Part 4 out of 4
Master of every hidden path in these forests, he seemed likely
enough to get away without leaving a trace of a trail.
Dick halted, brought to his senses by the realization that he
had deserted the three high school girls who had been entrusted
to his escort. He turned about. At the spot where Tag had tripped
he bent over to pick up the abandoned revolver.
One glance into the cylinder was enough. There wasn't a cartridge
in the weapon.
"Just as I thought," laughed Dick triumphantly. "Tag had no notion
of shooting anyone. For fear he might do so, if too closely cornered,
he threw away the ammunition. He relied on the bad reputation
of the Moshers to make officers hesitate if they encountered him
with firearms in his hands."
Then Prescott called for the girls, whom he quickly rejoined.
"You didn't catch him?" asked Laura.
"Not I," laughed Dick. "He knows every trail in these woods and
in a sprint, Tag Mosher could leave me hitched to a tree."
"I'm thankful you didn't catch him," quivered Miss Bentley. "He's
a terrible fellow."
"Is he?" laughed Prescott good-humoredly. "As a bad man Tag Mosher,
or young Page, as he really ought to be called, is about the biggest
bluff that I've ever heard of. Look at these weapons. Both unloaded.
Yet, when Tag broke jail, he carried away ammunition enough to
hold a company of militia at bay. Tag doesn't want to shoot anyone.
All he wants to do is to scare pursuers."
"He's a ruffian, anyway," Belle declared.
"Why? Was he very rough with you?" Dick inquired. "Did he tear
your rings off recklessly, and hurt your hands?"
"No; but be held my hand so firmly that I simply couldn't pull
it out of his clutch," Belle replied. "Then he took off my rings
as easily and in as matter-of-fact way as though they were his
"He really didn't mean to hurt you," Dick explained. "He has
been trained, from babyhood, to make his living by appropriating
other people's belongings, and he was only obeying his training.
The officers are after him, and Tag, not wishing to be caught,
wants to put considerable distance between himself and these woods.
Yet no matter what he does, or where he goes, the officers will
finally find him. Law is supreme, and triumphs in the end. No
man may defy the police and courts of a nation and get away with
it for any great length of time."
"Would you have tried to catch him, if we hadn't been with you?"
"Yes," Dick admitted. "Though under the circumstances I had no
right to do anything but stay here with you and try to protect
you. Shall we go on with the collecting?"
"If the other girls want to do so," agree Susie Sharp.
"If we want to?" Laura echoed. "After the fright we've had?
All that we want to do is to-----"
"Get back to camp?" smiled Dick. "I'm wholly agreeable. Truth
to tell, I've had such a fright that my nerves are shattered."
"Your nerves shattered?" echoed Belle scornfully. "Tell that
to someone who never lived in Gridley, Dick Prescott! You flew
at that fellow like a tiger."
"But look at the magnificent help I had!" smiled Dick.
THE MEDICAL EXAMINER TALKS TRAINING
"Do you want a suggestion, Prescott?" inquired Dr. Bentley.
The physician and his party had been over at the high school boys'
camp for something like twenty minutes, that same afternoon, watching
the training work that the young athletes were undergoing.
"Yes, sir," Dick answered promptly. Then a sudden thought striking
him, he added:
"Perhaps I can make a suggestion, doctor, that is even more immediate
in its nature than yours."
"Then I shall be glad to have it," smiled Laura's father.
"Did you leave that chauffeur to watch your camp?"
"No; he has gone to Five Corners to post the young women's numerous
letters. But the camp doesn't need a guard, does it?"
"It does, as long as Tag Mosher is at large, sir. Harry, won't
you go over to the doctor's camp and stay there until the chauffeur
"Yes," agreed Hazelton.
"If you sight Tag, or any other doubtful-looking characters, just
give a yell, and we'll all come over."
"Would that young scamp bother our camp, really?" inquired the
"Certainly he would," Dick went on promptly. "Mosher, Page, or
whoever he really is, is just as natural an anarchist as the world
ever saw. He has never had anything of his own, and whenever
he sees anyone else's property that will serve him, he just says,
'Tag, you're It!' That's the way he got his nickname."
"I believe I'll go over with Harry and see if anything is missing,"
declared Dr. Bentley. "In the meantime, Prescott, suppose you
and your squad rest until I return. Just make yourselves agreeable
to the girls. I'll endeavor to be back promptly. When I come
back I shall be prepared to offer you some training suggestions
that may be of value to you."
So the flushed young athletes rested, except Harry, who departed
with the physician.
In fifteen minutes Dr. Bentley returned.
"Your warning came too late, Prescott," announced Laura's father
cheerily. "Our camp has been visited."
"Tag Mosher?" gasped Prescott.
"Impossible to say," was the smiling answer. "The caller forgot
to leave a card. But someone has cleaned us out of about a dozen
tins of food and some packages of biscuit. It must have been
quite a little load. Just by chance I also happened to think
to look at my medicine case. One vial is missing therefrom."
"What medicine did he take, did you say, sir?" asked Dave Darrin
"I believe I didn't say," replied Dr. Bentley. "Perhaps later
on I shall tell you."
"If the thief took only a dozen tins," said Mrs. Bentley, "there
is food enough left so that we needn't worry about immediate famine.
And we have two cars, either one of which may be despatched to
bring further supplies."
"Tag is really going to move away from here, then," decided Dick
"Why do you say that?" asked Dr. Bentley.
"Because Tag has a fine appetite, and an abundance of muscle.
Instead of a dozen tins he would have taken three or four times
that amount. It is only his need for traveling in light marching
order that made him so moderate in the tax he levied."
"It's only an incident," continued Dr. Bentley. "And I am glad
of it. It shows that the young scamp is still in this neighborhood,
and that means that there is still a fair chance of his being
"I wonder why he stole one particular drug from your case?" Dick
Dr. Bentley smiled, not relieving Prescott's curiosity as to the
name of the missing drug.
"It can't be that Tag means to commit suicide, as a last resort,
can it?" Dick suggested.
"I think not," smiled Dr. Bentley.
Then the leader of Dick & Co. gave up further effort along this
line to secure the desired information.
"I started in to offer you a suggestion, Prescott," continued
the medical man.
"Yes, sir; it had something to do with training, I believe."
"Before I tell you what I have to say, Prescott, suppose you put
each of your 'men' through the stunts they were doing before."
"Which one first, sir?"
"Any one of the young men."
"Dave!" called Dick.
Darrin stepped forward.
"One moment," said Dr. Bentley. He felt Dave's pulse, then nodded.
"Go ahead, Darrin."
Dave started in with the work.
"Speed it up!" ordered Dick. "Faster! Drive!"
Darry continued at his training work until Dr. Bentley called:
"Stop! Now, stand still, young man."
Bending over, Dr. Bentley placed one ear against Dave's chest,
watch in hand, while the others looked on curiously.
"Just what I thought," nodded the physician, looking up at last.
"Prescott, you have a lot of bright ideas in training, but you're
driving your squad too hard. Darrin's heart doesn't come down
to normal speed as soon as it should."
"Anything wrong with the heart, sir" asked Darry.
"Nothing. It's the trainer that's wrong," replied Dr. Bentley.
"It is a fault with a lot of trainers without long experience
that they work an athlete's heart overtime. Darrin's heart should
have slowed down in a little more than half the time required
in this instance. Set another man at work, Prescott. I can show
you how to do this properly. Let the others work as hard as Darrin
did. I want data to work on. Then I'll lay down a few suggestions
that will serve you well."
This not being interesting to the high school girls, they chatted
In the end Dr. Bentley read off some figures he had jotted down,
and explained to Prescott what he must regard as a satisfactory
heart performance after each bit of training work.
"Now, whenever you don't bring your work, fairly close to these
limits you'll know that you're overdoing the training," Dr. Bentley
explained. "If you overdo on training then you injure the chances
of the men of your squad. The wise trainer keeps within limits.
Keep within such limits, and you'll find that, bit by bit, your
men can endure more and more, and still pass satisfactorily as
to diminishing heart speed after stopping grilling."
"It's mighty good of you to explain all this to us, sir," Dick
"Not in the least," replied Dr. Bentley. "You may recall the
fact that I'm medical examiner to the High School Athletic
"And I also recall, sir," Prescott rejoined, "that for your work
with the high school athletes you accept a salary of only one
dollar a year, in place of the hundred dollars that the Athletic
"Well, if I cut prices in selected instances, that's my own affair,
isn't it?" smiled the physician.
"Now, we'll go on with the training work," Dick soon announced,
stepping forward. "Reade! Darrin!"
So the work went on, though it was not quite so grilling after
that. The girls looked on with interest, at first, but there
was no contest in hand---nothing for any "side" to win, so presently
the high school girls found the spectacle less interesting.
Tom, standing by, mopping his face, turned to see that Miss Marshall,
her red parasol resting over one shoulder, had strolled away.
"That was kind of Clara," laughed Tom.
"What was?" inquired Belle.
"To take that red sunshade further off. It made me perspire to
look at it."
"Red silk shuts out some of the worst rays of the sun," Laura
"Does it?" asked Tom. "I know there must be some excuse for carrying
a red sunshade."
Then suddenly he colored, remarking:
"That wasn't very gallant of me, but I didn't mean it quite the
way it sounds."
"And a red parasol helps throw a little tinge of color over a
face that hasn't any too much color of its own," added Susie.
"Clara is always more or less pale in summer."
"She might be a lot more pale if any of those wild cattle were
to roam back this way," smiled Dr. Bentley.
Hardly had he uttered the words when, from the edge of the woods,
there came a piercing scream, followed by a deep, bass bellow
that seemed to shake the ground.
All hands turned instantly, to see Clara running frantically,
waving the parasol in her fright, while not very far behind her
charged a bull, its head lowered.
"Drop your parasol!" cried Greg. "Throw it away."
"Then turn and run in another direction!" shouted Darrin.
Neither Dr. Bentley nor Dick Prescott uttered a word. They had
no advice ready at the instant, but turned and ran toward the
imperiled girl as fast as they could go.
Unused to such exercise, Dr. Bentley, who got the first start,
was quickly panting and red of face.
By him like a streak shot Dick Prescott, running with the speed
of the sprinter.
To face the bull empty handed was worse than useless. Dick had
to form his plans as he ran.
PLAYING RAGTIME ON MR. BULL
"Drop your parasol! Throw it away!" screamed her friends in unison.
But Clara, emitting another shriek, seemed too frightened to
comprehend. She tried to redouble her speed, but the bull was
rapidly gaining on her in the pursuit.
As all stood gazing at the panic-stricken girl, Dick Prescott
shot across the field.
What happened next was that Dick snatched the flaming red parasol
from her hand, then swung her shoulders about, thus forcing the
girl to face in another direction.
"Run---the way you're headed!" he yelled hoarsely.
The bull was close upon them. Giving the parasol a flourish in
the maddened animal's face, Prescott started off in the direction
from which the bull had come.
"Get up a tree, Prescott, as quickly as you can!" panted Dr. Bentley.
But Dick, not even pausing to shake his head, put all his effort
into a fresh burst of speed.
Running away from the camp, flaunting the red parasol, Dick was
followed closely by the bellowing bull. For a short distance,
anyway, the sprinter could run as fast as the pursuer.
Dick swiftly decided, now that he had the bull in voluntary tow,
to lead the animal where the trees were thicker. Here an agile
candidate for football honors ought to be able to daze and exhaust
the bull by darting from tree to tree.
The plan had its dangers, however, and Dick knew them well.
Once in among the trees Dick tossed the parasol to one side, then
darted off on an oblique line.
Bellowing, stumbling, the bull turned clumsily to follow him.
Again Dick changed his course, though, purposely, he took pains
not to get too far from camp.
Now he saw his chums running towards him.
"Keep away! Don't get near the bull!" he yelled.
"We've sent Dan to get the rope in the tent," Reade called back.
"Now, what in the world do the boys think they're going to do
with a rope?" Prescott wondered.
Suddenly, as he dodged off on a new track to escape the bull,
a plan flashed into Prescott's mind.
"Get up a tree!" yelled Dave.
"Hardly time enough," Dick retorted, dodging again and sprinting
briefly out of harm's way. "When Dan brings the rope throw it
so that one end will rest in the lowest fork of that young chestnut
Dave Darrin heard, understood and nodded.
"Rope's ready in the chestnut tree," he called, as Dick started
on still another track, pursued, clumsily, by the angry bull.
"Get back out of harm's way," shouted Dick. "Get back, or you
will hinder me."
In three changing sprints Dick manoeuvred to reach the chestnut
tree, though the clumsy bull was barely twenty feet behind him
and coming fast.
As the rope hung from the crotch of the tree both ends trailed
on the ground. Seizing both lines Dick went up rapidly hand over
hand, his feet braced against the tree trunk. In this position
he was able to run nimbly up the side of the trunk.
Bump! The bull's head landed against the tree, the shock nearly
bringing the high school boy to the ground. Dick managed to hold
on to the rope, though his feet slipped from the trunk.
Rapidly he drew himself up into the crotch of the tree. Bump---again!
Any animal with a head less hard would have been stunned outright.
Even Mr. Bull, after the second charge at the tree, backed off,
head lowered, pawing the ground, willing to consider ere making
a renewed attack.
The tree was in no danger of snapping. It was too stout for that.
Prescott's only danger, just at present, was that of being dislodged
by the force of those mad charges.
Turning, and beholding his friends closer than was safe, Prescott
shouted to them:
"Get back, fellows! You can't do any good here now, and the bull
may turn on you. Get 'way back! I'll call you when I'm ready
for your help."
"What do you think you're going to be able to do up that tree?"
jeered Danny Grin, as he nevertheless backed away with the others.
"I'm going to do something, if there's any way to do it," Dick
answered. "How is Clara?"
"Safe," pronounced Tom.
"No; only trembling."
Dick had hauled up the rope. Now, with a speculative air, he
was making a slip noose at one end. He still hadn't a very definite
idea of what he was going to do to the bull. Prescott was making
a lariat, though he had no skill in the use of such a thing.
Presently, however, the mad animal came closer, stamping, head
"Nice fellow! Nice fellow!" Dick called mockingly. "Wouldn't
you like to have me come down to talk with you?"
Attracted by the voice, the bull raised its head, showing its
"I wonder!" mused Dick, half aloud, as he leaned out cautiously
over a limb. "I wonder."
Then, by way of finding out, he dropped the noose suddenly. It
fell over the animal's head and around its neck.
Warned by the touch of the rope, the bull backed hastily off,
nearly hauling the high school boy out of the tree.
"There's just one chance to get you, and that's happening now,"
mused Dick Prescott, as, still holding to the rope, he fairly
shot down the tree trunk.
For an instant the bull watched as though incredulous. It gave
Dick time to touch his feet to the ground, passing the rope loosely
once around the tree trunk.
As the bull lumbered forward Prescott pulled on his rope, while
retreating in the opposite direction.
All in a twinkling the bull's head was close to the tree, and
Dick with the end of the rope in his hands, and aided by the twist
around the tree, had a leverage that enable him to hold the bull
For a few moments the dirt fairly flew before the maddened animal's
efforts to free itself. Then, finding itself a prisoner, with
its head fastened close to the tree, the bull again stopped to
"You fellows can come over here now," Dick called. "The bull
is safely caught---provided neither the rope nor the tree break."
With a yell of delight Dick's chums ran to the spot. Dr. Bentley
came, too, though he walked.
Dick's success did not seem destined, how ever to last. A halt
and a rest seemed to give the bull strength far greater than it
had used in pulling against the rope before. With an angry snort
the animal dug its hind hoofs into the soil and began to back
"Help!" called Prescott, suddenly, for he found the rope slipping
through his fingers, the friction burning his flesh. Mr. Bull
had succeeded in backing four feet away from the tree. He would
speedily be able to free himself altogether.
Tom and Dave now came running. They threw their weight and muscle
upon the rope to hinder the captive animal. But that great creature
seemed likely soon to overcome the strength of all those combined
"Come on!" called Dick, backing away on a new course. "Off this
way, to the next tree behind me. Hold on and pull for every pound
Seeing his opponents plainly engaged in making some new move the
wild animal halted, eyeing them balefully. That hesitation proved
fatal to his immediate freedom, for Dick had succeeded in getting
the rope around the tree behind him. Now he took another quick
hitch, supplementing this with a knot, then another and a third.
"I guess we may all let go of the rope now," Prescott smiled.
"I don't believe the bull can pull successfully against that
Mr. Bull was trying it, at any rate. His angry bellows were almost
as loud as the roaring of a lion. Dirt flew. The beast exerted
its whole power in its efforts to get free.
"The knot will hold," pronounced Dr. Bentley, after a critical
survey. "The great danger is friction, which may wear out that
part of the rope hitched around the first tree. If that happens
we shall all have to run for our lives. Come back here, Prescott!
What are you going to do?"
For Dick, leaving the little group, had started on a run for the
WHAT TAG "BORROWED" FROM THE DOCTOR
"I want to see how the rope is faring," Dick explained.
"If it fares badly," called Dr. Bentley dryly, "you will find
your curiosity possibly fatal. Come back here. It is time for
us to be getting away. I am sorry we have no fire arms, or we
could settle Mr. Bull very quickly. Come along, boys! Come,
But Prescott, for once, didn't prove over, tractable. He went
closer, anxiously studying the condition of the rope wound around
the first tree. Until Dick was ready to go none of his chums
would leave the scene. Dr. Bentley had turned away; but when
he found himself unaccompanied, he wheeled about once more.
"You can't do anything---except run in danger, Dick," the physician
"I am studying this business trying to find out if there isn't
something that I can do," Prescott replied.
"There isn't," Dr. Bentley assured the boy, walking over to him,
"and by staying you're only putting your life in almost certain
But Prescott shook his head and went on studying the turn of rope
around the tree trunk.
"You foolhardy fellow, I wish I had authority to order you away
from here," exclaimed the physician irascible.
"I know you think I'm foolhardy, sir," Dick answered respectfully,
"but, from the way the rope is fraying, this beast is going to
be free presently. I feel that I simply have to find a way to
prevent his doing mischief. We boys can take to trees, but how
about the girls? How about Mrs. Bentley?"
"They can get inside of the wooden houses at need," urged Dr.
Bentley. "It is hardly likely that even a crazy bull would attack
a wooden house."
"He might charge through our camp, though, and frankly, doctor,
we can't afford to lose that camp," Prescott argued.
"You other boys get back!" commanded Dr. Bentley, but Dick's chums
"Hoo-hoo! hoo-hoo!" sounded a masculine voice from the direction
of Dick & Co.'s camp.
"Hoo-hoo!" Dick answered, in his loudest tone. "Who are you?"
"Hibbert," came the reply. "I understand you are bull chasing!"
"Want any help?"
"Yes; if you're an expert in handling wild bulls," Dick shouted
back, between his hands.
"I guess that will hold him, for a little while," chuckled Dave.
"The idea of Hibbert handling wild bulls with those dainty little
white hands of his!"
Soon the sound of running steps was heard. Then on the scene
came Hibbert, carrying a second rope that he had found.
"A queer hitch-up you've got there," murmured the dapper little
man, as he halted near the group.
"Yes; and the bull is going to get away pretty soon, according
to all predictions," replied Tom Reade. "Though, perhaps, Mr.
Hibbert, you may have an idea that hasn't occurred to our addled
"That's hardly likely," murmured the young man, as he began to
tie a running noose in one end of the rope with an air of
preoccupation. "I don't know very much about cattle."
"I suppose not," Tom nodded.
"The very little that I know about the beasts," Hibbert went on
quietly, "was what I picked up during my college vacations, when
my good old Dad sent me west to rough it on a ranch. I'm not
a cowboy at all, you know. All I know about them I discovered
merely by sitting in saddle and watching the cowboys."
Now Hibbert slipped around to the rear of the bull, which, for
the moment, was behaving very quietly.
"Look out!" yelled Prescott suddenly, for Hibbert, slipping in
closer, had begun to tease the beast's left quarter. Mr. Bull,
as though resenting such familiarity with all his force, reared,
plunged, snorted. The rope hitched about the tree seemed likely
to snap at any moment.
Just as the bull came down on its hind legs, its forefeet raised
in the air, Hibbert made a swishing throw.
"Hurrah!" broke swiftly from the onlookers, for the dapper young
man had made a throw that had roped the animal's forelegs together.
Hibbert made a sudden haul-in on the rope, with the result that
the bulky beast crashed sideways, falling.
Then, all in a twinkling Hibbert leaped in, hobbling the thrown
beast effectively. Having done this he made a few knots in the
rope with workmanlike indifference.
"Now, the beast won't run about very fast, if he get's up," remarked
Mr. Hibbert, rising from his task. "For that matter, I hardly
believe he'll get up."
Hibbert next busied himself with gathering in the rope that Dick
had used. Cutting this off beyond the point where some of the
strands had become frayed, Hibbert made a new cast about the bull's
head, then tied that animal effectively to the tree.
"Fixed the way he now is," remarked Mr. Hibbert pensively, "I
believe Mr. Bull, unless he has human aid in freeing himself,
will still be here when the meat inspector gets around."
"For a man who knows nothing about cattle," said Tom Reade, breaking
the silence of the on-lookers, "it seems to me that you've done
a most workmanlike job with that bull."
"To an amateur like you or me," admitted Hibbert modestly, "it
looks like a very fair little tie-up. But I'm afraid my former
friends on the Three-Bar-X would feel decidedly ashamed of me.
Shall we now go back to camp, or were you intending to go further
into the woods?"
"I believe we'd better go back to camp," said Dr. Bentley. "You
didn't come alone, did you, Mr. Hibbert?"
"Oh, no, indeed," replied the dapper little man. "Mr. Page and
Colquitt are waiting back at the camp."
As the party came in sight of the camp the women were plainly
"We've treed the bull!" shouted Dr. Bentley. "At least, I mean,
"He's been safe all along," cabled back Mrs. Bentley. "But are
we safe, too?"
"The bull is roped so that he will do no harm," Dr. Bentley answered.
"None of you need feel the least uneasiness now. The work that
young Prescott started so well Mr. Hibbert has finished satisfactorily.
The bull cannot get loose and do you any harm. He will stay
just where he is until some of the local cattlemen come along
to take care of him."
Just before dark, it may be added, two of the tenders employed
by the owners of the cattle were stopped in passing. They led
the bull away, the animal's legs being partly hobbled.
"You haven't seen my boy," remarked Mr. Page wistfully, as Dick
and his chums reached the space before the tent.
"I am afraid we hardly expected to see him again, sir," Prescott
answered. "As you've doubtless heard, sir, your son has been
back this way, and visited Dr. Bentley's camp. From there, I
take it, he meant to make his escape out of these woods for good
and all. I have an idea, Mr. Page, that a further hunt will lead
far away from here."
"My son ought not to be able to get far away," went on the father,
holding out a handbill. "I have felt obliged to proclaim a reward
of a thousand dollars for the boy's discovery within a week, with
a further thousand if it happens within three days, and still
another thousand for his being brought to me within twenty-four
"Then you can expect results, sir!" Dick went on, brightening.
"Money talks, I've heard."
"And talks in every language," added Reade. "Mr. Page, a lot
of men who are not police or peace officers will be out hunting
for young Mr. Page. 'Tag Mosher' will be more eagerly sought
for than ever before in his life.
"I don't see how Tag has a ghost of a show to get away," observed
"Whew, but I'm thirsty," remarked Dr. Bentley, going over to the
spot where the drinking dipper hung. "And it looks as though
it were my turn to go after water."
"Is there no water there?" Prescott inquired.
"Not a drop."
"Then I'll get some water, doctor," offered Dick, coming forward
and taking up a pail.
He went briskly away to the spring where the boys obtained their
water supply. The spring was some distance from camp. Dick reached
the little glade where the spring lay, and turned down into it.
As he did so he saw a movement of the bushes, as though some
animal had crawled into shelter.
"Anyway, it wasn't anything as large as a bull," laughed Dick,
as he bent over the spring, bucket in hand. He filled the bucket,
then set it down on the ground.
"I wonder what is under those bushes?" he muttered, boyish curiosity
coming to the surface.
Prying the bushes apart, stepping forward, he suddenly halted,
a cry of astonishment coming to his lips.
"You, Tag?" he questioned, in astonishment, gazing down at the
sullen face of the larger boy who lay on his back in the thicket.
"Yes; it's Tag, and I'm It," mocked the other.
"What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you to call your friends, the officers. There's
a reward offered for me, I suppose."
"Yes; there is," answered Dick, wondering why Tag didn't leap
up and scurry away. "And guess who offers the reward?"
"Bill Mosher?" laughed Tag, despite his sulky air. "What does
Bill offer? The next dozen of eggs?"
"Tag, Bill Mosher isn't your father, and he has admitted it.
You were a strange child that came into his care, and he kept
you, at first, hoping for a reward. Your real name is Page, and
your real father is now over at camp. I'll call him."
"You may as well," agreed Tag sullenly. "But Page is a new name.
Is that what they call the sheriff now?"
"Tag, aren't you ever going to be serious?" demanded Dick, flushing
"Not while you go on springing the same old line of fairy tales
on me," retorted the other lad. "Is my father, as you call him,
as rich as he was yesterday and the day before? Has he still
barrels of money that he's waiting to hand me? Money? Humph!
If it hadn't been for money I wouldn't be in the fix I am now.
Prescott, I'll tell you something. I've kept the cupboard full
by stealing. I'll admit that. But I never stole money before
to-day. I went through those dog-houses---what do you call them?"
"Do you mean the portable houses of the Bentley party?" asked Dick.
"I guess that's the right name. Anyway, I went through those
houses to gather in some food, for I was going to leave these
woods for good and all."
"So I guessed," nodded Dick.
"And I came across two twenty dollar bills. Prescott, I've always
helped myself to food, because, some way, it always seemed to
me that food belongs to the fellow who needs it most. But I had
never taken any money, before, from anyone. That's honest---flat!
But the twenties looked fine to me. They would carry me a long
way on the railroad, and I haven't had any notion to stay here
and go to jail for something I didn't do anyway. So I took the
money, the grub, too, and stepped off fast through the woods.
But, Prescott, you may believe me or not, that money got heavier
with every step. Remember, I've never had any practice in stealing
money. By the time I'd gone three or four miles that money in
my pocket got so heavy that I couldn't drag my feet another step.
I took the money out and threw it away. But that didn't help
me any, either, so I went back, found the money, and started back
this way to put that money back where I got it. I never knew
that anything I helped myself to would grow so heavy, but back
I had to come with that money. I can't understand what made me
feel that way about a little money. Maybe it was"
"Conscience," suggested Dick promptly.
"Conscience?" repeated Tag wonderingly. "What's that? I know
I've heard that word somewhere---some time."
Dick was wondering how to make sure of Tag this time. If he shouted
to his friends in camp Prescott felt positive that Tag would leap
up, knock him down and glide away. Give him a start of a hundred
yards in these forests, and Tag Mosher, otherwise young Page,
was quite certain to distance and elude all pursuit.
As a last resort the high school boy decided to make one more
effort to use persuasion.
"Tag" he urged, "be a real fellow. Show some grit, and purpose.
No matter what you've done, or what you haven't done, show that
you've sand enough to get up and walk back into camp with me---to
meet your father. Come, get up and come along, like a real fellow
with real grit, won't you?"
"Get up?" echoed Tag bitterly. "If I could, do you suppose I'd
be lying here talking to you now?"
"Are you hurt?" cried Dick.
"If I hadn't been, do you suppose I'd have stayed with you as
long as I have?" mocked the other indignantly. "It all came of
that money, too, and what you call 'conscience.' If I hadn't come
back with the money I wouldn't have had that nasty tumble over
the root, and my ankle would be as sound as ever."
"Do you mean that you can't walk?" Dick demanded.
"I can crawl, and that's all," Tag declared. "I was at the spring,
getting a drink, when I heard you coming. Then I crawled back
in here, but not fast enough to keep you from seeing something
moving here. It was right over yonder that I fell and wrenched
my ankle. I crawled over here so as to be near water until my
foot got so that I could use it again."
"Hoo-hoo!" bellowed Prescott, through his hands. "Hoo-hoo the
"That's right," jeered Tag. "Go in after the reward, when I can't
help myself. Serves me right for taking money when I should have
contented myself with my old game of stealing victuals only!"
"Hoo-hoo the camp!" repeated Prescott. "Hoo-hoo!"
"That you, Dick?" came in Darrin's voice.
"Yes; come here on the jump, Dave. And bring the others."
"At the spring."
"Say," remarked Tag shrewdly, "you oughtn't to call a whole crowd
that way. There will be more to get a share in the reward, and
you won't get as much for yourself."
"Oh, bother the reward!" spoke Prescott impatiently. "All I'm
thinking of, Tag, is the bother you've given us, first and last."
"I suppose I always have been a trouble to folks," Tag assented
glumly. "But I'll be game---now that I'm caught."
All the chums save Hazelton came on a run.
"Here's Tag, fellows," Dick hailed them. "He has hurt his ankle
and I guess we'll have to carry him to camp."
"That'll be easy enough," declared broad shouldered Tom Reade.
"I believe I can pick, him up alone."
Tom tried. The feat would have been possible, but it would not
make for the comfort of the injured boy.
"You and I will make a queen's chair," suggested Dick. Then Dave,
Greg and Dan lifted Tag to the seat thus formed.
"You'll find me heavy before you get me far," Tag informed them.
"Pshaw!" retorted Tom.
Greg, running ahead, informed the others in camp who was coming.
The bearers were met by Mr. Page, Hibbert and Colquitt, running
in the order named.
"Here's the boy you want, Mr. Page," called Dick Prescott. "But
look out for his injured ankle, sir."
This last caution was necessary, for the older man, in his eagerness
to embrace the lad whom he believed to be his son, almost crashed
"So you're my son---my boy, Egbert!" cried the father.
"That's the fairy tale that has been shied at me a good many times
lately," replied Tag gruffly.
Mr. Page fell back, in some astonishment, at this ungracious reception.
Then, understanding, and remembering Tag's unhappy past, he
patted the boy's shoulder.
"That's all right---all right, Egbert," declared the father.
"Perhaps the news has come upon you too suddenly. But you and
I will talk it over. It won't take us long to know each other,
As the party came into camp it was noted that Mrs. Bentley and
the girls had withdrawn, returning, through delicacy, to their
own camp. Hazelton, thus released from guard duty at the other
camp, soon came running over.
But Dr. Bentley had slipped into the tent, quickly arranging one
of the cots with the skill of the hospital worker.
"Bring the young man in here," called the physician, appearing
in the doorway of the tent. "We'll soon find out how bad the
Tag was lowered down upon the blanket.
"Which foot is it?" asked Dr. Bentley.
"Left," replied Tag.
Dr. Bentley deftly removed the shoe, causing hardly more than
a trace of pain. Tag insisted on raising himself on his elbow
to look on. It was the first time he had ever been under a doctor's
Dick took one look at the wistful eyes of the father, as Mr. Page
stood by the head of the cot, resting one hand on his supposed
"Come outside, fellows," called Dick. "Doctor, we'll be outside
if you want anything."
The onlookers in the tent started to go outside, except the father
and the physician.
"Come back, Hibbert," called Mr. Page softly. "You've been at
least a son to me during the last year. Now, remain and help
me to get acquainted with my own son."
Tag was silent. He could take punishment, and Dr. Bentley was
now hurting him quite a bit in his effort to get at the exact
nature of the injury.
"Reade," called the physician, "start a fire in a hurry. Heat
half a kettle of water for me as fast as you can. Prescott, run
over to my camp and ask Mrs. Bentley for my emergency case, the
two-quart bottle of bicarbonate of soda and a roll of four-inch
Dick sped toward the Bentley camp as though on wings. While Mrs.
Bentley was gathering the things for him the girls crowded about,
asking eager questions about Tag, or Egbert Page, as he might
prove to be. But Dick delayed to talk only until Mrs. Bentley
had placed the desired things in his hands. Then he sped back,
in time to hear the physician saying:
"Only a sprain. A painful one, to be sure. But this young man
may be moved in an automobile in an hour or two. By to-morrow
morning he ought to be able to get about with the aid of a crutch."
"In jail is where I'll do my moving about," grunted Tag.
"No matter where it be, my boy," protested Mr. Page, "if they
lock you up they'll have to take me, too. Besides, I have money,
and bail is possible."
"Bail?" repeated Tag. "Would you go my bail, and trust me not
to jump it?"
"The Page honor would never permit you to jump bail," replied
the old man, with simple but positive belief in his tone.
Hardly had Dr. Bentley finished dressing and bandaging the ankle
than a new arrival appeared. Deputy Valden had dropped in, alone,
to discover whether there was any news.
"You may wait, deputy, and go with us," declared Mr. Page, as
though the sheriff's officer were some subordinate of his. "We
will go to the jail as soon as my son is rested and is comfortable
enough to be moved."
"Humph! I like that!" jeered the deputy. "This boy is my prisoner,
and I'll take him when I please. See here, Tag, I don't want
you faking any injuries as a slick way to-----"
"You get outside, my man!" broke in Detective Colquitt quietly,
but he took hold of the deputy so forcibly that Valden was quickly
on the outside of the tent.
"Now, you come along with me, my man," Colquitt continued, "and
I'll tell you who's who. First of all, this boy is Mr. Page's
son. Mr. Page can produce all kinds of money merely by signing
a check. He is indignant with you, already, for maltreating his
son when you had him under arrest at another time. Mr. Page may
employ lawyers and bring proceedings to have you ousted from
your job by the sheriff. You-----"
Here their voices died out in the distance, but Valden went along
willingly enough. When the pair returned the deputy seemed to
have lost his swagger.
"Doc, you've been good to me," said Tag at last, "and now I'll
tell you how I came to hurt my ankle. You know, of course, that
I visited one of your shacks and helped myself to some of your
kitchen stuff. While I was there I came across a queer little
black bag. I opened it, and found a whole lot of queer little
bottles. Medicines, I guess, though I don't know, for I never
had any. Then I came across one little bottle that I couldn't
see inside of. I took out the cork, and inside I found some paper
rolled up and tucked away. Two twenties were what I found. Money
was just what I needed, to buy a railway ticket with, so I slipped
the money into a pocket. Then I started off, but, Doe, that money
got so heavy---so awfully heavy-----"
From there on Tag repeated the story he had told young Prescott.
During the recital Dick had stepped into the tent.
"I knew you had my money, my boy," smiled Dr. Bentley, "but I
didn't say anything about it."
"You didn't start off to put the officers on my track?" demanded
"Not I," laughed Dr. Bentley. "I had a different idea. I suspected
you'd buy a railway ticket. This evening I had intended to drive,
to a telegraph station and telegraph about until I found where
and to what station a chap answering your description had bought
a ticket. Then I would telegraph to the sheriff just where you
were to be picked up as you left the train. I'll admit that I
wasn't very anxious to turn you over to the law. What I wanted
was to get on your trail, and then see you turned over to your
"You told me that Tag took a drug from one of your vials," Dick
"So he did," nodded the doctor. "Money is a drug in the market---in
"What kind of places, sir?" Prescott inquired.
"Such places as the United States Treasury, for instance," laughed
Dr. Bentley. "Or the National City Bank of New York."
Then turning to Mr. Page, the physician completed his explanation.
"Money is a strange thing perhaps, Mr. Page, to carry in a vial
in a doctor's drug case. But sometimes, when I've been on the
road, and a long way from home on the day's work, I've found that
I needed money just when I least expected to want it. So, for
some years, I've always had two twenty dollar bills tucked away
in an opaque vial, where it would not be seen and invite theft.
I never told anyone what I carried in that vial."
What Dr. Bentley did not explain, however, was that, generally,
when he wanted extra money, it was for some charitable work the
need of which became apparent when he was visiting the sick and
needy. The generous physician had many "free patients."
Some two hours later, Tag, his father, Hibbert, Colquitt and Valden
started for the county jail in the big Page car. On the way they
stopped at the home of Farmer Leigh, to which Dr. Bentley had
gone ahead of them.
"Mr. Leigh is conscious and able to be seen," the physician reported
to Detective Colquitt. "Bring your prisoner inside at once."
Then there came a dramatic surprise. Farmer Leigh, when confronted
by Tag, positively denied that Tag was the one who had assaulted
him. Mr. Leigh, it will be remembered, was a newcomer in the
neighborhood. He had never known Tag, but, after his injury,
and before brain fever came on, the farmer had described his assailant,
and that description had seemed to fit Tag Mosher to a dot. The
real criminal, however, a young tramp some years older than Tag,
was found later on, and punished according to law.
Dick Prescott was the only one of the high school boys on hand
to see the clearing of Tag of the accusation against him. Dick
had come along in Dr. Bentley's car.
"Prescott," whispered the physician, "slip downstairs. You'll
find my car all ready. All you need to do is to press the starting
button. Drive over to Porterville and get Mr. James, the district
attorney. Never mind if you have to drag him out of bed and thrash
him into submission---bring him here as quickly as possible.
Don't fail, you understand."
With heart beating rapidly, but feeling wholly happy, young Prescott
slipped downstairs and out of the house. A few moments later
he was speeding over the lonely country road. At one o'clock
in the morning he came back with District Attorney James, who
heard Farmer Leigh's statement, reduced it to writing and had
it signed under oath before many witnesses.
"Officer Valden," said the district attorney, "I authorize you
to take your prisoner to Porterville, not to the jail, but to
the Granite Hotel. As soon as court opens in the morning I will
secure the formal discharge of your prisoner."
This was done. Dick, who returned to camp with Dr. Bentley just
before daylight, did not see Tag released, but heard of it.
Proof came in rapidly after that to satisfy Mr. Page that "Tag
Mosher" was his son Egbert. Best of all, even young Egbert himself
Young Page underwent a speedy and complete reformation. Later
he went to school to prepare for college. In time Egbert promises
to be a strong man in his community and a force for good. Old
Bill Mosher died soon after leaving jail.
Mr. Page tried hard to make Dick & Co. accept the offered reward
of three thousand dollars, but neither the boys nor their parents
would listen to any such transaction. Dick & Co. had done their
duty in manly fashion, and that was reward enough.
Dr. Bentley's party broke camp a few days later. Dick & Co.,
however, remained for several weeks, training hard, putting on
tan and muscle and fitting themselves to compete for places on
the famous Gridley High School eleven in the coming fall.
Just what happened to our boys in the school year that followed
will be found fully and thrillingly explained in the third volume
of the "_High School Boys Series_," which is published under the
title, "_The High School Left End; Or, Dick & Co. Grilling on
the Football Gridiron_."
The further vacation doings of these splendid American boys will
be found in the next volume of this "High School Boys' Vacation
Series." The book is published under the title, "_The High School
Boys' Fishing Trip; Or, Dick & Co. in the Wilderness_." Our readers
will find it a story full of rousing incident, persistent adventure,
delightful humor and absorbing human interest.