Slicker than silk, or, The smoothest boy alive

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Slicker than silk, or, The smoothest boy alive

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Slicker than silk, or, The smoothest boy alive
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Wide awake weekly
Roy, Rob
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New York
Frank Tousey Publisher
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1 online resource (pages)


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Dime novels. (lcsh)
Fire fighters -- Fiction. (lcsh)
serial ( sobekcm )

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University of South Florida
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University of South Florida
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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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032047511 ( ALEPH )
864197501 ( OCLC )
W20-00016 ( USF DOI )
w20.16 ( USF Handle )

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A-BOMPrftE STORY .... ''.._.. ..J,/ Then _tlle long-suffering farmers lost p atience. "Tar and feather him! Lynch him!" the:y:_ roared, and rushed in for vengeance. Flop! Ted whirled, sitting with his back to the galloping horse's hea,d. "Sorry to leave you!" Ted cried, politely. I


I WIDE AW AKE WEEKLY ' A CO/fl'PLETE '5'T07lY'EVERY WEEK. l saued Bubacrlption. f 2.50 per t1ear. Entered according to A.ct of Oongreas, in the 11ear 19015, in. the ofllce of the of Con.ore,, :WaaMn.g t on., D o., by Frank T o usey, PubHsher, 24 Un.i on. Square, New Y ork. No. 16. NEW YORK, AUGUST 3, 1906. P RICE 5 CENTS. SLICKER _'THAN SILK O R I THE SMOOTHEST BOY ALIVE ,; By ROB ROY CHAPTE R I. S I L K ISN'T S L IC K A T ALL WITH THAT BOY!" 1 "Bobo, you're a ll I have l eft in t h e world Thank goodn ess, they can't get you I" Charles Dromus, late part pro priet o r o f the Unparal leled Dromus Hippodr o me, sat the stone wall before the little countryhotel. In one ha.nd, by a sing le long bridle rein, he held teth ered the only thing that he owned in the wor ld. Bobo was a magnificent-look i ng a nimal-a t rue, beautiful circ u s horse. . Everything belonging to the show ha d been attached by creditors. Dromus's partne r t h e r ea l h ea d of the-"sho w," ha.d skipped at the first si gn o f tro ub l e Nothi n g of the firm's property was left. "But you're mine, Bobo, beca use you belonged to me personally, and not to t h e firm," poor, mi l d-ma n nered little Dromus explained. He to the horse as if he k ne w what he was say ing. Curiously enough, the people in this little town of Prodsburg believed, for the most part, that Dromus's pri vate property was not liab l e for the debts of the late firm: But Dollner, the landlord at the Prodsburg House, was even now in court across the str eet, with a notion in his head that he could attach that handsome and intelligent horse, Bobo. "Why, I of course you ean attach," explained Justice Ferrall. "That is, if the circus fellow owes you more than twenty dollars." "He owes me seventy-eight dollars and fifty cents returned Dollner, warmly. "Then, wait until I draw up the papers, and we'll make out that complaint in a hurry," nodded the judge, reach ing for his spectacles. "Dawkins," to the Constable; "you stay handy until I draw up the writ for you to serve." The little country court had adjourned a half an hgur ago. But a boy who had drifted into court simply because the courtroom was a cool, shaded place still remained. Ted Torrant-no home, no near relatives or friends, no job and possessing mighty little money, had just waked up out' of an undisturbed nap. "Going to put a writ on the poor circus man's horse, ed ?" wondered the boy, with a start. "Whew! It's a shame to clean a fellow out of his last beiongings like that. But, Ted Tarrant-attention!" All of a sudden boy had waked up very thoroughly No longer was there anything in the least drowsy or far-away about him For Ted was out in the world to get along-somehow. Heretofore, by being too slow, he had not done well. "This is the one chance I've seen in a year I" fl.ashed the boy. He did not run, but slouched out of the courtroom as if he had jus t tired of s taying there longer. He was not exactly a hand some boy, this Ted, but he had a good and honest look in his face His hair was of a dark brown, eyes, soft brown, his face between ruddy and olive


SLICKER 'l'HAN SILK. ---He looked like seventeen years of age, which was a f e w I bills into the a s tonished fellow s hand and almost snatch montbs more than he could rightly claim. iu g away the receipt. Since his fourteenth year Ted had been an orphan. "But-'-hold on!" Brought up i n a small manufacturing town, he had "Don't be uneasy," said Ted, reassuringly; "Vll see you found himself forced to go further afield and become a through this somehow, olcl fellow. If I make any good farmer's boy. money on this deal you'll get some of it to add to that During the last year he had saved a little money. Simtwenty-five. You wouldn't have got a cent th9 other way. ply by wearing his old clothes, now outworn, he had Sh! Here they come!" l aid by thirty dollars D o lln e r J looking very happy, and Dawkins, looking ver y But 'l'ed had tired of farming., important, came down from the courtroom together. He was out to see the world now and to choke a living Three farmers who had been standing together at the out of it. c urb a littkway up the street now joined the pair from "Work don't pay," Ted had grunted to himself. "I've been working like an Italian-and see what I've got out of it. There must be some easier way of getting along than doing downright hard work. I'm going to find that way. A week gone. By s leepin g out of aoors in thi s fine s u mme r weather, and by buying the c ommonest kind of food, Ted Tarrant had kept all of his capi ta l but two dollars Once o u t of the courtroom, T e d darted down the s in g le flight of stairs, and sped across the to where D!io mus sat looking moodily around him. "Say, get a move on!" whispered T ed. "Take out your fountain pen and a piece of paper and wr ite a s wift bill of sale, passing that horse of yours to me. My name is Edward Tarrant. Make the price twenty-five dollars, as that is the biggest amount I can pay." Dromu s the weak -eyed and s low-minded-the man who had been the "good thing" in the l ate circus partner s hip, l ooked up with a su dd en start. "What you talk in g about, sonny? Mind wandering?" "Hurry!" urged T ed, gla n cing over one shoulder at the l ittl e business block opposite in which the court room was situat ed "Hus tl e! Dolln e r, the hot e l man has an at tachment out aga in st your horse." "But the horse is mine. It didn'.t bel ong to the firm ." "That makes no difference. Creditor s can take the property of either memb e r of a firm Th e plain question is, do you want to be cleaned out without a cent, or do you want to have twenty -five doll a r s in your pocket?" "II--" "Then write out the bill of sale, setting the price at twenty-five dollars," brok e in Ted Tarrant, decisively. "But--" "Man, I'm trying to save you By the time that slowfooted Constable gets downstairs hi s paper you'll be without your horse or a cent of money, either Quick! Write as I dictate." Though he moved as in a trance, Dromu s wrote: "For twenty-five dollars, p aid in hand this dat e I sell to Edward Tarrant my horse Bobo. CHARLES DROMus." "Here's the twen ty five!" throb b e d Ted, forcing the the courtroom These farmers were named Cramer, Johnson and Petty. rrhey were ordinary, middle-aged farmers, and honest enoug h, as the world goes. But these three men were all lovers of horse-flesh. They had got wind that, Dollner intended to attach the horse and they were on hand to see whether they cou ld pick up a horse away b e low market value. "Stand yam gro und don t let 'em bluff you any," urged Ted Don t be scar e d, Mr Dromus Let me do the talking if it gets thick." Dromus still looked on l ike one d azed. He didn't fully realiz e yet that he had parted with that handsome anima l though he did rea lize that under one hand in a pocket he now held twenty-five dollars where a moment before he had held nothing The pa : rty of five crossed the street Constab l e Dawkin s reached out for Bobo's bridle, which Ted now held. "Dromus," D awkins began, "I'm sorry to say that l've got to take the horse." "What have you got to do with this horse, officer?" Ted broke in "What have you g ot to do with it, either, young man?". the Constable shot back a.t our hero. But Ted, who had j er ked back, still keeping the bridle out of his shot a b 'ombs hell into the legal camp by declaring : I have bought the horse and hold the bill of sale!" '"Bi ll of sale?" snorted Dawkin s "Go away! The horse isn t Dromus's to sell. The court has attached it." "I haven't seen the court doing any attaching," ven t ured Ted, cooll y as he fastened the nigh end of, the bridl e to the bit ring. "Why, I've got the writ right h e re in my hand," flustered Dawkin s flourishing his paper. "Oh, then you mean you were just going to attach the hor se?" Ted answered, sweetly. "That's a different thing, you know. That writ gives you the right to attach Dro mus's horse-but Dromus hasn't got any horse." "Oh, stop your clatt er," ord e r e d the Constable, angrily. "I'm going to take the horse, anyway "Does that wri t give you an y right to take my horse?" asked T ed, firmly, his eyes glinting out a warning "If it's your horse, young man, prove it." t


SLICKER THAN SILK. 3 "Easily, by the bill of sale,'' returned Torrant, :fl.ashing after the running man, "by that time Dromus will the receipt that had just given him. "That paper be in another State if he keeps on running." was made ()Ut and signed, and the money paid, be. fore you "Can't you llSeless men do nothing?" screamed Mrs. got busy for the court. You can't touch my horse, ConDromus. stable, and if you try it there's going to be trouble." Stiffly the men shook their heads. Mrs. Dromus did "Run the boy in now and settle about the horse afternot even look at the horse. Plainly she did not know that wards;" -qrged Dollner, gruffly. it had ever belonged to her husband. "Oh, that's your advice, is it?" :fl.ashed Ted, wheeling "Then I'll catch the wretch myself," she panted, and upon the hotel landlord. "Now, see here, all of you It's off down the street she fled after the man, who was just easy enough to run me in, and you can take the horse now turning a corner in the distance. over. But, by_ the Lord Harry! you'll have a reckoning "I want either that horse or the money," growled Doll when you get through. Any outrage that is sprung on me ner to the justice. "Ferrall, what chance have I of get will have to be settled with the lawyer hired by the people ting that horse?" who are back of me. Now, are any of you going to take "None on earth that I can see-outside of court," reme for a simple, out-of-luck colW'.ltry boy that you can plied the jus tice. bluff all you please? Officer, this is my horse, and I';n "Then I'm dished?" able to prove property. Never mind who I bought it for. "I don t want to decide out of court," responded the I'm going to get on the horse now and ride it away wlie n justice, cautiously; "but I'm just a bit afraid you were a I please. The fellow JVho tries to stop me, without jus t half an hour too slow, Dollner." Qause, is going to have some mighty tough law to wrestle Ted, sitting coolly by on Bobo, understood the drift of with, and stands to lose some of his property thiough what was passing. damage suits. Now! Anybody want to stop me?" He smiled pleasantly as Dollner looked around with a. red looked inquiringly around. g lare. As he did so he callght sight of Justice Ferrall, stand "I'm awfully sorry to interfere with any other plans, ing a little way back, But that didn't worry our hero any gentlemen," 'red broke in, politely "But I couldn't see Up! He was on Bobo's back. a good chance for a trade s lip by. So, as you're all !:lgreed "Gentlemen, I hope you all understand that this is my that the horse is mine, I'm going off to try the beast a horse, don't you?" Lii." "I don't know about it?" began the Con stab le, growlThough Ted had no sadd le, and was mounted bareback, ingly, Then, turning: he went away down the street at as pretty a canter as a "vVhat' do you say about it, judge?" cowboy could managed. . "I never decide cases out of court," replied the justice, "Say, that boy is as slick as s ilk all right," uttered Jus-warily. "Court's adjourned for to day, I'll decide anytice Ferrall, admiringly thing you want to bring before me ,in the morning." "Huh!" gruffed Constable Dawkins "Silk isn't slick "Mr, Dromus," demanded Ted, looking at the late et all, compared with that boy. Why, he bought the horse cus man, '-'you sold me this horse, didn't you?" right out from under our noses, Dollner." "Yep," nodded the weak-eyed man, bii.t he still looked Landlord, judge, constable and three farmers walked dazed. slow l y up the path to the hotel porch. "Then I demand that purchase money, or enough of it In the meantime Ted Torrant was off, feeling as if he to settle my bill," roared Dollner. lieu made the st roke of his life. "There's tbe wretch now!" yelled a shrill female voice. "Beau ty! You're just a jim-dandy, Bobp !" gasped the A thin, micldle-agecl, wiry-looking woman, dressed in boy, as he turned the anima l down a country lane and dingy black ancl brandishing a battered old umbrella, went on at that pretty canter. "Why, Bobo, old fellow, came around the corner, caught sight of Dromus, and you're worth every cent of three hundred dollars! Three? started for him. Why, by Jove / there are people that'd be glad to give :five "My wife! Oh, Lord!" groaned Dromus, turning white hundred for you." In an instant he was streaking it down the street as The world looked brighter as Ted looked over the sunny fast as his l egs would carry him. fields from the back of that magnificent animal. "Stop that man!" shouted the angry woman, appealing "Gracious! Bobo, old fellow, that was a big stroke of to the bystanders. "He's my husband, and he deserted business to do in so few minutes. Didn't I scare those me!" people off frorri bluffing J?e, though? They took it for "By gracious, judge! That would be a good excuiie to granted that I was some stable hand authorized to buy for nab the fellow," whispered Dawkins, hoarsely, someone else. Say, Boho, I suppose I've got to sell you "No good,'' contradicted tbe country justice "You'll one of these days--,.but, ob, dear! I wish I bad money have to wait until to-morrow Then the woman can come enough so that I could keep you all the time!" into my court and get a warrant for non-support 13y Jerk! Bobo's front feet came down hard, his hind heels that time," chuckled Justice Ferrall, glancing down tbe flying up in the air at the same moment.


SLICKER THAN SILK. "You scoundrel!" gritted Ted, in anger. Now, Bobo was off like a streak of wind. But 'req Torrant, ha"iing kept his seat by sheer good luck, quickly used his strong young arms to rein the hand some brute down to a walk. Rear-up! Bobo was at his bucking tricks again. The beast was in an ugly temper, if ever an animal had been. There was ,trade in the air-no mistaking that. Ted wheeled around on his animal, looking swiftly at all three of the horse-lovers. "Gentlemen," our hero answered, promptly, "this splen did animal is in the market for anyone who'll pay a right price. What's the offer?" Then, though he looked calm enough, Ted Torrant be gan to quiver inside. It meant world's to him how his first investment turned Failing whenever it tried to bolt, the beast stood on its hind legs, threatening to go down backward on its new out. young owner. This it v.aried by a straightforward buck. Ted, without saddle, and hanging on by his knees and by one hand wound intp the animal's mane, was having a tough time in keeping his seat. "Let's see if we can't fool you?" gritted the boy. With a sudden strong jerk on the nigh line of the bridle !ed drew Bobo's head around to the left. But still Ted kept on with the tug, never letting up. So Bobo was forced to turn circle after circle, always to the left. There in the middle of the country road they went through with this circling until the horse began to wobble under the boy. "Dizzy, eli, you brute?" growled Ted, and let up on the tug at the nigh rein. Bobo, delighted to be able to stand still, stood trem bling and tamed until the dizziness passed off. "You confounded brute," ground out, exasperated Tor rant, "that bucking and rearing trick of yo. urs takes two or t11ree hundred dollars off what you'd otherwise be worth." It was a blow, but the boy was no longer eager to keep his horse And he realized that, while Bobo with a good disposi tion might be worth five hundred dollars, the brute with these mean tricks would do well to fetch a hundred anywhera. rc Not as big a deal as I thought, you ugly scoundrel !" quivered the boy. "But, I ought to get some profit out of you. Back to town, Bobo, you ugly rascal, and we'll see if anybody in Prodsburg wants you very badly." But Bobo, with his recent lesson from a firm, experi ence a hand, behaved beautifully on the way back into Prodsburg's main street. With a flourish, Ted Torrant drew up before the curb in front of the Prodsburg House Up on the porch Farmers Johnson, Cramer and Petty rose with alacrity. Down the y came to the sidewalk, chew ing straws thoughtfully and looking over the handsome animal, which, de s pite its' fast cante r, did not show the turning of a hair. "What ye going to do with your nag, son?" asked Far mer John son. "Thinking of trading, mebbe ?" CHAPTER II. TED DOES TOO WEtL TO PLEASE THE F .A,RMERS. much did you say ye gave for the. beast?" queried Johnson, curiously. "Why?" challenged Ted, promptly "We-ell, that WO'\lld give a sort of an idea how much ye ought to take." "Don't you think it," disputed Ted, promptly. Then, remembering the bluff he had made about some cne being "behind" him, he followed up with: "It wouldn't be safe for me to sell, friends, unless I made a good thing on the trade. I'd hear too quick and hard from the folks that back me in this line." "Then this is your business, is it? Hoss trading?" asked Johnson, suspiciously. "Just at present," Ted nodded, and spoke the truth. "Dunno as I wanter deal with hoss-traders, anyway," grunted Johnson. "Oh, well, I haven't asked you to," Ted came back -''Fact is, I didn't believe you'd feel like put ting out the money that it'd take to get this animal. It'll only be some swell fellow who wants real horse that'll appreciate this animal." "What's the price, anyway?" insisted Johnson, while the other two farmers looked curiously on, chewing at their straws. "I haven't really an idea yet," Ted answered, slowly. "I'll listen to offers-that's all." Johnson looked the horse over critically, and with a face that looked as if he didn't exaetly like Bobo's appear"Mebbe I'd offer ninety dollars," he hesitated. "Don't!" objected Torrant, promptly. "It wouldn't do any good." "If ye wa.nt more, mebbe ye'll get it-some day, when the hoss has et its head off," hinted the farmer. "Would ye take a hundred for the hoss ?". asked Cramer, slowly. "No," said Ted, very promptly. "It's just as I thought, gentlemen; none of you i:eally want an animal like this. You haven't any use for one, anyway. So I'm going over to the Mascot House and put up for the night." "Why don't ye stop here?" asked Farmer Petty, jerk-


SLICKER THAN SILK. ==================================:======::::======================:::::.:= ing a thumb over bis shoulder at the Prodsburg House. "That mare's worth two hundred of anybody's money," "Dollner'd use ye right." ( Johnson glowed. "Would he?" smiled 'red, quietly. "I'm afraid Dollner "I'd say about a hundred," returned Torrant, slowly might dream in the night that be had attached my horse. As a of fact he placed the mare's value at about Good afternoon, gentlemen." a hundred and fifty, and he was satisfied that she was a "Hold on a second," called Johnson after him. safe driver at any time. But Ted rode on at a canter, as if he had not heard. "Give ye the mare and seventy-five to boot for your "If Johnson, or any of the rest of 'em, really want me, beast," proposed Johnson . they'll look me up at the hotel this evening," wisely ut"No use," sighed Ted, though he was jumping inwardtered the boy. ly. "I knew it wouldn't be." So he went to the Mascot House, stabled the horse and "Mebbe I'd make it ninety and my mare," urged the lol)fed aro'1nd on the porch waiting for business to turn farmer. up. 1 "I'm going up to sit on the porch. H yot1. think you'll Ted's guess was a good one. Within an hour. Farmer lift your figure a good bit, it may be worth your while to Johnson rode up in a buggy hitched to a trim-looking come up and sit with me," our hero invited. "But under little black mare. stand that a horse like mine doesn't go at any mark -down "Howdy, Torrant !" called the farmer, coming up to sale like you want." the porch after he had hitched his own mare. Johnson .talked, argued, but Ted looked bored. "Glad to see you again,'' smiled the boy. Several of the hotel's loungers gathered around th.em. "Yes; just thought I'd like to talk that boss trade over "I might as well give it to you straight, Mr Johnson," with ye. Want to take a look at my mare?" Ted explained at last. "Yo"Q're not off&ing enough, and, "I saw her when you drove up," Ted replied, indibesides, you don't undeTstand my horse He's too frisky, ferently . too nervous and too strong for you. You'd come to trou"Want to take a little spin behind her?" hinted the ble handling him." farmer. "I'll handle that boss, or any other that I ever saw," "Why, what for?" gruffed the farmer. "And I'll offer you a hundred and "Just to see what sort of a critter she is." twenty-five and my little mare to boot." "Speak out plainly, man," begged Ted. "Do you mean It was altogether too good a trade to be refused. But that you want to talk Ted didn't propose to accept too swiftly. "Thought mebbe I might," answered the farmer, cau. "If we should trade at those figures, Johnson, you'd tiously. understand that you were trading without any guarantee "Oh! I thought perhaps you had already made up your as to my horse's So we'd better drop the mind about it. But what's the use, J ohnscin? You don't idea." 1 understand a horse like mine, and you wouldn't pay the "Oh, I'll take that horse without any guarantee," deprice, either." dared the farmer. "I understand horses all right, even if "Depends on what the price might be," argued JohnI dci locik foolish by paying a top price." son, looking eagerly at the boy. "And a4o on how 1 liked "Can you raise the money easily?" your hoss after trying him." "Yes, sir. Got it with me," declared the farmer, liim ?" retorted Ted. "My horse ain't up for proudly. any trial. You know the horse as well as I do. It's no "Well, come inside and I guess we'll out the use, Mr. Johnson." papers. But no guarantee, mind you," Ted added, laugh.: "Mebbe," persisted the farmer, showing more eagfngly. erness just because our hero turned as if he were going Within ten minutes the money had passed Johnson inside the hotel. "Tell ye what ye do. Come right dow:rf was hitching Bobo into his buggy, while Ted was leading and take a .look at my mare. Then I'll. name an offer-the mare, Dolly, back to the hotel stable take it or leave it." "Dolly, you look like a good, safe animal," whispered "Oh, I'll go down and look at your mare, if you want," the boy, tenderly, as he patted the little mare in the stall. Ted assented, turning slowly. "But I haven't any idea "And-gracious! I've got you and five times as much that you and I will do anything, Johnson." money as I had this afternoon. Dolly, your new owner's But Ted went down and looked the mare over. He getting slick sure thing!" knew horses when saw them. His eye was as trained Then, that life had made a swift, good tUrn in as that of a trader or a veterinary. his favor, Ted Torrant strolled into the hotel for his own "Jump in behind me and try a half mile up the street," much-to-be-relished supper. proposed Johnson. "Handle the lines yourself, too." The porch was dese>ted when he came out agaiR, but Ted accepted. At the farmer's side he put t.Jie little Farmer Cramer sat in a buggy down at the curb. mare through a swinging, easy, fast mile. "Want to talk hoss a bit, called


' SLICKER THAN SlLK. "Sure enough, if therii's anything in it," Ted replied, "I am. I was square, I told you Bobo had a bad dissauntering to the street and eyeing Cramer's sorrel mare! position, and that if you traded I'd sell without guarantee. It was a likely enough looking animal to our hero's You agreed to t4at, and I took your own offer as to the quick eye. price." "I su,ppose you know Bobo's gone?" asked Ted, casually. "But--" "Gone, eh?" echoed Cramer. "Sho, no! What do you "You're a squealer, Mr. Johnson. That's a11 that ails mean?" you. You want to go back on a bargain of your own Ted told about the trade that had been made. forcing." Cramer listened, showing a ace in which disappomt"Mebbe I'll offer you twenty dollars for a bac,k trade," ment deepened. hinted the farmer. "Johnson was surely in a terrible hurry," he growled. "Well, in the first place, I haven't got your black mare "How'd you like to trade your mare for mine?" Ted that you traded to me. I've swapped her for Cramer's asked. sorrel. If you want me to take Bobo off your bands, 'I'll 1 "Even?" querie d Cramer. give you sixty dollars and the sorrel mare for Bobo. But "I must have a reputation for being a fool in this that'll have to be done to-night, and you'll have to :p.od town," laughed Ted. "Of course I wouldn't trade even." quick, for I'm going to bed in very few minutes, The "Then I wouidn' t be interested." sorrel mare and sixty dollars for Bobo, if you doit at "I thought not," replied Torrant, and, turning, went once. But I won't'argue or hang around." back to the Mascot House porch. Within ten minutes the trade had been made. But Cramer followed, and sat down. Cramer's sorre l Ted slept soundly that night. In the morning he woke mare really a good one-a good enough one for anyup chuckling the realization of how easily life was body-but Ted 'Soon developed the fact that Cramer coming. thought he really wanted that black mare. Farmer Petty was already outside. He had a gray geldAt the end of half an hour, during which Cramer did ing, add a very fair one to trade, and he wanted Bobo nearly all the bargaining, Cramer took the black mare, badly. leaving the sorrel and thirty dollars in cash behind. "Why, Johnson took Bobo last night," said Ted, honTed patted his wad almost lovingly, t4en took it in and estly. "You "don't want a. animal that ha s so much horse left it with the landlord for safekeeping in'.' the office safe. in iL It's no beast for a farmer.!' After that he went out to the stable for another look at As a matter of fact, Petty didn't want that horse for sorrel. himself. He believed he could keep the animal a while "Oh, I'm doing first rate," smiled the boy, contentedly. and sell well to some rich horseman. "I'll keep on doing first rate until I have the hard luok to "You'd be back within an hour, calling me a fakir," lose my wad on some old crow-bait that looks like the real objected Ted. "I tell you, it's too good a horse for you to but isn't." think of driving." He i;pent the evening on the porch, keeping somewhat "Huh!" snorted the unconvinced Petty, wounded by apart from the regular loungers there. the very idea that there was a horse in the world too good About nine o'clock, however, Ted looked down into the for him to handle. ('Say, I'll give. ye seventy-five and my I street to see a dejected-looking man leading Bobo up to sorrel for your b1ute." the curb. "Make it a hundred," proposed Ted, softly, "and I'll It was Johnson. He tied the handsome animal to 11. go you. But don't come back later and tell me I was right hitching post, then came sheepishly up to Ted. and that you can't handle so much horse." "Tarrant, it's no use of my trying to keep that hoss," Within ten minutes Ted Torrant had another hundred mumbled the farmer in a low voice. in his R_ocket and a sorre l gelding in the stable. "What are you going to do?" asked Ted, softly. "Sell?" He was just wondering, a couple of hours later, whether "Oh, see here, Torrant, that Bobo is a fearful beast to he should buy a sadd le or a buggy for the gelding and sell anybody." move on to another town. "Didn't I tell you as much before the crowd?" But Petty came down the road, his dothes and "Yes, you did," Johnson admitted, uneasily. "But I leading Bobo. liad the brute out for a drive to-night, and she smashed "Ye skinned llle," ro3red the !armer. my Sunday buggy so that I'm afraid I can't get it fixed." skinned you?" queried Ted. "How? Didn't I "I'm not a wheelright," laughed Ted, coolly. you Bobo was too much horse for you? Didn't I refuse to "See here, Torrant, I want ye to trade back, and I'll give aiiy guarantee? And didn't I take the precaution to leave ye ten to the good,'' pleaded Johnson. say what I had to say before witnesses?" "You mus t take me for a plumb fool in business," Ted "Then I skinned myself," Petty admitted, looking down a!mos t exploded. at the curbstone "Say, youngster, how'll ye trade back?" "I take ye for a feller that wants to be square m busi"Petty, if you hadn't been square enough to admit that ness," retorted Johnson, whiningly. it was your. own fault, I'd have declined to tra9.e for


SLICKER THAN SILK. btute back again. But you've been rather square in admitting your own fault, so, if you really want to trade, you can have your sorrel back and sixty to boot, in return for Bobo." "Sixty?" choked Petty. "Why, I gave you a hundred." "Yes, but you did that of your own free will. I'm doing the same now in offering sixty. I shall be better satisfied, too, if you don't take me up. I'm just paying my bill here and leaving town. Really, I'd rather take the sorrel." That settled Petty. He took the sixty and the sorrel, and Ted once more led Bobo back to the stall. "It's hard to lose you, old fellow," smiled Ted, eying All were plainly in a hot-tempered mood. "Business?" sneered Petty. "It was !" " !"repeated Ted, looking aston.ished. "Why, gentlemen, any of you green enough to buy gold bricks?" Then the long suffering armers lost patience "Tat and feather him, the young cheat!" "Lynch him they roared. Ted found himself surrounded by the angry crowd as they rushed in for vengeance. 'the first horse he had ever owned "I've got you back CHAPTER III. once more-and a hundred and sixty to bobt !" Feeling as well pleased with himself as he did, Ted took TED PUTS WINGS ON MONEY. his time about leaving the hotel. But at last he mounted Bobo, bareback, and rode slowly do_wn the main street. Whack! Bobo started as if leaping forward cf own He was soon out of the business part 0 the village and the road. riding slowly along a rural lane. Bobo, after his larks "Catch the bridle!" roared Cramer, trying to force his with the last two buyers, had grown momentarily steady. way forward. "Hullo!" wondered the boy, suddenly. "What's that But Bobo was going much too fast. crowd looking at me for? Why, there's Petty on his Flop! Ted whirled around and threw his legs over, sorrel And Cramer and Johnson there, too. And neighsitting with his back to the galloping horse's head. hors of theirs. Why, I believe they must be waiting for "Sorry to leave you, gentlemen!" Ted cried, politely. me." Then, with a farewell, good-natured wave of his hat, he Ted could have wheeled and gone back the other way-was off down the road and lost to the view of the mad-but not he. dened men of Prodsburg. Instead, he rode forward at an easy walk, nodding "That's a good town to leave behind," grinned the boy, pleasantly as soon as he was close enough. as, throwing his legs over the horse's back, he tuined "Stop a bit, young man," called Johnson, stiffly, with a once more toward his steed's head. "My, but how mad surly sneer. some men will get after they've jobbed themselves by their "Waiting :to see me?" nodded our hero. "All own smartness. "Ted, my boy, i you e;er bite off too gentlemen. What can I do for you?" much in busiiiess, take a lesson from those simpletons and "Y-0u can listen to us a minute," roaTed Johnson. be good-natured about it." "Then you can hand back the money you've robbed us of." Then 'l'ed fell to questioning himself. Ted looked surprised, but made no answer, while the Was I tricky? Did I skin 'em?" he asked himself, farmer continued, angrily: anxiously. "Now, let's see. I told those folk;s that Bobo "First of all, Torrant, ye came by a hoss crookedly was tricky and high-strung; that he was too much horse "Mistake number one," smiled Ted. "I bought this for most fqlks. Yet those men insisted on making trades. horse from its owneT, and with money that I'd worked And we agreed on the after I'd warned 'em. No; hard to save up." I 9an't see that I've been cheating any. I'm a bit lucky, "Now, look a-here," bellowed the farmer, growing redand that, I suppose, often happens in business." der than ever, "ye traded yer hoss to two of us and traded With that settled, Ted rode on until he came to the hosses with three of us. We've been comparin' notes. next village. We've got our hosses back, and you've got yourn. But Here he stopped long enough to buy a saddle, a hat and ye've got a hundred and sixty dollars of our cash that you shoes, some good clothes and a natty-looking soft shirt haint earned." and tie. "If I got any money ou,t of you," smiled Ted, still "If I dGn't feel any more respectalffe, I must look sa," pleasant and far from losing his patience, I got it muttered the boy, a s mounting into the saddle, he started all in fair and square-above-board trades, and you all had off again on his travels. your eyes open, and there weren't any false pretenses "The world is before us, Bobo, old fellow!" thrilled the about it. Now, I ask you fairly, could any business have boy as left' this second village l!ehind. "And you and been run more straight?" I can make a living together; old Bobo, or I'm a los"Business ?" gasped Cramer. "Huh!" ing guesser! My, but how good it seems to wear good All the farmers were crowding closer about the boy, as clothes, travel on your own horse and have money in your he sat calmly on Bobo. pockets!"


8 SLICKER THAN SILK. At the next town, Bradford, as it was nearly noon, Ted rode up to a neat -loo,king little hotel, etabled his horse and went into the for dinner. The meal not bE)ing quite ready, Ted went out to a seat on the porch. Two crafty-looking men in their thirties-men with small, mean-looking eyes and wearing loud clothing and flashy watch chains, took a swift look at the boy from the sidewalk. They bad already seen him ride into the yard on Bobo. Now, they came up the walk to the porch. ''Stranger in town?" asked one of them, with a leer that was meant to be pleasant. "Stranger to most everything in life," Ted retorted, drily, looking the pair over without liking their looks any better at close range. The one who had not yet spoken laughed easily. you're a slick one, all right, ain't you, youngster. .And--" "Here, have to clear away from here, you fel lows!" sounded the landlord's angry voice, as the owner of the hotel stepped outside and glared at the two flashy looking fellows. "What's wrong, boss?" asked one of the pair. "I'm pretty sure that you are," retorted the landlord, firmly "At all events, I don't want you around here, and I won't have you, either. Git!" Both of the fellows scowled angrily. But he was a big husky-looking man, that landlord, and he could sum mon porters and hostlers to help him if need be. So the pair turned and slunk away. "Who are they?" asked Ted, in an undertone. "Why," explained the landlord, "they're believed to be a pair of crooks that followed and operated in the wake of the Dromus circus. Every circus has a few crooks hanging on after it, you know. Burglars who go through houses when all the folks are off at the show, and pick pockets who go through the crowd, and that sort of thing, you know." "SQ they're circus crooks, eh?" asked Ted, looking down the street. after the pair. "'Well, the Constables had 'em up before the court here, but couldn't prove enough against 'em," replied the land lord. "But what do you make out of a coupl e of fellows who an swer to such name s as Slimey Fetters and Twitch Grundy?" "Good people to leave alone," s miled Ted "Thank you for chasing 'em away." "I'm glad they 'ient, peaceable lik e," murmured the landlord, letting his voice fa_ll. "'Fhere 's a poor sick woman dying up sta irs, and I don't want no scrimmaging noise around her e ." I "Poor woman dying?.;' repeated Ted, his face taking on a saddened look. "Yes; poor in every sense of the 1 word, too. Hasn't even enough to settle her bill here-not that that matters any," muttered the landlbrd. Big and husky fellow though he was, his voice was trembling a bit, and two tears came into his eyes. That made Ted respect the man. "Is the woman wanting for anything?" Ted asked, quickly. "For most everything, I reckon,'' murmured the land lord. "I can't find out; they're too proud to admit their poverty." "They?" "The woman has a poor kid daughter with her," replied the landlord. r Ted had money in his pocket, plenty of it, and 'lie knew ) what it was for "See here, landlortl," whispered Ted, darting up to his feet, "if there's a woman in this hotel dying, and too poor to pay for her last comforts, you see that she has 'em,' and 111 pay for 'em. Understand? Has she a doctor?" "Lord, no. Not since the first visit. I reckon that took all the poor thing's money, for she never sent out for the medicine that the doctor prescribed." "Get the doctor here again at once," Ted begged, pass ing two ten-dollar bills over to his host. "See that she has the medicines and a nurse, too. See that she has whatever she n eeds If you need more, I'll furnish it." "Why, this is mighty good of you," murmured the puz zled landlord. "No, it isn't," retorted Ted. "No better than it is of you to feel that you don't care whether the poor soul can't pay her bill here. You keep her mind easy on her bill, and I'U help on other things. And shake!" "Say," murmured the big man, as he grasped Ted's hand and pressed it heartily, "I like your style." "I like it myself," laughed the boy, lightly. "But now hustle to see the poor soul attended to. And tell her any thing you lik e about where the things are coming from. But don't let the poor soul want for anything, and don't let her refuse what s he needs." When Ted went to luncheon he felt well-pleased with himself. He knew that 1 upstairs, where an unhappy wo man 'iay dying, she was at least being attended by a and a nurse, and that the other things she needed were being supp lied. Then out on the porch again went Ted, and sat dr .owsing over a newspaper that he had picked up in the hotel office. Yet hardly had he seated himself when a quick, firm, li ght step sounded behind him. Then there flashed into sight a girl, the fir s t of whom made Ted Tarrant drop his paper and scramble to his feet. "You're Mr. Tarrant?" asked It was a moment before Ted could s ummon enough presence of mind to stammer : "Yes, mies." About s i xtee n, she was a rounded, slight little girl, with a great mass of raven hair and eyes that made one think of midnight


SLICKER THAN SILK. Her face was pale, but bea, utiful in its softness, while those lips and the dainty white teeth Ted instantly voted were the prettiest he had ever seen. Thougli neat to perfection in appearance, she was rather shabbily dressed in black. Shabbiness, was a detaii'that one -didn't see all at ol).ce in such a girl. "I am Polly Brethnell," she said, simply, her great black eyes looking full into his. "I-I am glad to hear it," Te.d stammered, reddening, and not knowing what be ;was saying "I asked and learned that it was you who had been so kind to my mother," Polly went on, holding out one of her slim, firm little white hands. Dick took her l1and awkwardly. "Oh, don't speak about that," he begged. "Who told you, anyway?" "Mr. Hopkins, the lanfilord. I him tell me." "It's nothing," flushed Dick, still holding her hand. "You see, been lu cky lately, and I-I want to pass some of the good luck on. I hope your mother will get well quickly." "She won't. She can't," Polly answered, with a shake of her head, and the tears coming slowly "She's too ill to get well. But I want to congratulate you, Mr. Tarrant, on your kuidness of heart and your splendid sympathy for old people in If Ted was confused and embarrassed, Polly wasn't. She had a of heartfelt thanks to deliver, and she :Qleant to do it thoroughly. Then Ted, who was trembling with the admiration he felt for this superb young girl-a thoroughbred, every inch of her-summoned up a great big dash of bravery. "Miss Brethnell, if your mother is not to get well again, you'll allow me to stand right by you as long as there's anything that I can do, won't you?" "I don't know how to refuse that," cried the girl, grate fully. "And I don't want to." "And you'll allow tne to advise you about-well, about what you're to do if your mother leaves you?" Polly look ed at him frankly "Yes," she said, very distinctly, "if you can arrange my future so that I can take care of myself and repay all you are doing for me in this moment of trouble." "I'll do that," Ted promised, confidently. "It'll be easier than you think for, too, Miss Brethnell. And now ( I mlist not keep you from your mother." After Polly had hurried back upstairs Ted Tarrant became very thoughtful. "I've taken a heap -upon myself," he glowed "But I don't care. I'm young, and my shoulders are broad-and a girl like Polly Brethnell is worth the trouble any fellow can take. But, whew! I'm likely to want a heap more :tnoney than i've got. Ted, my boy, this is where you have to get out and hustle for all you're worth. You've got to see Bobo go for good this time, I reckon. But wbat of it? Bobo'll bring a goodish bit of ready casl1-and the world's full of chances to make money easy." Ten minutes later Ted was cantering down a country road on Bobo's back. He was headed for hother town He couldn't even try to make money in a town where such a blossom of girlhood as Polly Brethnell was. "I only hope I can do something to get Polly Brethnell well started in life," he muttered, as he rode down the lonely country road. "I've only just seen her for the first time, but-gracious !-I'd go through fire and flood to see a happy sm'He on a face like hers!" His thoughts of Polly got a sudden abrupt jerk when he saw, standing idly at the side of the road, those two disreputable characters, Slimey Fetters and Twitch Grundy. : They eyed boy and horse curiously as the pair came toward them. Then Twitch sudden ly called: \ "Hey, son i That girth's going to come off and throw you." "Whoa!" Reining up, Ted quickly dismounted and bent under the horse 's belly. But, as he st raightened up again, he got a fearful crack on the head CHAPTER IV. TWITOH TURNS SLICK, TOO. Right then and there Ted Tarrant saw all the stars he had ever read about. Down he went, on his face, while Twitch, with the club he had hidden behind his back_ crouched over him. "Shall I soak him again?" growled Twitch. "Better," advised Slimey. "I dunno as it's reflected Grundy, aloud. "He seems pretty still. Get up on his horse." Slimey quickiy vaulted into the saddle on Bobo, gather ing in the reins. "Get his wad!" called down Fetters. "Reckon this is all there is of it;" answered Twitch, holding up a thick roll of banknotes that he had taken from one of the boy's pockets. But he quickly went through our hero's remaining pock efa. "Scoot, Slimey," he advised. "I can keep up tolerable well on foot." "Going to soak the kid again?" "Reckon I've done for him already. If I haven't he'll know our style too well, anyway, to follow." Bobo's hoofs clicked on the road, as Slimey set off at a trot. Twitch followed along at a brisk pace on foot. And then Ted Tarrant opened his eyes. I He had not been quite stunp.ed by the blow, but he had I.tad the good silllse to keep still with men above him who did not hesitate about a little thing like killing for maney. "Oh, you infernal ra scals !" quivered Ted, sitting up


10 SLIQKER SILE:. now, just in time to see the last of t!ie circus "razorbacks" as they vanished around a turn in the road ahead. "I've got to get that horse and the money agaiP., or I'm no g 'ood on earth!" quavered the boy, as he leaped to his feet, He was a bit dizzy when he started off, but his head cleared as he went onwaTd. '"There's the ch1b that hit me," he grouched vengefully, as he espied a bludgeon lying ip. the dusty road. Snatching it up, he was off again, traveling fast. "Twitch is on foot, so I ought to be able to catch them," he muttered. "If I don't get 'em my new rise in the world has tumbled. And Polly? Poor little Polly l.3reth:iiell!" His w ind seemed almost unfailing now. He covered half a mile without a thought of being winded by his steaJy run. / "I ought to catch up in a few minutes more," he re flected. "Then I ll have to play foxy." But he came upon his enemie s sooner thap. he had ex pected. Making a turn in the road, Ted came suddenly upon ll scene .that made him throb. Slimey lay quite still in the road, just as he had fallenpro ba bly pitched over Bobo 's head. "Whoa, you brute! Still!" Twitch was roaring, as he tried to grab at tl1e bridle of the rearing animal. Wheel! Bobo turned like a flash, let hind heel s fly, and landed them fearfully in Twitch's abdome n . Down went Twitch, with a gasp, holding to his belt and white as flot1r, "Serves you jolly good and right, you thief!" roared Ted, as he shot past the done-i1p pair, "Whoa, Babu! Easy, old fellow Easy now! Whoa!" A t s ound of the voice that he knew well Bqbo stopped, wheeled about, hesitated, and stood looking at Tarrant. "Good olq Bobo! You know what to do! You can be .truste d anywhere! Easy, now, old fellow!" Bobo still looked uncertain, as if wondering whether to turn and bolt, or stay and let his heels fly once more. 'red approached, holding the bludgeon behind his back, apd not attempting to r each out with the other -So on u ,ntil he had his shoulder under the sniffing, curi ous nos e of the animal "'N e're all right, ain't we, old fellow?" cooed Ted, Then, as the handsome beast nosed him, Ted reached up with one hand and took the bridle gently It was easy now to l ead the animal to a ap.d tie him there. Then, with a friendly pat, Ted left the horse, darting back to where Twitch Grundy lay rolling softly on the ground. "Oh, oh! I'd rather be dead!" groaned Twitch, in a weak voice. "You're going to be if you don't do things to suit me/' cracked Ted, savage ly. "Sit up!" "Oh, l can't!" "Then you'll never get up again!" warned Ted, brand ishing the cudgel. ((I don't love you any, and I'd just as soon crack you on the head as eat. For the last time, sit up, As Ted brapdished the club again, and his eyes flashed, Twitch, still very white from pain, and loss of breath, man aged to sit i1p. Ted stood just behind him, holding the olub handy. "Now, then," yot1ng Tarrant Ol'dered, almost fiercely, "shell out!" "Wh-w hiit do you wean?" "You know well enough! My money! Shell it out, and don't try to turn, or I'll brain you just the wQy you tried tq do to me." Unable to see Tarrant, but knqwing that the boy was behind him, meaning business, Twitch began to fumble in his pockets, "Hurry up!" gruffed Ted. I Now S!imey began to stir, to the extent of trying to sit up. "Lie down there!" Ted called over to him. "If you don't I'll corne over and finish you! Now then, Twitch Grundy, hurry up!" "Hel'e's the roll," proclaimed the fellow, holding up a wad of "Think I'm going to be fool enough to take your word for it?" sneered our hero. "Count it out on the ground in front of unfold every bi}l and lay it down flat." Twitch obeyed, Ted watching closely, though still managing to keep a corner of one eye on Slimey, who had lain down again. "Twenty dollars too nruch," observed Twitch, as he finished counting. "Correct," nodded Ted. "That's the interest that's been added to the money while you hau it, I suppose." "No; that twenty is my own," contended Twitch. "You mean a twenty that you stole from someone else than me," T ed corrected, grimly, "All the same, it ain't yotws," protested Grundy. "Put it in the roll with mine, just the same," ordered Tofra:nt. "What?" cried Twitch, in amazement. "What's that?" "You heard just what I said." "But you-you ain't------" "Ain't a thief like you?" mocked Ted. ''No, that's right enot1gh. But p'llt that other twenty on top of my roll, just the same." With another big gasp Twitch obeyed, "Now, roll away from that money, and don't let any of it stick to your ciothes as you roll. Remember, I'm watch ing you Roll, I sa,y!" Rehlotantly enough Twitch obeyed. 1 Watching the fellow, Teel stooped down and sn:atched up the money. Then he stood eyeing both the crooks, while he held the club ready for busjness, ..


SLICKER THAN SILK. ti "Don't you fall into my path again, either of you," cau tioned the boy. "If you do, it'll be yourselves, not me, who gets hurt. Now, in case you want to know what's going to happen to that extra twenty, I'll tell you. At the first town where I stop I shall turn it over to one of the ministers as a contribution from a reformed thief. I hope you'll both take the hint and reform." Giving the battered and still sick thieves a wide berth \aS he strode past them, our hero untied and mounted Bobo. "Good-by," called back Ted. "And make sure that you don't foul me again!" He was quickly out of their sight, and inside of fifteen minutes he was riding down the main street of Moreton. It was a pretty little town of three or four thousand inhabitants. The words "Post.-office" caught his as he passed the biggest business block on the main street. "That reminds me," smiled Ted, and reined up. Going inside, he was about to ask for information as to the churches when his eye feli on a notice posted up relating to a summer festival at the Baptist church. "Baptist gets it, then," laughed the boy to himself. Buying a stamped envelope and a sheet of paper, he ad dressed the envelope to the Baptist clergyman. Then, on the sheet of paper he wrote: "Conscience money from a pretty tough thief who may reform one of these days." "That".tl have the parson guessing;" smiled 'red, as he folded a twenty-doll a r bill inside the sheet, and mailed the whole. "And I've done a good thing for the church, pun ished Twitch and kept my word. Good business all around." Mounting again, he rode down the street until he came to what he judged to be the best hotel in the place. Putting up here, and seeing that Bobo was stabl,ed, Ted sank down on a chair on the porch. It was in the hottest part of the summer afternoon, and few of the villagers seemed to be out. "I'll wait until it gets cooler, and then bting Bobo out and look for questions," T 'ed murmured. "Wheel I hope I make a sale quick, so I can get back with all sorts of good news to Polly Brethnell. 1> He smiled, then, to think how much this new friend was in his thoughts. He didn't believe that he was in love with Polly. "But it makes a fellow feel better in every way to have her around," he told himself. "And Wd always be down right fun to see her happy over anything." He would have dozed -in his chair but for the pain in his head, which kept him awake. But at last, when it was nearly five o'clock, Ted called to one of the hostlers to bring Bobo around. Out came the magnificent animal, bridled and saddled, and prancing as if enj0ying the thought of a run. Taking the bridle in his own hands, close to where the driveway crossed the sidewalk, Ted stood looking over his handsome, glossy property. "Who owns that animal, young man?" called out a middle-aged, prosperous-looking man, stoppi ng close in a buggy. "I do," Ted answered proudly. "Privdte horse?" "Well, I'm ready to sell, if that's what you mean, when I can get the right kind of price." "What do you call the right kind of price?" and the man in the buggy stepped down to the ground, hitching his own animal. Then the horse trade was on in earnest, a crowd gath ering around owner and possible buyer. It began to look like a trade, too, an:d Ted's hopes ran high. "You're positive that this horse is really yours, are you?" finally asked the man, looking sha r ply at1 our hero. "Why, of course I am, sir." "I'm not so sure that the boy does own the liorse, Mr. Brownell," broke in a strange voice. Ted turned to look at the short, stout man who was pushing bis way the crowd. A constable's star glistened on the man's vest-front. Now, just at the edge of the crowd, Ted caught sight of two more men, who had with them Slimey and The pair of crooks had been gathered in on suspicion-that much seemed plain. "We've got a rather greasy pair back there, Mr. Brown ell," went on the constable, edging close to Ted. "And they've just let it out that this boy kinder belongs with them." "I do?" cried Ted, indignantly. "Yes, I Jrnow your prisoners well enough, but I've had nothing more to do with 'em than to escape robbery at their hands'. I--" "Oh, listen to him!" chuckled Slimey. "Ain't that a fine way 'to turn down pals." "And I'li bet you never gave any church that twenty dollars that I sent by you!" taunted Twitch. The horse trade was ruined now. Everybody was inter ested in the new excitement that had cropped up. "That twenty of yours, Twitch," clicked Ted, "has gone on its way. I mailed it to the Baptist minister as soon as I reached town." Everybody now turned to look inquiringly at a clergyman who had joined the crowd. "Why, bless my soul!" cried the clergyman, in sur prise, "I did just receive twenty dollars from some fellow who proclaimed himself a pretty tough thief.'' He held out the envelope and its enclosure. Tlie con stable took it, looking over it. Then he held the sheet be fore Ted's eyes. "You write that?" demanded the officer. "Yes," Torrant admitted. "I--" "You catalogued yourself as a thief pretty slick, then! Boy, we'll run you ip. until we can thi.iik about you a bit. And we'll hold that horse until the owner turns up or a look at it." Ted tried his hardest to explain, but it was no use.


SLICKER THAN SILK. Followed b y the jeer s of the crowd, he w a s hu s tled down into a side street. Two minute s later he found him s elf in a cell in the lock-up. "Going to ride this evening?" called Slimey, mockingly, from a cell jus t acros s the corridor. "Ride?" jeer e d Twitch, who occupied the cell with Slimey. no! Not him! Thi s i s the kid 's evening at home! He ll s tay here and make the time pass pleasant :for us." But Ted Tarrant was in no mood for jokes. For once h e could not even look at the pleasant s ide of things. "Confound this fearful luck! h e groa ned. "There ain't any way in which I can prove tha t I'm not as big a vagabond as these two wretches! Oh, dear! And poor little Polly!" CHAPTER V. A SOHEME WITH A GOLD MINE IN IT? Across the corridor, Slimey and Twit c h were looking on with all the ir might. But Hopkin s turne d like a flas h upon the constable who had brou ght them there. \ "A bull y mess you'v e made of thi s officer!" roared the bi g -hearted hotel man. "Arres tin g thi s young man a s a vagrant a nd a s u s piciou s c hara c t e r Why,. thi s young f ellow i s olle of heaven; s own noblemen! A crooked char act e r? Why, he wouldn't know how to do a mean a c t!I Don't I know? And thi s youn g lad y will bear out." "The n you know the boy w e ll ?" ques tioned the cons t a bl e "Know him? Lik.e a b ook!" th e landlord rec k lessly. Kn own him lon g e n o u g h to know that there ain't a s trai ghte r b e tter boy in the United State s of Americaf I'd swear to that in any com:t or church in the land! And you've arre11t e d him a s a v ag r ant!" Hopkin s was plainly a man who went the whole limit w h e n h e got s tarted. Ted li ste n e d w ith delight ,to this s tron g vou c hin g "We didn t a rre s t him, exa ct l y," b roke i n the con s table . "We h e ld him .as a s u spicious c h a r acte r -;tbat's all." Breakfast in jam You can him t h e n ?" in s i s ted Hopkins. Ted munched dismally at a breakfast of bread, tough t k d :ff We' ll take th e l a d up stairs and talk it over." 6 eTah, an hctoh ee .. ht h h a d t t 1 Click! B ack s hot the bolt. Blimey and Twit c h looked roug e mg e a manage o ge some s e e p l h b k h d d b h b t h h d k d "bl ,, on m s peechless rage when t e y sa w the oy ta e n upon a a.r woo en enc u e a wa e up uer ta s ir s than ever. W i t hin fiv e minute s T e d Torr a n t w a s out on the side-For he saw no way of e s caping, at least, a sentence for vagrancy. He had admitted knowing Slimey and Twitch, and had even admitted sending mone y for T w itch. M o reover the police had lau g hed at hi s straightforward story of his dealings with the s lim y pair. "Oh, I'm in for a good y ear of it, be g roaned. He had just one hope. Th e ni ght b efore he had g otten one of the cons tables to mail a let ter for him addressed to Hopkins, the kind-heart e d hot e l-keeper b ack in that other town. "If only Hopkin s would come dow n here and say a good word for me!" murmured th e boy, wret c hedl y "But he can 't, of course. He doesn't know a blessed thing about me, anyway. ,And if th e police s hould get a line from Prodsburg! Good Lord, tha t w ould make me out a vagabond, 'Sure!" "Vis itors to see you!" called a c onstable, and then Ted heard the s ound of steps on the s tone floor. "Hullo, lad!" called a heart y voice, and then its owner halted before the cell door. rtMr. Hopkin s Then you did come!" "Did I, lad? B y the firs t train this morning. And I've brought someone else." Polly, her fac e very pallid a nd her eyes red and strain l)d from weeping loqked in, too. "You?" gasped Torr.ant, in delighted wonder. "Oh, th.ank you!" wal k fr e e a nd w i t h a n o r d e r on a s t ab l e for B obo. "Oh I can t thank eith e r on e of you enough!" glowed t h e boy "And y ou needn' t was te an y time trying to, either," retorted Ho p kin s "It was too bad to take you a.way from y our voiced Ted s oftly, to Polly. "Her moth e r died la s t ni ght,'' broke in the landlord. "Miss Br e thn e ll ) w h e!l! s h e h e ard th e news, thought s h e could h e lp to pay b ack the debt o f the d e ad one b y going t o the re scue of the li v ing." (Oh, I'm so s orr y cr i e d T e d st opping on tlie s idewalk and pressin g Poll y's hand gently for an instant. "I kno w you are," nodded the g irl, her red eyes fillin g a g ain. "And tha t's all we need to say now," Ted added gen tly. "Talkin g can't make bad news s ound any better. But you kno w how I f eel, Mis s Brethnell." Poll y nodded dumbl y . A re you coming back to town with us?" asked Mr. Hopkins. "Not before nig ht, anyway," Ted answered. "I'll try to get o v er then : But l want just a few words with y ou, Mr. Hopkins, before you g o back on the train." The y l eft Polly inside the railwa y s tation while they walked up and down the platform outsid e "Mr. Hopkins,'' a s ked the boy, "of cour s e you' v e don e


SLICKER THAN SILK. 13 everything you could. I know that without asking. But ancl the other laborer s with a show oft e n look 'aiter the I'm going to ask something else now. Will you attend to razorbacks. I don t beli eve a t e n t show ever went out everything that needs to be done, go good for the bills, without its ou t fit of razorback s And I can tell you someand trust me to settle with you in full? And I can turn thing el se. I didn t mak e a cent out of the razorba c ks, some money .. over to you now." but I'm willing to bet that they paid my partner regular "Do you mean to pay every one of the girl's bills?" toll." gasped Hopkins. Toll on wha t the y s tole ? demand e d Ted. "Every dGlla. r! And I'm going to see her start right "Sure enough. And if y ou w ent ba c k over the route -0f in life, too." our show y ou'd find out how p e opl e's houses bee n rob -"See here--" began Hopkins, eyeing the boy keenly. bed a nd folk s' poc ket s pi c k ed. Wh y I'll bet you' d find a "Stop that!" broke in Ted, sharply. "I'm not going hundr e d thousand dollar s' ; y orth of r e ward s offe r e d for to force .mys elf on Miss Brethnell's friendship a bit. I'm s tol e n proper ty if you w ent back over the frail tha t our not trying to win her gratitude. I haven't got a soul in show passed over . 1 the world, it does me good to think of helping oSome-"Good Lord! g a s p e d Ted to himself "That may give one else. But I don't want to put myself forward a par me an id ea for a sch eme! I begin to think. I see mone y." ticle. Mr. Hopkins, whatever I do to give Miss Brethnell Bu t a loud h e ask ed: a little push forward I want to do right throu g h you . And "Dromus, did y ou know who any of the razorback s w ere I'm ready to consult you about every blessed thing that I with y our s how?" Isn't that straightforward enough to suit you?" "Guess I knew 'em all! c hu c kl e d the late circu s -man. "I believe it i s,'' cried Hopkins, his face breaking into "There was Shan g Lanni g an a s tron g -arm ; To s s Simp s on, smiles again. "I'm going to trust you, Torrant, and, bea pappy-rou s t e r and Bob W hi te ly, the coon s tone-getter, tween us, we'li see that Polly Brethnell doesn't come to and-1-" harm or hardship." Dromu s w ent on dreamil y li sting the razorbacks who "That's the bargain," cried Ted, holding out his hand h a d be e n tourin g the c oun t r y w ith hi s late show. which the big-hearted inn-keeper pres s ed. "And now, A stro n g -a:rm i s a c r i min a l who r e lies upon violence here's some cas h that I can spare just now. To-day I hop e for hi s s uccess; a i s a s leek f e llow who to sell Bobo for a good figure, and then I'll hu s tl e over to preys upon old m e n gen e rally whe n they ar e into x icated; your place for more plan s Now I'm goin g to say good-by a "ston e get t er" i s one who s t e al s diamond scarf-pins and to Miss Brethnell and hustle off to get m y hor s e." s imil a r jewelry Ted had handed Hopkins all the money he had except The r e h a d been at least a dozen of these razorbacks forty dollars, which he reserved in cas e it might be needed tour i n g t h e coun try wit h the D romus s h ow. in a business deal. Now t hi s weak-eyed m a n t o ld t h e n a m ei of all of them, Our hero took a hurried but gentle adieu of Polly for a described the m a n d gave som e d eta il s about robberie s be little while, then hastened back 1:1P to the main sheet. had h e ar d that they had c ommitt ed. "Mr. Dromus," called the boy stopJ!ing suddenly. "Wha t happ e n e d t o all those f e llow s when your show It was the weak-eyed late cir c us proprietor beyond a broke up?" Ted qu e ri!3d, with more e agerness than he doubt. c ar e d to show. Dromus looked liaras s ed and "broke." He was both. "Why I h e ard y esterda y that they had all tacked on be" Glad to see you, y oung man," he admitted. "You got a hind the H y man s & Well s s h o w answ e red Dromus. pretty good bargain out of me the other day. Mebbe you "Guess they mu s t b e doing__ well, too, be c au s e that' s a big won't mind staking me to a breakfast now. All my stuff's. show that pull s out the crow d in every town it hits." gone." Nol" s ound e d a har s h voice at the doo r. "You can't Ted led the way into the nearest re s taurant, and sat bebuy fiv e cents' w orth of stuff h e r e!" side the e x -circu s man while the latter stowed in a big Ted turned-t h e n his eyes flashed. breakfa s t. A boy lookin g d e cidedl y on hi s upper s aud with a thin, As Dromus ate Ted told of his meeting with Slimey and hunger-pin c h e d face, s tood at the opep doorway of the Twitch. re s taurant th e proprietor g larin g at him. "I know 'em," nodded Dromu s "A greasy pair!" "Don't s a y another 1 v ord, D o n G l e a son! Don't pay any "You knew they ;vere following your circus at the attention to that fellow! c ri e d T e d jumpin g up. "Hold time?" asked Ted, in surprise. on a second and we'll g o t o some bett e r place! "Of cour s e I did Hastily slippin g a five -doll a r b ill in Dro mu s hands, Ted "And you didn't turn 'em over to the police?" hurried the s idewalk w h e r e h e gras p e d the other boy's "Wha'd have been the use of that? Why, there's a lot hand, squeezing it as if h e would c ru s h it. of i:azorbacks _like them towing along with every circus "Don't say a word Don, until w e g et you looking at When trouble comes, and the cops get too close, the something to eat," begged Ted. razorbacks just herd in with the men of the circus, In a jiffy our hero had his friend in another restaurant, and the cops can't find a one. Why, lad, the canvasmen and there a big meal was ordered.


14 SLICKER THAN SILK. Don was, indeed, a friend-:-a chum! He and Ted had lived in the same town, up to six months ago, when Don, driven clean to the wall by the ugliness of a stepfather, had been forced into running away. u Oh, it does sore eyes good to see you again, Don!" Ted cried, after the waiter had been sdnt away with the order "But what's happened. You're a strong chap, and never lazy. How did you get down on your luck?" "Been sick, and in a county hospital," Don replied, soberly. "Just got out day before yesterday, turned out without a cent, of course, and so far a job and I haven't connected. But I'll be all right soon." "Of course you will!" cried Ted cheerily. "You and I'll connect, right from this hour, old fellow!" Don brightened up in a way that it did his chum good to see. Then Ted gave a brief account of his own adventures up to date. It was very brief, indeed, for if 'fed was "slick" in one thing more than in others, it was in not talking much about his own doings. Then he C! down to hi s talk with Dromu s that very morning. "I know," nodded Don. "I'd have thought such things mighty strange once. But I l earned a bit at that county hospital. There were 'two or three crooks there among the patients, and one of them, who told me he was a bur glar-porch-climber, he called himself-made the st rong est kind of an argument to have me 'go on the road' with him, as he called it." "But what that' fellow Dromus told me-about there being a hundred thousand in rewards offered to recover property stolen by razorba c k s with his. showshowed me a scheme that's gold-lined," affirmed Ted. "What's the scheme?" Don asked, curiously. "See here, Don, you go back over the trail of that show before it busted. Work quietly, but get a li st of the rob beries and rewards. I'll locat e the Hyman & Wells show. From DTOmus I got description s of all his old razorbacks. Now, each one of these razorback s works a different kind of crime. So, when we have a li st of the crimes, we'll know just about which one committed that crime. We'll get some of those fellows pulled by the police. They'll have to tell where they're hidden or sold the stuff. Don, a good deal of that stuff can be r ecovered, and we can l and the rewards. At the same time, we'll be helping to relieve the count\Y of a bad lot o,f crooks. Now, isn't there money enough in that scheme if we can work it with enough brains?" "And sure death for both of us,'' Don declared. "I've s7en enough of t4ese razorbacks, as you call 'em, to know that they'll stick together in wiping off the face of the earth any fellow who gets iI1 their way." "Some people are h&rd to kill, though, Don, and I be lieve you and I are on that li st," lau ghed Ted, coolly. "What do you say, anyway, old boy?" "Why, I'm in it, id: you are, of conrse!" cried Don Glea son. "Did I ever say no when you said yes?" / The two youngsters shook hands across the table, then went on talking over their new plans. In the end Ted slipped twenty-five dollars into his chum's hand. "We're getting down to bed-rock, Don," Tarrant mur mured, "so you'll want to go as easy as you can on ex peru;es. But if you run low write me at this address, and I'll have more by that time to send you." Ted gave his chum the address of Mr. Hopkins' hotel. Then he saw Gleason off at the railway station, Don sta rtin g eagerly and at once on his new, stra nge trail. Then, at la st Ted went with his police order, and got Bobo out of durance at a livery stab l e ]_'our hours of anxious hustling in. the town, however, showed Ted Tarrant one thing-that he couldn't hope to dispose of Bobo here. "It's t6 Polly then," mused T ed, as he turned Bobo's head back over the trail of that eventful yesterday. "I can't leave the poor girl alone too long in her terrible trouble. Besides, who knows but Hopkins may be able to find ts good a customer as any for Bobo?" Dick rode along at a brisk canter for a couple 0 miles. Then, his face grown serious indeed, he unconsciously allowed the horse to settle down into a walk. "Great Scott! I've got t o be moving!" muttered the boy. "I've got to get rid of this horse, and at a mighty good figure, too! It makes my head swim to think of the debts I'v e got ahea d of me. I've stood good for all Polly's expenses, and I'd sooner die than go back on that. And Don will soon be needing more expense money. And here I'v e got just a few dollars left in my pocket. Bobo, you sleek, handsome rascal, I've got to a lot of good money out of you quick, or they'll have me down for a fakir who bites off more than he can pay for!" I o wonder Ted Torrant's face was serious all the rest of that ride! OHAPTER VI. THE FIRST STEP IN CRIME. "Did you ever hear of such luck hitting a fellow all of a s udden?" demanded Ted Tarrant, ruefully. "Oh, you'll come out all right," predicted Hopkins, posi tinly. "You are the kind of youngster that can't help landing on hi s feet." "But who'd ever have thought that I could be here a week, with s uch a horse as Bobo on my hands, and not a single bid worth listening to ? And I've ridden off through the country with no better result." "Someone will come along yet,'' declared Hopkins "I hope so, for your sake." "Don't worry about me, lad," protested the big hearted landlord. "But I do worry Here my cash is gone, and I've got you stuck for a lot of debts took up on my account.


SLICKER THAN SILK. .And I can't even pay my hotel bill here, and Bopo's eating "Sure? Certain! positive! Torrant, come o ver here." up his head out in the stable." Ted rose and walked quickly over to the "It'll all come out right," smiled Hopkins. "Listen to this, Ted, and see what you can say,'' Hop" .And my friend that I've got hustling out on the ioad kins began at once. "John Rowley's Willie, has dis for me will be sending in any day for expense money." appeared, and Rowley doesn't want to ask the police to "Well, :maybe I can borrow it somewhere and let you look him up." have it," st1ggested the landlord "Why not?" our hero asked. "Say, you don't do anything for people, .do you?" cried "Well, for fear the .lad is doing something that'd make Ted, remorsefully. the police want to keep him if they found him,'' Hopkins "Well, lad, we den't go through this world but once toreplied, with a grim look. 15ether; and we might as well do all we can to help each "I-I am afraid my boy has gone off with-with-loose othe:r." companions," sai d the old man, tremblingly. Ted had already discovered that that very kind of spirit "In other words," Hopkins went on, wwill Rowley has had been the business ruin of Hopkins. That landlord had for a lon g time, a fool notion in his head that he'd had always stood ready to take the money worries of other s shine as a bank-robber, or a train sticker, or some. fool on his own broad shoulders Renee it was that, while thing like that. His father tried to lick the notion out of everyone in town liked Hopkins, that gentleman didn't get his head, but that didn't do any good. And now Willie's along v ery well and had no money of his own. gone, and stole over a hundred dollars of his dad's monThe week had been a hard one, after so much success ey." before it. Ted still had Bobo, but couldn't find anyone who'd pay "Well, I won't say he stole it," quivered the old man, anytbin

SLICKER THAN SILK. Ted had been in Bridgetown since half-past three that afternoon. It was a pretty little manufacturing town, not very heavily populated. Yet there were people enough in that and two or three adjoining towns to make it worth while for the Hymah & W ells show to play there afternoon and evening. Ted had shown up at the circus. No Willie boy there, as om: hero made s ure, for, in hi s inner coat pocket was a photograph of young William Rowley. :Mixed in with the afternoon crowd at the circus, however, Ted had spotted four men whom he was s ure he could name as razor-backs who had formerly followed in the wake of the Dromus show. He recognized the s e men by the descriptions Dromus had given of them. Again, in the early evening, our hero had mixed in with the crowd at the circus. But no Willie Rowley had shown up there. "If he followed the razor-backs of this show, then, he's out with the stro ng-arms," thou ght Ted . "And if I don't find him here I'll follow the show to the next town." Ted was now out on th e road leadin g to Prentiss Hill, th e s uburb of Bridgetown where the richest pa .r( of the popu l at ion lived. Tqrrant had dropped in behind a clump of lilac bushes that bordered the road. "Que e r how everyone flocks to a c ir c u s," murmu-red Ted, as he glanced up along the hill s lope at the many dark houses. "You wouldn't think g rown-ups w ould care enough about it to leave their homes alone. A nd yet there are always some burglaries in a town w hen a circu s is there. You'd think grow n up s would get wise, and some of 'em stay at home." It was nine o'clock now, and Ted felt that if Prentiss Hill was to be visited by razorbacks it was about time for them to show up. And just now two' men trud g ing along the road fell under h is gaze. "Why, they :rhus t be Shang Lannigan and Bob Whitely, s ure enou g h!" throbbed the boy, scannin g the passer s eag erly from behind his screen of branches and leaves. "Yes, s ir, that's Shank and Bob, all right! Up to a nice littl e job, too! I wish I c ould spoil their g ame. But I'm after Willie, and no one e lse, ju st now!" The pair h a d passed on, and had been gone for three full minutes. Ted, st ill wat7hiug, was wondering what that scoundrel-ly. pair were doing up in some hill house. But now other sounds came to his ears. A man and a boy hove into sig ht. Ted peered, the n shivered. "Willie boy, by a ll that's wonderful!" he g asped. Th e man and the boy were passing within six feet now. The face was plainly revealed to the hidden young spy. "Oh, :Willie, you chump!" thrilled Ted. "The good home you've got-and you think it's fine manlysporty and bravel-to travel about with thugs like these!" The pair had passed on, in silence, up the road now. Ted's first impulse had been to leap out into the road, and stand in the fool-boy's way. But only a second's reflection had told him that this was a risky plan that would bring a bout no good result . These razorback "strong-arms" were desperate fellows. A pistol ball would be the most likely answer to such interference. "I'll trail 'em, without being seen-that's the safest thing to do," quivered Ted. Keeping on the other side of the stone wall, Ted crouched low and followed. Within five minutes that chase had led into the broad grounds of the finest house on Prentiss Hill. Behind a row of shrubbe'ry Ted followed the oddly mated pa'ir as they stole silently up to the house. There was a whispered word between the man and the boy. Now the boy into a clump of syringa bushes by the driveway, while the man of the pair darted up to the broad front porch of the house, disappearing in the shad ows near the front door. Breathing hard, Ted Tarrant stole further forward. "Gracious! The grown-up is a swift one! He's on the other side of that door already!" throbbJd Ted, peering-. Then, with a sudden hard pounding at the heart, our hero ra:n across the driveway straight up to the clump of syringas. "Come out of there, lad he called, softly, and reached through, laying a hand on a trembling boy's s houlder. "Scoot-with me! I'll get you off to safety in time! Come, the place is going to be jumped by the police!" "Police!" screamed the youngster, aloud in his fright. "Shut up, you little idiot!" whispered Ted, hoarsely, fiercely. "Willie Rowley, hot-foot it hand in hand with me, and get away from here before you're nabbed and sent to prison for half your life! Come! Stop pulling back!" Ted had dragged the boy out from beyond the bushes. A very scared-looking young wretch was Willie. His eyes bulged, hi s teeth chattered. "Come on!" "Police! Help!" Out of the house came the three razorbacks whom Ted had already seen that night. "Come on, Willie, if you ever want to see home again!" throbbed Ted, and himself turned to run. But the three men had gotten a good start. Pursuing, they surrounded Tarrant. Ted halted, at bay. Then they closed in on him on all s ides Plunk! A black fist struck Ted down from behind. Then Shank Lannigan, dragging the terrified Willie forward, placed a blackjack in the youngster's hands, pointed to the dazed Ted Tarrant lying there on the grass, and ordered gruffly:


( SLICKER THAN SILK. 17 "Make good, kid! Y e've been

18 SLICKER THAN SILE:. and slam you into the local lock-up on a burglary charge. lf you do the first thing you'll get safe home to your father. If you do the second thing your father will have to come to you, and all he can do for you w ill be to hire a lawyer, who won't be able to keep you out of jail for the next few years. Now, which do you choose to do-go home or go to the lock-up?" "I don't want to do either," protested the sullenly, "It's one o-,: the other-which will you do?" Ted de-map.ded, crisply, "I-I'll go along with you." "And you won't try to break away?" "No." "Sti{!)r to that, or you'll be sorry." Ted and Don w a lked on either side of t h e youn g wretch, and so escorted him down through the streets to the :railway station. Here Don and Willie waited while Ted went in s ide fo11 the tickets. "Train's due here in two minute s," announced T ed, hurrying out. "I'm going back to use the t e lephon e a minute." In the brief interval before the train came our hero got the local police on a telephone wire He gave them the first news they had had of the at tempted robbe!y on Prentiss Hill. What was more important, Ted gave tl1em accurate de scriptions of the razorbacks who had been jn the job. "Who are you?" demanded an eager voice over the telephone. "Name's Torrant. I'm down at the railway s ta tion.." "Come up here at once, and help us." "Can't. I hear my t:rain comin g now. But if ;YOU're sharp you can land a tou g h bunch of criminals. Good b}'." Ted rang off, darti,ng to the platform, where the train was already coming in. Willie Rowley was holdin g back as if he'd like to bolt, but Don had a tight grip on his coats leeve. "Aboard with you," ordered Ted, without ceremony. The car was not very crowded. Te d chose seats in the middle of the car. Then as soon a s the train was in fas t motion he pulled Do:q into the aisle. "Pon, old fellow, ftow on earth did you c ome to be on ha)ld at tha.t lucky moment?" "Nothing very s tran ge about it," smiled Don. "You hadn't heard from me for the la s t few days, so you didn't ]mow that I had fini s hed up going ovl3r tp.e trail of the old Dromus s .how. But I had, and so 1 went further, and lowed up the H yma n & Well s I g ot into town this after noon, and made up my mind I'd prowl in the wealthiest part of the place. When I saw that fine big hotise all dark I pieked it out as a place where the razorbacks would be likely to try a job. So I hid in a summer-house to rubber. I I was just about to sneak off and telephone the police when I saw you show up. Then, of course, my work was cut oi:it for me, and I knew what to do." "If it hadn't been for you,'' throbbed Ted, "I believe that young scoundrel would have cracke4 my head open. He was so anxious to have those thieving blacklegs regard him as a man-the young idiot!" "And how did you come to be on the warpath?" Don quizzed curiously. So Ted explained it all. "Oh, that was a lucky thought of yours-that the youngster'd be found with razorbacks!" throbbed Don. "In view of what you and I know about the way these razor-backs operate," returned Ted, "it seeme d th. e most likely s urmise." "Well, it did. And so, for a bit of brains like that you're to pull in five hundred dollars!" "If I get it, Don, it's share and s hare with you." "No, it ain't!" Don retorted, swif tly. "Nothing of the sort. If I get anything from you it'll b e wages-not divvy." "Well, we'll arg u e that l ater," smil e d Ted. Willie, who was as scared as h e was g lum, gave them no more trouble. Late that night T ed, his chum and his prisoner.showed up inthe office of Hopkins' hot el. "l"Vhy, good gracious, you got the young rascal!" cried Hopkins. "That's right. .Call me names, now I'm down on my luok!" returned Willie, sullenly. "I'll telephone his father fight away," cried the land lord, running to the telephone closet In less than twenty minutes John Rowley reached the hotel. He greetea hi s boy soberly, but without anger. It was easy enough to see that Willie was to have all the chance he needed to reform. The n John Rowley showed the manner of man he was by promptly producing the rew ard he had promised Then, the farmer having led his son out to the buggy, Ted and his two friends were l eft alone. "Stow this away, Don," Ted reque s ted, counttng out a hundred and passin g it over. "Thank you," Don r!lplied. He took out a .twenty, pa:>sing the rest back. "That pays m e twice as well as I'd be paid llt anything else," Don smiled, "All right, old chap," s i g hed T ed. "We' ll argue that out later. Now, Mr. Hopkins, c&n I have a little chat aside with yqu?" "I'm going up to bed now," srp.iled Do_n, "if that will help you any." In the ne x t half hour Ten and hi s landlord friend went over all the bill s that. had been incurred on Polly Breth nell's account Our hero passed over the sum that would them all.


SLICKER THAN SILK. 19 "And now my own board bill, and that or the horse," Ted proceeded. "Stop right there!" snapped Hopkins, growing red. "You haven't any bill here with me, and you can't have. It's worth the littl e it costs to have a boy as bright, slick, and manly as you are under the roof. I won't take a cent from you, now or at any other time." "That sort of generosity is the only thing that has kept you from being a rich man," Ted smiled back at him. "You'll have to let me settle my bills here, or I shall move to some other place. Now, see here, Hopkins, you don't want to bring on a quarrel between us." Grudgingly, this big-hearted fellow took the money that was rightly his. ":i;,ord, but it does seem good to be rich again, and not owing a cent," gr11Uted Ted Torrant, looking at the very respectable roll-nearly three hundred dollars-that he still had left. "Cl ear of every debt, and all this cash on hand!" He wished he could see Polly at once, and make ber feel as happy as he was: But that young lady had been up stairs asleep for some time. They met in the early morning, though, and her deli g ht seemed to be as great as Ted's own. He introduced her to Don, but that wise chum soon iound p.n excuse to slip away. "Now, Polly-I beg pardon, Miss BrethneU--" "No," she smi led back at him promptly. "The first was right. If we are to be really good friends, Ted, then call me by my_ first name." "Polly," Ted went on, gratefully, "can't we take. a little stroll? I want to talk that future over with you." "It's quite time,'' assented Polly, brightly "You'v e said so muc h to me in a vague way about my future I left it to you to help me decide, but so far I haven't been able to get a wood out of you, Ted, except that you're still thinkin g about it. Sometimes I have a strong suspicion that you don't know a blessed thing yet about what I'm to do hereafter." "Poll y!" cried Ted reproa c hfully : "Oh, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," sb,e added, remors efully "You 'll always hurt my feelings," laughed the happy boy, "when you even hint that I don't understand aJl I'm doing-that I'm about the slickest thing on earth, in fact." They had stepped into the street by thi s time and had turn ed off into a quiet side street "Now, what have you decided on-or what do yon wish to propose to me?" the gir l asked, looking at him so fixedly that Ted, had he hacl less "nerve," would have been emb arrassed "Why, the first thing, Polly, is to make you independ ent." "Wl.iat I mean, Polly, is that you must start in life by feeling that you don't owe anybody anyth ing, and that __ ,, "But I do owe a lot," cried the girl, troubied . "Think of all I must owe you now." "We're not going to think of that until other matters are attended to," Ted broke in. "You've got to hav:.e a decidedly good capital on hand before you're to talk about any sett lement with me." "But I don't understand." . "What puzzles you?" "How am I to get that capital on ham1? I'm not doing anything, an'd I don't know that I could fill a position if I had one. She looked into his eyes searchingly, as if demandin g a fi1ll explanation But 'l'cd had no intention 0 surrendering, or of being hind ered in a n y way. "Polly,'' he asked, simply, "do you trus t me?" "What a silly question !" she answered, colorin g "Of course I do. If I didn't 1\fr. Hopkins would make me feel ashamed of mysr.lf Why, Ted, that man would swear that black was white, if you told him so." '"W oulc1 you, Polly?" It was Ted's turn to look searc hin gly into her eyes. "I-I believe I would," she laughed. "Well, I'.ni. not going to ask you to swear to that, b\it I'm going to ask you to take my word for a few things." "You know I will!" "Then, Polly, I'v e a half-formed scheme by whicli you can help me out in some ways, and, by doing so, earn enough to make yourself independent of any othe r em ployment." "You mean that-honestly?" she cried, ratlier sliarply. "Honestly, Polly Do you b11lieve me?" "Yes; I must." "Now, the first thing you will need, Polly, will be a bank account." "Perhaps I ought to buy a diamond necklace, too," s he lau ghed merrily. "You know well enough, Ted, that I haven't any money either for diamonds or a bank ac count." "You can do without the diamonds-for tlie present. But the bank account you'll have to have, Polly, if you're to help me. So, as it's in connection with my business, o:I'. course I start the bank account You're to draw against it as the business need s." "Oh, I'm to be a sort of cashier?" she asked, q11ickly. "Yes and no." "What do you mean by that, Ted?" "We ll, a cashier i s accountable for every cent she han dle s Yoau're not going to be, Polly. In the first place in order to help me, you'll have to live comfortably, and dress pretty well." "But I'm not to draw on the account for "those ex"I thought was the whole quickly. thing," she retorted, penses?" protested Polly. "As long a.s you're in business for me you'll have to.


\ 20. SLICKER THAN. SILK. You understand, Polly, that you're to live well and look at your best, or you can't help me well enough. And so you ate to charge Y?Ur expenses to the business . As to tbe salary--" "Salary?" :flashed Polly, indignantly. "I won't talk '\bo ut that." "But, Polly--" "Stop there, Ted: I may not know much about busi ness, but I know that any girl is lucky who can make her expenses at any kind of work at the start. So, until I know more about the business, and see whether I'm really worth anything, I shan't think of salary." "But, Polly-" "If you say another word, Ted, about salary, I shan't listen to any.thing that you have to say." $he looked at him as if she fully meant it _So Ted, with a sigh, passed that point. we'll walk down to the bank, Polly, and start that independence scheme." "Ted!" And she drew back sharply, eyeing him closely. "Well, little one?." "What you've been telling me is-is--" ."On t _he level?" suggested Torrant. "Polly, I assure you that nothing on earth was ever more on the If you don't believe me, ask Hopkins. He's my reference." "When I can't believe you I won't ask anyone else," P9lly flashed back at him. "But, Ted, an awful suspicion weri.t through my mind that this was all pretense, and that you were taking the easiest way to help ine along-as an object of charity!" "Charity?" repeated Ted, shocked. "Polly, forget that word as quickly as you can. No; I'm going to help you a bit, but you're going to help me a good deal more. This is all business." And Ted meant it all. Though he hadn't, as yet a ghost of-an idea what the business was to be, he was prepared to create one to satisfy this trusting but spirited girl. So he took her to the bank, and tbey opened an account for two hundred and twenty-five dollars, the account standing in Polly's name. "It makes me light-headed,'J laughed the girl, uneasily, "fo that I can write checks and that the bank will pay "You'll get used to it," Ted predicted, unblushingly. "I suppose it's an old story to you-signing checks," said Polly, simply. And Ted; who had never had a trace of a bank account in his life, nodded without coloring. "I've got to go out of town in a few minutes, Polly,'' he went on, as they strolled back to the hotel. "But-butwell, you won't mind a friend like me speaking about it, will you? You know, one of your duties will be to look at your best." "I understand you," Ppily answered, st;aightforward ly, and without coloring. 1'My cloihes are shabby, aJld you're trying to tell me that I will have to get better ones." "That's to be charged to expense account, Polly." "Then I shall go very lightly," she assured him. "If you do' you'll ruin the business at the outset, little one! You've simply got to have nice clothes, or how can you look at your best? Don't be afraid because the bank account is a small one; there'll be more money there with it soon." "It won't cost much," she smiled. "I always had to make my own clothes, and in the summer time a few dol lars will go a long way when a girl is her own dressmaker." "But I don't want a few dollars to go a long way,'' Ted pleaded, earnestly. "Polly, by degrees, I want you to be the smartest-dressed young lady around here. Start right, won't you--" "Dear ?n he had almost said, but he checked himself in time. \ "Then the unknown, mysterious business that I'm go ing into really calls for nice clothes, does it?" she asked seriously. "It honestly does, Polly." "Then I'll follow orders," she laughed, brightly. "Just go out presently and get the things you want, and learn how to write checks, won't you?" lie whispered, as he held her hand for an instant at the foot of the hotel staircase. "Yes, I will, Ted And Polly ran lightly upstairs, as slie went As for Ted Torrant, he walked into the deserted hotel office and straight up to a mirror. There the young rascal actually winked at his own re"Perhaps are slicker ways of making a ruce, stra"ightforward girl accept all the help she needs," he muttered. "But if there really are any slicker ways I haven't heard of them." Then he wheeled, straightening up, as Don Gleason strolled into the office. "Through with the otlier business?" asked Don, quietly. "I'm ready for the next business,'' retorted Ted, quick ly. "And now, Don, old fellow, get your nerve together again. We've got to tAke our lives in our hands before the day's over." "You're going after the reward business, ain't you?" "We're going after the rewards, Don, old chap, but we have to get at the rewards by walking through the razor backs themselves. And now we're off on that job!" CHAPTER VIII. TALKING WITH "Y e're :vastin' yer time with us. We ain't no squeal ers!" growled Shang Lannigan. "We don't talk," snorted Whitely, the negro. These two had been rounded up in Bridgetown the night before, after the police had received Ted's tip over the telephone. Now our hero and Don, having come over to Bridge-


'r SLICKER THAN SI!iK. town, had bee'n allowed by the police to see the'ae two razor. backs. The men had been up in court that morning, and had been remanded back to jail until the police could secure more evidence. That evidence Ted and Don were now prepared to give, both youngsters being able to swear, positively, that they had seen the prisoners at the big house on the hill the night before. "Now, you fellows have been stealing a lot of plunder all summer, and selling it," Ted insisted. "I'm just about ready to fasten it all on you, too. If you let this thing go too far, a.pd force me to bring too much evidence against you, you'll just about have to spend the rest of your days behind bars. Now, the police have agreed that, if you'll say where all the stolen stuff is, they'll press just one !Jharge against each. That way you'll get only a few years apiece. The other way you will probably never be free men a gain. Is it hard for you to choose?" "There ain't notbin' to choose," Shang retorted, dog"Going to turn razorbacks?" laughed the chie:f. "We're going to find out just what they're doing," Ted declared, stoutly. "And we're going to break that gang up by getting them nabbed one at a time, if we have to go that slow. By the way, chief, you can do something for us if you'll give us a card to the other chiefs of police, stating that we're proving of the help to the au-thorities in running down these pe_!lts." The Bridgetown chief quickly made out and signed a card, which Ted pocketed for future use. "The s how'll be over at Waverly to-day," Ted on. "So I reckon that'll likely be our address until to morrow." "Look out, boys," warned the chief. "You're foolin g with gunpowder, you know." "So are the razorbacks," Ted laughed, unconcernedly. That afternoon found the boys in the little city of Wav erly, where the big tents of the Hyman & Wells were up, and sheltering a big afternoon audience. To save. time the youngsters had eaten lunch on the frain. "An\l now the first thing to do," Ted hinted, as the two "B.ut think it over, man. If y

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