
those who stood near him. "Well, that's what ails the Centrals.
They're wearing a bale of glad dry goods and they can't keep
their eyes off their togs long enough to find the ball."

Dick and Dave heard this as they went to grass at the end of the
third inning.

So far, though the Centrals had made some bases, none of their
players had succeeded in scoring at the plate. One of Hi Martin's
players had scored a run in the first inning and another in the

"Teall is a torment, isn't he?" whispered Dick.

"He is now," muttered Dave. "He won't be after this game is finished."

"Why not?"

"I'm going to trim some of the funny talk out of him after the game."

"Don't do anything foolish, Dave," urged Dick.

"That won't be foolish. It's necessary."

"Don't do it, Dave, or even think of it. You'll give the Centrals
the name of not being able to stand defeat."

Then Dick ran over to the box to begin pitching for the fourth
inning. His arm had not given out. Prescott had been doing some
pretty good pitching, and Greg had backed him up well. But the
North Grammars had a few batsmen who seemed to guess the ball
in advance.

"Hey, Mr. Umpire," shouted a boyish onlooker, as Dick faced the
plate, ball in hand, "better call the game and let the Centrals
play some weak primary school team."

Even at this cheap witticism there was considerable laughter.
It made Dick's face flush.

"I'll show 'em whether we can play or not," he muttered to himself,
as he caught the signal from Greg. "We've got to start, too,
for we've got to match those two runs and then pick up this game
for our own."

Hi Martin was again at the plate. He swung his bat idly, grinning
mockingly at Prescott.

"I'll let you off without trying, if you'll give me second base,"
offered Hi tantalizingly.

"If the batsman talks again he will be ordered off the grounds,"
declared Umpire Tozier sternly.

But Dick felt the sting of his opponent's taunt and longed to
be even. Greg signaled for a drop ball---a difficult one for
a schoolboy to throw. It was the first time in the game that
Greg had asked for this.

Dick "made up" the ball with extra care, then let it go. It looked
like a chest-high ball as it came, and was so slow that Hi threw
back his bat to slam it.

"A home run on this!" thought Hi exultantly.

From the sides of the field came a mocking laugh, for the ball
had dropped, leaving Hi pounding wildly at the air.

"Strike one!" called Ben Tozier, slipping a pebble to his other

Dick smiled quietly as the ball came back to him. Greg signaled
for an outshoot. But Dick "made up" the ball and imitated his
delivery of the throw before.

"I'll get down and get it, this time!" flashed Martin resentfully.
He did, only to find himself no nearer the ball than before.

"Strike two!"

Tittering came from the sides now, also some applause. The spectators
had just begun to understand that Dick Prescott was pitching better

"Ball one!"

Hi felt a bit better for a moment. Then:

"Strike three! Out!"

With a muttered growl of disgust, Captain Martin gave up his post
to Percival.

"What has got into Prescott?" demanded Rodgers, of the Norths,

"Oh, we'll pound him to pieces soon," muttered Hi.

"Strike one!" sounded the umpire's steady, low voice.

In a moment or two more it was: "Strike three. Out!"

Then a third batsman took post. Dick Prescott, his face now flushed
with pleasure, not humiliation, and his eyes flashing battle,
put the third man out for the Norths.

Yet, though the Central Grammars put two of their men on bases,
they, too, went back to grass ere a run could be scored.

The fifth inning was almost a duplicate of the fourth; no ground
gained. In the sixth, after having two men struck out, the Norths
took two base hits away from Prescott, and had men on first and
second. In an unwary moment for the Centrals the man at second
made third just ahead of the ball.

"We'll have a third run in a moment, if our boys keep their heads,"
murmured Hi Martin confidently. "That will keep us at three to

At that instant Dick delivered a ball that the North batsman tapped,
but just hard enough to drive it for a fair catch into Prescott's

"You idiot!" glared Martin at the offender, as the Norths took
the field.

However, all predictions were still in favor of the North Grammars,
who had two runs put away while they had kept Prescott's men from

"Fellows, we've got to do something, and we must make it strong!"
muttered Dick, as his side came in.

Reade went to bat---was struck out.

"That wasn't very strong," sighed Tom, as he passed Dick going
to the plate.

Dick Prescott had his favorite bat in his hand. He gripped it
a little harder for an instant, then relaxed and waited for Hi's
puzzling delivery.

"Strike one!"

Dick swung for the next one that came. Almost mechanically Tozier
opened his mouth to call:


But Dick's willow cut in with a "whack!"

"Woof! Whoop!" Central boys among the spectators sent up an expectant
yell, then watched breathlessly. Was the luck about to change?

"Go it! Go it! Go it!" yelled the Central boys in three different
pitches of enthusiasm.

Dick, as he struck first and turned, took a fleeting look at the
North's right fielder, still in pursuit of the long fly that had
gone by him and was rolling over the field. Then, straining lungs and
nerves, Dick sprinted toward the second bag.

"Go it! Hustle!"

Behind him Dick heard the whistle of the coming ball. Just ahead
of him was the plate. He took a long leap, then slid. Second
baseman held up the ball in his right hand.

"Safe, safe!" yelled the gleeful Central spectators.

"Out! That was out!" hoarsely declared the boosters for the North

"Safe at second," called Ben Tozier steadily.

"Oh, you ape of an umpire!" grunted Hi Martin disgustedly, as
he mitted the ball from second. For an instant he watched Dick,
who was edging away from second. Then he turned to send in a
drive past Greg, who now hovered over the plate.

Greg Holmes went to two strikes and three balls, Hi all the time
alertly watching Prescott at second.

Crack! And now Greg was running. Norths' left-fielder muffed
the ball, then recovered and threw like a flash to third. But
Dick was there a shade of a second ahead of the leather.

"Safe" declared the umpire.

Hi Martin flashed a warning look at the catcher for his nine,
then sent a sweeping glare around the bases. Greg and Dick smiled
sweetly back.

"Play ball!" ordered Umpire Tozier.

Dan Dalzell was now at bat, tingling with anxiety, though his
grin seemed a yard wide.

"Oh, you Danny Grin! Eat the leather!" appealed a Central rooter
from the side.

Dan grinned again, his look seeming to say, "Watch me!"

Two strikes, with no called balls. Dick, dancing away from third,
felt himself on tenterhooks. Not all of his perspiration was
due to the heat of the day.

Again Dan offered. Crack! A wild, gleeful whoop went up from
some of the Central rooters, while others held their breath.
The ball went high, and right field came running in for it. As
it happened, the fielder underestimated the length of the flight.
It struck the ground to his rear and rolled. Before the outfielder
could pick it up Dan had kicked the first bag.

"Prescott! Prescott!"

Dick was in, scoring the first run, while Greg was at second,
and Dan hugging first as though he dared not be found two yards
away from that bag.

Henderson now went to bat, accompanied by the grave anxiety of
the members of his nine, for Spoff was not one of the star players.
True to expectations Spoff struck out.

"Do it, Hazelton! You've got to do it!" yelled the Central fans
despairingly. "Don't miss any tricks!"

Harry, however, could find nothing safe to hit at. He took first
on called balls, advancing Greg to third and Dan to second.

Wrecker Lane now swung the willow. On his face was a do-or-die,
dogged expression. Wrecker was not a brilliant player, though
he was one to whom defeat came hard.

"Go after it, Wrecker. Put it over hard! Slam!"

After two strikes and one ball had been called Wrecker let go
in deadly earnest. Bang! The blow split the leather, which went
in an erratic though by no means short course. Greg dashed in
over the plate amid wild cheers. Dan, hotfooting as he had never
before done in his life, crossed the plate also. Wrecker, panting,
reached first, looked at the fielder almost on the ball, sped
on, then prudently turned and make back for first.

Toby Ross now went to bat, and struck out in crisp one-two-three

"Wrecker, that was a bully liner!" glowed Dick, grasping the hand
of the boy who had saved the score in its critical moment. "You
seemed to have Hi Martin's delivery down to a certainty."

"Yes, and it was a wonder, too," confessed Wrecker, still a bit
dazed. "I couldn't see the ball at all, but I knew that it was
up to me to do something."

"How do you feel now, Chromos?" bawled Ted Teall at the beginning
of the seventh.

The score was now three to two in favor of Central Grammar.

It was still there when the seventh ended, and also at the finish
of the eighth. Then the North Grammars went to bat for the first
half of the ninth.

"You fellows simply must do something---do a lot," had been Hi's
almost tearful urging as be addressed his fellows at the bench.

It was Bill Rodgers who stood before him as Dick twirled the ball,
awaiting Greg's signal, which came a second later---a drop ball.

Bill swung for it, then looked foolish. Two more bad guesses,
and he was out.

A second man was soon out, and then a third. Not one of the trio
had been able to judge Dick's ball.

Central Grammar had won the first game by the close score of three
to two. That, however, was as good for all purposes as any other
could possibly be.

"What ails you Norths?" amiably remarked Ted Teall. "Is it the
gayness of your uniforms? The red gets in your eyes and keeps
you from seeing the ball."

"You're not funny," glowered Hi Martin. "You're merely a clown."

"Wait until my nine plays yours," retorted Teall genially. "Then
we'll see who looks more like a clown---you or I."

But now there was time, and Dick Prescott and his fellows had
to tell scores of eager inquirers how they came by their new uniforms,
when they had not expected to have any.

"Just what I thought, or as bad, anyway," muttered Martin when
the news was brought to him. "These muckers couldn't buy their
uniforms, as our fellows did. They had to depend upon charity
to make a good appearance on the field."

"Hold on, there, Martin," angrily objected one of the Central
fans. "I suppose it was charity, too, when you gave our fellows
the game, eh? It was mighty kind of you, too."

"Huh!" retorted Hi. "This is only one game lost, and by a hair's
breadth. Wait until the end of the season, and see who carries
the laurels."

"Prescott, what do these letters mean on your jersey?" asked Ted
Teall, halting and squinting at the golden yellow emblems.

"C.G.?" smiled Dick. "That's for Central Grammar, of course.
But the letters have been put on so that they can be easily changed
around to read G.C."

"What'll that stand for?" quizzed Teall, winking at some of the
other fellows.

"Why, we'll change the letters around after we've played this
series, and then the letters will stand for Grammar Champions."

"Oh, I see," grinned Ted. "My, but that will be kind of you,
to give our fellows the jerseys."

"You haven't won them yet," retorted Dick. "The Centrals will
keep their own jerseys and wear the G.C. by right of conquest."

"Perhaps they will, and perhaps they won't," muttered Hi Martin
angrily to himself and Tom Percival.

Chapter VI


Saturday morning, about eight o'clock, the entire team of the
Central Grammar met at Dave Darrin's house. In the front yard
they waited for their captain.

"Queer Dick should be a bit late," muttered Torn Reade. "He's
our model of punctuality."

"You'll see him come around the corner 'most any minute," Greg

Nor was Holmes wrong in this. When Prescott arrived he came on
a jog trot.

"We wondered what kept you, our right-to-the-minute captain,"
announced Dave.

"Well, you see," replied Dick quizzically, "I've been thinking."

"Thinking?" repeated Tom. "Oh, I understand. You've been thinking
about what the man on the clubhouse steps said."

"Well, hardly anything as big as that," teased Dick. "I'm afraid
that you fellows are growing impatient on what is, after all,
not a very important matter."

"So, then, the speech of the man on the clubhouse steps wasn't
very important?" inquired Tom, seeking to pin their leader down.

"Why, that would depend on how you happened to regard what the
man on the clubhouse steps said," Dick laughed.

"Is that what you're going to tell us?" almost bowled Hazelton.

"I don't know that I am going to tell you much of anything," Prescott

"What did the man on the clubhouse steps say?" asked Dan, advancing
with uplifted bat.

"You'll never drag the secret from me by threats or violence,"
retorted Dick, with a stubborn shake of the head.

"We're getting away from the point," Tom went on. "You said you
had been thinking."

Book of the day: