_J "Friends, our fire-eater has a fit of indigestion-that's all!" roared Vance over the tumult. "Get back-you're no doctor!" bellowed Slick, taking the cue and pushing the frantic leader back. Coolness in that perilous moment stayed the deadly panic.
E AW AKE WEEKLY A COftf'PLETE ST07lY EVERY WEEK. Issued Weeklg-By Subscription f2.50 pet year. J!Jntere d ac c o r d ing to A c t of Congress, in t he year 1 906, in the oflloe of the of Oongreaa, Washington, D. 0 ., by Frank Tous e y Publi al\ er, 24 Unio n S q uare, N ew York. No.10 NEW YORK JUNE 22, 1 90 6 Price 5 Cents WE, Seeing llife with ( i ... ... ill-Ii" By EDW,ARD N. FOX. CHA PTER I. WE, US & CO. HAVE NOTHING T O EAT BUT AIR. "Hullo, boys! .'. "How do you do, sir?" responded on e of t he youthfu l pair. 'l'he man of forty who had gree ted the youngsters on the beach suddenly turned away from them. Whipping out a handkerchief, this solemn looking man applied it to his eyes. Great sobs shook hi s rather bulky frame. "Why, how have w e hurt his feelings?" gasped 'l"ed Rob erts in a stage whisper. "Hanged i I know," ret u rned Dave Thayer, wonder ingly. Still with the handkerchief at his eyes, the man said, brokenly : "Boys, you wonder at thi s sudde n emotion?" "We certainly do," Ted affirmed. "Boys, your kindness, so utter l y unexpected, started t his fount 0 t ears." "Then we take it all back," retorted Ted, drily. But Dave, far more serious by nature i n quired : "Kindness? What kindness d i d we show you ?" With his eyes still behinrl his handkerchief t h e solemn1ooking man repli e d. choking l y : ':]'or three '" erks I've been scoffed and jeered a.t, kicked and beaten orderecJ about lik e a dog and made to s leep .. in a sta ll at night. I've been starved and pummeled, roast e d and frozen. My fellow -beings-and one in parti c ular have treated me as if I were nothing human." Dave gasped, but Teel broke in : "Aw, come off!" "Fact, I assure you," gurg led the 'weepy one. "Now, I meet you boys and speak to you-ancl what happens? You actuall y answer me pleasantly! More, vastly more than that. One of you-I can't remember which-addressed me as srn !" Down came the handkerchi e f :I'he solemn looking man was l ooking as solen:: n as ever, but in his eyes there was a queer bit of a twinkle. "What kind of codlish balls are you try ing to fill us llp ori ?" demanded T'ed, abruptly But Dave caught at his friend's arm, with an appealing gesture: "Don't, Ted-don't. The mere mention of cod-fish balls me how hungr y I am." "Hungr:v?" repeated the solemn -far,ed mari, putting away his not very clean handker c hief. "That proves it! "Proves what?" Dave asked, innocently, while Ted glared at th e s tranger "Prqve s what I had suspected," murmured the man. "1 you can b e hungry, then you are human after all, and not angels down from the skies Angels can subsist on air-but, alas! we c annot!" "Is he crazy?" wondered quiet Dave to himsel.
2 US & CO. But Ted came more swiftly to th e point. "Friend, if you're guying us," Roberts said, briskly, "you're having more fun than the lay-out warrants. We're hungry-hungry enough to eat baked elephant, if we could get it." "I've got a bottle of appetizer about me," hinted the sol emn man, thoughtfully. "Hold on Our fix is too serious for even mild guying," Ted broke in. "Be serious, please, if you're not crazy. Stranger, being hungry, we want to eat. B e ing honest, we want to do some work for that meal. Mor e than that, we want to lay our hands on a job that will give us three square meal s a day ri gh t along." "That introduces nodded Dave. "Want a job, eh?" murmured the solemn man. "And I ju st threw one away!" "You did?" Ted cried. "Where?" "Over there," declared the solemn man. He pointed to the big hotel structure that stood clGse to the beach, and les s than a quarter of. a mile away. '.'What were you doing there?" T ed asked, in his straightforward, l:iusiness-like way. "Waiting on table." "And gave UiJ the job?" "Well-er-yen see, the boss asked me to giYe it up. .Asked me to less than an hour ago, to be exact." "I don't blam him," muttered Ted, "if you answered the customers tlw way you've been answering us." "Maybe I maybe I did,'' assented the solemn one "Do you think there's a job left there?'1 broke in Dave, quietly. "Didn't I tell rou I left it there?" demanded the s o lemn one, with an injured look. "It was too heavy to carry away with me." "I'm going o t up there, and try for two jobs," d e cla red Ted. "Come o.<1., Dave." A ll of a sudden the solemn-looking individual became serious. "Wait a bit, boys," he suggested. "Why?" queried Ted. "Sit down, and I'll put you straight." "Straight about what?" "About the kind of a lay-out that place is." "Oh,'' said Ted, doubtfully. "It'll help you out a bit," the man 'assured him. "Better list en, Ted," proposed Dave. "That's right, boys," cried the solemn one, hea rtily. "Boys, I carry a queer front around with me. But I can sympathize with fellows who're hungry. I am, mys e lf, in fact, at this moment. So sit down, and I'll tell you what you're up against at that hotel if you go for the job. There is just one kind of fellow who is needed over there at this minute." "What kind?" Ted asked after the three had "Seated the mselves under a tree close to the beach. "Boys, that place is an Ailamlrss Eclen." "A-what?" came from puzzled Dave. "A trouserless summer hotel. A place that has been jam-full of nice girls, but no nice men about, outside of the waiters, bell-boys and porters. It's been growing so ciull up there that the girls can't stand it any long e r. Yesterday a dozen of 'em left to go to some other place. Yesterday twenty more skipped, and the boss-Chesney, his name is-is growing frantic. At the present rate the hotel will be closed by Saturday night, and the summer not even half through. But you can't blame the girls. They've been raised to hav e fellows to talk to-fe llows to tell 'em how sweet they look in their new frocks. Now, in a place like this, where there isn't a single fellow to look at them-why, they're going crazy. When the girls over at that hotel aren't crying they're reading time-tabies and studying how to get away." The solemn one made a grimace that caught Ted's at tention. "See here, stranger," blurted the boy, "you've been an actor." "Sh!" warned the solemn one, looking stealthily around. "And a comedian at followed up watchful Ted. "Forget it, won't you? I ask it as my one laat favor before I die of shame at being found out in this Adamless spot." "You've been a good a ctor, too," guessed Ted. "What Lrought you down to this?" "Can you keep a secret?" asked the solemn one, mysterionsly. "As well as the next one," T e d declared, promptly "Then-sh !-it was love boys, that brought me to this!" "Love of booze?" suggested T e d, crisply. The actor started, as if Ted Roberts had hit so.mewhere near the truth. Y et he replied, slowly : "No; th e love of a fair girl. I saw her, and was van quished. I followed her, and saw her installed in that h ote l yonder. A true lover should serve. I enrolled myself as a waiter. Then how I did serve h er All the delicacies of the kitchen I got my hand s on and heaped upon her plate. She smiled upon me-for this sea makes one "Don't remind us of that," b egged Dave, wistfully, fold ing both hands tightly over an empty stomach. "But I have lost my position,'' half-sobbed the actor. "With it goes life, too, since I can no longer pass the be loved an extra. plateful of charlotte rus aes." "Stop that!" ordered Teel, picking'1.1p a stone and aiming it. "If you mention food again, without producing some, I'm going to brain you !" "Hold on, gent lemen! Be calm!" interposed a laugh in g Yoice. Another boy, who had been listening stepped forward out of the background. "I couldn't help overhearing you," he said, smilingly. "And. pardon me if I repeat a miserable word when I over1 heard :vou say that you were hungry." t Ted sat up, looking at the new-comer with interest.
WE, US & CO. 3 This new-comer was dressed in a faultless suit of clothes, pressed to perfection. His linen and tan shoes were fauUless. On his shapely young head, over the brown hair, sat a natty, up-to-date straw hat. "Vance Dalton, gentlemen, at your service !" announced the new-comer, lifting his hat and bowing. "Glad to know you, Dalton," acknowledged Ted, jump ing up and holding out his hand, which was grasped by Dalton. "Glad to know you, too," replied Vance, pleasantly. "I heard you mention the mere fact of having appetites Gen tlemen, that's exactly my own plight. Suppose we get to gether to solve the question?" The other three were staring at Vance Dalton now, with a good deal of interest. They scented some kincl of an invitation from this well dressed youngster of seventeen. "I'm as hungry as the rest of you," Vance went on, de lib erately, as he seated him s elf on the ground. "Unfor tunately, I haven't any more food-buying cash than I judge you to have. So, a s we all seem to be of one mind and a common purpose, I move that we plan togeth er." "You broke?" demanded Ted, unbelievingly. "With those clothes?" "These clothes," Vance rep l ied, "were a gift from my boss, out of his own wardrobe, before we fell out. Un fortunately, we hacl trouble before I'd bee n with him long enough to have a .ny pay coming to me. Yesterday he en gaged me as valet, and fitted me out with these cluds. This morning we had words, and he kicked me out with a quar ter-which I spent for breakfast, and that was some time ago." to rig me out decently with one of his own suits. that I didn't care if he did fire me. But the row came a little sooner than I had expected. I wo1Jld have liked one month's wages in my pocket." "So would we," muttered Dave Thayer ruefully. "Oh, that's a ll right, now-now that you've met me," proposed Vance, cheerfully. "Do you know, I've rather a liking to the look s of the l ot of you? You see how tleacl easy I got a new rig of clothes. I'll put some money in these clothes just as easy And I think I can show you fellows how to do it, too. As for you"-turning to the s olemn one, who was blinking thoughtfully-"! overheard vou say you were an actor." "Once, in my young and thoughtless days," admitted the solemn one. "We'll ring the curtain down on all joshing now," broke in Vance, with a sudden serious ness of manner and a look d command in his eyes. "You're talking to the manager. Now, answer me straight. Your name, please?" "Slick?" returned the solemn one. "Whole name, please!" "Sam-Sam Slick!" "Good enough name for a comedian, whether it's a s traight name or not," clicked Vance, in a business-like i.one. "Now," to the other two boys, "introduce your selves." When this had been done, Vance demanded : "Roberts, what cou l d you do in the show line? don t be modest!" "I-I can sing some," hinted Ted. Now, f "Try your voice, then-now. Give us something-your best. I mean it. One, two, three, sing!" Ted R oberts ..rose. 'l'here was something compelling in Vance' s quick manner. "Tell you what you can do for the next meal," hinted the actor. "With clothes like those run over to the hotel Taking in a deep breath, T e d began to sing the "Suwan yond e r, register, ask for a good room, and lay in one good nee River." meal, an yway, before they find you out." He $ang that song of "the old folks at home" with a "And then have some big, strong brute of a porter, who's sweetness and a direct force that came mighty near draw used to slinging trunks, get in his work on me?" queried ing tears form these homeless waifs cast up on a summer Vance, smi lin gly. "No, thank you. I've got to think oi heach. something more irf my line." "Thaes all right," nodded Vance, joyfully. "What is your line?" asked Dave, l ooking at Dalton with "It's more n that," commended Slick. "Kid, with a curious eyes. mice lik e that I can teach you to make use of your voice." "I'm a business manager-promoter." what can you do?" Vance demanded, turning up" A pro-what?" stumbled Ted. on quiet Dave. "Why, I organize great enterprises." "Nothing," Dave replied, s lowl y I thought you aaid you were a valet," uttered Roberts, "Nothing?" retorted Vance Dalton scornfully. .'I don't disgu sted l y believe it! Why a boy of seventeen who couldn't do any" That was yesterday, fellows," Vance went on, easi l y thing would be useless in the world. He'd better get off it. "And before being a valet I was new s agent on the trains." I know you can do someth in g, just as well as if you had "That's where you got your gift of gab, eh?" asked Ted. told me the truth. Now, out with it, Da .ve Thayer!" "Yes; and the same gift cost me my job on the road. uoh, I suppose I can do a few little tricks," Dave an-But that's another story, and a dead one," Vance went on, swered, modestly, pulling out a soiled littl e paper-covered &milingly. "Didn't have much in the way of clothes, so I book. l ooked out for the job of valet Got a job ;ith Mr. Fred"Sleight of hand?" erick Griscomb. I picked him out car efu ll y for a boss, too, "Some." for I saw that his clothes would fit me. Of he had "Card tricks?"
WE2 US & CO. A I few-when I have the cards." "Chemical tricks?" "I know a few," Dave assented. '.You can th row your voice-ventriloquist?" "Why, I used to be fair at that,'' Dave drawled. "And you're the boy that coulcln't do anything!" sniffed \ ance. "Well, I got it all out of little books like this one," Dave confessed. "Well, what of it?" demanded Vance, almost wrathfully. "Does that make you any less smart? It makes you al! ihc more smart, for it shows that you have the brains to get out the good things that arc in some book s ."* Then Vance glanced quickly back at Slick. "Play a banjo, I suppose?" "When I have one." "Either of you boys able to accompany on a banjo ?" "I can sorter pick out an accompaniment," T e d ad mitted. "Why, we're getting on famou s ly! glowed Vance. lows, we're a 1rhole show in ourselves! We'll go into the vaudeville--" The roll of wheel s brok e in on hi s utterance. The little group under the tree at the roadside became silent as a buggy containing two men came near. But Sam Slick presently found his voice enough to whisper: "That stout man is Chesney, the hotel man." Just then they heard Mr. Chesney say to his com panion: "Mason, it's alarming, the way my women gue s ts are quitting the hotel, jus t b e cau s e it's so dull this s eason. Why, I'd give a hundred dollars, this minute, to find a way of stopping the rush away from my place." Out into the road stepped Vance Dalton, all smiles. "Glad to hear you say tha t, Mr. Chesney! the boy called out. "I'll take that hundred right now!" CHAPTER II. TUE GREE)IEST "BARXSTOR:.\fERS" TRE WORLD EV E R SAW Mr. Chesney's gaze swept over solemn Sam and tattered Ted and Dave. He would lrnYe looked away again, at on ce had not Vance Dalton been in the picture, too. Somehow Vance, with hi s bright, handsome face, his *Many of our readers may be unaware that Frank Tousey publishes a long list of these valuable little hand-books on purpose for American boys who like to know how to do things. These hand-books are sold at ten cents apiece, and there are some twenty of them in all for young men who would like to fit themselves for. careers on the stage, or for entertaining at home. "How to Do Tricks," "How to Become a Ventriloquist: "How to Do Second Sight," are among these many hand-books. Look over this list, and a new world of fun w!ll be opened to you. Any one of these books on entertaining may be secured by sending ten cents to Frank Tousey, 24 Union Square, New York City .-Editor. cheery smile, and his breezy, brisk way, made people think he was worth looking at. "Here's your chance, Chesney !" laughed the hotel man's companion. "What is this nonsense, anyway?" queried the hotel man, impatiently. "That's just what it Vance went on, seri ously. "And nonsense, Mr. Chesney, is just what you need to keep your guests from going away. They're deadly dull -bored to death. They need amusement. Now, for tonight, just invite all your guests to our vaudeville per formance, and they'll feel that new life has come into this
WE, US & CO . used to use that place as a roller skating rink, when there were any young men here to skate with the young ladies. 'fhat can be rigged into a theatre. Suppose you go over there and wait a while for me? Just now I've got lunch on my hands." "And, while you're about it, Mr. Chesney," proposed Vance, simply, "we m'ight as well have our lmwhes sent to the theatre. You wouldn't want us to mingle with your guests in the hotel." "Glory! That bluff works!" muttered Ted, inwardly, after a moment's anxious watching of Mr. Chesney, who nodded. "Have the luncheon sent over right away, so we can begin to get ready for to-night, won't you?" suggested Vance. "You'll have it within half an hour," promised the hotel man. "Say, is that the right way?" quivered Vance, after they had gone a few happy steps toward the drab building. "You're our manager," nodded Ted. "But say, you've got to pull us out of an awful hole to-day. Outside of S]jck, anyway, we'll be rotten." "And you've yet to learn how rotten I can be on the stage," sighed Sam, dolefully. The door of the old skating rink was open. They. went inside, in all the silence and desolation, and found seats on two settees in there. "Now, we've got to scratch sense," sighed Sam. "This show business is a serious game, after all. We can't do without make-up, for one thing." "And I've got to have some stuff for my tricks," con fessed Dave. "Let's see all the things we do need," suggested Vance, brightly, taking out pencil and paper. He jotted them down as they were called off-burnt wrk, rouge, swansdown, vaseline, grease paints, chemicals for Dave, and many other things. \ Some of the things Vance noted was to be furnished by the hotel. Among these were banjos. "It's going to cost about six dollars," gasped Ted, at last; "and we haven't a cent in the crowd." "Get some money advanced by Chl!sney ?" hinted Sam Slick. "No, sir!" vetoed Vance, promptly. "If he found I hadn't any money, he'd put me down for a fakii ; X don't want Chesney to find that ust yet. Hullo! Here comes the grub. After we get t I'll get the things we need-somehow." Gracious! Didn't that food loo mortals? a to four jingry Three waiters bore as many trays, and then, left by themselves, the four hungry unes made a quick assault upon the supplies. "And now I'm up and off," cried Vance, rising. "I'll bring back the things we need. Never fear! If Chesney comes, tell him I'm off after outfit. Sam, you get him -to send over from the hotel the things I've written down here for him to furnish." Vance was off like a shot. He seemed to do everyt?ing swiftly, for, by the time Chesney had produced two ban jos from among the hotel guests, and was listening to some clever playing by Slick, young Dalton was back with bun dles. : "Now, just give us an hour or so, Mr. Cheaney," hailed Vance, "and we'll be ready to make good before you. We've got a lot to do in that hour." "I.'11 come back, with a very critical young lady," smiled the hotel man, then turned and walked out. "My, how on earth did you get all these things?" gaspe:d Ted, as Vance began to undo the bu:Q.-d1es. "Oh, and I've got cash, too," laughed Vance, displaying some money. Then, with almost a choke in his voice, he added: "Fellows, I had just one asset in the world-a rather good watch that my dead father used to own. I took it to a jeweler and raised ten dollars on it. I've got to buy it back to-morrow for twelve, or it will be gone." "Let's have some of those tricks, youngster," Sam demanded,' turning upon quiet Dave Thayer. Dave gathered up some of his belongings, including things that had been sent over from the hotel, and disap peared into the rink office and closed the door. In a surprisingly short time Thayer had the door open again. He had rigged up the table for his work. "Stand back there!" he cried. "Don't come too clbse. Now, then, here's a rather simple trick. Here, you see, I have two empty goblets. I place one, upside down, on top of the other. Now, I cover them over with this cloth-so. Now, I lighi;, tl;iis cigar, get it going good-and watch what happens." Dave had stepped a dozen feet away from the covered glasses. Several whiffs of smoke he blew toward the glasses, then put the cigar down. Stepping over to the table he quickly lifted the cloth from the glasses, pulled the goblets apart, and a veritable cloud of thick, white smoke came from the g1asses. "Say, that's good," admitted Vance. "How do you do it?" "Easily enough," smiled Dave. "You see, the bottoms of these goblets go down to a point. Now, in the bottom of one goblet I pour just a couple of drops of ammonia water. In the oth er I pour a couple of drops of muriatic acid. The ammonia trickles down into the acid, and there's a big white cloud forms-see? But before that has time t.o happen I have the cloth over the It was a effective trick, simple as it was. Picking up a pack of cards, Dave held out one of the pasteboards. "Name the card," he desired. "Two of diamonds," replied Vance, quickly. Dave turned the card over, with the face toward the floor. Then swift as thought he turned the card up again.
/ WE, US & CO. "Nine of spades? Good! That's real lightning change." "Will you oblige me by returning that Jack of clubs that you hid in your left-hand coat pocket?" requested Dave, turning to Slick. Sa1h felt, and sure enough produced the card. "That's all right," murmured the old-time actor. "Well, naow, it's dod-gasted slick, I tell yeou !" drawled a voice from out in the rink. Vance, Ted and Slick turned like a flash, then glanced quickly back again-sold. Dave had been showing them what kind of a ventriloquist he was. "Here's another simple little thing," proposed Dave, holding up a plate. "Get back a bit. Now, as you see, I have a little heap of'Jchips on this plate. I'll show you how to start a fire without matches." From behind the table he picked up a glass rod. One' c ;1d of this he touched against the splinters of wood. Flare! There was a miniature fire burning on the plate. "Say, that's a good deal like," admitted Ted. "Get that nut of your book?" "Sure thing," nodded Dave. "First time I've tried the tri ck, too. It's easy enough. Under the chips you put about a half a teaspoonful of powder made by mixing equal p a rts of chlorate of potash and sugar. You want t o buy that chlorate of potash already powdered, though. If you get the lumps and try to grind 'em up you'll have an explosion sure. Now, I had this glass rod just resting i? a bottle of sulphuric acid. When I picked up the rod there was just a little of the stuff sticking to it. I that end to the powder and the minute the acid touched the powder there was a blaze. Oh, these tricks are all eas}'. enough, you see." "When you have the book," Ted assented, drily. "Say, we're going to give this show, all right," glowed 1 rnce. "May we come in?" hailed a voice. Mr. Chesney api :ir ed, followed by his friend Mason. But with them was a girl of sixteen, so pretty that, fo:r n minute, Vance forgot all about business. He recovered himself quickly, though. "Now, go on and show us what you can do," requested 1 he hotel man, with a commanding wave of one hand. "He isn't going to introduce me to her," thought Vance. "Well; I can't say that I blu.me him. He doesn't know me from any other tramp." Dave closed the office door, behind which he began to arrange for several of his tricks. Sam Slick filled the gap by getting out into the middle of the rink floor. He sang some of his best songs, told some of his funniest stories and did many of his really great clog steps. "I understand why you weren't much good as a waiter," laughed Chesney "An actor never is any good at any thing else "But he's all right as an actor, eh, sir?" asked Vance, going nearer to the hotel trio. "He's really, wonderfully clever," cried May Che8ney, favoring Vance with a smile so pleasant that young Dalton was her slave from that moment. Ted sang some songs, among them "Suwannee Ribber." Sam joined in some of the choruses. Then Dave, very shyly, opened the office door, ready tn show his work. It was good, and brought hearty applause from Mas@n and Miss May. "Do you know how he does these wonderful tricks?" murmured May Chesney, looking up into Vance's eyes. "I have an idea about some of them," our hero answered. "You'll tell me how 3ome of these clever tricks are done, before you're through with your engagement here, won't you?" she begged. "I surely will." "May!" called her father, and the girl, flushing just ever s o little, ;moved from Vance's side over to Mr. Chesney. Taking the hint, Dalton drew back some distance. "And may I come in?" hailed a voice from the outer doorway. Vance turned, his heart giving a great thump. There in the doorway stood a young ma.n of twenty-five, though no bigger than our hero. The new-comer, though he had a dissipated-looking face, was a mirror of fashion. "Frederick Griscomb-the fellow who fired me this morning!" thrilled Vance. "Talk about hard luck! He'll tell them I'm his discharged valet and it'll be all over with my pretending to be anything else!" Vance got a swift glance at the girl's face. May had turned first white, then scarlet Her eyes ashed scorn fully as she glanced at Griscomb. Mr. Chesney, too, glanced at the new-comer as if he did not relish seeing him there. But Griscomb, not a bit abashed, stepped forward until he caught sight of quivering Vance. "Wi1y, hullo!" cried Griscomb. "Mr. Chesney, have you hired Dalton?" "Dalton," replied the hotel ma,n, "is the manager of a vaudeville company that is to give a performance here to night." "Theatrical manager, eh.?" gasped Griscomb. "He moves c1uickly, then. This morning he was my valet1 but I dis charged him for beinf worthless. I gave him that suit of clothes he's wearing.' "Mr. Dalton has one ... good point," broke in May Chesney, coldly, clea '' ;ngly. "He has the advantage of seeming to be "Which mean queried Griscomb, starting back and flum, "Mr. Griscomb," broke in Chesney, coming to his daugh ter's aid, "we are really here on a matter of hotel business. Won't you excuse us?" "Oh-ah--er-certainly !" returned Griscomb, gasping and paling. Then suddenly, very red, this young man of wealth turned and made for the door.
WE, US & CO. "Thank you very much-all of you," was all May Ches ney had a chance to say when the "try-out" was :finished She went away with Mr. Mason, leaving Vance to reflect: "So my boss of yesterday is sweet in that quarter? If Miss May needs any one to post her on what kind of a scoundrel Griscomb is, I'm the chap to do it. But neither she nor her father seem to waste any on Gris comb." Mr. Chesney remained. He came toward Vance now. Our hero, remembering quickly the impo;tance of this business, asked in a tone from which he tried to hide his anxiety: "Well, Mr. Chesney, how do you like our show?" "Want the truth?" smiled the hotel man. "Yes, sir. Just what we want." "In my opinion, Dalton, you're about the greenest lot of barn stormers the world ever saw!" "Oh, oh, oh!" gasped startled Vance, who had been rather proud of his little "company Then, his cheek coming back to him, he retorted: "But wait until you've seen u s on the regu l ar stage to night. Then you'll change your mind By the way, Mr. Chesney, my people will have to borrow a littk in the way of clothing for to night. They!_er-er-look a little shabby in their present garb, ancl they will, until their firs.f salaries come in under the new management. And speak ing of salaries, Mr. Chesney, reminds me that we've yet to make our terms. You said you'd give a hundred dollars to stop this rush from the hotel. That's just our price a hundred dollars for a two-nig!it's performance here. And-Vance and Mr. Chesney passed from the rink, l eaving Slick and the others behind. "A manager, eh?" chuckled Sam Slick. "Boys, with a manager like that, if we get out of this first hole, we'll be wearing fur-trimmed overcoats and diamonds by the time that snow :flies!" CHAPTER III. HEROIS1\I LANDS VANCE IN A FEARFUL Night time had come, and with it the.jirst show that We, Us & Co.-as Vance had dubbed the "company" ever gave From the basement of the rink building carpenters had brought up the parts of a stage and put them together. There was a curtain, too, and some scenery-mighty lit tle of it, but enoi1gh to set a stage. Sam Slick had taken hold vimfully as stage manager and haCl got the stage to rights Now, most important of all,. supper had been sent to them in the rink, and, with this inside of them, We, Us & Co. faced the night's ordeal There were nearly four hundred people in the house. In addition to the hotel guests Chesney had invited many of the villagers and neighboring farmers. While the audience gathered the hotel orchestra of pieces played lively music. Sam was busy arranging the three "character costumes" pe had faked up out of old clothing borrowed from the hotel people. Dav e was half way resplendent in a dress suit loaned him by a waiter of his own size. Teel was in another dress suit. Both boys were ill at ease. "Stage fright" was be ginning to get its grip on them. "Now, keep cool, for gracious sake," Vance begged, anx iously. "If we can get through a night here without being goats, we're started on our careers "There ain't nothing to be scared of, fellows," Sam as sured them, as he made up before a mirror in the wings. A quarter of an hour later the signal went for the open ing quartette This all four sang, and with Ted's strong, sweet voice leading, the effect was good. There was a friendly encore from in front. The quar tette responded with a rollicking college song. Then, with more applause sounding, Vance Dalton stepped before the curtain. His first feeling, as he faced those hundreds of pairs of eyes, all turned upon him, was one that his kne1i1s shake under him. But he shook off the stage fright. "Ladies and gentlemen," he began, in a mice that was faint at first, but which grew stronger as he went along, "I congratulate you most heartily upon the fact that you are about to be entertainecl by the one whom I regard as, the funniest fellow alive I am speaking, of course, of Mr . Sam Slick, the greatest comedian who--" And so Vance went on to the end of his speech. Click! Click! To slow, doleful music, Sam hobbled out on ctutches. One look at that solemn face of his, rendered ridiculous by absurd make-up, set the audience in a starting roar. Instantly Sam tossed his crutches into the wings. "Thanks, fellow citizens," he began. "I had stage fright, and couldn't stand without help. Bl;'t that laugh settles it; I see that you mean to take me goodnaturedly. Now, don't laugh any more, please, or I shall get rattled and forget what I'm here for." That, with one look at Sam's grotesquely-blinking eyes, sent another titter through the house. "Now, we'll get down to serious thought," he went on. "I'm something of a fellow for figures-especially when the girl is young! Speaking of figures, what's the easiest way to divide nineteen apples evenl y among seventeen peo ple?" Sam look ed sol emnly at the audience, his eyes again "That's right," he said "Don't all answer at once and get me rattled. But can't anybody answer? Shall I tell you the e_asiest way to divide ninteen appl.es evenly among seventeen people? Make apple sass!" Crash! went the orchestra in a discord. The folks were
8 WE! US & 00. -:::===========================7============================ laughing Sam had them going. Rising on tip-toe, he I ning here about every night, I can keep my boarders interbellowed out above the laughter: I ested enough to remain." "What's the one sure way to catch a squirrel? Wha.t? "We'll play every night, then," Vance promptly offered. No hunters here to tell us that? Listen! The easiest way "That would sure l y be a little too much of one thing," to catch a squirrel is to climb up a tree and make a noise laughed Chesney aBut you can play again to-morrow l ike a nut. Then--" night, i you can change the bill a little." But Sam didn't have to go any further. He had caught "My people can do anything," Vance declared, promptly. the audience \1, ith this style of nonsense. "And later on you can have a return date of a couple He t old a few funny stories, then stopped, after a bigger of nights," hirited Chesney "As for now, I suppose you'd laugh than usual from the folks out front. like to -ni ght's fifty dollars Come to the hotel office, and "Is there a farmer in the a udience-a real farmer, I I'll pay you." mean?" he queried. Then he paused, looking arorind "Just one moment, first, sir Where does my company There were several sure-e nou g h farmers out there One s leep for to-night?" couldn't mistake them, eithe r "Oh, I'll send cots out to the rink. That'll do, won't it?" "Won't some farmer please rise?" insisted Sam Slick. "It's a little bit rough on high-gtade theatrical people," One middle-aged man, after much urging from those gri.maced Vance. "But I suppose it will have to do." ciround him stood up. What a different world it seemed when he receipted for "You 're a farmer?" asked Sam. that fifty dollars and carefully tucked the money away in "Erer -yees," admitted the man, in a faint voice, and his pocket! growing very red. "You'll find the cots there by the time you get back to "You farm for a living?" your company," hinted Mr. Chesney. "Good -night, Dal" Er-yes. The farmer was becoming more and more ton, and thank you all for trying hard." rattled, with the eyes of half the people in the house fixed Thus dismissed, Vanci strolled back to the rink. on him. The cots were there, and his performers, feeling tired, "'!'hen, as a farmer," begged Sam, "answer me this were already undressing. con undrurn : What's the difference between an onion and So Vance stro lled out again into the open. a cabbage?" were quieting down in the hotel. One after anLooking a s if he would like to sink through the floor, other the guests' light s were going out. the red-faced farmer r e mained silent. Not far from one e nd of the front veranda of the hotel "Dant you know the difference between an onion and was a clump of flowering bushes, behind which was a a cabbage?" Sam insisted, sternl) settee. ":'-foo-o," gasped the farmer, faintly. On to thi s Vance sank. "Jnst li ste n to him!" Sam Slick faiTly bellowed, appeal "By Jove, I really believe I have struck something," he ing to the audience. "He admits that he doesn't know an murmured, delightedly, to himself. "I always thought I onion from a cabbage! And yet a bird lik e that calls himcould do bu,.:iness if I got a chance. And now the self a farmer! seems to have made itself. If there rea ll y is busines s "'Whoop!" It was on the farmer with a vengeance The blood in 111e, it will crop out." audience nearl y choked in its laught e r whi l e the farmer Vanre was the on l y son of a man who had once been sank down as close to the floor as he could get. Before the well known in the business world of a large American city. 1 laughing had stopped the orchestra was playing something Vance's m other had died when h e was very young. lively and Sam was hard at his step dancing. Father ancl F
WE, US & CO. 9 he that he would be wanted more or question able services than for work as a real valet. "I need a slick article, a fellow who ain't over nice about s ome things, and Who knows how to tell a lie well," Griscomb had laughingl y informed the boy. Vance, as soon as he found out that this was the truth, had :flared up. Then came the quitting, and the boy was out in the world, with a good su.it of clothes, but without .. money. Varlce had always had a that he could do well in business for himself if he could but get a chance for a start. Overhearing the conversation between Sli ck, T e d and Dave, he had instantly formed the decis ion to start a vaude ville show with this s mall amount of doubtful mat er ial. Had Vance had ai1y knowledge at all of th e th e atrical Lusiness, he would have kept out of' the ventur e Th e re is no other line 6. enterpri s e in which manag e r s fail as often as they do in the th ea tri cal line It i s better to .be a performer than a manager with littl e or no capital-but Vance didn't know that. So far, s ince th e of hi s father, Vance Dalton' s lif e had been without a real object. But now he had hi s compan y to stand or fall withand he had seen May Chesney. Even Vance might have scoffed at the notion that h e had fallen in love with her at .firs t s ight, but the fact re mained that, already, s h e exerted a wonderful influence on him. He would have given world s to s tand well in her g(!od graces. he s trolled through the ground s late at night, he caught s udden sight of her. $till dres sed in her e vening frock, the girl s tood on the balcony over the veranda. Gazing dreamily into the di s tance, she looked the picture of s weet wholesome beauty. "Getting the air becau s e it's too warm to slee p mur mured the boy. "Bvt why i s s he all alone at thi s hour ? '' She was looking away from him s o Van c e stood, s tock still and s ilent wat c hing h e r in boyis h adoration. But s uddenly s he turned, saw J1im, and started. Reddening, feel ing a s guilty a s a thief, Vance would have hurri e d away. But s he called down, softly: "Is that you, Ml;. Dalton?" Vance nodd ed. Something queer got into his throat to prevent hi s speakin g clearly. "You are tired, aft e r the nighfs work, I suppo se?" she called down, s o f.'oftly that the boy had to go clos er to the veranda to answer without risk of disturbing s leeping guests. "Yes," he replied, thrilling, as he looked up into her eyes. Truth to tell, he didn't know, just then whether he was tired or not. "It must be a hard life, after all?" she asked. "Ye-es," Vance replied, doubtfully Then she laughed softly her eyes brimming over with mirth. "Mr. Dalton, the tone of tha.t reply makes me sure of what I had gue ssed-that you are wholly new at a vaudeville show." What was there to do but tell the truth? Vance admitted that her guess was right. came you to go into such a business, then?" was her next question. "The need of s omething to eat," the boy answered, hon e s tly. "Oh !" Then, after a pause: "Wait. I am coming down Would wonder s never stop happening? May Chesney coming down to chat with him. I am waitin g for papa. I nearly alway s do," s he re mark e d a s s h e app e ared on the lower veranda and walked toward him wit hout s h y ness'. "Papa alway s makes a round of t h e hot e l th e servant s' building the s tables the g round s befor e h e goes to b e d for the night. H e will be her e a t an y miuut e n o w." "It's good of y ou to come down and talk with me," mur mured Vance, g r a t e full y l s it ? s h e s mil e d "It's becau s e I'm interested." Interest e d in him ? Van c e felt as if he were in the sev e nth h e a ven of delight! "Yours is such an intere s ting calling," she explaineJ. "Do t ell me mor e yourself." Then almo s t befor e h e realized it, Dalton had told the g irl nearly everything that there was to be told a b out him s elf. But s he s mil e d di s agreeably when he mentioned the name of Gri scomb. "He's a most. d etes ta b le fellow May rriecl. "That's th e truth," Van c e nodded. "He tries to infli ct hi s friend s hip i.1po n pap a and m e ," s he went on. "We discourage him all we can Then s he quickly chang e d the talk to other topics. "That mu s t be papa. now May murmured looking off into the darkne s s "I'll go now, Vance replied. "Miss Chesney, you w o nt think me fre s h if I say that talking to a girl like youtalking to just you, I mean-makes the whole day seem brighter?" "Does it?" she answered, frankly. "Then I'm very g lad." "May I have a little talk with you to-morrow, Miss Ches ney, if there is a chance?" "Why not?" was her reply, as she looked into his eyes. "Th-thank you," murmured Vance, and, lifting his hat, he walked away after he had said good-night. Vance's rapid steps once more carried him by that clump of bushes. Here he halted, screened from her observation and turned to look back at the girl standing there She was still on the lower veranda.-and must have been in error about her father coming, for Mr. Chesney had nM appeared
10 WE'" US & CO. "I won't try to go back, but I'll stay here and watch her as long as she remains out," mumbled the boy. replied the girl, whose own eyes had suddenly opened very wide. So he sat once more on the bench, devouring her with eyes through the little spaces between the leaves. As he sat there, he heard the rumble of a cab's wheels on the road just below, but he paid no attention. Fred Grisc?mb was in that cab, with two reckless companions. All of them had been drinking rather heavily, and were I1ow in a mood for anything. The driver on the box was a fellow of their own stripe "By Jove," whispered Griscomb, suddenly, "there's the pretty May all alone on the veranda at this hour of the uight." "That's wonderful (hie) boy I" nodded Griscomb, with a pretense of drunken gravity. "This young pirate was sent here on purpose to decoy my daughter down to the veranda at this late hour I" bellowed Chesney. Letting go of Griscomb, the infuriated father leaped at Vance Dalton. CHAPTER IV. VANCE IN THE TOILS. "Waiting for some fellow she likes better than you, Vance had been mentally stunned, first of all, at finding Fred," leered one of his himself so unexpectedly wounded. Griscomb uttered an oath. Then, as he lay on the ground, and heard the lying "Fellows," he muttered, savage ly, "we could spoil sport words of Griscomb, he felt as if the world had turned up-by carrying the young jade off bodily." side down. "You wouldn't dare, Griscomb !" But that was mild 6ompared with his feelings when "I wouldn't?" he flared. "If I had the right kind of May Chesney seemed so readily to suspect him of a guilty with me I'd do it in a second If I carried her off, part in the attempted outrage. &he'd have to marry me. She couldn't go home until she So he did not dodge, or try to get out of the way when did." May's father bounded at him. It was Mr. Mason who thrust the angry parent back. "Oh, if it's us you're afraid of," jeered one of the trio , "Careful, Chesney. That boy has been shot!" see you through l" "He ot1ght to be!" roared the hotel man, striving des Griscomb lurched heavily toward the trap that corr,imunid 1 perately to get past his friend. cate wit 1 the driver. In a few seconds that worthy had his orders. "Oh, papa, be careful!" Uay, darting in unopposed, and kneeling beside the boy. May did not start, or wonder, as the cab rolled up to "Get away from him, May!" commanded her father. the veranda. Some guests out late, she supposed "Mason, let go of me." 'l'h en, suddenly, three forms tumbled out of the cab. "When you're yourself enough to act like a sane qi.an, She felt herself seized. I'll let go of you," returned Mr. Mason, coolly. "Help! help!" she screamed. "A're you badly hurt?" May asked, softly, then uttered All in a twinkling Vance was on the scene He struck a cry as she saw a pool of blood near Vance's left thigh. out, knocking Griscomb clown. May fled to the veranda, "Hurt in my feelings, worse than anywhere," q1tivered while Dalton turned his attention to another toysterer. Vance. "Miss May, I didn t have anything to do with All four were now mixed up in a wild scrimmage that wretch, Griscomb. I was looking at you from the dis" Dalton, I'll teach you better!" muttered Griscomb, tan cc. I saw what was happening, and rushed forward thickly. to help you. Then Griscomb shot me." Crack! A pistol had been fired, and Vance was on the "Arc you telling me the strict truth, Mr. Dalton ?" 'M:ay ground. demanded. "What's all this?" roared Mr. Chesney, rushing up. A "As heaven is my judge," the boy answered, fervently. dozen employes and male guests were on the scene in a "You will believe me_, won't you?" jiffy. "I-I want to," replied the girl. "But you are hurt, Then Fred Griscomb, sudden ly sobered by the shock, and must be attended to." became crafty enough to pretend to be badly intoxicated. "I don t believe it's much of anything Vance objected, "Won't some one please look after my (hie) valet?" he trying to rise. moaned, thickly, while Chesney him angrily. "Poor Mason, who seemed to have the coolest head of any of feller-my valet. He got hurt. And he was (hie) doing them in this crisis, gave a hand to help the boy to the beautifully here, too. Just pretended I'd fired him, and he veranda. (hic)-oh, you're slickest fellow out, Dalton! Awful sorry Vance had beeri shot through the fleshy part of his le.ft you (hie) got hurt!" thigh. A physician who was stopping at the hotel made "What's that?" roared the horrified Chesney. "May, }fow haste to lead the boy into the office. did you come to be down here?" "Don't let Griscomb and his crew get away," bellowed "Why, I stepped down, papa, to talk with Mr. Dalton," Chesney.
WE, US & CO. 11 But Griscomb and his friends had already fled. The cab had gone off, too, unnoticed in the excitement. "Better let 'em go, and have done with it," Mason quiet ly advised his friend, the hotel man "The fellows were drunk, and it'll only make a lot of unpleasant ta1k about May." "We've got the boy, anyway," grnwled Chesney "And you want to act like a civilized man," retorted Mason. "There isn't a bit of proof against the boy, except the word of drunken Griscomb. Are you going to hang the boy on Griscomb's sayso?" After driving some of the curious guests out of the office the doctor, with the help of two of the hotel employeS) examined and bandaged Vance's wound. "It didn't touch the bone, boy," said the medical man. "You'll be all right in a few days, except that you may have a stiff leg." "I hope it ain't stiff enough to keep him from getting off these grounds to night raged Chesney, who had just come in. "It will be," said the doctor, severely "It would be inhuman to send this boy away to night." "Besides, sir, we've got the show for to-morrow night," appealed Vance, looking eagerly at the hotel man. "Tomorrow night?" sniffed Chesney. "Do you think 1'm going to have you and your crew here any longer Show to-morrow night? Huh! You'll be giving your show in the police station !" "Do you mean to have Dalton arrested?" whispered Mason. "Do I mean to have him arrested?" roared Chesney "After trying to help that gang abduct my daughter? I should say I would have him arrested!" 1Vance's face went white as chalk, while the hotel man strode toward the door. "If he does have you arrested, and doesn't make his charge good," whispered a young law student in Dalton's ear, "then you'll have a fine case against Chesney for damages." But Mason was already giving this same opinion to Ches ney outside, with the result that the hotel man's wrath was cooling a good deal. May had disappeared. One after another the guests and employes went back to their beds. "Your quarters are out in the rink building, aren't they?" asked the medical man. "Well, try now, a.nd see if you can walk there, leaning on my arm." Vance accomplished tJie walk. Slick, 'l:ed and Dave, who had slept through the excite ment, were astounded when they were aroused and told what had happened. ,"It's fearful luck," moaned Vance. "Just when we seemed to be making a start to do well. We've got to leave in the morning "Oh, well, we've got some of the long green to take away with us," grinned Slick. "And I've heard of worse luck in the show business The leg pained and throbbed a bit. Vance hardly slept through the night, but his three new friends were kind ness itself in looking after him. Their breakfast came out to them, that morning, as if I1othing had happened. So, too, came the doctor, who re fused to take any pay for his work. "You gave me a good show last night. I'll give you a fair show now," laughed the doctor. Ted went into town early, and got Vance's wah,"!h out of pawn Chesney had not relented in the least. He still insisted that We, Us & Co. must leave the hotel grounds at once. "Letter for Mr. Dalton," announced one of the hotel waiters, showing in the doonvay of the rink building when We, Us & Co. were alone by themselves just before the start. "Here !" cried Vance The waiter stepped up to him, handed him a bulky en velope, and, turning, hurried out again. "Whew! It must be a long letter," gasped Vance, ob serving the bulk of the envelope's contents He tore one end off the envelope, then vented a cry of astonishment. "We live again, for the long green's in sight!" Sam Slick solemnly announced. For Vance, sitting there dumbfounded, stared at a rather thick wad of banknotes, surrounded by a single sheet of letter paper "Chesney ain't so bad after all," suggested T 'ed. But Vance, after his first amazement, unfolded the note. It was typewritten, unsigned, and read as follows: "Some of the guests at the hotel, who enjoyed your per formance last night, feel that you haven't been fairly treated. These guests beg to be permitted to hand you the en closed amount, taken up by subscription. As this comes from persons well able to spare the money, we beg that you will accept it in silence, and beliee that it comes from us in the sp'irit of live-and-let-live. Kindly say nothing about this money before leaving the hotel." "Oh, oh, oh!" choked Vance. "Say!" chattered Ted Roberts. "'rhere are some white people in the world!" "It beats me!" murmured Dave Thayer For once Sam Slick could not talk. A big tear glistened in either eye of that old, storm tossed vaudeville actor. "We can go now, and we can do business," quivered Vance. "For one thing," proposed Dave, "we can afford a car riage to take you to the depot, Vance." "Do you think I'm going to blow the first money on myself?" demanded the young manager "I'll walk, and have three pairs of arms to lean on, if I need Fellows, this place ain't any too pleasant for me now? Shall we start?" That idea caught. Sam Slick thrust a hand under Vance's left shoulder. "Forward, march!" cheered Ted. "All except for you,
12 WEt US & 00. Vance, old ellow, we're a heap better off than we were yesterday. We can buy grub to-day, and rent a bed to sleep in." All except our hero felt highly cheerful as they took the shortest cut across the hotel grounds to the road. They passed but few
WE1 US & CO. 13 He learned that Mrs. Delavan always traveled with the girls, and that she usually served as pianist for the show. Within ten minutes Vance had engaged the three at a total of thirty dollars a week and board and traveling ex penses. These were "summer prices," with which the Delavans seemed entirely satisfied. rf'I've got a raft of good old sketches in my head,'' glowed Sam, with honest satisfaction. "And I guess you girls are up in a good many of the same sketches. Why, we can put on a real sketch when we've six people for the cast." "Seven, I guess, if you need me," laughed Vance. The Delavans, who had been wondering where the next engagement was coming from, were soon in high spirits. But MJis. Delavan was cautious. Many times before this she had encountered managers, especially summer lnanagers, who had more hopes than cash. "Can you advance us something on the first week's mon ey?" she hint.ed. "Half of the money will do, won't it?" asked Vance, pro ducing what was left of his roll. It was padded with a good many one-dollar bills in the middle, and looked good. The Delavans looked happier than ever. As for Vance, he was jubilant. He had wanted pretty faces in his show, and now he had them. But soon he began to wonder if their stage work would be up to their looks. "You have good costumes?" he asked. "And the work is as good as you say?" "Take my word for it," broke in Sam. "No. Dalton's right," spoke Mrs. Delavan. "See here, I can get the la ndlord's private parlor. There's a piano there. In twenty minutes, gentlemen." Left to themselves, the men of We, Us & Co. went through the dumb show of hugging themselves as soon as they were left alone. "We've got a real show now," Vance proclaimed. "Lord, with such a company I've Gither got to get a few dates, or resign." ".You've got to get dates, or you'll be shy with the cash on the very first salary day," spoke Dave, soberly. "Lord, we cpuldn't disappoint the girls about their tiny salaries," gasped Ted. "Ain't they bright, though? Floss, <".specially." 'Floss,' eh?" chuckled Vance. Ted reddened. "Miss Clara is the prettier one," observed Dave Thayer, quietly. "Good thing you boys won't quarrel," grinned Sam. "But say, you want to understand one thing. Those girls are as good as they seem, and there ain't a bit of mash about 'em. Mrs. Delavan is a regular old dragon, too, where her girls are concerned." "Who's talking of trying to mash?" demanded Ted, red dening. "All I said was, what nice girls they are." A little later they went down to the landlord's parlor. Mrs. Delavan had been more than as good as her word. The girls were in costume. Short-skirted and with their dancing shoes on, with their hair down and rippling coquettishly over their gleaming shoulders, with just a touch of stage make-up on their cheeks, they looked deliciously, bewitchingly pretty. Ted and Dave could hardly look away from these at tractive girls. Vance, with the remembrance of May Chesney strong .in his mincl, felt only a manager's enthusiasm at having such bewitching sprites in: show. The girls danced and sang, Mrs: Delavan accompanying them on the piano. J.Jittle as Vance really knew of vaudeville work, he felt that these girls would clo11ble the value of his show. "We'll work those old sketches up to-night,;' Sam declared. "And I'll work up an engagement," Vance announced. "I'm a lobster if I don't land business right here at Clear Beach." "Why, the Elsinore Hotel a building that it uses for a dance hall au d theatre," suggested Clara. "That ought to be the place to do something." "How many will the house hold?" demanded Vance, who was learning fast. 1 "Seats five hundred," Clara answered. "Then there'll be something doing there . Dave, do you want to come along?" Dave didn't rea.lly want to go, but he managed to hide his reluctance. Withii:i half an hour our hero had succeeded in talking to Ransom, the manager :it the Elsinore. "Show?" sniffed Ransom. "We've had barnstormers to burn here, this season and last "Time to have a real show like ours, then," chirped Vance. "Oh, that's the way all the managers talk," smiled Ran som. "Ancl as for you, young man, do you suppose I expect a good show to be managed by such a youngster as you are -not a day over seventeen or eighteen." "Going on twenty -thr ee," corrected Dalton, though he took pains not to say how far below twenty-three his age was. He was only seventeen, and it would take time to outgrow that age. "If you'll light up one end of your pavilion this even ing," proposed Vance, "and give us a little attention, you'll wind up by booking us for Monday." "Monday?" laughed Ransom, out loud. "There'll be nothing doing for you in this town, Monday. Why, lad, there's going to be a circus here Monday afternoon and evening. What chance do you suppose any vaudeville show would have against a circus?" ".Tust the kind of chance we want!" proclaimed Vance, on the spur of the moment. "Mr. Ransell:, we'll show you what kind 0: a vaudeville we run by filling your pa vilion on Monday night. W beat the ci:i;cus out. The
WE2 US & CO. circus'll get the people who can't get into your ,paviliontha t' s all. "Sounds good," smiled Ransom, amused. "But I'll make good," vaunted Dalton. "Take you up on that," laughed the hotel manager. "See here, Dalton, I'll talk a week's engagement here, on the understanding that I can cancel your show if you don't have a good house Monday night. If you can beat the circus out your show will be good enough for me to make some money out of it." "I'll beat the circus out," promised Vance, valiantly, though he had not the remotest idea ho:w it was to be done. Ransom was still more than doubtful. But he finally agreed that, ig We, Us & Co. could get a good house on the circus night, then a week's engagement should follow at three dollars. "And board for the company," put in Vance. "Oh, hold on there!" cried Ransom. "That's always our terms," Vance assured him. "Now, see here, Mr. Ransom, we don't have to have the best rooms in your house. Almost any old rooms will do, and we ain't swell eaters, you know. You can feed us in one of our rooms." "When will you come--Tuesclay morning, after you've made your hit?" demanded Mr. Ransom, thoughtfully. "Why, no; we'll move in to-morrow morning, of course," Vance retorted, promptly. Ransom was decidedly inclined to argue, and even to throw the whole over; but Vance broke in: "Mr. Ransom, business is business. We always get our board free on these summer engagements. We'll move in to-morrow morning. But if we don't make su _ch a hit on Monday night that you want us for the week, then we won't charge you a cent for the Monday night show-the show against the circus. Now, we couldn't be fairer than that_, could we?" Ransom at last saw it that way, and agreed. More than that, he put the agreement in writing, and he and Vance signed. "Gracious I didn't believe you could possibly put the thing through like that,'_' sighed Dave, happily, when they were outside of the hotel. "I didn't put anything through but a bluff;'' Vance declared, soberly. "Now, I've got the real, awful business on my hands." "What?" "Somehow-and I haven't a blessed idea how it's to be done--I've got to beat out that circus!" If he didn't do that, We, Us & Co. would be on the Tocks! CHAPTER VI. BEATING OUT .A. CIRCUS. There wasn't exactly undivided joy in the company when Vance got back to the little hotel and told of the contract he had made with the manager of the Elsinore. "I hope your wad's good and big," observed Mrs. Dela van, grimly. "Now, see here,'' Vance broke in, "don't you folks go to doing my worrying for me. It's up to me to get the business end through." "Can you do it, in this case?" Flossie inquired. "Sure thing!" Vance replied, cheerily. "Now, see here, it's 'a fine night on the beach. Suppose we all go out for a stroll." Somehow, out on the beach, Sam Slick was left to do the gallant thing for Mrs. Delavan. Vance walked between the sisters, with Ted at Flosaie's side and Dave at Clara's. Mrs. Delavan kept her eyes closely on the girls. "The beach here is lovely for swimming," said Flossie. "After we get moved to-morrow morning I'm going out for a big, long swim." "Are you much of a swimmer?" queried Vance. "I can swim for miles, without stopping." "And fl.oat?" "Like a cork!" "Then you're never afraid' of yourself m the water?" asked Dalton. "Why should I be?" Flossie cross-questioned. "I don't believe I could sink." "How are you on swimming, Ted?" asked t}.ie young manager, suddenly "As good as any of them, I guess," said promptly. "I'll show you in the morning." "No, you won't," Vance contradicted> with sudden en ergy "I don't want you going in swimming to-morrow morning, either, Miss Flossie." "Wh-what's that?" cried Flossie, in astonishment. "Don't go in swimming, either of you. Don't even let on that you know how to swim," ordered Vance. "What on earth ails you?" questioned Flossie. "Oh, there's a great idea seething in my brain!" cried Vance. "It may not be much good, but we've got to try it anyway. It's the one chance that I see to beat out the circus!" "What's the scheme?" asked both girls, curiously "How do I know, when I haven't had time to think it out?" Vance rejoined. "But just give me time. It'll sim mer, and then it will boil! Give me time, and I believe I can think out anything I" The next morning, Sunday, We, Us & Co. moved over to the Elsinore, taking back rooms up on the top :floor. They had their meals served there, too, and kept well away from the guests of the hotel. By this time Vance believed that he had his scheme well worked out. There wasn't a doctor at the beach. That much our hero had discovered when he tried to find one to dress the wound, which still bothered quite a bit. Monday morning the circus came to town, and people :flocked to see the tents go up. The beach was almost deserted.
WE) US & CO. 15 "Whew! But we've got to get that crowd back from the circus," gasped Vance to Dave. Flossie went out on the water that morning, though not in her bathing suit. Instead, she rowed out over the water in a stn-all, "tippy" looking whitehall boat. For some minutes she rowed about, getting further out from shore. 'l'hen a few, w'ho happened to be looking her way, saw the girl rise and turn, as if to step forward into the bow. Then she swayed, threw out her arms) seemed to be try ing to catch herself-and the boat capsized. "Girl overboard! She'll drown!" shoui;ed several fran tic on-lookers. "Why, that's our .star dancer l" gasped Vance, who had been walking on the beach with Roberts. "Oh, Ted !" But Ted Roberts, throwing off his jacket and kicking off his low shoes, was already rushing out into the water. As soon as he struck great enough depth, he struck out with lusty strokes. "Get a boat!" roared one man, but he stood stock still, staring, his wits gone. Scores of others were now on the beach, standing as if petrified, or else running up and down the appealing to others to "do something." ''Keep cool, all of you!" roared Vance, calmly "Mr. Rob erts is a practical swimmer. If he can't save Miss Del avan, no one can." Floss, in the meantime, had reappeared above the sur face of the water. She sp lash ed frantically, then shrieked and sank For an agonizingly long interval she remained down out of sight, but at last came up. Now she spla shed with more effect, for she did not sink. "She's growin)' weaker!" sobbed one wealthy woman. "Oh, how lon g it takes that young man to reach her. S)le'll drown--surely." And sink Floss did, for the third time, while Ted, swim ming like a good one, was gradunlly nearing her. "He'll be too late!" screamed a man, hoarsely, and the little, shuddering groups on the beach waited and won dered. It was surprising how swift ly the news of the tragedy spread. The crowd collected rapidly. "Hurrah!" A hoarse cheer up as the crowd saw that Ted had reached the girl, who now :floated stilly on the water. Now Roberts started for the shore with her, but he ap peared to be exhausted. In truth, Ted was well done up from his long, hard swim. Had it not been for the aid which 'clever Flossie was able to give him without being detected from the shore, that swim back, encumbared by the girl, would have :fin-ished him. "Now, you'll have to get us both in without any more help from me," Floss whispered in his ear. Ted stuck to the job manfully until he nellred the beach. Here, in the shallower water, a dozen bathers ran out to meet them. "Get her ashore!" quivered Ted. "I'm afraid she's done for. Has any one thought to send for n doctor P" Some one had thought of that, 11nd had started to tele phone the town. But Dave had appeared on the run, .followed by a young man with a medicine case. He was a "fake" doctor, hired for the occasion by our hero. "I don't know about saving her," murmured the ''lake" doctor, as they laid Floss on the beach and he knelt side her. Floss played her pa .rt like the true actress. Her eyes were closed, and she lay motionless, seeming not to breatl:ie. "Pulse. still; heart seems to have stopped an nounced the "fake" doctor, sober ly. "No sign of breath ing. We'll see what the drugs will do." From his medicine case the pretended elector took a vial of "medicine," some of which he forced between the girl's lips. Then he chafed her hands, next laid her face downward and tried to work the water out of her. As Floss hadn't swallowed anyi this was naturally a hard job. "Telephone for an older doctor," murmured some one. "That will do no good," lied the "fake," calmly. "I'm a physician in the United States Life Saving Service, and if I can't bring this young lady througli no one else can." Yet he worked over shamming Floss for the next half hour, while the on-looking throng grew more and more sol emn, and many of the women, unable to look on at this seen& of "death/' went shudderingly away. Nevertheless, the crowd grew. The road from the. vil lage seemed suddenly alive with people. Vance watched anxiously, afraid a real doctor would up in the swarming, eager crowd. "It's no use," murmured the "fake'1 doctor, looking up at last. "'l'he young lady is as dead as she ever will be!'; "Don't say that!" choked Ted, gulping as he looked down at the "still, white" face. It was white enough, for Floss had naturally little color "Po,)r girl," sobbecl Vance. "So young and beautiful! And the world has seldom seen her equal as a dancer!" There were real tears in his eyes, too, for that young rascal wiped his eyes with a handkerchief which sliced Cnion hacl been rubbed. Mrs. Delavan and Clara stood by, seemingly too stunned to speak. "What do you want done with the remains?" asked the "fake" doctor, gently, as he looked up. "Wait a minute!" cried a hoarse voice.
16 WEl US & CO. It waa Sam Slick, 'rho hurriedly pushed his way through the densely packed crowd. "What's the matter with the girl?" he demanded. "Drowned!" "Doctor can't save her!" Sam threw himself on his knees beside the still girl. He pried open her eyelids, then looked up at the "doctor." ."Why don't you bring this girl to?" Sam demanded. "It's impossible," declared the "fake." "She's done for." "You lobster!" roared Sam, contemptuously. "Oh, very well," sniffed the "fake." "If you can bring her back to life where medical science has failed, you're welcome,." Bear a hand here," ordered Sam, and Vance, Dave and Ted sprang to aid him. They turned her over, face downward, once more. Rapidly Sam began to rub his heavy hand s down along her spine In the stillness a faint gasp came from the girl. "No life, eh?" snorted Sam. "I'll show you; you med ical lobster I" Two or three vigorous thumps in the spine Sam gave Floss, and then she cried out.. While the by-standers looked on dumbfounded, Sam had her sitting up. Floss, her eyes open at last, looked axound her dumbly, wonderingly. "Now, I guess you can get up and walk, Miss Delavan,'' Sam ;mggested, as he and Ted raised her to her feet. What a deafening cheer went up as Floss stepped off, thu s supported "Doctor," sneered Sam, over his shoulder, "you'd better quit the beach and stick to doctoring kittens." The "fake" medical man soon vanished. But the crowd paid little heed to him, prefer.ring to follow in the wake of artful Floss, who appeared to be gaining strength at every step.. Floss dicl not keep up the walking long enough to spoil the int erest of the crowd. She turned toward the veranda of the hotel. Laughingly declaring that she did not mind wet gar ments, and that they were drying rapidly, anyway, she seated herself, while the crowd gathered around. A good talker, Floss soon had them all interested. Then Sam was called upon to describe how he had man aged to bring her to. But on this head Sam preferred to remain mysterious, merely obserying that he knew a few things tha.t he had learned from Hindu priests in India. A real doctor arrived. He was as much interested as any one, and tried to draw Slick out, but without avail. When Floss :finally started for her room, she was followed by the cheers of :five hundred people, every one of whom was determined to see her dance that evening. "I guess we've caught the crowd all right," chuckled Vance, as he and Dave met in their room. "If the interest doesn't die out," Dave replied, fully. "Oh, it won't," laughed Vance. "There are two cor respondents for the city over in the village. I've telephoned to them, and Sam and Floss will be interviewed on the hotel veranda. Ransom won't kick, for he'll sell a \ hundred extra dinners to-day." And so it turned out. All clay, at this dull beach, the interest in Flossie Dela van's "adventure" was kept at the boiling point. Vance stood at the door of the pavilion that evening, watching a crowd go in that filled the place to suffocation "The circus will .feel this," whispered Mr. Ransom, de lightecUy. "Dalton, that was really a mighty lucky acci dent to-day." "Very lucky," retorted Vance, drily. "Why, you young rascal, you don't mean that was all a put -up job?" murmured Ransom, opening his eyes. "What I do mean," returned Vance, a twinkle in his eyes, "is that all our methods are strictly up to date. We can even beat out a circus." "Good Lord I You sure have to-night!" uttered the ho tel manager. "So tlrnt we're s ure of that week's engagement at three hundred dollars?" "The engagement is yours," smiled Ransom. "And I beg your pardon for calling you a hlcl manager. "You're the real thing, Dalton. You must have been born in the lrnsiness." The week, s o well begun, proved a prosperous one for the hotel a s well a for the company. Flossie and Clara greatly strengthened the show. Dave added s econd sight" a nd some other features to hi s sleight of hand and ven triloquism. Ted 's songs caught on, and Sam Slick's crazy comedy hits kept the audience in a roAr. Then there was the "sketch," which lasted more than half an hour. Altogether, Vance Dalton was jus tly proud o.f hia s110w. And, while the week was on, Dalton, by side trips, had arranged for a week of night-stands at small summer thea tres for the coming week. Saturday night found our hero with neaxly four hun dred dollars in his pocket. The next day was to be pay-day. Vance, with the baggage loaded on to a wagon, went clown to the local depot. There, after buyin1' the tickets, he seated himself on Flossie's trunk to await the arrival of the company, which was to leave town on the midnight train. Vance, all alone at the depot, save for the station agent inside, felt 11appy as he waited. Once his hand traveled up against an inside popket in which a very plump "wad" of bills rested. "Oh, this is greaU I can't believe it all yet," he mur mured, happily. "We're really on the road, and doing well I'm manager, and I've got a good company, if I did pick it up hap-hazard."
WEi US & CO. 17 In the darkness, as he sat under one of the depot lights, he caught sight of a figure flitting by at the other end of the platform. Though Vance did not recognize the man, it was Fred Griscomb, his former employer. "That troublesome kid!" muttered Griscomb, vengefully, as he disappeared around the end of the station building. "I suppose he thinks I've forgotten him. But he can't lose me-he can't get away from me. And now-if he has the company's funds with him we'll cook up some trouble for him that will pay him back for meddling with me. It's safer than shooting him, too." Griscomb waited until a low hiss from the bushes be yond drew his attention. Then swiftly, stealthily, he crossed the road to the bushes. Two rough-looking men awaited him there. "It' s all right. The kid s there, but you've got to hustle," whispered Fred Griscomb . "See here, if he has that wad about him, be sure you get it! As for the kid himselfwell, you know what I want done to him I" "We know," nodded one of the men. "Then hustle-before any one els e shows up!" Griscomb faded into the darkness beyond. His two men walked slowly tmvard the platform. Down at the other end they came upon Vance, $itting on the trunk. Dalton, remembering the roll of bills he ca:rried, eyed the men with some mi s giving s "They don't look like good company he muttered, un-eas ily, to himself. "I reckon I'll wait inside." He ro s e and tried to pass them. "Where are ye going, kid?" demanded one of the men. "Inside, an s wered Vance, briefly. "Wait a minute! I want to ask ye--:-" Grip.! The other had slipped behind Vance. One of the brute' s arm s clo s ed around the boy's throat, chok ing him and forcing his head far back. "Kill him if he hollers!" grnffed the other fellow. Vance trie d to call out, but was being strangled so that his head swam. He was powerless in that strong dutch. "Here's his wad JH uttered the brute in front, finding the money. Vance Dalton was just conscious enough to realize, with a thrill of horror, that the money had been taken from him. Smash A heavy fist landed between his eyes. All went black 'before him. As the fellow behind let go Vance Dalton slipped to the platform, unconscious. "Sure job of him!" growled the one who had gripped the boy from behind. "You know the boss's orders." Then blows rained on the unconscious boy. Vance knew nothing of what was happening. Then, hearing steps, the two brutes slipped off in the night with every dollar belonging to We, Us & Co. CHAPTER VII. AN "ANGEL" OF FIRE. "Here's the baggage," called Dave Thayer, who was in advance of the party. "Kid manager tired out, eh?" c1cmanc1ed Sam Slick,' coming forward. "Lord, but it' care1ess of him to s1ecp tha.t way, with the company' s boodle on l im." "Slee1) noQiing !" gasped Dav e Thay e r. "Look at that bloody nose!" With a rush the company came forward. "Done up," announced Sam, hri ef1y, a s he knelt beside our unconscious hero. "Look for his roll, then See if that's safe?" cried Delavan. "Wha. t's the use, ma'am?" Sam asked drily. "Do you s 'pose any one did him up like this for the mere fun of the thing?" 1 "Robbed?" shrieked Mrs. Delavan. "That's the size of it, ma'am." "But our sa1aries? The next stand?" faltered the woman. "We'll think of that. when we get onr manager bark to earth," Sam retorted drily. "Clam, run and get some wnter." Within five minute s they hac1 Yance Dalton .hack to con s ciousnes s His fir s t move was to clutch anxiou s ly at th0 pocket where hi s money haJ bee n. "You needn't take the trouble to lo o k for th e roll, old man Sam ar1viaed. "The Committe e on Swi pe ha s attended to yo11." "The s coundrels!" quivered Vance. "One of them grabbed me from hehind." "That's the way the swipt> sketch is always r1onl".'' !'::iid Sam, calmly. "But I mu s t have the ticket<; left," faltered Dalton, as he reached for another pocket. "Thunder, no! They're gone, too!" "Sure, of course!" nodded Slick. "And my father's watch? No; I've got that s till." "The was in a hurry, then," drawled Slick. "Usually they don't overlook anything." "But, good heavens! I can't pay the salaries now, moaned Vance. "You're new at theatrical management," spoke S am, c heerily, "or you wouldn't let a little thing like that wony you." "But we haven't even the money to get to the next stand," quiverd Dalton. "We've got until Monday night to walk," retorted Sam. "It's the end of the company," spoke Mrs. Dela v an, tragically. "I'm afraid it is," Vance nodded, with 'a great, gt.lping h s1g
1 8 I WEl US & 00. "Can't I help?" eagerly proposed a young man, coming forward out of the shadows. It was Mr. Plummer Chadsby, a young college student Right after the beach incident Chadsby had made Flossie's acquaintance, to Ted's great disgust, and there the young student had hung. He was plainly heels over head in love with pretty :Flossie. He stuck to her at every chance, meekly, humbly adoring, yet so respect 1 about it, that it was hard .to order him away. Mrs. Delavan had hoped to lose him at the depot to night. Flossie had hoped the same thing. "I've got a little money," suggested Chadsby, eagerly. "It isn't much, but it's eighty -five dollars. Now) see here, 1\[r. Dalton, if I put that in, will you give me a share in the management of the company?" This offered a possible way out of their troubles. It a lso offered what Chadsby wildly desired-a chance to travel in the company with charming Flo ssie Delavan The poor student was trembling, in fact, with eagerness over this new and delightful prospect Vance hesitated, not knowing what to say. "You'll speak a good word for my idea, won't you, Mrs Dela.van?" begged Chadsby. Mrs. Delavan did not know what to say, except that she dterly disliked the idea of this love sick young idiot trail ing a lng her daughter. "You'll have to talk to the manager," she sa id, shortly. "Why, Mr. Dalton, you'll let me buy a share in the company, won't you?" appealed the student lover. "I'll ha .veto think about it," Vance answered, slowly. Then, turning, our hero led Slick aside "What do you make of the fellow?" asked Dalton. Ohadsby handed over his money. Vance bought new tickets. The company got away, reaching the next show town, Clematis, early Sunday morning. They went direct to a small hotel, for here We, Us & Co. were to play in a small but regular theatre. Ohaclsby went the way of all "angels" by pinning himself at the side of Flossie every chance he got The show had been well advertised by the local manager Monday night the housl:l to be well-filled Here there was a regular orchestra, so Mrs Delavan had the night off. But she was in the dressing rooms, tryin g vigilantly to keep the eager Ohadsby a.way from Flossie. "I'll fix him," promised Sam. He took Ohadsby to the rear of the stage, setting him at work under the local scene shifter. "No smoking allowed back here," growled the scene shifter, and Ohadsby reluctantly threw his cigarette away. A!i., the curtain rang up, Vance, who hacl been "on'the door," watching the taking of tickets, went back on the Rt age. 'red was out in front, singing in that sweet, strong voice of: his Sam was in the wings, watching from the left, and wait ing for his turn to go on in a monologue. Vance took up his position in one of the right entrances. Ted finished his song and came off, amid thundering applause. In a twinkling he was on again, beginning a ballad "What's that smoke?" wondered Vance, suddenly Just in a moment there had come a strong smell of something ]?urning. Chadsby's cigarette had fallen among inflammable ma terial. From this one of the scenes behind the drop had caught fire ."Oh, it's an old thing for a company to have an 'angel,' Slick returned grimly. "The 'angel' i s always struc k on l;Ome woman in the company, and puts up his cash in order The oil in the paint began to 2urn briskly. to keep near the fair one. But an eighty five-dollar 'angel' Vance, wondering and unea sy, p.eard a brisk crackling i s about the smallest-fry 'angel' I ever heard of." "Fire!" shouted some one in the audience, as a tiny "The money woulcr get us to the next stand," replied cloud of smoke blew out over the house. Yance, slowly. "I think I knciw about how to talk to him "Escape while you can!" roared some one else now, Sam There was panic in an instant. So, going back to young Mr. Plummer Ohadsby, our That day's papers had been full of the story of a theatre hero anndunced: out west in which a fire had cost nearly a score of lives 1 "Mr. Ohadsby, I am not preparea to sell you a share in Men rose and fought thefr way to the rear of the house the company, until we've traveled together and found out Women shrieked, then fainted. what there is in you. But if you want to advance your Ins tantly the aisles were jammed. eighty-iive dollar s we'll take you along and give you a Even if the fire were put out, it seemed certain that chance to show what you're good for .. Then later on, I'll scores would be tnnpled to death. either name a price for a half interest in the company, or Vance had no time to think it out. I'll pay ydu back your eighty-five dollars." He knew only that something must be done swiftly. "Why, you couldn't be fairer than that!" cried the de-Like a flas h he bounded out upon the stage, just as the lighted young lover. "Mr. Dalton I'll prove my worth frantic leader of the orchestra tried to clamber up over to you You can look upon me as a fixture in the comthe footlights. parry .. From the opposite entrance Sam Slick rushed, eager "If you're a fixture, I'll find a way to ta.ke you down!" to do something, yet wondering how to allay the panic out gritted Ted Roberts, under his breath. I front.
WEI us & co. -' "Friends, our fire-eater has a fit of indigestion-that's all !" roared Vance over the tumult. "Get back-you're no doctor bellowed Slick, taking the cue and pushing the frantic leader back. Coolness in that perilous moment stayed the deadly panic "Play something down there, you fellows!" whispered Vance, hoarsely. Without waiting for the leader, the cornet player struck up a pretty waltz. The other musicians followed. Men and 'Women, feeling ashamed of their panic, turned to look toward the stage. There stood Vance, smiling calmly, while Sam Slick was waltzing in burlesque fashion that brought out fa:st smiles and then roars of laughter. Slosh! slosh went water from fire buckets back of the drop "Fire's out!" bawled a -stagehand you see, friends!" called Vance. "There's no use in losing the finest show on earth after you've paid to see it. I now beg to present Signor Taro, the famous young Italian wizard, who will amaze you for twenty min utes with some of the sleight of hand deceptions that have made him a welcome visitor to every court in Europe." P romptly the drop rose, disclosing Dave in his dress suit, ready to perform the first trick on his list. Vance had time to get behind the scenes now to learn more about the fire. Chadsby was there, scared to death, while a stage-hand told how the tossed-away cigarette had come near costing many lives. "Oh, believe me, I'm sorry," chattered the frightened young student "Sorry ?" snorted Vance "You've every right to be. I don't want to say more to you until I've cooled down a bit." '-"But really, I assure you, Mr. Dalton, it shall never happen again -"It. won't happen again," Vance uttered grimly to him self, "after I've raised some money to pay back to you But Chadsby, only half-suspecting the fate that was in store for him, slid away. He had just caught sight of Flossie Delavan stepping on to the stage, made up for her "turn," and looking as delightful?' pretty as it is possible fQr a girl to look. CHAPTER VIII. THE GREAT WEEK. Manager Vance Dalton never forgot that week. Saturday night found him with two hundred and forty dollars to the good. That was after all expenses had been paid-salaries up to date and all. It included, also, the handing of a hundred dollars to Mr. Plummer Chadsby in return for his eighty-five. "Thank you for the loan, Mr. Chadsby," Vance sai d as he handed the money over. "But how about the partnership?" asked the love-sick young student, as they stood out in the lobby of the theatre on this last night of the week. "You know you promised me a partnership." "Not exactly,'.' Vance denied "I said we'd try you." "Haven't I been satisfactory?" pressed the young man, eagerly. have you done, beyond setting a theatre a-fire last ::VIonday night?" Vance demanded. "Why, I-er-er-I've helped in every way that I pos sibly could," cried Mr. Chadsby, anxiously. "You've been very good about carrying Miss Flossie De l avan's satchel for her, if that's what you mean," smiled Vance. "I-er-I am sure she appreciated that," pro tes te d Chadsby. "Now, see here," retorted Vance, looking the love sick student straight in the eyes, "I may as well tell you Chadsby, that you've been making a fool of yourself T h a t girl is out for business. She's earning her l iving at her work, and slie hasn't any time for followers. We need the Delavan Sisters in this company; the show woul d be flat without them. Flossie has told me that either y9u quit the show at once, or she doesn't go on with us. I s that plain enough?" Poor Chadsby looked utterly crushed. "I-I can't believe it," he moaned "Then Mrs. Delavan will set you straight, i f you want to see her," hinted Vance "See her?" gasped the student All the week that excellent but sharp to n gued woman had been giving him black looks. "Just take a hint," spoke Vance, softly. "You look foolish, Chadsby, following a pretty stage girl around the country. "There's nothing in it for you, either, for yo_ u can't win a wife out of the Delavan family." "I-I had hoped to," replied Chadsby, with a cat .ch in his breath. "Let me tell you something," proposed Dalton. "If Flossie Delavan isn't already engaged to Ted Roberts, she's just as good as engaged It is all understood between them." "You-you don't mean it?" gasped the poor fellow. "I do, though Now, don't you think, Chadsby, the best thing you can do is to slip quietly away and forget We, Us & Co.?" "But I must see Flossie-just a few words!" "She'll see you only in the presence of Roberts "Then I'll go, now," sighed Chadsby, sorrowfully. Pulling himself together he stalked moodily out of the theatre That was the last they saw of him-greatly to Flossie's relief, as wE:ll as her mother's. For the following week Vance had, by the gTeatest good
'YE, US & 00. luck, secu red a week's engagement at a Hoc:kport. summer hotel a! 1 Ted. I've been co. rresppnding with a theatrical agency in Wherewr \Ve, Us & Co. had performed at summer ho tel s the proprietors had found that the presence of the company contributed to the life of the place, and was there fore a profi,table feature in keeping guests. J Before that week at :Rockport was half over, Vance called Slick, 'l'ed and Dave to one side for a consultation. "Now, fellows," Vance began "the s ummer i s half OYcr, and we're doing well I've been thinking of expand ing the business." "Go ing to hhe more peop1e ?" askeJ 'l'ed. "Not the way you understand it, Ted. We have people enough now for this c o mpany, and we give as good a show i s expected of us. But I mean to hire more people, and to start another com1)any out, if you fellows think it can 1c Jone well "'1\ro companies?" asked Dave, in s urprise. 'Ye s For instance, I had two requests for this week, and tlro requests from different town s for the services of: the company next week. You see, we've star ted a new i '!ca by providing a low-priced company as a special atfor a s ummer r esort hot el. It has got so now tha.t I don t have to hustle hard for engagements. Hotel people write me, instead. Now, we could have had two engagements this week and next also. Having only one company we could take only one engagement." "But have you got the long green to keep two com panies moving?" asked Sam Slick, ser ious for once. "I've got about two hundred dollars. We'll have three lrnndred more at the end of the week here. We also lrnYe an engagement for next wee k ,' Vance explained "Now after paying saJaries in thi s compan y and canyi n g us on to the next st and, I'll have cash enough left to .just about i>tart out a second company." "A number two company, theatrical folks would call .it," Sam b.roke in ."Thank you. Now, as we can got a date for a seconcT <;ornpany the next week, the question comes, sha ll I try it?" "It'.s all right if you win," Sam replied slowly. "If you lose, you will be in the soup with both companies, and that may mean the finish of this company, too. "Of course it's a chance nodded Vance. "But I've abo11t made up my mind to get a date for the number two company, and to get the company together "How will you manage the other company?" Ted in quired "You'll manage it for me, old fellow Vance replied. "And Dave will help you out, for he'll be in number two company with you." "Oho! And the girls?" Ted asked, thoughtfully. Vance laughed "That's going to be all right, too, for they'll g o wi. th the number two company. You see, I want that company as st rong as possible, and so you'll all be with it except Sam. I need him for comedian with my number one com pany and we'll have to get some other comedian for you, the city, and I can get the extra people needed to join us at once. Summ.er is the time when most theatrical people are loafing." "I know all about that!" grunted Sam. "Then number two company is sett led, fellow s," Vance announced. "Ted, you'll take your company to Graysmere next week. 'l'hree hundred dollars and board for the company i s the price we get. You'll have to pay the bills every week, and send the diff. to me I shall have to spend about all the ready money this week getting number two company in shape." After that there were many anxious talks. Yan c e secured dates for his hvo c ompanies all right for the week following. 'l'he extr a people needed for both companies were also secured, but it was necessary to send the new peopb money for their fares. Sunday morning the new people arrived. The two companies were now made up, and both quietly rehearsed that day at Rockport. "They're both good shows," Vai;ce d e cided, "and ought to make money." Yet it was an anxious day for him. His own first com pany had promised to do fairly well and to pay a small but s ure profit. His reason for having two companies was his desire to double his profits. Y e t, with so little capital, if either company failed it would carry the other company down in its financial crash. "It's a case of double what I've got, or lose everything," Van c e soberly admitted to Robe rts. "Oh, Ted, you'll tr,v to be the s licke s t kind of a manager, won't you, old fel low?" "I s ure will," Ted replied, earnestly. That Sunday afternoon the two new companies sepa rated at the Tailway depot, going in opposite directions. On the train, Vance looked over his new number one company. Sam SEck was the only old friend left. In this reor gan ized company, a State-of-Maine Yankee who went by the name of Fortunello, did the magic, sleight of han
WE, US & CO. tliat very lively and capable young soubrette, Favrine Des quelles. She wasn't French, but that was no one's business. She had striking yellow hair, a pretty face, and a very comely figure. Though not more than twenty years old, Favrine had be!:Jn on the stage some three years. She was inclined to be flirtatious, and at once set out to make a victim of Manager Vance Dalton, to whom had taken a violent fa.ncy. "Why, you look lonesome, all by yourself in seat," she laughed, coming down the aisle after the train had started. "You'll excuse me for being lonesome, won't you, Miss Desquelles ?" Vance asked, with a smile, as he rose. "But I have several busineas matters to think over, and I shall have to be by myself for a while." Re stepped out into the aisle, and moved down to an other seat, while the members of the company glanced !!milingly toward l\Iiss Desquelles. "Turned me down, did he?" murmured Favrine, under her breath. "I shall have to train him better than that." Favrine, however, kne w her man better than to begin again at once, even if she had fallen in love with him. Number one company arrived at Saysville late that afternoon ancl went at once to the Cliffinere Hotel, where the week's engagement was. The members of the company were shown to their rooms, on the top floor of the hotel, and there Favrine, after get ting her trunk open, pickecl out her most fetching gown for the evening. But she had' wasted her time. As soon as supper was over, Vance, Sam and Fortunello went over to the pavil ion, where they worked hard for hours getting the stage to rights for their show. The next morning that impulsive young woman made her way to the pavilion, where she found Vance watching while Fortunelle sat up his sleight of hand table. She moved at once to our hero's side. "Let me show you bow that will go better, Fortunello," interrupted Vance, spring up on to the stage. Re remained there after that, but presently Favrine reached his side. "Say, you're trying to give me the throw down," she murmured, plaintively, in Dalton's ear. "Some mistake," answered Vance, though he smiled. "I never wrestle--witb girls "Say, I want you to like me," Miss Desquelles mur mured in a tone intendfd only for bis ear. "Then make a great hit in the show, and I will," Vance at once, in bis business-like way. Re moved off again, and soon left the pavilion. Favrine, in her disappointment, went to her room. :Ring ing, she ordered a bottle of mineral water. When that came she sat down to think. "Re's only a kid," she reflected, as she sipped at the first glass. "But my! What a tough manager he is to boss. Is there anything wrong with me?" Rising, she looked in the glass at her really handsome face. She nodded approvingly as she looked over the re flection of the comely lines of her figure. "He ought to like me," she muttered, then sat down again with her mineral water. "I'd like to marry a fellow like him, for be is bound to make his mark in the world. When Favrine Desquelles took to getting mad she was likely to prove a powder mine CHAPTER IX. ,THE DROP FOR LIFE Vance Dalton came out upon the hotel veranda looking his most prosperous. He wore the nattiest suit he had evcr owned, bought out of recent profits, for he believed that it was always best for a theatrical inan, or even a boyish manager, to show himself at his best. As Vance stood there on the hotel 'eranda, just past the entrance, he noted, through a corner of his eye, that an automobile had just rolled up. / Re saw also that a young woman hall alighted, alone, and that she was coming up the steps. Then the young woman started to pass him, not looking tis way either. Vance stepped quickly back, and as he did so, he turned. Then he gasped, feeling next a cold chill and then a hot flush. "May!" he uttered. The young woman seemed hardly less startled. But at the mention of her Christian name she drew herself up stiffly. "Aren't you just a trifle familiar?" she asked, coldly. "Oh, I beg yom pardon, Miss Chesney You can't realize how sorry I am,'' Vance cried, impulsively. "I wouldn't offend you-you of all persons in the world!" May Chesney still looked at him with distant displeasure. Very perfect, very dainty, the thoroughbred little aristo crat slie looked as she stood there, stiff and forbidding. "Your apology is sufficient," she replied, coolly. "Good rnorning, Mr.--" She hesitated slightly, as i she could not recall his name. That hurt the boy worse than anything else could have done, but it also brought out his dignity. "1 you've forgotten my name, Miss Chesney, it's a mat ter of no consequence," he replied, speaking coolly himself now. "But at least I am certain that you have not for gotten my face. Our other meeting was such a strange one, and resulted in such injustice to me--through .no fault of yours-that I had hoped you would be glad to hear how well I am doing nowadays." "1 you are prospering, I am glad to hear it," May answered, with a little less ice in her voice.
22 WE'I us & co. "Won t you let me tell you how I am gettin g along ? Vance asked. "Yes; if you wish to tell me." "Won't you sit here a few moments, Miss Chesney?" he invited, pointing to a settee. / "Why, we can s tand just as well, can't w e Mr. Dalton?" "Whatever you wish is just what I want most to do," Vance repli ed, quickly. "But about your business--?" "It' s the same old business," nodded Vance. "Yet from a very hard-up condition we've come to where we are hav ing regular eng agements. I am the manager you know, and the profits are my own." "I am sure I hope the profits are very large, Mr. Dal ton." "Not tremendous," smiled Vance, "but very comforta ble. I have done well enough, anyway, s o that thi s week my number two company is out "You must engage quite a numb ( r of people now, Mr. Dalton." "Quite a few, Miss Chesney." ''And several-er-women ?" "Oh, yes; we have two with with the other." thi s company, a11d three "Stage women are not always a s nice as they might be, are they?" May asked, with just a trace of dis dain. "Ours are hard-working, steady young women," Vance defended, with prompt gallantry for his own f e minine people. "I am very glad to hear that," May replied "I ha v e heard that there is a good deal of flirting in theatrical companies, and of course that would take a young man s mind off of business." "The young women I emplo y don't get my mind .off my business any,'' Vance denied, laughin gly. "To change the subject just a bit, Miss Chesney', do you know why I have been so anxious all along to succeed at something?" "Of course I don't," she halfs miled. There was a much more friendly look in her e yes r.ow, which encoiiraged Vance to go on. ''Miss Chesney, I know very well that our first acquaint :mce had some features in it that were unlucky for me. But I never have been able to feel that you beli eved me guilty of being in Griscomb's employ on that awful night. I have been c ertain that, in y our h e art you knew that I rushed in to help you, not that scoundrel." "If it will give you pleasm ; e to know that I didn't think you such a wretch, then the pleasure is yours," she answered softly. She was smiling now, and seemed altogether more friendly. "Miss Chesney," murmured the boy, "if I don't do an other real thing in life, I mean to earn and to keep your good opinion. You don't mind my saying that, do you?" "How can I object to your saying that you inte nd always to a good and honorable man?" May "And if I that1 I can have your good opinion?" "Mo s t c e rtainly, Mr. Dalton." "Will you b e much more kind to me1 Mis s Chesney, and allow me to write once in a while and tell you how I aI!l getting along?" "Why-er-er-I--" "Telegram for Mr. Dalton," sang out a bell-boy, hurry ing up with a sealed yellow envelope. Just at that moment Vance wished with all his heart that telegrams could occasionally travel by freight, but he turned to her with: "You will excuse my opening this, Miss Chesney?" "Certainly." Vance took out and unfolded the telegram. Then . as he r e ad his head swam For this was the message: "Some scoundrel poured oil on ou.r trunks and set :fire on d e pot platform. Wardrobe, costumes, apparatus gone. Company up a flue! "ROBERTS." Numb e r two company ruined! Both companies smashed then probably, for it would take every dollar to meet bills But Van c e tried to hide the 1;1hock the telegram had give n him". May, however, watching his face, thought she saw some thin g wrong "No bad news, I hope," she s uggested. .... "Nothing of conseque nce," Vance replied, calmly, though he felt everything turning to ice inside of him. "I-I "Oh, I might a s well tell you, Miss Chesney," rejoined Dalton, forcing a smile. "I've just got word that my number two co_ mpan y has met ruin. Here's the telegram. You can read for yourself." "Oh, I'm sorry," cried May, in a .voice that rang with s ympathy as she read through the telegram. There were tears in her eyes as well as in Mr voice, a fact that made Vance feel that ruin could be a very pleas ant thing, after all. She moved a s if about to seat herself on the settee, after all and to invite the boy to a seat beside her. But just at this point Favrine Desquelles fl.ashed out on the piazza. She had :finis hed the bottl e of mineral water, and now there was danger in her eyes "Hello, s weetheart !" she cried, as she rushed up to Van c e and threw her plump arms around his neck. For a moment poor Vance was too staggered to do any thing. As for May Chesney, she leaped to her feet, and tben froze up! Jus t one glimp s e she took of Favrine, with her yellow hair, her handsome face, and then May Chesney turned on h e r heel. Van c e who had broken away from with an ang ry snort, sprang after May. "Miss Chesney--" he began, her side.
WE, US & CO. 23 "Doh't speak to me--don't dare!" fl.ashed May, scorn fully, over one shoulder, and then walked on to the end of the veranda and clown into the grounds. As for Vance Dalton, he stood where May had left him. It was as if horror and shame had turned him to stone. A hand touched him on the shoulder. "Say, Dalt.," murmured the girl, nervously, "I didn't see her in time--honest I didn't. I hope I didn't spoil a mash!" "I guess it w ould be better for me not to try to say anything to you-now," replied Vance, as he shook off her hand and strode away. -r Down the graveled path to the street he passed swiftly. Out into the street, and straight back from the sea he hurried on. Ruined He belieyed that his theatrical venture would go up in smoke. But that was as nothing compared with May Chesney's righteous disgust a:i;id indignation. Where had May gone? Vance turned, but he did not see her anywhere in the hotel grounds. So he strode on. He didn't know where he was going, nor did he care. All that he wanted just now was action-to get away from the late shameful scene. He felt as if he could walk fifty miles without stopping. For three or four minutes he stumbled on along the road, without the least notion of where his course was taking him. The sidewalk was shaded by great maples and arching ehus. Here the sun did not beat down upon him fiercely, and the cool 1:1hade seemed as soothing as anything could be at that time. The hotel was far behind. Vance felt that he would never go back there. Not even his plain duty to the people of his company had any force with him at that moment. "Why can't girls like that Desquelles keep to themselves a bit?" he asked himself, savagely. "Just when every thing was moving smoothly, she had to thrust herself in Called me 'sweetheart' Ugh Vance shook himself savagely. "Good Lord, look there!" gasped a man, just ahead of him, who stood under the shelter of a great tree. "What is it?" Vance asked, indifferently. Nothing could interest him just now. "Gosh I I b'lieve the auto's running away with thail girl!" gai::ped the man, pointing. Auto? Girl? Vance Dalton wheeled about as if: suclclenly stung. Then his heart seemed to leap up into his mouth. For there came the same automobile that he had seen a.t the hotel. In it, alone, was May Chesney. Plainly the. machine had gotten beyond her' control. She was standing up just behind the dash-board, shrieking, waving her arms and look ing as if about to jump to death from the flying car. Vance took just one look-there was just one thing to do. Just one thing, and almost absolute certainty of death from doing it. Like an electrified ape he scrambled up that tree. Out on one of the boughs he ran, then dropped and caught with his hands, his eyes toward the onrushing auto car. There was no time to think or plan-only one chance in a million that he could succeed in the sole plan that his mind had had time to grasp. Whizz-zz I Almost utlder the tree was the speeding auto. It wasn't really possible to calculate distances or anything. At what he hoped might be the right Vance Dalton recklessly let himself drop. Just a second too soon, plainly Instead of falling into the car, he fell i t d before the dasher. Whump Struck by that swift-moving cat; up into the air he shot, turning a somersault in the certain face of death! CHAPTER X. HOT AIR AND COLD SILENCE. With the wind all jarred out ()f him, Vance came down -somewhere! In that first instant he hardly realized where he was. Then the sense of motion, the note of a girl's changed shriek, told even his dulled mind that something had happened. .J Lying on his back, huddled up, the boy opened his eyes. He was lying on .his back in the tonneau of the flying car. "Gracious!" With that realization Vance Dalton scrambled to his feet, all unmindful of how sore and bruised he was. He clutched at the seat di;iding thern for an instant, May Chesney, clutching at the seat from the other si
\ .. 24 WE, US & CO. "Can you stop us?" sounded May's voice in his ear. do you suppose I care about a reward from your father, She had dropped into the seat beside him. when you are th e only one on ear th who ca.Ji reward -"If I can't," he replied, not looking at her, "I can steer in the single, sole way that I care about?" us safely, I think, until the gasolene gives out." "I-I reward you? How?" she panted. B:ut now he found out what ailed the speed lever. "By. your friendship, Miss Chesney! That' s the one A moment's patient effort, and he brought the great car thing I care about .when everything else is going from me!" to a gradual stop. "Oh, no," she replied, shaking her head, smiling coldly "Thank heaven-and you!" broke feverishly from the and yet showing pain in her sweet eyes, "we couldn t be girl' s lips. exactly frienfis-you and I!" Then, as if without thinking, she leaped to the ground, "And why not?" demanded wounded Vance. s taggered to the nearest tree and caught at it. "Why, you see, Mr. Dalton, our interests-and our asVance was after her in a flying leap. sociates-are so widely differebt." H e put one arm around her slim waist now, fearlessly, "You mean that you don't care to hav,e anything to do and s teadied her as she swayed. with me because I'm a theatrical manager in a small way?'' "Don't faint-there's no danger now," he urged, prache insisted. "Oh, well, I can throw that business over. tically There are other ways of earning a living." With a shuddering quiver, May Chesney recovbred her "You and I know different kinds of people," she murgrip on herself. mured. "You and I don't-don't seem to like the &ame "Thank you/' she murmured. "I'm not going to faint. kinds of people." I'm strong again now." "See here, Miss Chesney," challenged Vance, with blunt Vance would have given worlds to keep his arm a;round directness, "are you thinking of that silly girl in my com ber waist, but he felt that her tone was a command to do pany-poor, foolish Deiiquelles, and that idiotic scene at nothing of the sort. the hotel ?" So he stepped back, standing in front of her, looking "Idiotic?" jeered May. "Romantic and pathetic, rather, eagerly at her pale face. wasn't it?" "You are very brave-fearless, as a man should be," "Oh, hang it alf," blurted Vance impatiently, "you simshe murmured. ply don't understand people like that foolish, badly "Then, as a man should be, we won't talk about it," wrought up soubrette.'' smiled Dalton, rather stiffly. "But how did it all hap"You seem to understand them very well," challenged pen?" May, coldly. "You seem to be on the best of terms with "I thought I could run the car alone," she confessed. such people." That tone told Vance all he needed to know. "It wasn't my fault," Vance replied bitterly. T f en, May, in her mad l;aste to get away from the Cliffmere, with a sudden twinge of shame, and flushil,lg, he cried: had looked in vain for her chauffeur, and' then had tried "No, no! I'm not going to hide behind Desquelles' s to run the car unaided. skirts and throw mud on them. She' s probably a poor, "She must ca.re, then !" thought the boy, with a thrill lmhappy girl, at best." of joy; "You sympathlze with her?" cried May. May Jooked up at him, with a queer, cold smile. "Much more than I'd dare to blame her," Vance, "If you'll kindly run the car in tO the edge of the sidepromptly. walk, and leave it there," she proposed, "I shall be able "Just as I thought," answered the girl coldly, "Good to walk back to the hotel-alone." morning, Mr Dalton." "Why, why can't I drive you back in the car?" Vance "Then you refu se--" asked, wistfully. "I prefer to walk back to the hotel alone." "Enter that car agairi ?" questioned the girl, shaking ,May I May!" cried Mr. Chesney, who had come upon her head. "Oh, no-, I couldn't do that-not just yet, anythem unawares. way." He rushed up to her, throwing both arms a.round her "Then you'll let me walk back to the hotel with you, shoulders. won't you?" "I Just reached the hotel on foot," he cried. "I heard "I-I would rather you didn't," she replied, coloring you'd gone away alone in the car, and hurried down to and looking uneasy. the street. Then a woman told me she had seen you alone, Then, seeing the pained look in bis strong, brave young and that the car seemed to be running away with you. face, she put out one hand, quickly. Thank goodness you're sa.fe, child. But is this--" "Don't think me ungrateful, Mr. Dalton?" she begged. He turned upon our hero, a light of recognition in the "I am grateful, indeed-as grateful as I know how to be. man's eyes. And my father will see that you are suitably rewarded "Vance Dalton, quite at your service," replied the boy, for the splendid thing that you did." straightening up. "Rewarded I" gasped Vance, insulted. "Miss May, what "The car did run away, papa, and he stopped it and
WE, US & CO. saved cried May, a catch in her voice. Then, hurriedworth anything at such a time," the young manager rely, she told it all. :fleeted. "Good gracious, boy, you must carry your nerve a.round in your pocket with you!" gasped Chesney. "Climbed a tree like a fl.ash and dropped into the car as it went by. Good Lord!" Plainly enough Mr. Chesney was utterly staggered by what he had heard. Yet, as he got his second wind, he reached out and grasped the young manager's hand. "Dalton," he breathed, fervently, "it's quite plain that we misjudged you altogether. At least I did. As for May, she always stood up for you. Yes, you did, child"-as May ?Dade a movement to check him. "Well, now, let's all get back into the car and ride back to the hotel for a jolly good pow-wow! Vance glanced at May, but she looked over his shoulder, then turned as if to follow her father to the auto car. But she turned, looked back at the crestfallen boy, and said: "Thank you. Good-by!" Vance lifted his hat, standing stock-still. He looked cool; as a matter of fact, he felt frozen. "Good-by," he repeated. "Dalton; aren't you coming with us?" called back Chesney, had halted beside the car. '.'But of course you are!" ."I-I--" stammered Dalton. "Your daughter-I guess I'd better not." Mr. Chesney wheeled squarely about, looking from one to the other. 1 But May had her head high in the air, and from her the man took his cue. "Oh, all right," sang back Chesney. "But Dalton, you haven't heard quite the last from me. You can look for a pretty handsome check." "Keep your check!" Vance retorted, crossly. "If you send me one I'll tear it up." With that he turned and strode fiercely away . He heard the toot of the horn as Chesney started the machine toward the hotel. CHAPTER XI. THE ORASH OF DISASTER. for Vance, he didn't know where he ;.vent during the next hour. He cared much less. But at last a sense of duty crept in on him. Though the heavens fell, he had his people to think of. Just at the moment when it seemed as if the whole fabric of his enterprise must crumble he must be most alert to do all he could to fend off disaster. So, sighing, he turned and made his way back across the country to the Cliffmere "I mus t tell Sam, and get his advice, if any advice is But the first person he met on the hotel veranda was Mr Chesney. "See here, Dalton," demanded that gentleman, curious ly, "what's up between you and my daughter?" "A twenty-foot board fence," returned the boy, smiling bitterly. "What's the trouble?" "I can't explain, sir." "What my girl, then?" ''Nothing at all," said the boy. "She's all right." "Then what ails you?" "Oh, I'm in a bit of trouble, I suppose," Vance admitted. "Not with the--" Chesney hesitated, awkwardly. "With the law?" Vance "Was that what you meant to say?" "Well, something of that sort," Chesney admitted. "No; Pm not in the slightest trouble with the law, thank you." "Then what is it, Dalton?" "Oh, I don't care to discuss it, sir?" "Is it .a business difficulty?" demanded the man, looking searchingly at the boy, and hauling out a check-book. "If it's a money trouble, Dalton, I can help, and I've got the disposition, too." "No ;it's nothing you can help sir-thank you." "But I'd like to understand this all," cried May's father. "The girl is as stubborn as you are. She won't tell me a blessed word." "There's no reason why she should, Mr. Chesney." "Well, of all the fools, you two' take the prize!" blurted Chesney. . "You can say that of if you want to, sir, but as to Miss May--" "You're not going to allow me to blame my own child, eh?" demanded Chesney, with a grin. "I'd rather you didn't sir, when I'm around." "Then you think May is all right, do you?" quizzed her father. "All right?" echoed Vance. "Of course she 1s !" He looked shocked at the thought of any other idea. "Oh, well, keep your own !lotion, then," laughed Chesney. "As I'm the child's father, I !mow well enough that she can be a little crank, once in a while, just like any other human being." "I'd rather not listen to that kind of talk, Mr. Chesney," retorted Vance, coloring. "It doesn't sound just respect ful, even if you are her father." Vance turned to go, but caught him by the shoulders. "Are you dead sure, Dalton, that I can't help you in any way?" "Quite sure, sir." "Let me know, if you change your 1mind," begged Chesm:y, and then let the boy go.
26 WE, US & CO. Seeing Chesney step inside, Vance remained on the and recklessly on his own defense . "My vaudeville com veranda. pany supplies people with fun and nonsense to rest their It served as well as any other place to walk and think. brains with when they're tired out or bored Your father's Should he change his mind !J.nd go to Mr. Chesney? hotel supplies soft beds for tired people to rest their bones But the words stuck in his throat, even as he put the on. Or his djning-room feeds them when they're hungry." question to himself. "I don't care to hear you compare my father's business "Telegram for Mr. Dalton!" cried a bell -boy. with the theatrical," cried May, resentfully. Van .ce tore open the envelope. "vVell?" he asked, wickedly. "Shall we stop comparing It was another wire from Ted, ,who demanded: two kinds of business that don't seem to be---er-any better "Why no word from you what to do? Can't give show. than they ought to be?" Company stranded. Can't even get out of town. Send The pallor in May's face had given way to a deep red orders or telegraph money." flush. "Telegraph money to get number two out of a hole?" "You-you have been rather shocking," she quivered. smi led the boy, bitterly. "And here I am, after getting "All my fault, then, and I suppose I must apologize," that company Rtarted, 'vith about eight dollars to pull me cried Ya.nee. "But do you blame me for growing warm through to Saturday!" when you tell me that we can't be friends simply because Again he caught sight of Mr. Chesney, and once more our !iv.es are so very different?" he felt tempted to speak to that gentleman "All I think," answered the girl, coldly, "is that it is "Oh, I can't do it!" groaned the boy. "It's no use. time for us to finish our talk for good and all." There are some things that are worse even than death!" "You'll at least give me your hand for an instant, won't He looked up to find May Chesney coming his way. you?" the boy questioned. She had not seen him yet, and Vance, stepping back, May hesitated kept out of her sight until she was directly opposite him. Then, with a stiff gesture, she held out her right hancl. Then, catching 'Sight of our hero, she paled, half turned It was so icily done that Vance's first idea was to rca nd looked as if she flee down the veranda fuse to take her hand. "Don't go without a word," begged the boy. But he instantly realized how much that would put him "What is that word to be?" she asked, looking him fulli in the wrong. in the eyes and not encouragingly. Besides, he honestly wanted to hold that little hand for "It needn't be anything, unless you're willing to hear," a sec ond or two, and all the more so if it was to be the Vance retorted, with a sudden flash of spirit. last time in his life that he could have that priYilege "There's nothing that I care to hear," she said, slowly. "Let me go, won't you, please?" she demanded, suddenly "Then you are not obliged to listen, Miss Chesney. "Hush, please," Vance rejoined, till holding her hand. Goodmorning!" "Look over there." It was he who turned to go away this time, but May With his other hand he pointed to two men who were caught at his sleeve. meeting on the lawn just past the end of the veran
WE, US & CO. He still held to her hand "I don't feel that I'm even with the boy now," grah'J "Why?" May asked. Griscomb "Of course, it was a crazy notion of mine 1.0 "I think you may learn something worth knowing try to carry Miss Caesney off in the hotel. Still, if I hai l "I don't want to go." gotten away with her in the night, she'd have had to marry "Oh, I wish you would me before she could go home again. So that might barn Vance took a step in the desired d i rection, tugging with turned out well, if that confounded kid hadn't hutted i n gentle insistence at her hand. just as he did. Sorry" I didn't qrill him through when I "I don't want to go near Griscomb," she quivered. pulled the trigger on him." "Please!" Quivering Vance had heard enough-all he nee
28 WE, US & CO. "How-how much will s ettle the bill?" asked Griscomb, e agerl y "Let me s ee," she reflected. "You stole three hundred dollar s from him. It. ought to take five hundred more to make good what his company los t by having their trunks burned. To make sure, we'll say an even thousand for the loss from both outragE)s." Griscomb began to look easier. "For the suffering caused by the bullet wound1 and being knocked senseless on that other occasion," she went on, coolly "well-let us see--another thousand would be about tight, wouldn't it?" "Do you suppose I carry a thousand dollar s with Lle ?" he demanded, trying to bluster. "'l'wo thousand," May corrected, coolly "It will take time to raise a.II that money." "No, it won't," May contradict ed, quietly. "I know s omething about large hotels. You' re s ure to find that a mount on hand in the manager 's safe. You're well acquainted here, too, and they know y our check i s good. A s you're a rich scoundrel, you' ll ha v e no t-rouble in rais ing the money. Well, why don t you s tart ? Swearing under his breath, Griscomb turned to move away. "You know what'll happen if you don' t get back prompt ly," May called warningly after him. "No, Blue-suit, you'll s tay here as a pledge of your ma s ter 's return." As for Vance half feeling himself forbidden to speak, he sat like one in a trance, though it was a happ,y kind of trance. Then back came Griscomb, with the money. May took it and counted it, th e n passed it to Vanc e "Two thou s and dollars, c orrect," she s miled. "In con-s ideration, you agree not to pro s e c ute the s e wretches?" Th e n, turning to Gri scomb, she utte r e d: "Show u s ; vhat your idea i s of fast trav el!" The y w e re gone, and Vance, after putting the money l'afel y away in an inner pocket, turned to the girl, hi s eyes glowing unspeakably. "Do you know," he demanded at last, with an effort "jus t now, just past the brink of ruin, I feel the way I did that morning when your father drove W e Us & Co. away. Som e might y noble-hearted people in the hotel, who felt w e hadn't been used right, send me a note wrapped around a big-s ized purse they'd raised to set u s straight. Why, what--" H e stopped suddenly, for the girl had tur:r;ied her face away, as jf to hide something in her eyes. "May Chesney," he demanded, "was it YOU who sent me that money?" She nodded. "You generous--" he began but words failed him. "It wasn' t anything," she s miled. "I had an uneasy notion that an injustice might have been done you. I didn't want to be too friendly with you, for I wasn't wholly sure. But at least I could see that you and your people didn't come to want througP. my doubts. It was very little to m(7-I have always had so much pin-money in m y pur s e So--" But it was her turn to pau s e for la c k of words "I can at least pay that amount back, with my mos t heartfelt thanks," proposed Vance, reaching for his pocket. "Not here, please; not now. Later in the day, if you wish," she answered, rising. "And here I am," cried Vance, s elf-reproachfully, happy that I'm forgetting poor Ted Roberts, in a fearful fix at another place. Miss May, I simply must get to the telegraph station and land about threehundred in poor I Ted's troubled hands." "I can walk down "there f ith you, can't I?" she proposed, smiling. "Will you?" That money got off to Ted with very little more dela.y. Both companie s did well after that. By the tim e that the Fall season c ame around Vance Dalton had four vaudeville companie s on the road. Yet the deepe r he went into the bus iness, the more im possible it proved i or him to s top. Two y ear s ago he openect his firs t vaudeville theatre, giv ing a continuou s show all da y and evenin g long. Alread y Vanc e Dalton has a c h ai n of continuous per formance vaud e vill e theatre s in s e veral of our large cities. Right after his first theatre was opened, he askeq. May Chesney to him That s he did ju s t after the second theatre was started. Ted Roberts married Flo s sie Delavan ju s t after he was appointed manager of one of Vance 's theatres. Dave wedded Clara on the day that he took charge of another of Vance's theatres. Mrs. Delavan? She's Mrs. Slick, now, and Sam is in Vance 's main office. THE END. A great s tor y of fighting in the Philippines i s coming next! Lieut. J. J. Barr y has written ju s t the kind of war s tory that all American boys lov e to read. "CUT OUT FOR AN OFFICER; OR, CORPORAL TED IN THE PHILIPPINES," will be published c omplete in No. 11 of 'rhe Wide Weekly, out next week! It's full of mystery, fighting, adventure, and all the spice that goes t-0 make a really great war story! SPECIAL NOTICE: All back numbers of this weekly are always in print. If you cannot obtain them from any newsdealer, send the price in money or postage stamps by mail to FRANK TOUSEY, PUBLISHER, 24 UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK, and you will receive the copies you order by return mail.
SECRET SERVICE OLD A.ND YOUNG KING BRA.DY, DETECTIVES. PBICE 5 CTS. 32 PAGES. COLOBED COVEBS. ISSUED WEEKLY LA'l'.EST ISSUES: 814 The Bradys and "Bullion Bill ; or, The Mystery of Mill No. 13. 315 The Bradys In Joliet; or, The Strange Case of Jeweler James. 816 The Bradys and "Roaring Rube" ; or, Rounding up the "Terror" of Ten Mlle Creek. 317 lrhe Bradys and the Boss of Broad Street; or, The Case of the "King of the Curb." 318 The Bradys Desert Trail ; or, Lost on the Deadman's Run. 819 The Bradys and the Opium Syndicate ; or, After the "Ma.rquls" of Mott Street. 320 The Bradys and "General Jinks"; or, After the Cara crooks of the "Katy Flyer." 321 l,'he Bradys and the Man With the Barrel; or, Working for the Prince of Wall Street. 322 The Bradys and ''Bedrock Bill" ; or, The "Deadmen" from Dead wood. 323 The Bradys and the "King" of Chicago; or, The 111an Who Cor-nered Corn. 324 The Bradys and Admiral Brown; or, Working for the United States Navy. 325 The B1adys and "Madame Millions" ; or, 'l'he Case of the Wail Street Queen. 326 The Bradys and the "Prince" of Pekin ; or, Called on a Chinese Clew. 327 The Bradys Death; or, Trapped by a Clever Woman. 328 The Bradys' Rio Grande Raid; or, Hot Work >1t Dadmaus Bend. 329 The Bradys' Madhouse Mystery ; or, The Search for Madame Montford . 330 The Bradys and the Swamp Rats; or, After. the Georgia Moon-shiners. 331 The Bradys and "Handsome Hal" ; or, Dupmg the Duke of Da-kota. h "T .. f 332 The Bradys and the Mad Financier ; or, Tra1 mg t e error o Wall Street. 333 The Bradys anq the Joplin Jays; or, Three "Ba3 The Bradys and "Dr. Doo -Da-Da y ; or, The Man Who was Lost on Mott Street. 354 The Bradys' Tombstone "Terror" ; or, After the Arizona Mine Wreckeu. 351) The Bradys and the Witch Doctor; or, Mysterious Work in !Sew Orleans. 356 The Bradys and Aldermp.n Brown ; or, After the Grafters of Greenviiie. 357 The Bradys in "Little Pekin" ; or, The Case of the Chinese Gold King. 358 The Bradys and the Boston Special; or, '!'he !\Jan \\'ho was Miss ing from Wall Street. 359 The Bradys and the Death Club; or, The Secret llan
.. Book s T ell You These Everything! .! COMPLETE SET IS A REGULAR ENCYCLOPEDIA! Each book co nsists of sixty-four pages, printed on good pape r in clea r type and neatly bound in an attracti ve, illustrated eover. Most of t h e books are ala o profusely illustrated, and all of the subjects treate a up o n are exp l ained in suc h a simple manner that any child can t horoug'hl y understand them. Loo k o ve r t h e list as classified and see if you want t o k now anything abo u t the men t ioned. THESE BOOKS A R E F O R SALE BY ALL NEWSDEALERS O R WILL BE SENT B Y MAIL T O A N Y ADDRESS FROM T H I S OFFICE ON RECEIPT OF PRICE TEN OEN.rs EACH, OR ANY THREE BOOKS" FOR TWENTY-FI V E CENTS. POSTAG E STAM P S TAKEN THE SAME AS MONEY. Address FRANK TOUSEY, P ub lishe r 24 U n i on Sq uare, N.Y. MESMERISM. No. 81. HOW TO MESMERIZE.-Contain ing the most ap prove d meth ods of mesmerism; also how to cure a.II kinds of d i seases by anima l magnet i sm, or, magn e tic healing. By Prof. Leo H u g o Koc h, A C S., author of "How to Hypnotize," etc. PALMISTRY. No. 82. HOW TO D O PALMIS'.rRY.-Containing the most ap prove d methods of reading the lin e s on the h a nd, t o g ethe r with a full exp l a nati on of the i r meaning Al so e x pl a inin g phrenology, and the k ey fo r telli ng character by the bumps on the head B y Leo Hugo Koc h, A C S F u lly i llu strated. HYPNOTISM. No. 83 HOW TO HYPNOTIZE.-Contain,ing valuab l e and i n structive in for m atio n regard i ng the science of hypnoti sm. A l so expl a i nin g t h e most appr oved methods whi c h a r e e mployed by th.e lead i ng h ypnot ists o f the world By Leo Hugo Koch, A C.S. SPORTING No. 2,1. HOW TO HUNT AND FISH.-The mo s t complete hunting a nd fishing guide eve r publi s hed It cont ain s full in struction s about guns, hunting dogs, tra ps, trapping and fishing, toget h e r with d escriptions of game and fish. No. 26 HOW T O ROW, SAIL AND BUILD A BOAT.-Fully illus t rated Ever y boy shou l d know how to row D nd sail a boa t. Full i n stiuct i ons are given in this little b ook t og ethe r wi t h instructions o n swimm ing and rid ing, companion s'ports to boating. No. 47. H O W 'l' O BREAK, RIDE AND DRIVE A HORSE. A comp lete t r e a t i se o n the h orse D esc ribing the most useful hors e s for b u s in es s, t h e best ho r ses for the road; a l so valuable recipes foi: diseas e s pecc1Iia r to t h e h orse No. 48. HOW '1' 0 BUILD AND SAIL CANOES.-A handy bo o k fo r boys co ntaining fu ll directions for constructing cano es and t he mos t pop ular manner o f s a iling them. F u lly ill ustr ated. C Stansfi e ld Hick s FORTUNE T ELLING. No. 1. N APOLEON'S ORACULUM AND DREAM BOOK. Containin g the great o r acle of human destiny; also the true me an ing of a lmos t any kind of dreams, togeth e r with charms, ceremonies, and c u ri ou s games of cards A compl ete book No, 2 3. H O W TO EXPL A I N DREAi\IS.-Everybody dreams, from t he littl e c h ild to the ag e d man and woman This little book gives t h e exp lanation to all kinds of dre am s together with lucky and unluck y days, and "Napol eon's Orac ulum," the book of fate. N o 2 8. HOW TO TE!JL FORTUNES.-Eve ryone is desirous of knowi ng wh a t h i s future li fe will bring forth wheth e r happiness or miser y w ealth o r poverty. You can t ell by a g l ance at thi s lit t le book Buy o ne andbe conv i nced. Tell your own fortune. Tell the fortu n e of yo u r fri e nds No. 76 HOW TO '.rELL FORTUNES BY THE HAND. Containi ng rul e s for telling fortune s by th e aid of lin e s of the hand, or t he 'secret of p a l mistry. Al s o the secr e t of telling future events by aid of m oles, marks scars, etc. Illustrated. B y A A n derson. ATHLETIC No. 6. HOW T O BECO;\IE AN ATHLETE.-Giving fu ll in struction for tlie use of dumb bells, India n clubs, paralle l bars, horizon tal bars an
THE STAGE. No. 41. THE BOYS OF NEW YORK END MEN'S JOKE BOOK.-Contain}ng a great variety of the latest Jokes u se d by the most famous end men. No amateur minstrels is complete without this wonderful little book. No. 42 THE BOYS OF NEW YORK STUMP SPEAKER a varied asso,rtD;lent of :;tump speeches, Negro, Dutch and Irish. Also end m ens Jokes. Just the thing for home amuse ment and amateur shows. No. 45. THE BOYS OF NEW YORK MINSTREL GUIDE AND JOKl!J BOOK-Something new and very instructive. Every boy should obtain this book as it contains full instructions for or ganizin g an amateur minstrel troupe. No. 65. MULDOON'S JOKES.-This is one of the most original jok e books ever published, and it is brimful of wit and humor. It contaiDs a large collection of songs, jokes, conundrums, etc., of Terrence Muldoon, the great wit, humorist, and practical joker of the day. Every boy who can enjoy a good substantial joke should obtain a copy immediately No. 79. HOW TO BECOl\I'E AN ACTOR.-Containing com plete instructions how to make up for various characters on the stage; together with the duties of the Stage Manager, Prompter Scenic Artist and Property Man. By a prominent &tage Manager'. No. 80. GUS Wil1LIA1\IS' JOKE BOOK-Containing the lat est jokes, anecdotes and funny stories of this world-renowned and ever popular dialect, French dialect, Yankee and Irish dialect pieces, together piled and writtt'n by Lu Senarens, author of "How to Become a with many standard readin gs. West Point Military Cadet." PRICE 10 CENTS-EACH, OR 3 FOR 25 CENTS. Address FRANK TOUSEY. Publisher, 24 Union Square, New York..
Fame and Fortune Weekly STORIES OF BOYS WHO MAKE MONEY By. A SELF-MADE MAN .. J2 P ages of Reading Matter Handsome Colored Covers A NEW ONE ISSUED EVERY FRIDAY .. PRIOE fi GENTS A OOPY This Weekly contains interesting stories of smart boys, who win fame and fortune by t heir a _bility to take advantage of passing opportunities. Some of these stories are founded on true incidents in the lives of our most successful self-made men, and show how a boy of pluck, perseverance and brains c a n become famous and wealthy. Every one of this series contains a good moral tone which makes "Fame and Fortune Weekly" a for the home, although each number is replete with exciting adventures. The stories are the very best obtainable, the ill ustrations are by expert arti3ts. and every effort is constantly being made to make it the best weekly on the news stand s Tell your friends about it. ALREADY PUBLISHED. 1 A L ucky Deal; or, 'l'he Cutest Boy in Wall Street. 2 Born to Good Luck; or, The Boy Who Succeeded 3 A Corner in Corn; or, How a Chicago Boy Did the Trick 4 A Game of Chance; or, The Boy Who Won Out. 6 Hard to Beat; or, The Cleverest Boy in Wall Street. 6 Building a Railroad; or, The Young Contractors of Lake" view. 7 Winning His Way; or, The Youngest Editor in Green River. r 8 The Wheel of Fortune; o r, The Record of a Self-Made Boy 9 Nip and Tuck; or, The Young Brokers of Wall Street. 10 A Copper Harvest; o r, The Boys WhoWorked a Deserted Mine 11 A Lucky Penny; or, The Fortunes of a Boston Boy. 12 A Diamond Rough; or, A Brave Boys Start In Life. 13 Baiting the Bears; or, The Nerviest Boy in Wall Street. 14 A Gold Brick; o r The Boy Who Could Not be Downed 15 A Streal\ of Luck; or, .The Boy Who Feathered His N est is A Good Thing; or, The Boy Who Made a Fortune. 17 King of the Market; o r The Youngest Trader in Wall Street. 18 Pure Grit; or, One Boy in a Thousand. 19 A Rise in Life; or, The Career of a Factory Boy. 20 A Barrel of Money; or, A Bright Boy in Wall Street . 2 1 All to the Good ; or, From Call Boy to Manager. 22 How He Got There; or, The Pluckiest Bo y of Them All. 23 Bound to Win; or, The Boy Who Got Ric h. 24 Pushing It Through; or, The Fate of a Lucky Boy. 25 A Born Speculator; or, the Young Sphinx of Wall Street. 1 26 The Way to Success; or, The Boy Who Got There. 27 Struck Oil; or, The Boy Who Made a Million. 28 A Golden Risk; o.-, The Young Miners o f Della Cruz. 29 A Sure Winner; or, The Boy Who Went Out W ith a Circus. 30 Golden Fleec e; or, The Boy Brokers of Wall Street. 31 A Mad Cap Scheme; or, The Boy Treasure Hunters of Cocos Island. 32 Adrift o n the World; or, Working His Way to Fortune. 33 Playing to Win; or, The Foxiest Boy in Wall Street. 34 Tatters; or, A Boy from the Slums. 35 A Young Monte Cristo; or, The Richest Boy in the World. 36 Won by Pluck; o r, The Boy s Who Rat?a Railroad. 37 Beating the Brokers; or, The Boy Who "Couldn't be 38 A Rolling Stone; or, The Brightest Boy .on Record. 39 Never Say Die; or, The Young Surveyor or Happy Valley 40 Almost a Man; or, Winning His Way to the Top. For sale by all newsdealers, or will be sent to any address o n r e c eipt of price 5 cents per copy in money or postage stamps, by FRANK TOUSEY, P ublisher, 24 Union Square, New York. IF YOU WANT ANY BACK NUMBERS of our Libraries and c anno t procure them from newsdealers, they can be obtained from this office direct. Cut out and fill Jn the following Order Blank and send it to us with the price of the books you want and we will send them to you by return mail. POS'rAGE S TAMP S 'l'HE S AME AS MQNEY 1 FRANK TOUSEY, Pub l isher, 24 Union Sq u are, New York. ..................... 1 90 DEAR Srn Enc1osed find ..... cents for which pl ease send me: .... copies of WOTIK AND WIN, Nos .................................................. " 'THE AWAKE WEEKLY, Nos ........................................... : ... " WILD WEST WEEKLY Nos ............. . ................... ................. " " THE LIBERTY BOYS OF '76, Nos ............................ ............ .. PLUCK AND LUCK, Nos ............................................. SECRET SERVICE NOS . . . ....................................................... FAME AND FORTUNE WEEKLY Nos ................................................ .. " Ten-Cent Hand Books, Nos . . ......... . .................................. Nnme ........................ Street an d N o .. ......... T own ......... State .... .
WIDE AWAKE WEEKLY A COMPLETE S,'ORY EVERY 'WEEK Price 5 Cents BY THE BEST AUTHORS ... HANDSOME ILLUSTRATED COVERS --32= PAGES OP READING MATTER ---ISSUED EVERY FRIDAY -.. Price 5 Cents Interesting Stories of Advent.are in All Parts of the World TAKE NOTICE! .._ This handsome weekly con tains inte nsel y intere sting stories of ad venture on a grea t variety o f sub j ects Each number is replete with rousing sit uation s and liveiy incident s The heroes are bright, manly fe llows, who overcome all obstacles b y shee r force of brains and grit and win well merited s uccess. W e hav e sec uriod a staff of new author;;, who write th ese sto ries in a manner which will b e a source of p l eas u re and profit to the reader. E