Part 2 out of 4
"You've made the claim of having been thinking, but you haven't
offered the slightest proof."
"What I was thinking, fellows, was that we are obliged to meet
the South Grammar nine on the diamond to-day."
"We're not afraid of them," scoffed Dave.
"No," Dick went on, "but I've an idea that we're up against an
ordeal, after a fashion. You all know what a guyer Ted Teall
is---how he nearly broke up our match with the Norths last Wednesday
"Ted can't do any guying this morning," declared Greg readily.
"If he does, the umpire will rule him out of the game, and that
would snap all of Ted's nerve. No; Ted won't guy us to-day."
"But I'll tell you just what will happen to us," Dick offered.
"The spectators who come from the South Grammar aren't under
the umpire's orders. You may be sure that Ted has posted the
fellows from his school on a lot of things that they can yell
at us. Oh, we'll get guyed from the start to the finish of the
"If they go too far," hinted Dave, "we can thrash some of the
funny ones afterwards."
"I shan't feel like thrashing anyone for having a little fun with
us," remarked Reade.
"Thrashing wouldn't do any good, anyway," Dick continued. "Besides
which, we might just happen, incidentally, to be the fellows that
got the worst thrashing if we started anything like that going.
I don't object to good-natured ridicule. But the South Grammar
fellows may have some things to yell at us that will rattle our
play. That's what I want to stop."
"How can you stop it?" queried Greg.
"That's what kept me home a little later than I intended to stay
there," Dick replied. "I have been thinking, since last night,
how I could take some of the starch out of Ted Teall, and have
some way of throwing the horse laugh back on the South Grammar
boys in case they start anything funny enough to rattle us."
"How did the thinking get on?" Tom wanted to know.
"I believe I've something here that will do it," Prescott replied,
taking an object from one of his pockets and holding it up.
"It looks like a home-made ball for babies to play with," remarked
Dan Dalzell, grinning.
"It's a home-made ball, all right," Dick nodded. "Yet I don't
believe that I'd let a baby have it to play with."
"What's the matter with it?" Tom asked. "Loaded?"
"Some one told you," protested Prescott, pretending to look astounded.
"What are you going to do with that thing?" Dave insisted.
"If I have a chance I'm going to get Ted Teall up in the air,
and before the crowd, too," Dick asserted.
"With this ball?" Greg asked, taking it from his friend's hand.
"Hm! I don't see anything about it to shatter the nerves of a
hardy youth like Ted Teall," Greg muttered. "This ball is just
wound with string and covered with pieces of old glove. Why,
it's so soft that I don't believe I could throw it straight."
Greg raised the home-made ball to throw it.
"Here! Don't toss it, or you may put it out of business," objected
Prescott, taking it away from his friend.
"If the ball can't be thrown, then what on earth is it good for?"
"I'll come to that by degrees," Dick promised. "Did you know
that dad has secured a license this year to sell fireworks at
"Yes," nodded several of the boys.
"Well, yesterday, Dad had a lot of samples come in from the
manufacturers. There were a few of the extra big and noisy
torpedoes," Dick explained. "I got one of them and wrapped this
string and leather around it."
Then, in low tones, Dick confided to his comrades the use to which
he hoped to put the ball. There were a good many grins as the
plot dawned on the young diamond enthusiasts.
"That'll be a warm one, if it works," grinned Reade.
"Say, but I shall be hanging right around to see it happen," declared
Originally this Saturday game had been scheduled for two in the
afternoon. However, so many of the schoolboys in town wanted
to have Saturday afternoon for other fun that the time had been
changed to nine in the forenoon.
"Hadn't we better be starting?" asked Dick, looking at his watch.
"Yes; I want to be in at the death of Teall," agreed Reade.
All in uniform the Central Grammars started down the street, though
this time they did not march. As they moved along other boys
joined them, some from the Central and others from the North Grammar.
By the time that Dick's nine and substitutes neared the field
more than a hundred fans trailed along with them.
Nearly three hundred other boys were walking about on the field,
or lying down under the trees.
Already the South Grammar boys were on the field, practicing by
way of warming up.
"Hello! Here come the bluebells!" yelled a group of South Grammar
fans and rooters.
"Blue? You bet they'll be blue when the game is over!"
"Hey, Prescott! What'll you take for the letters on your shirt?"
"Gimme that yellow curl over your forehead? I saw it first."
"Oh, my, don't the Little Boys Blue look sweet?"
In silence the Central players marched by their tormentors. Dick
gazed across the field to see Ted Teall swinging a bat at the
"Teall!" called Dick, as he and the others dropped their jackets
at the batters' benches.
"Hello!" returned Ted. "I'm glad to see that you fellows really
had the nerve to come to-day."
"I saw you doing some pretty wild batting, Teall," laughed Dick
Prescott. "That kind of work won't save you when I get started.
Shall I throw you in a few real ones---hard ones---before we
get at it in earnest?"
"Go on!" retorted Ted scornfully.
"Oh, I won't hurt you," Prescott promised.
"You bet you won't," boasted Teall.
"He's afraid, even before the game starts," jeered a group of
Central Grammar boys. "That's right, Ted. Guard your life."
"Don't be afraid, Teall," Dick urged tantalizingly. "Trying to
hit some of my deliveries will be something like an education
"Bosh!" sneered Teall.
"Then why won't you try a few?"
"I will, if you really think you can throw a ball that will rattle
me any," Teall agreed, grinning broadly.
"Go at him, Dick!"
"Whoop! Show him what a cheap batter he is."
Laughing, balancing a ball in his hands, Dick glided out on to
"Ready, Ted? Just see what you can do with one like this," Dick
It was a swift ball, but a straight one. To a batsman of Teall's
skill it was not a difficult one to hit. Ted swung his bat and
gave the ball a crack that sent it far out into outfield.
"Is that the best you can do?" jeered Ted.
"Oh, I've one or two better than that," replied Dick, pretending
to feel flustered.
Again Prescott sent in a swift one, and once more Teall sent the
leather spinning over the field. Hoots and cat-calls from the
Souths filled the air. The Central fans began to look a bit uneasy.
What was their champion pitcher doing, to let Teall get away
with his deliveries as easily as this?
A third ball Dick drove in, with the same result as before.
"Say, what you fellows need is practice," leered Ted.
"Look out that I don't catch you yet," mocked Dick Prescott, bending
to scoop up the returning ball from the ground. Then he wheeled
like a flash to confront the batsman.
This time, by a quick substitution, Dick held the home-made ball.
He twirled it for an instant, then sent it in toward the plate.
"Just---as---easy!" scoffed Ted, whirling his bat, then reaching
out for the ball.
Crack! Teall hit it soundly.
Bang! With such force had the batsman struck that he exploded
the large torpedo inside the home-made ball. There was a rattling
explosion, and Teall, unable to figure, in that first instant,
what had happened, sent the bat flying.
"Ow-ow-ow!" yelled startled Ted, leaping up into the air. When
he alighted he ran a dozen or more steps as fast as he could go,
then halted and looked around him. For an instant Teall's face
Then mocking laughter from hundreds of throats greeted him.
"I knew any little thing out of the ordinary would rattle you,"
smiled Dick. "Don't lose your nerve. It wasn't anything."
"Just a fresh idiot's attempt to be funny!" growled Teall, his
face now red with mortification.
"Laugh, Ted, confound you!" urged Tom Reade. "Laugh! Don't be
"What you need, Teall," teased Dave Darrin, "is some nerve tonic.
You ought not to let yourself get into such bad shape that you
almost faint when you hit the ball."
For once Ted Teall's ready tongue went back on him. He could
think of nothing to say that would not make him look still more
"I guess he'll be good, for one game at least," grimaced Dick
as he turned to his teammates.
TED TEALL FACES THE STORM
The game had gone into the third inning, with the Centrals retired
from the bat and the Souths now in from the field.
In the second inning Greg, backed splendidly by Tom and Dick,
had scored a run for his side---the only run listed as yet.
In this third inning, with South Grammar now at the bat, two men
were out, and one on second when Ted Teall stepped to the plate.
"Put a real slam over on 'em, Ted!" shouted a South fan.
"Drive a ball over into Stayton and then fill up the score card
while the Centrals are looking for it!" advised another Teall
"Centrals?" jeered another boy from the South. Grammar. "Centrals?
Show 'em they're just plain hello-girls!"
Ted grinned broadly at this "hello-girls" nickname. Just then
another fan from the southern part of Gridley piped up:
"Ted, eat 'em. They're only nine pieces of blue cheese!"
That was going too far, and it was time for Central Grammar to
take notice effectively.
"Bang!" roared one half of the Central fans.
"Ow-ow-ow!" yelled the other half of the Central boosters, leaping
up into the air.
Even Ted Teall had to laugh at this mortifying reminder of his
terror when he had struck the torpedo ball. The next instant
his face went deep red, for everyone on the field appeared to
be laughing and jeering at him.
"Confound Prescott and his tricks!" muttered Teall under his breath.
"It'll take a lot of thinking for me to get even with that trick."
Whizz-zz! went the ball by Ted's body, just below shoulder-high.
"Strike one!" called the umpire sharply.
"Centrals will get me rattled with that bang-ow-ow! of theirs
every time they spring it on me," thought Ted savagely.
Again Ted had failed to realize that the ball was coming. In
his anger be wondered whether he'd rather throw his bat at the
umpire or at smiling Dick Prescott.
"Strike three!" called the umpire's steady voice. "Side out."
Then Ted, in sheer exasperation, did hurl his bat a score of feet
"Bang!" came in a volley of Central voices.
"Ow-ow-ow!" wailed the other half of Old Dut's boys while the
North Grammars joined in.
"Go it, you boobs!" muttered Ted, shaking his fist at the spectators.
"Hurrah!" cheered Spoff Henderson from the subs' bench. "We know
how to stop Ted Teall's mouth now!"
Teall happened to hear the remark.
"Oh, you fellows are a lot of boobies!" sputtered Ted wrathfully.
"Anyway," Toby Ross leered back at him, "we're not so young that
we yell when we hit a ball by mistake."
In the fourth and fifth innings the Central Grammars, though they
booked some base hits, did not succeed in getting any runs through.
However, they succeeded in preventing Teall's nine from scoring,
which kept the score still at one to nothing. In the first half
of the sixth Harry Hazelton was brought home from third by a good
one by Dan. Then the side went out. In this inning Teall again
had a chance at bat. Before batting he stalked over to where
a lot of his schoolfellows were grouped and muttered:
"Don't you fellows shoot any funny remarks in this inning. Keep
"Huh!" shot out one of the boys. "What's the matter with you, Ted?"
"No matter. But I don't want any funny line of talk steered over
to the Centrals to-day."
"Seems to me you've changed a lot, Ted," grinned one of his classmates.
"Yesterday afternoon you put us up to a lot of funny things to
"Forget 'em," ordered Ted.
"Dick Prescott certainly stabbed you with that torpedo," grinned
another South. "Ted, your nerve is gone for to-day."
"Don't get too funny with me, or I'll see you after the game,"
threatened Teall, as he stalked away, for he was now on deck,
and due to go next to bat.
The second man for the Souths struck out.
"Teall at bat!" called the score-keeper.
Hi Martin and a lot of the North Grammar boys had come to the
field late. Hi didn't like to see the score two to nothing in
favor of the Centrals. He would have preferred to have the Souths
"Let's get Prescott rattled?" whispered Martin.
"I don't believe you can do it," replied Bill Rodgers. "Prescott
is a mighty cool one."
"Yes, we can," insisted Hi. "I'll tell you what to boiler just
the instant that Teall picks up the stick and Prescott starts
to twist the ball."
Ted, all unsuspicious, and believing that he had stilled his own
band of teasing torments, picked up his bat and went to the plate.
"Put it over the robbers, Ted!" came from Hi Martin's crowd.
"Don't be afraid of the Centrals---the fellows who stole their
uniforms from a lunatic in the woods."
Dick heard the senseless taunt and understood it. But it didn't
anger or confuse him. Instead, the ball left his hand with surer
But a crowd of Central fans also heard, and imagined that the
yell came from one of the groups of Souths.
"Bang! bang!" yelled a lot of Central Grammar boys with enthusiasm.
"Ow-ow-ow! Ow-ow-ow!" came the response.
"Strike one!" called the umpire. Ted, his face crimson and his
eyes flashing fire, threw his bat from him.
"Teall, pick up your bat," ordered the umpire. "If you do that
again I'll order you from the game."
"I don't care if you do!" trembled on Ted's lips, but he caught
the words in time. He gulped, swallowed hard, hesitated, then
went tremulously to pick up his stick. However, his grit was
gone for the day. He struck out and retired.
"Ow-ow-ow!" yelled a few of the Central fans in the eighth, and
Dave Darrin struck a two bagger, bringing Prescott in safe from
second, scoring a third run and landing Darrin on second. Had
not Ross struck out immediately afterward there would have been
other runs scored. The count was now three to nothing in favor
of the Central Grammars.
"Prescott's fellows are playing some ball," declared Bill Rodgers.
"Hub! You mean that the Souths don't know how to play," sneered
"Teall's fellows are playing well," argued Rodgers. "If you watch,
you'll see that the luck of the Centrals depends a lot on the
way they run the bases. Whew! They go like greased lightning
when they're sprinting around the diamond."
"Well, why shouldn't they run?" demanded Hi. "Prescott and his
fellows have been running every day since the snow went away."
"I wish our Norths had been running all the time, too," sighed
The Souths were playing desperately well in the field. Dick's
side came in for the ninth, but did not succeed in getting another
"Now, watch 'em closely, fellows," counseled Dick, as, from the
benches, he started his men out to the field. "The Souths are
mad and game, and they may get runs enough in this last half to
beat us. Play, all the time, as if you didn't know what it was
to be tired. Keep after 'em!"
Dick struck the first South Grammar fellow out. The next man
at bat took first on called balls. The next hit a light fly that
was good for a base. The player who followed sent a bunt that
Dave, as short-stop, fumbled. And now the bases were full.
"Oh, you Ted!" wailed the South fans hopefully. "Do your duty
Ted gripped the bat, stepping forward. As he reached the plate
he shot at his schoolmates a look of grim resolution.
"I'll bring those three fellows in, if I have to kill the ball,
or drive it through a fielder!" muttered Ted resolutely. "If
we can tie the score then we can break this fearful hoodoo and
win the game yet."
"Don't let that pitcher scare you, Ted!" yelled a South encouragingly.
"He hasn't a wing any longer. It's only a fin."
"Codfish fin, at that," mocked another.
"Bang!" retorted a dozen Central fans.
Before the answering chorus could come Dick Prescott held up a
hand, looking sternly at his sympathizers.
"Strike one!" called the umpire, and once more Teall reddened.
"I've got to brace, and work myself out of this," groaned red-faced
Teall. "There's too much depending on me."
"Now, I hope the next one will be good, and that I can hit it
a crack that will drive it into the next county," muttered Ted,
feeling the cold sweat beading his forehead.
He judged wrongly, on a drop ball.
"Drive a plum into that pudding in the box, Ted," sang out one
of his classmates.
"Ow-ow-ow!" shrieked a score of watching Central Grammar boys.
That was the last straw. Ted felt the blood rush to his head
and all looked red before him.
"Strike three! Side out! Game!" came slowly, steadily from the
umpire. Then the score-keeper rose to his feet.
"Central Grammar wins by a score of three to nothing."
This time Ted Teall didn't throw his bat. Gripping it savagely,
he stalked over to a group of his own schoolmates.
"What fellow was it that started the yelling?" demanded Ted huskily.
"Why?" challenged three or four of the Souths.
"I want to know who he is---that's all," muttered Ted.
In a moment there was a mix-up. But Teall wasn't popular at that
moment. A captain who had led his men into a whitewash was entitled
to no very great consideration.
"Let go of that bat!" roared Ted, as he felt it seized. "Let
go, or I'll hit some one with it."
"That's what he wants to do anyway," called out one of the boys.
"Yank it away from him!"
The bat torn from him, Ted Teall was fighting mad. He was so
ugly, in fact, that he was borne to the ground, three of his own
classmates sitting on him.
"You're all right, Ted," announced one of his classmates. "All
that ails you is that you've got a touch of heat. Cool off and
we'll let you up."
"There's one guyer who has lost his hold on his favorite pastime
of annoying other people," remarked Tom Reade grimly.
"Dick's trick was the slickest that ever I saw done in that line,"
chuckled Dave Darrin. "But I wonder how our fellows tumbled to
the idea of calling 'bang' first, and then following it up with
"Want to know very badly?" Tom questioned.
"I surely do," Darry nodded.
"Well, then," Tom declared, "I put some of the fellows up to that
TWO RIVALS PLAN DIRE REVENGE
"I wonder what Ted Teall will do after this when he wants to play
rattles on the other side?" inquired Harry.
Dick & Co. were now making the most of Saturday afternoon. Having
no money to spend, and no boat in which to enjoy themselves on
the river, they had gone out of Gridley some distance to a small,
clear body of water known as Hunt's pond.
When sufficient time after dinner had passed, they intended to
strip and go in swimming, for this pond, well in the woods, was,
by common understanding, left for boys who wanted to indulge in
"I don't believe Ted will get very funny, in the immediate future,"
replied Tom reflectively. "His fellows came to the field, all
primed with a lot of funny remarks they were going to shoot at
us during the game. Yet the only fellows who got hit by any flying
funny talk were the Souths themselves. I have been wondering
if 'Bang---ow-ow' was what cost the Souths the game?"
"I don't quite believe that," replied Dick. "Yet I am certain
that it took a lot of starch out of Ted himself. Do you remember
that time when he went over and spoke to his fellows?"
"Yes," nodded Greg.
"Well," Dick pursued, "I've heard since that that was the time
when Ted went over and begged his fellows to 'can' all funny talk
until the game was over."
"But they didn't," chuckled Dan.
"That was why Ted was so angry at the end."
"Anyway," Tom insisted, "Teall isn't likely to bother us any more."
"Either he'll quit on the funny talk," agreed Prescott, "or else
he'll go to the other extreme and be more tantalizing than ever."
It would greatly have interested these Central Grammar boys had
they known that the subject of their conversation was even then
listening to them. Ted Teall, sore and angry, had come away from
town all by himself. He wanted a long swim in the pond, to see
if that would cool off the anger that consumed him.
Hearing voices as he came through the woods, Ted halted first,
then, crawling along the ground, made his way cautiously forward.
And now the captain of the South Grammar nine lay flat, his head
hidden behind a clump of low bushes.
"Having fun over me, are they?" growled Ted.
"It was a rough trick to play, of course," laughed Dick. "But
I felt so wholly certain Ted's fellows would start in to break
us up that I felt I had to spring that torpedo trick in order
to shut the other crowd up in advance."
"Oh, you did, did you?" thought Teall angrily.
"But now there's something else to be thought of," Prescott went
on. "Teall is bound to feel sore and ashamed, and he won't rest
until be has done his best to get even with us."
"Teall had better leave us alone," replied Tom, shaking his head.
"Ted's brain isn't any too heavy, and he'll never be equal to
getting the better of a crowd with a Dick Prescott in it."
"We won't do any bragging just yet," Prescott proposed.
"That's right. You'd better not," Ted growled under his breath.
"Fellows," announced Dan Dalzell, "I've made an important discovery."
"I wonder if he saw me?" flashed through Teall's mind, as he tried
to lie flatter than before.
"Name the discovery," begged Hazelton.
"Look at your watches, fellows," Dan continued, "and I think you'll
find that it's now proper time for us to go in swimming."
"So it is," Darrin agreed. "Hurrah!"
Little more was said for a few moments. All the fellows of Dick
& Co. were busy in getting their clothing off.
"Say, but I hope you fellows get far enough away from your duds!"
breathed Teall vengefully, as he watched through the screen of
"Do you fellows think we had better leave a guard over our clothes?"
queried Dick, as they stood forth, ready for swimming.
"Not!" returned Dalzell with emphasis. "If I agreed to it, it
would be just my luck to have the lot fall to me. For the next
half hour I don't want to do a thing but feel the water around
me all the way up to my neck."
"What's the use of a guard over our clothes?" queried Dave. "There
isn't another soul besides ourselves in these woods this afternoon."
"Go on thinking that!" chuckled Teall.
Running out on a log and putting his hands together, Dick dived.
"How's the water?" called Tom.
"Cold," Prescott answered, blowing out a mouthful as he struck
out for the middle of the pond. "You'd better keep out."
"He wants the pond all to himself," muttered Tom, and dived at
In a moment all six boys were in the water, sporting about and
"I wish they'd get further away from here," thought Ted wistfully.
"They're hanging right around here. If I show myself they'll
all swim in. There wouldn't be time to do anything."
All too late Ted heard some one coming through the woods behind
him. He crouched, ready to crawl away to privacy, but found himself
too late. Hi Martin parted the bushes as be forced his way through.
"Hello, Teall," called the North Grammar captain.
"Hush---sh---sh!" warned Ted, putting a finger to his lips.
"What's the matter?"
"Prescott and his crew are out there swimming, and their clothes
are right below."
"I see," nodded Martin. "You want to get the clothes?"
"Sit down here, out of sight, and keep quiet, won't you?" urged
Hi sat down quietly. He didn't like Teall especially, but he
disliked Prescott, and perhaps here was a chance to serve Dick's
"If they'd only swim away for a little stretch!" whispered Ted.
"I see," nodded Hi Martin rather pompously. "Too bad, isn't it?
Now, Teall, you and Prescott both come from mucker schools, and
I don't know that I ought to butt in any. But I don't mind seeing
you torment Prescott a bit. You wait. I'll go in, and maybe
I can challenge those fellows to swim down the pond that will
take them away from this point."
Ted's face had flushed sullenly at Hi's remark about "mucker schools."
At another time Teall might have been ready to fight over a
slighting word like that. Just now, however, he craved help against
Prescott more than anything else.
"All right," urged Ted. "You decoy that crowd away from here
for a few minutes, and maybe I won't do a thing to them!"
"I'll see what I can do for you," returned Martin, going down
to the edge of the pond.
"How's the water, fellows?" called Hi.
"Fine," returned Dick with enthusiasm.
"Room enough in the pond for another?" Hi asked.
"Surely. Come on in."
"I believe I will," Hi answered, seating himself and fumbling
at his shoe-lacings.
A couple of minutes later Hi dived from the log and swam out to
the other boys.
"Are you fellows any good on swimming distances?" Martin asked,
as, with lazy stroke, he joined Dick & Co. The North Grammar
boy was an expert swimmer and proud of it.
"I guess we can swim a little way," Prescott replied. "I don't
remember that we ever swam any measured courses."
"Can you swim down to that old elm?" asked Hi, indicating a tree
at the further end of the pond.
"We ought to," smiled Dick.
"Come along, then," invited Hi, starting with a side stroke.
Dick & Co. started in irregular fashion, Darrin and Reade soon
spurting on ahead of Martin.
"How long can you tread water?" inquired Hi, after they had reached
the neighborhood of the elm.
This sport is always interesting to boys who are good swimmers.
Forthwith some endurance tests at treading were started. Then
Hi showed them all a few "stunts" in the water, some of which
Dick & Co. could duplicate easily, and some which they could not.
Thus the minutes slipped by. Hi, for once in his life, went out
of his way to be entertaining to Central Grammar boys. But, at
last, he muttered to himself:
"I guess Teall has had plenty of time for his tricks. If he hasn't,
then all afternoon wouldn't he time enough."
"Hello, Hi," called Dick. "Where are you going?"
"Back to dress," Martin replied. "I've been in long enough."
"I guess we all have," Dick nodded, himself turning back. His
"I don't know whether I'll dress or not," remarked Tom Reade,
as he shot ahead of the others. "If I find I don't want to dress,
then I'll just sit on the bank and dry my skin before going in
Continuing his spurt, Tom kept on until be reached the log from
which the first diving had been done. He waded ashore, looked
about in some bewilderment, and then called over the water:
"Say, fellows, just where was it that we left our clothes?"
"Why, barely a dozen feet back of the log," Dick called from the
"Hardly ten feet from where my clothes lie," added Hi Martin,
his face solemn, but with an inward chuckle over the rage of six
boys that he knew was soon to follow.
"But where are your clothes, Martin?" asked Tom, staring about
him. "Where is anybody's clothes?"
The look in Hi's face changed rapidly. He took a few swift, strong
strokes that bore him to shore.
Then, indeed, Martin's wrath and disgust knew no bounds. For
his clothing was as invisible as that of the Central Grammar boys.
HI MARTIN TRIES TO MAKE TERMS
"Confound that fellow Teall!"
This angry expression slipped past Hi's lips unguardedly.
By this time Dick Prescott was on shore. His quick, keen glances
took in the patent fact that some one had removed all the discarded
clothing from sight.
"So Ted Teall was around here, and you knew that he was going
to take our clothing?" demanded Dick, flashing a searching look
at Hi Martin.
When too late, Hi Martin saw how he had put his foot into the
mess by his indignant exclamation.
"And, knowing that Teall was going to slip away with our clothing,"
Dick went on, "you went into the water and lured us away to the
lower end of the pond. That was what you did to us, was it, Martin?"
Hi shook his head, then opened his mouth to utter an indignant
"Don't try to fool us," advised Dick bitterly. "Martin, you may
have thought it funny, but it was a mean trick to serve us, and
I am glad that Teall has shown you how little he likes you."
Under ordinary circumstances Ted might have left Hi Martin's clothes
behind. It had been Hi's impolitic remark about "mucker schools" that
had decided Ted to take away Hi's belongings as well.
"That Teall is a dirty sneak," cried Hi.
"He was simply a comical genius as long as he took only our clothes,"
Dick retorted. "But now that your things are gone as well, it's
a mean, low-down bit of business."
"Martin," observed Tom Reade dramatically, "thine own ox is gored."
"Talking won't bring back any duds," grunted Harry Hazelton.
"Teall can't have gotten very far with such a load. Let's rush
"You lead the way, then, son," suggested Dick, "and instead of
following you, we'll wait here until you bring the things back."
"I wonder which way he went?" puzzled Hazelton.
"Probably straight to the road," smiled Dick grimly. "That's
the shortest cut, and the road isn't far from here."
"But I can't go near the road in this---this---fix," sputtered
Harry, looking down at his wet, glistening skin.
"Exactly," nodded Prescott. "Nor can any of us go. That's the
joke. Like it? Ha, ha, ha!"
Dick's laugh had anything but a merry sound. None of the boys
had a truly jovial look, nor was it to be expected of them. Tom
was solemn as an owl, Harry fussy; Dan was grinning in a sickly
sort of way, as was Dave Darrin. Greg Holmes, utterly silent,
stood with his fists clenched, thinking how he would like to be
able at this moment to pounce upon Ted Teall.
"It's an outrage!" sputtered Hi Martin, white to the roots of
his hair. He was walking about, stamping with his bare feet on
the ground, the fingers of both his hands working nervously.
"Oh, well, you won't get any sympathy in this crowd," Tom assured
Hi glumly. "You were party to this, and all that disturbs you
is that any one should dare take the same kind of a liberty with
you. We don't care what happens to you, now, Martin."
"What shall we do with Martin, anyway?" demanded Dan Dalzell.
"Nothing," returned Dick crisply. "He isn't worthy of having
anything done to him."
"Let's call 'Ted' with all our might," proposed Harry.
"You can, if you want to," Dick rejoined. "I doubt if he is now
near enough to hear you. Even if he did hear, he'd only snicker
and run further away."
After a few moments more Dick and his chums, as though by common
consent, squatted on the sand near the edge of the pond. It was
warmer for them that way. Martin edged over close to them. Not
one member of Dick & Co. did the captain of the North Grammar
nine really like, but in his present woeful plight Hi wanted human
company of some kind, and he could not very well go in search
of people who wore all their clothing.
While the swimmers had been occupied in the water at the lower
end of the pond, Ted Teall had been wonderfully busy.
First of all, Ted had loaded himself with about half the clothing
belonging to Dick & Co. The shoes he had carried by tying each
pair by means of the laces and swinging three pair around his
neck. The first load be carried swiftly through the woods until
be came to a thicket where he hoped he would find concealment.
Then he had gone back for the other half of the clothing. This,
upon arrival at the thicket, Ted dropped in on top of the first
"Now, I guess I ought to hide somewhere where there won't be the
least danger of them finding me. Then I can see the fun when
those fellows come ashore," chuckled Teall. "Hold on, though!
There's one more debt to pay. That confounded Hi Martin called
the South Grammar a 'mucker' school. I believe I'll hide his
clothes, too, for his saying what he did. But I'll have to go
carefully, and see whether the fellows are still out of sight."
Ted returned with a good deal of caution. Then he discovered,
by the sound of voices, that the swimmers were still at the lower
end of the pond.
"Plenty of time to get Hi's duds, too," chuckled the pleased joker.
He slipped down close to the beach, gathering up all of Martin's
garments and the hat and shoes.
"Say, it must be fine to have a pretty well fixed father," murmured
Ted wistfully. "All these duds of Hi's are of the best quality.
I wonder if I'll be able to wear clothes like these when I'm
earning my own money?"
Then he started off, going more slowly than on his two previous
trips, for he felt that he had plenty of time. But at last the
nearing voices of the returning swimmers warned him.
"They can't see me," chuckled Ted. "If any of 'em chase me, I
can make a quick dash for the road and they won't dare follow
me there. They'd be afraid of running into other people."
So Ted even dallied for a while. Some of the angry words uttered
reached his ears and delighted him.
"Hi Martin is hot with wrath, and I'm glad of it," chuckled Ted
to himself. "So he thought I'd spare him, did he! Huh! The
next time he'd better be a little more careful over his remarks
about 'mucker' schools!"
Then Ted walked on again leisurely.
"I believe I'll let these fellows stay here until about dark,
hunting for their clothes, and not finding 'em," reflected Teall.
"Then I'll have Ed Payne drop around and tell 'em just where
to look. They can't thump Payne, for he won't be guilty of anything
but helping 'em. Then maybe Dick Prescott will pitch dynamite
again for me to bat at!"
Teall gained the thicket that concealed the other clothing. Just
as he was about to cast Martin's belongings after the other wardrobes,
he was disturbed by a sound close at hand.
With a start Ted looked up. Then he felt uneasy; frightened,
in fact. At his side stood a shabbily dressed man of middle age.
The man's cheeks were sunken, though they burned with an unhealthy
glow. There was, in the eyes, also a light that made Ted creepy.
"S-s-say, wh-what do you want?" stammered Teall.
"So you are a thief, and at work?" inquired the man, who had
rested a thin but rather strong hand on Ted's shoulder.
"A thief?" Teall repeated indignantly. "No, sir! And nothing
like it, either."
"Is all the clothing in there yours?" demanded the stranger sternly.
"No, sir," Ted answered promptly.
"You see," Ted went on more glibly, and trying to conceal the
fact that he was very uneasy under those burning eyes, "it's just
a joke that I'm playing on some fellows who are swimming."
"You consider that sort of a joke humorous?" demanded the stranger,
tightening the grip of his hand on Teall's shoulder until the
"It's not a bit worse than what one of them did to me this morning,"
Ted asserted, strongly on the defensive now. "And I don't know
what business it is of yours, mister. Who are you, anyway?"
"My name," replied the other quietly, "is Amos Garwood."
"Amos Gar---wood?" Ted repeated. At first the name conveyed no
information to him. But suddenly he remembered the name that
had been on everyone's tongue a few days before.
"The crazy man?" cried Ted, his voice shaking. Then the woods
rang with his startled combination of whoop and prayer.
"This is no place for me!" gasped Teall huskily, as, frantically,
he tore himself free of that grip on his shoulder.
Without more ado Ted Teall broke through cover for the road.
Never before had he realized how fast it was possible for him
to sprint. Terror is an unexcelled pacemaker at times.
That whoop, followed by the yell of fear, traveled until it reached
the boys at the lakeside. The distance and the breeze must have
robbed the voice of some of its terror, for Dick sprang to his
feet like a flash.
"That was Ted Teall's fine voice!" he cried, running up the slight
slope. "Come on, fellows! We'll travel straight in that
direction---and we'll find our clothing."
Nor were any of the boys very far behind Dick in the mad race.
Though two or three of them stepped on stones on the way, no
one gave a thought to so slight an accident.
Nor was it long ere they burst from cover and came upon Amos Garwood,
standing as though lost in thought, for Garwood was trying to comprehend
Teall's words, "the crazy man."
All in a flash Dick recognized the man. So did his chums. Hi Martin
alone was in the dark.
"Good afternoon," was Garwood's greeting, as he looked up as
though coming out of a trance. "You are looking for your clothing,
"Marvelous what a good guesser you are, sir," gasped Tom.
"You'll find your clothing in this thicket," announced Garwood,
indicating the spot with a wave of one arm.
Dick and Tom piled into the thicket, passing out the mixed-up
articles to the other boys. A quick sorting was made and each
"Say!" cried Hi, greatly disturbed. "There isn't a single thing
of mine here."
"Serve you right, then," uttered Tom, as he drew an undershirt
over his head. "You don't deserve anything to wear."
"You fellows didn't hand out my things," uttered Hi, darting into
the thicket. He searched savagely at first, then despairingly.
Not a shred of his wardrobe was to be found.
"What became of my clothes?" Martin demanded, stepping out into
the open. Tears brimmed his eyes now.
"Clothes? Your clothing?" asked Amos Garwood, again coming to
a realization of things about him. "Why, I believe the boy who
yelled and ran away from here carried one armful of things with
"Which way did he run?" throbbed Hi.
"That way." Garwood pointed to the road.
"You fellows get a few things on and run after Teall as fast as
you can go," ordered Hi. "Quick! Don't lose a moment. Do you
"Yes," nodded Prescott.
"Forget it," requested Dick, deliberately drawing on a shoe over
a sock, next doing the lacing slowly and with great care.
"Which one of you will go!" asked Hi, turning appealingly to the
"Hear the echo?" mocked Dave Darrin. "The echo says, 'which one?'"
"Say, you fellows are meaner than poison!" Hi exploded tremulously.
"You have a very short memory, Hi," retorted Greg Holmes.
"Who was it that put up the job on us? Who helped Teall to do
it?" asked Harry Hazelton.
"But I'm sorry for that," protested Hi Martin, tears again coming
to his eyes.
"I believe you," Dick nodded cheerily. "You're indeed sorry---sorry
for the way it turned out for yourself."
"But aren't you fellows going after Teall and my clothes?" insisted
the naked one.
"We're not going to chase Teall," Darrin answered, "if that's
what you mean. But, see here, Martin, I'm not going to be downright
mean with you."
"Thank you," said Martin gratefully. "You always were a good
"I'm going to be a good fellow now," Dave pursued. "I'm not going
to chase Teall, for we don't know which way he went, and he'll
be hiding. But I'll go around to your house and tell your folks
where you are, and what a fix you're in."
I'll go to-night, just as soon as I've eaten my supper."
"You---you great idiot!" exploded Hi.
"Now, for that insult, I take back my promise," Dave retorted
solemnly. "You needn't talk any more, Martin. I won't do a blessed
thing for you now."
"Dave, you're altogether too rough on a fellow that's in hard
luck," remonstrated Greg, then turned to Martin to add:
"Hi, it's no use to go chasing Ted Teall, but I'll tell you what
I'll do. I'm all dressed now, and I'll go straight to your house
and get some clothes for you, so you can come out of these woods
and walk home. I'll do it for half a dollar."
"Thank you, Holmesy, I'll do it," Martin eagerly promised. "And
I'll thank you, too, from the bottom of my-----"
"You can keep the thanks," proposed Greg gravely. "But you can
hand over the half dollar."
"E-e-eh?" stammered Hi, nonplussed, rubbing one hand, for an instant,
over his naked thigh in the usual neighborhood of the trousers'
"Fork over the half dollar!" Greg insisted. "This is a strictly
"Why, you---you---you-----" stuttered Hi in his wrath. "How
can I pay in advance when Ted Teall is a mile away from here with
my---my trousers and all?"
"Cash right in hand, or I don't stir on your job," insisted Greg.
"I---I'll pay you a whole dollar as soon as I can get home," Hi
"Hi Martin, after what you've done to us to-day," demanded Greg
virtuously, "do you think there's a fellow in this crowd who'd
take your word for anything? If you don't pay right now, then
I won't stir a step for you."
Again tears of helpless rage formed in Hi's eyes. Amos Garwood
stood looking on, unseeing. But Dick Prescott's thoughts were
flying like lightning. He knew that, somehow, Garwood ought to
be seized and held until the friends searching for him could be
"You fellows seem to think that everything is done when you get
your own old duds back," complained Hi Martin angrily. "You don't
seem to think that there's any need of doing anything for me."
"Why should we?" demanded Dick curtly. "You're the fellow who
helped put up a job to hide our clothes. Now, you yell because
you can't find your own."
"I'll go and get you some other clothes, whenever I'm paid for
it in advance," Greg smilingly repeated his offer.
Dick's brain was busy with plans for holding Amos Garwood until
the latter's father and friends could take charge of him.
"You're all the meanest lot!" protested Martin, tears of anger
standing in his eyes.
"And you're the funniest fellow," mocked Tom. "To see a lot of
sport in playing a trick on us, but howling like a dog with a
can tied to his tail when you find yourself the only one stung
by the joke."
"I'm going to leave here," Dick suddenly declared.
"Oh, I wish you would find my clothes and bring them to me," begged
"Come along, Greg. You, too, Dave. The rest wait here until
we come back."
Dick shot a significant look at Tom Reade, then glanced covertly
in Amos Garwood's direction. Reade understood and nodded.
"I don't really need or want you along with me, Dave," Dick murmured
as soon as the three boys were out of sight of the others. "What
I wanted was a chance to talk to you. Amos Garwood must be held,
if necessary, until we can find some men to seize him and turn
him over to the authorities. Be careful and tactful with him,
but don't let him get away from you. The other fellows will help
you, if necessary. I'm taking Greg with me, just so that Greg
may run in one direction and I in another, in case we don't find
help easily. But you get back and help Tom and the others. Of
course you won't lay hands on Amos Garwood unless it becomes necessary,
but in any case don't let him get away from you. Now, hurry back,
for, if Garwood suspects, and shows fight, it will take all four
of you to hold him. But if you all talk naturally and pleasantly,
I don't believe he will be suspicious, or make any effort to get
Dave nodded, turning back, while Dick and Greg hastened to the
road. Barely had they turned into the highway, when, a short
distance, ahead, they espied a boy standing under a tree.
"There's Ted, and he has Martin's clothes with him," called Dick
quietly. "Let's hurry up to him and get him to take the clothes
"A precious lot I care whether Hi Martin ever has any clothes
again," Greg retorted.
"Oh, well, Greg, there's such a thing as a joke, and there's such
a thing as carrying it too far. Hi Martin has had his dose of
punishment already. We can afford to be decent and let up on him
now. Hi, there, Ted!"
Teall looked as though uncertain whether to run or to stand.
"Don't be afraid, Ted," Dick called pleasantly. "A joke is all
right, and we admit that it was on us."
So Ted, after a first start of suspicion, decided to remain where
"Hi Martin sent you after his duds, I reckon?" inquired Ted as
the other two boys ran up to him. All of Hi's apparel lay on
the ground near Teall's feet.
"He certainly wanted some one to come," laughed Dick. "But, say,
Teall, the thing has been rubbed in too hard. Run back with the
things. You'll find all hands where you hid our things."
"And I'll find the crazy man there, too, maybe," ventured Teall.
"Also, I'll run right into a gang that is just waiting to trim
me. I thank you kindly, but if any one is to go back into that
crowd with Hi's things, it will be some one else. I won't go---too
much regard for my health, you know."
"Greg, you carry Hi's clothes back," urged Dick. "I'll take Ted
"I will not," flared Greg in open revolt.
"Be a good fellow," begged Dick.
"That's all right," grumbled Greg Holmes. "But I'm no valet to
any North Grammar boy.
"If you fellows won't either of you do it," protested Dick, "I'll
have to do it myself, and---oh, dear! I'm in such a hurry to
get help to take care of Garwood."
"What about that crazy man, anyway?" demanded Ted, his mouth agape
"I don't believe he's crazy at all, though he may perhaps be a
little flighty in his head," Prescott answered. "At any rate,
he isn't violent. There's no danger in him. Ted, won't you take
Teall shook his head with vigor.
In the meantime four Grammar School boys had stationed themselves
around Garwood, who stood under a tree chewing a blade of grass.
Hi, either from modesty or humiliation, had retired into a clump
"They've gone to find that boy who took the clothes, I suppose,"
remarked Amos Garwood, looking towards Dave Darrin. "That was
a strange boy, a very nervous boy," continued Garwood aloud.
"Just as soon as I told him my name, he turned and fled like a
streak of lightning. I wonder what ailed him?"
"I wonder?" repeated Dave solemnly.
"And that boy said something else that made me very curious,"
went on Amos Garwood. "He said something about a crazy man.
I almost thought he referred to me, though the boy himself was
the only one who showed any signs of being crazy. What did he
"He hasn't told us," Dave rejoined.
But Hi, who felt that he was being shamefully used by the crowd,
suddenly broke in with:
"If your name is Garwood, then Ted Teall meant that you're the
one that's crazy. And I know where the boys have gone. They're
not looking for my clothes at all. They're looking for constables
to come and seize you!"
"You shut up, Hi Martin!" raged Tom Reade, making a dash at Hi's
But the harm was done. Amos Garwood changed color swiftly.
"Ha, ha! Ho, ho!" he laughed harshly. "I begin to understand
now. But no one shall seize me. I won't let any one take me."
He started madly through the bushes, not seeking a path. Dan,
who was nearest him as be passed, leaped and threw both arms around
the man, bringing him to the ground. Dave leaped to aid Dalzell,
nor was Hazelton long in getting to the spot. Tom Reade decided
to defer the punishment of Martin, and went to the aid of his
Though he had been downed swiftly, Garwood was almost as speedily
on his feet, fighting desperately. Darrin he seized and hurled
several feet into a thicket. Dalzell sought again to wind his
arms around the fellow's legs, but was brushed aside as though
he had been a fly.
Tom Reade received a blow against his right shoulder that sent
him reeling away, while Hazelton, in trying to get a new hold,
was boxed over his left ear in a way that seemed to make the earth
revolve about him.
Hardly had the scrimmage started when Garwood was free.
"No one shall stop me, or hinder me!" cried Amos exultingly, then
wheeled and raced through the forest.
After him, as soon as they could recover their faculties, dashed
the Grammar School boys. For a minute or two they had him in
sight. Then Garwood, on his long legs, sped ahead and out of
sight. For another half minute they could hear the man's progress
through the brush. After that all was so still that Darrin and
the others halted, gazing perplexedly at each other.
"Where is he?" gasped Tom.
"Which way did he go?" breathed Dan.
Though they listened, neither sight nor sound now aided them.
"Of all the sneaks and trouble-makers!" cried Dave Darrin indignantly.
"Hi Martin ought to be tied to a tree and switched until he can't
see! He's a regular babbling butt-in."
"What good did it do him to meddle in that fashion?" burst from
Reade. "The mean, worthless fellow! And we had plenty of reason
to feel grateful to Colonel Garwood, Amos's father, after the
handsome uniforms that were given us."
"It must have been Hi's reason for spoiling our plan," muttered
Hazelton. "He didn't want us to be able really to earn the uniforms."
"Come on," urged Dave. "We mustn't lose a bit of time. If we
spread out and keep on we may sight Garwood again."
"Huh!" muttered Reade. "If Garwood has gone right ahead at the
speed with which be started, then he's in the next county by this
time. We won't see him again to-day."
After a few minutes of searching the other boys came to the same
"Out into the road, then," ordered Dave, who naturally took command
when Prescott was absent. "We want to head off any men Dick may
have found and tell 'em what has happened."
They turned, making rapidly for the road. As it happened, they
came out near where Ted Teall stood guarding Hi's clothing.
"Have you seen Dick?" was Darrin's hail. "Yes; he and Holmesy
have run down the road to get some men. Here they come now with
the men," Ted answered, pointing.
Dick had had the good fortune to find help before going far.
With such a reward as had been offered for the capture of Amos
Garwood, it was not difficult to find men who could be interested
in taking part in such a capture.
"What are you all doing here?" Dick yelled up the road.
"Garwood got away from us," Dave shouted back. "Hi Martin spoiled
the game for us, and we simply couldn't hold Garwood."
Then Dick, Greg and the three men hurried up. Dave and Tom told
"What a miserable hound Martin is!" burst from indignant Dick.
"So that boy spoiled us from getting a good slice of a fat reward,
did he?" growled one of the three men. "Where is he?"
"Up in the woods," muttered Dick, "waiting until some one takes
him his clothes. Ted Teall, you've simply got to return the booby's
outfit to him."
"Won't do it," retorted Teall.
"But you took them away from him," Dick insisted.
"Suppose I did?"
"It may prove a serious matter, to steal any one's clothing,"
Prescott retorted. "And Hi Martin's father is a hot-tempered
man. Ted, if I were in your place I don't believe I'd run the
risk of being arrested. A joke is one thing, but keeping any
one's clothes, after you've taken 'em, is proof of intention to
steal. I don't believe I'd take the risk, if I were you."
The men were turning back down the road now, having decided to
telephone the Gridley police and then turn out more men and go
into the woods for an all-night search. Dick & Co. turned to
go with the men.
"Say, you fellows," Ted called after them. "You going to shake
me like that? Who's going back into the woods with me, if I take
these clothes to Hi?"
"No one," Dick retorted over his shoulder. "You don't have to
take the clothes back, you know, unless you happen to consider
it safer to do it."
"Hang those fellows," sighed Ted, as be gazed after the retreating
Dick & Co. "Well, I guess they've got me. The wise thing will
be for me to take these duds to Hi before he catches cold."
So Ted gathered up the articles of apparel and with them started
back into the woods.
"Hi, Hi!" he called, as be neared the thicket.
"Here," came an angry voice.
"Here's your old duds," growled Teall, as he reached the thicket
that concealed young Martin, and threw the things on the ground.
"It's about time you brought 'em back," snapped Hi, making a dive
for his belongings.
"I had a good mind not to do it at all," retorted Teall hotly.
"You'd have found yourself in hot water if you hadn't done it,"
Hi declared testily, as, having drawn on his underclothing, he
seated himself to lace up his shoes. Then he rose and reached
for his trousers.
"See here, Ted Teall," cried Hi suddenly, holding the trousers
forward, "what did you do with my gold watch that was in the pocket
of these trousers."
"I didn't see your old watch," grumbled Ted.
"Then you lost it out of the pocket while running through the
woods, did you?" insisted Hi angrily.
Teall felt cold sweat come out on his neck and forehead. Well
enough did he remember the gold watch, which was the envy of most
of the schoolboys in Gridley. Nor was there any denying the fact
that the watch was absent.
"Honest, Hi; honest," he faltered. "I didn't see the watch at all."
"You've got to find it, just the same," retorted Martin stubbornly.
"If you take things away and lose them you've got to find them,
or make good for them. Now, Mr. Smarty, I'm going home, and you're
going to find the watch."
"Say, you might help a fellow and be decent about it," pleaded
"I didn't lose the watch, and I won't help you look for it," snapped
back Hi Martin, as he strode away. "But if you aren't at my home
with that gold watch before dark to-night, then you may look for
things to happen to you! Find the watch, or wait and see what
the law will do to you, Mr. Ted Smarty!"
Right on the spot Ted Teall started to look, a feeling of dull
but intense misery gnawing in his breast.
"Oh, gracious! But now I've gone and done it!" groaned Teall,
beginning to shake in his shoes. "Now, I'm in a whole peck and
half of trouble, for I'll never be lucky enough to find that watch
TED FEELS THE FLARE-BACK
Ted didn't find the watch, nor did the men searchers get anywhere
near a reliable trail of Amos Garwood.
As for Dick & Co., they aided in the search for a while, then
went home to supper, feeling that they had done their present
duty as well as boys might do it.
Ted Teall slunk home considerably after dark. Fortunately, as
it happened, his parents didn't force him to tell his reason for
being late, but Ted sat down to a supper that was cold and all
but tasteless. However, Teall could find no fault with his supper.
He was so full of misery that he didn't have the slightest idea
what the meal was like.
"I wonder if I'd better run away from home before I'm arrested?"
puzzled Ted, as he secured his hat and stole away from the house.
"Br-r-r-r! I don't like the idea of being hauled up in court."
It finally occurred to him that, if the officers were on his track,
the news would be known up in town.
"If I nose about Main Street, but keep myself out of sight, and
keep my eyes peeled for trouble," reflected wretched Ted, "I may
find out something that will show me how to act."
So to Main Street Ted slowly made his way, keeping an alert lookout
all the time for trouble in the form of a policeman.
At one corner Ted suddenly gasped, feeling his legs give way under
him. By a supreme effort of will he mastered his legs in time
to dart into a dark doorway.
"Huh! But that was a lucky escape for me," Teall gasped, as he
came out from the doorway, peering down the street after the retreating
form of Hi Martin's father. "I guess he's out looking for me.
He'll want his son's gold watch. Crackey! I wonder if folks
will think I'm low enough down to steal a fellow's watch?"
If Teall was rough, he was none the less honest, and had all of
an honest boy's sensitive horror of being thought guilty of theft.
"Yet the matter stands just this way," Ted reflected as he moped
along. "The watch must have been in the trousers when I snatched
'em up, and the watch wasn't there when I returned the trousers.
What will folks naturally think? Oh, I wonder if there ever was as
unlucky a fellow in the world before?"
A great lump formed in Ted's throat as he puzzled over this problem.
"Hello, Teall!" called a hearty voice. "Was Hi much obliged when
you gave him back his duds this afternoon?"
Dick Prescott was the speaker, and with him were his five chums.
"Nothing like it," muttered Ted, turning as the boys came up.
"Say, something awful happened to-day, and I'm in a peck of trouble!"
"Tell us about it," urged Tom Reade.
Ted started to tell them, mournfully.
"I don't believe a word of that, Ted," Dick broke in energetically.
"I'm telling you just as it happened," Teall protested.
"Oh, I guess you are, all right. But I don't believe Hi had his
watch with him. If he had had it, he would have worn a chain
or a fob, and I didn't see any, did you, fellows?"
"If I thought he had fooled me-----" muttered Ted vengefully.
Then, with a change of feeling, he continued:
"But I don't believe he was fooling me. Hi was too mad, and he
looked as though he'd like nothing better than to see me get into
big trouble over it."
"You went all over the ground where you'd been?" Dick asked.
"Must have gone over it seventeen times," Ted declared positively.
"I didn't quit looking until it was so dark that my eyes ached
with the strain. But not one sight did I catch of the watch."
"Don't worry any more about it, Teall," urged Dave Darrin. "Like
Dick, I don't believe, for an instant, that Hi had his watch with
"Here comes Hi now, out of the ice cream place," whispered Greg.
Young Martin certainly didn't look much worried as he gained the
street. For a few seconds he looked about him. He saw Dick &
Co. and scowled. Then he caught sight of Ted, despite the latter's
trying to shrink behind Reade.
"See here, Teall, did you find my watch?" demanded Hi, stepping
over to the group. His manner was aggressive, even threatening.
"N-n-no," stammered Ted.
"Then I don't believe you looked for it," insisted Hi.
"Didn't I, though? Until after dark," Ted rejoined.
"Then why didn't you find it?"
"Because I didn't happen to see it---that was the only reason,"
"There may have been another reason," observed Hi Martin dryly.
"Do you mean to say that I tried to steal it?" flared Ted, now
ready to fight.
"How do I know?" Hi asked.
"If I thought you meant that-----"
"Well?" asked Hi Martin, gazing coolly into the flashing eyes.
"You know better!" choked Teall.
"Of course you know better, Hi Martin," Dick broke in. "Ted Teall
isn't any more of a thief than you are."
"You fellows have no share in this matter," Hi retorted coldly.
"I'll thank you to keep out, and to mind your own business."
A little way down the street Hi caught sight of his father approaching.
He turned to Ted to inquire:
"You say that you looked faithfully for my watch until dark?"
"Yes; I did," Ted shot back at him.
"And you didn't find the watch?"
"No, sirree; I didn't."
"Oh, well, then," drawled Hi, "I guess---"
Grinning broadly, he thrust a hand in under his clothing, drawing
out his gold watch.
"I guess," Hi continued, "that it's time now to quit looking.
It's quarter of nine. Good night!"
At sight of that watch Ted Teall's eyes bulged. Then the nature
of the outrage dawned on him. In a moment all his pent-up emotions
took the form of intense indignation.
"You mean fellow!" hissed Ted, his fists clenching. "You-----"
"Teall, when you play jokes," warned Martin coolly, "you always
want to be sure to look out for the flare-back. Don't forget that.
Good evening, father!"
Hi slipped off by the side of his parent just in time for Ted
to slow down and realize that he couldn't very well thrash Hi
with the elder Martin looking on.
Tom and Greg began to laugh.
"Oh, cheer up, Ted," Dick smiled. "All's well that ends well,
"But this matter isn't ended yet," cried Ted Teall excitedly,
shaking his fist at Hi Martin's receding back. "It isn't ended---no,
sir!---not by a long shot!"
THE NORTH GRAMMAR CAPTAIN GRILLED
Nor was Teall long in finding his opportunity to be revenged.
On the following Tuesday, immediately after school, the North
and South Grammar nines met on the field. It was an important
meeting, for, under the rules governing the Gridley Grammar League,
whichever of these two teams lost, having been twice defeated,
was to retire vanquished; the victor in this game was to meet
the Central Grammar to contest for the championship.
On the toss Captain Ted Teall won, and elected that his side go
to bat forthwith.
The instant that Ted stepped to the plate a score of North Grammar
From another group of Norths came:
"Ow-ow-ow!" This was followed by some fantastic jumping.
"Huh! Those fellows don't show much brains!" uttered Teall wearily.
"They have to steal a josh from the Centrals."
It did not annoy Ted to-day. He had expected this greeting, and
had steeled himself against it.
Dick & Co., with a lot of other fellows from Central Grammar,
looked on in amusement.
"It's a pity one of Hi's fellows hasn't ingenuity enough to work
up a new 'gag,'" Tom remarked dryly.
"They'll never rattle Teall again with a 'bang,'" smiled Prescott.
When the Souths went to grass, however, and the Norths took to
the benches, all was in readiness for Hi, who came forth third
on the batting list. The first two men had been struck out.
"Come on in!" yelled a dozen tormentors from South Grammar onlookers.
"The water's fine!"
In spite of himself Hi frowned. He had been expecting something,
but had hoped that the events of the preceding Saturday afternoon
would be left out.
Hi made a swing for the ball, and missed.
"Who's seen my duds?" went up a mighty shout.
"Confound the hoodlums!" hissed Martin between his teeth.
As mascot, the Souths had brought along a small colored boy, who
attended to a pail of lemonade for the refreshment of Ted's players.
Ere the ball came over the plate a second time this mascot was
seen running close to the foul lines. Over one arm he carried
jacket and trousers; in the other hand he bore a pair of shoes
and of socks. That the clothing was patched and the shoes looked
fit only for a tramp's use did not disguise the meaning of the scene
from any beholder, for the news of that Saturday afternoon had
traveled through the school world of Gridley.
"Cheer up, suh!" shrieked the colored boy shrilly. "I'se bringing
Then the ball came from the box, but Hi was demoralized by the
roar of laughter that swept over the field.
A moment later the rather haughty captain of the North Grammar
nine had been struck out and retired. His face was red, his eyes
"Teall, we might expect something rowdyish from your crowd of
muckers," declared Martin scornfully, as the sides changed.
"If I were you, Martin, I wouldn't do much talking to-day," grinned
Ted. "It's bad for the nerves."
A half a dozen times thereafter the colored boy was seen scurrying
with "the duds." He took good care, however, to keep away from
the foul lines, and so did not come under the orders of the umpire.
Whenever the mascot appeared with his burden he raised a laugh.
Hi could not steel himself against a combination of anger and
hurt pride. Some of the North Grammar girls in whose eyes he
was anxious to stand well were among those who could not help
laughing at the ridiculous antics of the colored lad.
Toward the close of the first half of the third inning Teall again
came to bat. There were no men out in this inning, and two men
were on bases.
"Now we'll see how you will stand a little jogging," muttered
Hi under his breath as he crossed his hands in signal to some
of the North Grammar fans.
Just as Ted picked up his bat a dozen boys squeaked:
"What time is it?"
This was followed by:
"Who stole my watch?"
Another lot of North tormentors---those who had them---displayed
"That's almost as bad as a stale one," Ted told himself scornfully.
Just then the ball came just where Teall wanted it.
Crack! Ted hit it a resounding blow, dropped his bat and started
to run. Amid a din of yells one of the Souths came in, another
reached third and Ted himself rested safely at second base.
In that inning the Souths piled up five runs. Thereafter the
game went badly for the North Grammars, for most of the players
lost their nerve. Hi, himself, proved unworthy to be captain,
he had so little head left for the game. The contest ended with
a score of nine to two in favor of the South Grammars.
"That will be about all for the Norths," remarked Ted, with a
cheerful grin, as be met Hi Martin at the close of the game.
"Your nine doesn't play any more, I believe."
"I'm glad we don't," choked Hi. "There's no satisfaction being
in a league in which the other teams are made up of rowdies."
"It is tough," mocked Ted. "Especially when the rowdies are the
only fellows who know how to play ball."
Hi stalked away in moody, but dignified silence. Yet, though
he could ignore the players and sympathizers of other nines, it
was not so easy to get away from the grilling of his own schoolmates.
"Huh!" remarked one North boy. "You told us, Martin, that you'd
prove to us the benefit of having a real captain for a nine.
Why didn't you?"
"Martin, you're all wind," growled another keenly disappointed
North. "You talked a lot about what you'd do with the nine---and
what have you done? Left us the boobies of the league. We're
the winners of the leather medal."
"Why didn't you play yourself, then?" snarled Hi.
"I wish I had. But we Norths were fooled by the talk you gave
us about how baseball really ought to be played and managed.
You're the school's mascot, you are, Hi Martin. Not!"
In the meantime Dick Prescott was being surrounded by anxious
Central Grammar boys.
"Dick," said one of them, while others listened eagerly, "you
beat the Norths. But you didn't give them any such drubbing as
the Souths did to-day. Are they a better nine than ours?"
"No," Prescott answered promptly.
"Yet they whipped the Norths worse than we did. Can we down
"Yes," nodded Prescott.
"Why can we?"
"For the simplest reason in the world, Tolman. We've got to.
Isn't that a fine reason?"
"It sounds fine," remarked another boy doubtfully. "But can you
whip another crowd just because you want to?"
"If you want to badly enough," Dick smiled.
"Hm! I'll be surer about that when I see it done."
"It'll happen next Friday afternoon, if rain doesn't call the
game," Prescott promised.
"What do you say to that, Darrin?" demanded another Central boy.
"Just what Dick said."
"What's your word, Tom!"
"You heard what our captain said," Reade laughed. "I always follow
orders. If Dick Prescott tells me to pile up seven runs against
the Souths I'm going to do it."
"I hope you do," murmured another boy. "Yet it seems against
us---after the way we saw the Souths play to-day."
"Or rather," added Dick quietly, "the way the North Grammars didn't
play. They'd have put up a lot better game if their captain hadn't
lost his nerve and his head."
As the Central Grammar boys left, most of them in one crowd, there
was a rather general feeling that Dick was just a bit too confident.
Or, was he simply "putting it on," in order to bolster up the
courage of his players?
Dick Prescott, at least, was qualified to know what he really
expected. He really was confident of victory in the game that
should decide the league championship.
"If you feel that you can't be beaten, and won't be beaten, but
that you've got to win and are going to win, then that's more
than half the points of a game won in advance," he told his chums.
"Fellows, in baseball or anything else, we won't say die, either
now or at any later time in life. We'll make it our rule to ride
right over anything that gets in our way. That way we can't know
"Unless, finally, we ride to our deaths," laughed Tom.
"What of it?" challenged Dick. "That wouldn't be defeat. The
man who rides to death in the search for victory has won. He has
carried the winning spirit with him to the very finish. Or else
the history we've been studying at school is all a mess of lies."
"There's a lot in that idea," nodded Dave thoughtfully.
"There's more in it every time that you think of it," Dick contended.
Thus Dick was starting, in Dick & Co., the never-give-up spirit
which made them almost invincible later as High School boys.
Wednesday and Thursday were days filled with eagerness for the
Central Grammar boys. The members of the baseball squad were
not by any means the only ones on tenterhooks. Every boy in the
upper grades of the school was waiting impatiently to learn who
would be the winners of the championship.
Somewhat to the astonishment of the Central Grammar boys Captain
Dick, on Wednesday afternoon, gave his team only a brief half
hour of diamond practice. Thursday afternoon they didn't play
at all. Instead, the nine and its subs. went off on a tramp
through the woods.
"What we want to-morrow above all," Dick explained, as he marshaled
his forces, "is steady nerves. There's nothing like a good walk
in the cool and shady spots for tuning up a schoolboy's nerves
for an ordeal. A walk is good whether you're facing an exam.
or a championship game."
"May the rest of us go with you!" called one of the Central boys
outside the squad.
"We can't stop you," Dick replied, "but we'd rather you let the
ball squad go by itself."
"All right, then," cried three or four. The fourteen of the squad
marched away, unhampered by any followers.
Once outside the town and halted under a grove of trees, Dick
turned to his teammates.
"Fellows," he said quietly, "I believe some of you have been anxious
to know what the man on the clubhouse steps said."
"It's coming, at last!" gasped Tom Reade. "Well, let us hear
what the man on the clubhouse steps said. It must be one of the
choice pieces of wisdom of all the ages."
"It is," Dick replied quietly.
"Then let us hear shouted Dave.
"Not now," Prescott answered, shaking his head solemnly. "But,
fellows, you win to-morrow's game and you shall all hear just
what the man on the clubhouse steps said."
"Win?" retorted Tom Reade. "Dick Prescott, with a bribe like
that before us, we're bound to win! We couldn't do anything else."
Then they went further into the woods. Dick had brought his players
here in search of peace, quiet and nerve rest. Had he had even
one prophetic glimpse of what was ahead of some of them that afternoon
it would have been far better to have remained in town.
"BIG INJUN---HEAP BIG NOISE"
"Say, we don't want to just go on walking. There's no fun in
that," objected Spoff Henderson.
"We're out for rest more than for fun," Dick replied. "The walk
and the rest this afternoon are all by way of preparing for the
big game to-morrow afternoon."
"But wouldn't there be more rest about it if we had a little fun?"
"Perhaps," Dick nodded. "What's your idea of fun?"
"Why not play 'Indians and Whites'?" put in Toby Ross eagerly.
"That would be just the sort of game for to-day," Dave approved.
"That's what I say," nodded Tom.
"Dick, you're used to these woods," Spoff went on. "You be the
big Injun---the big chief. Choose two more of the fellows to
be Injuns with you, and the rest will be whites."
"All right," nodded Dick. "Dave and Tom can go with me. Who'll
be your captain?"
"Greg!" cried Spoff.
"Holmesy," said Ross in the same breath.
So Greg Holmes was chosen captain, to command the whites.
"Give us the full six minutes, Greg, won't you?" Dick called,
as he and his two fellow "Injuns" prepared to enter the deep woods.
"Of course I will," Greg nodded. "You don't think I'd cheat,
Those of the boys who were proud owners of watches hurriedly consulted
their timepieces. Greg retained his in his hand.
"Now," called Dick, and away he started, followed by Braves Darrin
As the Gridley boys had their own version of "Indians and Whites,"
a description of the game may as well be given here.
The Indians always chose a chief, the whites a captain. Chief
and braves started away at the call of time. Six minutes later,
to the second, the whites started in pursuit. The whites must
keep in one band, as must also the Indians. Yet, in trailing,
the whites could spread out, while the Indians must keep together.
Though the Indians were allowed to double on the trail, they were
not permitted to run. Nothing faster than an ordinary walk was