The Project Gutenberg eBook of First Base Faulkner

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Title: First Base Faulkner

Author: Christy Mathewson

Illustrator: C. M. Relyea

Release date: January 31, 2021 [eBook #64435]

Language: English

Credits: Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at



First Base Faulkner








Copyright, 1916, by




Sensing a mix-up, Joe held the ball and raced for second base (Page 327) Frontispiece
Joe found himself still in the company of Strobe 54
“He thinks he’s a pretty swell little dresser, Foley does” 214
What!” squealed Young. “You ain’t a—a——” 290






“Lucky” Faulkner arrived in Amesville, Ohio, shortly before seven o’clock of a cold morning in the first week of January. He wasn’t known as “Lucky” then, and he certainly didn’t look especially fortunate as he stepped from train to platform and blinked drowsily at this first sight of the strange city that was to be his new home. He had travelled nearly six hours in a day-coach, sleeping fitfully with his head on the arm of the car seat, and his clothes were creased, his hair rumpled and his face tired and pale under its coating of train dust. He wore a good-looking gray ulster and a cap to match, and carried a big valise whose sides bulged tremendously and which bore the inscription “J. C. F.” in neat old English characters.

On the platform he set the bag down, took a trunk-check from a pigskin purse and gazed inquiringly about him. The passengers who had left the warmth of the cars had hurried to the restaurant to make the most of the ten minutes[4] allowed them for breakfast, and it was much too early in the day for loiterers. It was a boy of about his own age—which was sixteen—who, stopped in his mad career of dragging a mail-sack along the platform, supplied information.

“Huh? Expressman? Sure! Around back. Ask for Gus Tenney.”

Gus, a small, crabbed-looking negro, was loading a huge sample-trunk into a ramshackle dray when discovered.

“I’ve got a trunk on this train,” said the new arrival. “Will you take it to Miss Teele’s, on Brewer Street, please? And how much will it be?”

“Brewer Street? What’s the number, Boss?”


“Fifty cents, Boss.”

“I’ll give you a quarter. Can you get it there by eight?”

“I can’t tote no trunk ’way up to Brewer Street for no quarter, Boss. You’ll have to get someone else to do it.”

“All right. Is there anyone else around?”

“Don’t see anyone, Boss. Reckon I’se the only one here.”

“Will you take my trunk up there first and let me ride along with you?”


“I got to deliver this to the Commercial House first, Boss.”

“How far is that from Brewer Street?”

“’Most a mile.”

“And Brewer Street’s near the City Hall, isn’t it?”

“Well, it ain’t so mighty far.”

“And the Commercial House is near the City Hall, too, isn’t it?”

“Look here, Boss,” said the negro peevishly, “maybe you-all knows my business better’n I do and maybe you don’t. I got to deliver this trunk right away ’cause the gentleman’s waitin’ for it.”

“All right. Don’t let me keep you, then.”

“Well, you give me that check an’ I’ll get your trunk up just as soon as I can, Boss.”

“No, I’ll wait for someone else. It isn’t worth more than a quarter.”

The negro hesitated and muttered as he gave the sample-trunk a final shove. Then: “All right, Boss, I’ll do it. Seems like folks nowadays don’t want anyone to make a livin’, I ’clare to goodness it does!”

“Will you get it there by eight?”

“I’ll get it there in half an hour, Boss, if that old mare of mine keeps on her feet. It’s powerful mean goin’ today, with so much snow.”


The boy yielded his check, saw his trunk put on the dray, and, after getting directions from the negro, trudged across Railroad Avenue and turned eastward past the row of cheap stores and tenement houses that faced the tracks. There had been a good deal of snow since Christmas and it was still piled high between sidewalk and street. Overhead a gray morning sky threatened more, and there was a nip in the air that made the boy set his bag down before he had traversed a block and slip on a pair of woollen gloves. Behind him a door opened and an appealing odour of coffee and cooking was wafted out to him. As he took up his valise again he looked wistfully through the frost-framed window of the little eating-house and mentally counted up his change. Evidently the result prohibited refreshment, for he went on, the heavy valise dragging and bumping as he walked, and at last turned the corner and struck northward. Here, after a short distance, the buildings became comfortable homes, many of them surrounded by grounds of some extent. From chimneys the gray smoke was ascending in the frosty air and now and then the tantalising vision of a breakfast table met his sight. The sidewalks hereabouts had been cleaned of snow and walking was easier, something the boy was[7] heartily glad of since that valise was gaining in weight at every step.

It was not, he was thinking as he trudged along, a very inspiriting morning on which to arrive in a strange place. Perhaps if the sun had been shining Amesville would have seemed less gloomy and inhospitable to him, but as it was he found nothing to like about the city. On the contrary, he was convinced that it was far inferior in every way to Akron and that he would never care for it, no matter how long he stayed there. However, he forgot to take into consideration the fact that he was tired and hungry and cold, neglected to realise that almost any city, approached from its least attractive quarter and viewed in the dim light of a cloudy Winter morning, looks far from its best.

He set his valise down at a corner, rubbed his chilled fingers, and went on once more with his burden in the other hand. He was wondering now what Aunt Sarah would prove to be like. He had never seen her to remember her, although his mother had tried to recall to his recollection an occasion when Aunt Sarah had visited them in Akron. But that had been when he was only four or five years old and his memory failed him. Aunt Sarah was not a real, bona-fide aunt, for[8] she was his mother’s half-sister. But she was the closest relative there was and when it had become necessary to break up the home in Akron it was Aunt Sarah who had written and offered to take them in. There would be practically no money left after his father’s affairs had been settled up and all the bills paid, and Mrs. Faulkner had been very glad to accept Aunt Sarah’s hospitality for her son. She herself had obtained, through the influence of a friend of her husband’s, the position of housekeeper in a hotel in Columbus. Since her son could not be with her she had decreed that he was to go to Amesville, finish his schooling there, and remain with Aunt Sarah until enough money had been saved to allow of the establishment of a new home. He had pleaded hard to be allowed to leave high school and find work in Columbus, but Mrs. Faulkner wouldn’t hear of it.

“You may not realise it now, dear,” she had said, “but an education is something you must have if you are ever to amount to anything. And there’s just one time to get it, and that’s now. If you study hard you’ll be through high school next year. You’ll be eighteen, and that’s quite young enough to start earning a living. Meanwhile Aunt Sarah will give you a good home, dear. I shall[9] pay her a little, as much as I can afford, so you needn’t feel that you are accepting charity. You must try to be nice to her, too. She—she doesn’t always show her best side, unless she’s changed since I saw her last, but she’s as good as gold, for all her sharp tongue. And I want you to try and remember that, dear.”

He recalled the words now and tried to banish the mental picture of Aunt Sarah which he had unconsciously drawn: a tall, thin, elderly maiden lady with sharp features and a sharper tongue, dressed in a gingham gown of no particular colour and wearing a shawl over her shoulders. But the preconceived vision wouldn’t be dispelled, and consequently, when a few minutes later, the door of the little yellow house with chocolate-coloured trimmings opened to his ring and Aunt Sarah confronted him, he was not a bit surprised. For she was, with the exception of gingham dress and shawl, so much like what he had imagined that it was quite as if he had known her for a long time.

“This is Joseph?” she asked as he took off his cap on the threshold. “You’re late. I’ve been expecting you for a quarter of an hour and breakfast is stone-cold likely. Come in, please, and don’t keep the door open. Take your bag right upstairs. It’s the first room to the left. When[10] you’ve washed, and dear knows you need it, come right down again. I dislike very much having folks late to their meals.”

During this announcement, uttered levelly in a sharp voice, she shook hands rather limply, closed the door, pushed the rug straight again with the toe of a sensible boot and smoothed the front of her black merino gown. That black gown was the only thing that didn’t fit in with his picture of her and he rather resented it as, tugging his bag behind him, he went up the narrow, squeaky staircase. That colourless gingham he had mentally attired her in would, he thought, have been less depressing than the black merino.

The room in which he found himself was small, but, in spite of the cheerless weather outside, bright and homelike. There were some surprisingly gay cretonne curtains at the two windows, the paper was blue-and-white in a neat pattern, the brass knobs of the single bed shone like globes of gold, and Joe noted with approval that the gaslight was convenient to the old-fashioned mahogany, drop-front desk. On the table at the head of the bed were three books, disputing the small surface with a candlestick and a match-safe, and while he hurriedly prepared for breakfast he stole[11] time to examine the titles. “Every Boy’s Handy Book,” he read, “Self-Help,” “Leather Stocking Tales.” He smiled as he turned away. On the walnut bureau—it had a marble slab and an oval mirror and a lidded box at each side—was a Bible. He made a quick toilet and returned downstairs. A pleasant fragrance of coffee guided him to the dining-room. Aunt Sarah was already in place and a large black cat was asleep on a chair between the windows.

“That will be your place,” said Miss Teele, indicating a chair across the table with a nod. “Do you eat oatmeal?”

“Yes, ma’am, thanks,” replied Joe as he settled himself and opened his napkin. Aunt Sarah helped him and passed the dish. A glass percolator was bubbling at her elbow and, after serving the oatmeal, she extinguished the alcohol flame underneath and poured a generous and fragrant cup of coffee. Joe ate hungrily and finished his oatmeal in a trice. He would have liked more, but none was offered. Then an elderly, stoop-shouldered woman entered with a quick, curious glance at Joe from a pair of faded eyes and deposited a platter of bacon and eggs before her mistress.

“This is Mildred Faulkner’s boy, Amanda,”[12] announced Miss Teele. “You may hand the coffee, please.”

Amanda nodded silently in reply to Joe’s murmured “How do you do?” and quickly departed, to return a moment later with a toast-rack. Joe had never seen toast served that way before and was viewing it interestedly when Aunt Sarah, having served him with a generous helping of bacon and a fried egg, and tasted her coffee, remarked:

“You’ll find the food here plain but wholesome, Joseph. And I guess you’ll always get enough. If you don’t I want you to tell me. I don’t hold with skimping on food. How’s your mother?”

“Quite well, thank you. She goes to Columbus today.”

Aunt Sarah sniffed. “Going to be a housekeeper at a hotel, she wrote me. A nice occupation, I must say, for a Teele!”

“There didn’t seem to be much else,” replied Joe.

“She might have come to me. I offered her a home. But she always was dreadfully set and independent. Well, I hope she don’t regret it. How was it your father didn’t leave anything when he died?”

“I don’t know, Aunt Sarah. We always[13] thought there was plenty of money before. But there were a good many bills, and the paper hadn’t been paying very well for a year or two, and so——”

“I told your mother when she was so set on marrying John Faulkner that he’d never be able to provide for her. I’m not surprised.”

“But he did provide for my mother,” replied Joe indignantly. “We always had everything we wanted.”

“You haven’t got much now, have you? Giving your folks all they want while you’re alive and leaving them without a cent when you die isn’t exactly my idea of providing.” Aunt Sarah sniffed again. “Not that I had anything against your father, though. I always liked him. What I saw of him, that is, which wasn’t much. He just wasn’t practical. Are you like him?”

“Folks say I look like him,” said Joe coldly. He felt resentful of Aunt Sarah’s criticism.

“So you do, but I guess you’ve got more spunk than he ever had. You’ll need it. When do you propose to start in school?”

“As soon as I can. I thought I’d go and see the principal this morning.”

“The sooner the better, I guess. Idleness[14] never gets a body anywhere. Will you have another egg?”

“Yes, please.”

“I’m glad you haven’t got a finicky appetite.” She added bacon to the egg and pushed the toast-rack nearer. “Will you have another cup of coffee?” Joe would and said so. It seemed to him that he would never get enough to eat, which, considering that he hadn’t had anything since six o’clock the night before wasn’t surprising. Aunt Sarah nibbled at a piece of toast and sipped her coffee and was silent. Joe felt that he ought to attempt conversation and presently said:

“You have a very pleasant home, Aunt Sarah.”

“I’m not complaining any,” was the brief response.

A minute later he happened to look up and caught her gaze. He may have been mistaken, but it seemed to him that she was regarding his performance with knife and fork quite approvingly. When he had finished, Aunt Sarah said grace, which to Joe’s thinking was turning things around, and arose.

“I suppose you brought a trunk with you?” she questioned.

“Yes, ma’am, and it ought to be here. The expressman said he would get it around by eight.”


“Like as not it was Gus Tenney,” said Aunt Sarah. “If it was it won’t get here until afternoon, I guess. He’s the most worthless, shiftless negro in town.” But Aunt Sarah, for once, did the coloured gentleman an injustice, for even as she finished he backed his team up to the sidewalk. “You show him where to put it,” she instructed, “and tell him to be careful and not bump the walls. And don’t pay him a cent more than a quarter of a dollar, Joseph. Have you got any money?”

“Yes, ma’am, thanks.”

Aunt Sarah, who had begun to look around in a mildly distracted way for her purse, stopped and said “Hmph!” Then, “Well, don’t you give him more than a quarter, now!”

Five minutes later Joe was unpacking his belongings and whistling quite merrily. After all, things weren’t so bad, he reflected. Aunt Sarah was cross-grained beyond a doubt, but she gave a fellow plenty to eat!

“And good eats, too!” he murmured contentedly.



“Joseph Faulkner?” inquired Mr. Dennison, the high school principal.

“Yes, sir.”

“I’m very glad to meet you, Faulkner.” They shook hands and Mr. Dennison pulled a chair nearer the big, broad-topped desk. “Sit down, please. You wrote me a week or so ago from Akron, I believe, and enclosed a letter from your principal, Mr. Senter.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I have it here, I think.” Mr. Dennison searched for a moment in the file at his elbow and drew forth the two communications pinned together. He read Mr. Senter’s letter again and nodded.

“I see,” he murmured. “Now tell me something about yourself, my boy. Your father has died recently?”

“Yes, sir, in November.”

“I’m very sorry. I think now I recall reading[17] of his death in the paper. He was the editor of the Enterprise, I believe?”

“Yes, sir. He owned the paper, too. That is, most of it.”

“Your mother is alive, I trust?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you have brothers and sisters?”

“No, sir; there’s only me.”

“I see. I rather expected your mother would call with you, Faulkner. It’s the customary thing. We rather like to meet the pupils’ parents and get in touch with them, so to speak. Possibly your mother, however, was not feeling well enough to accompany you this morning.”

“She isn’t here, sir. She’s in Columbus. You see, father didn’t leave much money and so she—she took a position in Columbus and sent me here to live with an aunt, a Miss Teele, on Brewer Street. Mother wants me to finish high school. I thought I’d ought to go to work, but she wouldn’t let me.”

“Dear, dear!” said Mr. Dennison sympathetically. “Most unfortunate! Well, I think your mother is quite right, my boy. You’ll be better fitted to face the—er—the responsibilities of life if you have supplied yourself with an education. Hm! Yes. Now, let me see. I gather from what[18] your former principal writes that you have been a very steady, hard-working student. You like to study and learn, Faulkner?”

“Yes, sir. That is, I like to study some things. And, of course, I want to learn. Mr. Senter said he thought there wouldn’t be any trouble about my getting into the junior class here, sir. I’ve only missed about seven weeks.”

“I see.” Mr. Dennison thoughtfully folded the letters in his hands, observing Joe the while. What he saw prepossessed him in the boy’s favour. Joe was large for his age, sturdy without being heavy, and had the healthful colouring and clear eyes of a youth who had divided his time fairly between indoors and out. You wouldn’t have called him handsome, perhaps, for his nose wasn’t at all classic, being rather of the tip-tilted variety, and his chin was a bit too square to meet the Greek standard of beauty. Perhaps it was the chin that had suggested spunk to Aunt Sarah. Anyhow, it suggested it to Mr. Dennison. In fact, the whole face spoke of eager courage, and the gray eyes looked out with a level directness that proclaimed honesty. For the rest, he had light-brown hair, so light that one hesitated at calling it brown, but had to for want of a better description, a forehead that matched the chin in breadth[19] and gave the face a square look, and a mouth that, no matter how serious the rest of the countenance was, seemed on the point of breaking into a smile. On the whole, summed up the principal, a healthy, honest, capable appearing boy, and one likely to be heard from.

“Yes,” said Mr. Dennison after a moment’s silence, “yes, I think the junior class is where you belong. At least, we’ll try you there. I don’t want to set you back unless it’s quite necessary. You may have to work hard for a month or so to catch up, but I think you can do it. How old are you, Faulkner?”

“Sixteen, sir, on the fourth of last August.” Other questions were asked and answered and the answers were entered on a filing card. Then:

“Can you start in tomorrow?” asked the principal.

“Yes, sir, I’d like to.”

“Very well. Then in the morning report in Room D to Mr. Whalen. School takes in at eight-thirty. Here is a list of books and materials you’ll need, many of which you doubtless have already. Any books or stationery you need can be obtained at the outer office. Books may be purchased outright or rented, as you please. That’s all, I think. I hope you’ll like us here,[20] Faulkner. You must get acquainted with the other boys, you know, and then you’ll feel more at home. Come and see me in a day or two and tell me how you are getting on. And if there’s anything you want to know or if there’s any help you need don’t hesitate to apply to Mr. Jonson, my assistant, or to me.” Mr. Dennison shook hands again and Joe, armed with the printed list of books and materials, expressed his thanks and passed out into the corridor. A gong had sounded a moment before and the stairways and halls were thronged with students. No one, however, paid any attention to Joe and he left the big building and walked across the town to Main Street and turned southward, his eyes busy as he went.

The sky was still gray and Main Street was ankle-deep in yellow-brown slush, and Amesville did not, perhaps, look its best even yet. But the buildings, if not so fine as those of Akron, were solid and substantial for the most part, and the stores presented enticing windows and leavened the grayness with colour and brightness. It seemed, he decided, a busy, bustling little city—he had already ascertained that it boasted a population of twenty-five thousand and the honor of being the county seat—and it didn’t require any[21] great effort of imagination to fancy himself back in Akron.

Joe not only observed but he studied, and for a reason. To let you into a secret which he had so far confided to no one, Joe had no intention of allowing his mother to pay Aunt Sarah for his board and lodging for very long. He meant to find some sort of work that he could perform before and after school hours. What it was to be he did not yet know, although there was one job he expected to be able to secure if nothing more promising offered. He was fairly certain, although his mother had not taken him into her confidence to that extent, that hotel housekeepers did not receive munificent wages, and he realised that his mother, used to having practically every comfort money could buy, would find it hard enough to get on without having to send a part of her monthly salary to Aunt Sarah.

The job that he felt pretty certain of obtaining was that of delivering newspapers. Joe was well enough acquainted with the newspaper business to know that it was always difficult for circulation managers to find boys enough to keep the routes covered. He had had some experience of the kind, for when he was in grammar school he had delivered the Enterprise all one Summer and part[22] of a Winter, until, in fact, a chronic condition of wet feet caused his mother to interfere. His father had not at any time approved of the proceeding, for Mr. Faulkner had been a man of position in Akron and it had seemed to him that in carrying a newspaper route Joe was performing labor beneath him and, perhaps, casting aspersions on the financial and social standing of Mr. John Faulkner. Joe had had to beg long for permission and his father had agreed with ill-grace. The fun had soon worn off, but Joe had kept on with the work long after his chum, who had embarked in the enterprise with him, had given up. It didn’t bring in much money, and Joe didn’t need what it did bring, since his father was lavishly generous in the matter of pocket-money. It was principally the fact that his father had predicted that he would soon tire of it that kept him doggedly at it when the cold weather came. Getting up before light and tramping through snow and slush to toss twisted-up papers into doorways soon became the veriest drudgery to the fourteen-year-old boy, and only pride prevented him from crying quits. When, finally, wet boots and continual sniffling caused his mother to put her foot down Joe was secretly very, very glad!

But delivering newspapers wasn’t the work he[23] wanted now, unless he could find none other, and, as he went down Main Street just before noon, his eyes and mind were busy with possibilities. To find a position as a clerk was out of the question, since he wouldn’t be able to work during the busiest hours. Some labor that he might perform after school in the afternoon and during the evening was what he hoped to find. And so, as he passed a store or an office, he considered its possibilities. He paused for several minutes in front of one of the big windows of Miller and Tappen’s Department Store, but finally went on with a shake of his head. If it had been before instead of after the holidays he might have found employment there as an extra hand in the wrapping or shipping department, but now they would more likely be turning help away than taking it on. A drug store on the corner engaged his attention next, and then a brilliantly red hardware store across the street, a hardware store that evidently did a large business in athletic goods if one was to judge by the attractive display in one broad window. But Joe couldn’t think of any position in one or the other that he could apply for. Further along, a handsome new twelve-story structure was nearing completion, and he stopped awhile to watch operations. It was the only “skyscraper”[24] in sight and consequently stuck up above the surrounding five- and six-story edifices like, to use Joe’s metaphor, a sore thumb! It was a fine-looking building, though, and he found himself feeling a civic pride in it, quite as though he was already a settled citizen of the town. Well, for that matter, he told himself, he guessed Amesville wasn’t such a bad place, after all, and if only he could find a job that would bring him in enough to pay Aunt Sarah for board and lodging——

But at that moment the noon whistle blew, a bell struck twelve somewhere and Joe turned back toward Brewer Street. Aunt Sarah had enjoined him to be back before half-past twelve, which was dinner time, and he recalled her assertion that she disliked having folks tardy at meals. So his search for employment must wait until later.

His walking had made him hungry again and he viewed veal chops smothered with tomato sauce and the riced potatoes piled high in the blue dish and the lima beans beside it with vast approval. There was a generous plate of graham bread, too, and a pyramid of grape jelly that swayed every time Amanda crossed the floor. He satisfied Aunt Sarah’s curiosity as to the interview with the high school principal while satisfying his own[25] appetite. Aunt Sarah said “Hmph!” and that she’d heard tell Mr. Dennison was a very competent principal. Thereupon she went into the past history of the Amesville High School and its heads, and Joe, diligently addressing himself to the viands, told himself that his Aunt Sarah seemed astonishingly well informed on the subject. Later he discovered that Aunt Sarah was well informed on most subjects and that when it came to town news she was better than a paper!

“I had Amanda bake an apple pudding,” she informed him presently, when his appetite began to languish. “I guess boys usually like something sweet to top off with. Do you eat apple pudding?”

“Yes, Aunt. Most any kind of pudding. But don’t you—don’t you go to any trouble about me, please. I—I can eat whatever there is. I’ve got a fine old appetite.”

“Hmph! Well, I guess you won’t go hungry here. Not that I intend to have things much different from usual, though. I don’t hold with humouring folks’ notions about food. Food is food, I say, so long’s it’s nourishing and decently cooked. Your mother, though, was always a great one for strange, outlandish dishes and I suppose you’ll miss ’em. Well, all I can say is plain food’s[26] what I was brought up on and I’ve never seen anyone hurt none by eatin’ it. I’ve noticed that folks who like messed-up dishes generally have dyspepsia and are always doctoring themselves. Amanda, bring in the pudding.”

Aunt Sarah seemed slightly surprised when, the apple pudding partaken of, Joe announced that he thought he’d go and have a look around town. “Well,” she said, “you’re old enough to look after yourself, I suppose, but for goodness’ sake, don’t go and get run over or anything! Main Street’s getting to be something awful, what with these automobiles and all. Seems like a body just has to take his life in his hands when he goes there nowadays. If those awful things don’t run you down they scare you to death, and if they can’t do any worse to you they spatter you with mud. Gracious sakes, I haven’t dared shop on the other side of Main Street for ’most a year!”

Joe didn’t confide to her his real errand, just why he didn’t exactly know. Perhaps he had a dim notion that Aunt Sarah wouldn’t approve of his engaging in work that might keep him away from home at strange hours of the day or night. She watched his departure doubtfully from the front door and when he was almost to the corner[27] of the next street called after him to go to Rice and Perry’s and get himself a pair of overshoes. “Tell Mr. Perry they’re to be charged to me, and see that he gives them to you big enough. If you don’t watch him he’ll fit you too snug and then they’ll wear out right away!”

Joe didn’t obey instructions, however. Somehow he wasn’t yet ready to become indebted to Aunt Sarah, and, besides, he didn’t need overshoes to get around today. His boots were heavy-soled and as nearly waterproof as any “guaranteed waterproof” boots ever are. During the afternoon he made several inquiries for work. A photographer declined his offer to do errands after three o’clock in the afternoon, a haberdasher failed to discern the benefits to accrue—to him—from giving employment to the applicant, and four other merchants of different trades answered to similar effect. Just before dusk Joe sought the office of the Amesville Recorder.



The Recorder was an evening paper and came off the press at half-past three, and for that reason Joe had made it first choice over its morning rival, the Gazette, which was delivered in the early morning. Fortunately, he found the circulation manager still on duty when he reached the office, and although that gentleman, who wore a nervous, harassed look, scowled upon him fiercely at first, the scowl gradually faded as Joe stated his mission. Unknown to him, Joe had timed his application extremely well, since one of the carriers had that very afternoon been given his dismissal, and it didn’t take more than four minutes to secure what he was after. The route was not a long one and paid less than Joe wished it did, but the manager promised to give him something better if he proved satisfactory and the opportunity occurred. Joe was supplied with a list of subscribers on Route 6, told to be on hand promptly next afternoon at three-thirty, and took himself away well satisfied. The work would[29] bring him only three dollars a week, which was much less than he believed himself capable of earning, but the route would take but two hours from the time he left the newspaper office and he would be through well before supper time. Besides, Joe had no intention of delivering papers very long. Sooner or later, he believed, a better chance would offer. Until then, though, Route 6, with its resultant three dollars a week, would be a heap better than nothing.

He told Aunt Sarah about it at the supper table and Aunt Sarah, instead of expressing disapproval, appeared much pleased. Only, she insisted, the work mustn’t be allowed to interfere with his studies. Joe assured her that it wouldn’t, since he would have his evenings free. After supper he went upstairs, opened the mahogany desk and wrote a long letter to his mother. He tried to make it sound very brave and cheerful, but I don’t think Mrs. Faulkner had much difficulty in reading between the lines and reaching the conclusion that Joe was a little bit homesick and lonely and that he missed her a lot. He told about his interview with Mr. Dennison and about the employment he had secured.

“It pays only three dollars,” he wrote, “but it won’t take more than an hour and a half or[30] two hours and I won’t have to work on Sunday because the Recorder doesn’t have any Sunday edition. I’m going to pay two and a half of it to Aunt Sarah every week and so you won’t have to send her very much, will you? I’d give it all to her, but I guess I’d better keep a half-dollar out for pocket-money. Then you won’t have to send me any money. After a while I’m going to get something to do that will pay me more and maybe then you won’t have to send Aunt Sarah a cent. Aunt Sarah looks like she would bite my head off if I brought any dirt into the house on my shoes and she talks mighty crusty, but I guess she’s a pretty good sort after all. She had Amanda cook me a bully apple pudding for dinner today. I’m pretty sure she did it on my account, because she didn’t touch it herself. Amanda is a funny old woman who does the cooking and so on. She’s about sixty, I guess, and hasn’t but three or four teeth and sort of mumbles when she talks. When I say anything to her she looks scared and beats it.

“Mr. Dennison gave me a list of the books I have to have and I’ve got them all but one. I can rent that and it won’t cost much. I’ve still got nearly four dollars of what you gave me and you don’t need to send me any more. I guess I’m[31] going to like this place very much when I get used to it. Aunt Sarah wanted me to get a pair of overshoes and charge them to her, but I didn’t like to, and besides my boots are all right without overshoes. Maybe I’ll get a new pair of rubbers some time. The ones I brought with me are sort of leaky. But I won’t need any other things like clothes or shoes or anything for almost a year, I guess, so you’re not to worry about me.”

He spent all of an hour over that letter and used four sheets of Aunt Sarah’s old-fashioned blue-ruled paper, and when it was finished and ready for the mail his watch told him that the time was half-past nine. He was opening his door to go downstairs and say good-night to Aunt Sarah when he heard her coming up.

“I hope you’ll have enough covers,” she said as she came to the doorway. “If you haven’t you’ll find another comfortable on the closet shelf. Breakfast’s at seven, but if you’re very sleepy tomorrow I guess it won’t matter much if you don’t come down right on time. Amanda can keep something hot for you. ’Twon’t hurt her a bit. I suppose you’ll be wanting a bath every morning, and I haven’t any objection to your having it, only remember the water’s metered and don’t let the plug slip out. It’s awful the[32] way they charge for water nowadays! First thing we know they’ll be putting the air on a meter, too, just as likely as not! Well, I hope you sleep well and get rested, Joseph. Good-night.”

“Good-night, Aunt Sarah.” Joe hadn’t had any intention of doing what he did then, but writing to his mother had left him a little bit lonesome, and—well, acting on the impulse of the moment, he kissed Aunt Sarah on the cheek! I fancy he was almost if not quite as surprised as Aunt Sarah when he had done it. That Aunt Sarah was surprised was very evident. Indeed, something very like consternation was expressed on her countenance.

Hmph!” she snorted. “Hmph! Well, I declare!”

Joe, embarrassed himself, drew back over the threshold, smiling uncertainly. Aunt Sarah, at a loss for further words, stared a moment, said “Hmph!” again in more thoughtful accents and turned away. But when she had gone a few steps she paused. “I told Amanda to boil you a couple of eggs for breakfast,” she announced, “but maybe you don’t care for eggs. Some folks don’t.”

“Indeed, I do. Thanks.”

“Well, all right, then. I don’t hold with humouring[33] folks with finicky appetites, but if there’s anything you’d rather have than the eggs——”

“There isn’t, really. The eggs will be fine!”

“Humph! Good-night.”

Aunt Sarah’s door closed softly down the hall and Joe smiled as he shut his own.

“I don’t believe she minded it at all,” he murmured. “I guess—I guess she’s never had very many kisses!”

His first day of school passed without special incident. Several fellows spoke to him at recess and satisfied their curiosity about the newcomer, but none of them appealed greatly to Joe and he made no effort to pursue the acquaintances. At half-past three he was on hand at the Recorder office, received his bundle of papers, slung them at his side by a strap which he had bought on the way from school, and started out. His route began nearly a mile from the newspaper building and it would have saved time if he had taken a car on Main Street. But to do that every day would cost him thirty cents, and thirty cents taken from three dollars leaves quite a hole! So he tramped the distance instead. He had already studied his route on a map in a copy of the city directory and so had little difficulty. He did, however, manage to leave out a block and had to[34] go back to it, but that wouldn’t happen the next time. The district was one well over on the west side of town and was inhabited for the most part by factory workers, although there were a few blocks of more prosperous patrons. As a general thing the sidewalks were ill paved and held pools of slush or water, and Joe’s “waterproof” boots belied their reputation by the time he had tossed the last of his papers on the final porch. But damp feet didn’t trouble him greatly and he made up his mind to change to a pair of slippers as soon as he got home. It was quite dark by the time he reached the little house in Brewer Street and Aunt Sarah had begun to be concerned, and when he entered the front door, she appeared quickly from the sitting-room.

“I was beginning to think one of those automobiles had got you,” she said tartly. “It’s ’most six o’clock.”

“I’m sorry to be so late,” replied Joe, “but it took longer today than it will the next time. I missed some houses and had to go back.”

“Well, I suppose I don’t need to get anxious about you, but——” Aunt Sarah paused, her gaze on his feet. “Joseph Faulkner, look at your boots!”

“Yes, they’re sort of damp, aren’t they?”


“Sort of damp! Land sakes, they’re sopping wet! You go right upstairs this very minute and take them off and change your socks and dry your feet and—and don’t you dare come home tomorrow without those overshoes I told you to get yesterday! First thing I know you’ll be down with pneumonia! Tramping around through the slush with nothing on but a pair of fancy shoes!”

“They’re supposed to be waterproof, Aunt,” said Joe meekly.

“Supposed to be! Maybe they are supposed to be, but they ain’t. Now, don’t stand there arguing, but do as I say, Joseph. I may not be your mother, but I guess I know wet shoes when I see them! And I don’t see why you didn’t get those overshoes like I told you to yesterday.”

“I didn’t feel that I could afford them,” said Joe defensively, “and I didn’t just like to take them as a gift.”

“Land sakes, you needn’t be so proud, Joseph Faulkner! I guess I’m your mother’s own half-sister, ain’t I? And if that doesn’t give me the right to buy a pair of overshoes for you—Hmph! I never heard such foolishness. You take those wet shoes off directly and I’ll bring you up a cup of ginger-tea. Fine thing it would be to have[36] you sick on my hands the very first week you’re here!”

Joe went up, smiling to himself, and obeyed directions. Only, when Aunt Sarah passed a steaming cup of ginger-tea in to him he didn’t play quite fair. He gave it a trial, to be sure, but he didn’t like it, and if Aunt Sarah had been listening she might have heard one of the guest room windows cautiously raised. Let us hope that the ginger-tea had no ill effects on Aunt Sarah’s shrubs!

Damp feet did not affect Joe’s appetite, and, watching him eat, Aunt Sarah dared hope that he was not in for a serious illness!

By Saturday he had settled down into his new life. He was relieved to find that the few weeks away from school had not put him far behind and during that first week he proved to his own and Mr. Dennison’s satisfaction that he really belonged in the junior class. He found much to like about the school. For one thing, the building, which was fairly new, was quite a model school structure, with big, broad rooms lighted by an almost continuous row of high windows through which the sunlight fairly streamed. Sunlight in classrooms makes for cheerfulness, and cheerfulness for better work, and better work for more[37] cheerfulness! That, at least, was the way Joe summed it up. The fellows seemed an average lot, some nice, some rather objectionable, some neither one thing nor the other. The same was probably true also of the girls, but Joe, having no sisters of his own, was shy of girls and didn’t attempt to decide as to whether they were nice or otherwise.

At home he and Aunt Sarah settled down into a very pleasant companionship. Although her voice remained as acid as ever, it was evident to Joe that she was prepared to be fond of him, and that, used as he was to affection, was sufficient to make him fond of her. She was sometimes fussily anxious about him, but she didn’t try to govern his movements, and that he appreciated. Aunt Sarah’s bark, he soon decided, was far worse than her bite. The newspaper route occupied his afternoons between school and supper—which was more like dinner, since he had only a light lunch in the middle of the day—and required no great effort. On Monday he collected two dollars and a half for the five days he had worked and handed the amount over to Aunt Sarah. His board and lodging was, he learned, to cost three dollars a week.

“That,” said Aunt Sarah, “was the arrangement[38] your mother made. I told her she didn’t need to pay a cent unless she was set on it, but she wouldn’t let you come unless I’d take some money. So I reckoned that three dollars would be about right. I’ve never taken a boarder and I don’t pretend to know. If that seems too much, though, I’d like you to tell me.”

“It doesn’t seem enough, Aunt,” replied Joe. “I’ll bet I eat more than three dollars’ worth of food, and that doesn’t leave anything for the room.”

“I wasn’t calculating to charge for the room. The room’s there and it might as well be used. I just meant to charge for what you ate, Joseph, and I guess you won’t eat more’n three dollars’ worth of food a week.”

But that was on Monday, and today was only Saturday, and Joe had a whole morning to dispose of as he liked. He had been given a fine new pair of skates Christmas before last and had learned at school that there was fair skating on the river and on one or two ponds around town. After breakfast he got his skating boots and skates out of his trunk and looked them over. The only thing missing was a new lacing, and so he went across to Main Street in search of the article. But the shoe store in which he had purchased[39] the overshoes didn’t have a leather lacing suitable and sent him to Cummings and Wright’s, further down the street. This, he discovered, was the brilliantly-red hardware store he had noticed one day. One side of it was given over to athletic goods and when Joe entered two boys were in conversation across a counter near the door.

“You can’t get to work too early, Sam,” he heard one of them say as he drew near. “Start them going about the middle of February. Of course there isn’t a whole lot to be done in the cage, but you can get in a lot of batting practice, and your pitchers can find themselves, and——”

He broke off and walked along behind the counter to where Joe was standing. “Good morning,” he said cheerfully. “Is there something you want?”

He was a well-built chap of seventeen, with red-brown hair, very blue eyes and a smile that won Joe on the instant.

“I want a lacing for this boot, or a pair of them, please. They told me at Rice and Perry’s that you kept them.”

“We surely do, and you can have one or two, just as you say.” He turned away and pulled a box from the shelves. “There you are. Five cents apiece.”


“I’ll take just the one, I guess.”

“All right. They say the skating’s best at Proctor’s Pond. Have you tried it?”

“No, I haven’t. I was going down to the river, because I thought I could find that. Where is this pond, please?”

“Take a Fair Grounds car at Myrtle Street. Or you can walk it in twenty minutes. You’ll find it better than the river, I guess. You’re a stranger here?”

“I’ve been here just a few days.”

“That so? I thought I’d seen you around somewhere.” He had taken one of the skating boots and, despite Joe’s protest, was replacing the broken lace with the new one. “I know now; I saw you at high school, didn’t I?”

“I guess so. I started there Tuesday. I—I’ve been living in Akron.”

“Akron’s a nice town. You’ll like Amesville, though, when you get acquainted. Have you met many fellows at school yet?”

“N-no, I haven’t. That is, some have spoken to me, but I don’t really know anyone yet.”

“You must, then. Start in by knowing me. My name’s Pollock.” He smiled winningly and reached a hand across. Joe smiled back and clasped it.


“Thanks. Mine is Faulkner.”

“Sam!” called Pollock. The boy at the front of the store, who had been gravely looking out into the street, turned inquiringly. He didn’t resemble the other in build or features, but there was, nevertheless, a similarity between them that Joe couldn’t explain. He wasn’t handsome, but he had a nice pair of gray eyes and a generously wide mouth that, although no smile curved it, somehow seemed to proclaim good nature and kindliness. In build he was heavier than his friend, more sturdy, with a resolute way of planting his feet that seemed to defy anything short of an explosion of dynamite to move him until he was ready to move. He approached in response to Pollock’s hail.

“Sam, I want you to know Mr. Faulkner,” said Pollock. “Faulkner, this is Sam Craig. Sam’s our baseball captain and a gentleman of much wisdom.” The two shook hands, Joe a trifle embarrassedly, Sam Craig with a slight lifting of one corner of his serious mouth and an accompanying lighting of the gray eyes.

“How are you, Faulkner? I’ve seen you around school, I think. Glad to meet you.” The clasp was a very hearty one, almost painfully[42] hearty, and Joe worked his fingers afterwards to see that they were still whole.

“Faulkner,” continued Pollock, completing the lacing of the boot, “is a stranger in our midst, Sam. He’s just come from Akron. He says he hasn’t got acquainted much yet. What’ll we do about it? Our fair city has a world-wide reputation for hospitality, you know, and it mustn’t be marred.”

“I’ve only been here since last Monday,” said Joe. “I guess a fellow can’t expect to make many acquaintances in that time.”

“Going skating?” asked Sam.

“Yes. He says the pond is better than the river.”

“It is. I was there yesterday; the river, I mean. It isn’t safe more than fifty feet from shore. Proctor’s Pond is the best place just now. I’m going down there myself. If you’d like to come along I’ll show you the way.”

“Thanks, yes, I’d be glad to.”

“Do you play hockey?” asked Pollock.

“No. I’ve never tried it.”

“The team’s practising there this morning and I thought that if you played you’d better get Sam to work you in with the scrubs for a try-out.”


“Thanks, but I don’t. I’m not a very good skater, either.”

“That makes no matter. Neither is Sam, but they’ve got him playing goal. That’s the reason, I guess. If Sam lets go of the goal he always falls down.”

Joe smiled politely as he paid for the lacing. Sam paid no attention to the slur.

“Tom wants to sell you a hockey-stick,” he said calmly. “Just the same, if you’d like to try it, now’s the time. We need fellows.”

“I’d like to, but I’d be ashamed to,” laughed Joe. “What I’d have to do first is learn to keep on my feet.”

“Just watch Sam, then,” said Tom Pollock. “If he does a thing one way, you do it the other, and you’ll be all right. I suppose I can’t sell you a pair of gloves or a sweater, Faulkner?”

“No, thanks. Not today, anyway. Maybe another time——”

“Don’t promise anything,” interrupted Sam. “There’s a good store up the street. Shall we start along?”

“I’m all ready. Thanks for putting that lacing in, Pollard.”

“Pollock is the name,” said Tom. “Think of a fish.”


“A fish?” asked Joe vaguely.

“Yes. A pollock’s a fish, you know.”

“And a mighty ugly, mean-looking fish, too,” said Sam with one of his infrequent smiles. “Call him what you like, Faulkner. Anything’s good enough for him. Where’s that stick of mine, Tom?”

“Just where you left it, on top of the case up there. Wish I could go along with you chaps. I haven’t seen you crack the ice this Winter, Sam.”

“I’m getting so I can fall soft now.” He picked a hockey-stick, to which were attached boots, skates and leg-pads, from the showcase and moved toward the door. “See you later, Tom. Come on, Faulkner.”

Joe nodded to Tom Pollock and followed his new acquaintance outside.



“Walk or ride?” asked Sam, when they were on the sidewalk.

“Just as you like,” answered Joe. “Walk, if you don’t mind.”

“I’d rather.” And Sam set off along the street at a brisk pace. “That’s the new Adams Building,” he said presently, nodding toward the tall structure across the street. “We’re rather proud of it, as it’s our only skyscraper. The old one—it wasn’t old, though—burned last Fall. I’ve been working for the architects who are putting that up.”

“Really? It must have been a peach of a fire! Was the old building as big as that one?”

“Bigger. It had fourteen floors and this has only twelve. The water pressure here isn’t good enough yet for high buildings. That’s why we left off seventeen feet this time. Still, this new building’s fireproof from top to bottom and I guess you could start a fire in it and have to lug[46] fuel to keep it going! Rather good-looking, isn’t it?”

“Awfully,” agreed Joe.

“I suppose you’ve got office buildings in Akron that beat it, but we think it’s some building. We turn off here.”

They left the busy part of town and walked briskly along a residence street until, at last, open country was reached. Sam, having exhausted the subject of the new Adams Building, didn’t have much to say and conversation was desultory until Joe, hunting for a topic, remembered baseball.

“Pollock said you were captain of the baseball team, didn’t he?” he questioned.

Sam nodded. “Yes. Tom could have had it, but he wouldn’t. So they hit on me.”

“Pollock, you mean?”

“Yes. He has charge of the sporting goods department there at Cummings and Wright’s and thought he wouldn’t have time to look after the team. Where have you played?”

“In Akron. Oh, you mean what position? Last Spring I played first base for our Second Team. How—how did you know I played at all?”

“Felt that crooked finger of yours. Break it?”

“Yes, and didn’t know it for a couple of days.[47] Thought it was just a strain. Then when it came out of the splints it had an out-curve. I guess I’ll have to have it broken again some day and set right.”

“Well, it didn’t look so bad,” said Sam judicially. “I happened to notice it when we shook hands. We’ll be glad to have another candidate for the bases. You’ll have a couple of pretty good fellows to fight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you made good somewhere. How are you at the bat?”

Joe shook his head ruefully. “Pretty rotten last year. I used to hit pretty well when I was on the grammar school team, but I guess the pitching was awfully soft. I suppose you begin practice indoors some time next month?”

“About the middle. You’ll have a chance to get your batting-eye. We usually put the fellows through a good deal of bunting work in the cage. It seems to help a lot when they get outdoors. There’s the pond over there. Let’s cut across here; it’s shorter.”

The pond was some three acres in extent, and was long and narrow, curving back around the shoulder of a hill and looking at first glance like a river. As Joe and his guide climbed a rail-fence and crossed a snow-covered meadow, following[48] a well-trodden track, the pond proved to be well populated. Skaters were gliding and turning, many armed with hockey-sticks, and at the nearer end of the ice two sets of goal-posts were in place. Some of the hockey players had already thrown aside their coats and were warming up, their blue-stockinged legs twinkling over the glassy surface.

“We usually practise on the river,” explained Sam, “but it isn’t good enough yet. We’ve got some nets, but there’s no way of getting them out here, and so we just use the posts. They’re mean things, though; always getting pushed out of place. Come over here and meet some of the fellows.”

Sam’s appearance was vociferously hailed by a knot of boys at the edge of the ice. Some of the younger fellows had started a fire there and were scurrying around, far and near, for fuel. Joe was introduced to seven or eight chaps, many of whose names he either didn’t catch or promptly forgot. Those he did recall later were Arbuckle, Morris and Strobe. Arbuckle proved to be the coach, although he was apparently no older than several of the players, and Morris was the captain. Morris, whose first name was Sidney and who was universally called Sid, was a handsome[49] chap, lean, well-conditioned, and a marvel on skates. He was of about Sam Craig’s age. Arbuckle was a heavier fellow of eighteen and bore signs on his upper lip of an incipient mustache. Strobe Joe remembered chiefly because his name was unusual, although the latter wasn’t certain whether it was Strobe or Strode at the time.

They were all far too interested in hockey to pay more than passing attention to the stranger and Joe presently retired from the group and donned his skates. By the time he was ready for the ice Steve Arbuckle had blown his whistle and fourteen eager youths were racing and twisting about after the flying puck. In front of the First Team’s goal Sam Craig, sweatered and padded, leaned on his broad-bladed stick and calmly watched. Then a Second Team forward somehow stole the puck from under Captain Morris’s nose and, digging the points of his skates, slanted down the rink, dodging and feinting, until only the point remained between him and goal-keeper. Behind him the pursuit sped, but he was due for a shot if he could fool the point, and fool the point he did. Away slid the puck to the right, the charging Second Team forward twirled, recovered as the point missed his check, got the[50] puck again before the coverpoint could reach it and charged straight at goal from the right.

Sam Craig, still apparently calm and unflustered, refused the challenge to go out and meet him. Instead, he closed his padded knees together, held his stick across his body and waited. The Second Team player shot from six feet away, shot hard and straight. There was a thud, the puck slammed against Sam’s knee and was gently brushed aside as Sid Morris, skating like a whirlwind, rushed past, hooked it expertly, swung around behind the goal and set off again down the ice. The Second Team forward, who had so nearly scored, was already back in line, quite untroubled by his failure, and Joe identified him as Strobe. Sidney lost the puck a moment later and the whistle shrilled for off-side. Joe watched until the First Team had finally penetrated the adversary’s defence and scored its first goal and then went off up the pond to skate. Since most of the fellows were watching the hockey he had the upper reaches of the ice practically to himself.

Joe was only a fair skater, and now, swinging along and following the curving shore, he found himself envying the ability of those chaps on the hockey teams. It must, he thought, be fine to be able to skate as they did, to feel as much at home[51] on steel runners as on leather, and he wondered if any amount of practice would ever enable him to duplicate their marvellous feats. He wished he could play hockey, too. It looked mighty exciting. Experimentally, he turned and started to skate backward, zigzagging as he had seen the Second Team’s coverpoint do. All went well for a minute, but then he raised his hands to the sky, followed them with his feet and went down on his head and shoulders. He had quite a nice slide, but he wasn’t able to enjoy it much, since he was too busy watching the vari-coloured stars that flashed in front of his closed eyes. When he stopped sliding he felt gingerly of his head, grinned and climbed carefully to his feet again.

“That’s what you get,” he murmured, “for trying to be smart.”

However, when he had got his breath again he was ready for more experiments and tried the inner edge-roll with fair success, and, becoming more ambitious, essayed a figure eight. But that didn’t go very smoothly, and since by that time he had neighbours about him he stopped his capers. One of the neighbours skated toward him, but Joe paid no heed to him until he swung around and came to a stop a few feet away.


“Do it slower and you’ll get it all right,” observed the boy pleasantly. Joe saw then that he was Strobe. He had pulled a faded blue sweater on and still carried his stick. He was a merry-faced fellow, with good features, bright blue eyes and a good deal of colour in his cheeks. He was evidently about sixteen and rather tall for that age. He smiled in friendly fashion as Joe glanced up and stopped so awkwardly that he almost fell into Strobe’s arms.

“It isn’t hard,” the latter continued. “Like this. See?” He described a circle on the outer edge, changed to the inner and completed the figure slowly and gracefully.

“I know very well it isn’t hard,” replied Joe, “but it’s hard for me because I’m a perfectly punk skater.”

Strobe laughed. “Oh, well, practice is all you need. Can you do the ‘Figure 3’?”

“Pretty well. I guess you have to learn to skate when you’re about five years old to do it decently. Like swimming. I never skated much until two years ago.”

“I started when I was about eight, I guess,” laughed Strobe. “Know this one?”

“This one” was a “Maltese Cross” so perfectly done that every loop was the same to an[53] inch. Joe watched and sighed in envious admiration. “That’s dandy,” he said. “It’s like the ‘cross-cut’ only there’s more of it.”

“Yes, the ‘cross-cut’ repeated three times. It isn’t hard, really. You could learn it in an hour.”

“I couldn’t learn it in a month,” replied Joe disgustedly. “I can’t even skate backwards without bumping my head on the ice.”

“Well, I’ve bumped mine often enough. That’s part of the education. I’ve seen some perfectly wonderful stars in my time!” He started to skate and Joe joined him.

“You’re not playing any more?” asked the latter, as the shrill sound of a whistle from around the shoulder of the hill told him that the game was still on.

“No. Sidell’s got my place for this half. There’s a half-dozen of us all trying for a wing position on the Second, and Steve has his hands full giving us each a show.” He chuckled softly. “He forgot in the first half and let me play right through.”

“Hockey must be good fun,” mused Joe, secretly trying to copy his companion’s ease of motion.

“Bully. I wish I could play better and make the First.”


“I thought you did finely when you skated down and tried that shot,” said Joe.

“Mostly luck. Besides, tries don’t count; it’s only goals. And I ought to have got that in that time. It was up to me to skate past and push it in instead of whanging it. You can’t get the puck past Sam Craig that way. I knew it, too, only I thought I’d be smart. Let’s go up and watch them. Mind?”

“No, I’d like to,” replied Joe.

They joined the line of spectators along the side of the supposititious rink, being frequently obliged to flee before the slashing sticks or plunging forms of the players, and witnessed the final decisive triumph of the First Team by a score of seven goals to two. A few of the players remained to practise further, but most of them, accompanied by a full half of their audience, crossed a field to where, a quarter of a mile distant, a blue-sided trolley-car was waiting outside the board fence of the Fair Grounds to start its noon journey townwards. Joe found himself still in the company of Strobe, and was well satisfied, since there was something about the other chap that drew him. They were chatting quite intimately by the time the car was reached, and when they got out at Main Street Strobe lengthened[55] his own journey homeward by several blocks in order to pursue the new acquaintanceship.

Joe found himself still in the company of Strobe

Joe found out then and during the next meeting that Jack Strobe—his full name was Jackson—was in Joe’s class at school, that he lived on Temple Street, that he played left field on the nine, that he was two months older than Joe, that his father was the senior partner of Strobe and Wonson, whose big jewelry store Joe had noticed on Main Street, and several other more or less interesting facts. It was only when Joe was in the house that he recollected that he had failed to take leave of Sam Craig. He had meant to thank him for taking him out to the pond, but had been so absorbed in this red-cheeked, blue-eyed Strobe chap that he had quite forgotten Sam’s existence. He hoped the latter wasn’t thinking him uncivil, and resolved to make an apology at the first opportunity. He had agreed to go around in the afternoon and call on Jack Strobe, and at a little after two was being ushered by a maid through the rather ornate front door of the Strobe mansion and into a cosy sitting-room—or perhaps it was a library, since there were two large bookcases flanking the fireplace, in which a soft-coal fire was sputtering greasily. Jack came charging down the stairs and at once[56] haled the visitor up to the third floor, where, on the back of the house, overlooking a wide vista of snowy roofs and distant country, Jack had his own particular sanctum.

It was a big square room lighted by three windows set close together, and at first glance looked like a museum or a curio shop. Almost every inch of wall space was covered with pictures, posters or trophies of some kind, with snowshoes, tennis rackets, foils and mask, Indian moccasins, a couple of small-bore rifles, a battered lacrosse stick depended against them. A long, cushioned seat stood under the windows and was piled with brightly-coloured pillows. The floor was bare save for a few scattered rugs. A brass bed, a chiffonier, an immense study table, two comfortable armchairs and several straight-backed chairs comprised the principal furnishings, but by no means all. Near the windows was a smaller table, holding wireless instruments. A set of bookshelves, evidently home-made—Jack referred to them as being “near-Mission”—held a miscellaneous collection of volumes ranging from “Zig-Zag Journeys” to the latest juvenile thriller, presented last Christmas, and including all sorts of old school-books with worn backs. An old seaman’s chest stood against a wall, the repository[57] for abandoned toys and devices. One end was decorated with the legend, apparently inscribed with a brush dipped in shoe-blacking: “Captain Kidd His Chest! Beware!!” One corner of the room held an assortment of fishing-rods, golf-clubs and hockey-sticks, and another a pair of skiis, two canoe paddles, and a camera tripod. The camera itself stood nearby, neighboured by a jig-saw, and a stereopticon sat beside it. Joe gazed and marvelled.

“You’ve got about everything there is up here, haven’t you?” he exclaimed. “Is that a wireless set? How’s it work? I never saw one near-to.”

The instruments were duly explained, not over-enthusiastically, since Jack had lost interest in wireless telegraphy after a year of devotion, and then Joe made a tour of the room, examining and questioning and enjoying himself hugely. Later various scrap-books and stamp-books were pulled from under the window-seat and looked over, and finally, having still only partly exhausted the wonders, the two boys settled down amongst the cushions and talked. That afternoon sped like magic. Almost before they realised it the room was in twilight and from across town came the hoarse sound of the five o’clock whistle at the carpet mills. Whereupon Joe said he must go,[58] and Jack, remonstrating, led him downstairs, helped him on with his coat, and accompanied him to the steps. There:

“What are you doing tonight?” he asked very carelessly.

“Nothing special,” replied Joe quite as disinterestedly.

There was a pause. Finally:

“I might run in for a minute,” announced Jack. “I’m going downtown anyway and——”

“Wish you would.”

“Your aunt won’t mind?”

“Of course not. I haven’t much to show you, though. My room’s just a box, you know.”

“That’s all right. We can talk some more. About eight?”

“Before, if you can.”

“Half-past seven?”

“Yes. Don’t forget.”

“I won’t. So long, Faulkner.”

“So long. And thanks for—everything.”

Jack laughed shortly. “I haven’t done anything. See you later.”




That was the beginning of a friendship that lasted—well, so far as I know, it’s still lasting and seems likely to continue lasting indefinitely. In the course of time the inseparable chums were facetiously referred to as the “two Jays” or the “Joejacks.” Months later each acknowledged, a trifle shamefacedly, since the acknowledgment bordered on sentiment, that he had taken to the other at the moment of their first meeting. That was as near an expression of affection as they came to, but within a week of that day at Proctor’s Pond Joe would have jumped off the top of the Adams Building if by so doing he could have benefited his friend, and Jack would have just as readily plunged into the river from the railroad bridge had a similar result impended. And since Jack at that time couldn’t swim a stroke, his deed would have compared favourably with Joe’s as a token of esteem!

Neither, however, was required to undertake[60] such feats of self-sacrifice. Perhaps the nearest approach to them occurred when Joe stood about on the ice, with the thermometer hovering around zero, his feet numb and his fingers aching, while he admiringly watched Jack struggle for a position on the First Team, or when Jack, as became his custom when duties allowed, tramped by Joe’s side through slush or sleet or rain over Route 6! They were together whenever it was possible, and when it wasn’t they were either signalling across schoolrooms or using up Mr. Strobe’s and Aunt Sarah’s monthly allowance of telephone calls.

January passed into history very happily for Joe. He was earning enough to pay Aunt Sarah all but fifty cents a week for his accommodations, he was doing well at his studies, he was getting cheerful letters every few days from his mother, and he was enjoying the jolliest, finest sort of friendship. When the hockey team journeyed to Preston Mills to play the academy fellows and Jack went along as a possible necessary substitute forward, Joe went along also and huddled in his coat on a settee and held Jack’s ulster and saw the Brown-and-Blue go down in defeat to the tune of four to three in an overtime contest, and mourned with the others on the way back, and[61] with them vowed dire vengeance when Preston paid a return visit. That day a substitute delivered Joe’s papers and he was short fifty cents the following Monday and went without pocket-money for a whole week. But he didn’t mind—much. It was worth more than that, much more, to accompany Jack to Preston Mills.

The hockey team didn’t meet with defeat on all occasions, however, although it can’t be denied that, in spite of the best endeavours of coach, captain, and players, they ended the season with fewer victories than beatings. But they did overwhelm Preston Academy nicely the first week in February and found the revenge sweet. The ice was in miserable shape that afternoon, for there had been a thaw, and the visitors suffered more in consequence than did the home team, for the latter had cannily spent the forenoon practising under the adverse conditions. The game was played on the river and inside a regular barrier and with net goals. Jack had at last proven his right to a place amongst the First Team substitutes, and in the second period that afternoon he went further and showed that he was as good a right-wing as high school could put on the ice. And Joe, excitedly and noisily admiring, was filled with triumph.


The score was two to one in Amesville’s favour when the whistle started the second half and Sid Morris faced off with the opposing centre. Each seven had shown a good defence and Amesville’s second goal had been rather in the nature of an accident, the puck slipping around the corner of the net when four or five sticks had been poking and hooking at it in a half-inch of water and the goal-tender’s skate had for an instant slipped aside. It was still anybody’s battle from all indications and both teams started in in whirlwind fashion. Preston’s gray-legged warriors kept the Brown-and-Blue busy for the first five minutes and hammered shot after shot at Sam Craig’s anatomy. Amesville forgot team-play in the effort to keep the enemy away from the goal, with the result that Preston fooled her time and again and forced the playing until Sid’s shrill appeals to “Take it away from them, High School!” rose high above the rattling of sticks, the grinding of skates, and the inarticulate cries of the players. Only an off-side play prevented a score for Preston four minutes after the whistle, for a hard, low shot got safely past Sam’s shins and into the net. But on the face-off it was Jack Strobe who stole the disc from between the feet of the two opponents and who, passing once[63] across the rink to Captain Morris and drawing the coverpoint from position, took the puck on the return, upset the point and slashed past the goal-tender for Amesville’s third tally.

How Joe cheered and shouted! And how all the others did, too; all save the handful of faithful Prestonians who had journeyed down with their team! There was still nearly fifteen minutes of actual time left and Amesville, encouraged, recovered from her confusion and took the whip-hand. Time and again Jack and Sidney Morris, working together as though they had played side by side for years, swept the enemy off its feet and rushed down the ice with the puck, eluding the defence more often than not, and making shot after shot at goal. That Preston Academy was only tallied on five times in that second half was only because neither Sidney nor Jack nor the other forwards, Hale and Simpson, who infrequently found an opportunity to bombard the net, were especially clever shots. But Amesville was well satisfied with the final result of the game. Seven to one was decisive enough to more than atone for the defeat at Preston Mills. Joe walked back with his hero and was as proud as Punch.

It was that evening that Joe voiced a regret[64] that had been troubling him for some time. The two boys were in Joe’s room, and Jack, a bit lame and more or less bruised, was stretched on the bed, something that Aunt Sarah would not have approved of. Aunt Sarah, however, was getting used to having boys around and was making the discovery that laws made for grown-up folks cannot always be applied to youths. At first Jack’s almost daily appearance at the door, followed by his polite inquiry, “Is Joe in, Miss Teele?” was greeted by doubtful, sharp glances. Then Jack’s smiles melted the ice, and Aunt Sarah confided to Joe one day that that Strobe boy seemed real nice. A day or two later, Joe, returning from his newspaper delivering, found that a strip of gray linen had been laid over the stair carpet and continued along the upper hallway to his door. Aunt Sarah, while reconciled to visitors, was not going to have her carpet worn out.

“I wish,” said Joe this evening, “that I could do something.”

“What do you mean, do something?” asked Jack lazily, turning slightly to take his weight off a lame hip.

“Something like other fellows,” explained Joe frowningly. “I can’t play hockey or basketball or tennis or—or even skate! I can’t play[65] football, either. Most fellows can do two or three things well. I’m no good at anything.”

“Piffle!” said Jack. “You play baseball, don’t you? And you can skate pretty well.”

“Yes, like a ton of bricks! As for baseball, well, yes, I can catch a ball if it’s thrown at me and I can bat a little and I’m fairly fast on bases. But I’m no wonder at it. I want to play something decently, Jack.”

“I suppose you’re making things out worse than they really are. Any fellow can do those stunts if he tries hard enough. Funny you don’t play tennis, though. Why?”

“I never cared for it. I guess the reason I don’t do things is because I never wanted to much before. Beside, at home—in Akron—I was always pretty busy with other things. I—I studied pretty hard——”

“There you are, then!” said Jack triumphantly. “Don’t you know that a fellow can’t be a grind and a great athlete, too? Look at me. You don’t find me being pointed out as an example of conduct, do you? You didn’t see my bookcase stuffed with prize volumes, did you? Ever hear of me getting an A, or even a B-plus, in anything? Answer, No, with a capital N! A chap simply has to choose, Joey, whether he is[66] to make his mark one way or the other. I chose the other. It’s more fun.”

“You’re talking a lot of rot. I happen to know that you were pretty near the head in your class last year. And you never have any trouble with your studies. Besides, I was reading not long ago that the principal athletes at one of the colleges in the East—either Yale or Harvard, I think—were ’way up in their studies; honour men and things like that.”

“Oh, if you believe the newspapers——”

“Newspapers are a heap more truthful than folks,” interrupted Joe. “I’ve heard my father say that lots of times. Anyway, it’s silly to say a fellow can’t study and go in for athletics, too. Look at Sam Craig. He plays baseball, football, and hockey, you told me. And he’s ’way up in his class.”

“Well, if you’re going to prove things I shan’t argue,” sighed Jack. “It’s no fun arguing when the other fellow insists on proving he’s right. It—it puts you at a disadvantage. Anyway, all that’s got nothing to do with what we were talking about. You said you wished you could do something. I say you can play baseball. That’s something, isn’t it? I’d rather make the nine than the hockey team any day.”


“You’ve made both,” replied Joe disconsolately. “I don’t believe I’ll ever make anything.”

“A couple of piffles! In two months you’ll be holding down first or second base. I wish you’d beat out Frank Foley for first, Joe. If you’ll do that I’ll present you with anything I own. I’ll give you an order on dad for a diamond sun-burst or a chest of silver. Mind, I don’t say you’d get the things; but I’ll give you the order.”

“Who’s Frank Foley?” asked Joe.

“What? You’ve never heard of ‘Handsome Frank’? For the love of lemons, don’t let him hear you, Joey! Why, Frank is our Adonis, our Beau Brummel, our—our——”

“Well, what is he when he isn’t Brummeling?”

“There ain’t no such time. He’s always on that job. Frank is the life of our little parties on all occasions. He has his nails manicured every day and sends to Cleveland or Chicago or somewhere for his neckties—only he calls them scarves. Frank is some swell, believe me! You surely must have seen him.”

“Tall and sort of bored-looking? Wears a greenish Norfolk suit?”

“Yep, that’s Frank. You can’t always tell him by that green suit, though, for he has half a dozen if he has one. I don’t see how he does it,[68] because his father hasn’t much coin, they say. He’s division superintendent on the railroad. I’ll bet he keeps his father poor. Anyway, he’s our best little dresser and we’re mighty proud of him.”

“You didn’t sound so a moment ago.”

“Well, I’ll tell you.” Jack changed his position with a suppressed groan. “As a thing of beauty, so to speak, as a—a picturesque feature of the local landscape—say, that’s pretty good, isn’t it? Picturesque feature of the local landscape!—Well, as one of those things he’s fine and we’re proud as can be of him. If a circus came to town we’d trot Frank out and simply run away with the honors. But as a—a regular fellow he won’t do. He’s too—oh, I don’t know what he is. I don’t like him for so many reasons that I can’t think of the first one. I always have a fearful temptation to walk on his shoes and take the shine off or bang a snowball against his hat or tie him down and put a little natural dirt under his finger-nails. Mind you, Joey, I love clean finger-nails”—he shoved his hands under him as he spoke—“but I hate to have a fellow dazzle my eyes every time he moves his hands! Besides, I object to green Norfolks and green hats with the bows in the wrong place and fancy[69] vests—waistcoats, I mean! Gee, I’m glad Frank didn’t hear me call ’em vests! The trouble with Handsome Frank is that he’s a good-looker and someone’s told him about it. He can’t forget it for a minute. Now, I’m a handsome brute, Joey, and you’re not as homely as you might be, but we don’t go around throwing our chests out and trying to look like—like a work of art, do we? And we don’t dress up like a horse, do we? And we don’t polish our finger-nails till they shine like nice little pink pearls, do we? Let’s see yours. No, we don’t!”

“Well, if he’s like that I shouldn’t expect him to play anything as rough and rude as baseball,” said Joe.

“No, would you? And yet he does. And he plays football, too, which is a degree and a half rougher and ruder. As a matter of fact, Joe, Handsome Frank is a corking good first baseman, and no slouch of a tackle. He’s the fellow you’ll have to fight hardest for first, if you’ve set your heart on that position.”

“I haven’t. I’d be a silly chump to. I don’t believe I play well enough to get a show with the Second Team.”

“Two more orders of piffle, and have them hot! Don’t assume that attitude, Joey. Don’t[70] tell folks you’re no good. They might believe you. I’ve noticed folks are more likely to believe you when you tell them you’re rotten than when you crack yourself up. You keep a still mouth, old chap, and if anyone says ‘What was your batting average last year, Mr. Faulkner?’ or ‘What was your fielding average?’ you dust a speck off your sleeve and look ’em square in the eye and say, careless-like, ‘I batted for three-twenty-seven and fielded for a little over four hundred!’ They won’t believe you, but they’ll think ‘If he can lie as well as that he must play a pretty good game of ball!’”

“Jack, you’re an awful chump tonight,” laughed his chum. “What does your friend Frank do when he gets some dust on his hands fielding a ball or soils his trousers sliding to base? Does he stop the game and telephone for a manicure and a whisk-broom?”

“No. He bears it wonderfully. Oh, I suppose I’ve made him out worse than he is. I just don’t like him. Still, I’m not the only one, by a long shot. You’d have trouble finding many fellows who do like him. But he can play baseball and he’s a peach of a baseman. He’s not much at hitting, though. Are you, Joe?”

“Fairly rotten, thanks.”


“Well, that won’t do. You dig hard when practice begins. Find your batting-eye, Joey. Then, if you can hold down first base decently well, you might oust Mr. Foley. I’d consider it a personal favour if you did.”

“Seems to me it’s a good thing you don’t actually hate Foley. If you did you’d insist on having him thrown into the river or browned in oil! When you take a dislike to me, please let me know, Jack, so I can beat it while the beating’s good.”

“Well,” replied Jack cheerfully, “I’m like that, I guess. If I like a fellow I like him a lot. If I dislike him I haven’t any use for him. I suppose it’s my ardent Spanish nature.”

“Your what?”

“Yep. You see, Joey, about three or maybe four hundred years ago I had a Spanish ancestor. Spaniards, you know, are hot-blooded, desperate rascals. Whenever I do anything real wicked I lay it to that ancestor. It’s a convenience.”

“You and your old ancestor!” scoffed Joe. “Say, what sort of practice do we do in the baseball cage?”

“Naturally, we do tatting and plain sewing.”

“Oh, cut it out, Jack! Honest, what can you[72] do indoors? I never saw anyone practise baseball in a cage.”

“Batteries get the most out of it, Joe. But we all go through a certain amount of stuff. Bat’s a great believer in setting-up exercises, for one thing. He keeps us at that for a week or so before we’re allowed to touch a ball. Then the pitchers and catchers work together and we have a batting session each day and we slide to base and—and pass, of course.”

“Bat’s the coach, isn’t he?”

“Yep. Mr. Bennet A. Talbot; B, A, T, Bat. He’s a good sort, too. And knows a baseball from a rosy-cheeked apple, if anyone should enquire. He’s all right. I’m strong for Bat.”

“A good name for a baseball coach,” laughed Joe.

“The fact has been suggested before,” replied Jack with a grin.

“Oh, I didn’t suppose I was getting off a new one. But, look here, you can’t do much hitting in a little old cage, can you?”

“Not if Tom Pollock’s pitching,” chuckled Jack. “Why, you see, my ignorant friend, the idea is not to knock the ball through the wires, but to tap it politely. Bat will tell you that if you can get your bat against the ball in the cage[73] you can do it when you get on the field. I don’t know that he’s terrifically right about it, though. I don’t believe it does any harm to roll bunts around in the gym, but I do know that in my own case as soon as we move outdoors and I take a healthy swing at the ball it isn’t there! And it takes me a week or so at the net to find it.”

“They tell me you’re a peach of a batter,” said Joe admiringly and a trifle enviously.

“Oh, I connect sometimes. When I do they travel. That’s all. I’m no H. R. Baker.”

“Who’s he?” asked Joe innocently.

“Ball-player. I’m going home. Your ignorance may be catching. See you in the morning. Who swiped my—Oh, here it is. So long, Joey!”



Joe’s circle of friends and acquaintances widened. He met many fellows through Jack, and Jack seemed to know most of the better sort of boys in the town. What sometimes puzzled Joe was how it had happened that Jack, with so many friends to choose from, had remained without a special chum and had finally chosen him. Joe got on very friendly terms with Tom Pollock and became a great admirer of that youth. Anyone with such a reputation as a pitcher and all-around ball-player as Tom had would have won Joe’s respect and regard in any case, but Tom was a very likable chap besides. Sam Craig he saw less of, although Sam was nice when they met, and more than once reminded him of the approaching fifteenth of February, on which day baseball practice was to start indoors.

By the beginning of February Joe was quite at home in Amesville and had grown to like the place thoroughly. He and Aunt Sarah were getting on[75] finely. Aunt Sarah was outwardly still the same stern-visaged, sharp-voiced person, but Joe had discovered that under that rather forbidding exterior lay a very kind heart. Nowadays Aunt Sarah’s principal mission in life appeared to be the finding of new ways to please Joe, without, if possible, allowing him to suspect it!

Joe’s only cause for dissatisfaction was his after-school work. In less than a fortnight indoor practice would begin for the baseball squad, and that meant that either he would have to give up his newspaper route or abandon his hope of making the nine. Consequently, he began to look around harder than ever for some labour that he might perform in the evenings. He consulted Jack, of course, and Jack, while eager to aid, had nothing to offer in the way of practical suggestions. In the end, Joe solved the problem without assistance.

He and Jack happened to be in Pryor’s stationery store one afternoon. Jack was buying some fountain-pen ink and Joe strayed over to the counter that held a not very large assortment of magazines, together with the local newspapers and a few papers from other cities of the State. While he was turning the pages of a magazine a well-dressed, middle-aged man came in and asked[76] for a Chicago Tribune. He was a travelling salesman, Joe concluded. Whether he was or not, he was contemptuously impatient when the clerk informed him that they didn’t keep Chicago papers.

“Don’t, eh?” he demanded. “No, I suppose you wouldn’t! I ought to have known it. You folks in this town don’t seem to know there’s any other place in the country. Still, you might have heard of Chicago. It’s a little village in Illinois, down near the lower end of Lake Michigan. There’s a tree in front of it. They were talking of building a horse-car line when I left. Got a Cleveland paper, then?”

The sarcasm was quite lost on the youthful clerk. He only gazed in a puzzled fashion at the annoyed customer and shook his head.

“There ain’t any left,” he said indifferently. “We had one this morning.”

“You did? Think of that! One whole paper! Say, you folks take a lot of risks, don’t you? Just suppose you hadn’t sold it!” The irate gentleman left the store abruptly and Joe followed his departing figure with thoughtful eyes. A moment later Jack completed his purchase and they left the shop. It was well after five and, although it was the custom for Joe to walk home[77] with Jack, this afternoon he pleaded duties and, promising to go around after supper, watched his friend lose himself in the throng. What Joe did next would have occasioned Jack some curiosity had he been there to see. Joe crossed the street—the other side of the thoroughfare was less congested at this time—and went slowly northward for six blocks, his eyes busy all the way. Then he crossed again and returned on the first side. His travels took him over the busiest portion of the street and left him finally four blocks below the Adams Building. But what he was looking for he hadn’t seen, and he shook his head as he turned his steps northward again. In front of the Adams Building a small newsboy was selling the evening paper and Joe stopped.

“Got a Cleveland paper?” he asked.

The boy shook his head. “I don’t carry ’em,” he said.


“Ain’t got nothin’ but the Recorder.”

“That all you ever carry?”


“Do you know where I can buy a Cleveland or a Columbus paper?”

“You might get ’em at Pryor’s, three blocks up.”


Joe retreated to the front of the building and again looked about him. From the entrance beside him quite a stream of folks were emerging to hurry homewards. At least every other one stopped to purchase a paper before going to the car or walking away.

“Hm,” said Joe thoughtfully. “I wonder, now!”

He entered the lobby of the office building and studied it. On one side were the elevators. Behind them a broad marble stairway started upward, turning behind the cages, to the floor above. The lobby was not large, but it was large enough for the purpose Joe had in mind, and presently, when the occupants of one elevator had pushed out through the revolving doors, he stepped off the little space between the first elevator and the front wall of the building. A little less than three yards he made it. The depth was five feet. Joe half closed his eyes and studied it. Then, jostled by another carful of departing occupants, he made his way across to the directory beside the elevators. It was evident that many of the offices, and Joe decided that there must be some two hundred of them, were still unoccupied, although the building was now complete as to its interior. A placard near at hand notified the[79] public that offices were to be rented of Joseph Adams, Room 129. At that moment an elevator descended and emptied itself, and the operator, observing Joe at the directory, asked who he was looking for.

“Strobe,” replied Joe, giving the first name that came to his mind.

“Not here. Maybe he’s coming later. If you mean John P. Strobe, his place is across the street there, on the opposite corner. Jeweler, is he?”

Joe said he was and thanked the youth for the direction. Then, looking about him at the unsurfaced walls: “This is a pretty good building,” he observed. The other nodded.

“Best in this town, anyway. It wouldn’t cut much ice in Cincinnati, I guess, but it’s pretty good for Amesville.”

“Are there many in it?”

“Sure, and it’s filling up fast. The old man’s renting two or three offices a day, I hear.”

“I suppose there’ll be a news-stand here, won’t there?”

“News-stand? Search me! I haven’t heard of any.”

“I should think you’d need one. You must have two or three hundred people in here.”


“Easy! There’s two hundred and eight offices, and some has two or three people in ’em. Course, they ain’t all rented yet, but——”

The signal buzzed and the operator slammed the door and shot out of sight just as another car arrived. Joe made his way out with the throng and hurried homeward, his mind very busy all the way. At supper he was so preoccupied and silent that Aunt Sarah tried to get him to describe his symptoms and watched him depart for Jack’s house with misgivings. Up in the big room on the third floor Joe laid the scheme before his chum. Jack was instantly enthusiastic.

“It’s simply great!” he declared. “How’d you ever think of it? But you’d sell other things besides newspapers, wouldn’t you, Joey?”

“Yes. Cigars, candy, magazines—anything I could. You see, Jack, if folks who work in the building know they can get such things right there they’re pretty sure to deal with me. I ought to sell a lot of cigars——”

“And chewing-gum,” laughed Jack.

“And newspapers, too. And I’d make a specialty of carrying the Cincinnati and Cleveland and Columbus papers, and the Chicago, too; and maybe one of the New York papers. The[81] trouble is, though, that I’d have to have money to start with, and I haven’t got it.”

“That’s so.” Jack’s face fell. “How much would you need?” he asked after a minute.

“It’s hard to tell. Of course, I don’t know what rent Mr. Adams would charge me, in the first place. In fact, I don’t know yet that he will rent the space at all. I wondered if your father knew him well enough to speak a good word for me, Jack.”

“Of course he does! They’re thick as thieves. I’ll get dad to go and see him with you if you like. Want to go down and ask him now?”

“No; wait a while. I was wondering——” Joe was silent a minute. Then: “Have you any money, Jack?”

“Me? About a dollar. Want it?”

“I wondered whether you had any in the bank or——”

“I have! I’d forgotten it. I’ve got about sixty dollars, I think. But I don’t know whether dad would want me to take it out, Joe. I’d lend it to you in a minute if he’d let me, though.”

“I wasn’t thinking of borrowing it,” said Joe. “I was going to suggest that we go in together. I think we could start with about fifty dollars. We needn’t put in much of a stock at first, you[82] know. There’d be a month’s rent, say twenty dollars, and we’d have to buy a few boxes of cigars and we’d have to have a counter built. Maybe we’d better say sixty dollars, to be on the safe side. I haven’t figured on it yet, but I believe we could do it for sixty. I thought that if you’d put in half and take half the profits until you were square——”

“I get you, Joey! Half would be only thirty dollars, wouldn’t it? I don’t believe dad would mind my taking out that much. But could you get the other thirty, Joey?”

“I think so. I—I’ve got an idea that may work. Anyway——”

“Why couldn’t I put in the whole sixty if dad will let me? In that way you wouldn’t have——”

“It wouldn’t be wise,” said Joe. “I’m pretty sure I can make the thing go and pay a good profit, Jack, but if I happened to be wrong you’d stand to lose your money. And sixty dollars would be too much to drop. Besides, your father wouldn’t let you put in that much when I wasn’t putting in any.”

“Maybe not. Let’s go down and talk to him about it.”

“No, let’s go over it first. There may be something I’ve missed. Now, say Mr. Adams lets us[83] have the space for twenty a month; that’s enough, although he may not think so; then we’ve got to have a counter built and that will cost, say, ten dollars. It’ll have to be made to look pretty neat, you know; maybe it had better be imitation mahogany. Then we’d arrange with the news company for a small list of magazines. We’d have to pay cash for those at first, but they don’t cost much. Same way with the papers. There’s good money in the Gazette and the Recorder at two cents if you sell enough of them. Then we’d want to put in some confectionery, like gum and chocolate and package things. We can buy that in Cincinnati and get as little as we want to start on. At the end of the month we ought to have enough for the next month’s rent and enough to put in new stock. My idea would be to make the stock bigger all the time, as we could afford it. There wouldn’t be any other expenses, would there? Can you think of any?”

Jack couldn’t. “It looks perfectly safe to me,” he said, “because the rent is the only thing we’d have to worry about, isn’t it? I mean, we needn’t have more cigars and other things at a time than we could sell right away.”

“That’s the idea. We’ve got to begin in a small way and expand. We won’t lay out a cent[84] more than we have to. Then, if it shouldn’t prove a go we wouldn’t be stung very much. The papers, you know, are returnable, so we wouldn’t get stuck on those. Some of the magazines are, too, I think.”

“Hold on!” exclaimed Jack suddenly. “Who’s going to tend shop? We’ll be in school all day up to three o’clock. Bet you hadn’t thought of that!”

“You must think I’m a good deal of an idiot,” laughed Joe. “I’ll tell you my scheme. I thought I could go down there in the morning and get things fixed. We’d have a box on the corner with a slot in it and when anyone bought anything they could drop the money in the box. Then, after school——”

“Suppose they didn’t!” interrupted his chum. “Seems to me that’s pretty risky!”

“I don’t believe so. You put folks on their honour like that and they’ll appreciate it and act square. I’ll bet we won’t lose half a dollar a month, Jack.”

“Well, you’ve got a lot of faith, Joey. Still, you may be right at that. Come to think of it, I guess you are. All right. And then after school we could go down there and tend shop, eh?”

“When we didn’t have to practise.”


“That’s so. I’d forgotten practice. Well, on Saturdays we could be there all day, eh? That would be a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to be a merchant and sell things. ‘Cigars? Yes, sir. I think you’ll like these. We make them ourselves and know just what goes into them, sir. Two for five, please. Thank you, sir. Come again if you live!’ That’s the stuff, isn’t it?”

“Fine!” laughed Joe. “Now let’s go down and hear what your father says.”



Five days later the news-stand in the lobby of the Adams Building was ready for business.

It had all been extremely simple and easy. Mr. Strobe had not only consented to use his influence with Mr. Adams, but had declared that he believed the investment of thirty dollars in the enterprise to be a good stroke of business. In fact, Jack’s father became the most enthusiastic of the three that evening when the matter was broached to him. If, he said, Jack didn’t want to go into partnership with Joe he’d be glad to take a half interest himself! A news-stand in the Adams Building ought to be a money-maker, and he wondered that someone hadn’t thought of it before. Thereupon Joe suggested anxiously that perhaps someone had, and wasn’t satisfied until Jack’s father had called Mr. Adams up on the telephone and ascertained that the privilege had not been disposed of and that Mr. Adams was quite willing to confer with them tomorrow in the matter.


Mr. Joseph Adams was president and principal owner of the big carpet mills and held title to much residence and store property throughout the town. He was about forty-two years of age, a much younger man than Joe had expected to find when, led by Mr. Strobe, they entered his office in the new building early the next morning. The business was completed in rather less than five minutes. Mr. Strobe stated what was wanted, Joe answered a question as to proposed location of the stand, they all descended to view the spot, and Mr. Adams then said: “I’m agreeable. Rent free until the first of March. After that, eighteen dollars a month. Keep everything clean and neat. Come around this afternoon and I’ll have a lease ready for you.”

When they returned at half-past three Mr. Adams said: “One thing I neglected to speak of, boys. About your counter and showcase, now; better let me attend to those, I guess. I don’t want anything that clashes with the finish down there. I’ve got Mayer coming here in about ten minutes. He’s the boss-carpenter. I thought we’d decide what was wanted and he could go ahead and put it up. The walls are cream white down there and I think we’d ought to have the[88] stand to match. That suit you? What had you thought of?”

“Mahogany, sir,” replied Joe. “That is, imitation mahogany. But I think cream white would look better.”

“I guess so. Now, look here.” Mr. Adams drew a sheet of paper towards him and sketched roughly. “A row of shelves across to here; sliding doors at the back; panelled in front. Then a flap counter the rest of the way; lift it up to get in, you know; crawl under if you’d rather. Now what about shelves at the back? Need them? They wouldn’t look well, I guess.”

“I don’t think so,” replied Joe. “I guess we’d have room for everything on the counter and in the showcase. I—I hadn’t thought about a showcase, though, Mr. Adams. Won’t it cost a good deal?”

“Twelve dollars and sixty cents. I priced it. That needn’t worry you, though; I’m paying for the whole thing.”

“Oh!” murmured Joe. “I didn’t understand.”

“That’s great!” exclaimed Jack.

Mr. Adams smiled. “Doing it for my own protection. I’d rather have something that looked solid and substantial there. I don’t want anything[89] cheap, you know. Here’s Mayer now,” he added as a clerk appeared at the door. “Let’s go down and see what’s to be done.”

Joe thought he had never encountered anyone who could rush a thing through as Mr. Adams could. It took him about three minutes to explain his ideas to the carpenter and when he had finished, that gentleman, a taciturn man with a long head and a Scotch burr, could suggest no improvements.

“All right, then,” said Mr. Adams briskly. “Get right at it, Mayer. Have it done—when do you want it, boys?”

“Whenever it’s convenient, sir. There’s no——”

“This is Saturday. Get it done by Wednesday, Mayer. See that you get a good dull enamel on it, like the walls. Make a good, finished job.”

The boss-carpenter nodded. Then: “How about the light, sir?” he inquired.

“Light? That’s so. Ought to be one back of the counter. See Purley and Ferris about that and tell them to put up a small dome light, same design as the others here. That’s all, I guess.”

A moment later he was being shot upwards in an elevator, Mr. Mayer was silently measuring with a pocket rule, and Joe and Jack, their lease[90] in Joe’s pocket, sought the sidewalk. Outside, Jack capered gleefully. “Nearly a month’s rent free, Joey,” he exclaimed, “and we don’t have to pay for building the stand! He’s a brick, isn’t he?”

“Yes,” agreed Joe. “I’m wondering——”

“What?” demanded the other impatiently.

“Well, we won’t need so much money as we thought, you see. I guess we can get started on about half of it.”

“We’ll buy more stock!”

“N-no, we’d better start easy, as we agreed to. What I was thinking was this, Jack. When I said I thought I could get hold of my half the money I had Aunt Sarah in mind. I think she’d loan me thirty dollars if she had it. But I don’t know whether she’d have that much, you see, and——”

Jack interrupted with a laugh. “Not have thirty dollars!” he cried. “Why, your Aunt Sarah is one of the richest women in Amesville, you booby! Everyone knows that!”

“She is?” asked Joe in surprise. “I didn’t know it. She’s always so—so careful——”

“Stingy, you mean, don’t you?” laughed Jack.

“No, I don’t mean that, really. She isn’t a bit stingy. She’s just careful. About putting the[91] light out when you’re not using it, and bargaining with the tradespeople, and—and like that, you know. Well, anyway, I’d rather not ask her for the money. I’d much rather borrow it from you. If we only need thirty dollars altogether, your share would be fifteen and mine would be fifteen. Well, if you can take thirty out of the savings bank you might put fifteen into the business and loan the other fifteen to me at the regular rate of interest. Would you be willing to do that? No matter whether the business got along or not, I’d pay you the fifteen back, of course, because I could get it from Aunt Sarah.”

“Sure! That’s the ticket! Only I don’t want any interest, you old Shylock!”

“I’d rather, though. I’d pay Aunt Sarah interest, and why not you?”

Jack was hard to persuade, but Joe ultimately got him to agree. “We’ll ask your father about it, though. If he says it’s all right——”

“He will,” laughed Jack. “Dad thinks you’re a sort of young Napoleon of Finance, Joey, and anything you do is all right. Fact is, I believe he’s a bit sore because we didn’t let him in on this.”

During the succeeding four days—with the exception of Sunday—the boys spent most of their[92] spare time in the lobby of the Adams Building watching the construction of the news-stand. Mr. Mayer called it a “booth,” and since they had every wish to keep him good-humoured, they adopted that name for it themselves. On Tuesday morning it was in place and had received its first coat of paint. The enamel went on Tuesday afternoon and a second coat was to be applied two days later. But as the final application could be made while business was going on, the boys decided to open the stand Wednesday afternoon.

Joe had already ordered a small assortment of package candies, chewing-gum, and such things from Cincinnati, had made arrangements with the news company for current magazines and certain out-of-town papers, had arranged with the two Amesville journals for fifty copies to be delivered daily, and had spent the larger part of their principal in the purchase of cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco. Although he brought as little of everything as he could, he discovered to his dismay that on Wednesday morning he had but seven dollars of the original thirty left. I don’t think either Joe or Jack did very well at lessons that day. It was frightfully hard to keep their minds on their school work, so impatient were they to get to the stand and start business. Joe[93] went over his newspaper route on Tuesday for the last time. He had some slight misgivings about abandoning that employment, for although it brought him but three dollars, the money was certain. However, nothing venture, nothing have; and he was pretty certain, too, that he could find work again with the Recorder if necessary.

So just as soon as school was dismissed the two boys hurried down town to their place of business, as Jack importantly phrased it. The counter shone freshly white and the handsome showcase, three feet in length by twenty-two inches in breadth, nickel-trimmed, with mirrors set in the sliding panels at the back, had been cleaned and polished until it was speckless. They raised the hinged end of the counter and stepped inside. Joe turned a switch and a flood of mellow light shone down from the neat ground-glass dome above. Many bundles had already been unpacked and their contents stowed on the shelves under the counter, but others awaited them, and they set to work. There was not much room between counter and wall, but there was enough to move about in. The counter was two feet wide, leaving the space behind it not quite three feet. The showcase had been placed midway between wall and hinged flap[94] and there was two feet of solid counter on each side of it. If necessary they could make use of the hinged portion as well and pass under it instead of lifting it up. But at present there was plenty of room for all their goods without availing themselves of that section. The shelves underneath were roomy and the sliding doors were supplied with a neat Yale lock. Joe inserted his key in it, pushed aside a panel and revealed their store of smokers’ articles. It was a quarter to four and they worked busily to get things in shape against the time the occupants of the building began to leave. They expected to sell no more today than a few evening papers, but they wanted the public to know that the stand was opened for business.

The cigars and tobacco and cigarettes went into the case. Joe had to do a lot of arranging before he managed to make them occupy enough of the space to satisfy him. Even then the showcase looked pretty empty. “We ought to have about a dozen boxes of cigars,” he said, “to make a showing. I’ll have to spread everything out in here or else it will look as if we didn’t have anything!”

Jack, struggling with a bundle of confectionery on the counter, grunted assent. Joe, finally closing[95] the showcase, pulled out a dozen or so magazines from underneath and arranged them on the counter. Then came the candy, most of it in half-pound boxes, and a varied assortment of gum and enticing confections put up in tiny tin boxes. There was some discussion as to where these things should be placed. In the end some were put on top the showcase and the rest ranged between the magazines and the wall. The space at the other side of the case was reserved for newspapers and a few minutes later the fifty copies of the Recorder arrived, were paid for, and spread on the counter. With them were a half-dozen copies of morning papers from Cleveland, Columbus, Springfield, Sandusky, Cincinnati, and Dayton. At last everything was in place and the boys emerged into the corridor to view the result. It certainly looked attractive and business-like, and they were hugely pleased. Joe rearranged the boxes of candy so that the colored tops would show better and then Jack went back behind the counter and between them they distributed the price cards. These were small squares or oblongs of gray cardboard with black lettering and had been done by the man who performed such work for Strobe and Wonson. A number of small, weighted holders had been purchased—an extravagance[96] that Joe had resisted at first—and the cards were slipped between the wire loops. Jack again emerged to view the effect.

“Looks swell, doesn’t it?” he asked. Joe agreed that it did, and one of the elevator boys, who had been an interested observer at intervals, now stepped from his car and joined them. He was a tall, raw-boned youth of seventeen or eighteen, by name Martin Olson, but generally known as Ole. Ole had a shock of carroty red hair and an unattractive flat face liberally sprinkled with large freckles that matched his hair. Neither Joe nor Jack had taken to Ole much, but his praise of the news-stand now inclined them more favourably toward him.

“Best looking little shop in town,” he announced enthusiastically. “That’s a swell glass case you’ve got there, too.” He examined the contents. “You ought to have some Dobbins, though. Dobbins are the best five-cent smoke there is. What kind of cigarettes have you got? Uh-huh, I see. There’s lots of fellows in the building smokes Scimitars, though. You’d ought to lay in some of those, I guess.”

“We’ll find out pretty quick what’s wanted,” replied Joe. “What we should have, though, is a lighter. Guess we’d better have some matches[97] on the showcase until we can get a lighter. You tend shop, Jack, and I’ll go and get some.” When he returned from a trip around the corner to the nearest grocery Ole had departed, but the second elevator attendant had taken his place. He was a younger lad, short and stocky and red-cheeked, with a wealth of assurance and a fine command of slang. His name was Walter. There was probably more to it, but the boys never learned it. Walter was equally complimentary.

“Some stand, kiddoes, believe me,” he affirmed. “All to the cheese. Say, what kind o’ cigs do you handle? Got any Moorish Beauties?”

“No, we haven’t,” said Jack.

“You ought to, then. They’re the best. Lots o’ fellers smokes Beauties.”

“We’ve got six sorts there,” laughed Joe, “and it seems we haven’t the right ones yet. Ole says we ought to keep Scimitars.”

Walter sniffed. “Huh, they ain’t no good. Punk! Beauties is the brand for you. Got any novels?”

“Novels? No. Just magazines.”

“I mean nickel novels. ‘Dick Dashaway’ and ‘Bull’s-Eye Bob’ and them. Ain’t you goin’ to have none o’ them?”


“I think not,” replied Joe drily. “You see, if we kept them we might not attend to business we’d be so busy reading them.”

The irony was lost on Walter, however. “That’s so. They’re swell novels, take it from me. There’s one of ’em—Oh, gee, there’s a guy wants to be dropped!” And Walter disgustedly returned to his car, slammed the door and shot upward.

“What time is it?” asked Jack. “My watch has stopped.”

“Nearly half-past four,” replied Joe. “I wonder who will be our first customer.”

“Maybe there won’t be one! Say, we’ve forgotten the money box.”

“I know. But we don’t need to put that out except when we’re not here. We—we might see how it looks, though.”

Joe went behind, produced a japanned tin box with a slot in the lid and a small brass padlock on the hasp and set it on the showcase. On the front of the box was printed in white letters: “Help yourself and drop the money here.”

“How does it look?” he asked.

“All right. But, say, Joey, wouldn’t it be a joke if someone absent-mindedly walked off with the box some day?”


“The funniest kind of a joke!”

“How would it do to chain it?” continued Jack.

“Well, it would look a bit funny, wouldn’t it, to trust folks as to put their money in the box and then chain the box down?”

“I don’t see——” began Jack. But just then an elevator descended, the door opened, and out walked Mr. Adams.

“Ready for business, eh, boys? Well, you look very nice, very nice, indeed. Hm; cigars, cigarettes, magazines, candy—quite a stock of goods. Got any Vista de Isla cigars? I see you haven’t, though. It might pay you to keep a box, boys. I run out of them now and then and I might as well get them from you as send around to the club for them. Well, I’ll take a Recorder, I guess. Have to patronise home industries, you know.”

Mr. Adams laid down his two pennies and took a paper from the pile. Then:

“Hello,” he said, “you’ve got the Springfield paper, eh? Good idea. I’ll take that. And Cleveland and Cincinnati and—Well, you’re enterprising! Are these today’s? Guess I’ll take the Cincinnati paper, too. Will you have these regularly?”


“Yes, sir, and others besides; Chicago and Pittsburg and probably New York.”

Mr. Adams viewed Joe curiously across the counter. “You ought to get on, my boy,” he said finally as he counted out an additional ten cents. “You’re the first person in this city ever thought of keeping a Chicago paper. I don’t know that you’ll ever sell one, but you certainly deserve to. Business good so far?”

“Well,” replied Joe, with a twinkle, “we’ve sold three newspapers for twelve cents.”

“Eh? Oh, then I’m the first customer, am I? Quite an honour, I’m sure. I’ll have to continue my patronage, boys. Good luck to you and good-night.”

A few minutes later the exodus from the building began and no one passed out of the building without pausing to look at the news-stand, whether he purchased or not. But many did purchase. The pile of evening papers went fast and long before the building had emptied itself Joe had to make a hurried trip down to the Recorder Building and get a new supply. Several sales of cigars and cigarettes were made as well, while a young lady typewriter smilingly purchased a box of candy. The only department of the establishment not patronised was the magazine department,[101] and when, at six, they closed up shop for the night, Jack remedied that by buying a copy of a monthly devoted to scientific achievements.

Before they went they counted their receipts and found that they totalled three dollars and ten cents. Just how much of that amount represented profit they could not reckon off-hand, but they were very well satisfied with the result of a little more than an hour’s business. After everything had been stowed away under the counter and locked up for the night the partners took themselves off, arm in arm, looking as much as possible like prosperous merchants.



The Adams Building News Stand prospered from the first. There was never a doubtful moment. On Thursday business started off with a rush and when, just before half-past eight, Joe and Jack had to hurry unwillingly away to school, even Joe, now the more pessimistic of the two, had to acknowledge that success seemed assured. After school they flew back again to discover that the stand was well-nigh exhausted of aught save magazines and that even those were half gone! They had placed what they supposed to be a sufficient supply of cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco on top of the case, but one cigar-box was utterly empty, another held but three cigars, all but two packages of cigarettes had disappeared, and the candy was down to the final layer of boxes! The morning papers had been pretty nearly sold out before they had left, and so the sight of the empty counter to the left of the showcase produced no surprise. But the inroad made[103] on the rest of their stock brought gasps of astonishment. An awful fear assailed the partners and with one accord they grabbed at the cash-box. But its weight and the pleasant clinking sound it gave out reassured them, and when, after they had taken account of stock and had reckoned up the contents of the box, they discovered that not only had every purchase been honestly paid for, but that someone had dropped in five cents too much, they viewed each other triumphantly.

“Eight dollars and fifty-five cents!” exclaimed Jack awedly. “What do you know about that? And it’s not four o’clock yet!”

“What’s troubling me,” replied Joe happily, “is how we are to stock up again by morning! We can get the cigars, all right, but we’ve got to have more candy and it takes a day or two to get that. And the magazines are more than half gone, too.”

“Couldn’t we telegraph to Cincinnati for the candy?”

“Yes, but I guess we’d better buy some here meanwhile.”

“But there won’t be any profit on it!” wailed Jack.

“No, but we can’t help that. We’ve got to[104] keep the stock up. We’ll telegraph the Cincinnati folks to send fifty pounds this time.”

“Fifty!” exclaimed Jack doubtfully. “Isn’t that a lot?”

“Yes, but we’ve sold five pounds already and we don’t want to have to order oftener than a week. The way they pack it, it keeps fresh for a long time. Maybe it would be a good idea to put in a few pound boxes of a better grade. Guess I’d better go around to the cigar folks now and get a couple more boxes. What was that brand that Mr. Adams mentioned?”

“Mister Dyler, or something like that,” answered Jack. “I didn’t get it.”

“Neither did I. But I guess they’ll know what I’m after. And we ought to have some more magazines, I suppose, if only for show. It’s most time for the March numbers to come out, though, and we don’t want to overstock on the February. I’ll telephone to the news company and ask them to send a half-dozen with the out-of-town papers. I’d better hurry, too, or they’ll be here. Where is the nearest telephone? Look here, Jack, Mr. Adams ought to have a public booth down here in the lobby.”

“That’s so. It would be sort of handy for us,[105] wouldn’t it? Do you suppose he would if we asked him?”

“I don’t know, but I’m not afraid to ask. Maybe, though, we could afford one of our own.”

“At thirty-six dollars a year? You must be crazy!”

“Is that what it costs? How about a two-party line? Or——” Joe stopped and regarded his partner thoughtfully.

“Out with it!” demanded Jack.

“Why couldn’t we have a public ’phone—one of those drop-a-nickel affairs, you know, and set it here by the wall? I wouldn’t be surprised if we made enough to get our own calls for nothing.”

“We might,” agreed Jack hesitantly. “How much would we have to pay the telephone company?”

“I don’t know. Tomorrow I’ll go around there and ask. Well, I’m off. Pay the news company when they come. And pay for the Recorders, too. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“Why don’t you go across to the store?” asked Jack. “The telephone’s in the outer office. Just tell them I said you were to use it.”

“Too cheeky. I’d rather pay for the call myself. Out of the firm’s money!” he added laughingly[106] as he disappeared through the revolving doors.

He was back some twenty minutes later. “Anything doing?” he asked as he deposited two bundles on the counter.

“Lots,” replied Jack. “I sold two cigars, a package of cigarettes, one Recorder, and a box of these mints. And I paid for the evening papers and a dollar and twelve cents to the news company.”

“Did you put down what you’d paid out?”

“No. Should I?”

“If you don’t we’ll get all mixed up. I’ve got a small blankbook here and I guess we’d better start in and keep a careful account of everything. What papers did the news company bring?”

“All sorts. There’s one from New York. We’ll never sell that, Joey.”

“I don’t believe we will, but it doesn’t matter. After a week or so we’ll find out just what papers we can sell, and how many, and then we’ll confine ourselves to those. They brought the magazines I asked them to? Oh, I see. All right. Things begin to look a bit more business-like again. Undo this candy, will you, while I get the cigars out. By the way, what do you think? That cigar that Mr. Adams smokes is called Vista de Isla[107] and it costs seventeen dollars and twenty cents a hundred!”

“Great Scott! You didn’t buy any, I hope?”

“Twenty-five; four dollars and thirty cents. Here they are.”

“Well, but, say, Joey, that’s pretty steep! Suppose he doesn’t buy any?”

“He will. He said he would. And the chap who sold these says we must have a wet sponge in the case to keep the cigars moist. So I got one. Also a five-cent glass dish to put it in. Run upstairs and get it wet, will you, while I arrange these?”

“All right. How much do those cigars sell for apiece, Joey?”

“The man said twenty-five cents, but I don’t suppose Mr. Adams pays that much at his club for them. I thought I’d ask him. We can sell them at twenty cents and still make a good profit.”

“Twenty-five cents!” murmured Jack. “Think of paying that much for one cigar! And they don’t look much, either.”

“You happen to be looking at the ten-centers,” laughed Joe. “The others are here.” He opened the lid of the flat box and revealed a row of greenish-black cigars quite different from the[108] others in appearance and aroma. “I guess these are something extra, eh?”

“Must be, but I think anyone’s a chump to pay a quarter for a cigar,” responded Jack. “Where’s your old sponge?”

Business that evening was brisk and the seventy-five copies of the Recorder disappeared like magic and Jack had to hurry out on the sidewalk and buy extra copies from a newsboy. “Tomorrow we’ll get a hundred,” said Joe. “If we don’t sell them they can go back.” By closing time three dollars and thirty-four cents had been added to the amount in the box, swelling the total sales for the day to over fourteen dollars!

That evening, in Jack’s room, they tried to figure their profits. They had taken in in the two days exactly seventeen dollars and forty-four cents. Since, however, they had not been able to enter each sale as made, it was difficult to arrive at the desired result. They knew that on each morning or afternoon paper they made a profit of one cent, that on each half-pound box of candy they made eight cents, that magazines netted from four to six cents, and that cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco sold for from ten to twenty-five per cent. above cost. After much figuring they came to the conclusion that their profits were represented[109] by about one-quarter of the amount taken in, or practically four dollars and thirty cents.

“And at that rate,” said Joe, “we ought to make a monthly profit of about one hundred and twelve dollars!”

Jack stared unbelievingly. Then his face fell. “But we’ve got to pay the rent out of that,” he mourned.

Joe laughed. “You’re getting to be a regular Shylock, old man! The rent is only eighteen and that leaves us ninety-four. And besides that we haven’t to pay any this month.”

Jack brightened again. “That makes forty-seven dollars a month for each of us, doesn’t it? And that’s nearly twelve dollars a week! Joey, we’ll be millionaires before we know it!”

“Well, it pays better than carrying that newspaper route! Another thing, Jack; there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do better as time goes on. We can keep other things, you know, like post-cards and—Look here, why not get a good line of Amesville views?”

“Views? What sort of views?”

“Why, you know; the City Hall and First Presbyterian Church and the Adams Building, of course, and City Park and all the rest of the show places. Have them made into post-cards,[110] I mean. There’s a firm in Detroit that’ll print them for us, and they don’t cost much of anything.”

“Sounds all right. I guess there are lots of things we could sell that we haven’t thought of yet.”

“There’s one thing I’d like to do,” said Joe thoughtfully, “and that’s have a special brand of cigars made for us. That is, we don’t have them made for us exactly. We just select a good brand and then the factory puts a special label on them. See what I mean? ‘Adams Building Perfecto’ or something like that. If we got a real good quality, Jack, and sort of pushed it we might get quite a trade. As far as I can see there’s no reason why we should depend on the folks in the building for our trade. If we carry things people want they will come in from outside for them. It’s just as easy to drop into the Adams Building lobby as it is to go into a regular store. We might run an advertisement in the paper after we get ahead a bit. ‘Try the Adams Building Perfecto, the best ten-cent smoke in the city. Sold at the Adams Building News-Stand.’”

“You can think of a lot of ways to spend our profits,” said Jack sadly.


“Advertising pays,” replied Joe. “Anyway, we haven’t fairly started yet, Jack. You wait until we’ve been there a couple of months and I’ll wager our sales will be double what they were today. For one thing, the building isn’t filled yet. There are lots of offices still vacant. Every time one is let we get one or two or maybe a half-dozen prospective customers. Come to think of it, Jack, there’s no reckoning that, for it isn’t only the folks who occupy offices in the building who will trade with us, but the folks who have business in the building, folks who come in and out. I’d like to know, just for fun, how many go through that door every day. Bet you there’s nearly five hundred of them, or will be when the offices are all rented! Suppose, now, that only one out of ten stopped and bought from us, and that they only spent five cents apiece. That would be—fifty times five—two dollars and a half right there, besides our regular trade. And I guess they’d average nearer ten cents apiece than five, too.”

“How much,” asked Jack, “would we have to pay a clerk to tend the stand for us?”

“I’ve thought of that,” replied Joe, “and I guess we could get a young chap for about six dollars a week.”


“The fellow we’d get for that price wouldn’t be worth having,” said Jack sensibly. “I think it would pay us, perhaps not just now, but after we’d got going well, to hire a real clerk and pay him ten dollars a week; some fellow who had sold cigars and things like that and who could make sales; talk things up, you know, and hustle.”

“I guess you’re right,” answered Joe, after a moment’s thought. “And I believe it would pay us to do that. I dare say there will be times when folks won’t have just the right change with them and we’ll lose sales. Besides, when we get to playing baseball we won’t either of us be able to be at the stand except just for a few minutes in the morning and evening. Well, we don’t have to think of that quite yet.”

“Indeed, we do, though, Joey. In another week we’ll be staying in the cage until five o’clock or so. Of course, that scheme of putting folks on their honor has worked all right so far, and I don’t say it wouldn’t always work, but someone’s got to be at the stand to receive the papers and pay for them.”

“We might have a monthly account with the papers and the news company,” said Joe thoughtfully. “I guess they’d be willing. Still, you’re right, Jack. We’ll start out and see if we[113] can find a clerk. How would it do to advertise?”

“I suppose that’s the only way. Or, hold on, why not look at the advertisements? Some fellow may be advertising right now for a job like this. I’ll go down and get the paper and we’ll have a look.”

They found nothing promising that evening, but two days later they did, and in response to their reply, left at the Recorder office, Mr. Chester Young called on them Sunday afternoon. Mr. Young was a well-dressed, dapper youth of twenty-one or -two who consumed cigarettes voluminously and had a pair of somewhat shifty black eyes. The boys didn’t fancy his personality much, but he convinced them that he knew how to sell goods and presented recommendations from a former employer in Youngstown that read extremely well. They dismissed the applicant with a promise to let him hear definitely from them on Tuesday, and Mr. Chester Young, tucking his bamboo cane under his arm, took himself smilingly out.

“What do you think?” asked Jack when the front door had closed.

“I think,” replied Joe, “that I wouldn’t trust that chap around the corner.”

“Me, too. But he looks smart, doesn’t he?”


“Yes. I think he’d be just the fellow for us if—How much does a small cash register cost?”

“Search me! But if we had one of those——”

“Yes, I guess Mr. Chester Young wouldn’t have much chance to get absent-minded with the cash. First of all, though, we’d better get that man he worked for on the long distance and see what he has to say about Chester. Then, if it’s all right, we can price a cash register. I suppose we could get one for twenty-five dollars, don’t you?”

“I should hope so! Where’d we get the twenty-five?”

“We’ll have it in another day or two. We’re pretty well stocked up now and won’t need to buy much for a week, I guess. I wish, though, that Mr. Chester Young could look you in the eye for more than a thousandth part of a second!”

“So do I. And did you see the number of cigarettes he smoked in the time he was here? Do you suppose he’d help himself from stock?”

“If he did there wouldn’t be any stock very long,” laughed Joe. “Let’s go through the advertisements in today’s paper again and see if we missed any. Seems to me there must be more fellows than Mr. Chester Young looking for work.”


“Yes, but most of them want to be book-keepers or chauffeurs. We may want a chauffeur some day, but not quite yet, and as for a book-keeper——”

“We need one, but can’t afford him,” ended Joe. “You’re right. There’s nothing here. I guess Chester’s the only thing in sight.”

Five days later Mr. Chester Young was installed behind the counter in the Adams Building and at his elbow reposed a neat cash register. The former employer of Mr. Chester Young had reported most favourably on that gentleman; indeed, to hear him one could not help wondering why he had deprived himself of Mr. Young’s services! Joe left the telephone booth rather puzzled, but there seemed no good reason for doubting the Youngstown man’s veracity, and they decided after some hesitation to give the applicant a trial—if they could find a cash register they could afford to buy! Fortune favoured them. The proprietor of a fruit store whose business was expanding had one to sell and they closed the bargain with him at seventeen dollars, thereby securing a machine that had originally cost forty-five.

Mr. Chester Young started out well. The sales during his first day at the stand were better than[116] for any other day, and neither Joe nor Jack could see that the supply of cigarettes had fallen off unduly. Perhaps, as Jack pointed out, this was because they did not carry the kind affected by their clerk! They did not find that Mr. Young improved much on acquaintance, but since he was attending to business and seemed to take a genuine interest in the venture they tried to be fair to him and to like him. In any event, it was lucky that they had found someone to tend shop, for on the fifteenth day of the month Captain Sam Craig called the baseball candidates together in the cage in the basement of the school building, and for a long time after neither Joe nor his partner had much leisure to devote to their business venture.



The High School building stood by itself in the centre of a block in the newer residence district of Amesville. It was a handsome structure of mottled, yellow-brown brick and sandstone, four stories in height. On the top floor was a large hall used for meetings and for morning drill. When, some six years before, the building had been planned those in charge of the work had believed that in providing that hall and supplying it with a modest amount of gymnastic paraphernalia they were providing liberally and for all time. To their surprise, no sooner was the building occupied than demands came for additional contrivances, and no sooner had those demands been satisfied than that troublesome body, the Alumni Association, put forth a plea for a baseball cage in the basement! It was over a year before the cage materialised, and another year before shower-baths and lockers were installed, but at the time of our story those things were long-established facts and youthful Amesville[118] was deriding the cage as too small and the shower-baths as out of style!

The basement of the school building was but half underground, and numerous windows supplied light on one side and one end of the cage. But in February the days were still short and the light did not last long, especially when, as on the fifteenth, the sun was hidden by dull clouds. Since, however, the first week of baseball practice was confined to setting-up exercises and dumb-bell work, light was not of great consequence.

Exactly thirty-two boys reported that afternoon at a quarter to four in the cage. Of this number some fourteen or fifteen were holdovers from last season’s First and Second Teams, fellows like Sam Craig, “Buster” Healey, Sidney Morris, Toby Williams, Gordon Smith, and Jack Strobe. Tom Pollock was not present, since his duties at the store in which he was employed frequently kept him from participation in preliminary work. The coach, Mr. Talbot, was a wide-awake-looking man of some twenty-eight years, a former high school player and now a lawyer who, in spite of a growing practice, found time every year to take the baseball players in hand. Today Mr. Talbot gathered the candidates together and spoke energetically and to the point.


“I’m sorry not to see more candidates,” he said. “Some of the fellows think that they can keep away until we get outdoors and then report. Well, they can, but I give them fair warning that they will find themselves handicapped. This indoor work isn’t designed just to keep you fellows out of mischief in the afternoons. It’s real stuff. It’s important. You can’t go out on the field and make any sort of a showing if your muscles are bound. That’s what this indoor practice is for, to limber up your muscles, train your eye, get your brain working. Some few of you have been playing hockey, and that’s good preparation for what’s ahead, but most of you haven’t done a thing since last Fall and your muscles are tied up in knots. First thing, then, is to get so you can use them without hurting them, and so, before you touch a baseball or a bat, you’ll have a week—maybe two—of setting-up drill and dumb-bell exercises, and, now and then, a run outdoors when the ground gets in shape. It isn’t interesting, I know, but it’s necessary, and every one of you can help yourself a lot if you’ll keep in mind all the time that what you’re doing you’re doing for a purpose and not just to pass the time. When you stretch a muscle I want you to keep your mind on that. Don’t merely go through the[120] motions thinking about the moving picture show you saw last night or wondering how soon you’ll get through. Put your mind on what you’re doing. Say to yourself, ‘I’m flexing these muscles to make them strong and supple.’ It will tell later on. If you don’t believe me, ask the fellows who have tried it before. Now I’ll ask you to form in lines across the floor, just as you do upstairs for morning drill. That’s the idea. I guess most of you know the drill. Those who don’t will watch me and learn it. All right, fellows. Attention!

“I can see that a good many of you don’t know the position called for. It’s the position of the soldier. I supposed you learned that in morning drill. Heels on a line, now, and close together, and feet turned out at an angle of forty-five degrees. Knees straight, but not locked. Stand straight from the hips. Put your shoulders back, arching your chest a little. Let your arms hang naturally, elbows back, hands slightly to the rear of the trousers seam. Some of you look as if you were frozen. Get out of it! Ease up! You, third from the left in the second row, relax a little. That’s better. Now, then, heads erect, chins in, eyes ahead. There you are. Probably some of you are finding the position a bit uncomfortable,[121] which shows that you need just the exercise you’re going to get here. First exercise, fellows. Remaining at attention, bend the head back as far as it will go and then forward. Exercise! One—two—three—four—five—six—seven—eight! Attention! Now, from side to side, keeping the neck muscles tense. First to the right as far as you can comfortably go and then to the left. Exercise! Right—left—right—left—right—left—right—left! Attention!

“Keep your stomach in, Williams. That’s better. Second exercise, fellows. Raise your arms in front of you, palms down. Now stretch them sidewise, turning the palms up, keeping the muscles tense always. Exercise! One—two—three—four—five—six—seven—eight! Attention! Now relax the muscles and swing the arms backward and forward like this. Exercise!... Now your shoulders. Muscles tense. Move them forward, then up, then back, then down into position again. Get that? Try it. Exercise! One—two——”

And so it went for thirty minutes, until, in spite of numerous brief intervals of rest, more than half of those present were out of breath and aching in all sorts of unaccustomed places! Joe, for one, had never realised that he had so[122] many muscles in his body as were called into play this afternoon! The exercises ended with the body-lift while lying face-downwards, and by that time even the more seasoned of the candidates were ready to quit. Mr. Talbot viewed the flushed faces with satisfaction.

“That’s all for today. Tomorrow we’ll try more. After that we’ll use the bells. Now give your names to Mifflin—Oh, he isn’t here? Well, I’ll take them. After that get under the shower and don’t stand around too much. It’s easy to take cold when your pores are open. Tomorrow we’ll start promptly at four. Try not to be late, please. Names, now.”

So it went every afternoon for a week. A half-dozen more martyrs joined the squad in that space of time. Gradually some of the first exercises were eliminated from the programme and the dumb-bell drill took their place. That dumb-bell work certainly gave surprising results, as Joe confided to Jack one evening as they hurried from school to the Adams Building. “I can turn my wrists in all sorts of ways,” laughed Joe. “They’re beginning to feel as if they didn’t have any bones in them!”

“A few days ago I felt as if I didn’t have anything but bones,” replied Jack. “We’re almost[123] through with this business, thank goodness. If the weather is all right about Saturday morning you’ll see us loping across the landscape, Joey. Bat is foxy about that.” Jack chuckled. “He always has a press of business when it comes to taking a hike!”

“So would I if I was coaching,” laughed Joe. “Wonder if he wouldn’t like me to stay behind and help him!”

“Ask him! I dare you to!”

Jack’s prediction proved right. On Thursday of that week the weather turned warm and windy and the ground, which had been like a wet sponge, dried so that it was possible to set foot to it without going in to the ankle. Sam Craig took charge and, lightly attired, the squad followed him over the better part of a two-mile journey that led across fields and over walls and, finally, back to town by the road. They alternated walking with jogging, but there was no let-up save for some five or six fellows who gave out before the romp was over. On the following Monday the first baseball appeared in the cage, and after a short setting-up drill and a brief session with the wooden dumb-bells the candidates were lined up on opposite sides of the cage and the ball was passed from side to side.


“Swing your arms, fellows,” instructed the coach. “Act as though you were going to throw the ball over the building. Get all your muscles into play. Don’t hurry it, Smith. Slow and easy. That’s the idea. I want you all to get so you can put the ball squarely into the next fellow’s hands without making him move out of place for it.”

Later two more balls were started going, and then the idea was to pass back and forth as quickly as possible, trying to catch the other fellows unawares. That was fun, and the cage was soon ringing with laughter. Mr. Talbot, taking his place at one side of the floor, enjoyed it as much as any of them. A few days after that the battery candidates were given a half-hour to themselves and practice for the rest began at four-fifteen. Occasionally Tom Pollock reported and pitched to Sam Craig or to Jack Speyer, who was slated as Sam’s understudy. With Tom in the pitching practice were Toby Williams and Carl Moran. Toby Williams was an able substitute for Tom, but Moran, who was only sixteen, had a lot to learn. Joe frequently went early to the cage and watched the pitching staff at work, and his admiration for Tom Pollock increased vastly as he noted the ease and certainty with[125] which that youth shot the ball into Sam Craig’s waiting glove.

Batting practice began about the first of March. A net was stretched near the further end of the cage and the candidates took turns facing either Williams or Moran; infrequently, Tom Pollock. They were supposed to merely tap the ball, but sometimes they became over-eager and the sphere would go crashing into the iron netting at the other end of the cage and the pitcher, arising from the floor, would pathetically request the batters to “Cut out the slugging!”

One or two of the early volunteers dropped out of the squad for one reason or another and their places were taken by newcomers. By the first week in March, at which time, if the spring was a normal one, they usually got out of doors, the baseball candidates were in hard and fit condition. Already Coach Talbot was able to form a fairly correct idea of the possibilities of most of the forty-one or -two fellows who now comprised the squad. George Mifflin, the manager, was custodian of a mysterious book, in which, opposite the various names, was set down much interesting information which the fellows would have given much to read. In this, at Bat’s command, Mifflin set down each day little marks and figures[126] after the names, memoranda practically understandable by Bat alone. Now and then came one of those cross-country jaunts—there were five of them that season—and now and then the squad was taken outside, where the footing was not too soft, and allowed to throw and catch. But with these exceptions, no outdoor work was indulged in until the second week in March, for on the fifth a miniature blizzard swept down the valley, undoing the good work performed by a fortnight of mild weather and drying winds. That blizzard had a lot of harsh things said about it. It was probably as unpopular a visitation of snow and sleet and ice and, subsequently, rain and slush as ever visited Amesville! But there was nothing for it but to wait for better conditions and, in the meanwhile, continue the drudgery of indoor practice, a drudgery that had grown distasteful to everyone by this time.

Joe firmly believed that the work in the cage had done him a lot of good, even aside from the matter of physical conditioning. He had found that he could meet the ball in front of the batting net and roll it across the floor about as often as most of the fellows, and he was perhaps more impatient than any of them to get out on the turf and discover whether his hitting ability had[127] really improved. Jack, himself a clever batter, predicted that Joe was destined to become one of the team’s best hitters that Spring.

“You’ve got it all over ‘Handsome Frank’ already,” Jack declared. “If you can cover the bag half as well as he can you’ll stand a James H. Dandy chance to cop that position, Joey.”

“Foley’s been doing fully as well as I have at the net,” responded Joe doubtfully. “I don’t believe I can beat him out, Jack. He looks like a pretty good player. He’s built for a first baseman, too, with his height and reach and—and everything.”

“Well, I don’t see that he’s got so terribly much on you in height, old man. And as for reach, why, even if your arms aren’t quite as long as his, you’re a lot spryer on your pins. You’ve got a mighty nice, easy way of pulling them in to you, Joey. I hope you make it, that’s all I hope.”

“So do I, but, as I say, Foley——”

“Oh, Foley’s no wonder, after all. That’s what you want to get into that solid ivory dome of yours. You’ve begun to think that you can’t beat him; that’s your trouble. What you want to do is to make up your mind that you’re better[128] than he is and that he’s got to prove the contrary. That’s the way I beat out Joe Kenney, last year. Joe had been holding down the job for two years when I got it into my head that I’d like to play out there in the left garden. So I said to myself, said I: ‘Jack, you may not think it now, but you’re a perfectly marvellous left fielder, one of the best, regular first chop, whatever that is! Try and accustom yourself to the fact and hold your head up and stick your chest out. And if anyone asks you don’t hesitate to tell them.’ Well, sir, in a little while I had myself hypnotised into acting like a regular fielder! When I’d meet Kenney I’d look at him pityingly and say to myself, ‘You poor old has-been, you haven’t the ghost of a chance this spring. I’m sorry for you, but it’s my turn.’ I got to believing it, and so did Kenney! About the middle of the season Kenney was sitting on the bench and I was pulling ’em down out there. Of course, a slight ability to hit the ball now and then had something to do with it, but a lot of it was just conning myself into thinking I was the real goods. You try it, Joey. It’s a great little trick.”

“You’re a silly ape,” laughed Joe. “The reason you ousted the other chap was because you[129] batted around three hundred and he didn’t. If I bat over two hundred I’ll be doing well.”

“Of course, you will! How many on the team last year hit for over that, do you suppose? I don’t believe there were four altogether. Two hundred, say you, slightingly! Two hundred’s good batting for chaps of our age, and don’t forget it. And my average last year wasn’t three hundred; it was two-ninety-three. I want credit for those seven points you stuck on!”

“Foley doesn’t like me,” observed Joe after a moment’s silence. “You can see that.”

“Why should he?” Jack demanded. “Don’t you suppose he knows that you’re after his place and that you stand a pretty good chance of getting it? What do you expect him to do? Hug you?”

“No, but—Oh, well, let’s forget it. I wish, though, we could get out of doors. When do you suppose we will?”

“In exactly four days,” responded Jack without hesitation. “You see if I’m not right. Predicting’s the easiest thing I do.”

The prediction proved correct.



It is not to be supposed that devotion to baseball dulled the partners’ interest in their business venture. That was still absorbingly exciting. Every morning at a little before eight either Joe or Jack, or sometimes both of them, went to the Adams Building and superintended the opening of the stand for the day’s business. The counter was dressed with its magazines and boxes of confections and newspapers, the cash register set up and unlocked, and business was talked over with Young. In the afternoon, usually a little after five, both boys returned and Young, giving an account of his stewardship, went off. Young had turned out very satisfactorily and his employers were a little ashamed of their suspicions regarding his integrity. It only proved, Joe declared, that it didn’t pay to judge a fellow by his looks. Young was a smart salesman, polite in an off-hand way, and, so far at least, had neither caused shrinkage in the cigarette stock or made away with a penny of cash. Consequently both Joe and[131] Jack tried to be friendly with him. That they couldn’t quite succeed was not for the want of trying. There was just one thing that they found objections to, and that was the fact that the news-stand was fast becoming a favourite loafing place for a number of the town’s “sports,” men and boys of about Young’s age who had no apparent occupation save that of smoking cigarettes. They had spoken to Young and he had agreed to do what he could to keep the fellows away, but matters did not seem to mend and the partners daily feared to receive a protest from Mr. Adams.

Meanwhile the stand had branched out into new avenues of trade. The “Adams Building Cigar” had appeared on the market and had met with favour and rapidly increasing sales. A small advertisement in the morning and evening papers had drawn attention to the cigar and to the news-stand and the latter was no longer dependent on the occupants of the building alone for patronage. The little shop became a popular place and trade increased until, especially during the noon hour, it was all Young could do to attend to customers.

A week or so after they had started in business they had been called on by a young man who had proclaimed himself rather importantly to be a[132] representative of the Evening Recorder. The result of his visit had been a half-column story in the next day’s paper of the novel store where customers helped themselves and paid on honour. It was a big advertisement for the little establishment and for several days afterwards folks came in just to see it and, usually, purchased something if only because of the novelty.

Post-cards, too, were added, a series of six views of Amesville scenes, and attained such popularity that Joe’s original order had to be quickly duplicated. The picture of the Adams Building especially sold like hot cakes. Puzzles were another addition to the stock, ingenious contrivances of metal or wood or tin that could be dropped in the pocket and that sold for exactly double what they cost when purchased from the news company. The cigar trade, however, was what accounted for most of the business done. The little showcase was no longer too large for its contents. On the contrary, it became more of a problem every week to find room in it for the goods they wished to display. Instead of five brands of cigars they now offered twelve, and of each brand they had to keep in stock from two to four sizes. Cigarettes and smoking tobaccos had also multiplied, while the top of the showcase[133] held an assortment of gum, candies, and small confections, as well as the revolving post-card rack. In fact, the small space was already overcrowded and the boys had been for some time contemplating making a request to Mr. Adams for a shelf across the back to hold the cash register and the overflow from the case.

One evening Joe and Jack arrived at the building in a pelting rain which had appeared without warning, and the exclamations of dismay which he overheard as the feminine population of the building faced the alternative of getting wet or being late for supper put a new idea in Joe’s mind. The next day a sign appeared over the stand: “Umbrellas for Rent.” They put in a dozen cheap cotton umbrellas which, if not much to look at, performed their mission satisfactorily. Customers, if they worked in the building, merely left their names, paid a quarter and were supplied with protection from the rain. In the course of time the dozen dwindled to five or six, but by that time each had paid for itself thrice over and instead of wasting effort in recovering the missing ones Joe bought more. About this time an automatic telephone instrument was installed on the counter and proved a great convenience to the boys and to others as well.


At the end of the first four weeks of business the partners went over their books—or book, to be more accurate. They found that they had expended for stock, rent, clerk’s wages and incidentals the sum of $226.50, that they had taken in $324.17, and that their net profit was $97.67. While less than the estimate Joe had made, the amount was held to be satisfactory, for Joe’s estimate had taken no account of clerk’s wages and they were paying Mr. Chester Young ten dollars a week. Something like thirty per cent. profit ought to have satisfied anyone!

They paid off all indebtedness—there were no accounts save that with the news company, which they settled weekly—set aside the amount due Mr. Adams for rent to date and halved the balance, each receiving as his share the sum of $48.83. The odd cent was left in the treasury! Then Joe paid back to his partner the borrowed thirty dollars, with interest at six per cent., although Jack insisted that Joe should wait until the end of the next month at least. But Joe preferred to get square, he declared, and proceeded to do so by paying most of the eighteen dollars remaining to him to Aunt Sarah for board and rent.

Jack’s father laughingly told them that he[135] thought they had been in rather a hurry to divide the profits and that it might have been a good idea to have left a portion of the money in the business. Joe, however, explained that they would have to buy nothing for nearly a week, except the newspapers, and by that time they would have accumulated more profits. “You see, sir, we’re taking in about fifteen dollars a day on an average, and of that nearly four dollars and a half is clear profit. So we won’t have to keep any balance on hand.”

“I see,” said Mr. Strobe gravely. “And what do you intend to do with all the money you make, boys?”

“I’m going to put mine in the bank, I guess,” answered Jack. “I’ve tried to think of something to spend it for, but I can’t!”

“And how about you, Joe?”

“I think I’ll start a bank account, too, sir, but I won’t be able to for another month at least. I pay three dollars a week to Aunt Sarah, you know, and I’d like to send a little money to my mother.”

“You could have done that now if you hadn’t paid back that thirty,” said Jack reproachfully.

“I know, but I like to feel that I’m squared up with everyone. When I get, say, five hundred[136] in the bank, if I ever do, I’d like to invest it in something, Mr. Strobe. Could I, do you suppose?”

“Certainly. An excellent idea, Joe. You might find a small mortgage through the bank, or you could buy a few shares of some safe stock that would pay from four and a half to five per cent. You’ll get only three and a half from the savings bank. When you get ready to invest you let me know and I’ll help you find something.”

One Saturday evening Joe boarded a train and went to Columbus to visit his mother, spending a very pleasant Sunday with her and returning to Amesville late that night.

If there was anyone even distantly connected with Joe’s business venture who did not thoroughly approve of it, it was Miss Sarah Teele. Aunt Sarah was doubtless pleased that Joe was earning money; she had a very healthy admiration for folks who could do that, and a correspondingly poor opinion of those who couldn’t; but the fly in Aunt Sarah’s ointment was the fact that her nephew’s prosperity was due to the sale of cigars and cigarettes and tobacco. That rather spoiled it all in her eyes, for she was a fervidly outspoken foe to tobacco in all forms, and considered the use of it closely akin to the use of[137] intoxicating liquors. Aunt Sarah made one exception. A decoction of tobacco and water was an excellent preventive of bugs on her window plants! If she could have had her way she would have limited its use to that purpose. Consequently, from the first, she had viewed Joe’s venture askance, hinting darkly that money earned by catering to the vice of smoking was tainted money and would bring no benefit to its possessor. Joe argued with her politely, but was quite unable to shake her conviction. In the end they agreed to disagree, Aunt Sarah comforting herself with Joe’s solemn promise not to allow the association with what Aunt Sarah termed “the filthy weed” to undermine his morals to the extent of causing him to smoke. For some weeks Joe frequently found Aunt Sarah regarding him anxiously as though seeking for signs of moral degeneracy produced by traffic in the obnoxious article. Not discovering any, however, Aunt Sarah accepted the state of affairs with the best philosophy she could command, and, to Joe’s satisfaction, said no more about it. When he announced the result of that first month’s balance his aunt’s struggle between pleasure and disapproval was almost ludicrous.



The Saturday forenoon following their conversation regarding Frank Foley found Joe and his chum leaning against the counter in Cummings and Wright’s hardware store. Jack was purchasing a new sweater and Joe was assisting at the task. Joe would have liked just such a garment as Jack was choosing, himself, but the next division of profits was a long way off and until that occurred he was bound to be in straitened circumstances. Jack had virtually decided on a handsome brown sweater with a broad band of blue across the chest and Tom Pollock, who had momentarily absented himself to sell a “Junior League” ball to a grammar school youth, returned to inquire:

“This one, Jack?”

Jack nodded doubtfully. “I guess so, Tom. It’s sort of heavy for spring, but I suppose I’d better buy one that’ll be all right for next fall, too.”


Tom agreed, adding: “The new uniforms will be along next week, I think. They’re going to be the best ever. I’m getting them from a different maker this year and he’s putting a lot better material into them. You’ll need one, I suppose, Faulkner.”

Joe smiled “I’d like to think so,” he replied, “but I’m not counting on it.”

“You might as well,” said Jack. “You’ll get in as a sub, anyway. Don’t you say so, Tom?”

“I hope so. I haven’t seen Faulkner work, as a matter of fact, Jack. Anyhow, with all due respect to Bat, I think it’s the outdoor work that shows a chap up.”

“That’s what I say,” agreed Jack. “Fellows who can lay down the cutest, darlingest little bunts on the cement floor swing like gates when they get out on the turf and have the sky in front of them instead of the wall of the cage. I’ve seen it happen often.”

“Still,” demurred Joe, “it seems to me all that work indoors must be of some value. Don’t you consider it is, Pollock?”

“Oh, yes, I do. I think it’s fine for getting fellows in shape and on edge, especially for the new chaps. What I mean is that when it comes[140] to actual playing the conditions out of doors are so different that a fellow has to practically start all over again. At least that’s been my experience. I’m talking of batting and fielding, you understand, and not pitching. A pitcher can get his wing in shape anywhere there’s room. Although, at that, I think working in the air is away ahead of working down there with the steam pipes.”

“Do you think we’ll get out next week?” inquired Jack.

“Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started Monday. Sam tells me the field’s in pretty good shape; a bit soft in places, but nothing much.” Tom chuckled as he snapped the string around the bundle and laid it in front of Jack. “Mr. Hall told a funny yarn one day in here, fellows. You don’t know him, maybe, Faulkner, but you will soon. He’s a dandy chap, and a double-dyed ‘fan.’”

“I’ve seen him,” replied Joe. “He knows the right place to buy cigars.”

“Well, he told one day about a coach they had at college when he was a freshman. I forget what college he went to; Sam could tell you. But it seems that they had an awfully wet spring that year and the diamond was on a rather low[141] piece of ground, anyway, and it wouldn’t dry out for them. So this coach got the idea of having the players wear rubbers! Said it would be dangerous to have them work on such wet ground without them because they might get rheumatism and sciatica and grippe and various other things, and he didn’t intend to lose half his team through illness just when it was needed most. So he sent in a requisition to the athletic committee or whoever attended to purchasing supplies—probably the manager—for three or four dozen pairs of rubbers of assorted sizes. There was a lot of argument about the expense and finally the coach got his dander up and bought the rubbers himself, and one day the fellows put them on and went out for their first practice on the field. The field was as soft as mush and whenever you put your foot down it went out of sight as far as your shin-bones! Mr. Hall said it was the funniest thing he ever saw. About every man in college was out to see what they called the ‘Gumshoe Nine,’ and they almost laughed themselves to death. Every time a fielder started after a ball he’d leave one or both of his rubbers sticking in the mud and have to go back and hunt for them. Mr. Hall said that at one time there were three pairs of rubbers sticking out of the base-path[142] between second base and the plate where the runners had left them in their hurry to get around! Finally the coach sent back to town and got a box of elastic bands and made the fellows snap them around their ankles over the rubbers. Practice went better after that, but there was almost a riot once, when one chap, who had stolen second, went back to get his rubbers and the second baseman tagged him out!”

The laughter of Tom’s audience was interrupted by the opening of the door and the advent of Frank Foley. Handsome Frank quite deserved the title this morning. For a day or two there had been unmistakable indications of spring, and Foley had responded to them today by donning a Norfolk suit of very light homespun material with knickerbockers, a pair of very green golf stockings, and a cap that matched his suit. A pale heliotrope “sport shirt” from under whose flaring collar emerged a vividly green scarf completed the costume, except that he was, naturally, appropriately shod with brown rubber-soled shoes. Even Tom was a bit taken back by the radiance of the vision which sought the athletic goods department, and his “Hello, Frank,” sounded rather feeble. The other boys nodded, Jack adding a murmured salutation to the nod. Foley[143] returned the greetings with a remarkable absence of self-consciousness and joined the group.

“What about a baseman’s glove, Tom?” he asked. “Anything new in that line this spring?”

“No, nothing much different,” was the answer as Tom pulled some boxes from a shelf. “You had one of these last year, didn’t you?” he continued, placing a glove on the counter. Foley examined it indifferently.

“Yes, that’s like the one I’ve got now. I thought maybe there was something new on the market. How’s everything, Jack?”

“Pretty good, Frank. My eyes are troubling me a bit, though.”

“What’s the matter with them? They seemed all right at practice yesterday.”

“I don’t know.” Jack gravely blinked. “They seem sort of weak. I guess it’s the glare that hurts them, Frank. You couldn’t turn your coat collar up, could you?”

“Oh, that’s the idea?” said Foley calmly. “Don’t you like what I wear, Jack?”

“Oh, I like it, all right, but my eyes sort of go back on me. What are you impersonating, Frank, a custard pie?”

“You chaps have a lot of fun with my clothes, don’t you?” inquired Foley good-naturedly[144] enough. “I don’t mind, though. I’d certainly hate to go around looking like a tramp, the way some of you do.” Foley seated himself on the counter, swinging his brightly-hued legs, and viewed Jack smilingly. “Any come-back to that?” he inquired.

“There’s a come-back from me,” said Tom quietly. “Gentlemen will not, others must not, sit on the counters, Frank.”

“Oh, all right; I’ll try to stand up a bit longer. I don’t believe you’ve got anything there I want, Tom.” He glanced unenthusiastically at the several gloves displayed. “I’ll use the one I’ve got. It went all right last year and I guess it’s still good.”

“You won’t need a glove much this spring,” said the irrepressible Jack. “They’re not worn on the bench, Frank.”

Foley winked untroubledly. “Don’t worry about me, old chap. I may not be any McInnes, you know, but I never noticed much resemblance between you and Tris Speaker. You watch out that you don’t keep that bench warm yourself.”

“Frank, you know very well,” replied Jack severely, “that when it comes to playing baseball I’ve got it all over you. You’re not a bad first baseman when you’ve got time for it, but[145] you know mighty well you can’t bat over a hundred. I like you, Frank; I appreciate your many fine qualities, and I just love your picturesqueness, but I don’t just see you holding down that first sack beyond the middle of March. I’m saying this to you so you won’t be too awfully disappointed when you lose your job.”

“Thanks.” Foley laughed amusedly. “Just who is the coming wonder that gets my position, Jack? Is it Faulkner here? Is he telling you how good you are, Faulkner?”

“He’s just talking,” replied Joe uncomfortably.

“I’m not saying who it is, Frank,” said Jack. “There are two or three who look good to me in your place. I’d be sorry to see you go, though. I certainly do like you, Frank.”

“Yes, you do—like poison,” responded Foley with a grin. “Tell you what I’ll do, Jack. I’ll bet you anything you like that I’ll play in more games—contests with outside teams, I mean—than you do this spring. Want to take that?”

“Ger-ladly, old sport! I’ll bet you”—Jack’s eyes twinkled about the cases and shelves—“I’ll bet you one of those nice leather bat-cases, Frank. I’ve always wanted a bat-case. How much are they, Tom?”


“A dollar and a quarter and two seventy-five.”

“I mean the all-leather ones.”

“Two seventy-five.”

“That’s the idea. How does that strike you, Frank? Feel like spending that much to make me happy?”

“Yes, but I don’t happen to want a bat-case, thanks. Think of something else.”

“Then I’ll buy you a couple of pairs of lavender gloves to wear to the parties.”

“Quit fooling and say something. What do I get if I win?”

“What do you want that doesn’t cost more than the bat-bag?”

“I don’t know. Leave it that I’m to pick out anything I like up to that amount, eh?”

“Certainly. Gentlemen, you’ve heard the terms of the wager. If, at the end of the season, Frank has played in more games than I have he comes in here and goes the limit—up to two dollars and three-quarters. If, on the other hand——”

“Why do I have to buy the thing here?” asked Frank.

“Because I want to see my friend Mr. Pollock make a little money. Tom ought to get something out of it, Frank.”


“Oh, all right. I’ll find something I want, I guess.”

“As I was saying when so rudely interrupted,” resumed Jack, “if, on the other hand, Frank plays in no more games than I do he comes across with one of those perfectly beautiful and useless bat-bags which Tom prices at two dollars and seventy-five cents and which you can get from the mail-order house for a dollar sixty-nine.”

“You try it,” laughed Tom.

“I don’t need to. The cost doesn’t interest me a bit. Well, that is the wager, gentlemen. May the best man win—so long as it’s me. Come on, Joey. So long, Tom. Bye, Frank. By the way, which way are you going from here?”

“You wait around and find out, old chap.”

“Won’t tell? Sorry. I wanted to stand on the corner and see you go by.”

“What did you do that for?” remonstrated Joe when they were on the sidewalk again.

“Do what? Make that bet? Oh, just for fun. Besides, I’m pretty sure to win it.”

“I didn’t mean the bet, you chump. I meant why did you rag him like that? He thinks you meant that I’m the one who’s to beat him out at first.”


“So you are,” answered Jack calmly. “As for why I did it, I did it because I couldn’t help it, Joey. Frank gives me a severe pain every time I meet him and I just can’t resist the temptation to have a little fun with him.”

“He took it all right,” said Joe. “He’s good-natured, I guess.”

“You guess again,” said Jack grimly. “He’s good-natured when he knows it would look silly to get mad, but he’s got a disposition like a—a—What is it that has a disposition?”

“You!” laughed Joe. “You’ve got a nasty one at times.”

“Meaning just now? Was I specially rude, Joey? Maybe I was a bit nasty. Well, never mind. You can’t really hurt Handsome Frank’s feelings. If you could he’d be black-and-blue by this time!”

“Black and blue are the only things he wasn’t,” said Joe. “He was about every other colour; buff and green and purple and lavender——”

“Shucks! He was dressed real quietly today; almost unostentatiously, so to speak! You ought to see him when he’s really dolled up! Now, look here, Joey. If you don’t buckle down and play ball and beat him out of his position at first I’ll never forgive you.”


“But, Jack, I can’t play first the way he can!”

“How do you know? You’ve never seen him play. Besides, you can out-hit him. Leastways, if you can’t you ought to be ashamed. And it’s batting that’s going to count this spring, old man. Petersburg has got a line of good pitchers this year and Bat will be going on the policy that hits mean runs. So you get your eye peeled, Joey, and win that bet for me.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be much of a batter,” said Joe sadly.

“Poppycock and piffle! You can hit the merry sphere just as well as anyone can if you’ll only tell yourself so. Look here, what you want to do is to go out there and when the ball comes say to yourself, ‘It’s so big I can’t miss it if I try! Why, it’s a cinch. Bing! That for you, Mr. Ball!’ Try it and see how well it will work.”

“You’re great on the psychology stuff, aren’t you?” laughed Joe.

“I don’t know the gentleman,” answered Jack serenely. “I only know that no chap ever became a decent batsman by telling himself that he was no good! Confidence, my friend, confidence! That’s the—er—the password, no, the keynote, to success! Think it over. Now, let’s go in and[150] see how much money we’ve taken in this morning. Ah, as usual, Young has his Roman mob around the place. If he doesn’t make those loafers stay away we’ll get notice to quit, I’m thinking.”




“Candidates report at the field dressed to play at 3:30.


This notice met the gaze of Joe on Monday morning as he paused in front of the bulletin board in the school corridor. Sidney Morris and a companion came up and read the announcement over his shoulder.

“That’s good news, Faulkner,” said Sidney. “Last year we were out a week earlier. By the way, do you know Toby Williams?”

The boys shook hands and the trio walked together along the corridor. Williams was a nice-looking chap of about Joe’s age, rather solidly built, with a natural talent for pitching a baseball that had won for him the position of Tom Pollock’s understudy, Tom, it was said, showing Toby everything the former knew in the science so that next year Toby might come as near as[152] possible to filling Tom’s shoes. There was still, however, a fairly long road for the younger boy to travel before he attained Tom Pollock’s standing.

“You’re trying for the infield, aren’t you, Faulkner?” Toby asked.

“Yes, but I don’t believe——” He paused, recalling Jack’s oft-repeated advice. “I don’t believe I’ll get what I want,” he resumed with assumed assurance. “The bases look to be pretty well occupied, and I want to play first or second.”

Toby seemed impressed, but Sidney laughed as he said, not ill-naturedly: “There’s nothing like knowing what you want, Faulkner.”

“And going after it?” asked Joe smilingly.

Sidney nodded. “That’s right. How’s the business getting on?”

“Very well, thanks.”

“We were talking about you the other day, Tom Pollock and Sam Craig and I,” said Sidney, “and Tom said he thought you were the luckiest chap he knew, and I guess I agree with him. You’ve been here in Amesville only a couple of months and you’ve got a good business and are making money at it. Sam said he guessed luck had less to do with it than pluck, though.”


“I think Tom Pollock was nearer right,” replied Joe modestly. “It’s been mostly luck, I guess.”

“Jack Strobe’s in that with you, isn’t he?” inquired Toby.

“Yes, it was Jack put in most of the money to start. About all I had was the idea!”

“And the luck,” laughed Sidney. “‘Lucky’ Faulkner is your real name, I guess. Well, I hope your luck keeps on. If it does, maybe you’ll get what you want on the team!”

The gong put an end to the talk and they hurried off to their rooms. Whether that was the beginning of it Joe never knew, but a month later he suddenly awoke to the fact that he was very generally known throughout school as “Lucky” Faulkner! He was inclined to dislike the nickname at first, since to him it seemed to preclude more desirable attributes, but Jack insisted that to be called lucky was a great compliment because, after all, what was called luck was in reality the reward for skill or forethought or some other quality of merit. Jack didn’t put it in quite those words, but that was the idea he managed to convey, and Joe, considering it, became reconciled. It was perhaps just as well he did, for by that time the nickname had come to stay, and his[154] approval or disapproval would have had small effect.

That Monday afternoon it was a gay-hearted lot of fellows who gathered at the field, which lay some ten blocks north of the high school. To be out of doors again filled everyone with delight and neither coach nor captain had any cause for complaint that day on the score of laziness. The way the ball was sped around was a fair indication of the candidates’ eagerness. Practice was rudimentary. There was some batting at the net, with Toby Williams and Carl Moran doing the tossing, a half-hour of fielding, Coach Talbot hitting to the infield, and Manager Mifflin knocking fungoes to the outfield, and, finally, a short period of work on the paths. The weather gave them of its best. The March sun shone warmly and, although there was still a tinge of winter in the air, spring was genuinely in possession. The sod was not yet dry and the base-paths were pretty soft, but no one minded a bit; not even “Buster” Healey when, in a desperate attempt to get from second to third on the throw to the plate, he lost his footing and reached the bag flat on his back. Practice was delayed while most of the infield scraped the mud from him.

Joe had a session with Tom Pollock in front of[155] the backstop. Sam Craig was catching at the plate, Speyer taking the throws for Mifflin, and so Bat told Joe to get a glove and let Tom pitch to him. Joe was doubtful of his ability to hold the redoubtable Mr. Pollock, but he got along very well. Tom used little speed and, although some of the breaks and hooks were at first confusing, Joe soon discovered that the ball might be depended on to straighten out before it reached him. After that he was put on second and handled Sam’s throw-downs fairly well and found that his own throwing arm was quite equal to the task of snapping the ball across to first or third or back to the plate. Frank Foley held down first base today and Joe secretly admired and envied the easy, finished way in which that tall youth with the long reach handled the throws. The work was pretty crude, which was natural enough, and Coach Talbot had plenty to say, but when practice ended at a little before five everyone was in the best of spirits and the fellows, as they made their way back home, discussed eagerly the first game of the year, which was due in less than two weeks. This contest was to be, as usual, with the Amesville Grammar School nine, and while it was not looked on as more than an opportunity for practice, still it was anticipated with[156] pleasure. Grammar School was already predicting what it would do to High School, and was awaiting the fray with equal eagerness.

High School had arranged a schedule calling for seventeen games this Spring, eight of which were to be played away from Amesville. Aside from Petersburg High School, Amesville High’s real rival in athletics, whom she played the final game with the last of June, the only notable foes were Lynton High School and Crowell Academy. There were two games scheduled with Lynton and one with Crowell. Besides the scheduled contests there were others which might or might not eventuate; as, for instance, a game with the nine from the carpet mill and a second, possibly a third meeting with the grammar school. Until the middle of May only Saturdays were scheduled, but after that midweek games were down for the balance of the season.

Outdoor practice continued uninterruptedly for the rest of the first week. Then, on Sunday, began a four-day stretch of wretched weather and the fellows went disgustedly back to the cage. On Sunday it blew a gale and swept a hard rain from the southwest. On Monday the rain turned to snow for a while, later changing to sleet and, finally, back to rain again. Tuesday it drizzled.[157] Wednesday was a day of mist and fog. Thursday noon the sun came out. But by that time the field was a quagmire again and all hope of playing the game with Grammar School on Saturday had to be abandoned. Consequently the contest was put over until Tuesday at four, and Manager Thad Mifflin, who was popularly believed to be accountable for weather conditions and the state of the diamond, found life a burden.

Meanwhile Joe had performed, if not brilliantly, at least satisfactorily as a substitute baseman. He had been tried at first, second and third bases, and, on one occasion, had pulled down flies in centre field. At the bat he had so far signally failed to distinguish himself. Perhaps he did as well as most of the substitutes, but he found that trickling bunts across the floor of the cage was not the same as standing in front of Tom Pollock, or even Carl Moran, and trying to connect with their various offerings. The best Joe could expect, or, so he told himself, was a place on the Second Team—The Scrubs, they called them—when that was formed. Jack was plainly disappointed in the proficiency of his chum, although he tried not to show the fact, and never ceased to offer encouragement.

“You’ll find your batting eye presently,” Jack[158] would assert stoutly. “A fellow can’t play decent ball, anyway, until the weather settles down and gets warm. I never could. Along about the middle of May——”

Joe interrupted with a laugh. “Along about the middle of May,” he replied, “will be a bit late, Jack. If I’m going to do anything this year I’ll have to do it pretty quick, I’m thinking.”

“Ye-e-es—I’ll tell you, Joey, the trouble is you don’t go at it right; batting, I mean.”

“I suppose I don’t,” owned Joe. “Anyway, I don’t accomplish much.”

“Try swinging slower. I watched you yesterday. You start your bat away around behind you and then swing like lightning. Maybe if you’ll take a short swing and a slow one, just meet the ball, as they say, you might do better.”

“Just meeting the ball doesn’t get you hits, though,” demurred the other.

“That’s where you’re wrong, old man. Even if you only hold your bat out still, a hard-pitched ball will bound off it away across the infield. I think it’s a mistake to try to slug at first; before—well, before you’ve got where you’re certain, if you see what I mean!”

“You mean that I ought to get so I can hit the ball before I—before I hit it!” laughed Joe.


“Before you try to knock the cover off it, yes. Between you and me, that’s the reason a lot of chaps don’t hit better than they do,” continued Jack. “They want to make home-runs or three-baggers, and they don’t stop to think that a short hit that gets you to first is a lot better than a home-run that doesn’t happen!”

“You talk like one of those little blue books,” jeered Joe. “‘How to Become a Ball-Player’ or ‘The Art of Batting’!”

“I’m telling you what I’ve learned,” replied Jack unruffledly. “I’m not much of a player myself, but I’ve kept my eyes open. Look here, Joey, I’ll tell you what we might do, you and I, and it wouldn’t hurt either of us a mite. Let’s go down to the cage at recess every noon and practise. We’ll keep a bat and ball at school and I’ll pitch to you and you bat, and you can pitch to me and I’ll bat. I don’t mean really pitch, of course, because I can’t do it; nor you, either; but just serve ’em up, you know, and let the other fellow see how many he can hit. Bet you anything you like if we do that long enough we can get so we can connect with anything! It’s the eye that does the trick, Joey. It’s getting the eye trained so that, no matter where the ball[160] comes, you can put the bat in front of it. Want to try it?”

“I’ll try anything,” responded Joe. “Still, it seems to me all that batting practice I had in the cage before we went outdoors didn’t do me much good.”

“This’ll be different. You know the way you do when you take a tennis racket and try to keep the ball bouncing against a wall or a floor? Well, that’s the same idea. It teaches you quickness and sureness, doesn’t it?”

“I guess so. All right, we’ll have a go at it tomorrow. Have you a bat at home?”

“Yes, and some old balls. I’ll bring them down tomorrow and we’ll try the scheme. We’ve got to do something to beat Handsome Frank, that’s certain!”

“You do hate him, don’t you?” laughed Joe.

“No, I don’t hate him one mite,” replied Jack seriously. “I even have a sort of sneaking liking for the chump. But I do love to take him down a notch or two whenever I can. Besides, I want that bat-case!”



The game with the grammar school team came off the following Tuesday on extremely damp grounds and under weather conditions far from ideal. Although it was the first of April, the wind was in the northeast and it blew across the playing field with a most unfriendly ferocity. The game didn’t begin until ten minutes past four, and by that time the few spectators who had courageously turned out to witness the team’s début were shivering with the cold and had deserted the stands to keep their blood in circulation by moving about.

Joe, wrapped in a sweater, hands in pockets, sat with a dozen other substitutes on the home bench and tried to keep his teeth from chattering. It had been agreed that, because of the weather conditions and the lateness of the starting time, the game was to go but six innings. High School presented a batting-list composed, with two exceptions, of seasoned material. Gordon Smith, shortstop, led off, followed by Sidney Morris and[162] Jack Strobe. Sidney played centre field and was a good hitter. Smith could be relied on to get his base five times out of ten under ordinary circumstances, and Jack was in third place as cleanup hitter. Buster Healey, second baseman; Steve Hale, third baseman; Frank Foley, first baseman, batted in that order, following Jack. Healey was a good but erratic hitter, Foley at best could be called fair, and Hale, a newcomer on the team this spring, was still an unknown quantity. Captain Craig followed Frank Foley. Then came Walter Cummings, another unproved hitter, and, finally, the pitcher, who today happened to be Toby Williams.

Toby got himself into a bit of a mess in the very first inning when he allowed the second grammar school batter to walk and followed that by offering a straight ball to the opposing team’s captain, who had a local reputation as a hitter. Captain Gandy sent that ball straight down the alley between shortstop and third baseman and took two bases on the hit, promoting the man ahead to third. Toby struck out the next boy, and with two gone, the prospect of escaping being scored on became brighter. But a glaring error by Healey let in two runs and put the fourth batsman safely on first, from whence he departed[163] for second a moment later and was thrown out, Craig to Smith.

The handful of grammar school youths shouted and exulted and swaggered, reminding each other that “I told you so!” But their delight didn’t last long, for High School fell on their pitcher and swatted the ball all over the lot, filling the bases with no one out. Buster Healey tried to redeem himself by cleaning them off, but only fouled to third baseman, and Hale struck out, more because of a lack of confidence than because the pitcher’s offerings were in any way difficult. When Foley went to bat there seemed but slight chance of scoring and so Tom Pollock, who was coaching behind first, sent out orders for a triple steal. Strangely enough, Foley not only connected with the ball as the runners sprinted, but actually hit it out safely for two bases! That took the heart out of Grammar School’s twirler and he passed Sam Craig, in spite of the captain’s very evident desire to earn his way, and repeated the compliment in the case of Cummings. That advanced Foley to third, and when Toby came to bat he performed very nicely, just as he was told to, trickling a bunt along first base line and beating the throw to the bag. Foley scored unchallenged.


Grammar School began to despair of ever getting that third out! Gordon Smith hit safely, scoring Craig and Cummings and putting Toby Williams on second, Sidney Morris drew a pass, and, living up to his reputation, Jack Strobe cleaned the bases with a long line-hit that didn’t touch the ground until it was able to strike the right field fence on the first bound! But Jack, although he barely managed to reach third on what should have been only a two-bagger, died there a minute or two later when Buster again failed to distinguish himself.

High School jeered and flung derisive remarks in the direction of the small but devoted band of grammar school youths, who, in their dejection, found successful repartee beyond them.

The second inning found a new pitcher in the points for the grammar school, but he was only slightly more puzzling than the deposed twirler, and, after turning the enemy down in one, two, three order, High School proceeded to indulge in another batting-fest. But this time she scored only three runs, bringing her total to twelve. By the end of that inning only the more enthusiastic “fans” remained, the others seeking warmer surroundings. With a lead of ten runs, Coach Talbot decided to begin on his second-string players and[165] made substitutions right and left during the remainder of the game. Toby Williams gave place to Carl Moran in the fourth, and Moran, heartened by the lead his team possessed, pitched a very pretty article of ball. When Amesville took the field in the fifth inning only four regulars remained in the line-up—Sam Craig, Sidney Morris, Frank Foley and Carl Moran. Buster Healey gave way to Joe, who was secretly hoping to be allowed on first. When, however, Foley did drop out, in the final inning, it was young Farquhar who took his place. Joe wasn’t worried by the rivalry of Farquhar, who was as yet by no means varsity material, but how, he wondered, was he ever to convince Coach Talbot or Captain Craig or anyone else that he could play first base if he never was allowed to get there?

On second Joe played a steady game, but had little to do, since Moran held the visitors in check throughout the two innings. The contest finally ended with the score 17 to 3, the grammar school’s third run having been scored in the fourth by a combination of two scratch hits and an error by shortstop. By the time the last man was out in the sixth the players and the handful of spectators who remained were chilled to the bone and heartily glad to get away. On the[166] whole, that first baseball game of the season had proved just about what Jack dubbed it, a “frost.”

Perversely, the weather changed its tune the next day, and for a week blue skies and soft breezes held sway, and practice was once more enjoyable. They worked hard, all of them, from Captain Sam himself down to the youngest and newest tyro, but it was work they liked. By the time another week had passed into history improvement was plainly visible. The team was finding itself. Batting was gradually ceasing to be a lost art, wild heaves were becoming fewer, and on the base-paths the fellows began to show what Coach Talbot called almost human intelligence.

The noonday practice in the cage was producing results for Joe and Jack. It would have been strange if it had not, for when you put in from fifteen to twenty minutes six times a week doing nothing but trying to bring a poised bat against a thrown ball you’ve simply got to learn something! And Joe learned that the time to judge a pitched ball was just before it reached the plate and not when it left the pitcher’s glove, and that “the shorter the swing the surer the hit.” They took turns standing in front of the wall at one end of the baseball cage and trying to hit everything[167] that came. At first they made no special effort to direct the hits. The game was to let no ball get past. It was fine training for the eye, there could be no doubt of that, and very soon the one who pitched had to use all his cunning to get the ball by the bat. Then the batter tried to put the ball always toward the pitcher, and after he had gained proficiency at that he attempted to hit it to the left or the right.

Naturally enough it was Jack who showed the most cleverness at this, and when they had been holding these batting practices for some three weeks his ability to hit every offering and tap it away to any corner of the cage he liked was almost startling. The boys usually had an audience of from one or two to a dozen, who, coming first to make fun, finally watched with interest and admiration. Many were the requests from the spectators to be allowed to try their skill, but Joe and Jack, by then very earnest at their work, refused to be interfered with. Two other fellows appeared one day with bat and ball and insisted on sharing the cage. But their enthusiasm was short-lived. They came the next day and the third day following that, but never again.

For a time Joe was deeply disappointed, even disgruntled, because that practice in the cage[168] failed to bring about any improvement on the field. The fact puzzled Jack, too, and he had no very good explanation to offer. The best he could do was to lay it to the difference of conditions. Joe agreed that that was probably it and wanted to know what use there was in keeping on with the cage stunt. But he did keep on, nevertheless, and at last, just when he was reaching a stage of abject hopelessness, the practice bore fruit.

It was one Wednesday afternoon, two weeks after the grammar school game. Two other unimportant contests had been won and in three days Amesville was to play the first of its two scheduled games with Lynton High School. Joe, with a half-dozen others, was at the batting-net and Williams, a bit bored and listless, was pitching. Buster Healey had finally managed to line one to the equally bored substitutes who were fielding the balls, and had stepped aside, giving place to Joe. Joe had already been up once and had had a hard time getting his hit in spite of the fact that Toby was putting very little on the ball. And now he was just as hopeless as ever he had been as he hitched his trousers and gripped his bat.

“Soak it, Faulkner,” said Cummings lazily.[169] “I want another whack at it before Toby’s arm gives out.”

Toby, picking up one of the half-dozen balls that surrounded him, grinned: “If he hits before I get three over on him I’ll chase it myself.”

“That’s a sporting proposition, Faulkner,” exclaimed Hale. “Go to it! I’d love to see Williams trot over to the fence and back!”

Toby was a little more crafty now, took a full wind-up and shot a drop over the base-bag which did duty as a plate. Buster, leaning on his bat behind the net, announced a strike.

“It was a peach, Toby. Now don’t let him work you again, Joe. Watch for a slow one.”

“This is going to be a beaner,” laughed Toby. “Look out!”

But it came waist-high, broke to the left, and failed to win Buster’s approval.

“Ball, Toby,” he said. “Too wide. Come on, now, show your goods!”

Toby’s reply to the challenge was a fast ball with a slight curve and Joe guessed it right. Bat and ball met and, although Joe made only a half-swing, the sphere sped straight over Toby’s head—he ducked involuntarily, to the delight of the batters—and travelled far back down the field.


“Don’t touch it!” bawled Buster. “Let it alone, Loomis! Now, then, Toby, shake a leg, old scout! You said you’d field it, you know.”

Toby smiled wanly and kept his promise, jogging far down the field to the surprise of the fielders and the gleeful chortles of the batting squad.

“That was a peach,” declared Steve Hale as Joe, as much surprised as Toby Williams, measured the hit and relinquished his place to Cummings. Joe looked indifferent, but secretly he was as pleased as Punch. There’s something delightfully heartening in the feel and sound of a good, clean hit, and as Joe moved back he still felt the tingle in his palms and experienced an inward glow of satisfaction. That, he reflected, was the first hit he could remember that he had been entirely satisfied with! Of course, it had been made in practice instead of in a game, but still Toby had really been trying to fool him and some measure of credit was due him.

Toby came back, hot and perspiring, from his jaunt, with the recovered ball in his hand, and proceeded to wreak vengeance on Hale. The fellows at the net still guyed him, however, and Hale speedily found a hit. When Buster’s turn came[171] again he asked: “Will you field it, Toby, if I get to you inside of three?”

But Toby had had enough and shook his head, which proved fortunate in the light of succeeding events. Buster, after fouling two, sent a long fly arching out.

When Joe stepped in front of the net Toby waved a hand in sarcastic greeting. “Hit ’em as hard as you like, Faulkner,” he called. “All bets are off!”

Nevertheless, it was soon evident to Joe and the others that Toby didn’t intend his offerings to be hit hard, for he used all his skill, “mixing them up” bewilderingly. One went as a ball, the next was a foul-tip, the third was a doubtful strike, the fourth was another foul. Joe was matching his skill against the pitcher’s, and for the first time he was confident of the result. He let a second strike go past because, although he was certain he could have taken it, it was too low to hit any distance. Again he fouled, going after the ball just as he had been doing down in the schoolhouse basement, and still again. Toby showed impatience.

“Oh, hit one, Faulkner! I’m giving ’em to you soft!”

“Yes, you are!” jeered Buster, behind the improvised[172] plate. “You’re putting everything you’ve got on them! I dare you to put one in the groove, Toby!”

Toby took the dare, launching a straight, fast ball to the net that looked like a white streak. But Joe glued his eyes to it, swung short but from the shoulders, and there was a fine, resounding crack! Toby turned slowly and watched the ball streak far into the field. Then he held up both hands and grinned at Joe.

“You win!” he said.

That was the beginning of Joe’s batting success. After that day he faced the pitcher, whoever he might be, with a confident smile reflecting the inward conviction that he could hit. There was nothing remarkable about his batting that season and he was never spectacular. Usually his contribution proved a single, infrequently a double. He was in no danger of being dubbed “Home-Run” Faulkner. And frequently enough, more frequently than he approved of, you may be sure, he struck out just as ingloriously as anyone else on the team. But, somehow, he showed a reliability that began to be talked about toward the end of the season. It was a fair wager, when he went to the plate, that he would deliver a hit. Often he didn’t; more often[173] he did. And what made his hits go safe was that practice in the baseball cage, for through that he had attained an almost uncanny ability to place them. Few pitchers could make him hit where he didn’t want to. Jack once declared that Joe, who was a right-handed batter, could hit a fast ball to right field and a slow one to left any time he wanted to! This was somewhat of an exaggeration, but certain it is that Joe was a clever batter when it came to “putting them where they ain’t,” and his title of Lucky Faulkner was felt to have been wisely bestowed. But I am ahead of my story, for Joe’s batting prowess, although it came into being that April afternoon at the net, was of gradual growth. When all is said, the way to learn to bat is to bat. And that is the way Joe learned.

Amesville played Lynton one warm, cloudy afternoon on the former’s grounds and took her first beating. Lynton had a way of winning from Amesville when all the signs pointed toward defeat. She never played remarkable ball; never, in fact, won from any other club of Amesville’s ability. But, somehow, almost every year Lynton managed to secure the decision in one or another of the two games played. And every year there came a loud and impatient demand for a[174] third and deciding contest. But the third contest seldom occurred, seldom when it was demanded, because by that time both teams had filled their dates, and never by arrangement at the beginning of the season because at such times Amesville smiled confidently and said: “Well, this year we won’t have any fooling. We’ll take ’em both!”

Lynton’s perversity had secured for her the compliment of being looked on by Amesville as second only to Petersburg as a worthy foeman. Sometimes Lynton won by virtue of her enemy’s errors, caused by over-eagerness. Sometimes she won by sheer luck, as when, two years before, with the score 7 to 6 in Amesville’s favour in the ninth inning, the Amesville pitcher had let down long enough to allow two tail-enders to get to third and second bases, and then, with two down and two strikes on the batsman, had pitched a wild ball that had sent the batter staggering away from the plate and had seen in amazement the ball hit the shouldered bat, bound away to just behind first base, and land fair a yard beyond anyone’s reach while the runners crossed the home plate with enough tallies to take the game! That contest had become famous in Amesville legends, and nowadays it was the usual thing for[175] someone to shout at a crucial moment in a game: “Don’t hit his bat, Tom!” Amesville had remained sore over that game for a whole year and had only regained her composure when, the following spring, she had tied the first Lynton contest and then routed her enemy in the second struggle by the generous score of 17 to 6!

This year Amesville appeared a trifle less confident of winning the two battles, although she perhaps secretly expected to do so. At all events, she took no chances in that first game. Tom Pollock started in the box and remained until the seventh inning, at which time Amesville had a satisfactory lead of four runs. Toby Williams relieved him, and Toby had an off-day if ever pitcher had! For two innings he escaped real punishment, although one of several passes resulted in the eighth in a tally for Lynton. But in the first half of the ninth, with the score then 8 to 5 in the home team’s favour, Toby simply laid down in the traces. Afterwards some of the blame was laid at the door of coach and captain, for it was said that Jack Speyer, who was put in Sam Craig’s place behind the bat in the eighth, showed poor judgment. In any case, after getting through the next to the last session at the expense of but one run, Toby went to the bad[176] completely. Twice, when the batter had three balls and no strikes against him, Speyer and Toby met in consultation between plate and mound and Lynton howled and hooted. In that disastrous ninth Toby gave two passes, hit a batsman and was punished for four hits with a total of six bases! Before Carl Moran could even peel his sweater off preparatory to warming up the mischief was done. When Carl did go in the score was tied and there were runners on second and third, with two men out. The only wonder was that Lynton had managed to score so few runs! Carl did his best, which was not a very good best, but he was facing a desperate situation and was plainly nervous. The next batter hit safely past Hale and two more runs were scored. Then Carl gave a pass, just to show that Toby was not the only generous pitcher on the team, and, after Speyer had overthrown second in an effort to kill a steal and one more runner had scored, he persuaded the Lynton catcher to send a long fly to Jack Strobe’s waiting hands.

When that fatal half-inning was over the score told a far different tale! Lynton was in the lead, eleven runs to Amesville’s eight. Coach Talbot used all his science and shifted and substituted bewilderingly in the last of the ninth, and it was[177] then that Joe made his début. Foley, while playing a clean game at the bag, had been hitting miserably all the afternoon, and when Mr. Talbot looked about for someone to bat in his stead Joe was about the only fellow left on the bench eligible to play. By that time Morris had struck out, Jack was on second and Healey on first. Joe faced the Lynton pitcher calmly and smilingly, but he confessed afterwards to Jack that he was a bit weak in the knees! However, that weakness didn’t prevent him from out-guessing the pitcher on the first delivery and driving the ball down the alley between first and second basemen, scoring Jack, putting Buster on third, and reaching second himself on his stomach with no time to spare! But that was the last sputter, for Loomis, rushed into the breach to bat for Speyer, took the count without a swing, and once more Lynton, the incorrigible, pesky varmint, had won!

The visitors went off with laughter and song, cheering and jeering, leaving Amesville to comfort herself with the knowledge of a future meeting and to once more raise the cry of “Give us a third game!



The Second Team was formed the third week in April. Joe found, rather to his surprise, that he was to be retained with the first squad as substitute infielder and was not to be relegated to the second. That was, certainly, a compliment to his playing ability, and he was duly pleased, but there were moments during the succeeding fortnight when he almost wished that he had been placed on the scrub, since in that case he would undoubtedly have been put at first and would be playing there regularly instead of sitting half of the time on the bench and trying not to hope that Frank Foley would break a finger or sprain an ankle! When Joe did get in it was more likely to be at second base than first, since Buster Healey, the regular incumbent of that position, was playing a decidedly erratic game and Coach Talbot was becoming discouraged with him and was constantly pulling him out in favour of a substitute. Buster had it in him to play fine ball, but this[179] spring he was badly off his game. Joe was always glad to get a chance to play, and would have gone behind the bat, had he been told to, or even into the outfield, rather than remain on the bench, but he did wish that Bat would give him a chance at first.

Jack suggested once when Joe was mourning the lack of opportunity to exhibit his skill at the first sack that they enter into a deep, dark conspiracy against Handsome Frank. “We might,” said Jack thoughtfully, “decoy him to the soda fountain and slip poison in his drink. Or we might wait for him outside his house some night and stab him full of holes. If we did that it might be best to leave a Black Hand note attached to the stiletto in order to avert suspicion. They’d probably arrest Tony, the bootblack, and might hang him. Tony never did anything to me, and—No, I guess it wouldn’t be fair to have Tony hung. How would a bomb do? We could put it under his seat at school and——”

“And blow ourselves up, too?” asked Joe. “No, I don’t like that idea so much, Jack.”

Jack acknowledged that it had its drawbacks. “Just the same,” he asserted decisively, “something must be done. Frank has a nasty way of grinning at me nowadays, and yesterday he[180] wanted to know if I was feeling well. Said I looked a bit pale. And the funny thing is, Joey, that I don’t feel awfully smart; haven’t for nearly a week. I suppose it’s the warm weather, but if I caught scarlet fever or anything and had to lay off for a couple of weeks I’d lose that bet sure as shooting!”

“Well, I guess you needn’t count on me to help you win it,” replied Joe hopelessly. “Bat seems to think that I’m only good on second, or, sometimes, third.”

“If Buster doesn’t take a brace you’ll find yourself on second for keeps,” said Jack. “I’d like to know what’s the matter with that chap. Last year, and the year before, too, he was a mighty good second-sacker, but now—Great Scott, did you see that heave of his to Frank yesterday? It went three yards wide of the base if it went an inch, and Buster declares that he threw straight as an arrow! And even his hitting is punk. I don’t see Bat’s idea of trying to make a first baseman of Farquhar this season. The kid’s too green for it.”

“Maybe if Healey would brace up,” said Joe, “I’d lose my job at second and might get a chance to substitute Foley. I sometimes wish they’d let me go to the Scrubs.”


“Piffle! At least, you’re a member of the First Team, even if you don’t play all the time, and you’ll get your letter, too, before the season’s over. Next month Bat will be putting you in somewhere for four or five innings at a whack. Then, if you get into the Petersburg game you’ll get your A.”

“Yes, but what’s to keep Bat from getting tired of seeing me sitting around and letting me go long before that?” asked Joe dismally.

“Everything! He’s got to have at least two substitute infielders, hasn’t he? And you’re one of them, aren’t you? Anyway, if you keep on batting as well as you’ve been doing it he won’t dare to let you go. Speaking of that, Joey, I guess we’ve done about all we can with that parlour baseball stunt of ours in the cage. We might as well call that off, I think.”

“Especially as we’ve missed about every other day lately,” Joe laughed.

“I know. It’s too warm now to feel ambitious. All a fellow wants to do at recess is lie on his back and watch the clouds go over and wonder where they get the energy to do it! You can’t say, though, that that scheme of mine hasn’t worked.”

“I don’t try to. It did me a lot of good, Jack.[182] I—I almost think that by next year I’ll be a fairly good hitter.”

“You’ll be that this year if you keep on improving. Tom is the only fellow you can’t hit about as you like. And that’s no disgrace to you, because Tom Pollock is about as good a pitcher as you’ll find in the State, and I’m not excepting professionals, either!”

“Toby told me the other day that Tom has a chance to go to a league team whenever he wants to.”

“I should say he had! Why, three or four teams have been after him. He could get a try-out with Detroit tomorrow if he wanted it. But Tom says he’s going to college next Fall, and, of course, he wants to play ball there.”

“I should think he would. I wish I thought I could go to college, Jack.”

“Why can’t you? In another year you’ll have so much money saved up that you’ll be able to do as you like! The stand’s doing better every month, and the first thing we know we’ll be millionaires!”

“We fooled ourselves about Young, all right, didn’t we? Honest, Jack, I expected long before this that he’d have shown a yellow streak.”

“Me, too. And the funny thing is that I still[183] don’t altogether trust him. But everything seems perfectly straight, doesn’t it?”

“Absolutely. I don’t believe he’s done a thing shady except swipe a box of cigarettes now and then. I guess he’s about as good a fellow as we could have found for the job.”

“He sure is. By the way, when we engaged him we said something about giving him a raise, didn’t we, if he got along all right?”

“Yes, we did, and I suppose we’d better be thinking about doing it. Still, he’s been working only about two months. We’ll let it go until next month, Jack.”

“All right. I dare say he isn’t looking for a raise just yet. He hasn’t made any hints to me, anyway. The thing that puzzles me, though, is how he can wear the flossy clothes he does on ten dollars per. He’s almost as beautiful as Frank Foley!”

“I can answer that,” replied Joe drily. “He has accounts with a lot of the stores. A chap came in the other day when I was at the stand and wanted me to pay a bill of sixteen dollars for underwear and ties and things. Thought I was Young. I told him to try again. If he has many bills around town like that one he won’t be with us much longer, I guess, and that’s one[184] reason I think it’ll be just as well to wait a bit longer before we make that raise. It doesn’t do much good to raise a chap’s wages and have him leave you in the lurch a few weeks later.”

“Well, if he’s got creditors after him,” laughed Jack, “he needs the raise pretty badly right now! But I guess you’re right. We’ll wait and see what happens. He’s an idiot to blow in money like that for pink-striped shirts and things. I’d love to hitch him and Handsome Frank up and drive them tandem down Main Street some afternoon!” And Jack chuckled merrily.

“Do you suppose,” asked Joe, after a minute’s silence, “that it would do to ask Bat for a try-out at first? I mean, tell him I’ve played the position and think I could do it again; make a bid for the job to substitute Foley.”

“Don’t do it. Bat wouldn’t like it a bit, old man. Bat’s peculiar that way. Tell you what you might do, though. You might sort of hint something of the sort to Sam. Sam wouldn’t mind it, I guess. I believe I’d do that, Joey, some time before long. As I’ve previously remarked, something’s just got to be done about Mr. Foley if we don’t want him to cop that bet we made.”

“I don’t see,” said Joe innocently, “how that interests me any. I didn’t bet with him.”


“Why, you—you—you ungrateful chump!” exclaimed Jack. “Do you mean to say that you’re going to leave me in the lurch? Didn’t you agree to oust Frank from first base? Didn’t you——”

“No, I didn’t,” Joe laughed. “That was your idea entirely. Besides, what would I get out of it? You couldn’t cut that bat-case in half, could you?”

“I’ll let you use it on Sundays,” replied Jack generously.

Joe pondered for several days the plan of confiding to Sam Craig his desire to become a first baseman. Once he got his courage almost to the sticking-point, but a troublesome conviction that Sam would think him “fresh” held him back. And then, before he again reached the determination to take the plunge, events made it unnecessary.

During the last half of April, Amesville played three games, one with Grammar School on a Thursday and two with outside teams of no great importance. In the Grammar School contest High School was again easily victorious, although the score was somewhat more even than in the first meeting. The Grammar School pitcher who had been so unmercifully drubbed came back[186] strong and proved rather a hard nut to crack, holding High School to eight hits for a total of twelve bases in the seven innings he pitched. The score at the end was 8 to 3. The team journeyed to Sinclair one Saturday and played the high school team there, winning easily, with Tom Pollock pitching five innings and Toby Williams four, by the tune of 11 to 5. On the last Saturday of the month Corby High School came to Amesville and was walloped 14 to 6, Carl Moran presiding on the mound for eight innings and pitching very good ball until a tired arm threatened to bring his downfall, and Tom Pollock was hurried to the rescue.

Every afternoon, save when an outside team was to be played, the First Team and Scrubs came together and some very close, hotly-contested battles ensued. Oddly enough, Joe’s first opportunity to show what he could do as a first baseman found him playing with the Scrubs. One afternoon the Scrubs’ regular first baseman was missing and when its shortstop got mixed up at second with Sidney Morris and was helped off the field with a badly-wrenched knee, the Scrubs’ coach, a high school graduate named Meyers, was in a quandary and was forced to borrow a player from the First. The choice fell on Joe,[187] and as Joe was a stranger to the shortstop position Meyer put his third baseman there, transferred his first baseman to third, and put Joe at first. Joe was rather too nervous during the first inning to make much of a showing, but, fortunately, Carl Moran, who was pitching for the Scrubs, held the First fairly tight and Joe was able to get by without anything worse than a doubtful error when he failed to get a wide throw in time to make the out. But in the succeeding innings, five in all, he covered the bag in a style which opened Mr. Talbot’s eyes and brought good words from his friends. If he did not have the reach that Frank Foley had, he was so much quicker than that other youth that he quite made up for the fact, while at bat he was easily the superior of that player. Joe did not, however, greatly distinguish himself with the stick that afternoon, for Tom Pollock pitched the whole six innings for the First, and Tom, when he tried, could hold any fellow on the team helpless. Still, Joe did do better than any other member of the Scrubs, getting two hits, one of the scratch variety, as his earnings. The First Team nosed out of the game with a two-run lead, but had to work hard that day for their victory.

The result of Joe’s exhibition with the Scrubs[188] that afternoon was that two days later he was substituted for Foley in the fifth inning of a game with the Second Team, much to Foley’s surprise and, I fancy, disgust. Again he got through creditably, although a poor heave from Buster Healey got past him on one occasion and led him in the subsequent confusion to himself make a hurried and ragged throw to third. But the misplay did not appear in the results and he more than atoned with two stops that brought applause from the stand and the benches and by lacing out a two-bagger in the fourth inning that sent two runs across.

Jack was jubilant as they walked back to town after that game. “You’ve been and gone and done it, Joey!” he said. “You’ve shown Bat at last that you’re the man for the job! I saw him and Sam put their heads together when you cracked out that two-bagger, and I’ll bet you anything they mean to find a place for you. Why shouldn’t they, anyway? Don’t they need all the batting strength they can get? And don’t you hit a lot better than Foley, or three or four others, for that matter? What Bat’s trying to do now, I guess, is to figure out some way of getting you in the line-up. Well, he will either have to put you at first or second. Hale has made good at[189] third, all right. If I were he I’d switch Buster and Gordon Smith around. Gordon’s a good shortstop, of course, but I dare say he could play second just as well. That would give Buster a chance to redeem himself, you see. Still, that wouldn’t make a place for you, Joey.” Jack frowned intently a moment and then continued: “No, sir, the only thing to do is to shelve Frank!”

“Don’t be an idiot! Why should he shelve Foley? Foley can play first better than I can.”

“That’s all right. With a week’s practice you could do just as well as he’s doing. And when it comes to batting you’re away ahead of him. And I want to tell you, Joey, that what this team is going to need when we run up against Petersburg is fellows who can roll the pill! Well, anyway, you wait and see. Something will happen to Handsome Frank before long, mark my words. I’m a prophet, Joey!”

“You’re a chump, you mean. Walk up and let’s get somewhere. Speaking of profits, I’d like to find out what ours have been today.”

“All you think of is filthy money,” mourned Jack.

“And all you think of,” Joe retorted, “is that old bat-case!”



The following day the team went to Crawford Mills and played a nine made up of the youths of that small but busy town. About half of the members were high school boys and the rest were from the offices of the steel mills, many of the latter youths of twenty or even twenty-two years. In the field the Crawford Mills aggregation presented a peculiar spectacle, for their shortstop was a chubby youth of no more than fifteen, while their catcher was at least twenty-one, and their pitcher, a sort of human bean-pole, wore a mustache! Lack of practice, however, was against the “Millers” and, although Amesville had difficulty with that pitcher, she nevertheless won out in the seventh inning with a mixture of hits, daring base running, and errors, the latter by the opponent.

Joe, who had had hopes since the day before of getting another chance at first base, was considerably disappointed at being left idle on the[191] bench until the eighth inning, when he was put in to run for Tom Pollock, that youth having turned his ankle at first base. That was all the playing Joe did, and he sat disgruntledly during the rest of the game and watched Amesville hold her lead and ultimately emerge the victor, eight runs to six.

The “Millers” were good losers and cheered the visitors heartily when the contest was over, and their captain, the tall, mustached pitcher, shook hands with Tom Pollock and hoped his ankle wasn’t hurt much. Tom was able to reassure him. Then a request was made for a second game at Amesville, and Sam Craig agreed to see what could be done about one. High School journeyed home at dusk, very well satisfied with an almost errorless performance—Buster Healey had alone sinned—and very hungry. Joe was wedged in between Jack and Walter Cummings in the trolley car going back, with Frank Foley directly in front on the next seat. Jack, who had outshone himself that afternoon in left field, was feeling especially cheerful and, before they had been buzzing across country very long, began to heckle Handsome Frank, to the amusement of the others within hearing.

“Say, Frank,” he began, leaning over, “we’ve[192] got a fellow working for us at the news-stand who makes you look like a faded leaf, old top. Honest, Frank, he’s got it all over you as a swell dresser. You’ll have to look to your laurels right smart. That’s no josh, either. Why, that fellow’s got a pink-and-green-striped shirt that would simply fill you with envy!”

“Hello, Jack,” was the response. “You jabbering again?”

“Yep, jabbering again, Frankie. Listen. You’re months behind the style, old chap. They’re not wearing those all-leather shoes any more. You want to get some with cloth tops. They’re the only proper dress for the Johnnies. I’m afraid you haven’t read your fashion journal this month!”

“The trouble with you and Faulkner,” replied Frank over his shoulder, “is that you dress so like tramps that when you see a fellow with a clean collar on you don’t know what to make of it!”

That produced chuckles from the nearby seats. Jack smiled serenely. “Yes, there’s something in what you say. That’s where you have it on the rest of us, Frank. Your collars are so plaguey high that no one can see whether they’re clean or not on top! But what I’m telling you about[193] the cloth-top shoes is right as rain. They’re positively the last cry. Get after ’em, Frank.”

“Don’t worry about my shoes,” was the reply. “Look after your own, Jack. There’s a place down town where you can get them shined for a nickel. You and your partner had better drop in there some day.”

“They’d never do Jack’s for a nickel,” remarked Buster. “His feet are too big.”

“Oh, I shine mine at home,” said Jack cheerfully. “I save a nickel every week or two, you see. When I get a quarter saved up I’m going to get one of those manicures like Frank’s. They’re great! Every time he puts his hand up you get blinded.”

“Every time you put your hand up,” chuckled Frank, “I think someone’s dead!”

“Now what’s he mean by that?” asked Jack, as the others laughed.

“You’d better dry up,” advised Joe amusedly.

“Good advice, Faulkner,” Foley commented. “Wash his hands when you get him home. Your own, too.”

“I’ll leave it to the crowd if my hands aren’t clean,” exclaimed Jack indignantly, holding them up for inspection. “I washed them only yesterday. Frank, you’re almost insulting. For two[194] cents I’d disarrange your scarf and break your heart!”

“Oh, cut it out,” growled Foley. “You’re not smart; you just think you are. I wear whatever clothes I please, and it doesn’t concern you.”

“Doesn’t it, though? My word! It concerns me a lot, old chap. Many’s the time I’ve got up in the morning feeling blue and depressed and then seen you glide by in a pink shirt and a green hat and white spats and perked right up, Frank! Why, you’re our little blob of local colour, that’s what you are. We’re all better for you, Frank. Amesville would be pale and commonplace without you. Why, just the other day I walked along a block or two behind you inhaling the aroma that floated back, and life seemed different right away. That was the day everyone was calling up the gas company and complaining of leaks!”

This sally brought a burst of laughter that dissipated the final remnant of Foley’s good-temper, and he turned to face Jack with an angry countenance. Unfortunately, he caught the grin on Joe’s features and straightway transferred his attention to that youth.

“What are you smirking about, you fresh kid?” he demanded. “You go and sell your five-cent[195] cigars and let me alone. You’re a joke, anyway, and you’re the biggest joke when you try to play ball. You grin at me and I’ll reach back there and wipe it off!”

“Cut it out, Frank,” said Tom Pollock from the seat behind Joe’s. “Keep your temper, old man. No one’s hurting you.”

“Well, those cheap guys can keep their mouths closed, then. I wasn’t saying anything to them, was I?”

“You began it,” retorted Jack mendaciously. “You’re jealous because I told you there was a fellow in town with cloth-top shoes. I only said it for your own good, and——”

“Dry up, Jack,” commanded Tom. “You’re tiresome.”

“All right,” grieved Jack. “That’s all the thanks I get for trying to be kind and helpful!”

Just then they had to pile out and change to another trolley, and when they were reseated Jack discovered that Foley had placed himself the length of the car away. He sighed. “No more fun,” he murmured. “I shall go to sleep.”

That incident, unimportant as it seemed, bore results. Frank Foley evidently reached the conclusion that it was Joe and not Jack who was at[196] the bottom of the heckling, for whenever they met Joe was regarded with scowling dislike. It didn’t bother Joe much, but it amused Jack immensely. “Honestly, Joey,” he would chuckle, “you oughtn’t to put me up to saying things about Frank. It isn’t nice. If he speaks to me about it I’ll just have to tell him that I don’t approve of it a bit.”

“I wish you and your Frank were at the bottom of the river,” replied Joe vigorously. “It’s bad enough being after a fellow’s position without having a lot of ill-feeling besides. If I should beat him out, either this year or next, he’d always think I did it unfairly, I suppose.”

“I’m afraid he would,” grieved Jack. “Try and be decent to him, Joey. Don’t make fun of him the way you do. The things you say——”

“Oh, dry up!” muttered Joe. Jack obeyed, chuckling wickedly.

High School continued to win most of her games, coming a cropper now and then, however, as when she received a decisive beating at the hands of Lima. Amesville was shut out for the first time that season, while her opponent managed to get seven runs. Toby Williams started for Amesville, but lasted only three innings. By that time Lima had four runs to her credit. Tom[197] Pollock kept her at bay until the sixth inning, when an error by Healey, coming on the heels of a dropped fly by Cummings, let three more runs across. Amesville was utterly unable to bunch the few hits she managed to make off the Lima pitcher and so travelled home with banners trailing. The direct outcome of that game was the replacing of Buster Healey at second base with young Farquhar. Farquhar, however, only lasted through three days of practice and was then relegated to the Scrubs. In his place Coach Talbot requisitioned George Peddie, and Peddie was tried at third while Hale went to second. Healey was heartbroken. It was understood that he was to have his position again as soon as he recovered from his present slump, but Buster viewed the situation hopelessly.

One afternoon when he and Joe were together on the bench during the first inning of a game with the Scrubs he confided his perplexities. “I don’t know what the dickens is the matter with me, Joe,” he said. “I didn’t use to have any trouble. Last year I played through with only fourteen errors all season, and that’s not so bad, is it? But this spring”—he shook his head puzzledly—“I can’t even seem to bat any more. It’s funny, too. I hit where the ball looks to be[198] and never touch it. Same way in fielding. I see the old thing shooting along to me and make a grab for it and as often as not it gets clean past. The other day, when I plugged to Frank that time, I aimed as straight as you please and got the ball away all right. I know that! But when it got to first it was two yards to the left!” He examined his hands as if seeking a solution to his trouble there. Joe, interested in the new batting arrangement that Mr. Talbot had introduced that afternoon, heard Buster’s lamentations with but half an ear. He nodded sympathetically, though, when young Peddie had been retired at first, making the third out.

“It’s too bad,” he said. “What do you suppose the reason is?”

“I’m telling you I don’t know,” replied Buster a trifle impatiently. “Maybe I’m not well. I—I have headaches sometimes.” He made the acknowledgment rather shamefacedly. Buster didn’t have much sympathy for fellows with ailments.

For the first time Joe’s interest was really aroused. “Whereabouts?” he asked quickly.

“Whereabouts what?”

“Whereabouts are the headaches?”

“In my head, of course! Oh, you mean—Well,[199] sort of up here.” He placed his hands over his temples. “Maybe,” he added with a grin, “maybe I’m studying too hard.”

“You get a ball,” said Joe, “and come over here with me.”

“What for?”

“Never mind what for, Buster. Come on.”

Buster borrowed a baseball from the bag and followed Joe across to the stretch used by pitchers when they warmed up. “What’s the big idea?” he asked.

“Shoot it to me,” said Joe. He held his hands in front of his chest. “Don’t curve it, Buster. Just put it to me straight.”

“It’s got to curve some,” objected Buster. “Here you are.”

Joe made a stab well to the left of him and saved himself a trip down the field.

“Try again,” he said, throwing the ball back. “Try to hit my hands, Buster. See if you can’t throw right into them.”

“Come a little nearer. I can’t see your hands so well. That’s better.”

Buster sped the ball off again, and again it went wide, although not so wide as before. When the ball came back to him he made rather an awkward task of catching it. Joe followed the ball.


“Let’s have it,” he said quietly. Buster yielded it, troubledly. “Catch,” said Joe and tossed the ball to the other from some four feet away. Buster put up his hands quickly, his forehead a mass of wrinkles and his eyes half-closed, and the ball tipped his fingers and struck his chest.

“What are you scowling for?” asked Joe.


“Yes, your forehead’s all screwed up. Your eyes, too. Can’t you catch a ball without doing that?”

“I don’t know. I guess so.”

“Try it.” This time Buster caught, but, as before, he frowned and squinted terrifically over the operation.

“That’ll do,” said Joe. “You go and see an oculist, Buster.”


“Surest thing you know. Something’s wrong with your eyes. You can’t see, Buster!”

“Great Scott!” murmured the other. “I—I believe you’re dead right, Joe!”

“I know I am. I had headaches like yours a couple of years ago and my mother sent me to a doctor. He snipped a couple of muscles and I was all right.”


“Snipped! Say, didn’t it hurt?”

“Mm, a little; not much. Maybe your trouble’s something else, though. Maybe you need glasses, Buster.”

“Glasses! Gee, wouldn’t I be a sight with glasses? Do you really think that’s what’s wrong, Joe?”

“Positive! You can’t throw a ball straight because you don’t see what you’re throwing at plainly. Now, can you?”

Buster considered a moment. Then: “I don’t believe I do, come to think of it. Things are—are sort of indistinct at a distance. You don’t suppose”—Buster faltered—“you don’t suppose I’m going to be blind, do you?”

“Blind your granny! You go and see an oculist and he will fix you up right as rain. Do it tomorrow, Buster. I’ll wager you’ll be playing second again in a fortnight.”

“Honest, Joe? Say, why didn’t I think of my eyes? Why, now when I think of it, I know mighty well that I don’t see like I did a year ago. Why, last Spring I could see to the end of the field as plainly as anything!”

“Can’t you today?” asked Joe.

“No, I can’t. I can see, all right, but things are sort of hazy. What’s a cataract like, Joe?”


“I never had one. Neither have you. Don’t be an idiot, Buster. Just do as I tell you.”

“You bet I will!” They were back on the bench now. “What gets me, Joe, is why I never thought it might be my eyes!”

“I guess a fellow thinks of his eyes the last thing of all,” replied Joe wisely. “I know when I was having those headaches——”

But a further account of his experiences was interrupted by the coach.

“Faulkner, you take first. That’ll do for today, Foley. Hale, you go back to third. Peddie, see what you can do at second.”

Joe played four innings at the first sack that afternoon, conscious all the time of Frank Foley’s malevolent glare from the bench. But he didn’t allow that to worry him much and covered the base in good shape. The following afternoon it was Joe who started at first and Foley who took his place later on. Perhaps the fear of being superseded began to wear on Foley, for he played poorly during the three innings he was on duty, and Jack exulted on the way home.

“You’ve got him on the run, Joey,” he said. “Keep it up, old man! Remember that bat-case is yours every Sunday!”


“Hang your old bat-case, Jack! I wish they’d put me on the second. This thing of taking a chap’s job away isn’t funny.”

“To the victor belong the spoils,” replied Jack untroubledly. “Frank won’t let sentiment interfere with getting his place back if he can, Joey, so why should you——”

“But he had it first.”

“And couldn’t keep it!”

“Just the same, I don’t like it. I think I’ll quit.”

“You think you’ll quit!” exclaimed the other in horrified tones. “You’re crazy underfoot like a radish! Quit nothing! What about that bat——”

Joe turned on him menacingly. “If you say ‘bat-case’ again I’ll punch you,” he threatened.

“Oh, all right. I won’t. I was only going to ask what about that receptacle for——”

Joe chased him half a block. When peace had been restored Joe asked: “Have you seen Buster Healey today?”

“No, he wasn’t out,” replied Jack.

“I know he wasn’t. I’m sort of worried about Buster. I didn’t say anything about it yesterday, Jack, but I’m afraid he’s got something[204] wrong with his eyes.” He told of the incident of the day before, ending up with: “I don’t know much about cataracts, Jack, but I wouldn’t be awfully surprised if that was the trouble.”

“You’re a cheerful little chap, aren’t you? Fellows don’t have those things, Joey. Old ladies have ’em when they’re about eighty. My grandmother had ’em, and I know.”

“Well, maybe. I hope you’re right. Anyway, I’m going to call him up and find out what the oculist said.”

Events, however, proved that unnecessary, for when they turned into the Adams Building there was Buster leaning against the counter in conversation with the sprightly Mr. Chester Young.

“I was waiting for you, Joe,” he announced. “Thought you’d like to know you were dead right yesterday. I went to the doctor man this afternoon and he says I’ve got my—my——Oh, thunder, I’ve forgotten it!”


“That’s it! He says I’m so blamed near-sighted that’s it’s a wonder I can blow my nose! But it isn’t cataracts, anyway. Say, honest, Joe, I was scared blue last night. I told my mother[205] what you’d said and she was certain sure I had cataracts!”

“I’m glad you haven’t. What’s the oculist going to do about it?”

“He says he can cure me in a few months. I have to go every day for a while and look through a sort of machine he has. And I may have to wear glasses, too. And”—and by this time Buster’s cheerfulness was ebbing fast—“he says I can’t play ball any more for a while. Isn’t that the limit?”

“Too bad, Buster. But if he can cure the trouble——”

“He says he can. Says when you catch them young, these myopias, you can chase ’em out of the system, or words like that. I suppose I oughtn’t to kick, because it might have been a heap worse, but it’s hard having to give up playing baseball.”

“No use troubling about that,” said Jack, who had joined them. “You couldn’t play anyhow, Buster, until you got your eyes fixed up right. Much better give it up this spring and go back to it next.”

“I suppose so. I haven’t any choice, anyway. Say, Joe, I’m certainly much obliged to you for tipping me off. What gets me——”


“Joe’s a wise guy,” said Jack. “What he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing.”

“Yes, but what gets me——”

“Oh, that was nothing for Joey! Solomon in all his glory had nothing on Joseph!”

“For the love of mud, Jack, shut up! Buster’s trying to tell you——”

“I was going to say,” began Buster patiently again, “that what gets me is why I didn’t realise myself what the trouble was. That’s what gets me! You’d think that when a fellow couldn’t see decently he’d take a tumble and——”

“Sure, it’s a wonder you haven’t tumbled lots of times,” agreed Jack solicitously.

“Oh, you make me tired,” grumbled Buster. “You can’t be serious a minute. If you had my—my——Say, what is it again, Joe?”

“Myopia, Buster.”

“From the Greek, Buster; myo, close, and opsis, sight. My word, I wish old Dennison could have heard me!”

“Yes, you’re a swell Greek scholar!” jeered Buster. “Well, I just thought you’d like to hear about it, Joe. And I hope you get my place at second—if you want it.”

“Give it to Foley,” said Jack. “Joe doesn’t need it. But, honestly, Buster, I’m dead sorry[207] you’re out of it this year. We’re going to miss you, old man. But you’ll be in better shape for next, eh?”

“If Frank’s going to have my place,” replied Buster dismally, “I’m sorrier than ever!”



The next day Joe found himself playing third base. Gordon Smith was changed from shortstop to second and George Peddie was at short. But this arrangement lasted only a few innings. Peddie was out of place at short and Joe was equally miscast as third baseman. Then Steve Hale was put in at short and Joe and Frank Foley were instructed to change places. The game with the Scrubs was finished with that arrangement of the infield, and, while it produced better results than any previous combination, still it was far from perfect. After all, Hale was a third baseman first, last, and all the time, and Foley was not fast enough to fill his shoes. Joe secretly hoped that the arrangement would last, for he was in possession of his coveted position at first, and, in order that it might, he played the very best he knew how that afternoon and won applause more than once. Now that there were no wild pegs from Buster Healey to be stopped the position was far easier.


But the next day Foley was back at first in practice and Hale was once more cavorting around third. Gordon Smith was reinstated to his old position at short and the task of covering the middle bag fell to George Peddie. That, of course, put Joe once more on the bench, and once more Joe gave way to discouragement and Jack about made up his mind to lose that wager. But neither Coach Talbot nor Captain Craig was satisfied with a line-up that left out the hitting possibilities of Joe Faulkner, and when the two teams had battled through four innings Foley was taken out and again Joe went to first. By now the school in general, or as much of it as followed the fortunes of the baseball club, was watching the struggle for first base position with much interest. It seemed as though Coach Talbot had decided to give the two contestants equal chances and let them decide the matter themselves! Every day Joe and Frank Foley divided the position. It is not to be denied that Foley was still a more brilliant first baseman than his rival. Foley had a long reach that helped him considerably, had more experience, and was, in fact, a first-class man for the position. It was at the bat that he was forced to play second fiddle. Joe could outhit him two to one. Not only that,[210] but on bases Foley was awkward and slow. He had a positive genius for being caught off the bags, and his attempts to slide were sad failures. Each of the boys had his following amongst the “fans” and whether Faulkner or Foley was to play first base in the Petersburg game became a question that was hotly argued.

Foley had at last realised that, contrary to his early season conviction, he did not hold the position securely; that if he meant to retain it he had to play his hardest and, if possible, improve his batting. It was something of a blow to Foley’s self-conceit, for last year he had faced no real rival and had come to look on the place as his. He was no “quitter,” and he made a hard fight of it. He tried his level best to increase his batting average, but without much success. He had heretofore considered that it was enough to field his position and leave the hitting to others, and now he discovered that batting was not a trick to be learned in a few short weeks.

Amesville played every Saturday save one until the middle of May, reaching that period with a showing of seven wins, three defeats, and one tie. The missed game was with Curtis School, rain prohibiting. Of the regular schedule of seventeen games nine remained, and after the middle[211] of the month Wednesday afternoon contests began. The “Millers” secured their return game, coming to Amesville on less than a day’s notice when Arkwright High School announced its inability to fill her date. The “Millers” were again beaten, 9 to 3, Tom Pollock pitching most of the game for the home team. Joe played five of the nine innings at first, getting six put-outs, an assist, and no errors as his share, thereby bettering Foley’s record for one less inning by two put-outs and an assist. At bat Joe had a gala day, being up three times and securing as many hits. Foley, as usual, failed to come across with anything. It was after that Wednesday contest that Joe’s stock arose appreciably and Jack got Tom Pollock to put that bat-case on the counter for him to examine! Perhaps, however, that game with the “Millers” was mainly notable for bringing into prominence young Peddie. Peddie, now regularly established at second, performed in a way that was little short of marvellous, taking part in two doubles and working with Smith even more smoothly than Buster Healey had ever done. He also secured a timely hit to add to his laurels. George Peddie, in short, was the hero of that encounter.

The weather settled down to warm days that[212] made playing a delight and that brought out the best in everyone. High School’s batting improved remarkably during the last two weeks in May, and the pitchers began to come into their own. Toby Williams showed more improvement than either of the others, but was still far from being the pitcher that Tom Pollock was. Carl Moran went through six or seven innings occasionally without misadventure, but was not yet equal to twirling a full game. Behind the bat Sam Craig was still the same reliable, heady player as ever, while Jack Speyer was rapidly getting experience as a substitute. Amesville had a fine outfield in Sidney Morris, Jack Strobe, and Walter Cummings. Sidney and Jack were especially clever players, with Cummings promising to be quite as good with more experience. On the whole, the school looked forward to the Petersburg game on the twenty-first of June with more confidence than usual. Petersburg had won a scant majority of the annual contests to date and was always considered dangerous. But this year, with a fast, smoothly-working infield, two first-class pitchers, and an outfield of proved excellence, Amesville considered that she was more than the equal of her old rival. Someone, however, has said that baseball is two-thirds skill and[213] one-third luck, and that one-third has often upset the wisest calculations.

So far Jack and Frank Foley were nip-and-tuck in their race. Neither had missed a game. Jack tried to say that since Foley scarcely ever played an entire contest through he was already defeated, but Handsome Frank—more handsome than ever now that Summer was at hand, with its better opportunities for sartorial display—reminded his rival of the terms of the wager. “I said I’d play in more games with outside teams than you would. I don’t have to play a game through from start to finish.”

“It’s a good thing you don’t, then,” laughed Jack. “If you did I’d be carrying my bat around in that nice leather case right now! All right, old chap. Go to it. But you’ll have hard work stealing a game on me!”

“Oh, I don’t know. You might break something or have measles, Jack. I hear there’s lots of measles around town.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve had ’em.”

“I know, but some folks have them two or three times.” Foley grinned exasperatingly. “Haven’t you got a sort of rash on your forehead there now?”

“No, I haven’t! That’s sunburn, you idiot!”


“Well, take care of yourself, Jack. You never can tell what’s going to happen.”

Foley sauntered away, a picturesque figure in immaculate blue serge and a pale yellow shirt, and Jack watched his departure with mingled sentiments of admiration and contempt. “Of all the high-faluting dudes,” muttered Jack, “he’s the high-falutingest! Did you see that brown straw hat, Chester, with the pleated silk scarf around it? Say, he’s gone you one better, hasn’t he?”

The encounter had taken place in the lobby of the Adams Building on a Saturday morning. Foley and Mr. Chester Young, doubtless drawn together by their mutual fondness for startling attire, had become very good friends, and Foley was quite frequently to be found at the news-stand. Mr. Chester Young, flicking the ashes from his cigarette, smiled untroubledly.

“Old stuff,” he said. “They were wearing those in the East last Summer. The latest straws are higher and just off the straw-colour. I’ve got one on the way. You have to send to Chicago for them.”

Joe, who was taking stock of the cigars on hand, smiled and winked at his partner. “Oh, those are too cheap for Foley,” he said carelessly.


“Cheap!” exclaimed Young. “Oh, yes, they’re cheap like anything! Ten dollars is what they stand you, Faulkner.”

“For one?” gasped Jack.

“Well, you didn’t think it was for a dozen, did you?” asked Young pityingly. “That lid Foley’s sporting cost about six. He thinks he’s a pretty swell little dresser, Foley does. Well, he ain’t so bad, only he just sort of misses it about every crack he makes. See his socks? Dark blue they were. They ain’t wearing colours this season.”

“He thinks he’s a pretty swell little dresser, Foley does”

“They’re not? Help!” Jack regarded his own brown stockings in dismay. “I’ve got to go home and change, Joe. Honest, this thing of keeping up with the styles is killing, isn’t it?”

“It don’t trouble you much,” said Mr. Chester Young indulgently. “If it did you’d call in that collar you’re wearing.”

“What’s the matter with my collar?”

“Nothing, only they don’t wear ’em like that now.” Young put a hand to his throat and pulled his terra-cotta silk scarf into place. “More like this.”

“Oh, I see,” said Jack. “Sort of low and rakish, eh? All right. Live and learn. Say, Joe, that thing you’re wearing is worse than mine. I should think you’d be ashamed of yourself!”


“I’d be ashamed to be seen in one like his,” answered Joe. “Get Meyers and Fink and tell them to send us a hundred Adams Building conchas and two boxes of Vistas panatellas, will you? Don’t forget to give these returns to the news company, Young, when they come today. I’ve been falling over them for two or three days.”

“We’re out of City Hall post-cards,” said Young. “And we’re getting short on some of the others.”

“They’re on order, thanks. That reminds me, Jack. Those chocolates aren’t as good as they sent us first. Guess we’d better switch back to the Cleveland folks. Their packages aren’t quite as dressy, but the chocolates are a lot better.”

“There was a fellow in here just before you came,” observed Young, “trying to sell us candy. I told him to come back later. He had some new stuff, all right; glazed boxes with crimson ribbons across ’em. Pretty good-looking line, I thought.”

“Tell him we don’t want anything when he comes again. How are you off for magazines there, Young?”

“Pretty fair. We’ve sold about twenty of[217] those Murray’s. Ought to order more, I guess.”

“All right. How many are there there?”

“Four—no, five. They’ll sell today, I guess. And we’re short of Mid-Wests. Only two of those here.”

“I’ll order twenty more Murray’s and ten Mid-Wests.” Joe reached for the telephone with one hand and searched for a nickel with the other. “The telephone company is after Mr. Adams to put in a couple of booths here, Jack. If he lets them do it it’ll make this ’phone cost us money. Hello! Amesville 430! As it is we’re making about seven dollars a month on this thing. Hello? News company? This is Adams Building. Send around twenty Murray’s Monthlies and ten Mid-Wests this noon, will you? I beg your pardon? No, that’s all. Murray’s and—Yes, I think you’d better. Make it fifty Murray’s and twenty-five Mid-Wests after this. Good-bye.” Joe hung up the receiver and put the instrument back in place, and when Mr. Chester Young had served a customer, remarked:

“By the way, Young, you don’t seem to be keeping that gang of yours out of here much better. Yesterday there were six or seven hanging around. We’ve spoken two or three times about it, you know. We don’t want this to become a[218] loafing place. Mr. Adams doesn’t like it, and we don’t, either.”

“Well, you can’t turn away custom, can you? Those guys spend their money with you, don’t they?”

“Not a great deal, I guess,” replied Joe drily. “Anyhow, they don’t pay rent for this lobby, Young. Keep them moving, please.”

“All right. But you’d better hire a ‘bouncer,’ Faulkner. I don’t get paid for insulting my friends.”

“You tell your friends to come and see you somewhere else,” replied Joe tartly. “This place looks like a hog-wallow after that crowd has been standing around a while.”

“Meaning my friends are hogs, eh?” Mr. Chester Young laughed, but not with amusement.

“If they’re friends of yours, Chester,” said Jack, “you’d better shake them. They’re a cheap lot of corner loafers. They used to hang out around Foster’s until they got on to the fact that they could come in here and keep warm. We don’t want them. Get that?”

“Sure! After this as soon as a customer gets his change I’ll duck out from here and throw him through the door! That’s fine!”

“Don’t talk sick,” said Jack shortly. “You[219] know what we mean. If you don’t encourage them by talking with them they’ll go along, I guess. We don’t want Mr. Adams putting us out of here, you know.”

Mr. Chester Young forebore to reply, but there was a world of eloquence in the way in which he puffed his cigarette and winked at the elevator attendant across the lobby.

Later, when the chums were on their way to the field for the game with Morristown High School, they reverted to Mr. Chester Young. “What do you know about his paying ten dollars for a straw hat?” demanded Jack.

“He’s probably adding about five to the price,” said Joe. “Where would he get that much to pay for a hat? He certainly can’t do it on the wages we’re paying him.”

“You said he was having things charged, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but he told us he was getting the hat from Chicago.”

“Having Keller send for it, I dare say. Keller’s is the place he buys hats, because I saw him in there one day looking at some. The first thing we know, Joey, the sheriff or someone will be descending on us and taking away the stand!”

“They can’t do that. We’re not responsible[220] for his debts, thank goodness! What is pretty certain is that he must be getting near the end of his rope. We’ll have to be looking for a new clerk pretty soon, I guess.”

“If he will hang out until school is over we won’t have to have one. You can take the stand half the day and I can take it the other half.”

“Yes, but that won’t be for nearly a month, and I don’t believe Mr. Chester Young will last that long.”

“He will probably light out some fine day,” said Jack pessimistically, “with the cash-register under one arm and the showcase under the other. I try awfully hard to believe him a fine, honest youth, Joey, but I never can quite do it!”



Joe started the game at first that afternoon and had a busy five innings, for Morristown was a hard-hitting aggregation and slammed Carl Moran all over the lot during two innings and then tried its best to do the same with Toby Williams. Sharp fielding alone allowed Carl to last as long as he did, and it was not until the fourth inning that the visitors got their first run across. In the meanwhile Amesville had scored twice, once in the first and once in the third. Sam Craig’s three-bagger, with George Peddie on first, did the trick in the first inning, and two hits and a stolen base accounted for the second run.

It was a snappy game from start to finish, and a good-sized audience was on hand to enjoy it. Morristown played in hard luck during the first part of the contest, for, although she hit hard and often, her hits didn’t earn runs. In fact, it was a dropped ball at the plate that gave her her single tally in the fourth. Smith’s throw may[222] have been a bit low, but Sam Craig ought to have held it and had the runner out by a yard. He didn’t, however, and so when the home team came to bat in the last of that inning the score was 2 to 1.

The batting order had been changed subsequent to Buster Healey’s departure and Hale was hitting in fourth place, followed by Peddie, Craig, and Faulkner, or Foley. Cummings and the pitcher ended the list. The new arrangement had not, however, been producing very satisfactory results. In the fourth Steve Hale started off well by banging out a liner that was too hot for shortstop to hold and reaching his base before that player could recover the ball and peg it across. Joe had two strikes against him before he found one that he liked, and then hit a slow one to first and sacrificed Hale to second. Sam Craig fouled off three and finally flied out to left fielder. Cummings made the second out, third to first, and Toby Williams came up with the task of scoring Hale from second. Toby wasn’t very much of a batsman, although when he hit the ball usually travelled far. The Morristown pitcher had been putting the first delivery over time after time and Toby was instructed to go after it. He did and he got it, and it whizzed straight down the third[223] base line, just out of reach of the baseman, and rolled gaily into deep left while Hale sprinted home and Toby reached second. Smith brought the inning to an end when, following Toby’s example, he hit the first ball pitched and slapped it squarely into the pitcher’s glove.

Neither side scored in the fifth, although the visiting team got men on third and second on errors by Hale and Smith, and Jack Strobe got to first on a Texas Leaguer. In neither case could the following batsmen bring home the bacon. Joe yielded first base to Frank Foley when the sixth inning began and saw the rest of the game from the bench, save when, in the eighth, he caught Tom Pollock, who warmed up in case the visitors should develop a rally. But the game went through to the end with the score 3 to 1. Morristown did her best to even things up in the eighth and ninth, but some one of the enemy always managed to get in front of the ball, and so, although the visitors knocked the ball to every part of the field, they had to submit to defeat.

Amesville’s winning streak held for a fortnight and three other games were played and won. Then came the return contest with Lynton. The team travelled to the neighbouring town on a cloudy Saturday forenoon, much in doubt as to[224] whether their journey would prove worth while. But when, after they had partaken of a hilarious dinner at the Lynton hotel, they started for the ball grounds, the sun broke through and for the rest of the afternoon tried its best to broil them. To Joe that was a memorable game, for it marked his elevation to the position of regular first baseman. That day, since hitters were needed badly, Frank Foley remained on the bench throughout the game, and Jack was jubilant. He had a fine time twitting Foley whenever he came to the bench, and when the seventh and eighth innings had passed and the deposed first baseman still squirmed uneasily there in idleness his temper, which had proved equal to Jack’s gibes during the early innings, quite deserted him and he earnestly begged Jack to come behind the stand for a few minutes and see what would happen! But Jack declined the invitation, politely yet firmly, and Foley, angry clear through, was denied even that slight consolation.

That was a pitchers’ battle. Tom Pollock twirled for Amesville, for Coach Talbot wanted the game, as, you may be certain, did the forty or fifty patriotic rooters who accompanied the team. Opposed to Tom was one Corrigan, a shock-headed youth who, it was more than suspected,[225] would have had difficulty in proving himself a high school pupil in good standing. Buster Healey, who was among the devoted youths who made the trip to Lynton, afterward said that he had heard that Corrigan was an imported article and that he was far more at home in Marion than in Lynton. That as may be, Corrigan could certainly pitch, as Amesville soon discovered. Not a safety was made off him until the third inning, when Tom Pollock smashed out a two-bagger that produced no result. Corrigan had a slow ball that was the undoing of batsman after batsman. He mixed it up with fast ones and a couple of hooks and had the opposing team standing on their heads. And he fielded so well that, as Sam Craig remarked disgustedly once, the rest of the Lynton team might just as well have remained on the bench.

But Corrigan had an opponent in Tom Pollock that was not to be despised. Perhaps, when all is said, Tom, for once, was outpitched that day if we go by the final score, but there was little to choose between the rival moundsmen. Tom proved better at the bat than did Corrigan, for the latter was a typical pitcher when he went to the plate and swung harmlessly at the first three deliveries and retired in a perfectly matter-of-fact[226] way to the bench. If Amesville had trouble hitting Corrigan, Lynton had as much difficulty getting to Tom. Except for that two-bagger of Tom’s, not a hit was made by either side until the fifth. In the fourth two errors by the visitors put a Lynton runner as far as second, but he died there. Joe was guilty of one of those miscues when he dropped a perfectly good throw of Hale’s, and Smith made the other when he fumbled Sam’s throw-down and let the runner steal second. Lynton made errors, too, but nothing came of them until the first of the fifth.

In that inning Sam, the first man up, fouled out to catcher. Joe struck out and Cummings, with two strikes on him, swung desperately at a poor one and rolled it toward third base. Third baseman over-ran it, threw hurriedly and pegged wide of first, and Cummings legged it to second with lots of time to spare. Amesville’s rooters became audible for almost the first time since Sam had made his hit, and Tom Pollock strode to the bat. Discretion seeming the better part of valor, Tom was promptly passed. That brought Gordon Smith up, with runners on first and second, and Gordon was not just the batter Coach Talbot would have chosen for the situation. But the shortstop proved, after all, the man for the[227] job, for, after cunningly allowing Corrigan to get himself in a hole, he leaned against a fast ball and streaked it into short right, scoring Cummings and placing Tom on third.

Sidney Morris tried very hard to come across, but Corrigan was too much for him, and Sidney fanned. One run, however, looked very big in that game, and Amesville breathed a bit easier until, in the last of the sixth, Lynton tied up the score by a combination of one hit, a barefaced steal of second and a sacrifice fly. One to one the score remained until the eighth. Then Corrigan showed the first signs of weariness and passed Smith. Smith stole second when Morris tried for a hit and missed it, the catcher getting the throw away too late. Morris again fanned and Jack, who had determined to profit by his own advice to Joe, shortened his swing and managed to connect with one of Corrigan’s offerings. The hit was pretty scratchy, but it placed Smith on third and left Jack himself safe on first. Hale fouled off two, spoiling as many attempted steals by Jack, and finally bunted toward the box. Corrigan held Smith at third and threw out the runner at first. With Peddie up there seemed a chance for a tally, for Peddie had been delivering the goods quite regularly. But when Corrigan had[228] scored two strikes against him the outlook darkened and Sam Craig, coaching at third, sent Smith to the plate on the wind-up. But Corrigan was too old a bird to be unsteadied and he slammed the ball swiftly to the catcher and Smith was nailed a yard away.

Lynton went out in one, two, three order in her half and the ninth started with the score still 1 to 1. Peddie struck out and Sam walked. Joe sacrificed. Cummings hit past third baseman, but Sam Craig was out at the plate on a fine throw-in by left fielder. The tenth inning was profitless to both sides. In the first of the eleventh Corrigan wobbled a little and a base on balls followed by a safe bunt placed two runners on bases. But Morris, Jack, and Steve Hale went out in order. It was Tom Pollock’s turn to let down and he did it until Lynton had men on second and third with but one out. After that, however, Tom steadied, fanning the next batter and causing the succeeding one to pop up a fly to Joe.

It looked very much like a tie game when Peddie had gone out, shortstop to first baseman, and Sam Craig had fanned in the first of the twelfth inning, for the visiting team would have to get the five-twelve train back to Amesville, and it was then well after four o’clock. But many a game[229] has been pulled out of the fire with two men down, and this was to prove one of them. Joe went to bat with his mind made up to hit somehow, somewhere. This would, he was sure, be his last chance to do anything worth while against the crafty Mr. Corrigan, and he did want to have something more to show than two weak sacrifices. He had profited by experience and close study of Corrigan’s methods and was heartened by assurance when he gripped his bat and faced the shock-headed twirler. Corrigan seldom pitched the first ball over, and Joe knew it, and so, although he made a fine show of being anxious to swing at it, he let it go by and had his judgment sustained by the umpire’s decision. The next one was a fast ball that looked good until it broke in front of the plate and just escaped a corner. With two balls and no strikes, Corrigan became careful. Joe swung at the third offering and missed it. Corrigan smiled at him, and the catcher, who usually kept up a running fire of comment, told Joe that he was a fine, free swinger, “just like a gate, old man, just like a gate!” Corrigan concluded that the batter was ready to take a chance now and so he uncorked a fast and high one that had Joe feeling anxious until the umpire decided that it was a ball. After that, Corrigan had to[230] make them good, but, with two down, he wasn’t troubled much. His next offering was one of his famous slow balls, and Joe, having one to spare, let it severely alone. It proved a strike.

“One more, now, just like the last!” called the catcher. “Let’s have it, Jimmy!”

But Joe knew very well that it wouldn’t be like the last at all, that Corrigan would change his pace, and, in all likelihood, put a fast one over in the groove. And that is what happened. And Joe, staking all on his “hunch,” swung and caught it fairly and streaked down the base-path and was waved onward by Toby Williams, who was dancing about in the coacher’s box, and finally pulled up at second, standing, just as the ball came back from right field. Somehow, that unexpected hit changed the luck, it seemed. Cummings got his second hit of the game and sent Joe to third. Tom Pollock was again passed, filling the bases, and Jack Speyer went in to bat for Gordon Smith. Speyer wasn’t any phenomenon with the stick, but he had been known to hit lustily. Perhaps in nine cases out of ten a pinch-hitter proves a broken reed, but this must have been the tenth time, for there was nothing broken about Speyer. Probably the fact that he had not been playing kept him from any awe of[231] Corrigan. At all events, he let the first ball go past unheeded, untroubledly heard it called a strike, and then swung hard on the next one. Second baseman made a heroic try for it, but it went a foot over his upthrust glove and Joe and Walter Cummings trotted over the home plate.

That ended the scoring. Sidney Morris hit into third baseman’s hands and was an easy out. Then all that Amesville had to do was to retire Lynton in her half of the twelfth, a feat not at all difficult as it proved. Tom struck out the first man, the second laid down a bunt and beat out the throw to first, and the third batsman hit into a double, Smith to Peddie to Joe, and the game was over, the score 3 to 1. Amesville, cheered and cheering, made a wild dash for the station and got the five-twelve train by a minute’s margin.

On the way home Jack tried to sympathise with Frank Foley, but Frank was in a particularly disagreeable frame of mind, and Jack gave him up as a bad job. Instead, huddled in a seat with Joe, hugging his knees ecstatically, he spoke of that bat-case with the air of a proprietor. “I’m two games ahead of him, Joey,” he exulted. “He will have to play in two more than I do now to win, and he will never do it! Not this year![232] You’ve cabbaged that place for keeps, Joey. Why, even if you dropped half the throws you got, Bat couldn’t do without you! Not after the way you lambasted that old pill today, son! It’s a cinch!”

“You can’t tell,” began Joe.

But Jack would have nothing to do with doubts. “Piffle! It’s all over with Handsome Frank, I tell you. You win!” Jack was silent a moment. Then he laughed rather queerly, and, in answer to Joe’s questioning look, said: “It’s funny, but, do you know, I’m sort of sorry for Frank! Isn’t that silly?”

“So am I,” replied Joe truthfully.

“Well!” Jack took a deep breath and abandoned regrets. “To the victor belong the spoils, as the poet so beautifully puts it! And it’s been a pretty little fight!”

However, had Jack but known it, his sympathy for Frank Foley was, in a measure, at least, somewhat premature!



June had come and the end of school loomed close at hand. So, too, loomed the final baseball game with Petersburg. It is an unfortunate thing for ardent athletes that the crowning contests of the year arrive simultaneously with final examinations! There is no doubt in the world but that examinations seriously interfere with a whole-hearted application to sports. Most of the members of the Amesville team were agreed that something ought to be done about it; such, for instance, as abolishing the examinations! However, Petersburg was in no better case, and that evened matters up.

Amesville dropped a couple of games the second week in June, just to vary the monotony, perhaps, and then came back and overwhelmed Crowell Academy with a score of 10 to 1. Crowell was a much-heralded team from a down-State preparatory school, and Amesville did well to pile up the score she did, especially as, at the[234] last moment, Tom Pollock found that he couldn’t pitch and Jack Strobe sent word that someone would have to take his place in left field! Jack, who had been complaining for a day or two of a sore throat, was, it seemed, prohibited from playing by an unfeeling doctor. Loomis went into left field and Toby Williams took the mound, and both performed creditably. In fact, Toby rather covered himself with glory that day, having eight strike-outs to his credit when the fray was over. Joe played all through at first, as he had been doing since the second Lynton engagement, and put up a rattling good game. Even Frank Foley’s adherents had to acknowledge that the new first baseman had everything the deposed one had, and, when it came to batting, a good deal more. Joe didn’t particularly distinguish himself at the bat this day, but he got a clean single and a base on balls in four times up. Foley had been used in the last two contests for an inning or two at second base, but it was generally conceded that he was now only a substitute, with small likelihood of getting into either of the two remaining contests.

After the game that Wednesday afternoon Joe hurried to Jack’s house and demanded audience of that afflicted person. But, to his surprise and[235] dismay, Mrs. Strobe met him with the information that Jack was suffering from a severe attack of quinsy and that the doctor had prohibited visitors, since the disease was more or less contagious. Joe had to be satisfied with sending a message to his chum. That evening, however, Jack called him up on the telephone and bewailed his luck. The only comfort Jack appeared able to derive from the situation lay in the fact that Frank Foley had not stolen a march on him by playing that afternoon.

“The doc says I’ll have to stay at home until Monday, at least,” he said. “I’ll lose Saturday’s game. If Frank manages to get into that and then should play for an inning against Petersburg, as he’s likely to, it’s all off! Isn’t that the dickens? Just when I thought I had that wager cinched, too!”

Joe was properly sympathetic and Jack finally rang off, exacting a promise from Joe to call up the next day. Aunt Sarah insisted that Joe should spray his throat after the interview. It didn’t do, she said, to take risks, and for her part she was far from convinced that folks couldn’t catch things over the telephone!

When, the next afternoon, on the way to the field, Joe stopped in at a drug store and called[236] up Jack it was Mrs. Strobe who answered. Jack, she said, was not so well today and she thought it best for him not to try to talk. Joe went on to practice feeling rather worried about his chum, and wasn’t comforted until Mr. Talbot had assured him that quinsy seldom, if ever, resulted fatally. On Friday there was no practice for the players, and Joe, rather at a loose-end, accepted Sidney Morris’s invitation to go to the “movies.” It was well after five when he reached the Adams Building. Mr. Chester Young was talking in a low voice with a man who looked to Joe very much like a bill-collector. Whoever he was, he presently departed with no great show of satisfaction. The day’s business had been, Joe discovered, surprisingly poor, the register showing less than nine dollars. And when Young reminded Joe that it was pay-day, Joe had to dig into his pocket for enough to make up the difference between the cash on hand and the amount of the clerk’s wages.

He called up the Strobes on the telephone after supper and talked for a few minutes with Mr. Strobe. That gentleman announced that Jack was feeling pretty mean, but that the doctor thought he was doing as well as could be expected and that he would probably be out and about by[237] the first of the week. After that Joe settled down to two hours of hard study in preparation for next week’s examinations, wrote a long letter to his mother and finally went to bed just as midnight sounded.

In the morning he went back to the news-stand and remained there until noon. Saturday was usually the best day of the week for business, possibly because many of the offices paid off their employees then, and today both Joe and Young were kept busy attending to the wants of customers. When Joe went home for dinner the sales had already mounted to over fifteen dollars and gave promise of atoning for the poor business of the day previous.

The game that afternoon was with Chelmsford High School and was looked on as more of a practice contest than a real game. It was the last contest before the Petersburg battle on the following Wednesday, and Amesville had purposely chosen an easy victim for the occasion. But at that the home team had to work fairly hard for half a dozen innings before the game was safely laid away, and, as it happened, it was Joe who was chiefly instrumental in that ceremony.

Chelmsford had two runs and Amesville three when the last of the sixth started. Amesville had[238] been playing raggedly and batting weakly against an easy pitcher, and only the fact that her opponent had been unable to do much with Tom Pollock’s delivery had kept her ahead. Tom gave place to Carl Moran in the fifth and, ultimately, Carl retired in favour of Toby Williams. In that last of the sixth Sam Craig, who was batting in third place owing to Jack’s absence, got to first on a scratch hit. Hale was an easy out, third to first, and Peddie was passed. The watchers were eager for runs and when Joe went to the plate, swinging his bat, there came cries of “All right, Lucky! Smash it out!” “Bring ’em in, Lucky! Make it a homer!” Joe had never made a home-run in his life and didn’t expect to now, but when, after the runners had attempted a double steal and got away with it, he found a nice, straight ball coming right for the middle of the plate, Joe took a little longer swing, put a little more strength into it, and the deed was done! It was a long way around those bases, he thought, but he didn’t have to hurry after he got to third, for the ball had gone into the left corner of the field and rolled up against the fence! He jogged across the plate finally to the laughing applause of the stands and was thumped on the back by hilarious team-mates.


Perhaps Coach Talbot thought Joe had done enough for one afternoon, for, when the seventh inning began, Joe found, to his surprise, that he was superseded at first base by Frank Foley!

“I’m glad,” he said to himself, “that Jack can’t hear of it. He’d probably have a relapse and die!”

Joe watched the rest of the game from the bench and tried not to be a little bit glad when Foley failed to capture an easy infield fly. The game finally ended with the score 7 to 3, and he walked back to town with the rest and reached the Adams Building at a little after five to find, to his surprise, that the stand was deserted. Supposing that Young would be back in a moment, Joe went behind the counter and waited on a customer. But no Mr. Chester Young appeared, and when Joe rang up the sale and so viewed the drawer of the cash register he thought he knew why! There was not a cent in it except the dime he had just dropped there!

His first sensation was, oddly enough, one of satisfaction over the fact that his original impression of the shifty-eyed young man had been, after all, correct! But that satisfaction didn’t last long. The realization that he and Jack had been barefacedly robbed of at least twenty-five dollars took[240] its place and Joe’s countenance became grim. To add insult to injury, he reflected, Young had had the cheek to demand his wages on the eve of his flight—and get them! Inquiry of Walter, the elevator boy, elicited the information that Mr. Chester Young had complained of feeling unwell and had announced that he was going over to the drug store for some medicine. That had been, as near as Walter could recall, about a quarter to five. It might have been a little before that. Walter evidently had no suspicions and Joe didn’t enlighten him.

The exodus from the building was under way now and for a good half-hour Joe was busy selling papers and cigars and cigarettes, together with an occasional box of candy. But he had plenty of time for thinking, and long before the elevators had brought down their last loads he had determined his course. A hasty survey of the stock in sight showed conclusively that the stand had done a phenomenal business since morning, but it was not until he thought to look under the counter that the real extent of Mr. Young’s depredations came to light.

On the shelves they kept anywhere from thirty to sixty dollars’ worth of cigars, cigarettes and other goods for which there was not room above.[241] At first glance everything seemed all right, but when Joe picked up a box of “Adams Building” conchas and, bringing it to light, discovered it to be quite empty, he knew what to expect of the rest of the stock. When he had pulled all the boxes and packages out their contents would not have fetched two dollars! Only one cigar box held cigars, and then only a handful. Evidently Mr. Young had craftily replaced the full boxes with empty ones and, not having enough of the latter, had been forced to put in one from the case that still held a few cigars. It was the same with the cigarette cartons. Only one was not absolutely empty.

Joe surveyed the litter behind the counter and tried to think it out. At first he couldn’t understand what use the cigars could be to Young. Of course, he might take them away to another town and sell them, but eight boxes of them, as well as several packages of cigarettes and smoking tobacco, would make rather a conspicuous bundle to carry. Then a light broke on him and he quickly lifted the receiver from the telephone instrument on the counter and called up Meyers and Fink. Fortunately, they were still open, and after a moment Joe got the information he expected.


“Yes, that clerk of yours came in here about three o’clock today with seven boxes of cigars and some cigarettes and smoking tobacco. Said you were overstocked and wanted to return them. We paid him cash for them. We were going to credit them, but he said you wanted the money. Anything wrong?”

“How much did you pay him?” asked Joe.

“Forty-six dollars and something; I’ll give you the exact amount if you’ll wait a minute.”

“Thanks, that’s near enough,” replied Joe. “I’ll be around to see you Monday. Good-night.”

“Forty-six from them,” reckoned Joe, “about twenty-five from today’s sales and, unless I’m mistaken, a knock-down yesterday of perhaps five more. About seventy-five dollars altogether. That’s going to make an awful dent in this month’s profits if we don’t get it back! But,” he added grimly to himself as he locked up for the night and turned the light out, “I think we will!”



The notion of calling up Jack and acquainting him with what had happened came to him, but was dismissed after a moment’s reflection. Jack was ill and the news would only worry and excite him. Instead, as he hurried up Main Street, Joe decided to call up Aunt Sarah and excuse himself from supper on a plea of business. Aunt Sarah wouldn’t like it, for she still viewed the news-stand with suspicion. But perhaps Aunt Sarah detected the anxiety in Joe’s voice when he telephoned, for she asked no questions and was really quite pleasant, only informing him a trifle wistfully that there was beefstew this evening and that Amanda was making some of her delectable dumplings!

After that hurried talk over the wire Joe turned into Aspen Street, walked three blocks west and finally rang the bell at the door of a rather down-at-heels brick house that stood by itself almost in the shadow of the frowning carpet[244] mills. When a dejected and at the same time suspicious-looking middle-aged woman answered the bell Joe inquired if she were Mrs. Young.

“There’s no Mrs. Young lives around here,” was the reply. “My name’s Bennett.”

“Does Chester Young live here, ma’am?”

“Are you a friend of his?” was the quick demand.

“My name is Faulkner, Mrs. Bennett. He worked for me in the Adams Building.”

“He did, eh? Then maybe you’ll be payin’ me two weeks’ board he’s owin’. Did he send you with the money?”

“No, I haven’t seen him since noon. That’s why I came over here. I thought perhaps I’d find him.”

“Well, you won’t, then. He’s skipped!”

“Skipped?” exclaimed Joe. “Gone for good, you mean?”

“He’s gone owin’ me two weeks’ board, which is nine dollars, and fifty cents he borrowed off me the day he came here. He was always promisin’ to pay it, but he never done it, and him bein’ out of work I didn’t press him at first and then afterwards he kept sayin’ he’d pay me every day. I’m a poor, hard-workin’ woman, and I need the[245] money. Maybe you’re after owin’ him wages, now?”

“I’m not. I wish I were, Mrs. Bennett. I’m sorry he left without settling with you, ma’am. Could you tell me where he’s gone?”

“I can not. If I knew I’d be settin’ the police on him, never fear! From the first I suspicioned him, the dirty rascal, but he had a smooth tongue on him and was always promisin’ he’d pay tomorrow. If I knew where he’d gone to I’d not be gabbin’ here in the doorway! ’Twas while I was out to the store after dinner he sneaked in and packed his bag and took it away with him, knowin’ I’d not stand for it if I was by. Two weeks’ money and the half-dollar——”

“And you can’t tell me whether he’s left town or just changed his lodgings, Mrs. Bennett?”

“All I know is he’s gone, bad luck to him! Is he maybe owin’ you money, too, sir?”

“A little, yes. I’m much obliged, ma’am. Good-night.”

“If you find him now, let me know, sir. That’s all I’m askin’ you. Just you let me know, sir! The dirty scallawag! Cheatin’ a poor, hard-workin’ woman out of her money!”

The door slammed and Joe stumbled back to the uncertain sidewalk and retraced his steps[246] along the ill-lighted street. When he reached Indiana Street he unhesitatingly turned southward and five minutes later saw the lights of the railroad ahead. His course had already been determined and the visit to Mr. Chester Young’s lodgings had been made with little hope of either finding the defaulting clerk or gaining useful information. Chester had given Joe the impression that he lived with his mother, which accounted for the latter mistaking the identity of the woman at the door. Chester, it seemed, was a very tricky young man.

At the station Joe examined the time-table in the waiting-room. Chester had left the building somewhere about a quarter to five. At five-two a train had left for Fostoria, Fremont and Sandusky, connecting at Fremont for Toledo. There was no train between that and a quarter to five and none afterwards until twenty minutes to six, when the south-bound express had left for Columbus. Everything indicated the five-two as the train Chester had taken if, as Joe suspected, he had really left Amesville. The ticket window was closed, but a rap on the door gained him admittance to the little room wherein the agent was seated at the telegraph instrument. He looked up inquiringly, nodded, worked the key a moment,[247] listened to the reply, and then swung around in his swivel chair.

“Well, sir, what’s troubling you?” he asked gaily.

“I wanted to ask if you remembered selling a ticket to a fellow for the five-two train,” stated Joe.

“Maybe. What sort of a fellow? There were only nine passengers from here on Number 14, so far as I know. What did he look like?”

Joe’s description was clear and concise and the agent nodded again. “I remember the chap,” he said. “He bought to—Hold on, now. What business is it of yours, my boy? Is he a friend of yours, or what’s the game?”

“He worked for me at the news-stand in the Adams Building and left suddenly about a quarter to five. I went to his house and the landlady said he’d taken his baggage and gone. I—I want to see him and ask him something.”

“Do, eh?” The agent grinned. “How much did he touch you for?”

Joe smiled non-committingly.

“Well, that’s not my business, eh?” laughed the agent. “All right, son, I’ll tell you what I know about the lad. He bought a ticket to Upper Newton. I remember it distinctly because he[248] called for a Fostoria ticket first and changed his mind just as I stamped it. I asked him if he was quite sure this time and he said he guessed he was. Yep, Upper Newton, that was it. He carried a yellow suit-case. I noticed that as he went out to the platform just before I closed the window.”

“And where’s Upper Newton?” asked Joe. “Is it very far?”

“About twenty-four or -five miles.”

“When does the next train go there?”

“Seven-thirty-six. But, say, if you’re thinking of going after him I wouldn’t count a whole lot on finding him at Upper Newton. That’s not much more than a flag station. I wouldn’t wonder if he bought for there just to throw folks off the track. Dare say he’ll pay his way on to Fostoria or, maybe, Fremont. At Fremont he could get east or west as he liked. There’s a through train connects there for Toledo and beyond and one going east about eleven tonight. Take my advice and stay where you are, son. You’ll never catch him unless you want to put the police after him. If you care for that I’d advise you to go back up-town and tell your story to the chief. How much did he pinch from you?”


“I didn’t say he’d stolen anything,” said Joe.

“I know you didn’t. But, if he had, how much would it have been?”

Joe hesitated. Then, smiling: “About seventy-five dollars,” he said. “But I’d rather you didn’t say anything.”

“I’m dumb. Say, where does he live when he’s at home?”

“I don’t know. He worked in Columbus before he came here.”

“Well, he’s headed straight away from Columbus, hasn’t he? I guess he’s maybe going to Sandusky and take a boat. Still, seventy dollars won’t take him far.” The agent was silent a moment, rapping a pencil thoughtfully on the desk in front of him. Then: “Tell you what I’ll do,” he exclaimed, sitting up with a thump of his chair. “I’ll wire Harris on Fourteen and ask him if the fellow got off at Upper Newton or paid his fare on the train to Fostoria or beyond! How’s that?”

“I wish you would! It’s very kind of you. I suppose I couldn’t catch him if he’s gone on, though.”

“Well, we’ll find out, anyhow.” The agent flicked a time-table to him, ran a finger down a column, glanced at the clock and then began jabbing[250] the telegraph key. “I’ll get Tiverton to give him the message,” he explained as he waited a reply. “Fourteen gets there in seven minutes if she’s on time. Here we are!” The sounder in its little box ticked rapidly and stopped and the agent busied himself again with the key. Joe, who had seated himself in a chair, watched and waited. Presently the agent’s hand left the key and he faced around again.

“Twelve minutes late, he says. I’ve asked Harris to answer from Mittenton. We ought to get a reply in about twenty-five minutes.”

“Is Tiverton beyond Upper Newton?” inquired Joe.

“Yes, about six miles. Harris will know if your man got off there, because there wouldn’t be more than two or three for a small station like that. If he didn’t he’d have to buy to some place further along and Harris would remember making out his check.”

“I see. What did you say to that agent?”

“I said, ‘Harris, Conductor Number 14. Did slick guy about twenty-two old leave train at Upper Newton? If not, what’s his destination? Important. Reply from Mittenton. Chase, Agent, Amesville.’”

“Thanks,” said Joe. “Then we’d ought to get[251] an answer about twenty minutes past seven. What time does that train go? Seven-thirty?”

“Thirty-six. Mittenton will shoot that right back. So you’ll have plenty of time to get Number 49 if you want it.”

“Fostoria is the first big town, isn’t it?”

“Yep. He might be stopping off there. Anyway, he asked for Fostoria first. That might be his home. I guess, though, he wouldn’t be fool enough to go home. He’d know folks would look for him there right away.”

“How much is the fare to Fostoria, please?”


“And how much is it to that other place where you said he might change?”

“Fremont? Fremont’s a dollar and forty-five.”

Joe looked thoughtful. He had, as he knew, only something like a dollar and eighty cents in his pocket, which would come very far from being sufficient. If he went back to the house he might borrow enough from Aunt Sarah and he might not. Aunt Sarah seldom kept more than a dollar or two on hand, and it would be folly to start out for Fremont or Sandusky with less than six or seven dollars in his pocket. He tried to think of some other place to get the money.[252] There was Mr. Strobe, but Joe had a dim idea that Jack had said something about his father going to Chicago the day before. Perhaps the agent would know whether Mr. Strobe was out of town. He looked across to find that person viewing him smilingly.

“Not enough, eh?” he asked.

Joe grinned and shook his head. “Not nearly enough. I guess I ought to have six or seven dollars. Do you know whether Mr. Strobe’s in town?”

“I know he left for the West yesterday morning. Whether he’s back or not I can’t say. He carries mileage, so I don’t know where he started for. Is he a friend of yours?”

“Yes. His son, Jack, and I run that news-stand together. I thought if he was at home I’d run up there while we’re waiting and ask him to lend me about five dollars.”

“I guess you wouldn’t find him. Where’s the son?”

“He’s at home, but he’s ill with quinsy. I wouldn’t want to trouble Jack with the business right now.”

“What’s your name?”

“Joseph Faulkner.”

“All right, son, I’ll be your banker.” The[253] agent thrust a hand in his pocket and brought out some crumpled bills and a lot of silver. “Five enough? You’d better have more, hadn’t you?”

“Oh, no, thanks; five is quite enough. It’s mighty good of you, Mister—Mister——”

“Chase. Don’t mention it. Pay it back some time in a week and I shan’t miss it. Here you are.”

Joe accepted the crumpled bills and repeated his thanks. At that moment the assistant came in and the agent, greeting him, introduced Joe. “Faulkner,” he explained, “is waiting for a message from Harris on Fourteen. It’ll probably come in from Mittenton before I get back, Jim. Get it straight, will you, and give to him?” He turned to Joe as he reached for his coat and hat behind the door. “Had your supper yet?” he asked. “No? Well, you don’t want to start off without something inside you. Come on over to the Palace and coal-up.”

The Palace proved to be the identical small restaurant which had exhaled that enticing fragrance of coffee the morning of Joe’s arrival in Amesville. The repast, though simple, was well cooked, and Joe, who had forgotten all about supper, now discovered himself to be extremely[254] hungry. Under the benign influence of a cup of steaming-hot coffee he confided the whole story to Mr. Chase and the latter gave flattering attention.

“I remember reading in the paper about that cigar-stand of yours,” he said. “You had a box and let folks put their money in it, didn’t you? Did it work?”

“Yes, but sometimes folks didn’t have the right change and then we lost a sale. So Jack and I decided we’d better hire someone to be there when we couldn’t. We neither of us liked the looks of Young very much, but we put in a cash register and thought it would be all right.”

“What you needed, I guess, was a safe,” replied the agent drily. “Well, I hope you catch him, but, to be honest about it, Faulkner, I don’t believe you will. If he gets off at Upper Newton you’ll be able to trace him, I dare say, and you may if he goes on to Fostoria or Fremont; they’re smallish towns; but if he reaches Sandusky or Toledo it’ll be like looking for a needle in a haystack! What I’d do if I were you is go right to the police and put it up to them.”

“Maybe that would be the best way,” agreed Joe doubtfully. “But, somehow, I don’t like to. Everyone would know about it, you see, and if—if[255] Young didn’t exactly mean to pinch the money——”

“Didn’t mean to! You don’t suppose, do you, that it got stuck to his fingers and he couldn’t get it off?” asked the agent ironically.

“No.” Joe flushed faintly. “What I mean is that it would be too bad to have him arrested, because he might never do a thing like that again.”

“Well, please yourself. I don’t think he deserves much consideration, though.” He chuckled. “It would be a good plan to get him back here and let that landlady you told about get at him! I’ll bet that would be worse than a year in jail! If you’re through we’ll hike across and see if that answer has come.”

There was some discussion as to who was to pay for Joe’s repast, but the agent finally silenced protest by agreeing to accept a handful of cigars if Joe’s mission succeeded. It was twenty minutes past seven by the waiting-room clock when they got back to the station and the message was awaiting them.

“Passenger held ticket to Upper Newton, but stayed on and bought to Fremont. Made inquiry about east-bound trains tonight. If you want him pinched say the word. Harris.


“Fremont, eh?” Mr. Chase seized the time-table and studied it a moment. “He can’t get an east-bound until ten-fifty-five. There’s a local to Norwalk, though, at nine-forty-seven. He might take that. Or he may have asked about the east-bound trains just to throw us off the track!” He looked thoughtfully at Joe a moment. Then, decisively: “That’s his game all right! He means to take the eight o’clock express to Toledo! If he does—Hold on, though! Jim, ask how late Fourteen was at Fostoria. That express doesn’t wait but five minutes for connections and Fourteen was twelve minutes late at Mittenton. She might make that up, but she makes all stops and I don’t believe she will. If he misses the eight o’clock he can’t get west until ten-four.”

“Fourteen was nineteen minutes late at Fostoria,” announced the assistant. “Left there at twenty-two.”

“Good!” exclaimed Mr. Chase. “That’ll bring her to Fremont about eight-seventeen if she doesn’t lose any more time, and she’s likely to keep on losing now. If you take the thirty-six”—he glanced swiftly at the clock—“you’re due in Fremont at nine-forty-eight. That’ll give you sixteen minutes there before the west-bound pulls[257] out. If he means to take that he will be waiting around the station and you’ll catch him.” He swung around toward the assistant. “Jim, send this to Harris at Fremont: ‘Did passenger get off at Fremont? If so, do you know his destination? Chase.’ If Harris wires back that he got off this side or has gone on to Sandusky I’ll telegraph you at Fostoria. If you don’t get any message it’ll mean that your party got off at Fremont and Harris doesn’t know where he’s headed for. You’d better loosen up now and get your ticket. Your train will be here in four minutes. Forty-nine’s on time, isn’t she, Jim?”

“O. T. at Fountain,” was the reply. “There she whistles now.”

Five minutes later, having set Aunt Sarah’s mind at rest by telephone, Joe was seated in a day-coach and Number 49 was leaving the Amesville lights behind her on her northward journey.



Forty-nine was a faster train than the one on which Mr. Chester Young had embarked and made but five stops between Amesville and Fremont, but to Joe it seemed that she took things in an irritatingly leisurely manner. With but sixteen minutes’ leeway at the end of his journey, he was momentarily in fear that something would happen to detain them, and he viewed his watch anxiously as, having made a perfectly ridiculous stop of four minutes at Folkstone, Forty-nine rolled off again into the night. However, a comparison of his time and that indicated on the time-table with which he had armed himself showed no discrepancy, and he settled back in his seat with a sigh of relief. Fostoria was the next stop and he anxiously awaited it, wondering whether he would find a message from the agent.

Now that he was absolutely embarked on his mission he began to wonder if he was not undertaking a foolish and hopeless quest. It had[259] looked quite simple and easy back there at Amesville, but doubts assailed him now. There were so many chances against success. Young might go on to Sandusky or he might lose himself in Fremont, deciding to remain the night there, or he might take that local to Norwalk. Even if Joe found him he might be no better off! How was he to persuade Young to give up the money? If he called on the police for help there might be all sorts of complications. Joe wasn’t certain that it would not be necessary for him to swear out a warrant first, by which time Young would be on his way to Toledo or elsewhere. He took out his money and counted it over. He had exactly five dollars and thirty-seven cents left after purchasing his ticket to Fremont. Of that amount a dollar and forty-five cents would be needed for his journey back to Amesville. A dollar-forty-five from five-thirty-seven left three dollars and ninety-two cents. On that he could travel something like a hundred and thirty miles, he reflected. Very well, then. He would go along with Young until that youth made restitution or until he had exhausted what money he had. After that he would telegraph to Aunt Sarah for money to get home with. In any case, the police were to have no part in the affair!


The train slowed down while he was reaching this decision and the trainman, opening the door ahead, let in a gust of cold air and announced Fostoria. Another seemingly interminable wait, and then the train went on again, and just as Joe had given up hope of that message it came.

“Telegram for Joseph Faulkner,” said the conductor questioningly as he came through the car.

“That’s me, please,” said Joe.

“Here you are, then, my boy.” Joe took the sheet of buff paper and read: “Amesville. Jos. Faulkner, on No. 49, Fostoria. Harris wires party got off Fremont and said he was going to Cleveland. Think that’s a stall. Toledo the best guess. Good luck. Chase.

Joe folded the message and put it in his pocket. Undoubtedly Mr. Chase was right about it. Young would not announce his real destination and if he had said Cleveland it was safe to say that he meant to journey in another direction. Joe settled back again, tipped his cap over his eyes to keep the light out and tried to plan what he should do and say if he was lucky enough to discover Young at Fremont. In the end, though, he reached no very clear conclusion, and while he was still trying to formulate a speech with which[261] to greet the absconding clerk the train rattled over the switches, green and purple and red and white lights flashed past the window and the trainman was bawling:

“Fremont! Fremont! Change for Norwalk, Elyria, Cleveland, Toledo, and points east and west! This train for Sandusky and Port Clinton!”

Joe followed a dozen other passengers through the car door and down to the platform. A glance at his watch had shown him that Forty-nine, in spite of her unhurried progress, had arrived exactly on time. Consequently he had sixteen minutes in which to search the station and platform before the west-bound express drew out. He still kept his cap pulled down in front, trusting that if Mr. Chester Young saw him he would not recognise him. The platform was fairly crowded and Joe made his way along to the door of the waiting-room, keeping as much as possible out of sight. It took but a moment to satisfy himself that his quarry was not inside. Then he went on to the end of the platform without result, retraced his steps, reached the other end and paused there in the shadow of a piled-up truck. Mr. Chester Young was not to be seen. Five minutes had already gone by. Joe’s hope began to dwindle.[262] After all, he reflected, it had been too much to expect; given a start of two hours and a half, Young would have been an idiot if he had not eluded pursuit. And yet, on the other hand, what reason had Young to suppose that either of the boys whose money he had taken would go to the length of chasing him down? Joe didn’t believe that Young would give either him or Jack credit for having enough enterprise to do that. And if he didn’t really expect pursuit he wouldn’t try very hard to elude it.

Joe gathered courage again and sought the ticket-window in the waiting-room. By this time the platform had almost emptied, but at the ticket-window several persons were in line and now and then the door opened to admit other passengers for the west-bound train. Joe gave up the idea of inquiring of the ticket-seller and inspected a time-table instead. The west-bound arrived in Fremont at nine-fifty-nine and remained there five minutes. It would come in, then, in just five minutes if it was on time. That put another idea in his head and he went back to the platform, keeping his eyes peeled, and sought the bulletin board there. “No. 16,” he read, “due 9:59, 15 mins. late.”

That, he told himself, would give him more[263] time. He remained where he was and kept his gaze on the door of the waiting-room. The platform began to fill up again. A four-car local pulled in, emptied its contents and puffed out. The clock pointed to one minute of ten now. It was chilly out there on the platform, for a north wind was blowing down from Lake Erie, and Joe’s thoughts travelled toward the gleaming coffee-urn he had glimpsed a few minutes back. For a moment he debated whether he should seek it and spend a nickel of his small fund, but he decided not to. If Young did put in an appearance he wanted to know it as soon as possible. And at that moment his gaze, travelling over the platform, alighted on the form of a man carrying a suit-case and making his way along toward where Joe was standing with his back to the building. For an instant Joe thought that the other had seen him and was going to speak. But it was the bulletin board that was the attraction, and Joe, turning aside to escape detection in a sudden spasm of nervousness, smelt the odour of a cigarette that was very familiar, heard the other’s grunt of impatience as he read the inscription on the board, and the tread of his feet as he strode away again.

Then a mild panic seized Joe and he darted[264] forward. Someone got in front of him. He dodged around and his heart sank, for his first anxious look failed to discover the form it sought. He was already regretting his timorousness when he spied his quarry entering the waiting-room. Joe sped after him. Mr. Chester Young was making his way to the ticket window. Joe made a detour and closed in behind him. At the window he stood at his elbow while he purchased a ticket for Toledo. Young had, it appeared, plenty of money, for he gave a twenty-dollar bill to the ticket-seller and caused that busy gentleman to scowl as he made change. Then Young turned away, walked to the end of a bench, set his bag down, and proceeded to place the bills and silver in his purse.

Joe, his heart thumping hard, walked across to him, a slight smile around his mouth. When he was a yard away Young glanced up and a look of surprise and consternation came into his face.

“Hello, Young,” said Joe pleasantly. “I was afraid I’d missed you.”



Young’s first act was to slip the purse into a pocket of his overcoat, even as his gaze darted stealthily around the waiting-room, and he summoned a smile, not a particularly gladsome smile, to his face. Joe noticed the eternal cigarette tremble between his lips. Then:

“Why, hello, Faulkner,” said Mr. Chester Young. “How are you?”

“All right, thanks,” replied Joe, his eyes unconsciously dropping for an instant to that pocket into which the fat purse had disappeared. “Sit down a minute, will you; I want to talk to you.”

“Can’t do it,” answered the other briskly, buttoning his coat with none too steady fingers. “Fact is, I’m running up to Detroit and my train is leaving in about half a minute. I suppose you were surprised to find me gone, eh? Well, you see, I got a telegram this afternoon telling me that my father was very ill and I had to beat it off on the five-two. I was going to write and explain[266] to you. I’ll do that, anyway. Glad to have seen you again. You keep that job open for me until Saturday and I’ll be back for it. Good-night.” He held out his hand and Joe took it.

“Your train’s fifteen minutes late,” said Joe calmly. “So there’s no hurry. Sit down.” He still held Young’s hand and now pulled him gently toward the seat. Young resisted, but Joe’s clasp was a strong one, and unless he wanted to indulge in a scuffle there was nothing to do but give in. But it was a different Mr. Chester Young who faced Joe now. He tossed aside his cigarette and observed his captor defiantly.

“Well, what you got to say, Faulkner?” he demanded.

“I suppose you know why I’m here?” asked Joe.

“Never mind what I know. Get down to business. What’s your game?”

“My game’s to collect seventy-five dollars from you, Young. I ought to charge the costs of collection, too, I guess, but we’ll let that go. If you want to send nine dollars back by me to Mrs. Bennett, though, I’ll be glad to take it.”

Young laughed softly. “And why should I hand seventy-five dollars over to you, Faulkner? What do you think I am, a national bank?”


“If you want an itemized account,” responded Joe patiently, “I can oblige you. But your train will be leaving in about twelve minutes, you know. Roughly, the cigars and things you turned back to the dealers amounted to forty-seven dollars——”

Young’s expression changed enough to show that he had not expected Joe to have knowledge of that transaction.

“And you got about thirty out of the cash register yesterday and today. That foots up to seventy-seven, and——”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” interrupted Young angrily, but without raising his voice. “Someone’s been stalling you. You’d better go back to Amesville and soak your head, sport. You’re too innocent to be so far from home.”

“Ten minutes to train time now,” said Joe. “Come across, Young. You’re beaten, and you know it.”

“Why, you silly chump, you can’t hold me up for money like this! I haven’t got that much, anyway, and if I had I wouldn’t be likely to pass it over to you. You must be crazy! You ought to get a job in a squirrel cage!”

“If you haven’t seventy-five it’s going to be[268] awkward,” said Joe reflectively. “I thought that probably you’d hand it over and there wouldn’t have to be any trouble about it. I hate to get my name in the papers, but if I have to all right.”

“Quit your joking,” growled Young. “For two cents I’d knock your head off. There’s my train and I can’t stop here chewing the rag any longer.” He got up, bag in hand and grinned mockingly down at the other. “Give my love to Strobe when you get back, sport. So long.”

Joe sighed regretfully and stood up. “All right,” he murmured. “There’s no hurry. I don’t mind seeing a little of the world while I’m at it. I dare say Toledo or Detroit is quite worth visiting.”

Young, who had started toward the door, turned. “If you try to follow me,” he said menacingly, “I’ll do for you, kid!”

“You won’t get a chance,” replied Joe simply. “I’d rather go home from here, of course, but if you want to be silly I’ll give you as far as Toledo to think it over.”

“What would you do in Toledo?” sneered the other.

“Have you arrested, of course. That’s the only thing I can do if you don’t make good before. I might have done it here, but I thought[269] you’d prefer to keep out of trouble, and now”—he looked around the waiting-room—“there isn’t a policeman in sight.”

“Have me arrested!” jeered Young. “Try it, kid! Go ahead and try it! Why, I never saw you before in my life! Tell that yarn to a cop and see what will happen.”

“All right, let’s go out on the platform. There’s one there, I guess.”

Young’s eyes dropped, but after an instant’s hesitation he turned toward the door again. “Sure! Come on and find him!”

Joe kept close at his elbow and they passed through the door and into the throng on the long platform. The west-bound train had pulled into the station a few minutes before and outside all was bustle and confusion. Young paused and looked up and down the platform.

“There’s a cop down there,” he exclaimed. “Come on and we’ll finish this up right now.”

He pushed past Joe and made his way with difficulty in and out of the crowd. Joe followed close on his heels. Above the sound of escaping steam and the noise of the crowd he heard the cry of “All abo-o-oard!” He was quite certain that Young had not seen a policeman in the direction[270] he was taking and was wondering whether the former meant to make a sudden dash for liberty when he was once free of the throng or, at the last instant, leap aboard the train. There was a sound of releasing brakes, at the other end of the long train a bell clanged warningly, and, an instant later, the cars began to move slowly past. They were out of the crowd now and near the end of the train. Joe saw Young turn his head a little in the direction of the moving train and something warned him to be on his guard. Young swung around and faced him.

“I was sure I saw a cop down here,” he said puzzledly. “Where do you suppose he got to? See him anywhere?”

Perhaps Young expected Joe to look away for a moment, for he suddenly shot out his right fist straight at the younger boy’s face. But Joe had not moved his gaze a fraction from Young’s countenance and he read what was coming before the arm was drawn back for the blow. Instinctively he dodged to the right and Young’s fist went harmlessly past his head. Then something took him in the knees—he surmised afterwards that it was Young’s suit-case—and he went staggering back against the station wall.

When he recovered himself Young was darting[271] across the platform, bag swinging wildly, and even as he started in pursuit his quarry tossed the suit-case onto the forward platform of the last car, trotted alongside and, aided by the porter, who had been in the act of closing the vestibule door, sprang aboard!

A dozen strides told Joe that he could never reach that platform. The train, gaining speed every instant, was now moving rapidly out of the station and beside him the lighted windows of the last car slipped past. There was but one thing to do and he determined to do it, or, at least, make a try. Slackening his pace a little, he let the length of the car go past him and then, spurting desperately, heedless of the warning shouts of lookers-on, he managed to grasp the forward rail of the last steps!

The speed of the train lifted him from his feet and hurled him against the rear railing. He made a clutch for this, but failed, and swung outward again, dangling, his feet trailing along the planks of the station platform. Cries of alarm arose from the watchers behind. But Joe held on, searched with his left hand for a hold, knocked his knees bruisingly against the car steps, got one on the lower ledge, and, somehow, dragged himself to his feet, clinging at last to the brass[272] gate that closed the platform off and fighting for breath!

For a full minute he clung there, dizzy, conscious of smarting contusions about his knees and of a dull ache in one hip where he had collided with the railing. Finally he climbed over the gate, tried the door and found it unlocked and stepped inside a handsome library-compartment in which a half-dozen men were seated about in the cane easy-chairs reading. His appearance elicited no surprise. Perhaps they thought he had been on the platform while the train was in the station. At all events, although the occupants of the compartment raised their eyes as the door opened, only one of the number displayed any interest in the boy’s advent.

The single exception was a tall, loose-jointed man, who, with his chair turned toward the windows, sat with long legs doubled up almost to his chin and a book face-down in his lap. As the door opened he turned his head and looked attentively at the breathless and still somewhat white-faced youth who entered. Joe paused to take another full breath before undertaking the passage of the swaying car and in that moment his eyes encountered those of the man. The man raised a long, lean hand and beckoned with a finger. Joe made[273] his way to him and the passenger, undoubling himself, stretched a foot out, hooked it about the leg of the next chair and pulled it beside his own.

“Sit down,” he said. He had a remarkable voice, Joe thought, and equally remarkable eyes, very light blue-gray in colour, that somehow compelled obedience. Joe embarrassedly seated himself.

“That’s a good way to get killed,” said the man calmly. “Don’t you know that?”

“I suppose it is, sir. I didn’t stop to think much about it.”

“I wouldn’t make a practice of it. I take it that the other fellow got aboard all right.”

“The other fellow?” faltered Joe.

“Yes, the—ah—the gentleman who tried to put his fist in your face.”

“Oh! You saw——”

“I happened to be looking out the window. You side-stepped very neatly. Fellow a friend of yours?”

“Not exactly.” Joe smiled faintly. There was an answering twinkle in the light blue eyes.

“No? But you evidently couldn’t bear to part with him. It’s not my business, but I’m curious to know the story. Fact is, I make my living from stories. I get chaps like you to tell them[274] to me and then I write them down and sell them. It’s a very simple way to make a fortune.”

Joe smiled uncertainly. It sounded as if the other was joking, but his expression was quite serious. He had a lean, clean-shaven face, with many deep wrinkles. His nose was long and straight and his mouth rather large. Somehow, though, it was a nice face and inspired confidence. “There isn’t much story,” said Joe hesitantly. “The—the other fellow has something that belongs to me and I want to get it.”

“Situation Number Three,” murmured the man. “Hackneyed, but capable of interesting and even novel variations.”

“Sir?” asked Joe.

“May I ask what is the value of the something the other chap has of yours? It’s interesting sometimes to know for what amount a person will risk his life. Personally I wouldn’t do it for less than two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Not now, that is. There was a time, when I was considerably younger, when I dare say I’d have done it for considerably less; say for five thousand—or nothing at all. In your case now——”

“It’s only about seventy-five dollars,” replied Joe. “He—he stole it.”

The man nodded. “Naturally. Seventy-five[275] dollars, though, seems an inadequate reward for a broken neck. Any kind of a respectable funeral would cost all of that. I don’t see that you stood to win much.”

“I’m afraid I didn’t stop to think of all that, sir. He jumped on the train and so I—I jumped on, too!”

“I see. And now?”

Joe hesitated. “I suppose I’ll have to get him arrested in Toledo if he won’t give it up without.”

“Why didn’t you call a policeman at that last place?”

“I didn’t see one. Besides, I thought he’d give the money back without any fuss when he saw that I had caught him.”

“But he wouldn’t?”

“No, sir.”

“Perhaps he hasn’t got it with him. Perhaps he’s spent it.”

“I don’t think so. You see——”

“But I don’t see,” said the man, with a smile. “I want to, though. Starting at the beginning, now——” He doubled his long legs up again, clasped his hands around them and observed Joe expectantly and encouragingly. Joe hesitated, smiled, and told his story. During the recital the[276] gray-blue eyes watched him intently and their owner maintained absolute silence. There was but one interruption, and that was when the conductor came in. Joe reached for his money, but the man gently pushed his hand away from his pocket.

“Pardon me,” he said gently, “but it’s my party.” He took out a very stunning gold-trimmed pocket-book, pulled a five-dollar note from it and handed it to the conductor.

“Where to?” asked the latter. Joe’s new acquaintance questioned silently.

“Toledo, I guess,” said Joe. “Do we stop before we get there?”

The conductor shook his head, made out the check, returned the change and took his departure.

“I’m much obliged,” said Joe, “but I didn’t mean for you to pay my fare, sir.”

“I know you didn’t. But as you’re my guest it was only right that I should. So you guessed that that punch was coming, did you?”

“Yes, sir, sort of. And then, when he swung around his bag struck me on the knees and I went back against the wall.”

“To be continued in our next,” murmured the other. He examined his watch. “We’ll be in[277] Toledo in about ten minutes, I think. So perhaps you’d better go and see your friend. Afterwards come back here and tell me what the result is. It would be too commonplace to bring the police into this. So we’ll just put our heads together and find an artistic dénoûement.”

Joe hurried through the three Pullman cars and through an equal number of day-coaches without finding Mr. Chester Young. But in the next, the smoking car, the sight of that gentleman rewarded him as he closed the door. Young was seated half-way along the car, smoking a cigarette and figuring on the back of an envelope. Beside him, on the other half of the seat, rested the suit-case.

Joe walked quietly down the aisle. Young didn’t see him until he had laid hand on the bag. Then, with an alarmed grasp at the suit-case, Young raised his eyes. His jaw dropped ludicrously and the cigarette in his mouth rolled to the floor, and while Joe set the suit-case aside and seated himself Young continued to regard him in stupefied amazement.



“Well,” said Joe finally, “thought better of it, Young?”

Young found his voice then and for at least two minutes gave vent to his feelings, which, judging from the expressions he made use of, were far from pleasant. When, at last, breath or fresh invectives failed him, Joe said: “Young, you might as well be sensible about this. We’ll be in Toledo in a few minutes and there’ll be an officer waiting for us. What’s the good of going to jail for seventy-five dollars? Why don’t you give me back what you stole and have an end of it?”

Young, having regained his breath, indulged in a few more well-chosen remarks derogatory to Joe’s character. After which he declared that he knew nothing about the money, never saw it, didn’t have it, and wouldn’t give it up if he had!

“Well,” said Joe impatiently, “you’ve had plenty of chances to give it back without fuss,[279] Young. So don’t blame me for anything that happens after this.” He got up and went off down the aisle, leaving Mr. Chester Young scowling somewhat anxiously after him. In the library compartment Joe reported the result of his mission.

“I guess,” he said regretfully, “there’s nothing to do now but try to get him arrested.”

“Are you certain he means to get off at Toledo?” asked the man.

“N-no, I’m not. He bought a ticket for Toledo, though.”

“Hm. Well, we’d better be ready in case he does. I’ll go and get my things ready.”

“Are you getting off there?” asked Joe as the other pulled his six feet and four or five inches from the chair.

“Do you know,” replied the man, “I’m never certain when I start out where I’ll fetch up? It’s queer that way.” He stretched his long arms and smiled whimsically down at the boy. “Once I started off for Chicago and brought up in Buenos Aires. After all, it’s the uncertainty that makes life interesting, eh?”

The stranger proceeded to the second car ahead, changed the cap he was wearing for a derby, strapped up a battered kit-bag, took his[280] overcoat from the hook, and went forward again. Near the rear door of the smoking car was an unoccupied seat, and in this the two seated themselves. Joe pointed out the refractory Mr. Young to his companion, who examined what was to be seen of his back with a disappointed expression.

“Very weak,” he muttered. “Hardly worthy of our talents, my friend. Observe the narrowness of the head between the ears. A sure sign of weakness of character. I have it myself. I think we can safely assume that he is not going to leave us here. If he were he’d be stirring around.”

The train was running into the yard at Toledo now and many of the occupants of the car were donning coats and rounding up their luggage. The prediction proved correct. The train rolled into the station, but Mr. Chester Young kept his place. That he was nervous was evident from the manner in which he peered through the window and more than once looked anxiously back along the car. He did not, however, see Joe, since the latter was hidden by his companion. The train remained in the station for some five minutes before it started off again towards Detroit, and during that time, it is natural to suppose, Mr. Chester Young was by no means enjoying[281] himself. It seemed to Joe that he could almost hear Young’s sigh of relief when the station lights slipped away from them again!

Presently Joe’s companion, who had been silent most of the time during the stop, arose and signalled the former to follow him. Down the aisle they went. The seat directly in front of Young had just been vacated, and the tall man turned the back over, set his bag down, and seated himself facing Young, draping his overcoat across his knees and patting the seat beside him invitingly as Joe hesitated.

“Sit down,” he said pleasantly. “That’s it. Now, then, here we are all together.” He turned to the astonished Mr. Chester Young and regarded him smilingly. “I guess,” he went on, “we can settle this all up nicely before we reach Detroit, eh? We’ve got a lot of time ahead of us and needn’t hurry.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” sputtered Young, darting a venomous look at Joe. “You haven’t anything on me.”

“Now, now!” The intruder lifted a lean hand deprecatingly. “Don’t let us start off that way, my friend. Let’s be good-natured and just talk things over a bit. Why, bless you, I’m not complaining a mite, am I? When the chief called me[282] up and said, ‘Beat it to the station and find a fellow named Young,’ I was just getting ready for a nice, long snooze. I was up most of last night and was counting a lot on my sleep. Well, it’s all in the day’s work with us Central Office tecs, and I’m a natural-born philosopher. So here I am, and no hard feelings.”

The expression on Young’s face changed from angry defiance to alarm. He swallowed once with difficulty, almost losing his cigarette in the operation, and then his gaze darted quickly about as though seeking an avenue of escape. The man opposite leaned over and patted his knee.

“Don’t think of that,” he said soothingly. “You couldn’t get away if you tried. Besides, you’d break your neck if you slipped off with the train going forty miles. Don’t try any foolish business, my friend. Just keep calm and good-tempered and let’s talk it all over nicely.”

“I haven’t got anything to talk over,” muttered Young.

“Sure you have!” The man chuckled. “You’ve got seventy-five dollars! We can do a lot of talking about seventy-five dollars, eh? Come on now, cards on the table, Young. What’s your idea of it?”

“Idea of what?” Young was rather pale, but[283] he managed to put some assurance into his question. The man lighted a cigar with much deliberation.

“Why, I mean what are you thinking of doing? Now, here’s my advice to you. You don’t need to take it, you know. I shan’t mind if you don’t. If I were you I’d get together what you’ve got left of that seventy-five and hand it over. See? Then we’d just wish each other luck and I’d drop off at the first stop and report ‘nothing doing’ at the office. That would be the simplest thing. But you can come on back to Toledo if you want to and face the music. Only that makes a lot of trouble for you and me and this fellow here. You spend the night in a cell, I don’t get to sleep before one o’clock, and this fellow has to lie around until your case comes up in the morning. Still, I don’t want to persuade you against your own judgment. It’s all in the day’s work for me.” He leaned back and smiled pleasantly at Young.

“You’ve only got his say-so for it,” exclaimed Young desperately. “Why, I never saw him until he came up to me in the station at Fremont! I don’t know anything about him. It—it’s a frame-up, that’s what it is! If you arrest me you’ll get into trouble. I—I’ve got friends in[284] Toledo, and they’ll make it hot for you, all right!”

“Sure, I know. We get that line of talk all the time,” was the untroubled response. “You know your own business better than I do. If you didn’t take this fellow’s money, why, all right.”

“Of course I didn’t! Why, look here, I’ll show you!” Young pulled a purse from his pocket and eagerly spread its contents out. “That’s every cent I’ve got to my name! Seventy-five dollars! Gee, if I had seventy-five dollars I’d be back there in a Pullman, believe me!”

“That’s so. Still, you might have spent the difference. How much you got there?”

“Nineteen, about! I had twenty-five when I—when I was in Fremont, and this fellow”—he darted a triumphant look at Joe—“braced me for a dollar to get something to eat. Then, when he saw I had more, he began some wild yarn about my stealing money from him. Why, I guess he’s crazy!”

The tall man turned and looked attentively at Joe. “Is that right?” he asked. “Did you get a dollar from him at Fremont?”

Joe shook his head, not trusting himself to speak for fear he would laugh. The supposed detective sighed.


“Well, I don’t know! Of course, if they find only nineteen dollars on you when they frisk you at the station——”

“Frisk me?” faltered Young.

“Sure; search you; go through your clothes. And your bag.”

Young shot a troubled look at the suit-case beside him. “No one’s got any right to search me,” he muttered. “And—and you can’t arrest me, either, without a warrant!”

“Bless your heart, friend, if we waited for warrants we’d miss half the fun! Here comes the conductor. Better not buy beyond Monroe. We’ll get off there and beat it back.”

“Why don’t you believe what I’m telling you?” demanded Young anxiously. “I never saw this fellow or his money. Say, you aren’t really going to take me just on what he says, are you?”

“Orders are orders, friend, and I got mine,” was the reply. “But don’t you bother. If you didn’t get his money you’ll get off all right tomorrow morning. And we’ve got a good, comfortable jail in Toledo, too.”

“That’s all right,” faltered Young, his gaze on the approaching conductor, “but—but if he tells them a pack of lies, how do I know they won’t believe him instead of me? You do yourself!”


“Me? Pshaw, now, I don’t believe anyone. This fellow says you did and you say you didn’t. It doesn’t make a scrap of difference to me, anyway. It’s up to the judge in the morning.”

“Well, but—say——” Young leaned across confidentially, lowering his voice. “Now, look here, sir. I don’t want to have to go back to Toledo. I’m in a hurry. I’ve got a sick father in Detroit, I have. Now, say I give this fellow what I’ve got with me? Eh? I’d pay that not to have to go back. What do you say?”

“Well, that’s up to him,” was the reply, “What do you say?” The man turned inquiringly to Joe.

“If he will give me all the money he has with him, all right,” Joe answered. “I’ll be satisfied. I dare say he’s spent a good bit of it.”

“But I’ve got to keep enough to pay my fare to Detroit,” said Young eagerly.

Joe nodded. “All right. Pay your fare to Detroit and give me the rest.”

“Well, that’s what I call sensible,” said the impromptu detective. “What’s the use of going to a heap of trouble when you can avoid it, eh? Hello, Conductor. One to Detroit and”—he looked a question at Joe.


“I guess I’ll go to Detroit, too,” was the response.

“Two Detroits, eh? All right, gentlemen. Thank you. Let me see, you’re——” He observed the tall man doubtfully.

“Yes, you know me,” was the response, accompanied by a nod toward the rear of the train.

“I thought so.” The conductor returned the change to Young and to Joe and passed on. Young, his purse still in his hand, counted out the remaining contents of it.

“There’s nearly eighteen dollars,” he said easily. “You might leave me enough for car-fare to get to my house with, but I won’t ask it.”

“Keep out the silver,” said Joe, “and give me the bills.”

Young obeyed and passed over a ten, a five, and two ones. “You’re witness that I paid this to him,” he challenged the third member of the group. The tall man nodded.

“I’m witness you’ve paid him seventeen dollars,” he agreed. “Go ahead.”

“Go ahead? What do you mean, go ahead?” asked Young with a scowl.

“Why, I mean go ahead and pay him the rest of it.”


“The rest of it! He agreed to take what I had here——”

“What you had with you, my friend,” interrupted the other. “Be good now and don’t let’s have any more trouble.” He reached across and pushed Young’s suit-case toward him. “Open her up, friend, and dig down!”

“I tell you I ain’t got——”

“I heard you, too,” was the wearied response. “But we’ll take the money that’s in the suit-case, I think. Come across with it, Young!”

“You’re a couple of thieves! There ain’t any money in there! I——”

“Seeing’s believing, my friend. Just open that up and show us.”

“I won’t! You’ve got all you’re going to get!” He took the suit-case on his knees and hugged his arms over it. “What’s in here is mine!”

“Oh, so there is some in there, eh?” The tall man chuckled. “Well, pass it over. Stand by your bargain and don’t play baby. And get a move on, too. We’ll be in Monroe in about ten minutes and then it’ll be too late.”

Young glared at the other in impotent rage, but the make-believe Central Office man returned his gaze calmly, untroubledly, compellingly. For[289] a long moment Young hesitated. Then, with a shrug of his shoulders, he tugged at the straps, opened the suit-case and drew a cigarette box from under the layers of clothing.

“There,” he growled, and tossed the box into the man’s lap. Inside it were five folded ten-dollar bills. The man smoothed them out, counted them and passed them silently to Joe.

“Fifty and seventeen is sixty-seven,” he said. “That good enough?” he asked.

Joe nodded as he stowed the money safely in a pocket. “That’s near enough,” he said. “I ought to make him pay back what it’s cost me to get it, but I won’t.” He turned to Young. “I’m going to hand nine and a half of this to Mrs. Bennett,” he said. “She needs it more than I do, I guess.”

Young sneered. “What do I care what you do with it? You’re easy, anyway. If I hadn’t been a fool I’d have got clean away.” Then, fearing perhaps that he had admitted too much, he glanced furtively at the man. “We’re quits now, ain’t we?”

“Oh, yes, we’re quits. Or, rather, we’re more than quits, Young. I’m really in your debt for an interesting experience. It’s the first time I ever impersonated a detective and, although I[290] may be taking too much credit, I think I did it rather well, eh?”

What!” squealed Young. “You ain’t a—a——”

What!” squealed Young. “You ain’t a—a——”

“My friend,” was the smiling reply, “I’m only a poor writer of tales who has been doing his best to relieve the tedium of a dull journey. The next time you have dealings with a detective, and something tells me there’s going to be a next time, you ask to be shown his badge. Never take anything for granted, my friend. It’s a wicked world and there are, unfortunately, folks in it ever ready to impose on the credulity of the young and—ah—innocent. Good-night, Mr. Young. And thanks for the amusement you’ve so kindly afforded.”

They left him crumpled up in the corner, still holding his open suit-case, an expression of mingled wrath and incredulity on his face.

Joe’s new friend led the way back to his chair in the Pullman, where he deposited bag and coat and again changed from derby to cap. Then they returned to the library car and viewed each other smilingly from opposite chairs.

“I was right about the narrowness of the skull between the ears,” observed the man reflectively. “Mr. Young is weak, lamentably weak, and will[291] not, I feel sure, ever make a success in his chosen profession.”

“His chosen profession?” repeated Joe questioningly.

“Yes, thieving. Perhaps it’s all for the best, however. Finding himself unable to prosper in that line, he may turn honest. Let us hope so. And now there’s one small formality we’ve neglected. Suppose we learn each other’s names?”

“Mine is Joseph Faulkner, sir.”

“And mine is Graham—J. W. Graham. The J stands for John and the W for Westley.”

“Westley Graham!” exclaimed Joe. “Why, I know who you are! I mean I’ve read stories——”

“Yes, I don’t doubt it. You could scarcely fail to, my boy, for I write a horrible lot of them. I try not to, but they will out, like murder—or measles! Ever read any you liked?”

“Why, I like them all!” cried Joe. “They’re dandy! There was one last month about a man who discovered an island that nobody knew about, and——”

“Yes, I recall that. Well, I’m glad you like them, my boy. I do myself, when I’m writing them, but afterwards I try hard to forget them.”


“But why, sir?” Joe’s eyes opened very wide. “I wish I could write stories like those!”

“Do you? I try to forget them because I come of Puritan ancestry. Know anything about the Puritans, Faulkner?”

“Why, I know what it tells in the history, sir.”

“Perhaps history doesn’t particularly emphasise the quality I have in mind, however. The Puritans were endowed with the ineradicable belief that whatever gave one pleasure in the doing was wrong. All my life I have been at odds with my inherited Puritan principles. Every time I write one of those stories Conscience sits at my elbow and weeps. I try to console myself with the promise that some day before I pass on I shall write something very dull and very learned and very, very difficult, something that I shall utterly detest doing. But never mind my soul worries now. Tell me something about you, Faulkner. What do you do when you don’t chase over the country apprehending defaulting clerks? You told me you were going to school, I think?”

So Joe talked then and, prompted by questions, told more about himself than he ever remembered confessing to anyone. But Mr. Graham had a[293] way of making one talk that Joe couldn’t resist. In the midst of his narrative the conductor bore down on them again and Mr. Graham, despite Joe’s protest, paid for the latter’s seat in the Pullman to Detroit. And, later, although it scarcely seemed a half-hour since they had parted from the overwhelmed Mr. Chester Young in the smoking car, they rolled into Detroit and it was after midnight!

“When I come to this town,” said Mr. Graham as they waited in the vestibule for the train to stop, “I always put up at a small hotel on Grand River Avenue. It isn’t sumptuous, but it’s neat and quiet and they allow me to sleep late. Now, I propose that we walk leisurely up there, in order to stretch our legs, and that you become my guest for the night. In the morning we’ll have some breakfast together and then I’ll see you on your way back.”

“But I don’t think,” stammered Joe. “I mean I oughtn’t to let you do so much for me, Mr. Graham! I’ve got enough money to pay——”

“The money you have, Faulkner, belongs, as I understand it, to the firm of Faulkner and—well, whatever the other chap’s name is. And if you dissipate it in riotous living you’ll be a defaulter[294] yourself. No, I think—Look, isn’t that our friend Mr. Young there? It is. I wonder, now, what he’s going to do in this town without money. Excuse me a minute.”

Mr. Graham left Joe at the car steps and dived hurriedly through the crowd about the train. Joe followed his course easily enough, since he was a head taller than most persons there, and so was witness to the little scene enacted on the platform beyond the crowd. Mr. Graham overtook Young there and for a moment they talked. Then the former put his hand in his pocket, drew forth his purse and passed some money to the other. After that, a hand on Young’s shoulder, Mr. Graham talked a moment longer. When he returned to Joe he picked up his bag and led the way out to Fort Street.

“I’m wondering,” he said as they stepped out briskly in search of the hotel where one could sleep late in the morning, “how much a promise is worth, Faulkner.”

“How much did you pay for it, sir?” asked Joe.

Mr. Graham laughed softly. “So you spied on me, eh? Well, it didn’t cost me much, Faulkner, but at that I’m afraid I overpaid. Here we are. Four blocks up Second Street and we’re almost[295] there. I’m beginning to be a little bit sleepy. How about you?”

“I’m dead tired, sir.”

“Are you? Well, you can sleep as late as you like in the morning!”



Joe returned to Amesville at a little before three on Sunday afternoon. He had meant to get back much earlier, but several things had prevented. In the first place, he had unintentionally taken advantage of the privilege of late slumber afforded by the quiet hotel and had not awakened until after eight o’clock, a most unusual proceeding for Joe! But, late as he had been, he had dressed and was reading a morning newspaper before Mr. Graham appeared. Breakfast was a leisurely ceremony and a surprisingly pleasant one. Joe had never seen anyone pay so much attention to the ordering of a meal as the writer did, and when it came it was quite unlike any breakfast Joe had ever partaken of. Strawberries were served with the stems on, a half-dozen big, luscious ones arranged in a circle about a pyramid of powdered sugar. Joe waited, at a loss as to how to proceed, until Mr. Graham had shown the way by lifting a berry by its stem,[297] dipping it in the sugar and transferring it to his mouth. His host, without appearing to observe Joe’s hesitation, explained that strawberries eaten in that way were far easier to digest than when accompanied by cream. Then had arrived, after finger-bowls, two half chickens, broiled and laid on toast, Julienne potatoes—only Joe called them “shoestring”—tiny crisp, crescent-shaped rolls, orange marmalade, coffee—this, too, without cream, fashioned on the table in some bewildering way with boiled milk and a tiny pat of sweet butter!—and, last but by no means least, golden-brown griddle-cakes served with honey.

That had been a wonderful breakfast, indeed, and Joe had eaten until he felt ashamed of himself, but without, since they spent all of an hour at the table with the June sunshine lying across the white napery and glistening on the silver, any after discomfort. Later, when Joe had spoken of a ten o’clock train, Mr. Graham vetoed the plan at once, lightly but firmly, and they had taken a long walk, during which the writer, who seemed to know everything in the city worth seeing and the shortest way to reach it, had made Joe work his shorter legs to the utmost to keep up with his companion’s giant strides!

At the station Mr. Graham had gone to the[298] news-stand and doubtless vastly surprised the attendant by selecting four books from the pen of Westley Graham. From there they went to the ledge outside the ticket office and Mr. Graham wrote Joe’s name and his own on the fly-leaf of each and then piled them into the boy’s arms. After that, in spite of Joe’s earnest protests, he had bought the latter’s ticket and parlour car seat.

“You can get some lunch at Toledo,” said Mr. Graham. “You’ll have twenty minutes there.”

“I shan’t ever want to eat again,” replied Joe with a wistful recollection of that breakfast.

The other laughed. “Oh, yes, you will. You’ll be hungry by the time you reach Toledo. If you’re not, you’re no real boy.” At the parlour car steps Mr. Graham shook hands warmly. “Good-bye, Faulkner,” he said. “We’ve had rather a jolly little party, haven’t we? I’ve enjoyed it, anyhow. Good luck to you, my boy. You’ll find an address in one of those books that usually gets me. Drop me a line some day and tell me how you’re getting on. Let me know who wins that game on Wednesday. I’d like to see that.”

“I don’t suppose you ever get to Amesville?” asked Joe anxiously.


“Amesville?” Mr. Graham smiled. “I get everywhere sooner or later, Faulkner. Whether I do or don’t, we’ll run across each other again some day. That’s my experience. It’s a wee bit of a world, after all, and a mighty nice thing about it is that friends are always meeting.”

Joe had opened one of the books as soon as he had had his last glimpse of Mr. Graham on the station platform, and, in spite of the latter’s prediction, had not lunched at Toledo. Instead, he sat on a baggage truck and pursued the adventures of the hero of the tale with a breathless interest that almost lost him his train to Amesville!

His first act when he got home was to seek Mr. Chase, the station agent. But that gentleman was not on duty and so Joe enclosed the borrowed money in an envelope, scribbled a note that recounted the success of his expedition and thanked Mr. Chase for his assistance, and left it at the office.

It was a worried and anxious Aunt Sarah who met him at the door, and Joe’s first half-hour at home was devoted to a full and complete history of the past twenty-four hours, during which he was made to drink two cups of tea and eat three slices of currant cake. Then he called up the[300] Strobes’ house, found that Jack had been asking for him and was at last able to see him, and forthwith hurried to the meeting. Jack was swathed in a dressing-robe and flanked by medicines and an atomiser when Joe found him, but he looked pretty healthy and declared that he felt fine today and was to go out tomorrow unless the pesky doctor changed his mind in the morning.

“I was frightened to death I wouldn’t be able to play Wednesday,” he said; “but I can. Say, did Frank play Saturday?”

“Yes, he did, Jack, for a couple of innings; no, three.”

Jack groaned. “It’s all up, then! Bat will put him in Wednesday just out of kindness. Isn’t that rotten luck? Who invented quinsy, anyway?”

“Edison, I suppose.”

“Oh, it’s all well enough for you to grin, but I lose that wager and Handsome Frank will be more conceited than ever! And I won’t get that bat-case——”

“I’ll buy that for you if you’ll shut up about it,” declared Joe desperately.

“I don’t want you to. I can buy it myself, for that matter. It—it’s beating Frank that matters.”


“And only the other day you were saying that you were sorry for him!”

“Well, I’m not today,” said Jack grimly. “Say, where were you all the morning? I thought surely you’d come around or call up.”

“Most of the morning I was in Detroit,” answered Joe soberly.

“In Detroit! What do you mean, Detroit?”

“Detroit, Michigan. There isn’t any other, is there?”

“You mean you’ve been to Detroit today?” asked Jack incredulously. Joe shook his head.

“I came from there today. I went last night.”

Jack stared unbelievingly. “What for? What’s the joke?”

“For seventy-five dollars,” replied Joe, smilingly. “And I got it, or most of it.”

“Say, are you batty?” demanded Jack impatiently. “What seventy-five dollars? What’s the big idea?”

So Joe told his story once more, while Jack’s eyes got bigger and rounder and he hurled questions at the narrator breathlessly. And when he had heard all about it and had had every last detail explained to his satisfaction he deliberately kicked over a chair.

“Wouldn’t that make you sick?” he exclaimed.[302] “I have to go and get quinsy and lose all that fun! Of course Young couldn’t have sneaked off when I was well! Oh, dear, no! It had to be when I was laid up! Hang the luck, anyway! Say, if I’d been along, Joey, I’d have punched his head!”

“Just as well you weren’t, then,” laughed Joe. “As it was, everything went off quietly and strictly according to the rules-book.”

“Well, what do you know about it!” marvelled Jack. “Joey, when they named you ‘Lucky’ Faulkner they hit it just about right! Why, you didn’t have one chance in ten thousand to get that money back!”

“I guess that’s so. Come to think of it, Jack, I didn’t get it back. It was Mr. Graham did it.”

“Never mind who did it, you brought it home. Now what are we going to do for someone to look after the stand?”

“I’ve been thinking that the best thing would be to put the tin box back for a few days. School closes Thursday, and after that we can look after it ourselves.”

“All right. I dare say four days won’t lose us much. I wonder, though, how we’re going to like sticking around that lobby when the hot weather comes. That won’t be so pleasant, eh?”


“I don’t believe the Adams Building will be hotter than any other place,” replied Joe. “Anyway, if we’re going to earn money we’ve got to work for it and put up with some things. I’ve got to be going now, Jack.”

“What’s your hurry? I haven’t seen you for an age!”

“I’ll drop around after supper if you can see folks then. But I want to go and give this nine-fifty to Mrs. Bennett. I guess she needs it worse than we do.”

Jack was back in school Monday morning, a bit weak in the legs, but otherwise as good as ever, or so he declared. He had two days of examinations to make up and, since he would not have been of much use to the team anyway, he stayed away from practice that afternoon and toiled over his papers in a deserted class-room under the eagle eye of one of the teachers.

On Tuesday there was only an hour of light work for the players. The Second Team ended its season with a game with the grammar school, which it won in a breath-taking tenth inning rally, and the diamond was given over to the workmen who were to put it in shape for the morrow’s battle.

Petersburg descended on Amesville the next[304] day at noon and went to lunch at the principal hotel. She arrived nearly a hundred strong and armed with a multitude of gay banners, which she waved jubilantly as, luncheon over, the team and its followers took trolley cars to the field.

Petersburg had gone through a more than usually successful season, playing nineteen games, of which she had won twelve and tied one. In Calvert she had a pitcher of known ability who had last year proved a good deal of a riddle to Amesville’s batters, and her second-choice twirler, Gorman, had been coming fast during the last month and had only a week ago held Minton School to one hit. For the rest, Petersburg had an average team, with a fast, snappy infield and an outfield composed of two veterans and one newcomer. Petersburg had not gained the reputation of a hard-hitting outfit this year, but an analysis of the scores of past conflicts would have shown that she had usually secured hits when they were most needed.

Amesville, however, went into the game that afternoon with more confidence than usual. There had been seasons when she had had a strong pitching staff and a poor fielding team, seasons when she had been brilliant at fielding and weak at batting, and seasons when she could[305] bat anything and had no talent in the box. But this year it was felt that the Brown-and-Blue was an evenly rounded nine with good pitchers, clever fielders, and the ability to bat, and most of the local rooters who filled the two stands behind first base and flowed over on to the field held that it was less a question of which team would win than what the score would be!

Petersburg had nearly an hour of practice before Amesville trotted out to claim the diamond, and by that time the audience had assembled and the stage was set. The umpire had been imported from Lima, and, since he had presumably never heard of either Amesville or Petersburg High School in his life, was credited with being about as impartial as an umpire could be. He was a small, rotund, business-like-looking chap who wore the regulation blue flannels and had a voice like a mild-mannered bull.

Amesville’s batting order was as follows: Smith, s.; Morris, cf.; Strobe, lf.; Hale, 3b.; Peddie, 2b.; Faulkner, 1b.; Cummings, rf.; Craig, c.; Pollock, p. Toby Williams hoped to get into the game before the curtain fell on the afternoon’s performance, and probably Carl Moran entertained a similar hope, but it was pretty certain that Tom would remain on the mound as[306] long as the opponent showed its teeth. On the bench, when the Amesville players trotted out for the opening inning, remained Williams, Moran, Foley, Loomis, Speyer, Johnson, a capable hitter from the disbanded Scrubs, and Buster Healey. Buster was not in playing togs, however, and he viewed the world from behind a pair of horn spectacles with thick lenses that gave him the appearance of a wise owl. Manager Mifflin was there, too, with his battered score-book spread open on his knees, and so was Coach Talbot, in low-voiced conversation with Mr. John Hall, a privileged well-wisher of the team.

At half-past two to the second Mr. Reardon, the imported umpire, faced the stands in “big-league” fashion and announced the batteries in a voice that carried easily to the outfield fence: “Batthery for Amesville, Pollock and Craig! For Petthersburg, Calvert and Beale. Batther up!



“First man, Tom!”

Sam Craig pulled his mask down, looked over the field and then knelt behind the plate. Tom, his arms at his sides, watched, nodded, himself turned and viewed the fielders, and pulled his cap down a bit further over his eyes.

“Come on, Tom! Let’s have him!” called Gordon Smith.

“Here we go!” cried Hale.

Tom’s hands came up to his chest, his foot went forward, cunning fingers wrapped themselves around the clean, new ball. At the plate Wiley, third baseman, squared himself and tentatively swung his bat. Behind him Captain Craig placed his feet apart and with slightly bent knees and out-thrust hands waited. Behind the third base line the visitors were still cheering and two noisy youths were encouraging the batsman from the coachers’ boxes. Tom’s arms went back above his head, his body lurched forward, his right hand shot out and a white streak sped away for the[308] plate. A yellowish flash as the bat swept the air, the thud of ball against leather mitt, and the stentorian voice of the umpire:


Amesville cheered, while a chorus of approval arose from the fielders, and Sam, thumping the ball into the deep hollow of his big mitten, cried to Tom: “That’s the stuff, Tom! Keep after him!”

On first, or, to be exact, well off of first and behind the base-path, Joe added his encouragement to the rest and, a bit nervously, perhaps, hitched at his trousers, which didn’t need a particle of attention. Again the wind-up, leisurely and carefully made, and again the sphere flew toward the plate. It was a ball this time, and the batsman judged it correctly and let it severely alone. The cheers from the stands had died away now. A few latecomers were searching for points of vantage well back of the foul lines. The hot June sunlight fell radiantly on the backs of spectators and straw hats had already begun to wave in front of flushed faces. A second ball followed and then a drop that fooled the Petersburg third baseman brought the second strike.

“Two and two!” called Sam cheerfully. “Let’s have him, Tom!”


Joe, on his toes, waited. The ball shot forward again, the bat met it, Joe leaped to the base as Hale, coming in on the run, scooped up the trickling sphere and jerked it across the diamond. Squarely into Joe’s glove it thumped, his left foot touched the bag, and the runner, puffing hard, swerved aside.

“One gone!” called Joe. “Let’s have the next one, Tom!”

“One!” echoed Sam, pointing a dramatic fore-finger aloft.

The next batsman, however, was not to be disposed of in any such manner. He picked out Tom’s second offering and sent it speeding between Smith and Peddie and raced across the first bag without challenge. The coachers redoubled their vocal energy. Twice Tom threw to Joe and twice the runner threw himself back to safety. Then Tom gave his attention to the Petersburg shortstop. With a strike and two balls on that youth, Tom tried to sneak one across in the groove. The shortstop was ready for it and the ball went screeching into right field. Cummings came in hard and got it on the bound, throwing to second. The first runner was on third by that time and Petersburg was yelling madly on stands and bench and coaching lines.


The runner on first stole on the first ball, and Sam, faking a throw to second, slammed the ball to Tom. But the man on third held his place. With only one gone there was no use taking any chances. The Petersburg left fielder got himself into a hole at once, swinging twice at deceptive offerings. Then Tom wasted a couple and, finally, cut the outer corner of the plate and the batsman withdrew with trailing bat. But the trouble was not over yet, for the next man, the Petersburg left fielder, was more canny. He disdained the first two deliveries and the umpire called them both balls. Tom tried to fool him on an inshoot and again missed it. With three balls against him, Tom decided to pass the batsman and so threw wide and the bases were filled. A hit meant two runs, and the hit was forthcoming a moment later when the Petersburg captain, Lyman, picked out something to his liking and raised it far and high into centre field. Morris and Cummings both went after it, but it was Sid’s ball and Sid should have had it. But when it dropped it failed to find its way into his hands, and amidst consternation and gloom in the Amesville ranks, two tallies crossed the platter!

There was a pathetic hunch to Sid’s shoulders as he turned and went back to his position. Then[311] Smith’s cheerful “Never mind that, Sid! Here’s another!” went back to him and he waved a hand answeringly. They were certainly finding Tom Pollock, Joe reflected ruefully, and glanced toward the bench to see if Toby was pulling off his coat. But there was no sign of anxiety there. After all, Joe added consolingly, it was only the first inning. Then he stopped thinking about it and sprinted across the line to pull down a high foul and make the second out. Then came the Petersburg catcher, a sturdy chap with a knowing manner. But Tom was taking no chances and presently Beale walked to first, filling the bases for the second time, while Petersburg hissed.

“What’s wrong with Pollock?” asked Beale as he put a foot beside Joe’s on the bag.

“He’ll settle down in a minute,” answered Joe. “You chaps want to make the most of this inning.”

“That’s what we’re doing,” replied Beale with a laugh.

The Petersburg pitcher started toward the plate, but was called back, and a tall youth took his place. He was Middleton, a substitute fielder, Beale explained as he danced away to a lead. But for once a pinch-hitter remained true to precedent.[312] Tom tried him on a low ball, put a wide one across and then offered one of his famous “knuckle balls.” That did the business effectively, for Middleton struck at it and Sam pulled it down three feet behind the plate. Amesville cheered encouragingly as their team flocked to the bench, and cheered again when Gordon Smith stepped to the plate. Gordon studied two deliveries from Calvert and heard one called a ball and the other a strike. Then he fouled off two, and, with the score two and one, landed against the next offering. But it went straight to shortstop and Gordon was an easy out. Sid Morris had no better luck, for his attempt at a hit was pulled down by centre fielder. Jack hit safely to left. Hale tried hard to get one out of the diamond, but failed, and Jack made the third out, short to second baseman.

Tom found himself in the second inning and only four batsmen faced him, the third man up getting to first on a weak hit to Hale that jumped so erratically that it couldn’t be handled in time. Returning the compliment, Calvert also disposed of the enemy in three chapters, George Peddie striking out, Joe getting his base on balls, and Cummings and Craig fanning.

In the next inning Petersburg got a runner to[313] third, but had to leave him there when, with two down, Cummings gathered in an easy fly that just escaped going foul. Tom Pollock opened things up in Amesville’s half with a smashing drive into deep right that proved good for two bases and Amesville waved her banners and shouted wildly in acclaim. For awhile, however, it seemed that Tom would get no further, for Smith’s best was a fly to second baseman and Sidney Morris, after fouling off a half-dozen, struck out. It was Jack who was destined to bring in the first tally. With two strikes against him he slammed a sizzling hit down the first base line, scoring Tom and taking second himself. That unsettled Calvert for the moment and Hale bunted toward third and barely beat out the throw. By this time Amesville clamoured triumphantly and Sam, at first, and Smith, behind third, added strident voices to the bedlam. With Jack on third, Hale’s steal of second went unchallenged, Peddie swinging harmlessly. Calvert followed that strike with two bad ones, one of which nearly got past the catcher, and then made the mistake of offering a fast out-shoot. Peddie was fond of those and he liked the present one especially and sent it arching into short right field. The fielder scuttled in for it and Captain Lyman, at first base, ran back.[314] But the ball fell harmlessly to earth between them, by which time Jack had scored, Peddie was on first, and Hale was sprinting for the plate. Unfortunately, Hale had pulled up momentarily at third, in spite of Gordon Smith’s urging, and Captain Lyman’s quick, straight throw to the catcher killed him off at the rubber.

But the score was 2 to 2, and Amesville settled back with sighs of satisfaction. Five hits for a total of seven bases was not bad in three innings, they argued, and a continuation of such work should win without trouble. But a continuation proved more than the Brown-and-Blue was capable of. Petersburg went down one, two, three in the fourth inning, but so did Amesville, and in the fifth and sixth she did little better so far as results were concerned. Calvert, after that first wobble, settled down to a fine, steady pace. In the fifth Sid Morris got to first on a pass and in the next inning Joe made his first hit of the game when two were down. But, although Cummings was passed, Sam Craig struck out.

In the meanwhile Petersburg made the most in the fifth inning of a pass, a hit, and an error. Tom presented the first batsman with his base, thereby paving the way for trouble. The left fielder, who had already tasted blood in the third, got a safe[315] hit past Smith and first and second bases were occupied with no one out. Captain Lyman’s drive got away from Tom Pollock’s glove and when he had recovered it the bags were all filled. The next man proved an easy out, retiring after four pitched balls, but Catcher Beale came through with a two-bagger to right that brought two more tallies across. Tom struck out the next pair.

With the score 4 to 2, Amesville, as has been said, failed to help herself to anything in that inning or the sixth. Calvert was pitching his best, and Calvert at his best was a hard nut to crack. Petersburg retired in order in the sixth and seventh, Tom adding two more strike-outs to his growing list.

When Tom Pollock went to the bat in the last of the seventh Amesville arose and demanded runs. “Here we go! It’s the lucky seventh! All up, High School! Here’s where we tie them!”

The cheer leaders waved their megaphones and brought forth lusty encouragement, while Petersburg, fewer in numbers, but possessed of willing lungs, hurled back defiance from across the sunlit field. Joe, squeezed in between Jack and Steve Hale on the home bench, listened silently to the discussion. Coach Talbot was talking to Gordon Smith, next up, but the others were having it back[316] and forth. Manager Mifflin, his black-covered score-book across his knees, was biting the end of his pencil nervously.

“Someone’s got to start something this inning,” Sid Morris was saying. “He’s going to crack again before this game’s over, you mark my words. And when he does we want to be right there, fellows.”

“Calvert’s gone twelve innings,” said Speyer, “without shedding a feather, and it looks to me as if he could do it today.”

“He’s shed a few feathers already,” replied Jack. “We had him going nicely in the third, and if things had worked right we might have been running yet. What happened at third, Walt?”

“My fault, I guess,” answered Hale. “I thought that hit was shorter. Still, I ought to have kept on when Gordon was telling me to. I suppose I got rattled.”

“I’ll take it on first,” said Captain Craig. “Toby, take third, will you? Play this safe till they’re two out and then pull ’em along any old way!” He walked apart with Gordon Smith and then hurried down to the coacher’s place at first, shouting encouragement to Tom as he went.



At the end of the bench sat Frank Foley, sombre gaze fixed on the batsman. Joe, seeing him, felt sorry for his defeated rival and wondered whether Mr. Talbot would put him in for an inning or two. He surely deserved it, thought Joe. It was hard lines having to sit there all through the big game without even a chance to warm his hands! Only, he reflected, if Bat did put Foley in Jack would simply throw a fit! At that instant Foley happened to turn his head and their looks met. If Joe, averting his own glance quickly, had expected to find anger or antagonism in the other’s eyes he was wrong. Foley met his gaze impersonally, unsmilingly. They were still cheering lustily on the stands when Calvert shot the first ball in. Then the noise died away, to start again as the umpire called:


Another ball followed. Then a low one that looked good from the bench and, it seemed, looked[318] good to the umpire. Tom Pollock gravely studied the plate, took a new grip of his bat, and waited once more. The next effort was wild and the ball almost got past the catcher. Amesville shouted and jeered and the two coachers danced and waved and made noise any way they could. Again Calvert pitched, and once more the ball went wide.

“Four balls!” announced Mr. Reardon. “Take your base!”

“Here’s where we start!” cried Jack, excitedly thumping Joe’s knee. “Go to it, Gordon, old scout! You know what to do!”

“It’s the lucky seventh!” shouted the Amesville rooters ecstatically. “Smash it, Smith! Bring him in! Here we go, fellows!”

After that for many minutes Joe was too excited and anxious to know what was going on around him, although once during the subsequent proceedings he had a dim notion that Mr. John Hall and Coach Talbot were shaking hands and that Walter Cummings had fallen backwards over the water carboy! They were cheering Smith now as he faced the pitcher with “sacrifice bunt” written large all over him. But Smith wasn’t destined to sacrifice. Calvert simply wouldn’t allow him to. He, too, ambled to first on a free[319] ticket and bedlam broke loose in the Amesville stand. Men on first and second with none out and only two runs needed to tie! This was indeed the lucky seventh! Then came Sid Morris, after listening to Coach Talbot’s instructions, and Sid was there to hit, as he soon proved by swinging at and missing two pretty poor balls. With the score two and two Fortune took a hand in the game. Calvert was noticeably nervous now and when the fifth delivery shot away from his hand—Sid had fouled off one—it twisted straight for the batsman. Sid stepped back, but not far enough, and the ball struck against his shoulder. He staggered away, dropping his bat and doubling over. But by the time two or three of his team-mates had leaped to his assistance he was smiling and shaking himself.

“All right,” he said over his shoulder as he trotted down the line.

That was the final undoing of Pitcher Calvert. Already the Petersburg second-choice twirler was warming up behind the first base stand. Calvert gazed anxiously around the filled bases, heard the frenzied shrieks of the coachers and the wild, disconcerting babel from the audience and faced the situation a bit wiltedly. The catcher soothed and reassured him from in front of the plate[320] and Calvert tried his best to come back. But Jack laid his bat against the very first ball that came his way and off screeched a line drive into left field, scoring Tom and Gordon Smith and placing Sid on third. Jack took second on the throw-in.

Petersburg seemed inclined to stop the game then and there and have a consultation about it, but Umpire Reardon would allow no post-mortems. Calvert, the center of a group of dismayed players, yielded the ball and took that long walk from the box to the bench, cheered perfunctorily by friend and foe, and Gorman took up his task. Gorman was younger, smaller, and slighter, and that he didn’t at once stop the havoc being worked against Petersburg’s defences was not to be wondered at. Hale was now at bat and the hoarse cries of the Amesville fellows, mingled with the shrill shrieks of the coachers, whirled and eddied about his head, imploring him to clear the bases. In the meanwhile Petersburg’s coaches were rushing about, giving instructions to the fielders. Gorman had speed and lots of it, and Petersburg cheered loudly when his first offering cut the middle of the plate and went for a strike. But Hale was not to be denied and a moment later he connected with one of[321] Gorman’s benders and lifted a high fly to deep left. The fielder made a nice running catch of it, but could not prevent Morris from scoring and putting the game at 5 to 4!

Amesville was now wild with excitement and hats and pennants were waving madly. With but one out and a run to the good the game seemed won, for Jack Strobe was dancing around at third ready to come across on any excuse. It was Peddie’s turn at bat, and Peddie, with one hit already to his credit, would surely be good for another. He was. The youngster let two wide ones go by him and then swung. Crack went bat and ball and the latter sped out into left field, free of the outstretched hands of the fielders, and Jack romped home!

Six to four now, and still there was only one down! Amesville sang and shouted and tramped and waved flags and acted like so many happy lunatics. Down at second Peddie sat on the bag and recovered his breath while Gorman and Beale met for a conclave between plate and mound and Joe, gripping his bat, strode resolutely to the plate. One hit had been the portion of “Lucky” Faulkner that day, and one hit seemed very little to him. And so, when the game went on, he watched and waited craftily until Gorman had[322] tried him on two wide ones and scored a strike. Then Joe found what he wanted and smashed a drive toward third baseman and streaked to first. In the ordinary course of events that should have been the safest sort of a hit and should have put Peddie across the rubber and left Joe on first. But, as it happened, the Petersburg shortstop, who had all the afternoon performed remarkably, sprinted across at full speed and when the ball eluded the frantic glove of the third baseman, got it on the run and, without pausing, slammed it to the plate! It was a close decision, but the umpire waved Peddie out. That virtually ended the lucky seventh, for, although Joe went down to second and slid into the bag an instant ahead of the ball, Arthur Cummings proved an easy victim to Gorman’s skill.

So, with the score 6 to 4, Petersburg went desperately to bat in the eighth while the shadows lengthened across the diamond and the crowd on the stand began to dribble down to the field. Joe made the first out in that inning, taking a sizzling drive from Catcher Beale’s bat. After that Smith threw out the centre fielder and Pitcher Gorman got a life on Smith’s fumble of his grounder and took second when Tom walked the head of the list. But it was all over a minute later when a[323] fine throw from Sam Craig caught the pitcher flat-footed off second.

Sam led off for Amesville in the last of the eighth with a scratch hit that proved too slow for second baseman to field in time. Tom Pollock tried hard to get a hit, but finally fanned, and Smith was instructed to lay down a bunt and advance Sam Craig. It was at this moment that Joe saw Jack leave his place on the bench and speak to Coach Talbot. What was said between them Joe couldn’t hear, nor did he try to, but after a minute of indecision Mr. Talbot nodded his head and Jack returned, looking, as Joe put it afterwards, like the cat who ate the canary.

“You and Bat got it all settled?” asked Joe laughingly as his friend seated himself again.

Jack rewarded Joe with a somewhat sheepish glance as he nodded. After a moment he said in a low voice: “It was about Frank.”

“What about him?” asked Joe, his gaze travelling to the end of the bench.

“You’ll see,” replied Jack evasively, and that was all that he would say.

Smith’s attempt to bunt resulted disastrously, for Gorman would have none of it and the first thing Smith knew he was in the hole. When, with two strikes and two balls against him, he tried to[324] hit it out, the ball slammed itself into Gorman’s glove and Smith was gone. Sid Morris had better success, for he got a hit down the alley between second and shortstop and Sam Craig advanced a base. Then Joe learned the meaning of Jack’s converse with the coach. Mr. Talbot recalled Jack, who had been half-heartedly awaiting his turn, and summoned Frank Foley.

“Foley! Take a whack at it. Don’t try to bend your bat. Just put one through.”

Foley, surprised, leaped from the bench. “Me, sir?” he asked.

“Yes, hurry up!”

Foley hurried. Half a dozen eager hands stretched out as many bats toward him and, seizing a couple, he hurried to the plate, swinging them eagerly. Foley’s friends in the stand applauded warmly and Joe viewed Jack quizzically as the latter sank back into his place on the bench.

“Jack,” began Joe in a whisper.

Jack turned on him rudely. “Oh, dry up!” he muttered.

Joe chuckled. “You’re a fine hater, aren’t you?” he asked.

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” declared Jack, reddening. “Frank’s worked hard all spring and—and he deserved to get in.”


“Of course, he did, and I’m glad, Jack, mighty glad. And it was decent of you, you old poser, to let him——”

“Dry up and watch the game,” begged Jack. “I hope he does something!”

And Frank, who seldom came through with a hit, today did the unexpected. There was a strike and two balls against him when he took his swing, a very healthy swing, too, and off went the ball straight down the first base line, and in raced Sam, while Amesville cheered another tally. But that was all, for Hale flied out to shortstop the next minute and the inning ended.

“All over but the cheering!” cried Jack as the bench emptied. “Hold them safe, fellows! Don’t let anything slip, Joey! I’ll be watching you!”

Frank Foley trotted into left field and Loomis to right. But those were the only substitutions made. Williams and Moran started to warm up by Coach Talbot’s orders, but no one looked to see either of them get in. The audience was already starting hesitantly toward the gates when Petersburg’s right fielder went to bat. Five minutes later many of them were scurrying back again, for, after fouling himself into the hole, the batsman waited and walked! Petersburg cheered hopefully then and when the next man up, who[326] happened to be that redoubtable shortstop, smashed a two-bagger over Peddie’s head, advancing the first runner to third, she cheered quite madly!

It was Amesville’s turn to show concern and Toby Williams began to put on speed where he was pitching to Jack Speyer. But Coach Talbot, contenting himself with low-toned instructions, never so much as looked at Toby. The opponent’s left fielder was replaced by a pinch-hitter and the pinch-hitter won fame and glory. He picked off Tom’s second offering and sent it well into short centre, scoring the men from third and second, putting himself on first and then going on to the next bag when the throw was made to the plate in the attempt to head off the shortstop!

Seven to six! And only one out! No wonder Captain Craig walked down to the box, amidst the joyful hoots of the visitors, and held a consultation there with Tom. No wonder that at last Mr. Talbot’s glance wandered along to where Williams and Moran were pitching. Scattered cries of “Take him out!” arose from the uneasy throng back of the first base line. But the demand was not general and, in any case, Coach Talbot had other intentions.

Captain Lyman came to bat, a little pale, very[327] determined, and—struck out! It was Amesville’s turn to jeer and rejoice and she did so, relieving over-strained nerves. Tom faced the Petersburg second baseman calmly and smilingly, got his signals from Sam, wound up and pitched.

“Shtrike!” called the umpire, and the Brown-and-Blue partisans shouted stridently. Then came a ball, a low one and wide, followed by a second strike across the centre of the plate and shoulder high. Another ball then, for Tom could afford to waste one, and then——

Well, then there was a crack of wood against leather and the batsman was speeding to base! The ball went to Tom, but it was bounding crazily and he could only knock it down in his first stab for it. When he had it in hand he turned toward third to head off the runner from second and saw that that youth had changed his mind and was on his way back to the middle sack. Wheeling quickly, Tom pegged to Joe at first. But by that time the Petersburg runner had rounded first and was dashing to second. Joe caught and turned to throw to Smith when he caught sight of the further runner doubling back. Sensing a mix-up, Joe held the ball and raced for second base. The two runners reached that bag simultaneously. The expected happened. Plump into[328] each other they went with a bang that doubtless made them see stars as they each rolled apart, clear of the base! Joe threw himself between them, his hand with the ball shot to the left and then to the right, and the game was over!

Two minutes later, when Joe, with most of the others who had been caught on the field, was being borne crazily about through the laughing, jubilant throng, swaying and pitching above a sea of faces, his bearers brought him for a moment abreast of Frank Foley and their glances met.

“That was great, Faulkner!” called Frank warmly.

But Joe, smiling happily, shook his head.

“Only luck,” he answered.


Transcriber’s Notes:

Except for the frontispiece, illustrations have been moved to follow the text that they illustrate, so the page number of the illustration may not match the page number in the Illustrations.

Printer’s, punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.