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Title: The Meadow-Brook Girls on the Tennis Courts
       or, Winning Out in the Big Tournament

Author: Janet Aldridge

Release Date: May 16, 2013 [EBook #42725]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Stephen Hutcheson, Rod Crawford, Dave Morgan
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

The Meadow-Brook Girls on the Tennis Courts

The Meadow-Brook
Girls on the Tennis

Winning Out in the Big Tournament


Author of the Meadow-Brook Girls Under Canvas, The Meadow-Brook
Girls Across Country, The Meadow-Brook Girls
Afloat, The Meadow-Brook Girls in The Hills,
The Meadow-Brook Girls by The Sea,
etc., etc.

Akron, Ohio New York
Made in U. S. A.

Copyright MCMXIV


Chapter. Page.
I. Smoke Rings From the Hills 7
II. The Tramps Guard Their Secret 17
III. Keeping the Girls in Suspense 24
IV. An Unpleasant Surprise 33
V. The Tramp Club Receives a Shock 40
VI. A Discouraging Try-Out 48
VII. The Meadow-Brook Girls Change Their Minds 60
VIII. On the Service Line 69
IX. A Cloud with a Silver Lining 81
X. A Joy and a Disappointment 88
XI. A Blow That Nearly Killed George 99
XII. A Guest Who Was Welcome 114
XIII. In the Hands of a Master 123
XIV. A Steam Roller to the Rescue 137
XV. Would-Be Cup Winners Break Camp 147
XVI. In Camp on the Battle Field 156
XVII. The Cup That Lured 170
XVIII. What the Spy Learned 179
XIX. On the Tournament Courts 190
XX. A Welcome Disturbance 199
XXI. A Disaster in Camp 208
XXII. An Exciting Morning 216
XXIII. A Memorable Battle 227
XXIV. Conclusion 245

The Meadow-Brook Girls on the Tennis Courts


“I want thome exthitement,” complained Grace Thompson petulantly.

“Have patience, Tommy,” answered Jane McCarthy. “Did you ever know the Meadow-Brook Girls to go long without it?”

“I don’t know that we can look for anything exciting up here on this side hill, surrounded by stumps, burned trees and blackened logs,” returned Margery Brown. “I shall just perish from doing nothing. We have been up here nearly two days and nothing has happened. I should rather be down in the meadows than up here in this dismal place.”

Miss Elting, the guardian of the party of girls encamped on the hillside, smiled tolerantly.

“Wait,” she advised.

“I’ll tell you what,” suggested the towheaded Tommy. “Buthter, you are fat and round. We’ll thcrape off a thmooth plathe all the way down the thide of the hill, then you roll down to the bottom. That will give you exthitement and make uth laugh, too.”


“But there is a jumping-off place at the bottom,” objected Margery. “I should fall down on the stones.”

“Yeth, I know. But that would be exthitement and make uth laugh. Why thhould you be fat, if it ithn’t to make other folkth laugh?”

Margery elevated her nose disdainfully.

“Do it yourself,” she answered.

“Yes, Tommy. You wish excitement. Suppose you run down and jump into the creek at the bottom of the hill,” called Harriet Burrell, raising a flushed face from the fire over which she was cooking their supper. “Run down and jump in. If the water is deep, you might pretend you are drowning; then Margery will rush to your rescue and save you. Drowning is exciting enough. I know, for I was nearly drowned once.”

“I fear a little trout stream at the foot of a hill would not prove very exciting to a girl who has been lost at sea for hours on a dark night,” observed the guardian. “You will have to think of something else, Harriet. Are you, too, suffering from inactivity?”

“Not at all. Miss Elting,” answered Harriet brightly. “I came out here with you for the [008] sake of the outing, for the fresh air and the birds and the odors of——”

“Burned stumps,” finished Margery. “The whole place smells like a country smoke-house, where the farmer smokes his hams for the winter. Ugh!”

“As far as I am concerned,” resumed Harriet Burrell, “I am not looking for excitement. I am enjoying myself thoroughly. What is more, were I looking for the unusual, I do not think it would be necessary to look far for it.”

Tommy regarded her companion with narrowed eyes and wrinkled forehead.

“Do you know thomething that we don’t know, Harriet?”

“Perhaps I do and perhaps not,” was the evasive reply. “Why don’t you use your eyes and your ears and your nose, you and Margery?”

“My nose?” sniffed Buster. “That’s the trouble. This horrible, smoky, burned smell makes me ill. When I shut my eyes I think the side of the hill is on fire right this minute, instead of a year or so ago, or whenever it was.”

She gazed first down the slope to the valley below, where a slender stream was to be seen threading its way through the blackened landscape, then up the hill to where the trees had begun to grow again after the forest fire had [009] seared their leaves and blackened their young trunks. The trees were making a noble fight for life, the green at their tops showing that some success had attended their unequal fight. Here and there blackened slabs of granite protruded from the uninviting landscape between the camp of the young women and the denser forest beyond, which the fire had failed to reach. Still farther on the campers saw the road that led back to their homes at Meadow-Brook.

The small tent, that had been packed in sections, had already taken on something of the dispiriting color of the landscape in which it had been set. Within the tent the girls had leveled off the ground as well as possible and dug deep trenches on the uphill side, so that they might not be drowned out in case of a heavy rainstorm. They had chosen this uninviting spot principally because it was different from any place in which they had made camp during their summer vacations of the past two years. They could easily shift to another location were they to tire of this one. One advantage of the present site lay in the fact that it was removed from human habitation by some miles. Their own homes lay about twelve miles to the eastward.

Hazel Holland, the fifth girl of the Meadow-Brook Girls’ party, also saw that Harriet had something in mind. She walked over near the [010] fire and sat down, regarding Harriet inquiringly.

“What do you mean, Harriet?” she questioned.

“I haven’t said. Use your eyes. I am too busy getting supper now to make any explanations. Haven’t you girls seen anything unusual?”

“Yes, I have,” answered Margery. “Everything is unusual around here—too much so to suit my cultivated tastes.”

“There ith thome mythtery here,” observed Tommy Thompson wisely.

Miss Elting asked no questions. She knew that Harriet would speak of what was in her mind when she was ready to do so. The supper was soon cooked, the dishes set on a blanket, which had been spread on a fairly level place. Other blankets had been laid down on which the girls took their places with their feet curled underneath them. The dishes were mostly tin and paper, but the supper, smoking and steaming on the blanket, was savory and appetizing. The girls forgot their dismal surroundings in the pleasure of eating what Harriet Burrell had prepared for them, though Margery did her best to look sour, in order to hide her satisfaction, while Tommy now and then regarded her with a smile.

“I don’t believe Buthter intendth to thtop eating [011] to-night,” was the little lisping girl’s comment.

“You stop making remarks about me,” exploded Buster. “Didn’t I tell you I should go right back home if you did it again this summer?”

“Buthter never liketh to hear the truth about herthelf,” averred Tommy with an impish grin.

“The truth!” exclaimed the now angry Margery. “I’ll never speak to you again, Grace Thompson.”

“If you girls only knew how silly you are, you would reform,” said Harriet.

“The only way for a fat perthon to reform ith to run all day in the hot thun,” answered Tommy. “Why don’t you try it, Buthter?”

Margery glared speechlessly at her tormentor, but before she could frame a fitting reply Hazel suddenly asked Harriet a question that quickly changed the current of thought in the minds of the two disputants.

“Perhaps you will tell us what you meant when you made that remark a short time ago, Harriet,” she said.

“What remark, Hazel?”

“About not having to look far for excitement, about using our eyes, ears and noses,” replied Hazel. “What did you mean?”

“Just what I said,” repeated Harriet.


“Be good enough to explain, pleathe?” urged Tommy. “I’m not clever at guething riddleth.”

“Had you girls used your ears, you would have heard something; had you used your eyes, you would have seen smoke; had you used your noses, you would have smelled smoke. Now do you understand?”

“Yeth, I underthtand,” replied Tommy after a brief interval of silence.

“What do you understand?” demanded Margery.

“That Harriet ith lothing her mind. Maybe thhe’ll find it under the blanketth.”

“More likely to find a snake under there,” suggested Hazel, whereat there were screams from Tommy and Buster, who sprang to their feet, gazing at the ground with a frightened expression in their eyes. “Sit down if you wish any more supper,” urged Hazel, laughing.

“That wathn’t funny in the leatht, Hathel,” declared Grace severely. “Now tell uth truthfully, Harriet, what you meant by hearing and theeing and thmelling thingth?”

“Here, I will draw you a map.” Harriet traced a square in the ashes with a stick, making a round dot in the lower left-hand corner. “This dot is the camp of the Meadow-Brook Girls,” she said. “At the extreme upper side are the woods that you see over the brow of the hill, and [013] these,” making a series of rings, “are smoke—smoke rings. Well, why doesn’t some one say something?” she chuckled.

“Smoke rings?” questioned the guardian.

“Yes, Miss Elting.”


Harriet Burrell waved one hand toward the brow of the hill, giving the guardian a meaning look.

“What do you mean?”

“That we have neighbors,” replied Harriet calmly.

“Neighbors!” screamed Margery.

“Where? who? what?” asked the girls in chorus.

“Thave me! I thhould die of fright if I were to thee a thtrange human being again,” cried Tommy. “Do—do you think it ith a man, a real live man?”

Harriet Burrell nodded. Tommy’s eyes grew larger.

“I think it is. Perhaps more than one. Listen. I heard some one shout shortly before I began getting the supper. Then as I was getting the fire going I saw smoke rings rising from the forest up yonder. They were well done and they were signals.”

“Indianth!” breathed Grace. “Grathiouth! We’ll all be thcalped. Oh, thave uth!”


“I answered them by making some smoke signals. There wasn’t enough smoke in my fire, though, to do it very well.”

“So that is what you were up to?” laughed Jane McCarthy. “I thought you were fanning the fire with the blanket.”

“I made the answering sign, which they answered in turn; then there were no more smoke signals from either side. That is all I know about it.”

“Smoke signals,” reflected the guardian. “I know of no one in these parts who would know how to make them. Do you?”

“Well, no; no one whom we have reason to look for here at this time. But I have my suspicions. If I am right, we shall know about it either to-night or early to-morrow morning.”

“Oh! tell us,” begged Margery eagerly. “Please do tell us what you think.”

“Pleathe don’t,” commanded Tommy sharply. “If I know, then I won’t be curiouth any more. If I don’t know, I’ll lie awake all night thinking and guething about it, and oh, I tell you I’ll enjoy it! I do love a mythtery, and thith ith a mythtery, ithn’t it, Harriet?”

“We will call it that. No, not a word, girls; not another word to-night. I don’t want to spoil Tommy’s pleasant prospects. Think what a lot of comfort she will get out of worrying for fear [015] that sometime during the night a party of Indians may swoop down on us, cut off the top of Tommy’s head and run away with her flaxen locks.”

“Can you beat it?” glowed Jane McCarthy. “I almost have the shivers myself.”

“If you girls persist in working up a fright, I see a nice case of nightmare for some of you before morning,” warned Miss Elting. “I am inclined to the belief that what you saw must be a camp of timber cruisers or lumbermen. There are no Indians up here, nor would any tramps come to this desolate place. Please don’t be foolish. Go on with your supper and put aside this nonsense.”

“I don’t want to put it athide!” exclaimed Tommy. “I jutht want to be thcared till I’m all fluthtered up; then I want to be thcared thome more.” Tommy leaped from the blanket and dived head first into their little tent.

At that moment a chorus of wild war-whoops rose from the bushes all about them. Yell upon yell sounded, and a great threshing about in the bushes sent the hearts of the Meadow-Brook Girls to their throats—so it seemed to them. Margery Brown, frightened nearly out of her wits, sprang up and started to run down the hill diagonally from the camp. She caught her foot on the stub of a burned-off sapling, plunged [016] headforemost and went rolling down a sharp incline, her cries of alarm heard but faintly by her companions.


Tommy and Margery were the only girls to ran away. Harriet, Jane, Hazel and Miss Elting stood their ground. Hazel for a few seconds was on the point of running when she saw that Harriet seemed to understand the meaning of the sudden uproar, which was still going on.

There came a lull in the whooping and the shouting. Harriet spoke then.

“Now that we are properly scared, you may come out, boys,” she said.

“Boys? My stars!” muttered Jane. “What boys are you looking for, darlin’?”

“Come out! We know you,” commanded Harriet.

Captain George Baker of the Tramp Club stepped out into the light of the campfire, a little shamefaced and uncertain as to how his attempt to frighten the Meadow-Brook Girls might be received.

“Mr. Baker!” exclaimed the guardian.


“Yes, ma’am,” answered George, twisting his hat nervously in his hands. “I—I hope we didn’t frighten you too much. I—we—I thought you knew we were here.”

“We certainly did not. We did know that some one was up yonder in the woods, because Harriet saw and answered signals. Was it you who made the smoke signals?”

“I and the Pickle,” he answered, referring to his friend, Dill Dodd. “How do you do, Miss Brown? Why, what has happened? Been hit by a cyclone?” Certainly Margery looked much the worse for her tumble. Her skirt was torn, and her face and hands were scratched, but her chin was not too much injured for her to be able to elevate it.

“I haven’t met a cyclone, nor is anything the matter with me, Mr. Baker,” replied Margery, rather haughtily. “When did you come in? Until just now I didn’t know that you were here.”

George smiled sheepishly.

“But where are the boys, George?” asked Harriet.

“Out yonder in the bushes,” he replied, conscious that his face was redder than usual.

“That is too bad. I should have thought of them before this. Boys, come into camp!” called Harriet. “We wish to see you.”


“It’s all right, fellows. Hike along!” commanded Captain George.

So one at a time the boys of the Tramp Club filed into the camp of the Meadow-Brook Girls. They tried to look solemn-faced, yet their eyes were full of merriment. Dill Dodd led the way; then came Fred Avery, Sam Crocker, Charlie Mabie, Will Burgess and Davy Dockrill. The boys were about the same age as the Meadow-Brook Girls, though taller and of stronger build.

As the reader of this series knows, this was not the first meeting of the two clubs. Harriet and her friends were introduced in the first volume of this series, “The Meadow-Brook Girls Under Canvas,” which told of their enjoyable adventures in the Pocono Woods. In that volume the reader became acquainted with the grit, zeal and purpose of Harriet Burrell and her chums, and with the fine influence that Miss Elting, their teacher-guardian, exercised over them.

In the second volume, “The Meadow-Brook Girls across Country,” the five girls and their guardian were shown on their long “hike” homeward, as they had elected to go on foot rather than resort to comfortable travel by train. Though at this time the Meadow-Brook Girls met with some unexpected hardships, the pleasant experiences through which they passed [019] repaid them for their many troubles. In this volume, too, as our readers will recall, the girls first made the acquaintance of the boys of the Tramp Club, who were destined to prove valued friends in many a difficulty. But the pranks of these mischievous lads forced the girls to retaliate in kind, and not only did they pay their score, but proved themselves the boys’ equals in achievement and endurance on the homeward hike.

In “The Meadow-Brook Girls Afloat,” as the third volume of the series is entitled, the little company of girls encountered stirring adventures as well as mirth-provoking incidents during their vacation spent under decidedly trying circumstances on an old houseboat. With the help of the Tramp Club a mysterious enemy, who had caused the Meadow-Brook Girls no little annoyance, was captured, but not until he had succeeded in setting fire to and burning their vacation home.

After the destruction of the “Red Rover,” their boat, they started at once for the White Mountains on a long, muscle-trying experiment in mountain-climbing. All that befell them of adventure, mystery and rollicking good times is set forth in “The Meadow-Brook Girls in the Hills.”

Not one of our readers has yet forgotten the [020] great enjoyment furnished by the fifth volume, “The Meadow-Brook Girls by the Sea.” Here Harriet and her friends were found setting forth on an expedition without knowing whither it led, that secret being in the possession only of Miss Elting, their high school teacher, who accompanied them on all their jaunts. However, the trip proved the most exciting that they had yet had either ashore or afloat.

And now we return to the Meadow-Brook Girls in camp, to find them at the outset of still another vacation hike. So far, however, this experience had proved anything but exciting. So much adventure on previous trips made the present life in the woods seem dull by comparison. So even the coming of the boys was welcomed as a real event by the Meadow-Brook Girls.

As the boys came one by one into camp they were greeted with smiling faces and cordial handshakes. There could be no doubting the pleasure of the girls. Harriet had promptly suspected the presence of the boys when she observed the smoke signals earlier in the evening. She knew of no others who would understand this ancient method of signaling.

“I should like to know how you found us?” said the guardian.

“We found out at Meadow-Brook where you [021] were. The girls’ folks told us,” replied George. “We’ve a great surprise for you.”

“A surprise?” asked the girls in chorus.

“Yes”—George looked wisely at his companions—“the greatest ever. Don’t try to guess it, for you can’t.”

“Wath that why you thaw our folkth?” demanded Tommy shrewdly.

Captain George flushed to the roots of his hair. Tommy had come nearer the mark than she perhaps thought. Even Margery showed her curiosity.

“We are ready to hear about this great surprise,” said Miss Elting smilingly.

“All right, I’ll tell you about it, and——”

“Funny place to pitch a camp, this,” observed Sam Crocker, interrupting what Captain George was saying.

“Yes, I was thinking about that,” declared George. “Whatever induced you to come up to this hole?”

“Thith ithn’t a hole, it ith a thide hill,” corrected Tommy.

“You didn’t finish telling us about the surprise, George,” reminded Jane.

“That is so, I didn’t, did I? Oh, you will be surprised and delighted,” chuckled George. “It’s a dead secret, but I’ll tell you about it. As I was about to say, this is no sort of place for [022] girls to camp. Now we have picked out a much better place.”

“Where?” asked the guardian.

“Up yonder in the woods, or thereabouts. You must move up there.”

“We are very well satisfied where we are,” replied Harriet Burrell, smiling mischievously. “Of course, if you can give us any really good reason why we should move our camp, we will carefully consider your suggestion.”

“We have a nice place picked out for you. That’s why we want you to move,” declared George bluntly.

“Thay, are you trying to play trickth on uth?” demanded Tommy.

“Not at all. Hope to die, we’re not. You’ll see that we are not when you get to the camp we have chosen for you. Now, we’ll be down here early in the morning and move you right up to it. You won’t have to lift a hand toward making the new camp. But we must be going. It is getting late. You’ll surely be ready, won’t you? We shall be on hand early,” announced the captain, rising. “Come along, fellows, we have stayed too long already. The girls will begin telling us to go home if we don’t move.”

“Wait! You haven’t told us about the great secret,” cried Margery, unable to restrain her curiosity any longer. “Tell us now.”


“We’ll tell you all about it in the morning,” called back the captain.

“I want to know now about the great thecret,” shouted Tommy.

The boys scrambled up the side of the hill, shouting their good-byes as they hurried on toward their own camp, leaving the curiosity of the Meadow-Brook Girls unsatisfied.


“Aren’t they provoking?” pouted Margery.

“They are queer boys,” observed Jane, with a shake of her head.

Harriet laughed gleefully.

“It is my opinion that the Tramp Club is preparing to play a joke on the Meadow-Brook Girls,” she declared. “However, I think we are well able to take care of ourselves. Miss Elting, what about this proposal to move the camp?”

“That is for you girls to decide. I see no objection to it. The boys no doubt wish to have us nearer to their own camp.”

“Why don’t they move down here, then?” questioned Jane.


“I hadn’t thought of that. What do you think?”

“I will think it over,” answered Harriet. “The morning will give us time to decide. We’ll sleep over it rather than decide hastily. I should like to know what that surprise is that they have planned for us; that is the kernel in the nut.”

“They just want to tease us,” complained Margery. “I don’t believe they have any surprise at all.”

“I think you are wrong, Margery,” replied Miss Elting. “Those boys surely have something that is to be a great surprise to us. If we don’t do as they wish, they may not tell us.”

“They will tell us,” nodded Harriet reflectively. “What do you girls say about moving camp?”

“We will leave that to you,” answered Hazel.

“Then let us turn in and decide the question to-morrow morning. I always like to sleep over anything of this sort.”

“I don’t. I like to know right away,” declared Margery.

They prepared for bed, having first banked the fire and consulted the skies for weather indications. The girls did not lie awake long thinking of the surprise that the Tramp Club had in store for them. They were far too sleepy to be particularly curious concerning it.


Breakfast, next morning, was finished by seven o’clock. The birds were darting through the air, or pouring forth their songs from bush or tree. The sun was shining brightly, and the skies were blue and smiling.

The girls had not finished washing the dishes when a shout from the top of the hill caused them to look up. Down the incline came the Tramp Club boys, jumping from rock to rock, raising a cloud of dust as they plunged recklessly down the side of the hill toward the camp.

“We have come to move you,” called Captain George, when still some distance from the camp. “Hurry out of the way before we run into you and your camp.”

“Not quite so fast! We haven’t decided to move,” answered Harriet laughingly as the boys came tearing down to them, flushed and breathless.

“We decided that yesterday. You haven’t anything to say about it. Here, Pickle, you drop that tent. Up with it!”

Tent pegs were drawn and down came the tent about Margery’s ears, she having been at work setting the tent to rights. Margery uttered a wail. Davy Dockrill ran to assist her.

“Don’t get in the way of the men,” advised Billy Burgess. “They have a big morning’s work ahead of them, and any one who gets in [026] their way is likely to be run over and perhaps hurt.”

“I gueth they better not run over me,” warned Tommy. “I’d jutht like to thee them try to run over Tommy Thompthon.”

The camp already looked very much as though a tornado had passed over it. The belongings of the Meadow-Brook Girls lay strewn about the camp, the tent was flat on the ground, the fire had been kicked aside and the cooking utensils dragged out to cool off preparatory to packing them. Miss Elting gazed at the bold lads smilingly. Harriet had sat down and was laughing heartily. Margery was too angry to speak for a time, after having been assisted from the collapsed tent by Davy Dockrill.

“Would it be proper to ask where we are going?” questioned Harriet, after she had succeeded in controlling her merriment.

“You are going to a new camp, Miss Burrell, and you’re going to get the surprise of your young life,” answered Captain George.

“I am beginning to think that surprise is a joke, Captain.”

“You’ll find it isn’t. Oh, you girls will be beside yourselves with joy and sheer delight when you hear about it,” chuckled Sam.

“Provided we are not old ladies by that time and unable to walk without crutches on account [027] of our rheumatic joints,” retorted Harriet mischievously.

“I think you should tell us before we shift our camp,” suggested Miss Elting almost severely.

“You are not moving your camp, we’re moving it for you, begging your pardon for contradicting you,” answered George, touching his hat to the guardian. “I’ll tell you before we go.”

In the meantime, that camp was disappearing with greater speed than had ever before marked the striking of a Meadow-Brook Girls’ camp. Thus far the girls had had no part in the striking. They had made several individual efforts, only to be thrust aside by the determined boys. Now and then George would appeal to Miss Elting as to where this or that article was to be packed. The girls were never asked. It was as though they were merely guests.

All was in readiness within half an hour after the boys had swooped down upon the camp. Captain George distributed the packs among his fellows. These were not very heavy loads, for the girls had taken light packs, knowing they would have to climb more or less, provided they followed the hills.

“Now we are ready to move,” announced the captain, himself shouldering the largest of the packs and nodding to the boys.


“But, my dear Captain, we have not yet decided to move camp,” answered Miss Elting, smiling good-naturedly.

“Decided? Of course not. It wasn’t for you to decide. We decided that yesterday. You don’t have to come along if you don’t want to, but your equipment is already on the way.”

“I won’t go a step,” declared Margery.

“You may, of course, stay here if you wish,” answered the captain politely. “May I assist you up the hill, Miss Elting?” he questioned.

“Oh, no, thank you, Captain, I am quite well able to climb this hill. Come, girls. I suppose we might as well give in. It is either that or lose our equipment. These young men are very determined.”

“Aren’t you going to tell uth what the great thurprithe ith?” demanded Tommy.

George uttered a long-drawn whistle.

“Say, girls, I forgot all about that. Honestly I did.”

“Then tell us now,” suggested the guardian.

“I’ll tell you when we get to the camp.” George began climbing the hill, followed slowly by the girls and their guardian.

“Isn’t he provoking?” grumbled Margery petulantly.

The boys led the way over the brow of the hill to the more level ground and on into the [029] forest that crowned the top of the hill. Reaching a cleared spot from which the timber had been cut, the girls found the advance guard of Tramps at work pitching the tent. There was a heavy growth of bushes, but the stumps had been fairly well burned off. The clearing, surrounded by great trees, was about an acre in extent and a really attractive camp site.

“Here we are,” announced George jovially, throwing down his pack. “You girls just make yourselves at home while we put the place to rights. How do you like it?”

“I like it,” answered Harriet frankly. “You have done considerable work here, I see—cut all the bushes and leveled off the ground for the camp. It is very kind in you, Captain. Where is your camp?”

“A quarter of a mile to the north,” he replied with a wave of his hand. “You will find a fine spring just the other side of those rocks yonder. There is an old log road leading in from the highway. It is a much more convenient place in every way than the one where you were camped, and yet not a soul comes here. We were here for a time last fall. Have you plenty of provisions?”

“For the present,” answered Harriet, nodding. “We shall have to go to town within the week, however.”


“No need to do that. There is a farmhouse a mile from here where we can get everything we need. We go there for milk every morning. We can just as well bring your milk at the same time and anything else you may need.”

“You are very kind,” said the guardian. “But now that we are here, suppose you tell us about that very great surprise.”

George pointed out a pile of wood that they had gathered, showed Harriet where the spring lay hidden behind the big rock and pointed out other advantages of the camp they had chosen for their friends, the Meadow-Brook Girls, all of which pleased the girls very much, though Margery and Tommy would not have shown their satisfaction for the world.

The camp was pitched in record time that morning, but the boys kept working about, even going so far as to make an oven of flat stones. George then drew from a bag a dozen squirrels that they had shot that morning. These he proceeded to skin and dress, after which he spitted them on sharp sticks ready for broiling over the fire when luncheon time should have arrived.

The hour for getting the noon meal was at hand almost before the young people realized it. Time had passed very rapidly that morning. The boys got the luncheon that day. By this time the Meadow-Brook Girls had begun to [031] enter into the spirit of the fun. They were chatting and laughing gayly, teasing the Tramp Boys and criticising their methods of house-keeping. Luncheon was the jolliest meal they had enjoyed that season—so the girls unreservedly declared. After having finished and before getting up from their blankets, Captain George coughed significantly.

“Now, I suppose, you would like to hear about it,” he said teasingly.

Harriet shrugged her shoulders.

“Having waited this long, I don’t think it would give us much pain to wait longer,” she replied.

“No, no! Tell us,” cried Buster.

“I thought you weren’t curious?” taunted Davy.

“Don’t keep us in suspense, Captain. Tell us now. You don’t have to be coaxed to tell, do you?” asked Miss Elting.

“No, we are really anxious to tell you the whole story, and I know you’ll all shout with delight when you hear it,” answered Captain George.



The captain of the Tramp Club leaned back and, clasping his hands about his knees, gazed reflectively at the blue sky overhead. The eyes of the Meadow-Brook Girls were fixed inquiringly on his brown face. Captain George appeared to be in no hurry to tell them of the surprise that the Tramps had in store for the girls. Tommy was the first to break the silence.

“Thith thuthpenthe ith killing,” she observed.

“Oh, don’t hurry him,” scoffed Crazy Jane. “He won’t be half so interesting after he has told it; and, what’s more, he knows it. That’s why he’s so long about telling. Suppose you wait until after supper, George? The evening is so much better for telling fairy stories. Then we can all go to bed and have nightmares!”

“This isn’t a joke,” protested Sam Crocker a trifle impatiently. “This is dead serious business, as you will realize before you have done with it.”

“Indeed?” commented Buster sarcastically.

“Yes, indeed,” returned Sam sharply. “Better tell them and have it out of your system. [033] I’m getting a little tired of their not believing us. They will believe all right after they hear the glad and joyous tidings.”

“We believe motht anything,” Tommy informed them solemnly. “And we believe you folkth don’t know what you are talking about. Do you!”

“If you will give me half a chance, I will tell you,” answered George. “Did you ever hear of Newtown, on the coast?”

“Oh, yes. That is a fashionable summer resort,” said Harriet.

“Just so. Ever hear of the Atlantic Coast Tennis Tournaments?”

The girls shook their heads.

“I have,” said Miss Elting. “I have understood that they were a feature of the summer at Newtown.”

“They are,” agreed George. “They are the biggest and most important affairs ever pulled off along the coast, and don’t you lose sight of that for a minute.”

“We won’t. What next?” demanded Grace.


“In this tournament,” continued Captain Baker, “there are many classes and many valuable prizes. No money prizes, of course, for this is purely an amateur tournament, but it brings out some crack players, you may depend upon that. The best players there are in New England come down to Newtown to match their skill against their fellows. People journey many miles to attend this tournament, which usually lasts several days, sometimes a week. Most of the contests are bitterly fought. More national tennis players have graduated from that tournament than from any other in the United States. I know, because Jack Herrington, the manager of the tournament, told me so.

“It is a great honor even to be entered at Newtown,” declared George. “Believe me, not every one can get an entry there. Oh, it’s very select and one has to be well up in the lists to get an entry, but once having entered there is no backing out. The entries are closed now.”

“When is this tournament to take place?” questioned Miss Elting, interested, though she could not satisfactorily explain to herself why.

“Five weeks from now.”

“Are you boys going?”

“Are we going?” fairly shouted George. “You couldn’t keep us away with a team of elephants. I rather guess we are going, and we shall stay till the last ball is batted over the net and the prizes awarded.”

“Then you are going to play?”

He shook his head.

“Wish we might, but there are no classes for boys. Herrington promises to have a class for [035] us next season. You will see the Tramp Club on hand with the racquets then and you’ll all come to see us cover the name of the Tramp Club with glory.”

“You have done that already,” said Harriet.

“Thank you.” The boys took off their hats and bowed gravely.

“But,” continued George, “I feel that I have scored a greater triumph this year than I ever shall by playing.”

“How so?” asked the guardian politely.

“Because I’ve entered a winning team, entered a team that all the amateurs along the coast couldn’t beat. Why? Because the team, my team, I call them, wouldn’t know it if they were beaten. They’d keep right on playing till the Atlantic itself froze over, if somebody didn’t cut in and stop them. That’s why. You watch our entry and see if they don’t set the State of New Hampshire howling like a parcel of mad Indians. Ever see a mad Indian?”

“I have seen what I thought was one,” answered Jane significantly.

“You haven’t seen the real thing nor——”

“We are still waiting for the great mystery to be solved,” reminded Miss Elting.

“I’m solving it as rapidly as possible. Nor will you see the genuine article till after the tournament at Newtown is finished.”


“We’re all agreed on that point,” interjected Charlie Mabie. “There isn’t another team in the State that can hold its own with our entries.”

“I sincerely hope you young gentlemen may not be disappointed. I should like to see your team play and——”

“See them play?” exploded Davy. “I should say you would. If you didn’t, we could never forgive you. Of course you will see them play. The idea of your having any doubts on the subject!”

“But, my dear boys, why should I be so interested, not knowing any of the contestants, not even knowing who your team may be?” expostulated the guardian.

“Not—not—not know?” shouted Dill Dodd. “That’s so, you don’t,” he added in a lower voice. “I had forgotten that you didn’t know them. But you will—you will—and when you do you’ll be just as enthusiastic as we are, maybe more so.”

“That would be impossible,” said Harriet, smiling and nodding.

The boys themselves were becoming excited. They were fairly bursting with impatience to blurt out the whole story. George Baker was not telling it nearly fast enough to suit them. Tommy and Margery shared their impatience. [037] Tommy’s face was working nervously and Margery was making a desperate effort to be calm. They felt sure that there was more to the story, more of interest to themselves than they could even guess.

They were not wrong in their surmise. There was more to tell, as they were speedily to learn.

“Are the prizes worth while?” asked Harriet.

“A silver cup for the winning team. It’s worth more than a hundred dollars, and will have the name of the winning club engraved on it. Then there will be individual prizes. There are second and third prizes, too, but I don’t know what they are. I didn’t ask Herrington, for the reason that I wasn’t interested. I was interested in the first prize. Our team will get it, of course.”

Harriet was regarding him with narrowed eyes now, her forehead wrinkled into lines of perplexity. The way George was looking at her set the girl to wondering.

“Who is your team, George?” she asked.

“Who is my team? Don’t you know?” he almost shouted.

“Naturally not. You haven’t told us.”

“They aren’t mind readers, George,” reminded Billy Burgess. “I’ll confess that you’ve almost got me guessing. You’ve so befuddled [038] me that I’m beginning to wonder if I know who they are myself.”

The boys burst out into a jolly laugh.

“Oh, tell them and be done with it. For goodness’ sake, quit circumnavigating the globe,” scoffed Davy. “I could walk to town and back while you are saying ‘No, thank you.’ Speak up.”

“And you haven’t guessed yet?” questioned George.

“We are more in the dark than when you began,” replied Harriet. “Who is to play on your team?”

“Why, you are, of course. The Meadow-Brook Girls are our team. You are the players who are going to win the tennis championship for the coast, and you’re going to put all the others so far back of the lines that they won’t be able to find themselves for the rest of the summer. Now, what do you think of that?”

“What?” Harriet sat up very straight, looking George Baker squarely in the eyes. “Why, Mr. Baker, none of us has ever played a game of tennis in her life.”



“Quit joking. I mean what I say,” commanded Captain Baker somewhat testily. “Of course I know you girls play tennis as well as you do everything else. Knowing this, I hadn’t the least hesitancy in entering you for the tournament. I told Jack Herrington all about you. He insisted on my making the entry right there and then. You see, he had heard of the Meadow-Brook Girls. He knew almost as much about their accomplishments as I did myself. He said that was just the kind of entries they wished for the Atlantic Coast Tennis Tournament. I was mighty glad he said that, for I really wanted you girls to go in and win the cup, so I made the entry in Miss Harriet’s name per George Baker as representative. There are girl teams entered from all along the coast and they are cracker-jacks, too, but they aren’t in the same class with you girls, either in tennis or anything else. Now, isn’t that great?” Captain George’s face was flushed and his eyes were sparkling.

“Great?” answered Harriet slowly. “I told you none of us ever had played a game of [040] tennis in her life, and I meant it. Some of us have knocked the ball about a little with the racquets, but not one of us ever has played a game. Why, we know absolutely nothing about tennis.”

“What? You—you mean to say—you mean you are in earnest—you aren’t joking with me?”

“I was never more serious in my life, George,” replied Harriet gravely.

Captain George Baker looked as he felt—thunderstruck—while his companions’ faces reflected his consternation. George groaned dismally.

“But we’ve entered you. You must go through with it,” he expostulated.

Harriet shook her head.

“It is out of the question, George. Miss Elting plays, I believe. Let her take the entry for us.”

“She isn’t eligible,” objected George. “This entry is for girls not more than eighteen years old. Of course you will play,” he added with a more hopeful note in his tone. “I know well enough that you play, and play superbly. No girls who are such clever girls, out-of-doors as well as in, could help playing tennis. Besides, you will have to do it now. I tell you I’ve entered you.”


“No, George. I am sorry, but you will have to withdraw our entry, explaining to Mr. Herrington that we don’t play and that you were led into the making of the entry by his urging.”

“The papers have printed the entries,” shouted George. “And they’ve told all about you,” he added in a tone of misery.

“Show them what the papers printed, George,” urged Dill.

Captain George drew a wrinkled piece of newspaper from his blouse pocket and flattened it out on one knee with the palms of his hands. He regarded the paper ruefully, then handed it to Dodd.

“You read it, Dill. My voice is going back on me. I must have yelled myself hoarse this morning. It’s all about you, girls. You will see that you’ve got to go through with this business, no matter what happens.”

“Ahem!” exclaimed Dodd. “Are you ready for the question? The question is to play or not to play. This is an item in the ‘Newtown Register’ and, as you will observe, was written with a complete knowledge of all the facts.”

“Read it. Don’t waste so much time talking,” cried Sam.

“The item is as follows,” said Dill. “That is, I shall read only that part relating to you [042] girls and your entry. What it says about the other entries, of course, will be of no interest to you just now. Later on it may. I quote from the ‘Register’: ‘Not the least interesting among the entries for the Atlantic Coast Tennis Tournament is that of the Meadow-Brook Girls of Meadow-Brook, New Hampshire. This is not, strictly speaking, a tennis club. The young women who form this organization have become known to the public by reason of numerous vacation tours which they have made on foot and by automobile throughout the State. Their thorough athletic training, coupled with their proficiency in outdoor sports, will make them formidable contestants. We shall welcome them to the Coast Tournament and hope to have them with us as long as they remain eligible for the classes offered here.’ Then follows the family history of each of you girls,” added Dill mischievously.

“My grathiouth, you don’t thay tho!” exclaimed Tommy. “Won’t my father be ath mad ath a hatter! He thayth young girlth thhould be theen but not heard.”

“Here’s another from the ‘Gazette,’” announced George, passing a second slip to his companion.

“‘Great interest is being manifested in the entry of the well known organization who call [043] themselves the Meadow-Brook Girls,’” read Dill. “‘Their coming is awaited with deep interest by the summer visitors as well as the regular residents of Newtown, who are justly proud of old New Hampshire’s girls.’”

“I fear you have involved yourself and us in a scrape, Captain George,” said Miss Elting. “I know something about tennis, and have played a few games. I know, too, that long practice is necessary even to play an ordinary game of it. But even in my case, I can’t say that I know enough about the game to instruct any one else. You must go to Mr. Herrington and tell him frankly that the entry was made under a misapprehension, and that it must be withdrawn.”

“What, after all thothe complimentth?” demanded Tommy. “Never! I’ll play the whole tournament mythelf firtht.”

“No, George,” insisted the guardian, “it isn’t possible. You must cancel the entry. My girls do not play tennis, and that is all there is about it. I am, of course, ineligible, much as I should like to keep up the reputation of the Meadow-Brook Girls. We are very sorry to disappoint you.”

“George will have to go to Newtown and tell Herrington all about it,” declared Dill. “We have made fools of ourselves, but through no [044] fault of the girls. We should have found out whether or not they played the game before entering them in the tournament.”

“I didn’t think for a minute that it could be possible they didn’t play. I didn’t suppose there was anything they couldn’t do, and I’m half inclined to believe they are fooling us now,” declared George. “I——”

His voice trailed off into an unintelligible mumble as he observed the troubled eyes of Harriet Burrell fixed upon him. “Oh, shoot the whole business!” he exploded.

Billy Burgess had in the meantime beckoned to Sam. The two boys slunk out of camp and a few moments later were observed staggering back, bearing some heavy burden between them. The girls could not imagine what the boys were bringing into camp. George knew, however. He started up, his face flushing angrily.

“Take it away!” he yelled. “We don’t want it. What are you fellows trying to do, make a bigger fool of me than I am already?” he demanded.

“That would be impossible,” laughed Sam.

“For mercy’s sake, what have you there?” cried Miss Elting.

“The makings,” answered Dill. “And it was an unlucky day for us, when we bought them, wasn’t it, Captain George Baker?”


“You’d better drag that thing out of here,” roared George, now thoroughly angry. “Am I the captain of this club or not?”

“Don’t take it away, boys. We want to know what it is. Is this bundle a mystery, another of your great surprises?” demanded Jane McCarthy.

“This is the treat that was to be,” Dill informed them. “Of course, it isn’t a treat now, it’s just a sad reminder of what might have been, but we thought you might like to have a look. You’ll see what you have missed and we shall shed tears, George shedding crocodile tears. If you wish to know how a crocodile weeps, just observe the eyes of our noble captain. George, prepare to weep.”

“Oh, keep quiet!” growled George Baker. “I’ll trounce you if you keep on. Are you going to take that thing away?”

“Not until our very good friends, the Meadow-Brook Girls, have had an opportunity to see it and learn what a chance to distinguish themselves they have missed.”

“You have aroused our curiosity,” said the guardian laughingly. “You simply must let us into this new secret. Such boys! I never saw your like! I’ll confess that I am as curious as any of my girls. What have you there?”


“The makings, I said,” answered Dill Dodd—“the making of world champions and championesses.”

“I don’t understand,” answered Miss Elting, glancing from one to another of the boys. The latter were now smiling broadly, all save Captain Baker himself, whose face was gloomy, his gaze fixed morosely on the ground.

Sam Crocker drew a knife from his pocket, opened it and felt the edge of the blade with aggravating deliberateness, then suddenly cut the heavy twine that held the bundle together.

The bundle sprang open. The two lads grabbed the contents and quickly spread them out over the ground in front of the girls’ tent. The Meadow-Brooks were silent for a few seconds; then broke out into exclamations of delight.

“Just look!” cried Margery shrilly.

“Oh, you boys, you boys!” exclaimed the guardian, her eyes glowing with an excitement and pleasure that she made no effort to conceal. “How really unkind we have been to you.”



“And you have done all this for us?” asked Miss Elting, stepping over and placing a hand on the shoulder of the disconsolate George, who, sitting with his chin in his palms, never so much as glanced up at her.

“No; just for the sake of showing you what fools fellows can make of themselves,” he answered sourly.

“Oh, don’t say that, Captain,” begged Harriet, running to him. “We shall never forget your goodness—never! It was splendid in you!”

“A real tennis net!” cried Margery. “What a lot of fun we shall have with it.”

“It is a splendid outfit, too,” declared Miss Elting, examining the contents of the bundle with critical eyes; “everything complete, even to racquets, and the best to be had in the market, too. Oh, how can we thank you? But isn’t this outfit new?” she asked, a sudden thought occurring to her.

Sam nodded and smiled.

“To whom does it belong?” she continued.


He waved his hand as indicating that it was the property of the Tramp Club. In the meantime George’s face was taking on a deeper flush, the heel of one boot was digging more and more savagely into the turf, and his hair, through which he had run his fingers, was standing up wildly.

“The property of the Tramp Club?” repeated the guardian.

Sam nodded, but George did not.

“When did you get it?” questioned Miss Elting.

“It came the day before yesterday,” Dill informed her. “We’ve been looking for it for more than a week—we could hardly wait till it got here. When it came, we hustled right over to Meadow-Brook, where we learned that you were out here.”

“But—but you didn’t carry it all the way from Meadow-Brook here, did you?” demanded Jane.

“No, we didn’t tote it,” answered Sam. “We got a farmer who was on his way out here to carry it in his wagon. We carried it up from the road, about a mile. That was far enough. We are very sorry we had all our trouble for nothing.”

“We’re not sorry!” roared George. “We aren’t sorry for anything we do for the Meadow-Brook [049] Girls. The fellow who says that isn’t a Tramp by a long shot.”

“I—I didn’t mean it just that way,” apologized Sam. “You know what I meant.”

Harriet, who had been watching the faces of the boys and listening to what was said, had already come to a certain conclusion regarding the thoughtfulness of the boys. She put that conclusion into words a few moments later.

“You mean that you boys bought this outfit, net, balls, racquets and all? Is that it?”

“We certainly did,” cried Sam.

“Will you keep quiet?” demanded George angrily. “You ramble on and tell everything you know almost before you are asked. We got that outfit, ladies, because we wanted it and for no other reason. We thought, seeing you were going to play in the tournament at Newtown, that you might like to practise while you were out here. That’s all there is to it. Don’t pay any attention to what Sam says; he isn’t always responsible.”

Harriet was not deceived. Neither was Miss Elting. It was plain to both that George Baker and his fellows had purchased this tennis outfit solely in the interest of the Meadow-Brook Girls. The guardian, knowing something of these matters, realized that the boys must have purchased the outfit at a great personal sacrifice, [050] thus increasing her wonder and admiration for the unselfish Tramp Club. As a matter of fact, the boys had sacrificed their pocket money in order to get the outfit, fully expecting the girls to be overcome with joy. Instead of this the girls had met them with the amazing news that they had never played a game of tennis in their lives!

“You bought it for us,” reflected Harriet, with her chin in her hand, regarding the disconsolate George with thoughtful eyes.

“Suppose we purchase the outfit?” suggested Miss Elting.

Captain George sprang up, his face reflecting his indignation.

“Do you think we are that kind of fellows?” he demanded. “I beg your pardon. I didn’t mean to speak to you in that tone, Miss Elting,” he apologized.

“You need not apologize. We accept your kind thoughtfulness and appreciate the spirit behind it. But it is too bad that you have had to be so disappointed. Let me think it over and see what can be done.”

“Nothing can be done,” groaned George. “We’re in up to our chins and we’re going in up to our eyes before we’ve done with it.”

Tommy and Margery had taken up racquets and balls and were batting the balls about, [051] shouting delightedly. They already had volleyed one ball off into the bushes and lost it. Billy Burgess was down on his knees crawling about in the bushes in search of it. Already a hopeful spirit was apparent in the faces of nearly all the boys and most of the girls. Harriet was thoughtful, while Miss Elting smiled her appreciation upon the boys, of whom she was almost as fond as of her own young charges.

“I would suggest that we put up the net. Even if we aren’t able to play, we shall be able to have a lot of enjoyment out of the tennis outfit,” said Harriet. “Do you object to our using it while we are here, boys?”

“Object?” George Baker was on his feet instantly, the set lines of his face relaxing somewhat. “Well, I should say not! Do you really mean that you’ll play over the net?”

“I don’t know about playing,” answered Harriet laughingly. “We will agree to volley the balls back and forth.”

“You’re fooling me!” shouted George. “You said ‘volley.’ No one but a tennis player would know about that word. Hurrah! Put up the net, fellows. We’ll see about this.”

“Please do not deceive yourself,” begged Harriet. “We have told you the simple truth. We do not play. I knew the word and what it means, having heard Miss Elting use it. But we [052] will put up the net just the same and have ever and ever so much fun. I’ll tell you what, George. You teach us how to play. Miss Elting will play with you. She can play.”

“Indifferently,” answered the guardian. “I fear I should cut but a sorry figure with such experts as the Tramp Club, especially such an expert as Mr. Baker.”

“Expert! Ho-ho! Ha-ha!” chuckled Sam. “Wait till you see him play! Oh, yes, he’s the original and unconquerable champion of the Granite State. Get busy, fellows. Don’t stand about like a lot of wooden Indians waiting to be placed on your pedestals. There aren’t any pedestals here. If there were, you wouldn’t occupy them, not while there are ladies present.”

“Where shall we place the net?” asked Hazel.

“Over yonder,” answered George. “You must level off the ground first, boys.” He was full of new interest now. “Wait. I’ll trim down the bushes, then some of you get to work and dig them up—dig up the roots, I mean. It’s not exactly an ideal place for a court.”

The boys fell to with a will, the girls getting to work assisting them in clearing the ground in preparation for a tennis court. Nearly an hour was occupied with this work, with the result that a fairly level and smooth court had been constructed, George having paced off the measurements [053] so that they were almost accurate. It would not do for the girls to learn on a court that was either too large or too small, for this would have an effect on their playing when they came to play on a real court.

While the others were setting the net, George with a stick was busily engaged in marking out the base line and other lines of the court. All this was of interest to the Meadow-Brook Girls because they did not understand the purpose of it. They had no idea what the lines were for nor why they should be there at all. But Harriet early began asking questions, and by the time the markings were down she had some inkling as to their uses.

“Chalk is used to mark the lines ordinarily,” explained George. “Having no chalk, we fall back on a sharp stick. The lines aren’t very plain, but plain enough, I guess, for all we shall require of them. I reckon we’ll have time to volley a few times before night,” he added, consulting the skies. “I know you girls are going to give us the surprise of our young lives.”

“We are,” agreed Harriet, balancing a racquet on the first finger of her right hand.

“Where’d you learn to do that?” demanded the captain sharply.

“Why, I—I didn’t know I was doing anything so remarkable,” stammered Harriet.


“That’s a trick of expert tennis players to learn whether a racquet is properly balanced. You needn’t tell me you don’t know anything about the game. Sam, bring a ball here. You fellows are going to get a surprise in about a minute and a half. Harriet, you and Hazel take your places. No, not in the middle of the court—diagonally in those squares. There. Now play!”

Harriet tossed up the ball and made a swing at it with the racquet. She did not even hit the ball. Her companions laughed merrily at her awkwardness.

“Try again. That was no stroke,” said George.

Harriet tried again, sending the ball toward Hazel. Hazel struck at it with so much force that she spun her body completely about, but she did not hit it.

“Where is it?” cried Hazel.

“Gone where the poison ivy twineth,” announced Sam solemnly. “I reckon that ball is going yet. Woof! What a stroke!”

“Don’t you know that after a service in the beginning of the game the ball must first touch the ground and be taken on the first rebound?” asked Dill.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hit it so hard,” apologized Harriet. “Better luck next time.”


“She didn’t mean to hit it so hard,” mocked Sam.

Billy recovered the ball after considerable hunting about in the bushes. In the meantime another ball had been pressed into service. This time Harriet succeeded in serving it into the court of her opponent, but Hazel did not see it coming. The ball rolled out of bounds and lay waiting to be picked up.

“Tell me the truth, are you girls playing off?” demanded George.

“No, indeed,” answered Harriet laughingly. “Is there still a lurking idea in your mind that we really do know how to play?”

“There was, up to a few moments ago. I know she doesn’t,” pointing to Hazel. “There couldn’t be any mistake about that. Nobody could make-believe play-off like that.”

“Let me thhow them how to play,” piped Tommy.

“Yes. You and Margery have a try-out,” suggested Miss Elting.

Harriet and Hazel willingly gave way to their two companions. Margery started in by grasping the racquet firmly in both hands. George shook his head sorrowfully.

“What do you think you are playing—baseball?” demanded Sam jeeringly. “We don’t bat in tennis. We hold the racquet artistically [056] in one hand, then, when the ball meanders over into our court, we give it a genteel swat in the northeast corner; next, biff! bump! bang! Back she comes again, just starving to death for more. Do you see?”

Miss Elting laughed merrily.

“Your description is graphic, indeed,” she said. “I think Margery will have no difficulty in returning her opponent’s service after that.”

“Buthter ith too fat to play anything but football,” averred Tommy. “Thhe would be a thuctheth in football becauthe thhe could fall on the ball and hold it down tho nobody elthe could get it. Do I hit the ball firtht?”

“Does she hit it first?” groaned Bill. “You ‘serve’ it. That’s the polite way to express what Sam would call the opening swat.”

“Then what do I do?” questioned Margery.

Miss Elting here took a hand in the instruction.

“When your opponent serves the ball into your court, you let the ball strike the ground, bound up into the air, then you volley it back into your opponent’s court. Then, the ball being in play, you do not have to let it strike the ground again unless you wish to do so.”

“But how can I help its striking the ground if it wants to?” cried Buster.

George groaned dismally at this question.


“By hitting it!” he shouted. “Keep the ball going as long as there is any ‘go’ left in it. Play!”

“Look out!” shouted Tommy, and without waiting for her opponent to prepare herself, she served the ball with a fairly well directed stroke, so accurate, in fact, that the ball sped true to its mark, hitting Buster squarely on the nose. The hurt of it was not so great as was the surprise. Margery staggered and fell over on her back, to the accompaniment of shouts of laughter from both boys and girls.

“I gueth I can play,” declared Tommy proudly, “but Buthter ith too fat.”

“You did it on purpose,” cried Margery, getting to her feet and touching her nose gingerly with the tips of her fingers. “Is it bleeding?”

“No, it isn’t bleeding,” assured George sympathetically.

“If it isn’t bleeding it’s broken. Oh, my poor nose!”

Tommy was regarding her quizzically, her shrewd little face wrinkled into sharp lines. Tommy was very proud of her accomplishment, for did it not prove that she was very skilful and Margery not?

“I think myself that Margery is not a success at tennis,” answered Miss Elting. “I believe you had better give it up and let Harriet [058] and Jane have an opportunity. Jane hasn’t held a racquet yet.”

“No! I’ll play if it kills me,” declared Margery.

“That’s the talk!” cried Sam. “That’s the spirit that wins games and everything else! But,” he continued, addressing Tommy Thompson, “don’t you be so violent this time, Grace. Take it more slowly to begin with. Just drop it over into the other court; send it over so slowly that Margery cannot fail to see it. Easy as falling off a log.”

“Play!” commanded George.

This time Tommy made three passes before she succeeded in hitting the ball. She gave a gentle lift on the third stroke, serving it over the net, barely missing the net itself. Margery, following Sam Crocker’s advice, ran toward the ball making wild swings with her racquet. Luckily, ball and racquet met. Margery gave the ball a toss, but it was more the force of her forward lunge than the stroke that sent the ball over the net. The girl herself kept right on going. From sheer force of her momentum she could not stop.

In the meantime Tommy had darted forward to meet the ball and volley it back into the opposite court. Just before reaching the net she stubbed her toe on a root that had been overlooked, sprawled head first into the net, and became hopelessly entangled in its meshes.


“Thave me!” moaned Tommy.

Buster, who was still lunging forward, tripped also and plunged forward head first, her own head bumping Tommy’s with great force.


For a full minute the two camps were so convulsed with laughter that they were unable to go to the rescue of the two unfortunate tennis players, now so thoroughly wound up in the net as to be quite helpless. The more they tried to extricate themselves the more entangled did they become.

Then something else was discovered. Sam Crocker was seen groveling on the ground, both bands clapped tightly against his face.

“What’s the matter with you?” demanded Dill Dodd after the two unfortunates, bruised and sore, had been assisted out of the net.

“If you had eyes you could see without asking so many questions. She let the racquet go when she struck at the ball and it got me. The end of the handle hit me on the nose. It’s harder than iron, too. It’s broken, as sure as you’re [060] alive. Oh, why did I ever permit myself to get into this scrape?”

“That is too bad,” replied Dill sympathetically. “Here we go and buy the best racquets to be had, then you have to break one the first thing.”

“What!” yelled Sam. “It wasn’t the racquet that was broken, it was my nose!”

Tommy and Margery, after having escaped from the net, had sat down heavily. Sam still sat where Tommy’s racquet had laid him low, nursing his injured nose and rocking his body to and fro.

The campers screamed with laughter. He presented such a ludicrous figure that they could not help laughing. Even Miss Elting could not hide her amusement.

“That’s right. Laugh if you want to. I’d laugh myself if I weren’t afraid of ruining my nose forever. They deserve to be laughed at,” he declared angrily.

“We aren’t laughing at Tommy and Margery, we are laughing at you,” cried Crazy Jane.

Harriet, in the meantime, had brought a basin of water and, kneeling down, was washing the blood from Sam’s damaged nasal organ. As she wiped away the blood she observed that his nose was leaning slightly to one side. Dill, who [061] had been an interested spectator, had observed the same thing.

“Out of plumb, isn’t it?” he questioned quizzically.

“It’s broken. Didn’t I tell you it was?” groaned Sam. “I may not know everything, but I know my own nose and I know when it’s broken.”

The guardian stepped over to where Sam and Harriet were sitting. She examined Sam’s nose carefully.

“If you twitht it a little you can tell whether it ith broken or not,” suggested Tommy.

Sam yelled in anguish at the thought.

“Don’t you dare try it!”

“Never mind Tommy. She is just a little savage,” chuckled Harriet. “Neither Miss Elting nor I would give you the slightest unnecessary pain.”

“That sounds very well, Harriet. I fear, however, that I shall have to give Sam quite a little pain,” said the guardian.

“What are you going to do?” cried Sam.

“First straighten your nose, then bolster it so it will stay straight.”

“Shall I get the tent pole?” asked Dill eagerly.


“Don’t wear out my patience, fellows,” warned Sam. “I’m a wounded man, I’m a desperate man and I’m not wholly responsible for what I say or do. Are—are you going to twist it, Miss Elting?”

“I shouldn’t call it that. I am going to shape it, to mould it, restore it to its natural shape as nearly as I can, then secure it there with adhesive plaster.”

“Yeth, that ith the way,” agreed Tommy, nodding eagerly. “Let me help you, Mith Elting.”

“You will please keep away from me. Haven’t you done enough damage as it is?” demanded Sam.

“That ith what I get for trying to be helpful,” answered Tommy in an aggrieved tone. “Any one would think I had broken your nothe on purpothe. I didn’t break it at all; the racquet broke it.”

“Never mind him. He doesn’t know what he is talking about,” soothed George. “Shall I hold his hands while you are making temporary repairs, Miss Elting?”

“If you boys will go way back somewhere and sit down, we’ll have the job done in a few minutes,” suggested Jane.

“Yes, please do not interfere,” urged the guardian. “Now, don’t jerk, Sam. I am going to straighten your nose.”

Sam winced as she pressed his nose back to [063] its normal position, and his hands gripped a handful of dirt from the tennis court, but he uttered no sound. While the guardian held the nose in place she instructed Harriet Burrell how to place the adhesive plaster, which Harriet did with delicate, skilful fingers.

“Does it hurt much?” asked the girl sympathetically.

“Hurt? Oh, no. It is the pleasantest sensation I ever enjoyed. That’s what I’m trying to make myself believe,” he added, speaking thickly, so as not to strain the muscles of his face. “But how am I going to breathe?”

“You have your mouth left,” laughed Harriet.

“There,” announced the guardian finally, “I don’t believe a surgeon could have done better. How do you think he looks, boys?”

The boys gathered about Sam, hands thrust into their trousers pockets, and regarded him solemnly.

“I gueth,” smiled Tommy, “if you would thtand him up in a cornfield he would thcare all the crowth away. He lookth jutht like a thcare crow, doethn’t he?”

“Just what I was going to suggest,” added Dill. “He’d scare the crows all right and the owner of the corn patch, too.”

“Is that all?” asked Sam, dolefully.


“I think so.” The guardian smiled down into the boyish face.

“I wish I could see how I look.”

Tommy ran into the tent, returning quickly with a hand mirror, which she handed to the boy she had unwittingly wounded.

“Look out that your face doesn’t break it,” warned Dill.

“If my face doesn’t, your head may,” retorted Sam sharply.

“Well, what do you think of it?” asked Dill Dodd with a grin.

“Think? Why, I think I should rather have my face than yours right this minute.”

This thrust restored Sam to good humor once more. His companions and the girls joined in the laugh at Dodd’s expense. The boys had replaced the net, but the hour was too late to think of having further practice. Harriet said they must begin to prepare their supper. The boys decided that it was time they were getting back to camp and starting their own evening meal. They declined an invitation to remain and take supper with the Meadow-Brook party. Harriet begged them to sit down a little while until the fire was fairly started. Instead, they placed the wood and started the fire for her, after which Hazel, whose turn it was to get supper that night, promptly set about her task.


Captain Baker relapsed into his gloomy state again. The recollection of the miserable failure of all his carefully laid plans rankled in his mind. He knew now that the girls were not deceiving him when they said they knew nothing about tennis playing. He had never seen a more pitiful exhibition than that of the afternoon; he hoped never to see another like it.

“Well, I’ll have to tell Herrington, I suppose,” he said, after remaining silent for several minutes. “But I’ll tell you truly, I’d rather be kicked all the way down to Newtown and back than to do it.”

“If you prefer I will write to Mr. Herrington myself and explain why it is impossible for the girls to enter the tournament,” suggested Miss Elting demurely.

“Never!” exclaimed George with strong emphasis. “I’m not quite such a namby-pamby as to hide behind a woman’s skirts. I’ll face the music, I’ll swallow my medicine and make a maple syrup face while I’m swallowing the bitter stuff. I’m going right down to-morrow and have the disagreeable job over.”

His companions had also relapsed into their former attitude of dejection. The full weight of their disappointment came back with overwhelming force.


“I wish I could talk without danger of cracking my face. I’d like to make a few remarks just at this time,” said Sam, talking as if he had a hot potato in his mouth.

“Try the sign language,” suggested Dill teasingly.

“All right, I will,” mumbled Sam Crocker, snatching up a pail of water and hurling it at Dill, who succeeded in eluding all except a few drops that rained over his head and down his neck.

“That’s a sign of my displeasure. Want any further signs? There are plenty of them left over yonder in the spring, if the ladies will kindly lend us the water pail.”

“No, no more signs,” replied Dill, backing away, laughing. “I would much prefer that you remain quiet. Be as silent as a clam, if you like. I’ll not criticise you.”

“I thought you wouldn’t like the sign language after you’d felt it,” snarled Sam.

“When did you say the tournament is to be held?” questioned Harriet mysteriously.

“Five weeks from to-day,” answered George Baker. “Why?” He was eyeing her almost suspiciously.

“We have been wanting something to do, something to occupy our time and keep us out of mischief, ever since we came up here to camp. I have been thinking it over, thinking of your [067] thoughtfulness and kindness, and for your sakes, boys, I for one propose that we girls set to work and learn the game. We surely ought to be able to accomplish something in five weeks. Don’t you believe we can?”

“You—you—you mean that you will play in the tournament?”

Harriet nodded.

“Yeow!” howled Captain George Baker, at which his companions came running toward him. “They’re going to play, they’re going to play!” he shouted. “Hi-diddie-um-dum, hi-diddie-um-dum!” he sang, dancing about as though he had taken sudden leave of his senses.

“What do you say, girls?” questioned Harriet, glancing about at her companions.

“We say whatever you do. You are the captain of the Meadow-Brook Girls just as Captain Baker is captain of the Tramp Club,” answered Jane.

“Then we will play.” Harriet nodded with an emphasis that left no doubt as to her earnestness. “You shall teach us to play and we will do the rest.”

“Of course we expect to be beaten badly,” sighed Hazel. “But we shall make good your entry for us, so that you boys will not be open to any accusation except that of bad tennis judgment and too great faith in the powers of the [068] Meadow-Brook Girls,” she added with a bright little laugh.

Harriet Burrell sprang to her feet, eyes snapping.

“Wrong!” she flashed.

“What?” groaned George.

“Oh, we’ll enter the tournament, but not to lose. We’ll enter to win, boys!”

“We’ll Enter to Win, Boys!”

“We’ll Enter to Win, Boys!”

A few seconds of impressive silence followed Harriet Burrell’s bold declaration, then such a shout rose from the throats of the boys of the Tramp Club as perhaps never had been heard in those woods before.


Clasping hands, the Tramp Boys formed a ring about Harriet, Sam among the number, and danced and sang as they swung about her, to all of which she protested laughingly.

“Save your congratulations until after we have practised for a few weeks. We shall be better able to judge then what the prospects are.”

“But you said you were going to win,” cried Dill, excitedly. “You know you did.”


“I still say so,” returned Harriet Burrell.

“Then don’t give us shivers up and down our backs by such statements as ‘save your congratulations,’” advised Billy. “We’ll congratulate now and cry later if we have to. Let’s start in practising at once.”

“Not to-night. The girls are getting supper. Besides, it is too late in the day; they couldn’t see the ball,” answered George. “To-morrow, too, Sam’s nose will be better. He wouldn’t enjoy seeing a game now, anyway.”

“I’d enjoy seeing them play any old time, but you’ll excuse me if I get behind a tree somewhere when the serving and the volleying are going on. Once is enough for me, especially when Sister Tommy is on the line. Come, fellows, come home and get my supper.”

“Yes, please do, boys,” urged Harriet. “I want to think. You will agree that we have several things to think over between now and to-morrow, and a number of things to talk over together, too.”

Captain Baker shook hands with her.

“I won’t try to tell you how much we appreciate what you’ve done,” he said with feeling. “I knew all along that you could do it if you would, but I had almost given up all hope that you’d try. I might have known you would. Meadow-Brook Girls always come to the line [070] when the time arrives. You will in this instance, too.”

Harriet smiled, but made no reply to this confident remark.

“I thank you, too, for fixing my nose,” said Sam, shaking hands with Miss Elting. “It’s a pretty poor nose at its best, I know, but it’s the only one I have and I couldn’t get along very well without it. Good night, ladies. I’ll say more when I can do so without danger of damaging my countenance.”

The boys trooped away singing. They were far happier than they had been since George Baker first broached the subject of the tennis tournament. After the sound of their voices had died away, Harriet sat down by the fire, and, clasping her hands about her knees, gazed into it without saying a word to her companions. She remained in that position until the supper call was sounded.

“Well, my dear, have you planned it all out?” questioned Miss Elting.

“Far from it, Miss Elting. I am beginning to realize that it is a pretty big thing I have promised to do, and I shall need the help and encouragement of every one of you girls even to keep my spirits up to concert pitch.”

“Oh, fiddlethtickth!” scoffed Tommy.


“I think we have forgotten one important factor,” reminded Miss Elting; “that is, the consent of your parents.”

“No, I have not overlooked that. I shall get the consent of each girl’s parents as soon as I find there is any necessity for it.”

The guardian nodded.

“I can’t see how you can hope even to get a place in the tournament. Tennis is a game of skill requiring years to make one proficient, and how you can expect to get into shape to play in a tournament five weeks hence is beyond me.”

Harriet laughed lightly.

“I am glad to hear you offer objections. That is exactly what I need to stir me up. That no one else could hope to accomplish this thing is the very reason why I have decided to attempt it. And I, for one, am going to win,” she added reflectively.

“I actually believe you think you will,” exclaimed the guardian.

“Of course I do. Otherwise I should not try.”


Miss Elting regarded Harriet thoughtfully for some time, then sighed and gave it up. Of course, the subject was discussed among the girls all the rest of the evening, Harriet most of the time remaining in the background and listening to the remarks of the guardian and her own companions. The general trend of the conversation was that the Meadow-Brook Girls stood not even a ghost of a chance to win anything in the tournament. They would be fortunate if, after the first set, they were not barred from further participation. Harriet had already expressed her opinion and from that time on her whole thought would be to play to win. If she failed, it would be through no lack of belief in herself, no lack of effort on her part to perfect herself. She determined to turn her face to the front and never once look back. That was what she did on the following morning.

The boys came trooping in at an early hour, but early as they were, the girls were ready for them, with the morning work all cleared away and Harriet and Hazel at work at the net industriously tossing the ball back and forth.

“That’s the idea,” declared George glowingly. “I told the boys we should find you at work.”

“Oh, good morning, boys,” greeted Harriet. “How is your poor nose this morning, Sam!”

“It is all there still, but I can’t smell with it yet. Why, do you know my breakfast was spoiled for me because I couldn’t get the odor of the bacon and coffee. I wish some one would tell me how to smell through my mouth.”

“I’ll think about it to-night,” answered Harriet mischievously. “I was going to suggest [073] that you boys play a game of tennis while we look on. I am sure we shall get some pointers from your playing.”

“Miss Elting, will you play a set with me?” asked George.

“With pleasure, though I am but an indifferent player.”

“I guess you can handle a racquet as well as I can.”

“Then let us get at it. We have no time to lose. Every minute is precious from now on for the coming five weeks.”

George chose a racquet. They began to play a few minutes later. It was plain that they were evenly matched, though George appeared to be a little more skilful than his opponent. The girls were enthusiastic, the boys sitting on the side lines offering suggestions to both players from time to time. Harriet Burrell never spoke a word throughout the game. Instead, she watched every play with keen eyes, gaining no little knowledge of the principles of the game from such observation.

George won the first set by a narrow margin. Miss Elting had made him work for it, fighting him every inch of the way. While her playing was good, it was not what might be called skilful. She played such a game as might be expected of a country player.


“Want to try another with me? No? Who else wishes to put himself up as an easy mark for me?”

“That’s it—easy mark,” chuckled Sam. “Any other kind would win the game before you really got started.”

“Lucky for us that George isn’t going to try to defend the Meadow-Brook title,” scoffed Dill.

“Harriet, suppose you try a set with me this morning?” proposed George.

Harriet stepped forward. George, standing beside her, gave her such advice as he was able, regarding serving, volleying and position in the court.

The game started, the boys and girls pressing close about the court, not very much interested in George Baker’s playing, but watching eagerly every stroke Harriet made. Was not she going to play in the tournament? Harriet worked hard, worked until the beads of perspiration stood out on her forehead, but she was awkward, she was uncertain in placing the ball, sending it out of bounds fully as often as she dropped it within reach of her opponent. George won easily.

“You are the worst I ever saw,” declared Sam very frankly. “You couldn’t win a game in a thousand years.”

“Keep quiet,” commanded George. “We [075] can’t all be champions the first day we stand before a net. Give her a chance, can’t you?”

“Oh, I don’t mind Sam’s criticism,” answered Harriet brightly. “Instead of discouraging me, it makes me all the more determined to learn to play.”

“And only five weeks to learn in,” groaned Billy.

“And a wooden man to teach her,” mumbled Sam.

“Any fellow who is so slow that he can’t dodge a racquet shouldn’t criticise his betters,” retorted George cuttingly. “Before we go any further I shall deliver a lecture. The ladies will please give their attention while I explain a few of the terms. A ‘volley,’ as you know, is hitting the ball before it touches the ground. The ‘server’ is the one who hits the ball from behind his base line and at one side of the center diagonally over the net into his opponent’s service court. Understand?”

The girls nodded, but did not interrupt by speaking.

“The one who serves the ball is called ‘the server,’ his opponent ‘the striker-out.’ In the first play, as I think I have already told you, the ball must hit the ground before being returned. The latter stroke is called a ‘ground stroke.’ There are some other fancy strokes that I have [076] seen, but can’t explain to you. I’ll have some one who knows more about the game than I do tell you about these later on.”

“I don’t believe we quite understand how the scoring is done,” said Harriet.

“That is easily explained. In the first place, four points make a game unless the score is tied at three points each, when two points in succession must be secured to win the game.”

“But how are they scored?” interjected Jane.

“I’m trying to tell you,” answered George. “They are scored as follows: ‘love,’ or no points; fifteen, or one point; thirty, or two points; forty, or three points; game, or four points. Love-all, fifteen-all, thirty-all are called when the score is even, each side having nothing or one or two points, as the case may be. At forty-all the score is called ‘deuce,’ each side having three points, and as either side secures the next point it becomes ‘vantage-in’ or ‘vantage-out’ according to whether server or striker has the advantage.”

“My grathiouth! you make my head thwim,” murmured Tommy.

“Then the score hovers between vantage and deuce until one side secures two points in succession,” explained Miss Elting.

“Yes,” agreed George, nodding. “And six games won by either side constitute a set unless [077] the score is tied at five-all, when deuce-and-advantage games are generally played, the score going on up to six, seven, eight-all and so forth until one side gets two successive games.”

“Isn’t it awful?” wailed Margery. “I never, never can get all of that into my head.”

“That ith becauthe you are fat,” retorted Tommy. “You know a lot, don’t you, George?”

“If he could play half as well as he can talk about it, he’d be the champion player of the United States,” declared Dill.

They began another game, Jane taking Harriet’s place this time. Jane was fully as awkward as Harriet had been, but she made a somewhat better showing, playing to better advantage. Hazel and Tommy played the same awkward game that had marked Harriet Burrell’s exhibition. One after another took her place on the service line, over and over again, this continuing all through the forenoon until half-past eleven, when George announced that they must go back to camp and get their noon meal. They declined to stay to luncheon with the girls. Besides, George said Fred Avery had gone to town to bring some supplies that were needed and they were to meet him at the camp.

George was gloomy all the way back to camp. He did not speak a word to his companions, but tramped along looking deeply dejected.


“Well, what do you think of it?” demanded Dill quizzically.

“What do I think of it? Hopeless—utterly hopeless!” groaned Captain George. “Did you ever see such work in all your life?”

“I never did,” agreed Dill. “It was bad.”

“Then you don’t think they stand any show to win any of the prizes in the tournament?” questioned Dodd.

“None at all. The way they play they couldn’t win a game from a team of six-year-old boys. And what is worse, they don’t realize what a spectacle they are making of themselves trying to play. But they’re plucky. We all knew they were. They will keep on fighting, and in the end we shall have to tell them there isn’t the least show. I’ll have to go to Herrington, after all, and tell him that they can’t enter the tournament.”

“If we had some one who knew something to teach them how to play, things might be different,” declared Sam Crocker maliciously. “Maybe a miracle will happen.”

“Miracles don’t happen in these woods. And what’s more, I want you to understand that I know how to play tennis fully as well as you do. It’s hopeless, though. I wonder why Fred hasn’t got back yet? Go on and get your luncheon ready. I don’t want anything to eat.”


George walked off into the woods and sat down on a log, holding his head in his hands, now and then uttering a deep sigh. It was he who had proposed this surprise, he who had urged upon the boys the purchase of the tennis outfit, so he received no sympathy from them. But to their credit be it said, the boys of the Tramp Club felt as much concerned over the failure of their well-laid plans as did Captain George Baker himself.

George stuck to his determination not to eat anything. He remained in the woods until long after the boys had finished their luncheon and had come to look for him.

“Are you going back for practice?” asked Billy.

“Of course. What do you think I am?” retorted George savagely. But the afternoon was destined to bring with it a surprise that set their pulses throbbing, that filled them with new hope and courage.



As had been the case that morning, Harriet, Jane, Hazel and Tommy were found at work, the former two at the net, the latter two some little distance away, tossing balls back and forth with their racquets. The Meadow-Brook Girls had made up their minds to learn the game, and, still further, to learn to play an expert game. Once having made up their minds to a certain course of action they would forge ahead, undaunted by any obstacles that might be placed in their way. Bright eyes and glowing faces encouraged even the morose Captain Baker. He went so far as to smile his approval.

“We will get down to business again,” he said. “Harriet and Jane will please take their places, Harriet to serve, Jane to be the striker-out. Play!”

Jane began by losing her racquet, which fell near the serving line in Harriet’s court. That was the beginning of the match, drawing suppressed groans from the boys and laughter from the girls.

Margery watched the practice indifferently. [081] She declined even to practice. Tommy declared that Buster was too fat to play tennis anyway, and that it was fortunate for her companions that she knew it. The game was resumed and played out, Jane winning. There had not been a moment of encouragement in it to the observers on the boys’ side. Even Miss Elting had frequently shaken her head, evidencing her hopelessness of the girls ever accomplishing anything at the game.

Hazel and Tommy played next. The little lisping girl took a keener interest in her tennis practice than they had ever known her to do in anything else.

“Tommy is going to be an expert player one of these days,” declared Harriet. “Which, however, is more than can be said of some of her companions. How do you think we are getting along, George?”

“I couldn’t say so soon,” answered George evasively.

“Now, now, George. You know you told the boys to-day that we were hopeless,” returned Harriet laughingly.

George flushed to the roots of his hair.

“Somebody told you,” flared Captain George.

“Yes,” she answered nodding, her eyes snapping mischievously.

“I know. Sam told you. I’ll whale you for [082] that when we get back to camp, Sam,” threatened George.

“No, Sam did not tell me. You told me yourself, Captain,” chuckled Harriet. “You told me first by coloring when I accused you of it, then you admitted it by word of mouth. You see, I know you.” Harriet laughed merrily, George’s companions joining in the laugh good-naturedly.

“She’s too sharp for you, Captain,” shouted Dill.

“Even if I can’t play tennis,” answered Harriet. “But I’m going to play tennis and I’m going to play it well. One of these days I shall beat you, George, but I shall not forget that it was you who taught me. Don’t you think I shall make a player? Answer me frankly. No evasion, sir.”

“Well, I—I—I can’t say just——”

“Tell the truth.”

“No, I don’t. There, I’ve said it. You made me do it, so don’t blame me for saying so. I don’t believe there is the least little bit of use in our going on with this. You might learn to play the game, but you never, never will be expert enough to go into a match game,” he declared with emphasis.

“Aren’t you an encouraging boy, though?” jeered Jane. “So glad you told us.”


“Am I to understand that you are no longer our instructor, George? If so, we had better get some one else. I am quite certain that Sam would be glad to teach us the game. Wouldn’t you, Sam?” asked Harriet mischievously.

“Well, seeing that my nose is out of commission, I guess I’d have to wear a mask. If I had a mask and a coat of armor, I might be willing to take a chance at teaching you. I guess the Pickle had better do it, though. We can take turns at it and as fast as one gets knocked out another can take his place and go on with the game.”

“Oh, you fellows make me weary,” cried George, springing up. “I’ll teach you, Harriet. I said I would, and I will. I guess, if you have the pluck to stand up and keep batting away at the balls without losing your nerve, I ought to be willing to do my part, even if the tournament is out of the question. We will go on with the practice.”

Tommy smiled wisely at Jane, and the latter chuckled under her breath. The practice was resumed, this time with renewed vigor. Some slight improvement was noted, though the great difficulty seemed to be in getting the girls to place the ball accurately. They seemed to be unable to hit the ball so that it would fall in any certain designated spot. Their strokes, too, [084] were uneven. The ball was just as likely to fall spinning on the volleyer’s side of the net as into the court of her opponent.

The technical name for this is “a fault,” and means a score for the faulter’s opponent. There were many such, the faults being about even, however, with little or no advantage for either side. It was discouraging work, discouraging for George Baker and discouraging for the girls, though they did not show by their expression that they were other than happy and contented with their work. George found himself wondering again if they really knew how badly they played. He decided that they could not know, or, with all their pluck, they would give it up.

“The gloom on our side of the camp is so thick you can cut it with a bread-knife,” thought Sam after watching the game for the better part of an hour. “What spectacles they are making of themselves, and—hooray! Good play. What’s the matter, Harriet? Did you forget yourself?”

She had made a really brilliant play. To their amazement, others equally as brilliant followed it. Then all at once there came a slump. Harriet Burrell played worse than ever. It had come to the point where she could not even hit a ball, much less deliver it properly.

“If there were a lake handy, I’d jump into it and drown myself,” George confided to Billy.


“Go jump in the spring. A good ducking will do you good. Your face is as red as a lobster. You couldn’t be any hotter if you had been playing a championship game yourself.”

“A championship game!” groaned Baker. “Don’t mention it!”

“Do you know anything?” demanded Sam, coming up at that juncture.

George shook his head.

“No, I’m a driveling idiot. I always knew something was wrong with me, but until this thing came up I never knew exactly what that something was. Now I do.”

“Glad you’ve got a clear understanding of yourself,” answered Sam. “It will be the best thing ever for what ails you. But you were mighty slow in getting wise to yourself. Even Tommy could tell you. She could tell you what you have done in this matter, too.”

“Eh? What I have done?”


“Well, what have I done, that you haven’t done?” demanded George.

“You’ve bitten off more than you can chew,” answered Sam, with a series of cautious nods, being wary of the bandages across his injured nose. “That’s what you’ve done.”

“I have,” agreed George. “So have you, so have all the fellows. We are all in it up to our [086] chins. What have you in the back of your head besides what you’ve just said?”

“That we ought to have a crack player to teach those girls.”

“Sam,” said Baker gravely, and with great impressiveness, “the champion player of the world couldn’t put any ginger or skill into the playing of those young women, all of which isn’t saying a word against them, for I admire them more than any lot of girls I ever knew, and so do we all. Besides, there isn’t any champion on tap, so we must grub along with Captain George Baker. Hello, there comes Fred Avery.”

The latter put down his bundles, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, then, walking over, tossed the morning paper to George. Baker, hot and perspiring, sat down with his back against a granite boulder and glanced idly through the pages of the newspaper. All at once he sprang to his feet and, waving the newspaper frantically above his head, began to dance about and yell as if he had suddenly gone crazy.

“Catch him! Catch him!” howled Sam. “Somebody catch him! He has hydrophobia!”

“I’ve got it, I’ve got it!” yelled George. “I’ve got it! Saved, saved! Whoop! Yeow! Oh, I was never so glad in my life. Yell, you Indians, yell!”



“I don’t know what it’s all about, but I’ll yell,” shouted Dill Dodd. He did. His companions set up a perfect bedlam of yells and howls.

The girls regarded them with puzzled looks.

“Have they gone crathy?” questioned Tommy apprehensively, ready to run the instant she was thoroughly satisfied that the Tramp Boys really had lost their minds. They had for the moment lost their heads, but not their minds. They were howling in sympathy with George Baker, who appeared to have good reason for all the noise he was making.

Miss Elting sat down and laughed heartily. Then, bethinking herself of the fact that George had been reading the paper at the time of his outburst, she reached for the paper, which he had by this time tossed aside, and began reading the headlines.

“It’s there, it’s there!” howled George. “I tell you it’s there. We’re saved. The thing is as good as done. Oh, who would have thought it! I said there were no miracles that could happen up in these woods. One has come to [088] pass. Do you hear me? A miracle, and nothing less!”

“What’s the row about, if I might pause long enough to inquire?” asked Sam Crocker.

“Give me a piece of paper—quick!” commanded the captain. Harriet got a sheet of writing paper from the tent, but not before Tommy had handed him the newspaper. “Yes, it’s writing paper I want. You’ve a head on your shoulders, Harriet.”

“I thought you considered me a hopeless case,” laughed Harriet.

“I’ll tell you what I think of you after I’ve got this off my mind. Oh, this is great!” George began scribbling on the sheet of writing paper.

“It is,” agreed Sam. “I’m taking your word for it, you see, not having been let into the mystery.”

“Who is the fastest runner in the outfit?” demanded Baker, standing up and glaring about him.

“I gueth I am,” answered Tommy.

“I don’t want a girl, I want a boy. Here, Charlie Mabie, come here—on the jump. You are the swiftest runner at hare and hounds, especially when there’s a square meal at the other end. I want you to take this to Meadow-Brook at top speed. If you fall down, don’t stop to get [089] up, just keep right on running. Run for your life,” commanded the captain breathlessly.

“Wha—at shall I do with it when I get to Meadow-Brook?” questioned Charlie.

“Send it!” exploded George.

“By mail?”

“No, by freight,” drawled Sam.

“By telegraph, of course.”

“What is it all about?” demanded Dill.

“Read it. They won’t understand anything until you do read it. No, give it to me. You’ll stumble over it and waste time. Listen, you people, to the telegram that is going to produce the real thing. Listen, I tell you: ‘You said you would do anything on earth for me. If you mean it, wire me that you are coming here on the next train ready to serve me to the limit for the next four weeks. It’s a case of life and death!’ Now, run, you Indian! Burn up the road, and WAIT for an answer even if you have to sleep on a baggage truck on the station platform. Go!

Charlie Mabie started away at a long, loping run, quickly crossing the open space and disappearing in the forest beyond. Captain Baker sat down heavily, wiping the perspiration from his forehead with a sleeve.

“Whew! Never got such a shock in my life. Think that will bring him? Well, I guess yes.”


“Bring whom?” asked Bill.

“Disbrow. Must I draw a diagram of the whole thing?” retorted the captain irritably.

“Disbrow,” reflected Sam. “That’s all right, but who is Disbrow?”

“Who is Disbrow?” groaned George. “Never hear of P. Earlington Disbrow? You mean to say you never heard?”

Sam shook his head. “I’m not a walking edition of ‘Who’s Who,’” he reminded.

“We are all equally in the dark,” interjected Harriet. “Why not explain to us?”

“Yeth, thith thuthpenthe ith terrible,” agreed Tommy with emphasis. “I can’t thtand much more of thith.”

George Baker made a helpless gesture.

“P. Earlington Disbrow,” he began, with slow, measured words, “is an Englishman—an Englishman from England. Get that, Sam?”

Sam grinned and nodded.

“P. Earlington Disbrow is one of the greatest tennis players in the world, champion of all England and half of the United States. Now do you get me?”

“I do,” answered Sam, nodding understandingly. “This Disbrow fellow is an Englishman—from England—and you’ve sent for him to come all the way over the ocean to——”

“Will you be quiet? No! He already is over [091] the ocean. He is in New York, and I’ve wired him to come along a-whooping.”

“Is he going to whoop for us at the tournament?” questioned Jane.

“He may, though he isn’t of the whooping kind,” replied the captain in a slightly modified tone. “I have sent for him to come here to teach you girls to play tennis. If he can’t do it, no other person on earth can. Listen, and I’ll read the item from the newspaper: ‘P. Earlington Disbrow, the well-known tennis champion, arrived in New York on the “Caledonian” yesterday. When interviewed as to the purpose of his visit to America, he denied that he had come here for the purpose of arranging any matches. Mr. Disbrow announces his intention of visiting old friends, but wishes to witness the mid-season tournaments, for most of which he is ineligible.’ That is the whole story,” finished George. “Are there any other questions you wish to ask?”

“Yes; I’d like to ask how you happen to have such a pull with this fellow?” questioned Sam. “Is it a real drag or are you doing it on your nerve?”

“I have an idea that Captain George knew what he was doing when he sent that telegram,” spoke up Miss Elting.

“Thank you, Miss Elting. I am pleased that [092] some one takes me seriously. It is what Sam calls ‘a real drag.’ I didn’t wish to say anything about it. Two years ago I had the good luck to be at Newport and to drag P. E. ashore unconscious. A floating spar had hit him on the head while he was swimming in the surf. But I wasn’t far away, so I just swam over and dragged him ashore. That’s the kind of a drag it is, Samuel. P. E. naturally was grateful. This is what he said: ‘George, if you ever need me, your Uncle Disbrow is at your command no matter where he may be at the time. You send for me and I’ll be there as fast as steam and lightning will take me.’ Not much of a drag, eh?” chuckled George.

“I didn’t think it was so strong as that,” muttered Sam.

“And he may come here to coach us?” wondered Harriet. “Wouldn’t that be perfectly splendid?”

“You don’t know whether he will or not,” answered Dill. “P. E. may pay no attention to George’s telegram, then you will be up against it just as hard as before.”

“He may not get the message, of course,” agreed George. “But if it does reach him, you mark what I say, we are sure to hear from him. P. E. is a real man. Certain persons who were opposed to him in matches didn’t [093] know this fact till they faced him across the nets; then they found out in short order. Oh, he is the right sort and you’ll like him after you get to know him as well as I do. Curious none of you folks over heard of him.”

“I have,” answered the guardian.

“And so have I,” added Harriet. “I have read of his matches, both on this and the other side of the Atlantic. What a glorious thing to think that he may be here to instruct us! He could show us how to win a match. By the way, Captain Baker, how many will there be in our class at the tournament?”

“They are all in your class—that is, eligible for the same events. Of course, you girls will play in doubles. For instance, you and Jane will play together on a side with two other girls opposed to you, while Hazel and Grace are playing together on another court against another pair of girls. If either of you win a certain number of sets, whatever may be agreed upon by the committee, then the winners play each other. Doesn’t sound so very formidable, does it?” he smiled.

“Enough so,” answered Harriet Burrell thoughtfully.

“We might as well go on with our practice. Can’t afford to waste any time, you know,” reminded George. They took up their work with [094] new courage, and all during that afternoon the girls worked steadily and to better purpose than at any time before.

They had just stopped playing for the day when Charlie Mabie came trotting into camp. He was waving a yellow sheet over his head. He had been fortunate enough to get a ride in an automobile both going and coming and so had returned early.

“He’s got it!” yelled George. The captain sprang forward and snatched the telegram from the hands of his messenger. “Whoop! I told you so. Listen to this, ladies of the Meadow-Brook organization and gentlemen of the Tramp Club, listen to what the champion of England says in reply to George Baker’s telegram: ‘Coming, you bet! Meet me seven-thirty to-morrow morning. (Signed) Earlington Disbrow.’”

“Am I the original provider?” demanded the captain triumphantly.

The boys of the Tramp Club tossed their hats in the air, uttering a series of wild whoops, to which was added the yell of the Meadow-Brook Girls.

The entire party was wild with delight over the good news and Captain Baker was more a hero than ever before. While Harriet and Hazel were getting the supper, to which the boys [095] had been invited, the others passed the time in song and general congratulation. It was a merry camp.

George and one of his companions were to go to Meadow-Brook early in the morning to meet the champion tennis player at half-past seven o’clock. Jane suggested that she, too, go in and bring the visitor back in her car. This Miss Elting did not approve. George said it would be unnecessary, that he could get some one to drive out with them. It was, therefore, arranged that way, and the boys left their friends shortly before ten o’clock that evening, filled with anticipation for the morrow.

A start was made next morning before daylight, George and Charlie setting out on foot for the village, more than ten miles away. However, they did not in the least mind the long walk. They were too well used to tramping over the country.

The girls fairly counted the hours next morning. They calculated that George and his friend should reach the camp in the woods no later than half-past nine o’clock. The camp had been put in perfect order for the guest, and the Tramp Boys in their own camp had set aside a small tent for Disbrow, making the interior of the tent as comfortable as possible. If he thought best after reaching the camp to transfer operations to the village, this could be very easily accomplished. They did not know how well pleased he might be with the discomforts of life in camp there in the woods.


Half-past nine passed, then ten. At noon there was still no sign of George and his friend. The girls sat down to their noon meal, which they had hoped to share with Disbrow. The boys refused to eat with them. The former were becoming gloomy. They felt that something must have occurred to detain the party at Meadow-Brook, but what that something might be they were unable to imagine.

“There comes some one,” shouted Sam suddenly, while the girls were still at their meal.

Everybody sprang up. Just emerging from the log road that led into their camp clearing they saw Captain George Baker. The captain had lost his former springiness of step, his alert manner. He was dragging himself along as though worn out with fatigue. Charlie Mabie was not with him. Neither was the expected guest, P. Earlington Disbrow, the tennis champion of all England and part of the United States.

The boys ran forward to meet George, the girls following more slowly. Harriet knew from George Baker’s attitude that something was wrong. His dejection was apparent.


“Where is he? What’s the matter?” shouted Billy.

George waved the boys aside, and stumbling into camp leaned heavily against a sapling. The Tramp Boys and the Meadow-Brook Girls gathered about him, gazing at Captain George with eyes heavy with anxiety.

“It’s all over,” groaned George. “It’s ended, like the Englishman’s sparrow, gone up the blooming spout. Don’t ever speak to me of it again; don’t ever mention tennis nor tournament nor Disbrow nor anything else.”

“Perhaps if you were to tell us what it is all about we might offer some suggestions,” said Miss Elting.

“Too late, Miss Elting. I tell you it’s finished. Read that!”

He thrust a yellow sheet toward her, the girls recognizing it to be a telegraphic message. The guardian read it hurriedly, then she, too, sat down heavily.



“I don’t blame you for feeling disturbed, George,” comforted the guardian, “but there is still a ray of hope left here.”

“Begging your pardon, there isn’t even a glimmer,” returned George. “I might have known something would be sure to happen.”

“May I see it?” asked Harriet. Miss Elting handed the message to her.

“Read it aloud,” cried Dill. “George doesn’t seem to think any one is interested except himself. What’s the matter with Disbrow? When is he coming?”

“Isn’t coming at all,” answered George weakly. “Please read it.”

“‘George Baker, Meadow-Brook, N. H.’ It is dated at New London,” explained Harriet, then continued to read the message, which was as follows: “‘Unfortunate accident. Pullman step porter set down tilted under foot when I was stepping from train. Landed on back with sprained ankle. Laid up perhaps two weeks. Awfully sorry. See what I can do if come here. Let know any change. (Signed) Disbrow.’”


“Must have thought he was writing a letter instead of sending a telegram,” jeered Crazy Jane.

The boys glanced at each other and breathed deeply. Words failed them just at that moment.

“Sprained his ankle and is laid up,” reflected Jane. “He asks you to come to see him. Are you going?”

“You must not go on our account,” said Harriet Burrell. “You must not worry him with our troubles. He has plenty of his own at present. We shall get along somehow.”

“Yes, don’t take it so to heart, George,” urged the guardian. “We are fortunate in having you to coach us. I know you will turn us out finished players at the expiration of five weeks from the time we started.”

“Where is Mr. Mabie?” asked Hazel.

“I left him in town, in case there should happen to be anything more from Disbrow. But there won’t be. I know what a sprained ankle is. I had one once, and I don’t want another. What a mess I have made of it!”

“Indeed, you have not,” returned Harriet quickly. “You have done a great deal for us. That you have failed in this one instance is no fault of your own. Circumstances have been too much for you, that is all. We shall never forget what you have done for us. We are the [100] ones who have not measured up to the mark, but you will remember I told you we were going to play in the tournament and going to win. I say it again. We are going to WIN!”

“You will have to play a better game than you have done so far,” George blurted, then, realizing what he had said, made an humble apology for his apparent rudeness.

“You are right,” Harriet laughed merrily. “We shall have to play a much better game, and that is what we are going to do. But we are wasting time. Girls, get ready for practice. Captain, you sit on the boulder yonder from where you can watch us. Don’t be afraid to criticise. We need your severest criticism.”

The girls ran for their racquets, Sam got the tennis balls, George pulled himself together and stumbled over to the boulder, on which he took his seat, but instead of watching the girls, he sunk his head in his hands and relapsed into his former gloomy mood.

“Say,” said Sam, giving the captain a poke in the ribs with a thumb, “look at those girls. We aren’t going to be quitters, are we?”

George hesitated a moment, then raised his head, threw back his shoulders and slid from the rock to his feet.

“You’re right, Sam. For once in your life you are talking sense. Of course we’ll go on. I [101] was so bitterly disappointed about Disbrow that I lost my courage. I’ve found it again. If we fail now, it won’t be because we didn’t try. Prepare for the first set. No fooling now. Harriet and Tommy will play together this time, opposing Jane and Hazel. We shall see what you can do in team work. This will be the regular set provided you can stand it to play that long without a rest. It is time we did some grilling.” George was himself again. Harriet smiled and nodded approvingly.

“Please do not hesitate to say what you think,” she urged. “We are not so sensitive that we cannot stand listening to the truth.”


Nearly every play for the first half of the set was a fault. George groaned within himself, but was careful not to show how hopeless he felt inwardly. He worked with them until the perspiration was trickling down his cheeks, until he was well-nigh exhausted from the nervous strain.

Along in the fourth game, however, matters began to brighten a little. Harriet and Tommy made some very good strokes. Tommy showed herself to be very quick on her feet, though there was no certainty as to where she was going to place a ball when she struck it. It was just as likely to soar off among the bushes and be lost [102] as it was to drop in the court of her opponents. Jane developed no little power in her strokes, but her footwork was poor, yet a keen judge would have discovered good tennis material in each of the girls at the net. George, of course, was not an expert, and these little surface indications of possibilities were lost on him. He saw only faults or scores. Anything less than the latter sent his heart down into his boots, figuratively speaking.

Harriet and Tommy won the set handily, though the last game of the set was worse played than any game since they had been practising. If anything, George was more discouraged than at any previous time. Tommy, however, was delighted with her own playing. The little lisping girl considered that she and Harriet had played a wonderful game, merely because they had defeated Jane and Hazel.

They were given no time in which to discuss the game. Their instructor changed sides, placing Hazel and Harriet together, Jane and Tommy opposed to them. Harriet and Hazel won the set, the former’s fast playing, though full of faults, being responsible for her side getting the game.

“You are showing speed, at any rate,” was George’s compliment. “If I were a better coach, I might be able to push you along faster, [103] but this is the first time I ever tried to teach any one to play tennis. I wish Disbrow were here.”

“Oh, forget Disbrow!” answered Sam. “We are going to win out in this tournament. I believe with Harriet that there isn’t another team on the coast that can defeat this one. They are only amateurs, girls. Probably many of them are beginners, too.”

“Don’t you fool yourself about that,” returned Baker. “Herrington told me they had a lot of likely entries, almost professional players, though, of course, they are not that in fact. One thing I wish to call the attention of the players to, is that Jane and Tommy played too far apart. Tommy took a position down near the net while Jane was back near the serving line. You saw how Harriet and Hazel played, both back some distance from the net. They won the game. Remember, it is easier to run forward and pick up a ball than it is to run backward. Play closer together and you will put up a much better defence and run less risk of the ball passing you. Try it this time, playing closer together.”


They did, with the result that the game was much closer than the one before, though Harriet Burrell’s side won as usual. Just why her side always won George Baker was at a loss to understand, for it was plain that Harriet played a wretched game, worse, if anything, than did her companions.

“Will you please tell me how you did it?” questioned George after Harriet’s side had won again.

“I did not do it. Tommy and I did it together,” was the naive reply. But Harriet, awkward and unscientific as she was, had used some little trick that got the better of her opponents. They did not appear to realize this, but Harriet did. She knew full well, and that trick was a phase of the game that she proposed to cultivate and work to the limit. She was very sorry that they were not to be coached by Mr. Disbrow, knowing that he could be of great assistance to her in developing this very trick. Disbrow would have understood instantly the value of it.

The play was continued with more or less discouraging results, so far as Baker was concerned, all the afternoon, with only an occasional halt for rest and such instruction as the coach was able to give them. At sundown he threw himself down on the ground, his face red and perspiring, his throat hoarse from yelling at his pupils, his body weary. It was the hardest day’s work that George Baker had ever done, but the nervous strain was the cause of [105] his great fatigue rather than the physical effort.

“Come, fellows, we must be getting to our own wigwam,” he said, starting up suddenly.

“You are going to remain here and have supper,” replied Miss Elting. “You were quite willing to be with us last evening when the skies were bright. Now that they are not bright it is all the more reason why you should stay this time. You are all fagged out and, what is worse, discouraged. We shall have a nice supper this evening, then afterward some songs and games if you wish.”

“No more games for me to-day,” interrupted George, “begging your pardon.”

“I did not mean tennis games. I, too, have seen enough of those for one day. I meant other games that will relax you all. Songs are a good thing. Our players will ‘go stale’ with too much work. It is not a good plan, I have heard, to keep too steadily at it when one is preparing for a contest. Am I not right?”

George nodded. Sam smiled broadly.

“Yes, we must take care of our principals,” declared the latter. “They are very delicate and very precious.” This raised the first laugh of that long, trying afternoon. The boys checked their own laughter suddenly, as if they had caught themselves doing something wrong. [106] Harriet started the Meadow-Brook yell, in which the boys joined with a shout. From that moment on the gloom of the day was less marked, conversation more natural and easy.

When the supper was served on a table that the boys had made for them, they all sat down on rustic seats put together by the same skilful hands.

“Now, isn’t this better than for you boys to go back to camp to mope all the evening while we girls are doing the same here?” demanded the guardian.

“Yes; this has the other backed off the court, over the side lines into the bushes,” declared Sam.

“Otherwise, nothing but slang would quite fit the occasion, eh, Mr. Crocker?” chuckled Miss Elting. “I am not rebuking you. I have never had and never expect to have occasion to do that to a Tramp Boy. How long is Mr. Mabie to remain in town?”

“I told him to stay there until P. E. either telegraphed or wrote.”

“You think there is some prospect of his coming, then, do you?”

“Not one chance in a million,” answered George with emphasis. “Would you, if you had a sprained ankle? I reckon he will make the Pullman Company pay very dearly for this, [107] though. The ankle of a tennis player is worth something, I should say.”

“What do you think of the girls’ playing now?”

“In some ways it is an improvement, but——”

“But! There is just the trouble,” cried Harriet. “When we do our best you say, ‘It is very good, but——’”

“Well, isn’t it?” he demanded a little sourly.

“I have not permitted myself to think of the matter in that way,” replied Harriet.

“Then you have given up hope so far as the tournament is concerned?” questioned the guardian, fixing a steady look on the face of the captain.

“I—I should hardly care to say that,” stammered George, avoiding her eyes.

“But deep down in your heart you do not believe the Meadow-Brook Girls stand the slightest chance of winning even a place in the tennis tournament at Newtown?” persisted the guardian.

“Do you?” returned George.

“I am asking you, Captain Baker.”

“No, I don’t. There, you made me say it again. Now will you tell me what you think?”

“I don’t know that I should put it quite so strongly as you have, but from what we have [108] seen I should say the chances were not particularly brilliant,” she admitted.

“You are tho encouraging!” lisped Tommy. “Anybody who can play thuch a game ath I can to be talked about in that way! It maketh me thad, tho thad and tho tired!”

“One person cannot play for the whole team, you know,” said Dill, with a grin.

“Yeth, I thuppothe that ith tho. However, I will do jutht ath the otherth withh.”

“What do you say to giving it up, girls?”

Miss Elting was not smiling now, though, had they been more observant, they would have seen a suggestion of laughter in her eyes. She knew her girls well, and perhaps was asking the question with a deeper purpose in mind than appeared on the surface.

“I say just what I have said before,” answered Harriet slowly and with emphasis. “I have gone into this not for the sake of giving up, but with the purpose to go through with it. We owe it to the boys who have done so much for us to keep going until the end. That is what I propose to do unless I am forbidden by Miss Elting or by my parents.”

“But you can’t win,” cried George. “You know you can’t.”

“What will you do if I win?”


“I’ll take off my hat to you, even though I get a sunstroke doing it,” returned George, his face relaxing into a broad smile.

“You shall have the chance, for I am going to play and I am going to win. The team is going to win. That is what I mean when I say I am going to do it. Of course, I do not expect to do it alone. I know we are going to win a place. I feel it. I can’t tell you just why, but I do, so you had better prepare to protect yourself from sunstroke. If there are any trees where the tournament is to be held, by all means engage a place under one.”

“They don’t have trees near tennis courts. Trees throw shadows that sometimes make the players nervous or cause them to misjudge their distances. No, I’ll have to take my medicine and I will.”

“Hark!” Jane held up a hand for silence.

“What is it?” asked Sam, with a half startled look in his eyes.

“I heard some one speak. It may have been out in the road, though.”

“One couldn’t hear as far as that. Besides, I am sure I heard a call,” declared Harriet.

“Some one surely is coming. I hear two voices,” agreed Miss Elting. “Perhaps it is Charlie Mabie returning from the village with good news.”

“It may be Charlie Mabie all right, but there is nothing doing on the good news,” replied George.


“Hi, there! Hello the camp!” called the familiar voice of Charlie.

“Hello yourself,” answered George.

“Come out and help me, some of you strong-armed boys. I have picked up a fellow who has hurt his foot. Can’t you give a poor suffering chap a hand?”

The boys sprang up, George with them. In the dim light they could faintly make out two figures approaching them. One was Mabie, the other no one recognized. The latter was leaning on Charlie’s arm.

“’Owdy, Georgie, old chap?” called a second voice.

“What-a-at?” gasped Captain Baker. “Who is it?”

“Don’t you know, old chap? Have you forgotten an old friend so soon?”

“It’s P. E.! It’s P. E. himself! Whoop!” Captain Baker uttered a wild yell and rushing forward threw his arms about the neck of the newcomer. “Oh, P. E., P. E., you did come after all; you didn’t go back on your old salt water friend! Girls, he’s here, he’s here, I tell you! Yell, you Tramps! Yell, I tell you!”

“It’s P. E.!” Shouted George.

“It’s P. E.!” Shouted George.



“It is Mr. Disbrow!” gasped Hazel.

“And he didn’t sprain his ankle at all,” added Jane.

“He must have injured it, for he is walking with a crutch,” replied Miss Elting.

“Not a word, Disbrow. Come over here and sit down and fix your foot so it will be comfortable. You may tell us all about it later on. Sam, fix a seat there for P. E. Somebody put down his coat for P. E. to sit on.”

The newcomer was laughing.

“George, I’m not quite in swaddling clothes,” he said, “nor am I wholly an invalid. Please introduce me to your friends.”

George Baker flushed, for, in his joy at seeing Disbrow, he had neglected the formalities. He introduced the guest first to Miss Elting, then to the Meadow-Brook Girls and afterward to the boys of the Tramp Club. Harriet had already begun making coffee and was preparing a luncheon for the unexpected guest, who had had no supper as they afterward learned. He was given a place at the end of the table where he might stretch his injured foot. With all the girls and [114] boys gathered about him watching each mouthful that the champion ate, Disbrow did full justice to the supper, for he was hungry. During the meal he explained that the doctors who had examined his ankle at the hospital had first pronounced it a serious sprain, after which they had revised their opinion, finding it merely a slight strain which, within a few days, would entirely disappear.

“I lost no time in hot-crutching it out to Meadow-Brook,” added the Englishman. “I knew that you wouldn’t have said what you did in your message unless you needed me. Mr. Mabie spotted me the instant I got down from the car. But, George, old chap, I don’t think much of your conveyances up this neck of America.”

“We rode out on a lumber wagon,” explained Charlie.

“Yes, and every joint in my body was properly shaken loose.”

Miss Elting at this juncture called George aside and suggested that arrangements be made for Mr. Disbrow to remain at the Meadow-Brook camp that night on account of his lame ankle. George assented and sent two of his fellows to the Tramp camp to fetch the tent they had set aside for Disbrow.

The girls had hung upon the champion’s every [115] word and gesture since his arrival at the camp. But they had difficulty in making themselves believe that this man was the much-heralded champion. Disbrow was thin, pale and delicate looking. His movements were slow and deliberate and he was what Jane characterized as “fussy.” But he was Disbrow, the champion tennis player. There could be no doubt as to that. George knew. Yet it did seem almost impossible.

Having finished his supper, Disbrow, with the aid of his crutch, hobbled about pluckily, testing the strength of the strained ankle. They suggested that he stop. He said the ankle would be lame just so long as it was babied, that he proposed to throw away his crutch on the following day.

“Now, old chap, tell me what it is all about?” urged the champion after having resumed his seat at the end of the table. “Charlie told me something of what you wanted of me, but he was too excited to be clear about it. It is some sort of a match game of tennis that you young ladies are wanting to take part in, I understand.”

“The coast championship,” George informed him.

“And the young ladies, they are good players?” questioned the tennis champion.


“We practically never touched a racquet until within a few days ago,” said Harriet.

“Hm-m-m-m! How are they playing, George?”

“As badly as possible!” answered the captain with emphasis, whereat there was a shout of laughter from the girls.

“Mr. Baker has described it correctly,” added Harriet. “Please let me explain the situation. Our young friends, the Tramp Club, as they call themselves, entered the Meadow-Brook Girls in the Atlantic Coast Tennis Tournament, supposing, of course, that we played, and played well. None of us play tennis, but for the sake of showing them that we appreciated their efforts, we promised to go in and do the best we could. Understand, Mr. Disbrow, they had bought a net, a complete outfit and carried it up here in order that we might have opportunity to practice. We have been doing so under Captain Baker’s instruction, but I fear we have not played in a manner to encourage him very much. The captain said you could whip us into shape if any one could do so. He was overjoyed when he saw in a newspaper a notice of your arrival in this country. I think you know the rest. We were very unhappy when we learned of your accident. I think that is all.”

“Except to express our appreciation of your [117] kindness in coming here, crippled as you are,” added the guardian.

“It is nothing, Miss Elting. I would do a lot more for George, and now that I have met you and your young ladies, I thank him for sending for me. How many of you are there, Miss Elting?”

“There are five young women and myself.”

“And how many will play?”

“Four, I believe. Miss Brown doesn’t care to play.”

“No, Buthter ith—” began Tommy, casting a tantalizing look at Margery.

Harriet nudged Tommy to be silent. The girls were trying their best to keep from laughing at the little lisping girl’s attempted fling at Margery, whose face had grown very red.

“And when is this tournament to take place?” questioned the Englishman.

“A little less than five weeks from now,” answered George.

Disbrow uttered a low whistle under his breath.

“You—you expect to win something?”

“Of course we do,” replied Harriet Burrell promptly. “Otherwise we should not have decided to play.”

Disbrow regarded her shrewdly.

“You at least have the proper spirit. Other [118] things being equal, you ought to win. But you must remember that tennis is not a game to be learned in a day. Years ordinarily are required to make the expert player. I am not going to say that I think you have no chance. I can not say until I have seen you play. To-morrow we shall see what you can do. For my part, I shall do my best for you. It follows that I am able to coach to the best advantage, but first of all you must be tennis players by instinct. Even were you fair players, you would have a task before you to prepare yourself for a tournament within the short time left. George, will this tournament call out any high-class material?”

“Herrington says it will, especially the Scott Sisters from Portsmouth, who are said to be near the professional class. I don’t know of my own knowledge how well they play.”

“Hm-m-m. Not a very encouraging outlook, is it, young ladies?”

“I haven’t had any reason to change my mind as to the result,” remarked Harriet.

“You mean you expect to win?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That state of mind should go a long way toward the success of your club. All of you feel the same way?”

“We always agree with Harriet,” answered Hazel, with an emphatic nod.


“A jolly good idea,” muttered the Englishman, regarding each girl with a steady gaze of keen inquiry. He was noting their movements, their poise, with the eyes of an expert. This brief study encouraged P. Earlington Disbrow. He decided that the Meadow-Brook Girls were at least good material, but as for fitting themselves to play in a tournament at such short notice, he was doubtful, and they saw that he was. This did not change the point of view of the Meadow-Brook Girls in the least, but it added to the gloom of Captain Baker.

“Another matter that I wish to mention,” said Miss Elting. “We cannot give you any comforts up here in the woods. Perhaps you would prefer to have us move into town, and——”

“By no means,” replied the guest. “We should have a crowd at our heels all the time. I don’t mind saying that I purpose showing you some things about tennis that I would be chary of other persons knowing. These things are what a merchant would characterize as his stock in trade. I’d be a proper idiot to give them away to others, wouldn’t I, now?”

They agreed that he would.

“You may depend upon our discretion,” the guardian assured him.

“I know that. It is unnecessary to tell me. [120] Do I have far to go to get to your camp, George?”

“You are to remain here to-night, Mr. Disbrow,” replied the guardian. “Two of the boys have gone to their camp to bring a tent for you. We shall make you as comfortable as possible, but it will not be exactly home comforts, you know.”

“I am used to roughing it. I’ve played tennis pretty much all over the world and have had to put up with some pretty rough quarters. I’m jolly well satisfied with a tent and a pair of clean blankets. This supper, let me tell you, I enjoyed more than anything I’ve had since I left England. I shall have to be careful or I’ll put on too much flesh in the two or three weeks I am up here. By the way, what is the physical condition of the young ladies, Miss Elting!”

“I do not see how it could be better,” answered the guardian. “They practically live out-of-doors a good part of the year. I should say that their endurance is as great as it is possible to find in a woman, if that is what you mean.”

He nodded reflectively.

“I judged as much from the little I have seen of them. I trust you to see to it that they do not overdo nor ‘go stale’ before the date set for the match. An ambitious person is quite likely to [121] try to do too much. He pays for it bitterly in many cases. But we shall see after a day or so. To-morrow morning I wish to see the young ladies play. You naturally will play in doubles at the tournament, so that is the way I shall have you play to-morrow. Until then I can say nothing definite as to what we shall do. How are their strokes, George?”

“Awkward,” answered the captain frankly.

“That is the fault of their teacher. You haven’t taught them properly.”

“I did the best I could,” replied George bitterly, “but it did not seem to me to be of much use. I am no tennis sharp, anyway.”

“I’ll not have you depreciating yourself that way, Captain,” declared Miss Elting warmly. “He has done nobly by us,” she added to Mr. Disbrow.

“Yes, it isn’t his fault that we have made so little progress,” agreed Harriet.

“What about the court?” inquired the young Englishman.

“As good as I could make. I’ve played on worse ones,” answered the captain.

“We shall have to look into that, too. It’s an important factor, and conditions on the practice court must be as near a duplicate of those on which the tournament is to be played as possible. Will they be grass or dirt courts?”


“Dirt, so Herrington said. This one is dirt also.”

“Well, I think when that tent is ready I will retire. How about it, Brother George?”

“It is up. The fellows are making your bed now.”

“How thoughtless in me! I shall attend to that myself,” said the guardian, rising hurriedly and going to the tent that the boys had set up some little distance from the Meadow-Brook camp. Shortly after that Mr. Disbrow retired to his tent. The boys saw him safely stowed there, then left for their own camp.

The next day was to be a day of activity, a day of hopes and disappointments which were destined to have an important bearing on the outcome of their plans.


The Englishman was out early the next morning. The girls found him hobbling about with a stick, he having cast his crutch aside. It was plain that he was a very resolute young man, who intended to begin his task with a will.


The Tramp Boys came over shortly after Disbrow had finished his breakfast with the Meadow-Brook Girls.

“Well, what’s the first thing on the program, P. E.?” questioned George.

“The first thing is to make the court usable. At present it is hopeless. If you will have your boys get to work on it, we may be able to have a try-out some time this afternoon. Got anything to mark the lines with!”

“No, I forgot the chalk.”

“Any flour in the camp?”

Miss Elting said there was. Disbrow said that when the court had been leveled off he would mark out the side lines and base lines with the flour, after which the girls would play a game for him. All that forenoon the boys worked at their task, and by luncheon time had done all the champion had suggested. The court, he said, was still in almost impossible shape, but that it was the best that could be had at that moment.

The hour following the luncheon was spent in conversation, after which Disbrow told the young women to go on the court and play out a set. At first they were nervous with the champion watching them, but after the first two games of the set their confidence returned, their nervousness disappeared and they went at their work with a vim. George chewed his hat brim [124] nervously as they floundered about the court, but the face of the Englishman was impassive. He watched keenly, making no comment, but storing up data in his mind to be used later on when he should have really begun his instruction. Tommy and Harriet were playing together against Hazel and Jane, which arrangement the champion changed in the last half of the set.

The set came to an end suddenly through a fault of Jane’s, and the girls, flushed and excited, turned to their new instructor.

“Are we to play another game?” questioned Harriet.


“What do you think of them?” asked George in a hesitating voice.

“Too early to think, old chap. Better reserve the thinking for another time. There is work to be done now. I wonder if I should break my neck if I were to play a game?”

“Better not try it,” answered the captain.

“Yes, I will. I’ll play against you and—who is your best player?”

“Charlie is.”

“Then take your places. We won’t toss for sides. There isn’t any choice so far as I can see. You will excuse me if I use my stick to assist me. I will permit your side to serve. That [125] will give you the advantage at the beginning. I probably shall make an exhibition of myself. What I want you young ladies to observe is my method of delivery. My position will be nothing to be proud of, playing on one leg, as I shall have to.”

“I fear it will not be prudent for you to try,” said Miss Elting, with a shake of her head.

“I must get myself into shape in order to coach the Meadow-Brook team properly. Now that I have started, I shall go through with it. How could I do otherwise after being made acquainted with the pluck of your young charges! Let it come, old chappie.”

George served the ball. Disbrow hopped on one leg, making a leap half-way across the court, scooping up the ball after its first bound, as the rules require. It slipped past George and Charlie really before they realized that it was on the way.

“Love, fifteen,” sang out the Englishman. “You will have to do better than that, my lads, or it wouldn’t do for you to try to play opposite the young ladies. Love, thirty. Why, what ails you, boys? You aren’t playing tennis, you are merely watching your opponent play.”


The Englishman was hopping from one side of the court to the other, in the air, it seemed, fully as much as he was on the ground. Disbrow out of a court and Disbrow in a court were two wholly different personalities. The Meadow-Brook Girls began to understand why he was a champion. They revised their earlier opinions about his being delicate and slow. His movements when occasion required were lightning-like in their rapidity, then with a languid movement of his racquet he would drop the ball just over the net, many feet from where Charlie and Captain George were waiting to receive it. Wherever they were not, there went the tennis ball. The Englishman outplayed them at every point.

The girls became so excited over the game that they simply could not keep still. They applauded till their hands stung and smarted, they shouted until their voices grew husky. They had never seen the like of this, and now that they had begun to understand the game of tennis, they were able to appreciate many of the fine plays. It was the grace and ease of the player at all times that aroused their wonder. He appeared to work without the slightest effort, even with the handicap of a foot that would not bear his weight. The tennis ball, too, seemed endowed with reasoning powers, it seemed to change its course after leaving the racquet of the server when an opponent got in the way. This they could not understand, neither could [127] the other spectators, for they had never seen anything like it in all their experience.

“Game!” announced the Englishman. “Keep right on playing. We will go through the set. See to it that you don’t loaf. Play tennis; don’t stand there and watch me serve. Show the young ladies that you at least know how to play the game.”

George flushed.

“Of course I know how. They know that without my showing them. But what can you expect a couple of amateurs to do against the champion of all England and half the United States of America? Charlie, watch yourself,” he added in a whisper. “We’ve got to win at least one game of the set from P. E. for the sake of our reputation with the girls.”

“We’ll be a heap better players than we are now before we win anything from him. There’s something about his serving that I can’t understand, some magic that we don’t know about.”

“The magic of skill, that’s all, Charlie. Play.”

The ball came back as before. This set told nearly the same story as the first, Disbrow winning all the points up to the last game of the set. The first game had been a love game, meaning that Disbrow had won all the points. On the fifth game of the second set, George made a [128] point on his opponent because Disbrow had missed his footing on the soft ground of the court.

The girls were delighted. Somehow they did not like the idea of seeing the Tramp Boys wholly defeated, though they knew well that the point would not have been scored for the boys, had the champion been playing on a hard court.

That was the last and only point won by George and Charlie in that set. In the last game of the set, Disbrow, apparently having become warmed up, threw himself into the work with utter abandon, this time playing faster than he had at any time before that. His right arm, the sleeve rolled nearly to the shoulder, grew rosy from the rapid exercise, his ordinarily pale face showed a delicate flush and his eyes sparkled with excitement, even though his opponents were not worthy of the name.

From that time on followed the most wonderful exhibition of tennis playing that any person present had ever seen. And further, hopping on one foot was not the only remarkable thing about Disbrow’s playing.

“He hopth jutht like a jack rabbit,” cried Tommy. “I believe I could do that, too. Harriet, that ith the trouble with our playing—we don’t hop. I’ll know what to do the next time we play tennith. Then I’ll thurely win.”


“You will hop on your head if you try it,” warned Sam.

The game came to a close, to the regret of all except the players opposed to the champion. As for them, they had had enough of it. They were not anxious to play another game.

Excitement ran high. The girls wanted to shout with all their lung power. Tommy did, giving unrestrained vent to her emotions. The camp of the Meadow-Brook Girls was vibrant with enthusiasm. They were eager to be at a game of their own.

“I can hardly hold myself, I am so eager to play,” declared Harriet, eyes and cheeks glowing.

“Now, give heed to what I say,” requested Disbrow, with a shake of the head. “I will first teach you the strokes. There are five strokes on which are built the whole structure of modern tennis playing, viz., the service stroke, the horizontal ground stroke, the volley, the half-volley and the lob. There are, of course, variations of these, such as the drop-stroke, the side-stroke and the cut—or chop—all of which you will take up in their regular order, learning one thoroughly, then going on to the next. Two of you take your places in the court and practise the service.”


Harriet and Tommy did so, Jane and Hazel being told to listen and observe closely, as their turn would follow.

“The service—that is, putting the ball into play—should be an overhand delivery, almost straight, with a slight cut to the right to keep the ball from sailing in the air,” continued Disbrow. “Reach up high, rising on the left toe, bringing the ball sharply down into the opponent’s court. Now we shall practise the service for a time until your wrists grow tired. And right here let me suggest that when the racquet is not in action it is a good idea to rest it across the left hand, which relieves the right wrist wonderfully. Boys, please get into the other court and return the balls. We shan’t have time to chase them.”

Harriet and Tommy made their first service, but Harriet put so much force into the ball that it rolled out of the other court.

“Too much speed, Miss Burrell. Try that again. There, that is much better. Now, Miss Thompson.” She, too, did better this time.

Hazel and Jane were next given a chance. While they were learning the tricks and twists of the service, Harriet and Tommy were practising it by themselves just beyond the court, Disbrow now and then offering a criticism or a suggestion.

Nearly two hours were spent on the service [131] stroke alone. Then, after a brief rest, they took up the half-volley, which Disbrow explained was the art of trapping the ball with the racquet, blocking it—not striking it—just as it rises from the ground. The girls worked faithfully all that forenoon, declining to halt for any long period of rest until their instructor finally insisted upon it. How much progress they had made they could only guess, for Mr. Disbrow did not commit himself. During the luncheon, of course, the talk was on tennis. The very air was charged with tennis. The Meadow-Brook Girls, the Tramp Club, the guardian and the English champion breathed in the atmosphere of the game as they did the fragrant air of the pines that surrounded the clearing where the court had been laid.

Now that he was not playing, Mr. Disbrow walked with a more noticeable limp than before. He denied, however, that his two sets on the court had had anything to do with this. He said inactivity, sitting about and doing nothing, was responsible for the stiffness of the muscles of the injured ankle.

After luncheon the girls were eager to get at their practice again, but the instructor said they must digest their food first. In the meantime he gave them some detailed instruction regarding the importance of holding the racquet correctly.


“One principal reason why you appear to play so awkwardly is that you do not know how to hold your racquets,” he said. “Before coming to that I am going to give you three things to store away in your minds and think of whenever you are not thinking of anything else. That’s an Irish bull, isn’t it?” he smiled.

“An Englishman couldn’t make one,” retorted Jane quickly.

“The three things are how to hit the ball, where to hit the ball and when to hit the ball. Just think that over, young ladies. To return to the best way of holding the racquet; remember that the grasp on it should always allow the greatest possible freedom for the muscles of the wrist. Always avoid a cramped position. The full length of the handle should always be used, the end of the handle resting against the fleshy part of the palm. That isn’t difficult to remember, is it?”

Each girl replied by adjusting her racquet to the right hand.

“For forehand play the grip of the hand should be along the handle with the first finger separated from the others and extended an inch or two farther along the racquet. The finger nails when at rest on the handle should face the direction the ball is to go. In making the backhand stroke, which you will learn this afternoon, [133] the fingers should be closer together and the thumb extended out along the handle behind the racquet. The second or middle knuckles should face in the direction the ball is to be driven. I think that will be enough lecture for the present. Do you all thoroughly understand?”

“I think we do,” answered Harriet. “I would suggest that we go through the forehand and backhand strokes to make certain that we are right.”

Disbrow nodded his approval. Most of the girls hit it the first time, all on the second trial.

“Now we will practise the various strokes, first going over what we learned this morning.”

The practice for the rest of the day was real work. There was no inspiration in it, though the Meadow-Brook spirit was strong upon the four girls, and not for a moment did they permit themselves to feel the monotony that the Tramp Boys long since had found. The girls devoted themselves painstakingly to every stroke taught them. The new instruction meant the undoing of much that they had already learned, but that was to be expected. The girls were not to be disturbed by it.

Late in the afternoon they asked permission to play a game, but the Englishman declined to allow it.

“You may not play a game even to-morrow,” [134] he added. “It will depend upon the progress you make for the rest of the day and to-morrow forenoon.”

He was so patient and gentle with them that the girls, knowing what a trial they must be, found themselves greatly drawn to their instructor.

There seemed to be little difference in the progress of the girls, except in the case of Tommy. Her companions were amazed at her work. One would not have thought it of Tommy Thompson. She was as pleased over her success and as enthusiastic as any of her companions. Added to this was a full measure of the Meadow-Brook “do or die” spirit that always had characterized this little organization of wide-awake girls.

After supper they all sat and talked around the campfire, before which the Englishman comfortably stretched himself, after having asked permission to do so. Later on in the evening the boys escorted him to his tent. On the morrow they were to move him over to their own camp, his ankle now being strong enough to enable him to walk about with some degree of comfort.

“Well, what do you think about them?” was Captain George’s eager question when they had entered the Englishman’s tent that night.


“A fine lot of young women,” answered Disbrow enthusiastically.

“I know all about that. But what about this tournament—what are the prospects, do you think?”

“Pretty early to answer that question, isn’t it?”

“You have come to some conclusion about it, I know.”

“Miss Burrell has the making of a great tennis player,” answered the champion.

“Just what I said,” cried George enthusiastically. “I knew I’d picked a winner.”

“She has a wise little head on her shoulders, George. She uses it, too. It is working all the time, which is a most necessary quality in a tennis player. I know of no sport that requires more of this quality.”

“Then you think the girls have a chance to win out in the tournament! I can’t tell you how glad I am to have you say that. It repays me for a lot of stewing, old man.”

“Not so fast, old chappie. I haven’t said that at all. On the contrary, I do not consider that they have the slightest chance of winning in the doubles at your tournament if, as you say, there are several clever teams entered. How could you expect it? They may stay in for a few sets just because of that wonderful pluck and spirit. [136] But the finals”—the Englishman shook his head. “Hopeless, George. You might as well make up your mind to that.”

George Baker groaned dismally. Then he gripped his friend’s arm.

“You won’t tell them that, P. E.? Please don’t tell them that. It would so discourage them that they would quit instantly.”

“You don’t know your friends, I see,” answered Disbrow with a short laugh. “They would laugh at me were I to make such an announcement, and tell me very quietly and confidently that they were going to enter the tournament and were going to win. What are you going to do with such spirit as that? I take off my hat to it. Whatever P. Earlington Disbrow can do for those plucky young women he is going to do, and don’t forget it, Captain George Baker!”


The tired girls were awakened by a terrific racket. Groanings, clankings and an unfamiliar hiss greeted their ears. They opened their eyes to find that the day had dawned. But what meant this terrible uproar? [137] A shrill, piercing whistle split the calm of the morning.

“Thave me! A train of carth ith coming through the woodth,” cried Tommy. “Oh, thtop them! They’ll run over the tennith court. Thave me!”

Harriet, who had sprung out of bed ahead of her companions, ran to the tent-opening and peered out. Her eyes grew large as she gazed. What she saw was a huge steam roller, enveloped in a cloud of steam. The roller was bumping over the uneven ground, jerking from side to side and making frantic efforts to escape from the rough trail over which the guiding hand of the engineer was directing it.

“For mercy’s sake, what does it mean?” gasped Harriet.

“It evidently is a mistake,” replied Miss Elting. “He has missed his way. Isn’t that man from Meadow-Brook?”

“Yes, he is. But I do not know him. I have seen him driving his steam roller through the streets. He is employed on the improved roads, I believe.”

“He’s coming right this way. He will run down the tent,” cried Margery.

The engineer made a detour at this stage, skirting the tennis court, then once more heading down toward the tent. He continued on his [138] uneven way until right opposite the Meadow-Brook tent and but a few yards distant from it, when he shut off and stopped. Instantly a great burst of escaping steam roared from the safety valve, enveloping the roller in such a cloud that for the moment it was entirely obscured. The furnace door opened with a clank. When a gentle breeze blew the steam across the court toward the woods the girls saw the engineer lighting his pipe. This accomplished, he grasped the whistle lever, pulled the valve wide open and held it there, filling the air with an ear-splitting noise that lasted for a full minute and was deafening to say the least.

The girls were peering out through the narrow slit at the opening of their tent, but immediately on the starting of the whistle they poked their fingers in their ears to shut out the awful sound.

“Stop it!” yelled Crazy Jane. But the whistle drowned the sound of her voice, the latter being barely heard by her companions in the tent.

About this time they discovered P. Earlington Disbrow hopping from his tent with the aid of his stick. He had hastily drawn on his clothes, his hair was standing up in an unkempt shock. He approached the steam roller in a series of leaps and bounds, aided by his stick. The engineer, observing him, finally decided to let go of the whistle lever.


“Here, you bally driver, what do you mean by waking civilized people up by that din?” he demanded angrily.

“Isn’t this the place?” questioned the engineer innocently.

“Yes, it is the place, but blowing all the steam out of your boiler wasn’t a part of the job for which you were engaged. Either stop that racket or pull off where we won’t hear you. It’s five o’clock in the morning.”

“I got to get through and go back on a road job.”

“You will be finished before you start if you don’t watch out. Pull away from there. There are ladies in that tent. I don’t flatter myself that they are asleep. If this were a cemetery nobody would be asleep now, after your salutation to the dawn. Pull out, I tell you, and give them a chance.”

The engineer jerked the throttle open and started his lumbering craft ahead without a word of reply to the irate Englishman, who was regarding him with frowning eyes. The engineer drove his engine to the edge of the clearing, where once more the steam began to blow off, but he mercifully refrained from pulling the whistle. After the roller had come to a halt [140] again, Disbrow hopped back to his own tent, where he took his time about making his morning toilet.

In the meantime the girls were gazing at each other wonderingly.

“What does it mean?” questioned the guardian.

“I do not know,” replied Harriet. “You heard Mr. Disbrow admit that the man had made no mistake in coming here. But what need have we for a steam roller unless it be to run over us, which perhaps might be a good thing after all,” she added with a laugh.

“Dress yourselves, girls,” ordered Miss Elting. “We have overslept as it is. Perhaps it is just as well that the steam roller woke us up.”

“I think I prefer another kind of alarm clock,” chuckled Harriet. “This one is too violent and nerve-racking.”

Mr. Disbrow was out a second time before the girls had made ready for their first appearance. He walked over and held a brief conversation with the driver of the roller, after which he sat down by his own tent to await the coming of the girls, who, he felt sure, would soon be out.

They were. They shouted a cheery good morning to their guest, who thereupon hobbled over to them, looking somewhat embarrassed.


“To whom are we indebted for the steam roller?” asked the guardian lightly.

“I owe you an apology, ladies. When I sent word to the man to come here, I did not for a moment imagine he would find it advisable to drive his hideous vehicle into camp before breakfast. I have expressed as much to him, though in somewhat less temperate language,” added Disbrow with a faint smile.

“The apology is accepted, sir,” answered Harriet gravely. “But we are still in the dark as to the reason for this—this visitation?”

“Ah, yes. I took it upon myself. You see, I need some practice, my late accident making it necessary that I, too, begin playing. No better opportunity will present itself. However, the court being in such wretched shape I dare not attempt any work upon it. It was for that reason that I had the boys send to town for a steam roller.”

“To pack down the court! Oh, that is it,” said Harriet brightly. “How can we thank you?”

“No necessity, Miss Burrell. I tell you it was principally in my own behalf that I ordered the roller. I didn’t order the whistle. That is thrown in gratis. When the boys get here we will have the net taken down so that the man can begin his work of rolling the court.”


“No need to wait for the boys. Come on, girls,” cried Harriet.

They ran to the court and, pulling up the stakes, laid the net flat, after which they rolled it carefully. The net was then removed and laid beside their tent, racquets and stakes were gathered up and stowed in the same place. It was all done with the usual snap of the Meadow-Brook Girls.

“You American girls certainly have the initiative,” declared Disbrow approvingly. “You aren’t afraid to do things. Now, if you were English, you would sit about and look languid, you would wait until the men came to do the work for you. Not so the American girl. When there is a thing to be done she does it. That is all there is to it. I’ll tell that driver to start in. I believe he has gone to sleep.”

“Thhall I throw a thtone at him?” questioned Tommy.

“By no means,” answered the guardian severely. “Run over and tell him we are ready for him.”


“No, no! Leave that for me,” protested Disbrow. But Harriet was already running toward the roller. She awakened the driver, telling him he might begin work at once. He delayed a long time before starting, first feeding more coal into the fire box and oiling the rheumatic joints of the machine before starting. While Mr. Disbrow was showing the driver how the court was to be rolled, the girls were hurriedly preparing breakfast. Had they not been enthusiastic before, they surely would be now that their instructor had gone to all this pains and expense in their behalf. They well knew that it was done wholly on their own account, despite his explanations to the contrary.

Captain George and his party arrived after the girls had finished their breakfast and the man was still clanking back and forth over the court, which was being slowly packed down into a firm surface that shone under the polish put on by the heavy roller.

“You are up early this morning,” remarked Disbrow, “but we have finished our breakfast. You will have to wait until luncheon time.”

“Had our breakfast, thank you,” answered Sam. “What time did the automobile get here?”

“That got here before breakfatht, too,” answered Tommy. “You mutht have thlept pretty thoundly not to have heard it.”

“We did hear it. We heard the whistle,” replied George. “Fine time of day to get here. Who cleared the court?”

“The young ladies,” answered Disbrow, with a reproving glance at the Tramp Boys.


“Too bad we all had sprained ankles,” retorted Sam mischievously, whereat a smile flitted over the pale face of P. Earlington Disbrow.

By eight o’clock Disbrow, after walking over the court and poking it with his stick, pronounced it satisfactory. He paid the driver of the outfit and dismissed him. The boys were directed to place the net, while the instructor looked on critically. When it came to measuring the court, he insisted on doing this himself.

“It is of vital importance that one practise under the identical conditions that will prevail in the match game. George, set up stakes and stretch a string so that all our lines may be true.”

When the court was completed, about an hour later, the campers gazed upon it delightedly.

“Oh, this is a real court!” cried Harriet with glowing eyes.

“Yes. And now you shall do some real playing. We shall have our strokes first, then we shall see you put them into practice in a real game. I’ll be playing myself if I look at that handsome court any longer.”

The day’s work was welcomed with enthusiasm by the Meadow-Brook team. Three sets were played before luncheon time, and rather spirited games they were. The girls with each [145] succeeding game grew more and more proficient as the different strokes became more mechanical to them, and when a halt was called for the noon meal P. Earlington Disbrow showed real enthusiasm.

“Fine, fine!” he exclaimed, smiling broadly.

“Then you think we thall win the tournament?” questioned Tommy.

“My dear Miss Thompson, we are not cup-winners yet; we are still in the novice class. We hope to advance a step a day until we get into one of the higher classes.”

A long rest was taken after luncheon, and then the afternoon was a repetition of the morning with work made easy by the enthusiasm and the painstaking effort of the Meadow-Brook Girls. It had been the first really successful day since they began their practice.

“One point in your favor,” declared Disbrow as he was leaving the Meadow-Brook camp that night, “is your wonderful endurance. I believe in a long race you would wear out a steam engine. Add skill to that quality of endurance and you will be heard from one of these days on the tennis court.”

With this cheering word still ringing in their ears the Meadow-Brook Girls tumbled into bed and went to sleep almost as soon as they had drawn their blankets under their chins.



“Well, P. E., what do you think now?” asked Captain Baker on the first opportunity.

“I think, as I did when you asked me that question some time ago, that the Meadow-Brook team will attract considerable attention by their playing in the Coast Tournament. They may even get a place well up in the list, but so far as winning any of the prizes, I do not believe they are far enough advanced for that. Their progress, during the four weeks we have been at work, is nothing less than marvelous. Sometimes I almost believe they will be fit for a championship match. Then I discover that I’ve been carried away by that confounded Meadow-Brook enthusiasm. It’s as catching as the plague, old chap.”

“Well, we’re all obliged to you for what you’ve done, P. E.”

“My boy, it isn’t Earlington Disbrow who has done it; it is the young women themselves. You can’t make tennis players out of unavailable material. About all I have done, besides giving them some technical points, has been to [147] keep them at work. They would have done that just the same had I been on the other side of the ocean. At times they show excellent form; then again they fall off without any reason that I am able to discover. In two or three years from now we’ll hear from the Meadow-Brook Girls, but I should say it would take all that time to make champions of them, in spite of their unshaken determination to win out.”

“How are you going to pair them off when we get to the tournament?” The Englishman had announced his intention of witnessing all the matches at Newtown.

“That I have not fully decided. I may do it in a way that you won’t approve,” smiled Disbrow.

“You are the doctor, we are the patients,” nodded George. “Well, at any rate, it has been worth the price of admission to have you up here with us, and I shall never forget what you’ve done for us, and for me especially.”

“Chop it, old chap! You jolly well know the shoe is on the other foot. Besides, I’ve had some much needed practice on my own account. I am fit as a fiddle now, ready to take on any matches that may be arranged for me. This has been a great vacation for me.” The speaker expanded his chest, inhaling deeply of the air that was heavy with the odor of the pines.


“Were I to remain up here all summer I think I might gain something of the endurance that those young women possess. It’s wonderful, as I have said before.”

Four weeks had elapsed since the arrival of P. Earlington Disbrow. During that time real work had been done in the camp of the Meadow-Brook Girls. They had practised early and late, and when not actually at practice were listening to words of wisdom, born of the experience of a world champion. Now they possessed a theoretical knowledge of the game that was barely second to that of Disbrow himself. They had learned to serve drop curves, over-head curves, to place the tennis ball almost with the accuracy of rifle fire; they had with varying degrees of success become able to accomplish the difficult twist service, so puzzling to the novice, much as would be the well-known curves of the baseball player to one who did not understand them; their foot work had improved, they had been taught to conserve their energies, to leap from the toes in springing to meet a ball—in fact, had been coached in all the little delicate arts of the game that had already made their instructor famous wherever tennis was played.


And now the period of their work in camp had come to an end. Only five days remained before the opening of the tournament at Newtown, where they would either win recognition or suffer humiliating defeat. Harriet still persisted in her belief in herself and her companions. Disbrow did not seek to shake that confidence, being well aware that without it they had better remain out of the contest entirely.

It had been planned that he was to meet them at Newtown three days hence. He wished them to play a set over each of the courts, but they were not to do anything like the hard work they had been doing on the court in the pine woods, nor were they to touch a racquet during the days between then and the time they reported at Newtown. This had been the champion’s strictest injunction to them.

The girls were to go home to arrange their clothing. After no little discussion it had been decided that they were to wear their regular Camp Girl uniforms, minus the beads. These costumes, being especially arranged for freedom of muscular play and comfort, were ideal for the purpose, except that they were of blue serge, while all the other players would be dressed in white. This would mean that the figures of the Meadow-Brook Girls would stand out from all the rest, which might prove a disadvantage when standing before the nets. Harriet understood this well, but she had been determined on the Camp Girl uniform for reasons of her own, [150] which she did not confide to her companions nor to the Tramp Boys.

Jane had been to town and brought her automobile. The camp had been struck by the boys and packed ready for the wagon that was coming from town to take them home. The girls and Mr. Disbrow were to return in Jane’s car, he to go on to Boston that evening. They were holding their last meeting in the old camping place, which, now that they were about to leave, seemed dearer than ever to them. None of that little party would ever forget the weeks spent in that clearing in the pine woods. The summer vacation that had opened so tamely bade fair to close in a giddy whirl of excitement. It had already been full to overflowing with activity and accomplishment.

“Remember, you are to follow out my directions regarding the care of yourselves between now and the time I see you again, young ladies,” reminded Mr. Disbrow.

“I shall be on hand early and look over the practice of the other contestants. I may be able to offer you some suggestions as to what to do or what not to do after I have seen some of the other contestants in action. As for my share in your training, it will be well for you to forget that. From now on you are to be placed upon your own responsibility.”


“You are asking an impossibility,” replied Harriet. “Whatever may follow, we owe you a debt of gratitude that nothing can ever repay, both you and the boys.”

“Go in and win. That will be payment enough,” answered Mr. Disbrow with a light laugh.

“That is what we are going to do,” replied Harriet earnestly.

He did not contradict her. He knew in his own mind that the Meadow-Brook team could not carry off the cup. The most that could be hoped for was one of the smaller prizes. If they stood up under the grilling of the first few games, they would have done remarkably well. He should call that achievement worth while, let alone winning the cup.

About the middle of the forenoon the wagon came up from town and the boys began loading the equipment, after which they were to take up their own camp. The tennis racquets the girls had kept with them. They had chosen their racquets after trying out all weights, Harriet finally choosing a fourteen-ounce racquet, an unusually heavy weight for a woman player. Mr. Disbrow had advised against this heavy weight, but after observing her work with this and then with a lighter one approved her choice. Harriet, though slight, was very strong, and under [152] the practice on the court her wrists had become as pliant as steel.

They placed their smaller belongings in the car and got in, then, with shouts of good-bye to the boys and to the camp, turned their faces homeward.

The news had traveled abroad in Meadow-Brook that the Meadow-Brook Girls were to take part in the Coast Tournament, which entry caused no little interest. It had not been known that the girls played tennis at all. Some little argument had been necessary to gain the permission of the girls’ parents, but Miss Elting had taken the matter in hand, and in the end won their consent. Not only this, but the parents were arranging to go to Newtown to see the tournament.

The plans of the party embraced some unusual features. They were to make camp and live in tents, cooking their own food, living their regular outdoor life just the same as if they were encamped in the woods. Mr. Disbrow approved of this. Any change in their method of living might affect them adversely, and the girls were thankful for his approval.

That afternoon, after the girls had taken their instructor to each of their homes and introduced him to their parents, Disbrow boarded a train for Boston. He had skilfully evaded the direct [153] questions of the parents as to what chances the girls had to win. Tommy’s father was delighted at the opportunity presented to her. Whether or not she won anything, it would be of great benefit to his little daughter, who, from a delicate girl, had developed into a muscular young woman.

True to their promise, the girls did no practising, though in her room at home, using the wall to receive the ball under her light touches, Harriet studied out problems of service. It was not practice, according to her reasoning; it was study. But most of her time was occupied in sewing and in performing her regular duties about the house, which she persisted in doing despite her mother’s protestations.

In the meantime the Tramp Boys had moved, bag and baggage, to Newtown. They not only had taken their own equipment, but that of the Meadow-Brook Girls as well. George, after consultation with Mr. Herrington, would decide on a site for the camp, which, owing to his acquaintance with the manager of the tournament, would be almost any site the captain chose. George was very fortunate in his friends, and he never hesitated to use them, being fully as ready and willing to be used himself whenever he could be of service. Then, again, in the present instance he felt a proprietary interest beyond the ordinary one of friendship. It was his team, as he chose to call it. He had made the entry, he would be responsible for the Meadow-Brook Girls’ appearance on the courts in the tournament. He had no great hopes now of their winning the cup, but he did believe the Meadow-Brook pluck and endurance would land them in a position some little distance from the tail-end of the procession of defeated contestants.


On the third morning the girls were up early, for they were to make an early start for Newtown, nearly three hours’ drive by motor car from their home town. As usual, they were to be accompanied by Miss Elting. No other persons accompanied them. The parents were not to go on until the day the tournament was to open. Their personal belongings and their precious racquets were stowed in the car and in the luggage trunk that was strapped on behind. It was a new car that Jane’s father had purchased for her to take the place of the one lost in the ice pond on that fateful night the year previous, when Harriet had narrowly escaped drowning.

Their departure was a quiet one. The car simply called at the homes of the girls and picked them up as if they were just going out for a pleasure drive. Tommy was the only nervous one in the party. Jane was full of merry chatter, Buster grumbling, as usual, and Harriet silent and thoughtful.


“Well, we’re off for the killing,” announced Jane, after having picked up the last of her passengers and started on her way. “And that’s not saying who it is that’s going to be killed,” she added with a chuckle.


Newtown, as already mentioned, was a summer resort. There were many fine summer homes, excellent bathing, a limited number of hotels, and a large population of fashionable summer visitors.

This year the tournament had excited more than ordinary interest because arranged wholly for women. Not a man was to take part in any event, though most of the teams were managed by relatives or family friends. That it was to be a bitter fight was evident from the activity of the preparations and the care with which the various minor officials had been chosen. A very large attendance was promised and it was believed that some future champions would be developed from the contest. This, as a matter of fact, was the fond hope of Jack Herrington, the [156] manager, who had arranged this unusual tournament. One team from which much was expected was a club of girls from the summer colony, fashionable young women who had spent some years playing tennis.

This latter club consisted of four girls, just as did the Meadow-Brook entry. One pair was entered as “The Fifth Avenues,” the other as “The Riversides.” All their practising had been done on the private court belonging to one of the girls, so that no one outside of the few on the inside really knew what they were doing. Then there were other clubs from various parts of the State. One team from Portsmouth, the Scott Sisters, were known to be among the most expert tennis players in the ranks of the younger players, and among those who claimed to know, it was believed that the Scott Sisters were sure winners, provided the Fifth Avenues and the Riversides did not carry off the cup. There was just enough mystery in the entries of the latter to cause a great deal of speculation and arouse keen interest.

Jane McCarthy and her passengers arrived in Newtown at eleven o’clock in the forenoon of the day on which they had left home. Their arrival attracted no attention, for the girls were unknown to the residents of Newtown. Jane did not know where to go. Harriet called a halt [157] and soon learned where the office of the manager was. They repaired there at once, only to find that he was out on the tennis field. They were directed how to get there and drove away in search of it.

The tennis field was located on the outskirts of the town in an open field. The nets were not yet in place, but men were working on the courts, packing these down with hand rollers in some instances, in others chalking out the lines, taking measurements, working on the covered stand where seats were held at high prices for such spectators as wished to be under cover and out of the direct rays of the sun. The girls were directed to the manager. They waited while Harriet went over to speak to him.

“So you are one of the Meadow-Brook Girls, eh?” he exclaimed, extending a cordial hand. “George Baker has told me all about you. You look as though you could give a good account of yourself.”

“Thank you.”

“Where are your friends?”

“In Miss McCarthy’s car yonder. We drove over from Meadow-Brook this morning. Do you know whether Mr. Baker has made our camp or not?”

“He has,” answered Herrington, regarding the brown-faced young woman keenly, pleased [158] both with her manner and her apparently splendid condition.

“Will you kindly direct me to it?”

“With pleasure, Miss Burrell. The camp is pitched just within the edge of those trees at the far side of the field yonder,” pointing to a grove. “You are the only contestants who, so far as I am aware, are camping out. Baker tells me that you prefer it. I consider it an excellent idea, provided the weather is good.”

“Oh, we do not mind bad weather. We are quite well used to all kinds,” answered Harriet, her face lighting up in a happy smile. “Are any of the other players here?”

“None of those from out of town so far as I know. Some of them may be staying with friends. None has reported to me. I should like to meet your companions if you have no objection.”

“They will be glad to know you,” answered Harriet, turning back toward the car, with Mr. Herrington walking beside her. The manager was presented to Miss Elting and each of the Meadow-Brook Girls in turn. He said he knew Grace Thompson’s father quite well and that he also knew Mr. McCarthy by reputation.

“I thought I was the only member of our family who had a reputation,” blurted out Jane. “Between myself and the motor car pretty [159] nearly every one in our part of the State has met disaster. Is that our camp over yonder?”

“Yes,” answered Herrington, with an amused smile.

“May I drive the car over?”

“You may. But please go around the outside edge of the field so as not to cut up the turf near the courts. We have spent some weeks on these grounds, and are naturally very careful of them.”

“It is a very beautiful field,” remarked the guardian admiringly. “I see there are no nets up. When will you stretch them?”

“Any time you may wish after to-day. I suppose you have reference to practice?”


“All shall have opportunity to accustom themselves to the various courts, for until the drawings I cannot say what teams will play on certain courts. The singles are to be played off first. We are reserving the doubles until the last because there is greater interest in these, and by holding them until the last we shall hold the attendance as well. You see there is a business side to this tournament, a side that is not wholly unselfish.”

“Of course,” agreed Miss Elting. “Have you many entries?”


“In the doubles? Yes, there are twenty entries. I imagine there will not be quite so many as that on the second day of the double events,” added Mr. Herrington. “George Baker has been scouting for news; he is a regular sleuth. He will tell you all about it. You will find him at the camp; his own camp is farther back in the woods. And, by the way, I have given him permission to pitch a dressing tent just beyond the last court on that side. He will not do that until just before the doubles are called. Any of the other players who desire it may have the same privilege. I hadn’t thought of it until Baker suggested the idea, which is a good one. Next year we shall do this ourselves. I hope you may be with us then.”

“It is quite likely that we shall,” answered Harriet.

“Then you are quite confident of the result this year?”

“We are going to do our best,” replied Harriet Burrell modestly. “We are new at the game. Five weeks ago we practically knew nothing of the game. What we have done has been done within that time.”

“I wish you luck, my dear young ladies, but you will find yourselves in pretty hot company for girls of your limited experience at the nets. Most of the contestants have been playing for years at home, though very few of them, I believe, have ever participated in a public match.”


“I am glad to hear it,” said the Meadow-Brook Girl with a smile. This was good news to Harriet Burrell and she stowed it away in her mind for future consideration.

“Mr. Baker tells me that Earlington Disbrow is a friend of yours and that he is coming down here from Boston to-morrow.”

“Yes, Mr. Disbrow has been good enough to take an interest in our work,” answered Miss Elting innocently. “We shall be glad to see an old acquaintance again.”

Mr. Herrington bowed low, expressing his pleasure at having met so renowned a party as the Meadow-Brooks, and, requesting that they call upon him for anything in his power to grant, returned to his supervision of the courts.

As they neared the edge of the wood the tents began to stand out more plainly. These were just within the edge of the grove. Out in the field a short distance from the edge of the grove they saw a number of khaki-clad boys at work. So busy were the latter that up to this time they had failed to observe the approach of the motor car.

Jane blew her horn. The boys heard and recognized the sound.

“It’s the Meadow-Brooks!” shouted George Baker. “Give ’em a cheer, fellows. Hurrah!”


The boys tossed their hats in the air and whooped so loudly that the men at work on the courts at the opposite end of the field paused in their work to look and listen. The Meadow-Brook Girls answered with their club yell, the car came to a stop in front of the boys and the girls hopped out. Hand-shaking was the order of the day for the next few minutes, during which the girls were overwhelmed with questions.

“Fit as fiddles all around,” declared George after a critical look into the smiling face of each girl. “Miss Brown is the only soft one in the party.”

“I’m not soft,” flung back Margery indignantly. “I’d have you know that. You ought to know it without my telling you.”

“Don’t get angry over it, Miss Margery,” answered George laughingly. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. What I meant was that you were not in the pink of condition like the other girls. They have been in training for some weeks, you know, so you could not be expected to come up to them.”

Buster, somewhat mollified, smiled and sat down. The girls glanced about them inquiringly.

“What are you boys doing here?” demanded the guardian, glancing curiously about her.


“Oh, Miss Elting, they are making a practice court,” cried Harriet.

“Why, boys, you shouldn’t have gone to all that trouble. The games come on the day after to-morrow and we shall have very little use for a court. Then, again, you have peeled off the sod. Why couldn’t we have practised on a grass court for the short time?” asked the guardian. “Of course we appreciate this, just as we do everything you have done for us, but you have done altogether too much.”

“In the first place,” replied George, “all you will wish to do on the courts out there is to warm up, to limber up. You will wish to practise some of your fancy strokes, which you can do here without any one observing you. We shall see to that. We shall stand guard and not let any one near the court while you girls are at work. The reason we peeled the sod is that you will play on a hard court in the contest. To play on a grass court here for practice might undo all you have accomplished thus far with regard to foot work. I know P. E. would agree with me in that.”

“Hathn’t George got a head to be proud of?” demanded Tommy. “I withh I had a head like hith, only much more beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Captain George bowed with great ceremony, as though deeply appreciative of this rather doubtful compliment.


“You do think of everything, George,” remarked Harriet. “You are right, too. This court will be of no little assistance to us for the finishing touches. I have some new strokes that I have thought out, strokes that I should like to try without any one’s observing me. Come, let’s look at the tents.”

There were two of these, one for Miss Elting, the other for the girls. The boys had given the guardian one of their small camping tents. The girls uttered exclamations of surprise when they entered the tent. Everything was arranged with as much taste as they themselves could have shown. In addition to this the interiors of the two tents were decorated with cedar boughs that the lads had gathered by the wayside on their way to Newtown. On the two end poles crossed tennis racquets had been fastened with a tennis ball in the crotch formed by each pair of racquets. In the center of the girls’ tent was a small folding table covered with a scarf that George had borrowed from his mother, and on the center of the table stood a pitcher filled with roses.

“Oh, you boys, you boys!” exclaimed Miss Elting, her eyes shining happily. In her own tent she found a similar condition.

The girls looked their deep appreciation rather than expressing it in mere words.


“I am going to put up a dressing tent for you before the games,” said George.

“Yes, Mr. Herrington told us,” answered Harriet.

“Oh, then you’ve met Jack? There won’t be much in the tent but a few blankets and a cot. You will appreciate that tent when you have a rest between sets. We shall have water there for bathing your faces to help you cool off. I think we are in for some roasting weather.”

“Anybody would think this was a prize fight that was about to be fought,” declared Sam abruptly. George fixed him with a rebuking glance.

“I see a great deal is expected of us,” replied Harriet seriously. “If we do not do our best, we are unworthy of such friendship. But, George, you know what I promised you before we even began to practise—that we are going to win. I repeat that statement now, and I mean every word of it.”

“That is the talk,” said George, but inwardly he groaned. He knew in his own mind that it was beyond the power of Harriet and her fellow-players to carry off the cup. “You don’t want to practise to-day, do you?”

“Perhaps late in the afternoon,” answered Harriet.

“Then I’ll tell you what let’s do,” suggested [166] Dill enthusiastically. “Let’s all go down to the beach for a swim in the surf.”

“Fine! Come on, darlin’s,” cried Jane.

“Oh, yeth, let’th go,” urged Tommy.

“I do not think it would be wise,” answered Harriet reflectively. “I should dearly love a swim, but I do not think it prudent. We might catch a little cold or stiffen our muscles or something of the sort. We have too much at stake to take any chances. I for one shall not go in the surf and I hope none of you girls will.”

“Harriet is right,” answered George approvingly.

“Yes, she is,” agreed Miss Elting. “But you haven’t told us the news. Mr. Herrington said you knew a lot about what had been going on here.”

George’s face took on a more serious expression.

“I’ve turned up a few facts,” he said.

“I suppose it is all settled as to who is going to win the championship cup?” said Harriet with a smile.

He nodded.

“That’s what they say. They say that the championship lies between the Scott Sisters and the two pairs known as the Fifth Avenues and the Riversides.”

“Have you seen them play?” asked Harriet.


“No. But I got hold of a fellow I know who has seen them play a number of times. He says they are wonders, regular Indians with the racquets. I’ve got Charlie Mabie scouting now. He will bring back the news.”

“I hope you will not do anything that isn’t quite right, George,” said Miss Elting deprecatingly.

The captain shook his head.

“No. You’ll find they will be doing the same thing here, or trying to. They will get a hard bump if they do,” he added under his breath. “But you do want to look alive for those Scott Sisters. From all I can learn, they are regular professionals, and those who have seen them play in other matches say they are mighty tricky players.”

“You mean dishonest?” questioned Harriet.

“Well, you might call it that. I mean they would be if they could get away with it. But even so, a player sometimes can turn a trick that isn’t fair and not be caught at it, or else is able to convince the umpire that she didn’t do anything unfair.”

“Nothing of the sort will be done by this team,” declared Harriet Burrell firmly. “But though we shall play fairly, we shall go in prepared to fight to the bitter end, to fight every inch of the way until either we drive our [168] opponents off the court or are driven off of it ourselves.”

“Hurrah! That’s certainly the real hero talk,” shouted Sam.

“Will you please keep still,” admonished George. “I was about to say that I haven’t learned anything of interest about the other teams entered for the doubles. In fact, not much of anything is known here. All of them will be here to-morrow. Perhaps Herrington told you that the singles are to be played off first. Some of the girls in those are to play in the doubles also. You ought to be able to get pointers by watching them play in the singles, learning their tricks and so on.”

“That will be helpful,” agreed Harriet.

“What do you wish to do now, sit down and rest?” questioned the captain.

“We must go back to town and get our food supplies,” answered the guardian. “Will you come with us, George?”

“Yes, thank you. I was going to propose that you go over to town with me. There’s something there that I want to show you. Oh, you’ll be delighted when you see it.”



The girls lost no time in getting into Jane’s car, accompanied by Captain Baker, who sat on the front seat with the driver. They drove slowly around the edge of the field, thence out into the street, observed by Jack Herrington with a quizzical smile on his face.

“There is as fine a set of girls as I ever saw,” he reflected. “I shouldn’t be surprised if they were heard from at the nets one of these days. But five weeks’ practice and entering the hottest amateur tournament we’ve ever had on the coast!” he muttered. “I ought to ask them to withdraw their entry, but I couldn’t do it when that Miss Burrell looked at me with that unflinching, searching gaze of hers.” He laughed as he saw Jane and her car enveloped in a cloud of dust. Then the Meadow-Brook car disappeared around the corner.

“That one certainly can drive a car, even if she can’t play tennis,” he added.

In the meantime the automobile was speeding through the town, scattering pedestrians right and left, Jane unheeding the guardian’s urgent [170] demands that she drive more slowly. Jane was in a hurry to learn what it was that Captain George Baker had in store for them. They were eager to know about this latest surprise.

“I hope you are not getting us into more trouble, Captain,” Miss Elting called to him.

“It spells trouble for some one,” answered the captain. “No, this is no other game I am trying to play on you. You have game enough on hand as it is.”

“I should say we have,” answered the guardian, her face taking on a thoughtful expression, little lines of perplexity forming on her forehead. “Indeed we have, and to spare.”

George directed Jane into the main business street of the town.

“Do you wish to get your supplies first?” asked the captain.

“No!” cried the girls with one accord, “we want the surprise.”

“You shall have it. Pull up before that red brick building you see on the left there, Miss Jane. We will get out there.”

They got down hurriedly. They could not imagine what this new surprise might be. George led them to the sidewalk, passers-by glancing inquiringly at the brown-faced girls as well as at their distinctive blue uniforms, which a few persons recognized as belonging to the Meadow-Brook Girls’ organization. The captain stepped across the walk to the window of a jewelry store, where he halted and pointed.


“There is the surprise,” he said, his eyes sparkling, his face flushed.

At first the girls’ eyes wandered over the glittering array of costly articles displayed in the window, their glances finally coming to rest on a centerpiece that stood out and above all the rest. That something was a massive silver cup, standing fully eighteen inches high. The cup stood by itself, on a black velvet mat. There was a massive silver handle on either side. Then they saw that it was a trophy. A tennis net worked out in silver decorated the lower part of the cup; above the net were two crossed racquets and a ball, all in solid silver.

Still further up on the swell, cut deeply into the polished surface were the words, “Atlantic Coast Tennis Association Trophy for Girls Under Eighteen. Doubles. Won by ——”

It was a Massive Silver Cup.

It was a Massive Silver Cup.

“Ohh-h-h!” breathed the girls in a delighted chorus.

“Isn’t it perfectly lov—e—ly?” gasped Buster.

“Why, it must be worth a great deal of money,” cried Hazel.

“Yes, it is very beautiful and very expensive,” agreed the guardian. “That, Meadow-Brook [172] Girls, is the prize for which you are to play. Isn’t it worth going after?”

“Indeed, it is,” agreed Jane McCarthy, really overcome by the magnificence of the trophy cup.

“Won’t that look perfectly stunning on our center tables?” exclaimed Buster.

“Our thenter tableth!” exploded Tommy. “You aren’t in the match at all. Jutht remember that, Buthter.”

“No, but she is one of us and will share all the glory as well as the disappointments of the Meadow-Brook Girls,” answered Harriet reprovingly. “Where shall we put it, girls?”

“My father will want it on hith library table, where he can look at it until hith eyethight failth him,” answered Tommy.

“But we shall all want it in our homes,” declared Jane. “How are we going to arrange that?”

“We might split the cup into five parts and each take a piece home,” suggested Hazel.

“No, that won’t do. I’ll tell you how we shall arrange it, girls,” planned Harriet enthusiastically.

“Yeth, Harriet knowth what to do,” said Tommy, nodding her tow-head rapidly. “Thhe alwayth knowth everything.”

“First, we shall place it on exhibition in that jewelry store on Sycamore Street at home. We [173] shall want everybody to see it, and we shall be very proud.”

“Yeth, and we’ll thtand inthide the thtore and lithten to what they thay about uth, won’t we?” bubbled Tommy.

“Then, after a day or two, we shall draw lots to see who has it in her home first. In the beginning each shall keep it for a day until it goes the rounds of all our homes. On the next round each shall keep it for two days and so on, every round adding a day up to a month. A month will be long enough for any girl to have it in her home at a stretch. I’ll tell you what we will do, we will each put in a little money that we shall earn, and buy one of those black marble pedestals that are used to hold statues. Then we can stand the precious cup in the window so people passing may see it.”

“And, of course, we must write to our friends and announce the good news,” reminded Hazel Holland.

“I know one person, at least, who will be glad to hear of our triumph,” declared Harriet. “Grace Harlowe will be delighted to learn that we’ve qualified as champion tennis players.”

“And so will her friends, Nora O’Malley and Anne Pierson and Jessica Bright,” chimed in Marjory. “We never dreamed, when we met those nice girls on our return from the mountains that we’d all become such friends, did we?”


“I’m fond of them all, but Grace Harlowe is my ideal.” Harriet spoke with deep conviction. She had met Grace Harlowe and her three chums during the preceding summer. When the Meadow-Brook Girls had passed through Oakdale on their way home. They had remained over night with the Wingates, who were relatives of Tommy Thompson’s.

Hippy Wingate, Tommy’s cousin, had risen to the occasion and invited his particular group of friends, known as the Eight Originals, of whom much has been told in the “Grace Harlowe Books,” to meet the Meadow-Brook Girls. These wide-awake young people had spent a most delightful evening together and a firm comradeship had sprung up between the two sets of girls. Harriet and Grace Harlowe had at once established a permanent bond of fellowship, so it was hardly to be wondered at that the former’s first thought was of Grace.

“Of courthe we’ll let the Oakdale girlths know what marvelouth championth we are,” nodded Tommy. “I’ll thend Grathe a telegram mythelf the minute the tournament’th over, thaying we’ve won the cup.”

“Can you beat it?” murmured George, chancing to catch the laughing eyes of the guardian.


“No, George, I confess that I cannot,” answered Miss Elting.

“Maybe you might want to take the cup with you right now?” suggested the captain.

“Could we?” asked Tommy innocently, whereat there was a laugh at her expense.

“No, my dear. There are some little formalities to be gone through with first,” said Harriet. “We first have to win it after battling with some of the best girl players in the State. That done, we shall take the cup and carry out the plans already made. I think we had better attend to our errands now.”

“Oh, don’t go,” begged Tommy. “I could thtand here and look at it all the retht of the day.”

They started back toward the car. At the edge of the sidewalk Tommy turned and ran back to the window. The other girls stepped into the car and there they sat for fully five minutes until Tommy Thompson had impressed every line and curve of the beautiful trophy on her mind.

“You may break it if you look at it so hard,” warned George.

“Come, Tommy. Remember, you must get your rest and be ready for practice this afternoon,” called the guardian.

The little girl turned away reluctantly, and [178] getting into the car settled back in the seat, uttering a deep sigh of happy satisfaction.

“I thhall want to look at it all the time. I know I’ll thit up nighth looking at it,” she murmured.

No one answered her. Each girl was too deeply absorbed in her thoughts to speak at that moment. Then the car moved on and the exquisite trophy for which they were soon to enter the lists was left behind them. But Harriet resolved that the separation should not be for long. Captain George, on his part, took a different view of the matter.

“The disappointment will nearly kill them,” he thought.


The purchases made, Jane drove at her usual rate of speed until she reached the tournament grounds. She slowed down just long enough to gain the field, then put on full speed. The car went dashing over the lot, threatening every minute to upset. She did not even turn out for a group of workmen. They were the men who got out of the way, and just in time, too. No amount of argument on the part [179] of her companions could induce Jane McCarthy to drive slowly. Of course, she would not have run over any one recklessly, but in trying to avoid doing so she might have upset her car and caused serious injury to her passengers.

The boys were still rolling their practice court with hand rollers, packing down a lump or digging it off here and there, giving as much attention to the task as if the tournament were to be played on that particular court.

“It is a shame for the boys to work so hard,” said Miss Elting.

“Do them good,” answered George carelessly.

“We thaw the cup, Tham,” cried Tommy, leaping from the car.

“Well, seeing is believing.”

“And each of uth ith going to have it in her home. Jutht think of that!”

“Just think of it,” scoffed Sam. “Makes me dizzy to contemplate. Aren’t you girls eating in the middle of the day any more or are you fasting for the tournament?”

They hadn’t thought of luncheon. They had been absorbed with matters of much greater importance.

“I don’t see anything that looks like a campfire,” said Hazel, glancing about her.

George led the way to the rear of the tents, where he pointed proudly to a fireplace made of [180] stones. Near it was a pile of dry wood, some soft for starting the fire, some hard for making a bed of hot coals.

“As you are not fasting, we shall proceed to get something to eat for you,” declared Captain George.

“No, indeed. You have done quite enough. We will get it ourselves,” answered Harriet, immediately setting about preparing the noonday meal, which in this instance would be eaten some time after noon. Her companions put on their aprons, and half an hour later Tramp Boys and Meadow-Brook Girls sat down to a light luncheon.

George told them such other news as he had learned, the plans for the tournament, how the names of the players who were to be opposed to each other were to be drawn, and the like. No one knew exactly whom she was to play against, no one would know until the drawings were made shortly before the game was to be played. This added a spice to the contest, though that was not the purpose of the regulation.

“You see,” continued the captain, “in case you were pitted against such players as the Scott Sisters, or those high-toned players from New York City, you might go down and out in the first set. Then you would be done for, for good and all this season, without a doubt.”


“You are mistaken,” answered Harriet promptly.

“I know the laws,” answered George with some warmth.

“Yes, but it is quite plain that you do not know the Meadow-Brook Girls. In the case you mention it would be the New York girls who would be done for, for good and all. You are mistaken, George. But we forgive you. We know your heart is in the right place.”

“There’s no use trying to tell you anything,” objected the captain warmly. “You are so stubborn.”

“Isn’t that the way to be?” questioned Harriet Burrell sweetly. “Or would you prefer to have us meek and to say, ‘Oh, yes, the New York girls will win, of course. We stand no chance, whatever; we are going to lie right down on the court and let them have their way’? Is that the way you would like to have me receive your remarks and answer them?”

“No!” exploded George, “not by a jug full. I withdraw my ungentlemanly remark and beg your pardon. You are right and I am wrong. You are always right. Tommy says so and I agree with her.”

“You thee, I am the withe one of the outfit, Mith Elting,” spoke up Tommy brightly.

“How many prizes are to be offered?” asked [182] the guardian, thus putting an end to the subject the young folks had been discussing. “I have heard nothing about it save the little you and Mr. Herrington have mentioned.”

“In the doubles, you mean? Well, there is the championship cup——”

“Our cup,” cut in Tommy. “You know we are each to have it in our hometh.”

“There is a smaller cup, too, I believe. There is also a gold bracelet and a few other consolation prizes, including a pair of rag dolls for the ones at the tail end of the procession. How would you like a nice, homemade rag doll, Grace?”

“I don’t want a rag doll, I want a thilver cup—the thilver cup,” protested Tommy indignantly. “I won’t have a rag doll!”

“Of course not,” agreed Harriet. “What a ridiculous idea! We shall have a silver cup, shan’t we, dear?”

The thilver cup,” corrected Tommy.

“Yes. And how soon will our court be ready for us, Captain?” asked Harriet, turning to the captain.

“Not until late this afternoon. You will want to get settled and rest and adjust yourselves.”

“No; I shall, for one, want to get to work as soon as I shall have properly digested my luncheon,” replied Harriet, and then, turning to [183] Charlie Mabie, she added, “Charlie, you are actually getting thin.”

“No wonder. I’m doing all the running for both outfits. Up at the camp in the woods it was ‘Charlie, run to town and get so and so.’ Town was only twelve miles away, but Charlie runs just the same. Now it will be, ‘Charlie, run over to town and get a box of candy for the girls.’”

“Not for these girls,” interjected Harriet. “These girls are not eating candy at the present time. We are living plainly, I would have you understand. Tommy, I want you to help me for a little while. You are small and thin. Do you wish to assist me in working out something?”


“Then I wish you would stand up and let me see if I can hit you with the tennis ball. I want to try an experiment.”

“I gueth not. You had better try to hit a tree if you want thomething to hit. I don’t like thuch experimenth.”

“I’ll be the easy mark,” offered Sam. “You may hit me in the face, too, if you want to and can. Only don’t volley for my game nose. It is still a little tender from the wollop Grace gave it with her racquet that time. You won’t throw your racquet at me, will you?”

“Indeed, not,” answered Harriet with a [184] merry laugh. “I just want to practise for accuracy.”

Sam posed as a mark for Harriet shortly after dinner, though she permitted him to try to avoid her returns. Sam succeeded part of the time, but not all of the time. Harriet had a little mystifying way of sending the ball at him and reaching almost any spot on his body at which she chose to aim. George said it was because Sam was too slow to get out of the way. Harriet smiled but made no denial. There was no regular practice play, however, until very late in the afternoon. Then for a time the girls limbered up on the court while the boys were placing the net.

Then they decided to play a set. Jane and Hazel won the first two games of the set, the other four games going to Harriet and Tommy. The second set, by agreement, was played much faster than the first had been. The girls really disposed of this set with a dash and spirit that they had not displayed at any other previous practice.

“Well, I’ll be jiggered!” declared George. “I didn’t think you had it in you to go through with it like that. That was a dandy, but not yet fast enough to win the big cup.”


Harriet laughed at him with that teasing laugh that always made George feel like chewing the brim of his hat to keep from making remarks. Harriet suggested that they play a slower game this time and try to put into practice all the tricks they had learned from Mr. Disbrow, to rehearse everything, in fact, that they held in reserve for their opponents when the time came to play the big games.

It was an interesting practice and one who had been looking on might have gained some valuable information as to what sort of a game the Meadow-Brook Girls intended to play in the tournament.

“Another thing that we need is a set of signals,” announced Harriet. “Now we all play with our right hands, so I suggest that we agree upon a certain set of signals to be made with the left hand as a direction to our playing-mate as to what to do. These signals must not be overdone, only used in case of extreme necessity. Not knowing how we shall be paired off on the playing day, we must all learn them alike. I have prepared a few already. We can add others as they seem to be needed.”

Harriet then explained her signals to her companions, which each one wrote down at her dictation while the boys looked on wonderingly. Sam had gone back to their own camp on an errand for George, so he was not a party to the plan. After they had read over their lists, Harriet went through the signals, requiring the others to interpret them as she made the signs. When unable to do so they had but to refer to their papers. This proved a very short cut to memorizing the signals.


“Of course,” continued Harriet, “we can’t be watching each other all the time for signals, but there may come moments when an understanding between the team-mates may be worth a great deal to each of them.”

“I don’t know whether P. E. will approve of this business or not,” said Captain Baker in a doubtful tone.

“If he does not, of course, we shall not use them,” answered Harriet readily. “I’ll tell you what we will do. We will play a game for him without telling him we are going to use signals, while all the time we will be signaling to each other. Then we will tell him and ask his judgment on the matter.”

“Agreed,” said George. “Now, if you think you have the signals down pat enough, suppose you play a game for me, using the signs as you find you can. You, Jane and Hazel, are not supposed to know anything about these signals for this game. Just don’t see them.”

A game was played, and several times during the progress of it Harriet or Tommy made use of the signals. The other team-mates could not [187] wholly overlook these signals, hence they were in a measure on their guard for what followed each time, but the value of signals was so apparent that George declared himself fully convinced. He said there could be no doubt as to how P. E. would view them.

“How did you ever think of it, Harriet?” he questioned, gazing at her admiringly.

“I just dreamed them out at home the other night, but I had forgotten all about it until to-day.”

“Well, all I’ve got to say about it is that you are a mighty good dreamer. Now, we haven’t much time left before dark, so go ahead and play. Use your signals, use everything. Work fast and do your best. There’s no one to see you. No one comes around here. They know better when we men are on hand to watch over you.”

Despite George’s boast, however, a young man had been gradually working his way through the grove, approaching the tennis court from the rear of the tents, his stealthy movements as he darted from tree to tree being shielded from their view by the tents. As the shadows grew more dense in the grove he kept creeping closer. There was still plenty of light for the players, and their movements were quite plain to the spy who had stolen upon them.


Reaching a point some little distance removed from the camp and now to one side of it, a position that commanded a fairly unobstructed view of the tennis court, he drew a pair of opera glasses from his pocket and immediately became absorbed in watching the playing on the Meadow-Brook court. Now and then he was able to hear what was said, but, fortunately, when discussing the signals the girls and boys lowered their voices instinctively. If the fellow had been a keen student of the game he undoubtedly would have seen that something was being done that looked like learning a signal code, but whether or not he understood the meaning of the natural movements of the left arms and hands of the players cannot be said. He had not crept close enough to make his observations before they began to play.

While all this was going on Sam Crocker had been to the Tramp Boys’ camp and was on his way back. All at once he halted, and, shading his eyes, gazed at the figure. The fellow’s back was turned toward Sam. Then the latter saw the opera glasses. He understood at once. Some one was spying on the camp.

“Oh!” chuckled Sam, rolling up his sleeves, “here is food for reflection, and food for my two big fists. Now, Mr. Man, look out for yourself, for the avenger is certainly on your trail!”


The avenger was. Stooping low and moving with extreme caution, Sam Crocker crept slowly up toward the supposed spy, getting nearer and nearer. All at once, after straightening up, he uttered a whoop and sprang forward, hurling himself on the man at the tree.


The spy went down, more under the force of a well-directed blow that Sam had planted on the back of his neck than from the force of Sam’s weight that fell upon him.

“I’ve got him!” yelled Sam. “I’ve got the miserable spy. Come here, fellows, quick! Oh-h-h-h! Ouch!” There was a despairing wail in the voice of the Tramp Boy now. The note of triumph had left it.

Sam’s companions had sprung up with his first call and started into the grove, but though they could hear their companion they were unable to locate him.

Sam Crocker’s yells were now half smothered, so it seemed to his companions. Then all at once they saw Sam rise from the ground, saw him with both hands clapped to his face, [190] heard his unintelligible yells for help. The boys ran at top speed.

“What is it?” shouted George.

“Catch him!” moaned Sam, suddenly sitting down again.

“Catch whom?”

“The spy! the spy! He’s getting away. He ran that way. Chase him.”

The boys now began to understand. With one accord they spread out and began running through the grove, shouting to each other as they ran, but no trace of Sam’s spy did they find. He had had ample time to make his escape while Sam was trying to make his companions understand what had happened.

The girls had dropped their racquets and ran out, following the boys. They found the unhappy Sam, hands still pressed against his face, rocking to and fro and groaning.

“Oh, Sam, you have hurt your poor nose again,” sympathized Miss Elting. “Get a pail of water. No, we will take him back to camp where we can give him better treatment,” said the guardian. Sam permitted himself to be assisted to his feet and slowly led back to the camp of the Meadow-Brook Girls. Miss Elting promptly set to work to wash the blood from his face so that she might determine how serious was the hurt that he had received.


It was while she was thus engaged that George and his companions returned. They were in none too good humor either.

“You are a fine one to send us off on a wild goose chase like that!” growled George. “I don’t believe you saw any one at all. You must have seen a shadow.”

Sam found his voice.

“Look at my nose! Does that look as if I hadn’t seen any one? Does my nose look as if I had met a shadow?” he roared, his roar ending in a groan, for, in opening his mouth, he had hurt his nose again.

“Tell us what you did see,” urged Baker, his voice growing sympathetic when he saw that Sam was suffering.

“I think we shall have to take him to a physician,” announced the guardian. “I fear this is a little beyond my ability as a surgeon. Can’t you wait until he is fixed up, George?”

“Yes, but if he’s able, he must tell us now,” replied the captain. “If there is anything at all to this we should know it at once. Think you can talk, Sam?”

“Ye—es, if you won’t nag me. Ouch!” Sam remonstrated as the guardian touched his suffering nose.

“Never mind. I won’t do it again,” said Miss Elting gravely. “I thought that perhaps I [192] might be able to straighten your nose, but see that is not best, nor had I better put on any adhesive plaster. The doctor would have to take it off, thus causing you useless additional pain. Tell them, please, if you are going to do so. We must get you to a doctor at once.”

“I was coming through the grove when I discovered a fellow hiding behind a tree,” explained Sam Crocker with many a halt and groan. “I crawled up toward him. I didn’t like his looks. Then I saw he had a pair of opera glasses. Through the glasses he was watching the girls at practice.”

“What!” shouted George. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I did, but you thought I had seen shadows. Shadows don’t give a fellow this,” he added, pointing to his own disreputable nose. “When I got up close enough I jumped upon him. I punched him at the same time. He went down and I on top of him. It looked like a soft thing for me. I yelled to you boys about that time. But Fate was against me. Do you know, that fellow knew all about my sore nose, knew that it was the one particular tender, sensitive spot on my whole body. The scoundrel jerked his elbow back just like this. It hit me on the nose and made me yell. Oh, it hurt awfully. I just rolled right off him and clapped both hands to my poor [193] nose. It was bleeding badly. Then the fellow jumped up. I made a grab for him; then, what do you suppose he did? He kicked me in the nose, kicked me right on the sorest spot in my whole body. I don’t mind being kicked, but to be insulted by being kicked on the nose—that’s too much for a self-respecting Tramp. If you catch him, don’t do anything to him. Just bring him to me.”

“Would you know the fellow if you were to see him again?” questioned George, frowning.

“I don’t know. I think so, although I saw his face only for a second.”

“How was he dressed?”

“He had on a pair of shoes, heavy ones,” was Sam’s innocent reply.

“What kind of suit?” persisted George.

“Didn’t notice it. Don’t think I saw it at all.”

“Boys, this is serious,” declared Captain Baker, turning to his fellow Tramps. “Some one has been spying while the girls were at practice. We should have posted guards, but I didn’t think we should be bothered this afternoon. There are some queer people around here. Of course, we can’t blame them for wanting to know all they can, but we may blame ourselves for letting them find out. We shall see to it, however, that this incident is not repeated.”


“I wonder if he saw our signals!” gasped Jane.

“He did, no doubt. We were making them about that time. But, girls, keep your eyes open. If the boys don’t catch the guilty ones, we shall undoubtedly do so when we get in the tournament. If this spying has been done in the interest of any of the players, the girls will know our signals when we face the net,” declared Harriet. “The spy may not have heard our explanations, but if he is sharp he will be able to identify the signals with the plays that follow. When any of you sees that her opponents understand our signals you will know you are getting close to the fellow who hurt Sam’s nose. Then you just watch. Are you going to send him to a doctor, Miss Elting?”

“I’ll take him in the motor car,” said Jane.

It was arranged in that way, Miss Elting and Captain George accompanying the injured boy, who really was suffering more than he ever remembered to have suffered in all his life. The other Tramp Boys remained with the Meadow-Brook Girls. The boys were angry and the girls indignant at the attack on Sam Crocker, but there was nothing to be done in the matter now except to wait and watch.


Sam was brought back in Jane’s car. His face was plastered until he was well-nigh unrecognizable, but it was the same old familiar voice that inquired if supper were ready. The girls had forgotten all about the meal. Their minds had not been on eating at any stage of this eventful day. They hurriedly set about preparing a meal for themselves and the boys.

“The doctor says he will not be permanently disfigured,” Harriet informed her companions. “Of course, he must not get any more such knocks on the nose. It’s too bad, now that the tournament is on.”

“I have my voice left,” answered Sam. “I can yell, and now that the plasters are there to hold my nose in place I won’t crack my face doing so. I’m going to do some yelling. Another fellow may be heard to yell, too, but he won’t yell in the same tone, not if I lay my gentle hands upon him.”

The girls were tired and they were to have a long day’s practice on the following day, so the boys were permitted to go to their own camp at an early hour in the evening. There the Tramps discussed ways and means of trapping the spy and giving him the thrashing he deserved, not so much on account of his having spied on them as because of his brutal kicking of Sam Crocker. The elbow jolt was necessary in order to free himself, but the kick in the nose was not. It was the kick that he should be punished for, the lads [196] decided, after sitting in judgment on the matter for a long time. They, too, went to bed with their minds fully made up as to what they would do when they found the man. It would not have been a pleasant prospect for him had he known.

Next morning Harriet was out at daylight. Shortly afterward she saw the men setting the nets on the tournament courts.

“Here is our chance, girls,” she cried. “The nets are being placed. Get ready and we can have a long practice before the rest of the community is stirring.”

There was some grumbling, but Harriet being recognized as the leader among the girls, her suggestions were usually adopted. They were in this instance and were warmly seconded by the guardian. As soon as they could get ready they did so and were off across the fields, each eating a piece of bread. There were no Tramp Boys in sight at that early hour, only the workmen and a manager who was directing the placing of the nets on measurements already laid down. Jack Herrington had reasoned that some of the contestants might desire early practice and, to give them all an opportunity, had ordered the nets set up at daybreak.

Miss Elting asked permission to use the courts, which was granted; then the girls began a game, after first having warmed up, for the [197] morning was chill. There being no one to see them except the men at work, they did not hesitate to use all their tricks and secret plays, making good use of the signals all through the set. Harriet and Tommy won the first game, Hazel and Jane the next.

Acting upon the suggestion of the guardian the girls were not playing fast games that morning, but instead they were playing for accuracy and perfection. They were devoting a great deal of attention these days to form, seeking to make their movements as graceful and artistic as possible and yet obtain the best results from their playing. In this instance Miss Elting was their critic.

So interested were the Meadow-Brook Girls in their work that they failed to see a man climb the fence from the street and cross the lot toward the courts. His approach was shielded by the stand built for the tournament spectators. They were unaware of his presence as he stood behind the stand, where he watched the whole of the second set. Then to their amazement he suddenly appeared before them, having walked around to the front of the stand without attracting attention to himself until Harriet Burrell had called “Game!”



“Caught red-handed,” cried a familiar voice.

Margery uttered a little scream.

“Thave me!” cried Tommy, dropping her racquet.

“Sorry to have frightened you, ladies, but glad that it was I who did it rather than some one else,” he said, stepping forward, laughing heartily at their confusion.

“It’s Mr. Disbrow,” cried Harriet. “Oh, we are glad to see you. How long have you been here?”

“Since the beginning of the set. You should be more cautious. How did you know but that one of your opponents might be watching and getting pointers from your practice? You certainly have been applying all the instruction I gave you.”

“It was a mistake,” agreed Miss Elting. “We were all too absorbed to think that any one might be looking on. How did you get here so early?”

“I just arrived, and, after leaving my bag at the hotel, thought I would walk over and have a [199] look at the courts. It is too early for breakfast at the hotel, you know.”

“I am glad. You will now have breakfast with us. The boys have not yet arrived.”

“I did not expect to see them,” chuckled Disbrow. “But tell me, what is new? What do you hear about the other contestants?”

Harriet told him all that they had learned from George Baker, to all of which Mr. Disbrow listened gravely.

“Yes, I have heard as much. It seems a foregone conclusion that the Scott Sisters are going to win the cup. From what I have been able to learn they are accomplished players and have been in training for this match ever since early in the spring.”

“Yes?” Harriet’s eyebrows elevated ever so little. “You have lost your confidence in the Meadow-Brook Girls, then?”

“By no means. From what I have just seen here you girls will give a most excellent account of yourselves, but that doesn’t mean that you will win the cup. I do not see how you could even hope to do so after the very brief time you have spent at the nets. Had you finished?”

“We were going back to camp, but we will put on another game if you like,” replied Harriet.

“I wish you would. You may not find another [200] opportunity when no others are about. After this afternoon I shouldn’t do more than just keep in good form. I mean, do no hard work on the court. Now, if you are ready, you may play a couple of games, keeping the same partners, and paying especial attention to team work.”

They did so, Harriet Burrell’s side winning each time, the two games being watched keenly by the Englishman, but without comment until the games were finished.

“Very good, very good!” he cried, with something more than the usual praise in his voice. “I am satisfied that you have done a great deal more than really could be expected of you. In fact, I may say that I would not have deemed it possible for novices to get in such form as you are showing in so short a time. Do not set your hopes too high, but get as near the top as you can. I shall make it a point to circulate among the players who are here and renew old acquaintances. I may have something further to say on the matter this evening. Oh, no, I am not going to spy on our opponents. I merely want to hear from persons who know what the others have been doing, how they are showing up as to form and skill. I think I shall accept your invitation to breakfast with you. This air has given me an appetite.”

“We have a very good court at the camp,” [201] said Miss Elting after the party had started for camp. “The boys have worked like Trojans to put it in excellent shape. It is a dirt court.”

“That is good. They are a fine lot of boys.”

“Yeth, and Tham bumped hith nothe,” Tommy informed him.

“So I hear. Poor Samuel. He is a most unfortunate mortal, but he is all to the good. That is a fine location for you. You should have some place in which to rest, however. You will have seven minutes after each third set, you know.”

“The teams are to have dressing tents near the courts if they wish,” answered Harriet Burrell. “Mr. Baker is going to put up one for us.”

“Good old George!” approved Mr. Disbrow.

At breakfast, which was a hearty meal in the case of the champion, he offered his criticisms of their playing that morning, making valuable suggestions and giving them a series of instructions regarding their playing when the real test was at hand—that of standing up before hundreds of people and yet being wholly unconscious of their presence.

The conversation was continued after breakfast, then the girls told him of their code of signals. Disbrow said he had observed them when they were playing the second set while he was watching from behind the stand. He agreed that it was an excellent idea provided they did [202] not give too much attention to watching for signals and thus overlook the more important things.

“Harriet ith going to let uth have the thilver polithh and cloth for the cup,” interjected Tommy wholly irrelevantly to the subject under discussion.

Mr. Disbrow laughed heartily.

“I sincerely hope you may have use for the silver polish,” he replied. “To-morrow, I believe, the singles are to be played off. You should see all of them and study the methods of the players critically, especially those whom you are to face in the courts next day. Here come the boys.”

“It’s P. E.!” shouted George the instant he caught sight of the Englishman sitting in the camp. The boys welcomed him boisterously, then George poured out all the news he had obtained. Later on he accompanied Mr. Disbrow to his hotel, where the two discussed the chances of the Meadow-Brook Girls. Neither the champion nor the boy saw any reason to change their opinions on this subject. That the girls might make an excellent showing they agreed, but that they stood any chance at all of winning the championship neither believed.

“It is simply an impossibility,” declared P. E. with emphasis. “I wish I might look at it in [203] a different light. Perhaps we may change our minds after we see what the other people have been doing, but I doubt it. Have you seen any of the others play?”

George said he had not, but that he had some confidential reports on the work of the Fifth Avenues and the Riversides.

“How are they?” questioned Disbrow eagerly.

“Hot stuff,” answered George, “but very fancy. My, but they handle their racquets well!”

“That doesn’t necessarily make a champion,” suggested Disbrow thoughtfully. “But we shall see. I shall hope to have further information by this evening and still more to-morrow. I say, if I shouldn’t get back before dark, see that the girls play a couple of sets—light practice, mind you—after four o’clock this afternoon. And don’t let them work too hard during the heat of the afternoon. They are pretty fit physically now and I don’t want them to lose form. I think it is safe to say that no team in the tournament will enter the courts in better physical condition than the Meadow-Brooks. They are simply wonderful physically. I leave you to look after these things as I do not wish to take an active part. It would not be best for them.”

George agreed. All arrangements having been talked over and understood between George [204] and Mr. Disbrow, they separated, George to return to camp, the Englishman to spend the day among the tennis people, many of whom he knew, for the tournament had drawn as spectators tennis players of high and low degree.

Almost every person was talking tennis and discussing the merits of the respective teams. Of the Meadow-Brooks little was known. Some had heard of them, most had not, nor had the girls appeared on the streets of the town enough to be identified and placed. They were too busy with the serious affairs in hand to spend any time wandering about the summer resort in idle pleasure.

Every train that arrived during the day brought with it players and visitors. Early in the forenoon girls in white sweaters might have been seen at practice on the tournament courts. The Meadow-Brook Girls were at no time among them, nor were the Scott Sisters nor the Fifth Avenues and Riversides. The latter two were practising on their own private courts and the former were staying with friends and resting preparatory to the battle to be fought perhaps on the morrow.

It was after dinner that evening before Earlington Disbrow turned his footsteps toward the Meadow-Brook camp. He was not highly elated over what he had learned that day, but showed [205] nothing of this in his face or manner when he called on the girls. The boys were still there.

George reported that the girls had had a very satisfactory day’s practice, but that the Tramps had had difficulty in keeping spectators and curious players away from the place. The Tramps had literally thrown a circle about the Meadow-Brook Girls’ court, permitting no one to pass within the circle while practice was in progress.

“Will they play to-morrow?” questioned Dill.

“No. Mr. Herrington does not think it advisable. It will undoubtedly be late in the afternoon before the singles are run off, so he has decided to start the doubles on the following forenoon at ten o’clock.”

“What do you wish on the question of team-mates?” he asked, turning to Miss Elting.

“We have been leaving that to you.”

“Then I will offer my suggestion. I have talked it over with George and he agrees with me. I believe the best results can be obtained by arranging it as follows, Miss Burrell and Miss Thompson to play together, Miss McCarthy and Miss Holland to act as team-mates. Of course, Miss Thompson is not as heavy as I wish she were, but she makes up for that in a measure by her alertness. Have you any objections to the arrangement?”

“Indeed not,” answered the guardian. “You [206] have expressed my own ideas on the question. None of the girls has expressed any preference, but I know they will be satisfied.”

“I for one am,” answered Harriet promptly. The other girls announced themselves as pleased with the arrangement.

“Then we will call it settled. I wish we might be drawn so that you girls could play the weaker teams first.”

“We do not wish any favoritism,” declared Harriet. “If we can’t win fairly and on our merits, we prefer to be beaten.”

“That is the sportsman-like spirit. That is the spirit that should prevail in all contests, as I am certain it will in this. You are going to be in hot company. I have learned something more about the playing of the Scott Sisters. They are fine players. I am not belittling your work, mind you. You play a splendid game—a marvelous game for the time you have been practising, but you must remember that one has to go through a few public matches before one learns to play well before people.”

“Yeth, we underthtand,” nodded Tommy.

“Then you think we shall not win?” questioned Harriet.

“I do not wish to discourage you, nor do I think you will so construe what I have to say. I think you will play a very fine game and that you [207] will not win the booby prize, but as for winning the cup, for the life of me I don’t see how you are going to do it. There! It’s out now.”

“You are one of those perthonth who have to be thhown, aren’t you?” lisped Tommy Thompson after a moment of deep silence following the discouraging announcement. “I gueth that we thhall have to thhow you.”


The morning following the conversation between the Meadow-Brook Girls and Earlington Disbrow dawned clear and cool, though the weather gave promise of being much hotter—in fact, the Weather Bureau had promised the hottest wave of the summer thus far, which the management of the tournament advanced as an added reason why every one should come to the seashore for the Coast Tennis Tournament.

The girls, in no way cast down by the doubts expressed by their instructor, were still full of determination to win or go down with colors flying to the breeze. That was the Meadow-Brook spirit. Now that each girl had been assigned her partner, the two teams got together [208] and planned out the methods to be used by each of the two teams—in fact, planned everything that could be planned. It was the first public appearance of any of the girls of the Meadow-Brook camp, hence their behavior when they found themselves on the courts was still an unknown quantity. However, instead of worrying over their ordeal the girls had a lively round at their own net early in the morning before breakfast, then a cold bath, after which they were ready for breakfast.

They were alone, that morning, for breakfast, and enjoyed themselves very much. Only Tommy appeared to be nervous, but she soon forgot this in talking about the cup that she confidently believed would be in their possession on the following day.

They were not to play any more until after they had returned from the singles that were to be run off on this, the first day of the tournament. Mr. Disbrow they would not see again until they had reached the tournament grounds, but George and at least one of his companions were coming over to accompany Miss Elting and the girls to the tournament. The girls were looking forward to the arrival of their own parents, all except Harriet Burrell, who thought her father and mother would not be present. In a way she was glad of it, though she knew she [209] should miss them, that she would give almost anything were they able to see her play and enjoy the proud distinction which she hoped and believed would come to her and her companions. But she was wise enough to keep nothing on her mind from that time until the end of the games, save the games themselves.

They repaired to the tennis grounds about an hour before the calling of the games. None of the girls shared the comforts of the grand stand. They preferred to be on the ground, where they could stroll about, where they could be close enough to watch and learn. That they did learn a great deal that day they admitted later on, for there were some excellent sets played in the singles. During the morning Mr. Disbrow came to them with a copy of the “draw” which had been made that morning, showing the assignments of the teams for the preliminary games in the doubles. The Meadow-Brook Girls perused the list eagerly.

“Oh, listen to this! Jane and Hazel play the Riversides first,” cried Harriet excitedly; “and, Tommy, you and I are listed to play our first match against the Fifth Avenues. That is what will happen if both these teams win in their preliminary matches, which, of course, they are bound to do. I don’t like to have to sit and wait until those preliminaries are over, but some one [210] must do it, I suppose. Some one always has to suffer for another person’s gain.”

“I am well pleased that both of you do not have to meet the top-notchers the first thing,” said Mr. Disbrow. “The meeting with a team nearer your own class will give you a chance to get a notch or two higher than you might otherwise attain. Miss Burrell and Miss Thompson will have an added disadvantage. They must try to profit by your experience.”

“Mr. Dithbrow, may I thay thomething perthonal?” asked Tommy sweetly.

“Yes, certainly.”

“Then I will thay it. You are a regular calamity howler. I thaid you were one of thothe perthonth who had to be thhown. Wait until to-morrow and we’ll thhow you.”

The Englishman doffed his hat politely.

“I think you are right, but perhaps I have had a motive in saying those things that you call ‘calamity howling.’ However, I shall explain what I mean after the games to-morrow. Watch this set; it is going to be a good one.”

“Are either of the top-notchers whom we are to meet playing in the singles?” whispered Harriet.

“No. Like yourselves, they are lying low and conserving their energies. The Scott Sisters I have not seen, nor the other two teams we have [211] spoken of. I don’t know that any of them are on the grounds, though I presume they are.”

During the next hour there was little opportunity for conversation. The play held the attention of the Meadow-Brook Girls, Mr. Disbrow remaining near them, now and then calling their attention to improper plays or some particularly fine bit of playing that he wished them to impress upon their minds.

A very large crowd of people was in attendance; a greater attendance, even, was looked for on the morrow. Every player had hosts of friends to cheer for her and to shout encouraging words between the sets. The games were run off quickly, only two sets being long-drawn out when skilful players found themselves opposed to each other. Even these were limited to half an hour’s playing. The playing day ended about three o’clock in the afternoon, some contestants having made a miserable showing, others having shown such form as gave promise of future successes.

Mr. Disbrow went to camp to take dinner with the Meadow-Brook Girls as well as to watch their practice, which was to take place immediately upon their return to camp. He did not compliment them on their work that afternoon, but before leaving them that night he said:

“Remember, no work to-morrow morning. [212] Sleep as late as you can comfortably and do not lie awake thinking of to-morrow. Time enough to think when you are before the net. Just try to imagine that it is a practice game with your humble instructor on the side lines ready to criticise you sharply for any shortcomings he may observe. Try to think, too, that there is nothing worth while at stake, even if you do not win out.”

“Yeth, there ith,” objected Tommy. “There ith a cup at thtake. I call that thomething.”

“I may look in on you after breakfast to see that you are all in working order,” continued Disbrow. “George, as the manager of the team, I would suggest that you see Herrington at nine o’clock in the morning to see that there are no changes in the arrangements. Miss Elting, it will be for you and Miss Brown to look after the physical comfort of the young ladies when they come in from the sets. You understand what to do, being an athlete yourself.”

The guardian nodded understandingly.

“Then, good-bye until to-morrow. Remember!” He shook a warning finger at the girls.

“We shall not forget,” answered Harriet simply.

“I feel,” said Tommy, after he had gone, “jutht ath though I were going to jail to-morrow. Thuppothe—thuppothe a girl thhould defeat [213] me and I thhould throw my racquet at her and hit her on the nothe—would they thend me to jail for that?”

“Tommy!” exclaimed Harriet, “how can you say such a thing?”

“I can thay it all right. What I want to know ith may I do it, if I want to?”

“You most certainly may not,” answered Miss Elting sternly.

“Then I won’t,” decided the little girl.

“I should say you won’t,” returned Harriet, breaking out into a merry peal of laughter.

The boys remained in the camp for an hour after the departure of Mr. Disbrow, when they, too, prepared to go to their own camp. George promised that the boys would be over early. In the meantime the dressing tent would be pitched and made ready for them, so that the girls might go directly to their dressing tent from their camp. There they could rest until they were called for their turn, all of which George would attend to personally, removing any necessity for worry about arrangements.

The boys bade their friends good night, shaking hands with each girl and the guardian before leaving, then strode away in the darkness. The girls retired very shortly after the departure of the boys. All were weary, nor did they feel much like talking that evening. Miss Elting kissed each of them good night, and within fifteen minutes every Meadow-Brook girl was sound asleep. Healthy minds and healthy bodies had much to do with this.


Late that night, well past midnight, Harriet was awakened by the sound of thunder. As she opened her eyes a vivid flash of lightning caused her to close them again sharply. She got up quietly and secured the tent flap, then crawled back under her blanket. The rain was not long in coming. A heavy shower fell. She wondered if this would prevent the game on the morrow, but she was too sleepy to dwell long on the thought, and dropped into a doze a moment later.

The awakening from that doze was a sudden one. The wind was blowing and the rain causing a great commotion in the foliage of the trees, when all at once one side of the tent tilted up. The whole stretch of canvas was suddenly lifted from them and hurled against a tree trunk, about which the wet canvas wrapped itself.

In almost an instant the Meadow-Brook Girls were soaked to the skin. They sprang up with cries of alarm. The night was very dark, except when a flash of lightning lighted up the deserted field that only a few hours before had been peopled with pleasure-lovers.

“Thave me!” cried little Tommy shrilly.


“What’s the matter? Oh, I’m getting wet,” groaned Margery.

“Nothing is the matter—not with us. It’s the tent that is in trouble. The wind has blown it over, that’s all,” answered Harriet calmly.

“Keep your blankets around you. You simply must not get wet,” commanded the guardian. “Oh, this is too bad—and on the night before the tournament,” she added under her breath with a little groan, unheard by her charges. For an hour they sat shivering, wet to the skin, unable to do a thing to help themselves until the wind and rain had ceased.


It was not an encouraging situation. Within a few hours the four girls were to enter upon the most momentous undertaking of their lives,—an undertaking that would require them to be in fit physical condition, with clear heads, alert and supple in limb. And here they sat in a blinding rainstorm with nothing more substantial than their blankets between them and the heavy downpour.

“There will be no game for you girls to-morrow,” groaned Margery Brown, dismally.


“If there is a game, we shall play,” answered Harriet.

“What shall we do?” cried Jane. “We’ll all catch cold!”

“When the rain stops we shall put the tent up again,” returned Harriet Burrell. “That question is easily answered, but answering is the easiest part of it. The worst feature of it is that all our clothes will be out of shape and unfit to wear in the morning.”

“We shall have to make the best of it,” said the guardian.

“We will iron them in the morning,” replied Harriet. “We must, for the sake of our friends, make a half-way decent appearance. You saw how neat and well groomed all the players looked to-day. With our dark clothes it will be even more difficult to make ourselves presentable.”

“I withh the boyth were here,” lisped Tommy.

“I don’t. We are perfectly able to take care of ourselves. What we must wish for is the rain to cease.”

No signs of its doing so were observable. They sat, dismal and forlorn, wrapped in their blankets, each girl sitting in a puddle of water, for there was no floor in their tent.

Harriet soon saw that remaining as they [217] were might be attended with serious results. She urged the girls to get up and walk about, which suggestion the guardian seconded. Then for the next hour they walked back and forth, keeping well out in the open field, fearing that were they to take refuge under the trees they might be struck by lightning.

About three o’clock in the morning the rain suddenly stopped. Soon after that the clouds broke away and the stars came out. The faint light of the coming day enabled them to see with some distinctness.

“Now for the tent, girls,” cried Harriet. “I wish we had a fire or a lantern. But we shall have light from the skies soon. Help me spread the tent on the ground and straighten it out, Jane, dear.”

While they were doing this the other girls were placing their belongings on higher ground.

“Oh, joy!” shouted Hazel. “All our dresses were in the chest. Who put them there?”

“I did,” answered Tommy. “I have thenthe thometimeth.”

A weak cheer greeted this announcement. Their dresses were dry, after all. Much of their trouble being thus banished the girls’ spirits rose, and soon thereafter they were laughing and chattering, unmindful of their bedraggled and thoroughly uncomfortable condition.


Suddenly Jane McCarthy uttered a cry.

“The ropes are broken—broken right off near the stakes, I should judge,” she called excitedly.

“That is strange,” replied Harriet. “The ropes are too strong to break so easily. The stakes would have pulled up before the ropes would break. Let me see.”

Harriet took the end of a guy-rope that Jane extended toward her, and looked at it closely. She ran to where the tent had been pitched and began tugging at a stake, which came up after no little effort on her part. This stake she carried back to Jane and held it before her companion, a piece of the broken rope dangling from it.

“See, Jane?”

“Well, darlin’, didn’t I tell you? The rope broke off just as I said.”

“You are mistaken, Jane, dear.”

“Eh, what?” exclaimed Jane. “Then what did happen to it?”

“The rope didn’t break off, at least not wholly so. It has been cut nearly in two with a sharp knife. I presume we shall find the other ropes in a similar condition. Whoever did it must have known that a storm was coming and thought that the first good puff of wind would leave us without a roof over our heads. Now, what do you think of that, Jane McCarthy?”


“The miserable cowards!” raged Jane. “Miss Elting!”

The others of the party were quickly made acquainted with what Harriet had discovered. Then there followed an immediate examination of the other guy-ropes, all being found partly severed by a knife. The uneven, stringy ends showed where the break had come when the wind blew hard enough to part them.

This was a new element of discomfort and mystery.

“I can’t understand who would do such a thing,” pondered Harriet Burrell.

“The boys wouldn’t play that trick on us, would they?” questioned Margery.

“Indeed they would not. This is not fun; this is malice, nothing less,” declared Harriet. “I am afraid we have enemies here, girls, but whoever they are we are going to triumph over them to-morrow, even if we have to go to the courts soaked to the skin and out of condition as the result of our night’s experiences.”

The light was now strong enough to enable them to make out objects about them quite clearly. They examined the ground. They found the imprint of boots in the soft turf all around where the tent had stood, but whether these had been made by one of the boys or by their midnight visitor they were unable to say. They [220] were strongly inclined to the opinion that it was the enemy who had put them in such a plight.

“I don’t think we shall put up the tent now,” said Miss Elting, after reflection. “It is now nearly daylight. The boys will be along soon. They will set the camp to rights. There go two of them now to put up the dressing tent. Whoo-e-e-e!”

Sam and Dill Dodd halted at the hail. They saw instantly that something was wrong at the Meadow-Brook camp and came over at a trot. The situation was explained in a few words. Sam started on a run for his own camp to inform George Baker, and in an almost incredibly short time George came in sight with Sam Crocker trailing along a few rods behind him.

The girls had never seen George in a rage before. But his rage took a different form from what they might have expected. His face was very pale and his voice was so calm as to be almost gentle. Yet there was a note of restraint in it, of enforced control, that told the girls he was laboring under great excitement.

“Sam, skate back and tell the fellows to get our tent in shape. Tell them the girls will be along in a few moments,” he ordered, and Sam went obediently.

“But——” protested Harriet.


“You are going to our camp to turn in, all of you. Miss Elting, you will see that they go to bed and get some rest, won’t you?”

“Yes; thank you very much.”

“Let me see. The grounds are wet this morning. I do not think the games will be called much before eleven o’clock. You may safely sleep until nine o’clock. That will give you two hours in which to get ready. If there is any change in the time I will have you called earlier or later as needed, so don’t worry one little bit. This ground is too wet for you to sleep on, that is why I am sending you to our camp.”

“What are you planning to do, put up our tent?” questioned Miss Elting.

“After the ground dries off, yes. Just now I am going to see Jack Herrington, then call on P. E. How do the girls seem to be feeling?” George lowered his voice so that only the guardian might hear.

“In excellent condition, I should say. You know a little wetting doesn’t disturb them very much. I hope they play the games to-day. The grounds will be wet and somehow I believe our girls will make a better showing on soft, soggy grounds than on a smooth, hard court.”

“I’ve been thinking of that myself,” answered George confidentially. “Well, so long for a few hours. I have business on hand this morning, being business manager of the Meadow-Brook [222] team. Sounds important, doesn’t it? May not sound so important to-morrow.”

George started across the field. His chin was lowered almost to his chest and he was raging inwardly at the indignity put upon the Meadow-Brook Girls. He would see to it that nothing of the sort occurred again. He censured himself because he had not thrown a guard about the camp on the evening before the battle. It was too late now for regrets. The one great question now uppermost in the minds of a hundred or more persons besides himself was, who was going to win the doubles?

So far as George Baker was able to judge, the Scott Sisters were slated for this victory. Disbrow agreed with him, basing his judgment on what he had heard of the sisters and what he had seen of the Meadow-Brook Girls. Harriet and her companions, as the reader already knows, were confident of a great victory. The odds seemed to be heavily against them, however; hard luck certainly was on their side, as the incidents of the night just past plainly indicated.

Jack Herrington was very angry when he learned what had happened to the ambitious girls, but there was nothing he could do except promise to see to it that the guilty one would be punished, provided he were ever caught, which seemed doubtful. Mr. Disbrow shook his [223] head sadly. He said the effects of that wetting might not show until the girls were on the court, but that they would surely suffer from it.

The tournament was not to be postponed. It was to be started at ten o’clock in the morning, even if the courts were not dry. The sky was still overcast and the sun had not yet come out, though the air was sultry and close.

George sent a messenger to the Tramp Boys to have the girls called at eight o’clock and to tell them the games would be called on time. The active young man visited the courts, there to stand stroking his chin as he looked over the battle ground reflectively, consulted the skies, decided in his own mind which would be the favorable end of the courts with reference to the sun in case his side won the choice of sides. He considered everything, showing that Captain George Baker was a long-headed young man well worthy to be the leader of the band of hardy lads whose commander he was.

While he was thus engaged, two young women clad in raincoats, their heads enveloped in the hoods of the coats, came out on the field. They appeared to be very much interested in the courts, which they tested by stepping on them, taking note of the slipperiness, the stickiness and other features of the courts, they shook their heads disapprovingly. George [224] decided that they were players—players, too, who appeared to know their business. Once they had whispered together while looking at him. He knew they were speaking of him, which made the young man rather ill at ease. He watched them leave the field. Asking one of the men who had come to work on the courts who these young women were, Captain Baker learned that they were the Scott Sisters, which information did not tend to strengthen his hopes for his team.

There being nothing more to be done, George went back to his own camp, where he knew breakfast would be awaiting him. The other lads had put up the dressing tent and were now carrying in boards for a floor, the ground being too wet to be used as a floor.

It was nearly eight o’clock when the captain reached his camp. He found the girls up and dressed. They greeted him brightly, but he thought there was something forced in their gayety. The captain did not blame them for this. They were laboring under a great strain—in fact, the greatest they had ever experienced.


Before eating breakfast the team took a limbering-up exercise, consisting of forward and backward bends, skipping the rope, a rapid round with half-pound dumb bells, wrist exercises with light Indian clubs, and other exercises calculated to put in condition every muscle in their bodies. They went through their morning work without a hitch, finishing with flushed faces and sparkling eyes.

“Oh, it is good to be alive, even if one had to sit in a puddle of water most of the night,” declared Harriet, as they sat down to breakfast. “Eat sparingly, girls, and chew your food well. That was Mr. Disbrow’s advice. We are to have some dry biscuit to nibble if we feel hungry.”

Margery and Miss Elting had taken an earlier breakfast and hurried over to the Meadow-Brook camp to gather up the necessary articles for the battle. These were packed in a chest which the boys carried to the dressing tent, one of them remaining on guard over the stuff. George did not propose to have their mysterious enemy playing any more tricks.

At nine o’clock they started for the battle ground. The sun had come out broiling hot, the ground was steaming, the air full of humidity, a most depressing condition for those who were to participate in the great tennis match.

“I feel ath though I were going to a funeral,” declared Tommy dismally, as they plodded along over the wet turf.



As the Meadow-Brook Girls neared the grounds they saw that great throngs were there, while a constant stream of spectators poured across the field. Now that the sun had come out, nearly every one was dressed in white. The stand was still nearly empty, the seats there being sold by numbers, making it unnecessary for the ticket holders to come early in order to get a seat.

George was waiting for the girls at their tent, to which they went directly and, disappearing within, were seen no more until Jane and Hazel were called for their match. Their entrance had attracted no attention, however, as little was known concerning them.

“How are the courts?” was Harriet’s first question.

“Slippery as a skating rink,” answered George.

“It is as fair for one as another,” reflected Harriet, nodding. “I don’t know that I mind it particularly. Not very nice for white shoes, though, is it?”

“Now you may go out,” said the guardian. [227] “We must get the girls ready. I will let you know as soon as we have finished.”

George promptly stepped outside. In front of the tent stood Charlie Mabie on guard. George directed him to permit no one to come near the tent until the guardian had notified him they were ready, and then only the friends of the party. There was little left to be done in the dressing. They took off their muddy shoes, putting on tennis shoes in place of the others.

There was but little talking in the dressing tent, but outside a great wave of conversation rose, reaching the tent in a confused murmur. The girls were rather pale, but this might be the result of the trying night through which they had passed. Harriet pulled herself together and began a series of cheerful remarks. She soon had her companions laughing, and by the time they had finished their preparations the color had returned to their faces and each had found her voice.

Mr. Disbrow was their first caller. He turned Harriet toward the light that shone through the tent opening and gazed quizzically down into her eyes.


“Just a wee bit nervous, eh? You will get over that when you get to work. It is perfectly natural. Everyone feels nervous before going into a tournament. Why, when I am going into a match I am so nervous that I can’t talk without breaking down, but the moment I feel the grip of the racquet in my hand and see the net before me I want to shout for joy. Ah, life is worth while when you are facing a hard-hitter across the net, and there leaps into your heart a savage determination to drive him from the court, a defeated man. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you are the fellow who gets driven off, but it is the spirit, almost as much as the skill, that wins games. No one with a faint heart ever won anything except defeat.”

“Have you theen that beautiful cup thith morning?” questioned Tommy eagerly.

“No, I did not come over that way,” answered P. E. laughingly.

“I hope it ith thtill there,” was the little girl’s anxious remark.

“You may depend upon it. Later in the day it will be brought over to the grounds so that it may serve as an encouragement to the contestants. Don’t lose yourself gazing at it while you are playing,” he warned jokingly.

“Have you seen the other teams?” asked the guardian.

“Yes, they are thick as flies on a summer’s day. They are literally swarming about the place. But there will be a thinning out soon. I [229] was not misinformed regarding the Scott Sisters. They are fine championship material.”

“Aren’t we?” demanded Harriet quickly.

“You will be in time.”

“Yeth, in about two hourth from now,” answered Tommy. “But I do withh I wath not tho weak in my kneeth. Why, do you think, am I tho weak in my kneeth, Mr. Dithbrow?”

“You imagine that. Forget all about it. Think of the beautiful cup and the weakness will leave your knees,” he advised.

“Yeth, I have notithed that. I——”

“Time to go out,” called George cheerily, poking his head into the tent. “All fit and fine, I see. There’s going to be some lively work pretty soon. Jack Herrington says this is going to be a rattling tournament. You know where your courts are. Now go in and win. Good luck to the Meadow-Brook Girls.”

“We are going to,” answered Harriet Burrell, but her voice, though having lost none of its determination, seemed rather weak to Captain Baker.

Already the teams were taking their places in their respective courts and an air of tense expectancy was beginning to be noticeable over the great throng of spectators. It was all confusion to the girls. They did not appear to see any one individually, and in their ears was that confused murmur that they had heard while in their tent.


George led Jane and Hazel to their respective courts, Miss Elting and Disbrow accompanying them at a short distance behind. The trim figures of the Meadow-Brook Girls clad in their dark blue serge uniforms attracted no little attention as the two stepped into the courts where they were to play. Pressing close against the ropes, anxiously twirling their hats in their hands, were the boys of the Tramp Club, so nervous that they could scarcely control themselves. Harriet and Tommy also came out to watch this first match of their companions.

The linesmen were in their places at the sides of the courts, the referee sat in his high chair, where he commanded a clear view of the court over which he was to make decisions. Tommy laughed and poked Harriet in the ribs with her racquet.

“Doethn’t he look funny in hith high chair?” she chuckled. “Jutht like a baby. They ought to give him a bib and tucker.”

“Sh-h-h-h!” The referee was instructing the players as to what was expected of them. This finished, the sides tossed for the courts and service. In the case of the Meadow-Brook team the toss was won by their opponents, giving the opponents the service, the right to serve the first [233] ball, a considerable advantage and one that frequently leads to victory.

The team opposed to Hazel and Jane were Miss Sprague and Miss Collins, the famous Riversides. Each girl was larger than either Hazel or her teammate, but to Disbrow’s keen eyes the two Riverside girls did not appear to be in the fittest condition. They were a little too stout, it seemed to him.

“Play!” called the referee.

Jane and Hazel stood in position, Jane apparently all ready to return the first ball that went over the net. Disbrow uttered a sigh of relief as he saw the lack of force with which Miss Sprague served the ball. Surely his pupil would send it back in the approved “smashing” manner. But Jane stood as if rooted to the spot; her first experience of playing before a crowd of onlookers had given her an unprecedented attack of “stage fright.” She partially recovered when the ball was on its second bounce, but then it was too late, for the Meadow-Brooks had lost the first point. And so it was throughout the six games that followed. Both Hazel and Jane played more like wooden automatons than like the strong, agile girls they were known to be. Their opponents were weak players, but they had entered tournaments before and therefore had more self-confidence than the Meadow-Brook Girls. In nearly every game either Jane or Hazel would manage to get a point or two, but Miss Sprague and her partner succeeded in getting six games before Disbrow’s pupils had won any, and therefore were credited with the first set of the match.


The Tramp Boys had cheered the girls whenever they had the slightest excuse, but they were too despondent to offer any real encouragement to the defeated teammates as they made their weary way to the dressing tent for a seven minutes’ rest. Even Disbrow could not conceal his disappointment, for he knew the Meadow-Brook team had not played as well as they had done in practice. Jane realized this, too, and just before they reached the court for the second set she whispered to Hazel in a very decided tone, “This set we must win. You know perfectly well that we can play better than those girls. If we lose, it will be a disgrace to Mr. Disbrow, and if we make use of all he has so patiently taught us, we shall not lose. Come on, let’s ‘thhow’ him, as Tommy would say.”


The next set told a very different story. Miss Collins and Miss Sprague had become over-confident because they had won the first set so easily; the Meadow-Brook spirit had asserted itself once more, with the result that Jane and Hazel had three games to their credit almost before they knew it. The Tramp Boys were yelling with delight, but the Englishman’s team were so intent on the business at hand that they were hardly conscious of the din. The second set they won easily, the final score being 6-2 in their favor. In the third decisive set of the match every point marked a long struggle, and the Riversides had to fight for every point they gained. The games stood 5-2 in their favor when Jane caught sight of Disbrow’s tense, excited face and tightly clasped hands. That was enough.

“Remember P. E.,” she whispered to Hazel, and thereafter they played with such vim that they brought the score up to 5-5 or deuce. Wild yells from onlookers greeted this feat. However, the longer training and greater poise of the Riversides told in the end, for in their eagerness to return one of the balls, Jane and Hazel both rushed for it, collided in the middle of the court, and the ball passed swiftly by them.

“Game and set for the Riversides!” called out the referee.

Recovering quickly from their collision, Hazel and Jane jumped gracefully over the net and shook hands with their opponents, almost before any one realized that the match was over.


When the Meadow-Brook Girls made their way back to the tent this time they heard congratulations for their plucky playing on all sides, and friendly sympathy for their bad luck. Disbrow was delighted with the showing they had made, and as he had not expected them to win, he was really proud of his team.

While Jane and Hazel had been playing, the Fifth Avenues were giving a fine exhibition of their skill in a preliminary match. Harriet and Tommy watched with great interest, for they were to play the winners.

“Game and set for the Fifth Avenues,” announced the referee.

“In fifteen minutes the ‘running up’ matches will be played, the Scott Sisters vs. The Riversides, and the Fifth Avenues vs. The Meadow-Brooks,” Mr. Herrington then announced.

“That means you and me, Tommy,” whispered Harriet.

“Yeth, I know it doeth. But what did he mean by the ‘running up’ matches’?”

“Mr. Disbrow explained that to me a few minutes ago. The two teams that win these matches play against each other for the cup. Therefore, those three teams and we are ‘running up’ for the cup.”

“And we are going to win it, too, aren’t we?”

“Indeed, we are, for the sake of P. E. and the Tramp Boys, if not for our own,” Harriet declared as they made their way to the court.

“We are Going to Win,” Declared Harriet.

“We are Going to Win,” Declared Harriet.


“Play!” called the referee.

“Are you ready?” asked the Fifth Avenue girl who had won the right to serve the first ball.

“Yes,” replied Harriet.

Harriet being the striker-out, it was her duty first to permit the ball to strike the ground, taking it on its first bound and return it into the opposite court. The service ball had been served with great swiftness, it seemed, whereas, as a matter of fact, it was not coming nearly as fast as Harriet had thought. The ball dropped into her court not far from the net. Harriet saw at once that she had misjudged the serve and that she must make a quick move.

She ran quickly and leaning slightly forward started to scoop the ball up and return it, when suddenly both feet slipped out from under her. Harriet measured her full length on the ground, falling flat on her face, sliding along the slippery court until she plunged head-first into the net.

A shout went up from the spectators. The Tramp Boys groaned. They wished themselves miles away. Miss Elting’s face grew suddenly pale.

“Fifteen-love,” droned the referee. Harriet’s opponent had scored the first point. Harriet got up. She was covered with brown mud from head to feet, a good bit of it on her face. Never had she suffered the humiliation that [238] was hers at that moment. Tommy had not uttered a sound. She was aghast with amazement.

The play went on, but not a point had been scored by Harriet and her partner when the announcement fell from the lips of the referee:

“Love game.”

“Isn’t it awful!” groaned Sam Crocker.

The second game was a repetition of the first except that Harriet did not fall down. It was a love game in favor of their opponents.

“It’s all over,” declared Dill when they began the third game.

“It’s our last chance, Tommy. We must win the rest of the set. See! They’ve brought the cup here,” said Harriet.

The cup stood out in the bright sunlight a vivid flame. Tommy gasped. It was an inspiration to her.

“Yeth,” she breathed in awe of the beautiful sight.

They began to play. Harriet Burrell did not fall down. She was on her mettle. All the determination that she possessed had been summoned to the task before her. She was a different person. Tommy, inspired by the sight of the beautiful trophy, was a different girl, too.

Their opponents won the first two games, but Harriet and Tommy gave evidence of their [239] splendid training and spirit by winning the next two.

“Two-all,” called the referee, and so the score went see-sawing back and forth until it was deuce, and finally 6-5 in favor of the Meadow-Brooks.

“Drive them out,” urged Harriet. She returned the server’s stroke, putting the ball into her opponents’ court, where neither of them succeeded in hitting it.

The decisive game now stood forty-thirty, leaving the Meadow-Brook team but one point to go. This Harriet made by a puzzling “floater,” a slow ball that fell in the opposite court far out of reach.

“Game!” announced the referee. “Seven minutes’ rest at the end of third.”

For a moment the Tramp Boys were silent. They were scarcely able to believe their eyes. Then the boys tossed their hats in the air and uttered a great shout.

“Splendid!” cried Disbrow. “Keep on that way and you will win the match. If you do, it will have been a magnificent thing after the awful start you made.”

Miss Elting’s eyes were shining happily.

“Girls, do you know who the Scott Sisters are?” she cried. “Oh, you can’t imagine! Your opponents are Patricia Scott and her sister!”


“Really!” was Harriet’s sharp exclamation.

“Yes, the same Patricia Scott who was dismissed from Camp Wau-Wau because of her enmity for you and her disgraceful treatment of you. She saw you girls, too. She knows all about our being entered.”

Harriet and Jane glanced at each other. There was the same thought in the mind of each. Patricia, or her friends, had had something to do with the cutting of the tent ropes. But neither girl voiced her suspicion at the moment. They were called back to the court almost immediately. But in Harriet Burrell’s mind was a stronger determination than ever to win until she came face to face with Patricia Scott across the tennis net, provided Patricia were still playing, which seemed more than likely, for the Scott Sisters were playing a magnificent game.

The story of the next set of the match is briefly told. Harriet and Tommy played three strong games, not perfect games by any manner of means, but Disbrow, who was watching their every movement with the eyes of an expert, saw that they were coming up magnificently. Each succeeding game was played better than the previous one.

“Set and match for the Meadow-Brook Girls,” called the referee, in stentorian tones.


The Tramp Boys were beside themselves with joy. Regardless of time or place, they uttered a series of blood-curdling war whoops.

But there was little time for congratulation. The Scott Sisters had won their match, and therefore would be pitted against Harriet and Tommy in the final match of the tournament. Fifteen minutes were allowed each team to recuperate.

The Tramp Boys were becoming worked up to a pitch of enthusiasm that threatened the temporary loss of their reason. Sam suddenly made a discovery. A young man in a white suit was seen talking with the Scott Sisters. There was something very familiar about his appearance. Sam drew near. When the man left the two girls, Sam followed him until the young man reached a secluded place at the end of the grand stand.

“You are the fellow who hit me on the nose!” he hissed. “Put up your hands! I am going to pay my debts.”

When Samuel Crocker had finished with the stranger the white suit was sadly stained with mud, and the young man’s own nose was in need of repairs. The fellow fled from the field, while Sam returned triumphantly to his companions, one eye blackened, his hair standing up, but his heart full of unholy joy. He felt [242] that he had wiped out two scores instead of one.

The ranks of the players were thinning. It was well along in the afternoon now. Players moved about wearily. Their feet were not nearly so light as when the work of the day had begun and there were many disappointed faces to be seen. As for the Meadow-Brook Girls, instead of growing weary, they plainly were gaining in strength. Perhaps their success was largely responsible for this. But their endurance was undeniable. Still, the work of the day was far from done, the championship a long way off, for the team that had been picked to win were still to be beaten.

Enthusiasm was running high. The Meadow-Brook Girls had by this time become very prominent. They were nearing the blazing cup which had served as Tommy’s inspiration and which seemed almost within reach now. But there remained the other team, before which everything had gone down. It seemed hopeless for Harriet and her slender, excitable little companion to hope to win against the hard-hitting, quick-footed, skilful Scott Sisters.

“They can’t do it,” declared Disbrow. “But even if they do not, they have won second place. That alone I should think ought to be triumph enough for any team that has been on the court [243] only five weeks. Oh, this is splendid! It’s glorious!”

Harriet overheard. Her eyes lighted up for a moment and, catching Mr. Disbrow’s eyes, she smiled. Then, nudging Tommy, she moved toward the center court, where the final game was to be played. Only Tommy, Harriet and the Scott Sisters were left now. All the other courts were deserted with the exception of number five, on which a series of consolation games were to be played by the losers. But there was little interest in these. The great and absorbing interest was for number one court. The two teams were loudly cheered when they appeared at the court where the finals were to be played.

The Scott girls, smiling, confident, but plainly weary from the hard-fought battles of the day, entered the court. Patricia Scott jeered audibly as Harriet entered the opposite court and faced her.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t have met you earlier in the day,” she said sneeringly.

“I share your regret,” answered Harriet calmly. “But better late than never. I am going to defeat you if I can, Patricia, and I think I can. If you win this match you will earn it, and so shall we if we win.”

Patricia tossed her head in the air and stepped back, an angry light in her eyes.


“Some bad blood there,” said a spectator who had overheard.

“Steady,” warned the voice of Mr. Disbrow from the side lines.

Harriet nodded, but did not turn her head. She was watching her opponents, studying their every move, planning.

“Play!” commanded the referee.

Then began the game that was to be talked of for many a day thereafter by those who had been fortunate enough to watch it.


Patricia served. Tommy returned it, whereupon Patricia sent a ball which Tommy failed to reach.

“Fifteen love,” announced the referee. The Scott Sisters had won the first point easily.

“Look alive!” snapped Harriet, cutting her words off short. “Keep the cup in mind, but don’t look at it.”

The Scott Sisters took another point; then the tide changed. The Meadow-Brook Girls made two points in succession. The score stood at thirty-all. Then the latter gave a point to their opponents by a winning cross-court volley [245] made by Patricia’s sister. Harriet earned the next point for the Meadow-Brooks by driving a terrific ball straight at Patricia Scott. The ball hit her squarely on the left eye, bounded back and came to rest in her court before she realized what had occurred. The spectators uttered a shout.

The two teams were tied at deuce. Harriet began speeding up, but took two long chances and faulted two points to her opponents. The Scott Sisters had won the first game of the set, but there had been no lack of excitement. They had secured the necessary two points after the score had stood at deuce, or three points each.

Excitement ran high. There could be no doubt that here were two real teams. About this time the word began to be passed about that the Meadow-Brook Girls had never played a real game of tennis up to about five weeks before the tournament. It was inconceivable. But by the time the Scott Sisters had won the first set, Tommy was showing a little weariness and welcomed the seven minutes’ rest granted to both teams.

Encouraged by Mr. Disbrow, and still determined to have the cup, the Meadow-Brooks won the second set after a bitter fight. They walked briskly to their tent amid the cheers and shouts of the spectators. In the tent they were fanned, [246] their faces bathed, their mouths rinsed with water—they were not permitted to drink—then once more they were called forth to what all believed was to be a great battle. If anything, Harriet Burrell was fresher, stronger than at any time since she had begun playing in the tournament, but it was too much to hope that she and Tommy could ever stand up under the cruel grilling of the Scott Sisters, who seemed to know every trick that was known to tennis players. Tommy and Harriet would do well to earn second place.

P. Earlington Disbrow’s face was pale, his hair was rumpled, his fingers were open and closing nervously, while little beads of perspiration stood out on his forehead.

The next set was a fight from start to finish. The Meadow-Brooks went at it aggressively. They hammered the Scott Sisters, giving them such a grilling as those two players had never experienced. Twice during the one game Patricia had been made a target for Harriet’s ball, twice had Patricia been struck in the face, unable to dodge in time to avoid, or to hit the ball the way it came to her. She appealed angrily to the referee, only to be informed that if she could not keep out of the way of the ball she must expect to be hit. As a point was scored for her opponent each time the ball touched her [247] person or her clothing, Patricia naturally was angry.

The Scott Sisters threw themselves savagely into their work. Some time since they had learned the Meadow-Brook code of signals, as Harriet quickly discovered. The code was abandoned then and there, but as she played Harriet was devising a new scheme for outwitting their opponents. Then to Harriet’s dismay she discovered that Tommy was giving out. Little Tommy seemed to be withering. She was making a desperate effort to hide her utter weariness, but the quick eyes of their opponents discovered this fact very shortly after Harriet had done so.

“Favor yourself. I’ll take the bulk of the work,” flashed Harriet, when near enough to speak without being overheard. The opposition having observed that the little lisping girl was weakening began to hammer her, volleying at her, hurling ground balls into her court, directing almost their full attack at her.

Harriet, in making a run to her companion’s assistance, slipped, fell, but was on her feet almost instantly. Miss Elting saw the girl twist her face as if she were suffering great pain. Harriet limped a little.

“Oh, that settles it!” groaned Disbrow.

But it was not settled yet. Game after game [248] was played, first one side getting the odd game then the other, and at every other game the score went from advantage to deuce and back again. It was well-nigh impossible to get the two games necessary to give the set to one side or the other. The day was waning. Harriet Burrell and Tommy Thompson had been on the courts for hours. Their opponents also had been playing fully as long, but they were large and strong, while one of the Meadow-Brook partners was slight and was fast becoming exhausted.

Harriet, by taking all of her partner’s work that she possibly could, gave Tommy a little rest. The latter finally announced that she felt strong enough to take her full share of the play. It was then that Harriet tried the new plans she had been thinking out. She had observed in all the playing that players always glanced quickly in the direction they proposed to send the ball. This had been a great help to her in deciding where an opponent’s ball was going. She tried the plan of looking in the opposite direction just before she served a ball. The effect exceeded her fondest expectations. The striker-out leaped the wrong way the first time the trick was turned on her and Harriet scored a point. From that on the trick was applied now and then and almost always with success. Harriet’s lips were [249] set tight all the time she played and it was plain to those who knew her well that she was suffering great pain, but from what they did not know.

The Scott Sisters were furious. Where they had confidently looked for an easy victory, they found themselves fighting the greatest battle of their lives. Three times they had been warned by the referee for violations of the law, and, had the Meadow-Brook Girls demanded it, the game, under these circumstances, would have gone to them. They made no such demand. They proposed to fight it out to the bitter end. It was deuce, then advantage, advantage, then deuce again and again. Would there be no end to it? Each side determined that the next game should put an end to it.

“I am afraid Miss Thompson is too far gone for our wonderful girls to win. But oh, what a magnificent battle!” cried Mr. Disbrow. Captain Baker opened his mouth to reply, but was too overcome with emotion to do so.

“Tommy, we must win this game! Understand?” whispered Harriet.

Grace nodded weakly. They were advantage-in on games, being one game in the lead. It now needed but a game to win the match for them, but it had needed but one game to do that several times during this grilling battle.

“You play close to the net on your side. I [250] will cover the court. If they lob, I will try to get out in time to volley it back. Now do your best. Remember the cup! Remember the beautiful cup, Tommy,” encouraged Harriet.

Tommy looked toward the cup, now turned to molten gold under the last rays of the departing sun. Tommy uttered a little squeal and leaped up into the air to meet a lob from her opponent, which she did so successfully that she scored for her team.

“Good girl!” encouraged Harriet. “Keep them at the back of the—oh, that was too bad,” as Patricia scored a point. The score in that game now stood thirty-fifteen. The Scott Sisters gained another point over Tommy’s fault, making the score thirty-all.

“Slow ball over the net,” commanded Harriet. Tommy obeyed and Tommy scored. Patricia volleyed, then darted back near the baseline ready to take a hard volley which she expected in return from Harriet, who was going to make the return, or to run up in case of a drop-ball.

Harriet saw it all. It was a critical moment. Her plans were formed in a second’s time. She sent a floater toward her opponent’s court. It hit the net-band, the strip of white canvas on the upper edge of the net. Patricia had darted forward just as Harriet knew she would, but [251] as the ball hit the net-band, Patricia stopped short and laughed. She thought the ball had been played into the net and that it would fall back into her opponent’s court, thus scoring a point for the Scott team.

Instead of doing so the tennis ball, after striking the net-band, hopped over the net and dropped into Patricia Scott’s court, rolled along a few feet toward the side-line and stopped. It was as neat a “net ball” as any expert there had ever seen played.

“Game!” announced the referee. “The Meadow-Brook team wins.”

That was all. For a few seconds there was silence. The sun flashed out of sight and the cup changed from gold to silver. Harriet limped toward the net.

“Will you shake hands with me, Patricia?” she asked, with a wan smile.

“Only because I have to.” Patricia’s voice was low, and only Harriet heard her add, “I hate you more than ever!” With that she hurried off the court.

It seemed that up to that moment the spectators had not realized that the game was over. Now it came to them with tremendous force.

The little serge-clad Meadow-Brook Girls, the girls who had had but five weeks’ practice on the tennis court, had won one of the greatest amateur [252] matches that had ever been played on the Atlantic coast. A great, explosive roar burst from the throats of the spectators.

P. Earlington Disbrow, forgetting that his sprained ankle was no longer sprained, began hopping about like a rabbit. The boys fought their way through the throngs that were almost mobbing them to get at the victorious girls. They got them safely to the dressing tent, but as soon as they were inside Harriet’s head had drooped and she leaned heavily on Captain Baker’s shoulder.

“She’s fainted,” said George as they gently laid her down on a cot in the dressing tent. Miss Elting and a pale-faced woman rushed into the tent at this juncture. The latter threw herself down by the cot and gathered Harriet into her arms. Tommy sat gasping on the floor while a girl in a white sweater was bathing her face with cold water.

Harriet suddenly opened her eyes and looked into the face of the woman who was holding her so tightly.

“Mother, O, Mother! is it you?” she breathed, with a sharp catch in her voice.

“You fainted, but you are all right now. Oh, it was wonderful, but it was terrible,” sobbed Mrs. Burrell.

“It was foolish in me to faint,” answered [253] Harriet weakly. “I wouldn’t have fainted, but I sprained my ankle more than an hour ago. It seemed as if every step I took would kill me.”

Disbrow, with face now flushed, had been standing on one leg peering anxiously in at Harriet and her friends.

“Do you hear, P. E.?” shouted George, rushing to him and shaking a fist under Disbrow’s nose. “Do you hear that? She’s been playing on a sprained ankle for more than an hour, and yet they won the cup! They won the cup! Lucky for me that my heart’s all right! Whoope-e-e!”

Word of this was quickly passed, and the people would not leave until they had seen Harriet. She was carried out—the boys would not permit her to step even on one foot—then as she slipped an arm about Tommy’s neck and smiled bravely, another great shout went up. But now Jack Herrington was pushing his way to them. In his hands he held the trophy they had won, the much-coveted silver cup. He held up his hand for silence.

“It is my pleasure,” he said, “to present this handsome trophy to the Meadow-Brook Girls. It has been fairly won, and that after the most wonderful exhibition of pluck and endurance that it ever has been my good fortune to witness. I congratulate you from my heart. I am [254] proud of you, proud of the honor that is mine, and hope we may meet again.”

The outburst that followed drowned his concluding words. It was at this moment that Jane McCarthy came tearing up in her motor car, scattering people to the right and to the left. The Meadow-Brook Girls were going back to their camp to spend the night, then on the morrow they were going home, bearing the precious trophy that Harriet and Tommy had won for them. There was also a smaller cup that had been awarded to Jane and Hazel, but the big trophy was the prize that overshadowed everything else.

Immediately on their return to camp Harriet’s ankle was dressed by Miss Elting, after the guardian had satisfied herself that no bones were broken. The faithful Tramp Club had elected to remain on guard about the Meadow-Brook camp that night. P. Earlington Disbrow also remained with them and after supper both camps gathered in front of the tent for a long, happy evening. In spite of her sprained ankle Harriet insisted on making one of the party.

Sam, who had been pursuing diligent inquiries regarding the young man to whom he had administered a well-merited beating, now informed them that the spy was none other than the brother of the Scott Sisters, thus verifying [255] the suspicion in the minds of Jane and Harriet that Patricia Scott was responsible for the cutting of their tent ropes. Jane cast a triumphant glance toward Harriet while Sam was speaking, but the almost imperceptible shake of Harriet’s head caused the impulsive Irish girl to remain silent regarding Patricia’s past misdeeds.

It was late before the Meadow-Brook Girls said good night to the Tramp Club and went into their tent and the boys stationed themselves outside for their vigil.

A few minutes after the Meadow-Brook Girls and their guardian had rolled up in their blankets for the night Tommy mumbled sleepily:


“Yes, little partner?”

“Don’t forget about that thilver polithh and the cloth, will you?”

“I won’t forget,” promised Harriet. Five minutes later Harriet, too, was wrapped in sleep, and the round-faced moon smiled kindly down on the tired but triumphant Meadow-Brook Girls.

The End.

Transcriber’s Notes

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