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

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permitted to them, unless they found themselves sighted by the

Moreover, owing to the lack of skill on the part of the whites
in following a trail, the Indians were required to walk as usual,
making no special efforts to hide their footprints.

The whites were permitted to pursue at any gait. If they sighted
the Indians, then they were expected to yell by way of warning.
If more than half the Indians were captured before the expiration
of an hour from the first departure of the Indians, then the whites
won. Otherwise the Indians were victors.

Dick walked in advance, Dave and Tom side by side just behind him.

"We must try to think up some way to fool the fellows," muttered

"Halt!" warned Dick, when they were barely two minutes away from
the starting point.

Darrin and Reade stopped in their tracks.

"See that low-hanging limb, and the bushes just beyond?" asked
young Prescott.

"Of course," assented Dave.

"We'll go on about a minute further," suggested Dick, who had
kept his watch in hand from the outset. "Then we'll walk backward,
stop here, grab that limb and swing ourselves over past the bushes.
That ought to throw the fellows off the track and get 'em all
mixed up."

"If the whites are spread enough they'll probably be outside those
bushes," remarked Reade. "Then they'll find where the trail changes."

"That's one of the chances that we have to take," smiled Dick.
"Let's see if we can't make it work."

Onward again they went, halting when Prescott gave the word.
Walking backward, they were soon at the oak with the low-hanging

"I'll try it first," proposed Dick, "and see if it's easy enough.
Don't walk around here and make enough tracks to call the attention
of the whites to the fact that we stopped here."

Dick made a bound, catching the limb fairly. Three or four times
he swung himself back and forth, until he had gained enough momentum.
Then he let go, on the last swing, landing on his feet well behind
the bushes. Dave came next, Tom following. Now the three Indians
hurried on again, Big Injun Dick in the lead as before.

"If we do throw them off, Greg's fighting men will have a hard
job hitting the trail again," chuckled Tom.

"If they don't find our trail, Dick, where are you headed for?"
whispered Dave.

"For the road and home," laughed Dick. "Then, while they're trying
to figure out where we've gone, we fellows will be washing up
for supper."

"I'd like to hear Old Greg grumbling if the 'double' does throw
'em off the trail altogether," grinned Darrin. "Dick, I think
we've more than half a chance to get away."

"We have about four chances out of five of slipping away from
Greg's soldiers," predicted Prescott.

For ten minutes Dick and his two braves plodded on. There were,
as yet, no audible sounds of pursuit.

"We caught 'em, surely enough, that time," chuckled Tom. "Going
to hit for the road now, Dick?"

"We can't reach the road until our hour is up; we're bound to
keep to the woods," Prescott replied. "However, you'll note that
I am taking a course that will gradually lead us to the road."

"Right-o," nodded Reade, after taking a look at their surroundings.
All the members of Dick & Co. had spent so much of their time
in the woods that they knew every foot of the way.

"I wonder where that valiant band of whites is, anyway?" muttered
Dave. "I haven't heard a sound of them."

"You may hear their battle yell any minute," Dick whispered.
"Be careful not to talk loudly enough to give them any clue."

For two or three minutes more Dick led the way. Of a sudden he
halted---right up against a huge surprise. For the boys had suddenly
broken into a little circular clearing, not much more than thirty
feet in diameter. Near the center of this clearing, under a flimsy
shelter he had made of poles and branches, crouched Amos Garwood.
He was at work over a low bench built of a board across two boxes.
So intent was Garwood on what he was doing that he appeared not
to have heard the approach of the boys.

Dick Prescott stood looking on, one hand raised as a signal for
the silence of those behind him. But both Dave and Tom had caught
sight of the stranger at about the same instant.

"If any who know me have hinted that my brain is not strong enough,"
muttered Garwood, whose back was turned to the startled Grammar
School boys, "there is bound to be a great awakening when my wonderful
invention is perfected. Then the world will bow down to me, for
I shall be its master."

"Crazy as a porous plaster!" muttered Tom Reade under his breath.

"It will be a new, a strange sensation," continued Garwood, speaking
just loud enough to be heard by the onlookers. "A great sensation,
too, to be master of the world when, during these present dark
days, I am compelled to run and hide for fear envious scientists
will succeed in capturing me and locking me up."

"I wonder what he thinks he's doing there?" pondered Dick curiously.

"To think that a few grains of this wonderful substance would
pulverize a regiment!" continued Garwood, in an inventor's ecstasy.
"An ounce of this wonderful material enough to blow up an army
corps. A single pound sufficient to bring the nations of the
world to my feet in awed homage. And I can make a hundred pounds
a day of it! Oh, that I could reach other worlds, to make them
feel my mastery!"

"If his stuff is as good as he thinks it is, I certainly hope
he won't shoot off any of it accidentally," thought Prescott,
with an odd little shiver.

"Oh, that I dared trust my secret to one or two others!" murmured
Garwood, as he delved with one hand into one of the boxes that
supported his simple bench. "And now for the great finishing

Amos Garwood placed on the board a fairsized wide-mouthed bottle.
From where he stood, Dick could read the label on the bottle---
"Potassium Chlorate---crystals."

"Chlorate of potash?" thought Dick. "That's what Dr. Bentley
gave me once for sore throat."

Dick, however, was soon to get an inkling of a suspicion that
chlorate of potash might be used to serve other purposes.

As the mentally queer inventor reached into the box for that bottle,
the three silent, observing "Injuns" saw that Garwood had on the
crude table before him a glass mortar and pestle, the former of
about two quarts' capacity.

In this mortar lay a quantity of powdered stuff, which Garwood
had evidently been grinding before their arrival. Now he poured
out a heaping handful of the chlorate crystals, dropping them
on top of the mixture in the mortar.

"A few turns---a little more fatigue of the wrist---and I am the
world's master---its owner!" cried Garwood exultantly.

"Ker-choo!" sneezed Tom Reade at the worst possible moment.

Amos Garwood turned like a flash, tottering to his feet.

"Spies! Traitors! Ingrates!" he gasped in hoarse terror.

"Nothing at all like it," Dick replied, with a pleasant smile.
"Mr. Garwood, we boys are playing in these woods. If we've meddled
with your affairs you'll pardon us, and let us pass on, won't you?"

"Didn't you try to find me here?" demanded Garwood, suspicious still.

"I give you my word of honor that we didn't, sir," answered Dick.
"Until a moment ago we hadn't any idea that you were within
fifty miles of this spot. You see, sir, we're playing Indians
and whites. We're the big Injuns, even if we don't look it.
And behind us, somewhere on our trail, is Captain Greg Holmes,
with a company of his brave soldiers, trailing us relentlessly."

"Soldiers?" quivered Amos Garwood, his face going ashen. Then
his face suddenly took on a look of intense exultation. "Soldiers?"
he repeated. "It couldn't be better. It is on soldiers that
my amazing discovery should be proved. But I waste time---and
loss of time may be fatal to all my plans. A few turns, and my
discovery is ready. I can then defy whole armies, if necessary!"

Sweeping the mortar around within reach, so that he could work
and watch the Grammar School boys at the same time, Amos Garwood
began to grind his pestle into the mixture with feverish energy.

Then all of a sudden the very earth shook and rocked. Big Injun
Prescott and his two braves were in the center of the biggest explosion
they had ever heard!

Chapter XIV


It was terrific, and yet the only effect on the bench on which
the mortar lay was to knock the board sideways from the boxes.
The mortar became as powder itself, though not a splinter was
raised from the wood.

From the lips of Amos Garwood a fearful yell went up. He plunged
headlong a few feet, then lay on the ground, feebly nursing his
right hand with his left.

As for Dick, Dave and Tom, their ears rang with the noise until
they felt as though surely their ear-drums had been ruptured by
the force of that awesome detonation.

An instant later all was quiet. Dick and his chums speedily realized
that they had escaped actual injury, yet their legs shook so that
they could hardly stand.

"Wh---wh---what was it?" asked Reade in accents that quivered
in unison with his trembling legs.

"See here, fellows, we mustn't be fools," Dick cried chidingly.
"We're not hurt, and Mr. Garwood is. Let's see what we can do
for him."

"Do for me, will you?" groaned the injured one. "No, you won't.
You boys keep your distance from me, or you're going to be worse
scared than you are already. Don't imagine that I'm helpless,
for I'm not. In me you behold the master of the world!"

"Confound him, I've a good mind to go away and let him have the
world to himself," muttered Reade.

But Dick and Dave had already started toward the spot where Amos
lay. The man scrambled to his feet, the old, hunted look coming
into his eyes.

"You keep away from me!" he screamed. "Get away! Clear out!
I don't want to hurt you. I wouldn't harm a fly. But I'm not
going to allow any one near me!"

Dick ventured too near. Garwood swung his uninjured arm so
unexpectedly that Prescott had no chance to get out of the way.
He fell flat on the ground. Warned by the light in the eye of the
world's master, Dick believed it prudent to roll several yards before
be tried to get up.

"Say," blazed Darrin indignantly. "Are you going to stand for

"Don't excite him," murmured Prescott in an undertone. "The poor
fellow isn't responsible for what he's doing. And I'd fight,
too, if I thought any one was trying to seize me."

"I'm sorry if I had to hurt you," said Amos Garwood in a milder tone.
"But I allow no one to come near me. I have too many enemies
---so many who are jealous of me that I can trust no one."

"He isn't really dangerous, poor fellow," whispered Prescott to
his companions.

"No, though he has a habit of blowing up suddenly," muttered Reade.
"He did the same thing once before, you'll remember, at the old
water-works cottage."

"Are we going to try to catch the fellow this time?" Darrin whispered.

"Yes," nodded Dick. "We ought to, both for his father's sake
and his own."

"What do you say, then, if we all three rush him?" pressed Darrin.

"It would be mean," Dick retorted in an undertone. "The poor
fellow might be tempted to use his injured hand. And you can
see how it's burned. I don't wonder. You saw how the flame of
the explosion leaped all over that arm. It's a wonder it didn't
set him afire."

"Are you boys going to leave me," inquired Garwood, "or are you
going to remain and thus show me that you are truly of my enemies?"

"You slip back into the woods, Tom," whispered Dick. "See if
you can find Greg and the other fellows. If you can, bring them
up quickly."

Dave and I'll stay here, unless Garwood moves away. If he does,
Darry and I will follow him. If you hear any war whoops, come
running in that direction, you and the other fellows. You'll
know that the whoop means that we need you."

"I hate to leave you two with him," muttered Reade reluctantly.
"If this world-boss gets violent you two won't be enough for

"We can get out of the way, if we have to," Dick rejoined. "But
hurry, Tom. We need a lot of the fellows, for we ought to seize
this poor fellow and get him into town, even if only that be may
have proper attention for his burned hand and arm. Hustle. You'll
help me more in that way than in any other."

Thus urged, Tom turned and vanished into the forest behind the

"Why do you stay here?" demanded Amos Garwood fretfully. "I
don't want to injure you, boys; but if you belong to my enemies,
then I shall be forced to hurt you. Run away before I lose my
temper. I am always sorry afterwards when I have lost my temper."

The flash in the man's eyes made both boys feel "creepy." Thin
as he was, there was about him, none the less, a suggestion of
great strength and force when put in action.

"We have a right to stay in the woods, Mr. Garwood," Dick answered.
"I don't want to seem impudent, either, but I would suggest that
if you don't like to be with us here, then there are other parts
of the forest that you can find."

As Dick spoke he swung one arm, pointing artfully to the woods
in the direction that Tom Reade had gone, and where it was believed
that Greg and his followers were searching.

"If that's the way you want me to go," smiled Amos Garwood darkly,
"then I believe I'll go in the opposite direction. And, young
men, it won't be wise for you to attempt to follow me!"

With that hint he started. Dick and Dave waited until they could
see only the top of his head. Then they started on his trail.

For an instant Amos Garwood was out of sight. Then, with a suddenness
that startled both trailers, Garwood stepped out from behind a
tree and right into their path.

"I cautioned you both," he announced sharply. "I shall not go
to that trouble again. Keep away from me. Never mind where I
am going, or what I am going to do."

Then a spasm of pain shot across the poor fellow's face. Calm
as he tried to keep himself, it was plain that his burned hand
and arm were causing him great suffering.

"Won't you come with us," pleaded Dick, "and get that arm of yours
attended to? We'll take you to the right place."

"To the right place?" mocked Garwood harshly. "Right into the
camp of my enemies, I suppose? Among those who deride my great
invention, and yet who would capture me and steal my wonderful
discovery from me. Boys, I have already told you that if you
follow me, you will follow me to grave harm. Beware in time.
Run! Leave me! Or your fates be on your own heads, for I am
master of the world and can force you to obey me!"

As Garwood spoke the last words another change crossed his face.
He reached into an inner coat pocket.

"You will not obey me," he remarked. "Therefore, I must act to
save myself and my great discovery. 'Tis as you would have it!"

"Duck!" gasped Dave Darrin, seizing Dick by one arm. "He means
big mischief!"

What it was for which he had reached in his pocket neither Grammar
School boy saw, for both turned at the same instant, beating a
swift retreat. Sixty feet away, however, they halted, wheeling

Garwood, seeing the boys run, acted as though he would give them
no further thought. He was already walking in the opposite direction,
his back turned to them.

"Ugh! He gives me cold chills," cried Darrin.

"He does the same to me," sighed Dick, "but it's a plain case
of duty to follow him until we can turn him over to those who'll
take good care of the poor fellow."

Just as Amos Garwood was on the point of vanishing from their
view, the two schoolboys started forward, more cautiously than

Back of them in the woods, far away, sounded a boyish war-whoop.

"Hi-yi-yi-yi-_yoop_!" answered Dave Darrin.

Amos Garwood started forward with a bound like that of a deer.
Then his long legs went into rapid operation. Prescott and Darrin
ran onward as fast as they could go. They were trained to running,
too, but this "master of the world" set them a pace that no
fourteen-year-old boys on earth could have followed with any hope
of success.

"Whoop, but he's an airship for speed!" gasped Dave Darrin.

"We couldn't catch him with a locomotive," confessed Dick, when,
panting, he was at last obliged to halt.

"Hear him---going," gasped Darrin.

"I can't hear him," confessed Dick, after a moment of listening.

"That's just the point. He has gotten so far away that we can't
hear him crashing through the undergrowth."

"I'm afraid we won't catch up with him again to-day," sighed Dick.

"The folks who are trying to catch Amos Garwood are foolish in
sending detectives to look for him," muttered Dave. "They ought
to hire professional sprinters."

Away at their rear sounded a fainter whoop.

"Answer the fellows, Dave," urged Prescott.

"I will---when I get some wind," muttered Darrin.

Three times more Greg and his fellows whooped before Dick could
get together enough wind to make his voice travel. Greg repeated
the hail, and again Dick answered. After a few minutes the other
Grammar School boys caught up with Dick and his friend, who told
to the new-comers the story of the encounter with Amos Garwood.

"Get away from you again?" asked Tom blankly.

"I don't believe we'll ever chase that streak of light again,"
growled Dave. "I don't feel as though I'd ever be able to run
again. Amos Garwood can walk faster than any of us can run."

"The most that we can do at present," Prescott concluded, will
be to notify Lawyer Ripley or Chief Coy that we've seen the Garwood
flyer again."

"I wish we could catch him," sighed Torn, while Greg nodded.

"You two can have the next chance," smiled Dick. "As for me,
I am certain that I can never catch Amos Garwood unless he and
I happen to be running toward each other."

"All in favor of supper," proposed Dan Dalzell, glancing at his
watch, "say 'aye' and turn homeward."

"But shan't we try, for a while, to trail Garwood?" queried Greg.

"What's the use?" cross-questioned Dick disconsolately. "We might
sight him, but we'd never catch him. Nor do I believe he has
stopped running yet."

"If he hasn't," grumbled Dave, "he's twenty miles from here by
this time."

So Dan's motion prevailed. The baseball squad of the Central
Grammar School turned toward the road that led homeward.

Chapter XV


"That explosion was fearful, what there was of it," Dick declared
to Chief Coy. It was evening, and the head of the local police
department had stopped the boys on the street for additional information
on the subject.

"What did it look like?" asked Chief Coy.

"There came a big flash and a loud bang in the same instant, and
Mr. Garwood was hurled over on his side. The queer part of it
was that the explosion didn't do any real damage to the bench,
though there wasn't a piece of the glass mortar left that was
big enough to see."

"The explosion all went upward. It didn't work sideways or downward?"
asked Chief Coy.

"That's the way we saw it," Dick replied. "And it didn't hurt
either you or Darrin?"

"Not beyond the big scare, and the shock to our ear-drums."

"I wonder what the explosive could have been?" mused the chief

"I don't know what was in the mortar in the first place, sir,"
Dick Prescott went on. "All Amos Garwood put in the mortar after
we got there was some chlorate of potash. Then he put the pestle
in and began to grind."

"And then the explosion happened?" followed up Chief Coy.

"Chlorate of potash, eh?" broke in a local druggist, who had halted
and was listening. "Hm! If Garwood ground that stuff with a
pestle, then it doesn't much matter what else was in the mortar!"

"Is the chlorate explosive, sir?" questioned Dick.

"Is it?" mimicked the druggist. "When I first started in to learn
the drug business it was a favorite trick to give an apprentice
one or two small crystals of chlorate to grind in a mortar. After
a lot of accidents, and after a few drug clerks had been send
to jail for playing the trick it became played out in drug stores."

"But I've seen powdered chlorate of potash," interposed Tom Reade,
who was always in search of information.

"Yes," admitted the druggist. "I can show you, at my store, about
ten pounds of the powdered chlorate."

"Then how do they get it into a powder, sir?" pressed Tom. "Do
the manufacturers grind it between big millstones?"

"If any ever did," laughed the druggist, "they never remained
on earth long enough to tell about it. A few pounds of the chlorate,
crushed between millstones, would blow the roof off of the largest
mill you ever saw!"

"But what makes the stuff so explosive?" queried Prescott.

"I don't know whether I can make you understand it," the druggist
replied. "Potassium chlorate is extremely 'rich' in oxygen, and
it is held very loosely in combination. When a piece of the chlorate
is struck a hard blow it sets the oxygen free, and the gas expands
so rapidly that the explosion follows."

On the outskirts of the little crowd stood a new-comer, Ted Teall,
who was drinking in every word that the druggist uttered. Dick
saw him and felt a sudden start of intuition.

"See here, Teall," Dick called, "you needn't pick that up as a
pointer for the way to serve me with a home-made ball at our game
to-morrow. The trick I played on you wasn't dangerous, but this
chlorate racket is. Mr. Johnson, what would happen if a fellow
should hit a ball with his bat, and that ball was packed with
chlorate of potash?"

"I'm not sure that the fellow with the bat would ever know what
happened," answered the druggist.

"Is it as bad as that?" gasped Teall.

"Worse," replied the druggist grimly.

"So, Teall, if you had any thoughts of playing a trick like that,"
interposed Chief Coy, "take my word for it that such a trick would
be likely to land you in a reform school until you were at least
twenty-one years old."

"Oh, if it's as bad as that-----" muttered Ted reluctantly.

"What did you and Darry say, when the explosion came off?" asked
Dan Dalzell, as Dick & Co. walked on again.

"I don't remember just what Darry said," Prescott confessed reluctantly.
"As for me, I remember just what I said."


"I said just what the man on the clubhouse steps said."

"And what was that?" pressed Dalzell.

"That's what you're going to find out if you win the game from
South Grammar to-morrow."

"Then the game is as good as won already," declared Tom solemnly,
"for we're in that frame of mind where we've got to know what
the man on the clubhouse steps said."

Through the evening, and the long night that followed, Chief Coy
had two of his policemen out searching the woods where Garwood
had last been seen. Mr. Winthrop added three detectives to the
chase. When morning came the "queer" inventor was still at large.
He had not even been seen since Dick and Dave had lost sight
of him.

"The last time that I put this class on honor," announced Old
Put, when the morning session began, "we had one of the best records
of good behavior during the day that I can remember. I will,
therefore, announce that this class is on honor again to-day,
and that, no matter what the breaches of discipline, no pupil
will be kept after school to-day. All will be allowed to go and
see the great, the glorious game."

Then, after a pause, Old Dut added dryly:

"I haven't the heart to keep any one after school to-day. I am
going to the game myself."

At this statement a laugh rippled around the room. Then every
boy and girl settled down to the serious business of the day.

At three o'clock Old Put announced:

"If Captain Prescott so desires, he may withdraw now with his
team, in order to have time to dress and get oiled up on the diamond."

"I thank you, sir, for that permission," responded Dick, rising
at once. He was followed by the other players.

"Go out a little more quietly, if you please---that's all," called
Old Dut.

On tiptoe the members of the squad stole upstairs to the exhibition
hall. There they quickly got into their uniforms, next stowing
their street clothing in a closet, the key of which the principal
had supplied to Captain Dick Prescott.

In thoughtful silence Dick led his small host from the schoolhouse
to the diamond. When they had halted by the benches Dick began:

"Now, fellows, each of you keep steadily in mind what we have
at stake this afternoon."

"Yes, sirree!" grinned Dan Dalzell. "If we win to-day we're going
to learn what the man on the clubhouse steps said."

"To-day's victory gives one school or the other the championship
of the Gridley Grammar School League," Dick declared.

"Oh, that's a side issue, entirely," retorted Tom gravely. "What
we're really burning about is to know what the man on the clubhouse
steps said."

"Are we going to pitch in to practice now?" asked Greg.

"You fellows can, if you want to, but don't go at it too hard,"
replied Captain Dick.

"If you didn't want to practice, what were you in such a hurry
to get out of school for?" demanded Holmes.

"Because I felt that we had been in school about as long as we
could stand on the day of the championship game," laughed Prescott.

"Wise captain," approved Darrin.

They had not been on the field many minutes when a whoop sounded
near at hand that caused the boys to look with surprise.

"Here come the Souths!" called Dave. "They must have been let
out early, too."

"Hello!" hailed Captain Teall. "You fellows are here early, but
I don't see your shovels."

"Shovels?" repeated Dick.

"Yes; to dig holes to get into after the game is over," Ted retorted.

"Teall," Prescott responded sternly, "if the South Grammars want
any holes to hide in, they'll have to dig them themselves."

"Humph! We'll see which side feels most like digging a hole when
the score is read!" retorted Ted. "Come along, Souths!"

Ted led the way down the field for practice. On the way he turned
to shout something back. At that moment he tripped over a small
wooden box and fell flat.

"Oh, Ted!" called Dick hurriedly.

"Well?" growled Teall, rubbing his shins.

"Did you enjoy your little trip?"

"My---little---trip?" repeated Ted wonderingly. "Oh---pshaw!
Of course you'd think of something like that to say."

"If you're lamed any by your little trip," offered Tom, "I'll
leave left field to do your base running for you this afternoon."

"Yah! I'll bet you would," jeered Teall. "And if I let you,
I'd be down on the score card for three less than no runs at all."

"You will, anyway," said Reade gravely.

"Somehow," broke in Dan, "I feel unusually happy this afternoon."

"That's because you know we're going to win to-day," laughed Dick.

"Oh, that's a part of it, yes," Dalzell agreed. "But the real
cause of my happy feeling is that I'm going to find out what the
man on the clubhouse steps said. That's what I've been aching
to know ever since some time last winter."

"The time will pass shortly now, Danny Grin," Prescott remarked

By this time a score of spectators had arrived. Then came a few
High School boys, among them Ben Tozier, who was again to umpire.
"Tozier, what's the High School delegation for?" Dan asked.
"To find out who'll be handy for the High School nine next year?"

"Perhaps," Ben replied gravely. "There's some good, young material
in the two nines, all right. The trouble is that a lot of you
fellows won't go to High School."

"All of Dick & Co. are going to attend High School," Dave proudly
informed Tozier.

Two more High School boys now appeared who were not as welcome.
Fred Ripley and Bert Dodge walked on to the field side by side.

"What are they doing here?" asked Dave.

"We are in luck," spoke up Tom, "if they haven't come here to
start mischief."

"If they do, if they even try it," Dick predicted grimly, "they'll
be the ones out of luck. We'll turn the boys of two Grammar Schools
loose on them and run them off the field."

Down the street sounded a noise that could come from only one
cause. Central Grammar School had "let out." All the boys and
many of the girls were now hurrying toward the ball field. It
was natural to take the biggest sort of interest in this game,
which was to decide which school was the "champion."

"I'm sorry to see your crowd in such high spirits, Prescott,"
said Ted Teall, coming up. "It'll be all the harder for Central
Grammar to bear when the score is announced."

"You're sure of winning, then, Teall?" Dick inquired.

"Absolutely certain!" Captain Ted rejoined.

"We're going to set off a big bonfire this evening, Ted," Captain
Prescott rejoined. "If we win to-day will you agree to be on
hand to light the fire?"

"Yes; if you win," agreed Ted. "But you can't!"

Chapter XVI


The umpire's quiet voice called the captains of the nines apart.

"Who'll call the toss?" asked Ben.

"Let Teall do it," Dick answered.

"You do it, Prescott," urged Captain Ted.

"Well, which one of you is going to call?" inquired Tozier.

"Teall," Dick again answered.

"Oh, all right, then," nodded Ted. "I suppose, Prescott, you
feel that, whichever way I call, I'd wish I'd taken the other

The coin spun upward in the air, for Ben Tozier was a master of
the art of flipping.

"Tails," announced Teall.

"It's heads this time," announced Umpire Tozier. "Captain Prescott?"

"We'll go to bat, then," decided Prescott. "We might as well
begin to pile up the score that we're going to make."

"We'll show you how you're not going to make it," Ted grinned.
"Remember, Prescott, that I and Wells are the battery to-day."

"What you need," laughed Dick, "is a good right fielder and a
star third baseman."

"Huh!" grunted Teall.

"Get to your places," ordered Tozier briskly. "We want to end
this game some time to-day."

The umpire inspected a new ball, then sent it grounding to Teall.
Back and forth between the members of the South Grammar battery
the ball passed three times.

"Play ball!" called the umpire sharply.

Tom Reade already stood by the plate. He swung his stick idly,
watching Teall. Along came the ball. Tom judged it and hit at it.

"Strike one!" called Tozier, shifting a pebble to his left hand.

Ted grinned derisively as he twisted the leather for the next

"Ball one!" and a bean followed the pebble into the umpire's left

"Strike two! Ball two! Ball three!"

Ted Teall began to feel angry over the growing pile of called
balls. He delivered one with great care.

Whack! Tom never waited to see whether the ball was headed inside
or outside of foul lines. He simply dropped his willow, then
gave his best exhibition of the sprinting that he had learned
in the spring.

It was a fair ball that struck inside of left field. South's
left fielder had to run in for the leather, which struck the ground,
then rolled to one side. Thump! The ball landed neatly in the
first baseman's hands, but Tom had kicked the bag a second before.

"Runner safe," drawled Tozier.

Spoff Henderson came next to bat. Ted, with great care, struck
him out. Toby Ross met with similar disaster, nor did Reade have
any chance to steal up to second. Then Greg advanced to the plate.
He had his own favorite stick, which he swung with great confidence.

"Now, just see what I'll do to you!" was what Ted Teall's impudent
smile meant.

Crack! Holmes hit the first ball, reaching first and pushing
Tom to second.

"Danny Grin, don't fail us," begged Prescott, as Dan started for
the plate. "Two men out, remember!"

As Dalzell faced the pitcher his grin was broader than Teall's.

Two strikes and two balls were quickly called. Some of Dalzell's
assurance was gone now, but he steadied himself down. It would
never do to strike out at such a time.

Then Danny Grin made his third strike, but he drove the ball ahead
of him, forcing the right fielder of the Souths to run backward
for it, but he missed the catch and by the time the ball was in
circulation again the bases were full of Central Grammar runners.

"I'm glad you're going forward," whispered Dave, just as Dick
started towards the plate, his favorite bat in hand.

"I'll make a monkey of you," muttered Teall, just loudly enough
for the words to reach Prescott.

"If you can, you're welcome," grunted Dick under his breath.

Swat! It was the first ball driven in. Had there been a fence
around the field that fair drive would have gone over it. How
it soared and then flew! The right fielder who followed that
ball was nervous from the start. He panted as he fell upon the

"Throw it to third!" yelled Teall.

"Just at that instant Dan Dalzell was nearing the home plate,
which Tom and Greg had already passed. Prescott's ankle turned
slightly or he would have got in ahead of the ball.

"Runner out at third," called Tozier in a singsong voice. "Side

"Yet who cared?" Dick's wonderful blow on the leather had brought
three men in safe.

The Souths followed at bat. One, two, three, Prescott struck
them out. Ted Teall's face looked solemn, indeed.

"Wells, we've simply got to hold these fellows down," grunted
Teall to his catcher in the brief conference for which there was
time. "We don't want to be walloped by a score of ninety-four
to two."

"I haven't let anything get by me, have I?" grunted the catcher.

"No; but signal for some of my new ones."

"I don't want to put a crimp in your wing," muttered Wells.

"That's all right. It's a tough wing. Don't let the Centrals
score anything on us in this inning."

"I'll do my best to help you hold 'em down," promised the South
Grammar catcher as he hurried to his place behind the plate.

Dave Darrin, to his intense disgust, was struck out on three of
the most crafty throws that Teall had on his list. Hazelton followed.
Another player reached first on called balls, but the next Central
boy struck a fair, short fly that landed in Ted's own hands.

"That was more like," grunted Ted, as he met his catcher at the
bench. "In that first inning these Centrals had me almost scared."

In the second half of this second inning the Souths scored one
run. They did the same in the third and the fourth innings, meantime
preventing Prescott's fellows from scoring again, though in the
fourth inning Prescott saw the bases full with Centrals just before
the third man was struck out.

In the fifth and sixth innings neither side scored. At last the
spectators began to realize that they were watching two well-matched

"I can't see that the Central Grammars are doing such a lot of
a much," grunted Hi Martin to a High School boy.

"The Centrals are playing fine ball," retorted the High School
boy. "The only trouble is that the Souths rank pretty close to

"I'd like to play both teams again," asserted Hi. "All that happened
to us was that we struck a few flukes when we played."

"Humph!" retorted the High School lad, just before turning away.
"Your North Grammar nine was kicked all over the field by both
of these nines. Both Prescott's and Teall's fellows have improved
a lot since they met you."

Hi subsided, feeling unhappy. It hurt him to hear any one praise
a fellow like Prescott.

"I wonder if they could beat us, if we had another try?" pondered
Hi. "But what's the use of talking? Prescott would never think
of giving us another chance. He's too thankful to have lugged
the score away from us before."

In the eighth inning Teall brought in one more run for the Souths,
who now led.

"We've got to work mighty hard and carefully," grunted Tom Reade.

"Yes," assented Dick briefly.

"We're beaten, anyway, I guess," sighed Hazelton.

Dick Prescott wheeled upon him almost wrathfully.

"We're never beaten, Harry---remember that. We don't propose
to be beaten, and we can't be. We're going to bat now to pile
up a few more runs. The championship is ours, fellows---don't
let that fact escape you."

"I wish I had Dick's confidence," sighed Harry, turning to Reade.

"It isn't confidence; it's nerve," Tom retorted. "If we all show
nerve like Dick's, then nothing but the hardest sort of luck can
take this game away from us."

Greg went first to bat, securing the first bag. Dick followed,
with a two-bagger that brought frantic cheers from the on-looking
Central Grammar boys.

"There are our two runs---the ones we need," cheered Darrin to
himself, as he snatched up his bat. "Now if I'm any good on earth,
I'll bring Greg in and perhaps Dick, too."

Though Dave was excited, he kept the fact to himself, facing Ted
Teall with steely composure.

Two strikes and three balls were called. The two base-runners,
full of confidence in Darry, were edging off daringly.

"If I dared," throbbed Dave inwardly, "I'd refuse and walk to first
on a called ball. But Tozier might call a strike on me---most
likely would. Darry, you idiot, you've got to hit the next delivery,
even if it goes by you ten feet from the line."

Poising himself on tip-toe, Dave awaited the coming of the ball.
Wells, with a wicked grin, signaled for a ball that he felt sure
would catch Dave napping. Earlier in the game it might have done
so, but Ted's right "wing" was now drooping. Hi did his best,
but Dave reached and clubbed the leather. In raced Greg, while
Dick had a loafing time on his way to third. Dave reached first
in plenty of time.

Two men went out, leaving the nines tied. Dick fumed now at third.

"I wish some one else than Henderson were going to bat," groaned
Prescott inwardly.

However, Spoff had the honor of his school desperately at heart.
He did his best, watching with cool judgment and backed by an
iron determination to make his mark. The third strike he hit.
It was enough to bring Prescott in. Dick seemed to travel with
the speed of a racing car, reaching the home plate just ahead
of the ball.

The side went out right after that.

"What did I tell you?" breathed Dick jubilantly. "We now stand
five to four."

"But Ted's terrors have a chance at bat," returned Hazelton.

"It won't do them any good," Captain Dick affirmed. "Greg, signal
for all the hard ones. Don't have any mercy on my arm. This
is the last inning and the last game of the series. I can stand
being crippled."

"The last inning and the last game, unless the Souths score now,"
Holmes answered.

"Don't _let_ 'em score!" Dick insisted. "Remember, kill me with
hard work, but don't let the Souths score!"

Ted Teall went to bat first for his side.

Chapter XVII


Teall's grin, as he swung his stick and waited, was more impudent
than ever. He meant to show the bumptious Centrals a thing or

Then in came Dick's wickedest drop ball, and it looked so good
that Captain Ted took a free chance.

"Strike one!" remarked Umpire Tozier.

Some of the grin vanished from Ted's face, but his eyes now flashed
the fire of resolve.

"Strike two!"

Teall began to feel little tremors running all up and down his

"Steady, you idiot!" he warned himself.

"Ball one!"

Captain Teall began to feel better. Perhaps Dick's arm was beginning
to grow stale.

"Strike three. Out!"

Ted started for the bench, hurling his bat before him. He was
full of self-disgust.

"A fellow never can guess when he has Dick thrashed," he said
to a South beside him.

"I didn't expect to see you play out before him in the ninth,
Ted," replied the classmate.

"Neither did I," muttered Teall gloomily.

"Strike three! Out!" sounded Umpire Tozier's droning voice.

Then Ted sat up straight, rubbing his eyes.

"Two out, and no one on bases!" groaned Ted. "Oh, fellows---those
of you who have a chance---do something. For goodness' sake,
do something to save South Grammar."

A few agonized moments passed while those at the batting benches
looked on at the fellow now performing by the plate.

"Strike three! Out!" remarked Ben Tozier decisively. Then the
game was given to the Central Grammar boys by a score of five
to four. The championship of the local Grammar League was also
awarded them.

Ted gulped down hard. Some of his fellows looked decidedly mad.

"It's a shame!" choked Wells.

"No; it isn't, either," Ted disputed. "Dick Prescott and his
fellows beat us fairly. Come on we'll congratulate 'em."

Good sportsman that he was, Ted almost limped across the field,
followed by some of his players, to where Dick and the other Central
Grammar players were surrounded by their friends.

"Prescott, you fellows are wonders!" broke forcefully from Captain

"Nothing like it," Captain Dick laughed modestly. "Some one had
to win, you know, and the luck came to us."

"Luck!" exploded Ted unbelievingly. "Nothing like it, either.
No sheer luck could ever have broken down the cast-iron determination
that our fellows had to win. You Centrals are the real ball players
of the town---that's the only answer."

Whooping wildly in their glee, scores of Central Grammar boys
rushed at Dick Prescott, trying to get at his hand and wring it.

"Please don't fellows," begged Dick, going almost white under
the torment, after three or four boys had succeeded in pumping
that arm. "You've no idea how sore my arm is."

"It must be," shouted Greg. "Dick told me to kill his arm, if
I had to, but to signal for the balls that would strike out three
batsmen in lightning order."

"The left hand, then!" clamored more of Dick's admirers. Laughingly,
Prescott submitted to having his left hand "shaken" almost out
of joint.

"Don't make such a fuss about it, fellows," begged Dick at last.
"Remember that we have a permit for a bonfire on this lot to-night,
and that the stuff is piled up in the rear of the next yard.
You fellows who didn't have to go lame bestir yourselves now in
bringing on the old boxes and barrels."

"Whoops!" yelled a Central Grammar boy, starting off. "Bring
out the stuff and pile it high."

"Let the Souths help!" bawled Ted Teall at the top of his voice.
"No matter who won, we'll all celebrate."

"Ted, you won't play any funny tricks on that pile of wood?" questioned
Dick a bit uneasily, as he followed Captain Teall.

"What do you take me for?" demanded the South Grammar boy. "Do
you think that I'm not on the level?"

"I'm answered," was Dick Prescott's satisfied answer.

Ere long the material for a monster bonfire was piled. Word was
given out that it would be set going just a few minutes after

"We came up here to see what we could find to do, didn't we?"
whispered Bert Dodge, nudging Fred Ripley.

"Yes," nodded Fred uneasily; "and, so far, we haven't struck a
thing that would be safe to do."

"The dickens we haven't," chuckled Dodge.

"What, then?" Fred inquired. Bert whispered in his ear, adding:
"It won't cost us more than a dollar apiece, Fred."

"It's great," declared Ripley enthusiastically. "But we've got
to move quickly, and at the right minute, or we'll be caught.
I wouldn't give much for our chances of comfort if we're caught
in this thing."

"We won't be, or we ought not to be," Dodge retorted. "But we'd
better get home and get our suppers on the jump."

"We can do better than that; we can get a quick meal at one of
the restaurants and then jump back on the job."

"Rip, you have a great head sometimes," admitted Bert Dodge.

At a time when every one else was at supper Fred Ripley and Bert
Dodge stole back to the scene of the bonfire. After glancing
cautiously about, they felt sure that no one was observing them.
Then they stole close to the pile of combustibles. For a few
moments they worked there, removing lids from tin cans and planting
them safely out of sight.

Human nature---of the American brand, at any rate---dearly loves
a bonfire. By dark that evening some two hundred grown-up and
several hundred Gridley boys had congregated on the late ball

"Touch it off, some one. There's no use in waiting any longer,"
urged some of the bystanders. "It's almost dark."

"No, no! Wait!" urged Tom Reade. "The blaze will be all the
finer after dark."

"Where's Dick Prescott?" sounded a voice, this being followed
by a dinning clamor for the captain of the Centrals.

"Here!" called Dick, when he could make himself heard.

"Pouch it off, Dick! Let the fun start. You're the right one
to set the bonfire going."

"Not I," Prescott answered. "There is some one else here who
has been appointed to set the blaze going, and who has accepted
the job."

"Then trot him out and let him get busy!" came the urgent demand.

"Wait just a few minutes, fellows. We want it really dark," urged
Captain Prescott.

At last, when he judged it dark enough, Dick stepped forward,
Captain Ted Teall at his side.

"Friends," Dick explained, "Teall has been good enough to agree
to start the blaze tonight."

"South Grammar fellows this way, please!" called Teall. "Now,
friends, please don't any of you make any noise until we Souths
have a chance to say just a few words. All ready, South Grammars?
Then three cheers for the Central Grammar School, winners of
the school baseball league series. Let 'em rip out loudly!"

The cheers were given, followed by a tiger.

"Is Hi Martin, captain of the North Grammar nine, here?" called
Ted Teall.

But Hi wasn't, or else he kept his presence very quiet.

"Hi wouldn't he here," jeered some one. "He didn't win---couldn't
win---and he's sore."

Again Ted called for Hi Martin, though still without success.

"Then I'll have to light the fire alone," Ted declared. "I had
hoped that the captains of both of the walloped teams might share
the honor."

Tom Reade and Dave Darrin hastily emptied a five-gallon can of
oil on the old boxes and barrels and other pieces of wood.

"All clear?" called Ted.

"All clear," nodded Tom Reade.

"Then I'll light the blaze," shouted Ted. "This is a lot easier
than winning ball games," he added good-naturedly.

Three or four wind-proof matches Teall struck on a box and tossed
into the oil-soaked pile of combustibles. In a moment the increasing
heat of the blaze drove him back several yards.

Higher and higher mounted the red and yellow flames. Hundreds
stood about, their faces fully illumined by the big glow.

"It's going to be a great one," Ted called to Dick, as the latter
came toward him.

"Finest bonfire I've ever seen," Prescott answered.

"But---" began Teall, a puzzled look on his face. Then---sniff!
sniff! "Queer stuff, that! What a stuffing smoke it makes.
I wonder what it is that burns with such a sharp smell?"

"It must be pitch," replied Dick Prescott, also sniffing. "Whew!
How sharp it is!"

Ted began to sneeze. Dick followed suit. Presently all of the
boys who were standing at all near the blazing pile found themselves
sneezing, coughing or sputtering at a great rate. Some of the
men, further away, caught the acrid fumes.

"This is a mean trick some one has played on us," cried Dick,
falling back before the stifling odors.

"I hope you don't think I did a mean thing like that?" demanded
Teall anxiously.

"I'm sure you didn't," Prescott answered. "You're full of tricks,
Ted Teall, but you're a real sportsman after you've been beaten."

"Say, can this possibly be any of Hi Martin's work?" demanded
Tom Reade, as the boys fell back steadily from the bonfire.

"Only one objection to suspecting Hi," retorted Teall.

"What's that?" asked Greg. "Too proud?"

"No," snapped Teall. "Hi hasn't brains enough to think up anything."

"This is just like boys. It's really what one gets for turning
out to a boys' bonfire!" growled one man between fits of coughing,
as he rapidly got away from the fire. It's an abominably mean

"Who did it?" asked another man.

"Oh, you can't find that out now," replied still another. "You
all know the way that boys hang together in mischief. No one
would tell you, or dare to tell you, if he knew."

"I'd like to know the boy, for about one minute!" snapped one
stout, red-faced man, down whose cheeks the tears were trickling.
"It's that loutish trick of putting red pepper on a fire. No
one but a feeble-minded boy would think of playing an old, moth-eaten
trick like that!"

"It would pay us to get out of here quickly, if any one suspected
us," whispered Fred Ripley to his friend.

"Sh! Shut up!" returned Dodge in a hoarse whisper. "It isn't
best for us to be seen whispering. Look innocent."

From behind a heavy hand descended abruptly on either coat collar,
taking firm hold.

"Here are the young apes who played the trick!" roared an angry
voice. "I just heard them whispering about it, and when I was
finishing supper I remember that I looked out of the window and
saw these boys fooling about the pile."

"What did you put on the fire?" demanded a man, stepping in front
of the now frightened youths, who were hemmed in so that they
could not escape.

"Red pepper," returned Ripley sullenly. He spoke before he thought,
thus admitting his guilt and Dodge's.

"You idiot!" hissed Bert.

"You're both of you idiots," retorted the captor, who had now
released both young men. "Besides being a mean, detestable trick,
it's as old as the world. That red-pepper trick was invented
by some stupid lout who lived thousands of years before the Flood."

"What shall we do with these imps?" demanded a voice.

"There must be some High School boys here," said the man who had
first seized the humiliated pair by their collars. "Let the High
School boys decide what is to be done with them."

"We don't care what's done with a pair of simpletons like them,"
spoke up Ben Tozier. "Let the crowd go as far as it likes with
such a pair."

"Don't you dare do anything to us" screamed Ripley, now beside
himself with rage. "It will go hard with any one who interferes
with us.

"Ha! ha! Ho! ho!" roared some of the crowd. "Listen to the
half-witted pair!"

While another man spoke up jovially:

"I'll tell you what to do with them. They came here to spoil
the fun of the Grammar School boys. Let the Grammar School boys
dispose of these stupid fellows as they choose."

"I tell you," raged Ripley, "that it will go hard with any one
who interferes with our comfort. There are laws in this land."

"Look at what doesn't want its comfort interfered with!" jeered
another voice. "This comes from a lout who interfered with our
comfort by putting several cans of red pepper on the bonfire.
Turn 'em over to the Grammar School boys. Boys, what do you
want to do with this pair?"

"We'll make 'em run the gauntlet," spoke up Spoff Henderson eagerly.

In a twinkling, so it seemed, a long double row of Grammar School
boys was formed down the street. Some of these boys had light
twigs or sticks; others stood ready to use their hands.

"Start 'em!" yelled Spoff. Some one did start the pair. Bert
and Fred sullenly refused to run, but quickly changed their minds.
Down the street they raced, Ripley in advance, between two parallel
lines of Grammar School boys. Sticks were laid over them, or
hands reached out and administered cuffings. It was a grotesque
sight. Long before they reached the end of the double line Bert
and Fred yelled for mercy, but got none. With final blows they
were turned loose and vanished into the night. Within a few minutes
the pepper in the bonfire had burned out. Then the revelers drew
nearer, piling on other combustible stuff.

Thus was fittingly observed the victory of Dick Prescott's nine
in winning the local Grammar School championship.

Chapter XVIII


The reader may be sure that the members of his baseball squad
had reminded him of his promise to tell them what the man on the
clubhouse steps said.

"I promised I'd tell you, if you won that game," Dick admitted.

"Yes, yes!" the other boys pressed.

"But I didn't say _when_ I'd tell you, did I?"

"You're not going to try to sneak out of it that way, are you,
Dick?" Dave Darrin demanded, as the boys met on Main Street the
following morning, Saturday.

"I'm not going to sneak out of it at all, as you fellows ought
to know," Dick replied. "I'm going to tell you---when the proper
time comes."

"When will that be?" asked Greg. "And that's all we'll get out
of him, no matter how how much we talk!" muttered Tom Reade.

"Here comes Hi Martin," announced Greg. "He has Bill Rodgers
with him."

"It can't be about baseball, anyway," said Dick. "I think Hi
has his fill of that game."

"Good morning," was Martin's greeting, as he and Rodgers approached.
"I have a message for you from North Grammar."

"Deliver it, and we'll sign on the book for it," retorted Reade.

"We're not satisfied to rest the claims of the North Grammar on
baseball alone," Hi went on.

"I shouldn't imagine you would be," Dick smiled.

"Therefore we are going to challenge you to another form of contest."

"A talking match?" Tom wanted to know.

"No, sir. I bear from the North Grammar boys a challenge to Central
Grammar to meet us in swimming matches in the river. The contests
must be so arranged as to show which school may hold the championship
in swimming. Are you afraid to meet us in the water?" Hi asked.

"Afraid? No," Dick retorted. "But why didn't you fellows spring
this on us earlier? Next week Thursday will be graduating day."

"Well, we can swim the Saturday after," Hi proposed.

"But we'll be graduated then. We won't be Grammar School boys
any more," protested Dick.

"Is that the way you're going to get out of the challenge that
we've issued?" Martin demanded scornfully.

"No; and you certainly know better," Dick retorted. "But how
can we hold a school contest when we're no longer enrolled in
the school that we're supposed to represent?" Dick insisted.

"You can if you want to," Hi sneered. "But I can see that you
fellows don't care about meeting us in a swimming contest. All
right; then I'll go back and tell the North Grammar fellows that
Central funks.

"There's a way that we can arrange it, I think," put in Dave Darrin,
who had been listening intently. "Dick, why can't we get Old
Dut to authorize us to represent Central Grammar within a day
or two after graduation? If he says it's all right, then surely,
even though we have just graduated, we'll be able to represent
our old school."

"We can talk that over with Mr. Jones," Dick nodded.

"My idea is that you fellows are afraid to say 'yes' to our challenge,
sneered Martin.

"You may go on thinking that, if it gives you any pleasure," said
Dick coolly. "But if you really want our answer, we'll give it
to you on Monday afternoon."

"The Monday after Christmas?" jeered Hi.

"We'll give you our answer next Monday afternoon," Dick rejoined
a bit stiffly.

"Is the South Grammar to be in this?" asked Dave.

"No; we don't want that crowd," Hi answered quickly before Rodgers
could speak.

"Then the contest won't be for the championship of Gridley, will
it?" Dick inquired.

"Yes, it will," Hi assured him.

"I don't see how it can be, when it's only between two out of
the three Grammar Schools in the town," Dick argued.

"The challenge is issued only to Central Grammar," wound up Hi,
turning to leave. "And if you haven't accepted before Monday
evening, we of the North Grammar will hold that you have backed
out and don't dare meet us. Oh, by the way, Prescott, you'd better
look out for Ripley and Dodge. They mean to get square with you
for what happened last night."

"Get square with me for it?" laughed Prescott, unafraid. "All
right, but that's rather rich! Why, I had nothing to do with it."

"They blame you a good deal for it," added Hi, "and they declare
that they're going to get even with you."

"All right; let them try it," Dick nodded.

"What do you think of this swimming challenge?" asked Dave quickly.

"Why, I think," Dick replied, "that it will bear looking into
closely. There may be some trick about it, and we must look out
that we are not roped into some funny game. We'll see the fellows
at school on Monday."

"Hi Martin is probably the best swimmer among the Grammar School
boys of Gridley," Tom suggested.

"I think that he most likely is," Dick agreed. "If he proposes
to stand for North Grammar, and wants us to put up one candidate
against him, then Hi would probably take the race. If we take
the challenge, either we ought to insist on a team race, or else
on a number of separate events by different fellows, each event
to count for so many points on the score. In any match of singles
Hi Martin might win. If we go into this at all, we must look
out that it isn't fixed so that Hi Martin, alone, can carry off
the championship for his school."

"The very fact that Hi proposed it makes me suspicious that he
has some trick in reserve," Tom urged.

"I like the general idea," spoke up Greg. "Any swimming contest
that is a real match between the schools, instead of between
individuals, will be good sport and arouse a lot of school
interest. There are a lot of fairly good swimmers in our school,

"We'll talk it over with the fellows, and with Old Dut also,"
Dick went on. "Of course we have no right to act for the school
unless the other fellows are willing."

When Dick left his chums at noon it was with an agreement to meet
on Main Street again at half past one.

At fifteen minutes past one the telephone bell rang in the little

"Have you a copy of Moore's Ballads?" asked a masculine voice.

"Yes," replied Mr. Prescott; "in different styles of bindings
and at different prices."

The bookseller then went on to describe the bindings and named
the prices. The customer at the other end of the wire seemed to
prefer an expensive volume, which came at four dollars.

"Can you deliver the book immediately, with a bill, to Mrs. Carhart,
at the Gideon Wells place?" continued the voice at the other end.

"Yes; I think so," replied Mr. Prescott.

"The book must be delivered within the hour," continued the voice,
"as Mrs. Carhart is going on a journey and wishes the book to
read while on the train."

"I will deliver the book within fifteen minutes," Mr. Prescott
promised. "At the Gideon Wells place, did you say? I didn't
know that it had a tenant."

"Mrs. Carhart has taken the place for the summer. I will rely
upon you to deliver the book immediately. Thank you; good-bye."

"I suppose you have an appointment with the crowd, Dick," smiled
his father, as he hung up the receiver. "I don't like to get
in the way of your fun, but I shall have to ask you to deliver
the book, for the profit on that volume is too large to be overlooked."

"I don't mind going," Dick answered. "I can get back just a little
late. I'm all ready as soon as you have the book wrapped and
the bill made out."

Three or four minutes later Dick left the store. At the corner
of Main Street he looked to see whether any of his chums were
visible, but none were. So he turned and started, traveling fast.

Had young Prescott answered the 'phone call himself he very likely
would have suspected that the voice of the customer was that of
Bert Dodge disguised. However, as it was, the Grammar School
boy had no suspicion whatever. He made part of the distance at
a jog trot. He was soon in the less thickly inhabited part of
the town, down in a section of large estates, many of which were
used only as summer homes.

"This Mrs. Carhart must be a new-comer in Gridley," reflected
Dick, as he hastened along. "I hope she'll buy a lot of books
of us at as good prices."

He came now to the corner of the Wells estate, the grounds of
which were some eighty acres in extent. He passed the corner
and ran along toward two great elms that grew just inside the
trim wall.

Just as he reached these elms two figures started up from behind
the wall beyond. The same two figures leaped over the wall,
confronting the Grammar School boy.

"Howdy, Prescott," called Bert Dodge, with a mocking grin.

"We were just saying that we'd rather see you than any one else
on earth," leered Fred Ripley, as he stepped in the Grammar School
boy's path.

"I haven't any time to waste on you two just now," Prescott answered
coldly, trying to step around the pair.

"Then you'll take the time," scoffed Bert, reaching out to seize
Dick by the shoulder.

Fred Ripley aimed an unexpected blow that sent the lad to earth
and the book flying several feet beyond.

Chapter XIX


"That was just like you---it was so cowardly and low down!" cried
Dick hotly, as he leaped to his feet.

He was now near the package containing the book. Doubtless he
could have snatched up the book and sprinted to safety. But that
was not his way of meeting so great an affront.

"Don't you get saucy!" warned Fred, edging in closer. Bert Dodge
veered around so that be could attack Dick from one side.

"It would be honoring you too much to talk to you in any vein,"
Dick retorted sarcastically. "You're a pair of the most worthless
rowdies in Gridley."

"Go for him, Bert!" called Ripley.

"Why don't you?" sneered Dick, making a leap forward, straight
at Ripley.

Dodge swung in from behind, hitting Dick over the head. But Prescott's
movement, in the same moment, made the blow only a glancing one.

Bump! Dick landed on Fred Ripley's nose with force and weight
enough to make the lawyer's son stagger.

"Pound his head off, Bert!" howled Ripley putting a hand to his
injured nose.

But Dick wheeled just in time to avoid a treacherous blow from
the rear. With all the fury of the oppressed, Prescott leaped
in, planting one foot heavily on some of Bert's toes and striking
a blow that landed over that indignant youth's belt-line. Bert
fell back, panting.

"If you two have enough now," remarked Dick more coolly, "I'll
pick up my package and go on about my business."

"You can wager you won't get away until we've settled with you!"
snarled Dodge. "Rip, never mind your nose. Help me close in
on this scamp and show him what we can do to a fellow that we
don't like."

In another moment Dick was the center of a cyclone, or so it felt
to him. Both boys were larger and stronger, even if not quite
as quick as he. They rained blows upon him.

"Don't try to holler," jeered Fred Ripley. "That won't do you
any good. We'll tell you when you've had enough. Take it from
us and never mind your own opinions."

Dick did not answer. Sore and winded, he fought with all the
spirit that was in him.

So busy were all three of the boys, that none of them noted the
approach of a light express wagon drawn by a single horse. The
driver hauled up, a few yards away, then advanced, driving whip
in hand.


"O-o-o-h!" yelled Fred Ripley, as he felt the whip land on his

Slash! slash!

"Quit that, you fiend!" begged Bert Dodge, doubling up and screaming
with pain.

"I'll quit when I think you've had enough!" hissed Dave Darrin,
his face ablaze with anger, his eyes flashing fire.

Slash! slash! slash!

Dave plied the whip relentlessly until he had inflicted half a
dozen more blows on the legs of each High School boy.

"If you try to run away," warned Dave, "either of you, I'll run
after you and lay on ten times as much as I'm giving you."

"Quit, now, Dave," urged Dick, running to his chum and laying
a hand on Darrin's active right arm. "They've had lots---plenty.
Such things as they, can't stand a man's dose."

"I'm not a bit tired," retorted Dave ironically. "Besides, I
rather enjoy this exercise."

"We'll have you arrested, Dave Darrin!" moaned Ripley.

"You will, eh?" Dave demanded, breaking away from Prescott's
restraining hold and making for Fred.

"No, no, no!" cried Ripley, cowering.

"Yes, we will---you can wager we will!" yelled Dodge from a safer

"Arrested---for what?" demanded Darrin.

"For assaulting us," returned Bert Dodge. "Oh, you'll catch it!"

"Have I been guilty of any more of an assault than I found you
fellows engaged in", Dave asked coolly. "Don't you think you'd
look rather funny in court when it was known why I laid the whip
over you?"

"We'll get the better of you, just the same," yelled Ripley, who
had now retreated to the side of his friend and felt bolder.
"My father's a lawyer---the smartest in the town."

"And he's also a gentleman," broke in Dick. "I wish his son took
after him. As for arrest---and trouble in court---bosh! Try
it on!"

Prescott now walked coolly to where his little package lay, and
found it uninjured.

"How did you happen to come along on the wagon?" Dick asked, as
Fred and Bert limped away from their Waterloo.

"One of the express company's drivers was late coming back from
dinner, and there was a package that had to be delivered at once,"
Darrin answered. "The manager offered me ten cents to make the
delivery. I am glad that I took the job. Where are you going?"

"In there," Prescott answered, pointing to the house. "I've got
to deliver this book collect to a Mrs. Carhart."

"Get up on the seat and I'll drive you in there," proposed Dave.
"Though I don't believe there's any one living in the house.
All the front doors and windows are boarded up."

After five minutes of doorbell ringing Dick concluded that he
would find no Mrs. Carhart there.

"I guess I understand," nodded Prescott. "Either Dodge or Ripley
must have sent that 'phone message. That was their way to get
me alone where they could both handle me without much danger of

"It turned out finely---for them," chuckled Dave, as both boys
climbed back to the seat of the wagon. "But say, do you think
they could really make any trouble for me for using the whip over

"I don't know. I don't believe they'll try, anyway," Dick answered
thoughtfully. "It wouldn't be very nice for Fred to have his
father find out how his son spends his time and pocket money."

Dave drove back to Main Street, letting Dick off at his corner.
Down the side street a few doors and into the bookshop he hurried.

"Back again?" was Mr. Prescott's greeting. "What was the matter---the
volume not satisfactory!"

"No such party at the address," his son answered. "But I think
I can explain why the order was 'phoned in."

Dick then proceeded to narrate what had happened. His father
listened with growing anger.

"What a low, worthless trick that was to play," he cried. "Dick,
if you'll stay here and attend the store I'll step around to Mr.
Ripley's office and speak to him about it. Then I'll go over
to the bank and see Bert's father."

"Don't, dad; please don't," begged the boy.

"It seems to me that such action is highly necessary," maintained
Mr. Prescott.

"I hope you won't do it, dad. The best way to treat boys' rows
is to let them settle among themselves. If you interfere in this
matter, dad, I shall get a name among other boys for running to
my father for protection. That will turn the laugh on me all
over town. I'd much rather fight my own battles and take an
occasional pounding."

"Well, perhaps you're right about it," admitted his father
thoughtfully. "At all events, I'm glad to see that your disposition
is to take care of your own troubles. I won't interfere, though I am
certain that Mr. Ripley would like to know something about this affair."

"I already do know something about it," gravely announced a voice
behind them. There stood Lawyer Ripley, who had dropped in to
buy a magazine.

"I shall be glad if you will tell me more about this," the lawyer
went on solemnly.

Gladly would Dick have gotten out of it. He was inclined to say
very little, though what he did say was added to by his father.

"Is this the book, in this package?" inquired Mr. Ripley, as be
picked up the parcel.

"Yes," nodded Mr. Prescott.

"And the price?"

"Four dollars."

"Mr. Prescott, kindly charge this book to my account, unless I
return it by Monday morning," the lawyer went on. "I shall try
to see young Darrin this afternoon. Then I shall question my
son when I return home. I don't consider it fair to condemn him
unheard, but if I find that he had such a part in this afternoon's
affair as has been described, then I shall tell him that he is
bound to take goods that he has any part in ordering. In that
connection, when I hand him his next allowance of pocket money,
I shall keep out four dollars and hand him the book in place thereof.
That ought to make him rather careful about ordering goods in
which he is not really interested."

"But, as I now recall the voice over the telephone," urged Mr.
Prescott, "I am inclined to think that it was young Dodge's voice,
disguised, that I heard."

"If my son had any share in the transaction, it will make no
difference," replied Lawyer Ripley very gravely. "This book will
then become a part of his small library, and at his own personal
expense. I thank you both. Good afternoon."

"Well, of all the queer turn-overs, that's the best!" grinned
Dick appreciatively, after the lawyer had gone. "Wouldn't I like
to see Rip when he gets that book of ballads handed him as the
larger part of his pocket allowance!"

"It's certainly a clever way for his father to handle the affair,"
smiled Mr. Prescott. "However, in making the charge for the book
I shall deduct the profit. Like yourself, son, I don't want to
profit by tale-bearing. And now, why not run out and see if you
can find your young friends? I don't believe I shall need you
further this afternoon."

Inwardly Dave Darrin was a good bit disturbed when, a few minutes
later, Lawyer Ripley walked into the express office and inquired
for him. Fred's father asked a good many questions, which Dave
answered truthfully though reluctantly.

"Assuming that the affair was as you describe, Darrin," stated
the legal man at last, "I wish to thank you for teaching the young
man what must have been a needed lesson."

When Dave learned from Dick, a little later, the story of Fred's
unintentional purchase of a four-dollar book, there was a big laugh.

Chapter XX


"See no reason why you can't represent this school in an athletic
meet a day or two after graduation," said Old Dut, when asked
about it. "If the North Grammar boys believe they excel at that
sport, they should be given a chance. Naturally they are disappointed
over finding themselves at the bottom of the list in baseball."

"Go after 'em to-day, Dick!" yelled the boys. "Perhaps we can
beat them in the water, too."

"Find Hi Martin this afternoon and settle it," added others.

"I won't serve alone," Dick retorted, shaking his head. "If you
fellows want me to serve on a committee and will give us full
powers to act, I'm willing."

"I think that will be the best way to go about it, boys," approved
Old Dut. "There should be a committee, and then you must be prepared
to stand by any arrangements that the committee may make."

"What's the matter with choosing a committee of ten?" proposed
Toby Ross.

"Too many," smiled Old Dut wisely.

"There'd be too much talking then. A committee should have but
a very few members."

"Are nominations in order?" queried Spoff Henderson.

"Yes," nodded Old Dut. "Since I've been consulted, I'll preside
at this yard meeting."

"Then I nominate Dick Prescott, Dave Darrin and Greg Holmes,"
Spoff continued.

"Second the motion," called Ross.

Old Dut put the motion, which was carried. "As Master Prescott
was first named," announced the principal, "he will naturally
be the chairman of the committee."

"I move the committee have full powers in arranging for the race,"
Spoff added.

This was also carried. That afternoon, when school was out, the
boys hurried along Main Street, keeping a sharp lookout for Hi.
At last they espied him, with Bill Rodgers.

"What are you going to do about the swimming race?" called Hi
from across the street.

"This is our committee, duly appointed by the Central Grammar
boys," Dick called back. "When will your committee be ready?"

"We're ready now," answered Hi. "Come over here and we'll talk
about it."

Hi leaned against the fence on his own side of the street, determined
not to concede anything to the Central Grammar boys.

"Have you two been regularly appointed as a committee?" asked

"We don't have to be," Hi answered indifferently. "We know what
we're talking about."

"You'll have to be regularly appointed by your school before we'll
talk with you," Dick retorted.

"You're afraid to meet us in a swimming match," Hi jeered.

"So afraid," Prescott answered, "that we've appointed a committee
regularly; but you fellows, who have been doing all the talking,
aren't willing to get together and elect a regular committee to
represent your school."

"You're afraid, I tell you," sneered Hi, while Bill Rodgers grinned.

"No; we're ready to arrange the match when your school sends a
regular committee."

"Come on over here and talk it over, if you're not afraid," urged
Hi Martin.

"We can't talk it over with you, as you've admitted that you don't
represent your school."

"Well, then, we do represent it," claimed Hi.

"That statement comes too late. Hi, we'll meet you at this same
place at half past four to-morrow afternoon. If you fail to show
up it will be all off. And your committee will have to bring
a note, signed by your principal, naming the members of your committee
and stating that it has been regularly appointed. We'll bring
the same from our principal.

"I guess the swimming match between the two schools is all off,
then," yawned Martin. "You fellows don't want to go into it,
for you know you'd be beaten stiff. That's why you try to hedge
behind a committee."

"It's all off if you fellows don't go at it in a regular way,"
Dick contended firmly. "We're not going to enter a match and
then find that you and Bill Rodgers represent no one but yourselves."

"What's all the noise about?" good-naturedly asked Reporter Len
Spencer, who, turning the corner, had halted behind Prescott and
his friends.

Dick explained the situation.

"Prescott is right," decided Len. "Martin, if the boys at your
school are not enough in earnest to arrange the contest through
an authorized committee, then folks will understand that the North
Grammar didn't really want a swimming contest."

"But we do want one," blustered Martin.

"Then go about it in a regular way, after consulting your principal,
as the Central Grammar boys have done," urged Len. "And, instead
of meeting here on a corner, you can meet at my desk at the 'Blade'

Hi Martin was "stumped" at this point, and he knew it. If he
backed out now he would make himself and his school ridiculous.

"All right," agreed the North Grammar boy reluctantly.

"Don't forget to bring a note from your principal to the effect
that the boys named are the regular school committee," Dick called
after him.

"We'll do the thing in our own way," Hi retorted. "Come along,

"I thought Martin might be up to some tricks," muttered Dick Prescott.

"If he is, tricks won't help him or his school," laughed Len.
"We'll see this thing put through in regular shape."

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